Is a Gov Shutdown Justified Now or Ever?

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This topic contains 14 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Julie Chase 5 years, 5 months ago.

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  • #180236

    David B. Grinberg

    In early August I wrote about the prospects for a federal gov-wide shutdown, which has now become an unfortunate and frustrating reality. I stated at the time:

    • “Congress should never attempt a government shutdown for purely partisan reasons (much less any impractical reason), especially at the expense of an already weak economic recovery that’s barely plodding along.”

    • “It’s simply irresponsible and immoral that some in Congress would put their own personal and partisan self-interests above the interests of the American people whom they purport to represent.”

    • “It’s a crying shame that the American people — including millions of loyal, hardworking and dedicated federal civil servants — are the ones who always appear to take a major hit when it comes to Congressional brinkmanship over the budget.”

    • “Will this “do nothing” Congress finally wise up and do something for the good of the American people? Based on Washington’s toxic political climate don’t bet on it.”

    Please share your thoughts on the following questions now that feds and the American people are starting to feel the pain of the shutdown:


    1) Is a government shutdown ever justified (federal, state or local)? If so, when and why? If not, why not?

    2) Who is to blame for the current predicament, Congress, the President, a particular party or faction within a party, all of the above, none of the above?

    3) Will the shutdown end soon or drag on for weeks to coincide with the pressing issue of raising the national debt ceiling?

    4) How has the shutdown affected YOU personally?

    5) What aspect of the shutdown frustrates you the most?

    Thanks very much for sharing your important views and personal stories on this matter.


    * All views and opinions are those of the author only.

  • #180264

    Julie Chase

    1) Is a government shutdown ever justified (federal, state or local)? If so, when and why? If not, why not?

    A: Poor planning on the governments parts is not an emergency or reason to shut down on my part. I have bills to pay too. And I’m not a GS14 living in DC with a Blackberry.

    2) Who is to blame for the current predicament, Congress, the President, a particular party or faction within a party, all of the above, none of the above?

    A: Most like to blame squarely on one side or the other. Actually it’s both side equally. As an independent/moderate, I can see the forest through the trees. I did not vote to send someone to represent me and my state so they could continually argue (not about what is best for the country) about which side is “right”. The answer is “neither”.

    3) Will the shutdown end soon or drag on for weeks to coincide with the pressing issue of raising the national debt ceiling?

    A: who is to know. I am essential because my organization supports the troops directly with their logistics and transportation to do “their” mission. Yesterday and today, our organization had to tell them that we were out of gasoline in our fleet vehicles and they could not get more, since our budget has not been given to us and we are responsible for paying for the fuel costs. We cannot turn around the GME or equipment now in maintenance because we do not have the money to order parts to repair their mission commercial vehicles. This hurts.

    4) How has the shutdown affected YOU personally?

    My organization supports our troops. I see them every day. I am front line customer service and to me I am at a loss because through no fault of my own or my organizations for that matter, I cannot support them. I am essential, I am working for no pay, but it just hurts that I have to tell our men and women in uniform that we can’t help them.

    5) What aspect of the shutdown frustrates you the most?

    A: What frustrates me the most is the people I elected to get the job done are still being paid and have not accomplished a thing. We are short 2 billets, and cannot hire anyone. Everyone is pitching in to keep our organization afloat and working real hard to give our customers what they need to do their mission and we are powerless. Apathy is creeping in and that is scary.

  • #180262

    David B. Grinberg

    Julie, as always, thanks so much for your thoughtful and sincere insights.

    I’m sorry to hear that your unit is having trouble with logistical support for our military. That should NEVER happen no matter what. I personally believe the armed forces should be exempt from any gov shutdown, sequester, etc.

    America owes everything to our brave men and women in uniform — as well as the public servants who provide critically important logistical support and related services.

    Hopefully, Congress will have the decency to at least pay us retroactively for being furloughed for no fault of our own.

    Again, thanks so much for sharing your valuable thoughts on this, Julie.

    You are “essential” in many more ways than one!

  • #180260

    Kathryn David

    Thanks for starting this forum. It’s hard for me to come up with any time a government shutdown is justified because I cannot think of any time something good has come out of a shutdown. The question that struck me the most was this one:

    5) What aspect of the shutdown frustrates you the most?

    The thing that frustrates me the most was actually brought up on The Daily Show. Of course, the Daily Show is a satirical news show, but this point is an important one. Despite the fact that Congress has a 10% approval rating, they still have about a 90% incumbent election rate. The vast majority of the people who are to blame for this mess will be easily re-elected.

  • #180258

    Mark Hammer

    There is every reason to be outraged, and especially for public servants to be outraged, by the manner in which things have come to this particular standoff. I am one of those that believes governments, and their representatives, have not only a legislative and service-provision function, but an example-setting function as well. And in this instance, it is not the best example to be setting. There are reminiscences of confrontations I have seen between parents and children in the checkout line at grocery stores. Much breath-holding and angry reprimanding.

    That said, and also accepting that there are and will be economic consequences to the furlough, for individuals and the nation, is it at all possible that there is any sort of silver, or nice-to-look-at-when-its-all-polished, other metallic lining to the current stalemate?

    Here I am reminded of Paul Light’s observation that, in the wake of the Twin Towers tragedy, whose 12th anniversary we recently observed, public support for, and interest in, public servants and the public service, went way up, according to before and after polls. It eventually did return “back to normal”, but for a rather lengthy period, citizens began to see what public servants do as heroic, and important enough that maybe it was something they should consider doing.

    Thank goodness there are no horrific tragedies to be addressed at the moment. But one begins to see news reports trickling in of this or that not being open. My wife and I are headed down to Brooklyn this weekend to visit friends, and like so many native New Yorkers, they were going to use the opportunity of having out-of-town guests to finally get around to “seeing the Lady”. But of course, they can’t because Lady Liberty is closed due to the furlough.

    It’s not just tourist sites, though. There will be many services that grind to a standstill. Emergencies will be responded to, I’m sure, but the criteria for “an emergency” will be more stringent. And while I don’t wish hardship on anyone, perhaps the furlough will give some a chance to reflect on what it is they get for their taxes. Maybe they can stop their “burtching” ( ), and realize that “big government” is pretty big because it does a lot, because it takes a lot of people to get some things done, and because there is a lot to do.

    I hope for everyone here that the furlough is brief, but if it can’t be brief, at least let us learn and get some good from it.

  • #180256

    David B. Grinberg

    FYI –

    Washington Post Editorial Board: “Government shutdown puts U.S. security at risk”

    • “Republicans are putting U.S. embassies across the world at risk with their shutdown of the U.S. government.
    • “More broadly, they are endangering national security at a time when the United States remains under threat from al-Qaeda and affiliated groups.”
    • “It is reckless behavior in a time of war, and it is, above all, Speaker John Boehner and his allies who are at fault.”

    • “John B. Bellinger III served as a senior national security lawyer in the Bush administration from 2001 through 2009. In a post on the Lawfare blog Sunday, Mr. Bellinger warned that shutdown advocates ‘should be gravely concerned about the risks they are taking with the security of the United States’ “.

    CBS News video of National Intelligence Director James Clapper at Senate Hearing yesterday discussing national security risks posed by shutdown. op-ed: Tea Party Gives Gift to America’s Enemies; 70% of Intelligence Community Furloughed During Shutdown

    • “The tea party “suicide caucus” is weakening U.S. national security by eviscerating our intelligence infrastructure via the government shutdown.”

  • #180254

    David B. Grinberg

    Julie, I thought you would find this article of interest based on your insightful comments. Thank you for your service to America’s armed forces.

    U.S. military braces for full effect of shutdown – Global Post

    • “Much of the Defense Department’s civilian workforce are employed at bases across the country, and the military relies on them to keep equipment running and logistical networks humming.”

    • “If the shutdown drags on for weeks, planned work at shipyards and aircraft depots will have to be put off, routine administration will be neglected and some units will have to forgo training unless it is directly related to critical operations, officials said.”

    • “But civilians play a role in just about every military undertaking, and under the law, only some of them can be designated as “essential” to stay on the job.”

    • “As a result, military officers said they were unsure exactly how the shutdown would play out while legal advisers weighed whether a larger number of civilians could be deemed exempt from furloughs.”

  • #180252

    David B. Grinberg

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments and feedback, Kathryn.

    You raise a great point. As President Obama said, one (minority) faction, of one party, of one chamber of Congress, of one branch of government has caused this mess because — like spoiled children — these newly elected kids on the block could not get their way.

    However, as you noted, this specific faction took the senseless action of bullying its party leadership to cause the government shutdown. They did so to protect themselves politically from challenges from their party’s extreme right flank during the next election. In these gerrymandered districts the incumbent party is basically guaranteed the seat. Thus the only political opposition to worry about is at the primary level.

    As former House Speaker Tip O’Neill famously said, “all politics is local.” But what this party’s faction may gain at the local level will be lost at the national level where the moderate middle and centrist political ideology drives elections — not radical extremism.

    Thus, in that sense, this faction may win some battles but will ultimately lose the war by inflicting serious damage to its own party at the national level — and national elections matter, especially for control of the White House.

    Thanks again for sharing your valuable insights, Kathryn, which are very much appreciated.

  • #180250

    Henry Brown

    Is a government shutdown ever justified:

    Nope and I am not aware of any case where the government be it federal, state or local has ever shut down. We have had 18 supposed Federal government shutdowns since 1977( Wikipedia ) I am aware of maybe 5 or 6 supposed shutdowns of state governments, and am aware of perhaps 2 or 3 local shutdowns..

    NONE of them were actual shutdowns where all government activity stopped and the citizens were left to their own devices for survival The politicians choose which functions would be closed and which functions would remain in full force. The excuses ranged from National Security, Public Safety, Mission Critiical, etc. (probably could come up with a few more if it really mattered)

    Who is to blame for the current predicament/mess:

    The American population and their elected officials. And I suspect that it probably won’t change! All this political ranting and raving at the national level with “throw all the bums out” translates to throw all the other bums out except my representative who regularly brings the bacon home

    Will the shutdown end soon or drag on for weeks

    Suspect that it will drag on until our elected representative’s (be it President, Senator(s) or Congressmen/women realize that it is in their best interest to end the process and get on with serving the people.
    MY OPINION… Average citizen is NOT going to change a single mind. The 1% have to realize that it is in their best interest to get on with government by the people for the people

    How has the shutdown affected YOU personally?

    Minimal, Have had to reschedule a autumn vacation to a national park, have had to enjoy the “blame game” that all the media are sharing. But I believe this is because the politicians have decided they don’t want to anger the largest group of voting citizens any more than necessary


  • #180248

    David B. Grinberg

    Mark, thank you very much for sharing your unique perspective on this issue.

    First, regarding NYC, I believe it’s still possible to see Lady Liberty from a ferry boat even though the main grounds are closed. At least that may be better than nothing as you can get fairly close.

    Regarding the shutdown, the only real good that will come out of this mess is if the President and Congress agree on a macro framework to effectively govern in the most bi-partisan manner possible going forward. There are so many big issues to tackle like debt reduction, tax reform, entitlement reform, climate change, corporate welfare, growing income inequality, etc.

    Thus let’s hope that Congress and the President can use this time to put partisan differences aside and reach agreement via a so-called “Grand Bargain” that will address some of the big issues.

    Unfortunately, I think it’s likely this shutdown won’t end any time soon. That is, until the two sides at least tackle the debt ceiling issue as part of reopening the government – and hopefully with backpay for all the furloughed feds.

    Thanks again for weighing in on this Mark, your insights are instructive and most welcome – as always!

  • #180246

    David B. Grinberg

    Thanks for the response, Henry, you raise many excellent points.

    I heard the Israeli prime minister interviewed during this trip here about whether this happens in his country. He said it does not because there are self-imposed rules that ultimately mandate new elections if a government budget is not passed by a date certain (note: I have not researched this).

    I think that would work well in the U.S. political system because most politicians only care about reelection and related fundraising to win the next race. We need to hold their feet to the fire like Israel does so our lawmakers know their political careers are on the line sooner rather than later if they obstruct the governing process to the extent of not doing their basic job via the appropriations process to fund government.

    What do you think?

  • #180244

    Mark Hammer

    This morning we visited Wall Street. Our host wanted to bring us to Federal Hall, where Washington was sworn in as the first president. There was a piece of paper taped to the window stating that the place was closed due to the government furlough. And the statue of Washington out front was covered in scaffolding, due to some sort of refurbishing, I gather.

    Of course the New York Stock Exchange just kitty-corner across the street was running and open, just fine.

    Something both symbolic and ironic in that, I think.

  • #180242

    David B. Grinberg

    Thanks for the additional comments, Mark. The juxtaposition you mentioned reminds me of that old saying: money talks, BS walks.

    Therefore, as the debt ceiling deadline moves closer we should expect Wall Street and corporate America to start applying the pressure to Congress and the President. This will get them to the negotiating table and result in some kind of deal, even if it means just kicking the can down the road for several weeks.

    Regarding your visit, it’s simply embarrassing and unacceptable that visitors to America are also being negatively affected by the failures of our political leaders in Washington.

    As a long-time federal employee, I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience you are experiencing during your trip. Feds are merely being used as pawns in a political power struggle where ultimately nobody wins.

    In short, this unnecessary federal shutdown gives a bad name to Uncle Sam and America’s unique form of democratic governance.

  • #180240

    Mark Hammer

    Not to worry, David. NYC embraced my wife and I, as it has embraced so many millions of others. Those arms are warm, cuddly, and civilized, and no government shutdown could ever override that. I just found the justaposition of the closed Federal Hall, and open NYSE, rather poetic.

    Some time later this weekend, we hope to finally finish off the “sandwich” we ordered (and started) at the Carnegie Deli. On the other hand, given that Canadian Thanksgiving is Monday, maybe we should just save it for Thanksgiving dinner. There may well still be enough for everybody!

  • #180238

    David B. Grinberg

    Thanks for the update, Mark. As a native New Yorker it’s gratifying to know that the Empire State continues to roll out the welcome mat for our friends across the border.

    You may want to check out (time permitting):

    • Observatory deck of the Empire State Building, if you haven’t already done so.
    • Taking a tour of “Rock Center” behind the scenes– interesting and fun.
    • “People watching” and other fun stuff in Times Square, SoHo and Tribecca.
    • Little Italy and China Town.

    Regarding that super-sized sandwich, at least you get your money’s worth! Only in NYC (and don’t forget to grab a slice of pizza or two) — enjoy.

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