Closing Thought–19Jan18

The Games Politicians Play

Midnight today could bring about the shutting down of the government…..and as usual the blame game has already started……the jockeying for position….the he said they did…..the game is afoot!

If he were a betting man, it doesn’t sound like President Trump would be betting on a short-term budget agreement passing Congress by Friday. In brief comments to reporters outside the Pentagon Thursday, Trump said there “could very well be” a shutdown. “We’ll see what happens. It’s up to the Democrats,” Politico quotes him as saying. That seems to be Mitch McConnell’s line, too. Politico reports—by way of GOP sources and an email from McConnell it viewed—that should the short-term funding bill the GOP is pushing not pass by the Friday deadline, McConnell plans to try to foist the blame for the ensuing shutdown on Democrats and their DACA-related demands, particularly those Democrats whose seat will be up for grabs this fall and who hail from states Trump won (there are 10, Politico notes).

The reported strategy is for McConnell to keep the Senate in session all weekend and arrange a slew of votes that could put Dems in a bad light, should they continually vote against things like the Children’s Health Insurance Program. If a shutdown does kick in at midnight Friday, the AP reports the impact would be evident but not paralyzing. Federal workers would be impacted and national parks could close, but essential things—Social Security payments, Homeland Security, the military, air traffic control, food inspection—would truck on. There could be an economic cost, though. In a great primer on what a shutdown could mean, the Los Angeles Times notes that the 16-day 2013 shutdown dropped Q4 GDP growth from 3% to 2.4%, per Standard & Poor’s estimates

This will be just another game that will feed the Twitter account and the media for a few days until a compromise is found….YAWN!

But let us say all falls to shit and the shutdown occurs……

The looming government shutdown has had one tangible effect so far: President Trump has put plans for a trip to his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort on hold, reports NBC News. “The President will not be going to Florida until the CR passes,” the White House said, referring to a continuing resolution to keep the government open before a midnight deadline arrives. Trump had been planning to leave Friday to attend an anniversary bash on Saturday at Mar-a-Lago, a celebration of his first year in office, reports Bloomberg. More on the shutdown, including a Friday meeting between Trump and Chuck Schumer, and its potential effects on everyday life:

  • Prospects: Things are “dicey at best” in terms of a deal, with Politico seeing a “seemingly intractable impasse” in the Senate. One huge sticking point is that Democrats want any spending plan to include protections for about 700,000 young “Dreamer” immigrants. Still, it’s possible the Senate could take some kind of action Friday to stave off the shutdown, if only for the short term. One positive sign: Trump invited Schumer to the White House, and the two were meeting Friday afternoon, per the Hill.
  • The effects: You’ll still get mail if the government shuts down, and Social Security recipients will still get their checks. Air traffic controllers and the TSA would stay on the job, so air travel shouldn’t be greatly affected, explains USA Today. But services deemed “non-essential” would suffer—for example, those waiting on a passport might be out of luck. The AP has a video primer.
  • The furloughs: An estimated 850,000 “non-essential” federal workers can expect to be furloughed, per the Week; the Washington Post has a detailed breakdown. Of note: Military operations and national security wouldn’t be affected, though civilian Pentagon workers would likely be sent home.
  • National parks: Stay tuned. Typically, they close during shutdowns, but the Trump administration is working on a plan to keep them open, if on a limited basis, reports CNN. “The American public and especially our veterans who come to our nation’s capital should find war memorials and open air parks open to the public,” says an Interior Department spokesperson.
  • Blame game: Trump and Republicans were aggressively trying to pin the blame for any shutdown on Democrats. “Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate – but they want illegal immigration and weak borders,” Trump tweeted Friday. “Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!” Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan also went after Democrats, with McConnell saying their “fixation on illegal immigration” will be to blame, reports the AP.
  • The winner? Paul Kane at the Washington Post ponders which side would prevail in the “court of public opinion” and finds that it would boil down to a messaging game. If Democrats can make any shutdown “about Trump and his ability to govern,” they’ll triumph. “If Republicans can make it about immigration, the victory is probably theirs.” A poll by ABC News and the Washington Post is good news for Democrats: 48% say they’d blame Trump and Republicans for a shutdown, 28% blame Democrats, and 18% blame both sides equally.
  • The factions: It’s not just Democrats who would prevent the Senate from getting the necessary 60 votes on a plan, and the New York Times lays out the various factions at play. At least three Republicans are in the “no” camp as well.

Let’s go and start our weekend…..it is cold but warming so go out and make some fun…..peace out…..chuq

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