Neal’s Thoughts on the Government Shutdown

About a week before this government shutdown began I started hearing people say things that made it appear as if they thought the end of the world was coming simply because our government was going to shutdown. So what if it shuts down, it doesn’t provide any services that I want or need; let it shut down. In fact, let it burn down for all I care!

After all these years of writing these commentaries I still find myself amazed at how people bicker back and forth amongst themselves along party lines without ever stopping to consider that both parties are crooked and corrupt; the only difference being a matter of degrees. Democrats condemn Republicans and Republicans condemn Democrats, all while government continues to grow in size, in the scope of its power, the debt it amasses and the liberty it deprives us of.

This current shutdown is due to the fact that President Trump wants Congress to give him more funds to complete his border wall, and Congress is refusing to do so. So President Trump is rejecting every appropriations bill that comes before him due to the fact that it does not include the money he requested; hence the shutdown.

Who is to blame for this current shutdown, Congress or the President? Well, to answer that you must first understand what the Constitution says are the jobs of both the President and Congress. Congress not only writes the laws, it controls the expenditure of funds for the operation of government. The President, on the other hand, is responsible for ensuring that the laws passed by Congress are faithfully executed and that the various agencies of the Executive Branch are run efficiently. It could very well be said that the position of President is nothing more than a glorified CEO.

The first thing we must ask ourselves is, was this fence, or wall, approved by legislation passed by Congress. The answer to that is yes, it was approved in 2006 when Congress passed the Secure Fence Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush.

Congress initially set aside $1.4 billion for construction of this fence along the U.S./Mexican border, but the estimated total cost was $50 billion over a 25 year period. To be honest, I have not been keeping tabs on how much progress they have made on the construction of this fence/wall, but it has been 12 years since the bill was signed into law, and if the estimated time frame was 25 years for completion, they should be about half way done by now.

The Republicans currently hold majorities in both houses of Congress, so why is it a problem for Trump to get the money he wants to finish his wall? I think the answer may lie in the fact that it is a matter of it simply not being funded by either an appropriations bill or an actual budget.

To understand this more fully one must understand how our government spends money. As the Executive, the President submits a budget request to Congress. I don’t know if the President simply looks at the previous year’s expenditures and comes up with a number, or if the heads of each Department submit recommendations to him; which he then includes in an overall budget proposal. I do know that the Executive Office of Budget Management crunches the numbers and submits a finalized budget to the President, who in turn submits it to Congress for consideration.

As the House of Representatives controls the actual purse strings, it goes over the proposed budget and either accepts it or makes changes to it. Once they are done it is submitted to the Senate, and they repeat the process. Any changes they make must be then approved by a committee from the House. Once they come to an agreement, the finalized budget is then sent back to the President, who then goes over the changes and either signs it or vetoes it. If it is vetoed it goes back to Congress where they must either make changes that are acceptable to the President, or attempt to override his veto with a 3/4 vote of both houses. If this isn’t done, then the government goes unfunded for the next fiscal year.

What then happens is that stop gap measures known as Continuing Resolutions are passed which continue funding government at the past year’s levels. Just weeks before Christmas Congress passed a Continuing Resolution which kept government open for 2 more weeks; giving Congress more time to come up with a budget proposal that was acceptable to President Trump. Apparently they did not succeed because Trump refused to sign what they sent to him because it lacked the funding he had asked for to continue construction of his wall along the U.S./Mexico border.

So who’s to blame for this shutdown? To be honest, I think it is all a staged drama to keep the partisan schism which divides Americans open. Congress did authorize some funding for Trumps wall, but it wasn’t enough and Trump rejected their proposal. At this stage it seems that neither Congress nor the President are willing to budge on their positions; which means the people of this country are going to place the blame on the ‘other party’; the one they do not support.

However, if Congress is obligated to provide a certain amount of funding per fiscal year for construction of the wall, as per the Secure Fence Bill, and they refuse to provide the President with those funds, then Congress is to blame for withholding the funds it is obligated to provide. However, if the President is asking for more money than was previously agreed to, and he forces a government shutdown because he isn’t getting it, then the fault lies with him.

Finding out who truly is to blame would mean digging into the text of the Secure Fence Act to see how much funding it authorizes Congress to provide the Executive Branch, and then digging into each and every Appropriations Bill since then to see if Congress has lived up to its obligations, or if the President is demanding more money than is authorized.

That is something I simply don’t have the inclination to do. I think this whole border wall is a joke; something that gained traction amongst disgruntled Republicans and Trump just ran with it as a campaign promise. I think this wall may cut back on those entering the U.S. illegally, but it won’t completely eliminate the problem. So, is it worth it to spend all that money on something that only partially solves the problem? If you ask me, the answer is no.

I would rather bring our military home and station them along the border with orders to shoot anyone who tries to sneak across our border. But the public wouldn’t go for that; especially the Social Justice Warriors on the far left, and the media would have a field day crucifying those who shot those poor innocents who only sought a better life for themselves – so that will never happen and the problem will continue to exist.

So, for the time being, our government looks like it is going to remain in shutdown mode. Congress may have gone home for the holidays, and Trump may be playing the noble hero sitting alone in the White House waiting for the Democrats to return so they can begin re-negotiating the crisis, but is government actually shutdown?

Washington D.C. didn’t shut off the lights, lock up the doors and send everyone home without pay. Social Security and Medicare checks are still being mailed out; the military is still being funded; and other crucial services are still being provided. What has been shutdown is what is considered non-essential services. So if you are seeking a federally funded loan you are going to have to wait until the shutdown is over to get it approved. If you want to visit a National Park or a few National Monuments you may find them closed; or certain services curtailed while the regular employees are furloughed until the shutdown ends.

If you want to know for sure if government is completely shutdown, (which it isn’t), just look at your paycheck for next week; I bet the IRS is still withholding taxes from your pay, and I’d be willing to bet that the good ole NSA is still spying upon you. So no, government is not shutdown, only those agencies it considers non-essential.

Let me ask you a simple question. These non-essential services that are affected by this shutdown, if they are non-essential then why does our government even provide those services? Could it possibly be that these non-essential services are also unconstitutional services as well? Could it be that these services are things it was never intended your government do in the first place?

How many of these so-called non-essential services are those services that affect the lives and liberty of the people? The way I understand it, those type services were supposed to be handled by the States, not the federal government. According to James Madison, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected.

The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.” (Source: Federalist 45) That is of course unless Madison was lying to the people when he made that promise.

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution lists the powers given Congress, which means the powers our government is authorized to exercise on our behalf; those and nothing more. I don’t see anything in there about protecting the environment; managing national parks, regulating the sale and flow of alcohol and firearms, and a whole slew of other powers the people today take for granted as being those given our government.

What has happened is that government has assumed, or usurped these powers; as they were supposed to belong to the States. In the very beginning there were those who sought to expand the powers of the federal government beyond those which were promised it would hold to the various assemblies that were chosen to ratify the Constitution. If those people had known that the federal government they were in the process of accepting would eventually become the one it is today, I don’t think they would have voted to ratify the Constitution, for they still remembered what it was like living under a government of unlimited and arbitrary authority.

Patrick Henry and many of the other Anti-Federalists tried to warn the people of the dangers this proposed system of government posed to both the sovereignty of the States and the liberty of the people; but the people were more inclined to listen to the fear mongering Federalists who warned them of the dangers of remaining a simple confederacy – so the Constitution was adopted.

Once the government it outlines went into effect it immediately began finding hidden powers; those that are not specifically listed, rather they are implied within clauses such as the Commerce Clause, the General Welfare Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause.

There were those who attempted to halt this progression from a limited government to an unlimited one; men like Thomas Jefferson, and sometimes James Madison. While serving as Vice President under John Adams, Thomas Jefferson secretly wrote the Kentucky Resolutions in opposition to the Presidents having signed the Alien and Sedition Acts. Included in the Kentucky Resolutions is the following wording, “Resolved, That the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General Government . . . . and that whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force. . . . that the government created by this compact [the Constitution for the United States] was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers.”

Jefferson then sent a copy of his Kentucky Resolutions to James Madison in the hopes that he would write something similar framing the sentiments of the Virginia Legislature. Madison complied, composing the Virginia Resolutions, which also state, “That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the federal government, as resulting from the compact, to which the states are parties; as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting the compact; as no further valid that they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.”

After Jefferson left public life and returned to his home in Virginia he still remained somewhat active in that he kept a watchful eye on what was happening on the national level and wrote many letters voicing his opinions on what he saw happening.

In 1821 Jefferson wrote two letters which are of great importance if one wishes to understand how far our government has morphed from one of limited power to one with great power. The first letter was written to Charles Hammond, and states, “When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the centre of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.”

The next was written to Nathaniel Macon, and it states, “Our government is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction; to wit: by consolidation first and then corruption, its necessary consequence. The engine of consolidation will be the Federal judiciary; the two other branches the corrupting and corrupted instruments.”

Regardless of what your personal political opinions might be, our government is one which derives its authority from the consent of the people. It is what you consent to which determines how much power your government exercises on your behalf. By voting for candidates based upon partisan leanings you are ignoring the law that governs what our government can and cannot do. By ignoring the law which governs our government you are effectively turning America from a Republic governed by the rule of law into an elective democracy; where whoever is the majority controls what laws are passed – and our Founders feared and despised democracies.

James Madison once wrote, “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives. A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both.”

If you let your emotions or your political party leanings guide you in your support or opposition to what government is doing, then you are playing right into their hands. You are letting them control you and your thoughts because you are ignoring the law that dictates what your government can and cannot do and are allowing partisan platforms to determine the issues you support or oppose.

The further we stray from the limited government promised the ratifying assemblies, the more freedom you will lose and the more dependent upon government you will become. I see that now by the very comments people are making regarding this current government shutdown; the panic and disbelief in their voices and comments.

If you want my honest opinion, I say shut it all down…forever…for it has done nothing but make life more difficult for me. I can’t speak for you, but I would much rather take my chances without government than live under tyrants.

And those are my thoughts on the current government shutdown…

About Br'er Rabbit

I'm just one person out of millions of others. The only thing different about me is that I don't walk around with my head up my ass.
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