The US Federal government is suffering from another bout of ‘shutdown fever.’ It is obviously the result of prolonged dysfunction. Despite the growing number of shutdown threats, increasing likelihood of a shutdown, and rising number of disruptions to government services, even with full Republican control of the government, the fact shutdown threats were a persistent part of the Obama Administration, as well as to a lesser extent the George W. Bush Administration, reminds the American People that Donald Trump is not the cause of this illness. Trump, along with every other elected official in the US Congress, may share in the blame for the current crisis, but simply blaming him, or Republicans, will not fix the problem nor will it help identify a cure.
For Democrats, and Republican critics, the GOP is the source of the problem. Whether or not Republicans control government, it has been Republicans whose policies and ideals have stood in the way of funding government. As the party of government, shutdowns contradict and hurt the Democratic brand. Democrats might be willing to risk, or even embrace, a government shutdown in order to block Republican policy shifts and politically hurt the GOP, but shutdowns undermine the value of government. For Republicans, the system is broken, because they must garner the support of Democrats. Checks and balances, however, help ensure stable and functional government. The real problem is the politics and people in government.
More specifically, politics is driving untenable policy changes that do not represent the collective interests, or will, of Republicans, Democrats, and every other American citizen. Elected officials are fighting over public policies that either cater to special interests or the extremes of the political spectrum. Not only are the people in government cultivating a highly dysfunctional political environment by refusing to compromise and govern in the middle, they are refusing to take responsibility. They are refusing to lead on the shutdown paradigm that government is operating under. The current threat is over immigration and CHIP while the long-term issues are spending, taxation, and debt, but the real problem is that politicians are more interested in blaming others instead of fixing the underlying issues.
Although it has become fashionable to blame the president, it is the Constitutional responsibility of the US House of Representatives to write a Federal Budget that balances the interests of the American People and ensures the US government remains functional. For its part, the US Senate is supposed to help moderate House spending. As such, the responsibility for Budget dramas falls largely on the shoulders of US Legislators. It is the responsibility of the President, through his veto and signature, to ensure Congress has crafted a spending plan that addresses the collective interests of Americans instead of catering to those of special interest groups and partisan political agendas.
For generations, members of Congress have failed to fulfill their obligations on a number of issues, including the Budget, immigration, and war policy. Instead, they have steadily legislated away their power to the Executive Branch. For years, the standing President has been willing to step up and act in lieu of growing Congressional dysfunction. Under the Obama Administration, Congressional dysfunction was so great in the face of so many crises that even the President could not overcome it with Executive overreach. Not only is President Donald Trump refusing to act for Congress, he actually appears to believe a shutdown would be a constructive development.
With that in mind, Donald Trump is not a “hands on” leader. He is a promoter who utilizes the expertise and ideas of others to accomplish things. He is not going to craft a practical Budget or devise a solution for Congress. He will only promote whatever option least contradicts what he wants and gets him credit for defusing a shutdown crisis. Recalling Trump’s support of the AHCA healthcare reform package, which went from being called Ryancare to Trumpcare, Trump will support whatever Republican leadership produces, even if it bends to Democrats. Republican Senator Jeff Flake said it best, “We pass legislation. The president either signs it or vetoes it. We shouldn’t be beholden to everything the president wants....”
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