DANIEL VAUGHAN: Remember Democrats, Shutdowns are for Losers

January 22, 2018

The last shutdown of the U.S. government happened in October of 2013. With similar political players, that closure and the current one make a perfect case study in how each party handles shutdowns.

The current government shutdown was the decision of congressional Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats chose to filibuster any continuing resolution offered by Republicans that would fund the government.

Democrats claim they want to help people, but experience shows they only use it to punish their political rivals.

Paul Ryan and House Republicans even passed a resolution financing the state, but Senate Democrats filibustered it.

Democrats chose the shutdown, and we’re only in this spot because of their leadership.

Recall that in 2013, the shutdown centered around rolling back Obamacare. In response to Republican demands to amend or repeal the law, then-President Barack Obama used one of his first speeches of the shutdown to “spike the football” on Obamacare, declaring it a major success.

He accepted no changes or amendments to the law, saying: “It is settled, and it is here to stay.”

Ironically, less than five years later, Democrats agree that Obamacare is a disaster and what we need is “Medicare for all.”

Whatever you think about the merits of that debate, one thing is clear: In 2013, Republicans targeted various funding mechanisms in Obamacare as things they desired changed in the continuing resolution. Their gambit directly related to the issue of funding the government.

In the current shutdown, Democrats are filibustering over the demand for new DACA legislation. A continuing resolution to fund the government has absolutely nothing to do with overhauling immigration.

It’s not that DACA legislation is wrong — most Americans agree with it — but you can’t fix that problem with a continuing resolution. Democrats are filibustering as a negotiating tactic to get a promise on future legislation, not passing any laws.

When the White House calls this entire episode “politically manufactured,” they’re right. Nothing that Democrats want with DACA can be fixed through a CR or shutting down the government.

The only way they can help DACA is through new legislation, and Democrats haven’t introduced any of their vaunted compromise DACA bills to Congress. We’ve only gotten rumors that they tried cutting a deal with the president.

The next thing to note is how each president handled employees and others affected by the shutdown. President Donald Trump is keeping the national malls and monuments open for tourists.

Vice President Mike Pence, in a speech to the military, reassured the troops that they wouldn’t have to fear losing out on income during the shutdown.

Contrast this to the previous administration, which put barricades and police at the national mall to keep people from visiting. The national mall is an open-air plaza with no entrances; it costs more to put up barricades and manpower there than keep people out.

That wasn’t the end of President Obama’s orders to the National Park Service, though. As Johnathan Last at the Weekly Standard detailed, the NPS was trying to shut down parks they didn’t even administer.

The shutdown didn’t require or grant the NPS with special powers to begin exacting revenge on people and parks. But the Obama administration didn’t finish there either.

Instead of reassuring those most affected by the shutdown that he was working for them, he scaremongered, saying, “We know that the longer this shutdown continues, the worse the effects will be. More families will be hurt.”

The worst of the effects from the 2013 shutdown came from the White House. Whereas the Obama administration exacerbated the closure to harm as many people as possible, the Trump administration has openly said it plans on minimizing the shutdown.

Somewhat interestingly, The Atlantic reports that Democrats want the Obama-era tactics again. Instead of reducing the impact, they want everyone to feel the pain.

When Democrats decided to go ahead with their brinksmanship, the Washington Post reported that they decided to go ahead with a shutdown and figure out what people facing an election 2018 wanted to do. All the pain of closure just for political optics in the 2018 midterm elections.

Both parties have swapped talking points for the shutdown; that isn’t shocking to witness. But we should remember that Democrats called the 2013 closing a “hostage” situation.

There’s a reason Republicans are mimicking that language, because Democrats, the party of big government, considered any shutdown unacceptable. For a party so concerned with expanding the government to “help” people, Democrats are demonstrating they’d instead prefer to punish their political rivals.

For Republicans, this is par for the course after watching the IRS target conservative groups and HHS target religious organizations. And while you can point to any number of examples of dysfunction in the Trump White House, this shutdown and its negative impacts are the fault of far-left activists in the Democratic Party.

But if history has taught as anything, as Politico writes, it’s that shutdowns are for losers.

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Daniel Vaughan

Daniel Vaughan is a columnist for the Conservative Institute and lawyer in Nashville, Tennessee. He has degrees from Middle Tennessee State University and Regent University School of Law. His work can be found on the Conservative Institute's website, or you can receive his columns and free weekly newsletter at The Beltway Outsiders. Connect with him on Twitter at @dvaughanCI.