Shutdown the Shutdown

Many of you, as Government contractors, are experiencing lost revenue because of the ongoing partial Government shutdown. Progress on important programs and projects has slowed or come to a halt. Perhaps some of you have had to send employees home without pay, or maybe they are forced to use up leave time that would have enabled them to take a much-needed vacation with their family. And then there are many thousands of Government employees forced to show up at work while they have no paycheck coming in to cover gas, car payments, mortgage, and heat for their homes during these cold winter months.

We have now achieved the dubious honor of breaking the 21-day Government shutdown record that was set under President Bill Clinton. The majority of Americans want to see this situation end, and for it to end quickly. The dispute whether to fund a wall on the border between Mexico and the US has resulted in the 21st shutdown of the US Government since the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act established the federal budget process in 1974.  It was passed by the Democratic-controlled Congress to check President Nixon’s impoundment of appropriations for programs he disagreed with. Adding further misery for all of us, the Anti-Deficiency Act of 1982 requires affected agencies to furlough non-essential personnel and curtail agency activities and services not necessary for national security.

Woodrow Wilson addresses Congress on April 2, 1917

President Donald Trump addresses Joint Session of Congress in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 28, 2017

The first shutdown, which was a partial one, occurred in 1976, under President Gerald Ford. We managed for 200 years as a nation before the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act enabled politicians to weaponize the budget. Thomas Paine said it well, “Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best stage, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.” The ability of selfish politicians to shutdown Government at the expense of working people’s lives is the result of over governing. Our forefather put the required checks and balances in place when they created our great nation.  It is only a detriment to the citizens of the US when politicians pass laws such as the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act to use as tools of manipulation to get what they want.

The United States of America seemed to function quite well for two centuries without the benefits of the two previously mentioned acts. The maladies that they were meant to remedy seem much less harmful than the cure. Thomas Paine would surely consider the current partial shutdown as his vision of Government at its worst. How do we prevent this in the future? Elect leaders who truly believe that Government is by the People, and for the People, who know how to work together for our nation’s common good.