Sen. Chuck Schumer said in a recent NBC “Meet the Press” appearance that Republicans ought not allow President Donald Trump to shut down the government over a “temper tantrum” about the need to fulfill campaign pledges and build a border wall.
But really, Republicans ought not allow the likes of Schumer and his leftist friends in the press frighten Americans into believing a government shutdown is all that.
Shutting down the government will not leave Social Security-receiving senior citizens starving and in the cold.
As the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget writes, the ” ‘essential services’ — many of which are related to public safety — continue to operate, with payments covering any obligations incurred only when appropriations are enacted.”
In other words: Big deal.
Shut down the government? Yawn.
Federal agencies are tasked to have in place a shutdown plan, all coordinated through the Office of Management and Budget. And these shutdown plans only shutter those offices that are nonessential — that, in the view of limited government types, maybe shouldn’t exist in the first place.
Border protection? Still goes forth.
Air-traffic control? Still goes forth.
Law enforcement? Still goes forth.
Mail delivery? Still goes forth.
“Mandatory spending not subject to annual appropriations, such as for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, also continues,” the CRFB reported. “Other examples of activities that continue are those funded by permanent user fees not subject to appropriations, such as immigration services funded by visa fees.”
Among the services that halt during a government shutdown are verification activities by the Internal Revenue Service; inspection duties by the Environmental Protection Agency; the processing of grant applications by Health and Human Services; and visitations to National Parks.
Trump, in a recent White House meeting with Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, made clear that he wants the funding for a border wall and that if he doesn’t get it, he will be A-OK with shutting down the government.
“We should not let a temper tantrum — threats — push us in the direction of doing something that everybody, even our Republican colleagues, know is wrong,” Schumer said, on NBC. “If the president wants to debate the wall next year, he can. I don’t think he’ll get it, but I don’t think he should use innocent workers as hostages for his temper tantrum to sort of throw a bone to his base. Republicans just have to have the guts to tell President Trump he’s off on the deep end here and all he’s going to get with his temper tantrum is a shutdown. He will not get a wall.”
Or maybe not.
Maybe Trump knows that voters aren’t cowed into caving on national security by the idea of the government shutting down for a short time.
After all, on a scale of one to 10, with one being least important and 10 as crucial, most Americans would rate national security — also known as border control — at the high end, and the operation of nonessential government offices, at the low end.
In fact, a government shutdown, in a word, is really a yawner of a concern.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley.