Thomas Sowell: Who’s really shutting down the government?


I’m reposting Thomas Sowell’s excellent report on Who’s Really Shutting Down the Government.  Good lesson on the constitution for the uninformed, and good advice for the GOP.

Even when it comes to something as basic, and apparently as simple and straightforward, as the question of who shut down the federal government, there are diametrically opposite answers, depending on whether you talk to Democrats or to Republicans.

There is really nothing complicated about the facts. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted all the money required to keep all government activities going — except for Obamacare.

This is not a matter of opinion. You can check the Congressional Record.

As for the House of Representatives’ right to grant or withhold money, that is not a matter of opinion either. You can check the Constitution of the United States. All spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which means that Congressmen there have a right to decide whether or not they want to spend money on a particular government activity.

Whether Obamacare is good, bad or indifferent is a matter of opinion. But it is a matter of fact that members of the House of Representatives have a right to make spending decisions based on their opinion.

Obamacare is indeed “the law of the land,” as its supporters keep saying, and the Supreme Court has upheld its Constitutionality.

But the whole point of having a division of powers within the federal government is that each branch can decide independently what it wants to do or not do, regardless of what the other branches do, when exercising the powers specifically granted to that branch by the Constitution.

The hundreds of thousands of government workers who have been laid off are not idle because the House of Representatives did not vote enough money to pay their salaries or the other expenses of their agencies — unless they are in an agency that would administer Obamacare.

Since we cannot read minds, we cannot say who — if anybody — “wants to shut down the government.” But we do know who had the option to keep the government running and chose not to. The money voted by the House of Representatives covered everything that the government does, except for Obamacare.

The Senate chose not to vote to authorize that money to be spent, because it did not include money for Obamacare. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says that he wants a “clean” bill from the House of Representatives, and some in the media keep repeating the word “clean” like a mantra. But what is unclean about not giving Harry Reid everything he wants?

If Senator Reid and President Obama refuse to accept the money required to run the government, because it leaves out the money they want to run Obamacare, that is their right. But that is also their responsibility.

You cannot blame other people for not giving you everything you want. And it is a fraud to blame them when you refuse to use the money they did vote, even when it is ample to pay for everything else in the government.When Barack Obama keeps claiming that it is some new outrage for those who control the money to try to change government policy by granting or withholding money, that is simply a bald-faced lie. You can check the history of other examples of “legislation by appropriation” as it used to be called.

Whether legislation by appropriation is a good idea or a bad idea is a matter of opinion. But whether it is both legal and not unprecedented is a matter of fact.

Perhaps the biggest of the big lies is that the government will not be able to pay what it owes on the national debt, creating a danger of

default. Tax money keeps coming into the Treasury during the shutdown, and it vastly exceeds the interest that has to be paid on the national debt.

Even if the debt ceiling is not lifted, that only means that government is not allowed to run up new debt. But that does not mean that it is unable to pay the interest on existing debt.

None of this is rocket science. But unless the Republicans get their side of the story out — and articulation has never been their strong suit — the lies will win. More important, the whole country will lose.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is


To Defund or Not to Defund?

I have listened to different commentators express lamentations, derision, and accusations about the House’s decision to defund Obamacare.  It seems that no matter what the majority of the American people want, these drones continue to malign Republican/Conservatives for trying to stop a really bad piece of legislation.  In my opinion, the Progressives will do whatever it takes to push Obama’s signature legislation, Obamacare, on us.  I believe that they have to know it is a bad law–that it will destroy the exceptional healthcare we have enjoyed for decades–but that fact pales in the face of pushing Obama’s agenda.

This law, since it was passed, has been changed hundreds of times.  If you stack the pages of this legislation in one pile, it stands taller than a man.  No one had read it when it was passed…do we really think anyone has read the entire law, even now that it is scheduled to go into effect in October?  If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you…

How did our narcissistic president react to the vote to defund?  By whining that the Republicans are “messing with me.”  Really?  Doesn’t that tell his followers something?  Doesn’t that say to a clear-thinking person that Obama is only interested in his own image?  Come on, American.  My mind keeps going back to a song we sing in church; “Open the blind eyes…”

Yes, we know the Democratically controlled Senate will never go along with defunding Obamacare, yet, I stand firmly behind the brave Republicans in the House, who had the courage to listen to their constituents, and to act on their behalf.  After all, isn’t that what they are elected to do?  Way too many of our elected officials forget that fact the minute they are elected.

Here is a great blog by my good FB friend, Jack Watts.

Is Defunding Obamacare a Good Idea?

To answer this question, you need to answer another one first: What made the American healthcare system the envy of the world? Was it Socialized medicine or was it American exceptionalism? If you can accept that it is American exceptionalism, which doesn’t require much intellectual honesty, then the answer to whether or not defund Obamacare becomes far easier.

If we want to continue having the best healthcare system in the world, repudiating Obamacare is the way to do it. Not only is Obamacare unready for full implementation, it is bad policy. It has been bad policy ever since Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid forced it upon us, with the help of President Obama cutting one unethical deal after the other to garner the votes necessary to make it law.

Now, as it is about to be implemented, TV commentators and other mainstream journalists say that the vote in the House to defund Obamacare will ultimately fail and that the Republicans should never have forced the issue.

I disagree. What was their alternative? To stand by idly and allow the nation to be destroyed? Of course not. It is never wrong to do the right thing, regardless of the outcome of your actions. Voting to defund Obamacare was the right thing to do, and this was the right time to do it.

Not only will the law make us a nation of part-time workers, but it will also fund an additional 10,000 IRS agents—all of whom will have the Lois Lerner mandate to grind us into submission to the will of the executive branch of the government. Let me ask you:

  • Is this what we want?
  • Do we need more ISR agents and fewer doctors?
  • Do we want less privacy and more bureaucracy?
  • Do we want higher costs with diminished services?
  • Do we want more incompetent leadership from Obama, Pelosi, and Reid and not less?

The answer for most of us is no.

Because nationalized medicine is the Holy Grail of the Progressives, the attacks upon patriotic Americans who stand in their way will be vicious and visceral. Nevertheless, standing our ground by repudiating Obamacare is what we are called to do. Remember, it is never wrong to do the right thing at the right time and the right place. This is our time to stand up and say no to Obamacare, no to the legion of IRS miscreants this law will empower, no to the President, and no to Progressivism. Future generations will bless you for weathering the onslaught and for being resilient and strong.

Illegal or Legal – Depends on Which Side Harry Reid and Obama Are On

In 2005 – Harry Reid felt that changing the rules was an “illegal” thing to do….

Harry Reid was against the filibuster rule change before coming out for it. In 2005, when Republicans threatened to change the rules to weaken Senate Democrats, Reid was a vocal opponent. 

For people to suggest that you can break the rules to change the rules is un-American,” said Reid in 2005, in response to Republicans wanting to change the rules. “The only way you can change the rule in this body is through a rule that now says, to change a rule in the Senate rules to break a filibuster still requires 67 votes. You can’t do it with 60. You certainly cannot do it with 51. But now we are told the majority is going to do the so-called nuclear option. We will come in here, having the Vice President seated where my friend and colleague from Nevada is seated. The Parliamentarian would acknowledge it is illegal, it is wrong, you can’t do it, and they would overrule it. It would simply be: We are going to do it because we have more votes than you. You would be breaking the rules to change the rules. That is very un-American.”

Fast forward to 2012 when he is the majority leader and he seems to have support from President Obama…

President Obama supports Senate Majority Harry Reid’s efforts to reform the filibuster, a White House spokesman said Wednesday. 

“The President has said many times that the American people are demanding action. They want to see progress, not partisan delay games,” White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement, first obtained by the Huffington Post. “That hasn’t changed, and the President supports Majority Leader Reid’s efforts to reform the filibuster process.”  

The Nevada Democrat  has proposed eliminating the filibuster vote that is needed to formally begin debate on legislation and mandating that filibustering senators actually talk on the floor, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington“-style. Reid intends to use a simple majority vote to pass the reforms. No major rule change has ever been instituted with a unilateral vote by one party. 

Okay – there are a couple of immediate issues that come to mind.

  1. One day, hopefully soon, the Democrats will not have a majority in the Senate and at that point, this can be used against them.
  2. If we want to eliminate options which allow one party or the other to hold up progress, then let’s pass a rule that eliminates Harry Reid’s option to ignore bills passed by the House and force him to bring them to a vote — whether he will win the vote or not.

Seems to me that refusing to bring House approved bills to a vote – is as much of an issue or bipartisanship…. or is that just me?

Interesting side note – after Obama and the Democratic party went on and on about abortion, birth control, a woman’s right to chose and on and on – note the comment from Harry Reid in this video that those are not issues people are concerned about…. obviously he didn’t get the DNC memo about women’s rights… or, he realizes their claims of the “war on women” was a crock… must be a Freudian slip…

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