Using the “Dreamers,” as DACA recipients are known, to hold up agreement on the entire federal budget is a ridiculous and damaging stunt.
About 700,000 immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally when they were children are temporarily allowed to stay here under the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, which was created under an executive order issued by President Obama in 2012. However, President Trump wants to end DACA in March unless Congress takes action to allow DACA recipients to stay in the U.S.
But none of this explains the real underlying cause of the federal government shutdown that began Saturday. The reason we have to put up with this seemingly endless succession of short-term crises and stop-gap fixes is not political, it’s structural.
According to Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 of the Constitution, “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.” When one or both Houses of Congress fails to pass a bill, or Congress and the president can’t come to an agreement on a bill, to fund the operations and agencies of the federal government, a government “shutdown” can occur. That can result in federal workers’ being furloughed and “nonessential” government services’ being suspended.
This has happened seven times since the current budget and appropriations process began in 1976: three times during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, once under George H.W. Bush, twice under Bill Clinton, and once under Barack Obama.
The federal government contains a myriad of agencies, bureaus, corporations, commissions, administrations, authorities, and boards. Some are independent (e.g., SBA, USPS, NASA, CPSC, CFTC, CIA, FCC, FTC, Ex-Im Bank, Peace Corps, NEA, NEH, NSA, FEMA, EPA, USAID), but most are organized under fifteen departments: Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs.
Most of these entities should be completely and permanently shut down, their funding and activities ended, all of their assets sold, and all of their bureaucrats laid off. Since the Republicans in Congress seem to never know where to begin to actually cut spending and drain the swamp, let me offer some suggestions from the full spectrum of the federal budget.
It’s time to shut down the Department of Education. The Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to have anything to do with education. The government should not fund anyone’s education or regulate education in any way. That means no Pell Grants; no student loans; no research grants to colleges; no government accreditation; no Title IX; no special-education, desegregation, diversity, or bilingual-education mandates; no Head Start funding; no Common Core; no math and science initiatives; no Higher Education, Elementary and Secondary Education Act; no school breakfast or lunch programs; and, of course, no Department of Education.
Why can’t they agree a proper long-term budget in Congress? Because everyone in Congress is fighting for their piece of the pie – and the bigger the pie, the bigger the fight.
More significantly, it’s a fight members of Congress wage for their political survival – because the piece of the federal pie that they’re fighting for is not for their constituents, it’s for the people who really matter to them: the donors and interests that got them to Congress in the first place.
On the left it’s typically the unions (especially the public sector unions) with their money and grassroots organizing power; on the right it’s more often big business and big donors.
Getting appropriations that keep their sponsors happy: that’s the name of the game in these budget negotiations. It’s the Swamp in action.
The only long-term answer is a radical rethink of the entire federal government, transferring most of its functions to the state and local level where they would be carried out more effectively and with more accountability.
The House managed to pass a bill that would fund the military, which is expected to pass in the Senate on Monday. Social Security and Medicaid benefits are still planned to be distributed, and as Obamacare is a permanent entitlement, the market for the program will be open on Tuesday no matter what.
Despite this, as many as one million government workers could be furloughed and their checks may be delayed until the mess is sorted out. It seems that no matter how much negotiation occurs in the next few hours, the federal government will shut down.
The People Need a carefully considered, complete and total shutdown of every function of the federal government that could be carried out closer to the people: education, health care, housing, social services, transportation, almost all of it apart from the Departments of Defense, State, Treasury and Justice.
Of course, the political Swamp-dwellers who have grown fat off our current, corrupt system would fight with everything they have to hold onto their power and influence. The lobbyist-funded ski trips and weekend getaways would soon dry up if there were no appropriations to dish out in return.
It will take a political revolution to wrench power out of the hands of the Washington establishment and put it in the hands of the people. But don’t bet against it: just look at the evident, embarrassing failure of the current system and its shameless corruption.
If we shut the federal government down, the American people would no longer be forced to fund Moroccan pottery classes. The Agency for International Development spent $27 million to train Moroccans how to design and make pottery to sell, but they hired a translator for the program who didn’t speak English and the program fell apart. Perhaps we could also stop spending money on training Russian nuclear scientists? The U.S. Government spent $15 million to recruit nuclear experts for around 2,800 jobs in Russia. That money could easily have been saved here to create jobs here. Also we wouldn’t be forced to pay $325k to build robotic squirrels in order to test the interactions between squirrels and snakes. This is by no means a full list.
Undoubtedly many of the government employees who would be impacted are good people and the human factor can’t be overlooked in all this. It’s unfortunate that the legislators choose to eliminate the most useful, or prized services such as the national park rangers, museums and attractions such as Yellowstone and the Mount Rushmore tours. These services are at least useful and enjoyed by citizens, and not very expensive overall. It’s the legislators who are ultimately at fault, making people suffer as much as possible in order to force congress to act. It would be nice if we could send them all home, but their jobs are some of the actual positions that are authorized by the U.S. Constitution.
The United States federal government has limited, delegated powers. Those powers list what the government can and cannot do. As of now, the government has become so unwieldy as to be ungovernable, hence the shutdown. Hitting the reset button is usually the best way to handle catastrophic system errors. Shutting down this system and starting over with stricter constitutional limits on government power would be a wise move to ensure the prosperity and liberty of future generations. We at The Libertarian Republic believe that the time has come.
Let’s shut it down.
Sources for this article include:
StevieRay Hansen Investigative Reporter for SrhNews.com and HNewsWire.com
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StevieRay Hansen Investigative Reporter for SrhNews.com and HNewsWire.com
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