Some of you may have noticed that on Friday the United Congress voted to avoid a government shut-down by passing a resolution that keeps the Government funded for one more week, so that they can do it again this week.
Which prompted me to think: what the fuck?
In recent years we’ve had essentially two government shut-down fights, that in each case involved a Democratic President (Bill Clinton, Barack Obama) and a Republican Congress. In both cases it was a Republican Congress throwing down ultimatums (and having a temper tantrum), and in both cases it hurt the Republican party more politically than it did the Democrats.
Now, however, the Republicans own the whole government, and yet they’re still trying to blame the Democrats. President Trump – and yes, I follow him on Twitter because in a certain way I have to – has been tweeting about how “bad” or “sad” (doesn’t he know any other adjectives?) the Democrats are because they’re threatening to shut down the government (which they’re not). So, let’s review the history of government shut-downs.
- In 1995-96 the Newt Gingrich-led Congress was in a budget fight with then-President Clinton. The government was actually shut down twice, from November 14 through November 19, 1995, and from December 16, 1995, to January 6, 1996, for a total of 27 days. In many ways this was a mano-a-mano between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich – although technically a dispute over Medicare Part B may have been the actual sticking point – and highlighted by a report that Gingrich initiated the shutdown because Clinton made him exit from the back of Air Force One to Yitzhak Rabin‘s funeral in Israel.
- More recently, in 2013, the Republican Congress shut down the government for 16 days from September 30 through October 17, 2013. This fight was primarily over the wishes of the Republican Congress to defund the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).
In both cases, it was the Republican-led Congress trying to get a Democratic President to capitulate. This time the Republicans own all of the branches of the federal government, and they can still barely avoid a government shut-down. Republicans are annoyed that the Democrats don’t want to rubber stamp all of their budget proposals, to which I say so what? When does the opposition party rubber-stamp the majority party’s budget proposals? The answer is never.
So, what’s going on here? It seems that this fight is mostly about the Republican party’s own fractiousness, where their (barely remaining) moderate wing cannot come to agreement with the radical right Tea Party wing (especially on, health care) and with the Trump administration on their “fairyland” tax proposals.
For those people who are trying to sell you on the notion that the Democrats are to blame here, don’t you buy into it. The Democrats have made no ultimatums, they are not in the majority in either the House or the Senate. It’s the Trump administration and their Republican Congress that can’t get their act together this time around.
 In what has to be described a minor miracle, the Republicans and Democrats were actually able to compromise on a budget deal yesterday which will keep the government running through the end of September.
 These days I’m mostly using Twitter to send sarcastic tweets to Trump, and occasionally Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell, in response to the latest propaganda nonsense that they’ve been trying to get past the American people. I’d love for one of my tweets to go viral, but unfortunately, I’m not nearly clever enough.
 I’m focusing here on government shut-downs in recent history. There have been other government shut-downs, but most of them involved just a few days, and most of them did not require the government to furlough employees.