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SHUTTING DOWN THE GOVERNMENT

August 25, 2017

SHUTTING DOWN THE GOVERNMENT

If Donald Trump has served no other purpose, it occurs to me that he has at least uncovered the festering hypocrisies politicians employ to secure and maintain power. The problem of winning elections involves not only telling people what they want to hear but how to do as one pleases afterwards and somehow persuade the perhaps disappointed electorate that what you are doing is what you promised to do (as qualified, of course, with “newly-discovered facts” of which you were unaware or claim to have been unaware during the campaign and other excuses for action or non-action to fit the occasion, e.g., a recalcitrant Congress or judiciary, the Separation of Powers doctrine etc.).

To be fair, Donald Trump did not invent such political pretense. Politicians of all parties have used it to hedge their bets. However, he has gone to new lengths in political gamesmanship by threatening to shut the government down unless (a Republican!) Congress appropriates money to build the wall he persistently promised to build during his campaign because, among other things, what he now proposes is not what he promised. His “promise” was that Mexico would pay for the wall. Bullying the Congress to instead pay for it was never mentioned in his pre-election blather. He is therefore threatening the Congress to keep a “campaign promise” that was never made. I suppose the “newly-discovered evidence” became known to him when the Mexican president told him after the election that no pesos would be involved. Period.

I think the principle involved in horse-trading between the executive and legislative branches here is more important than whether this ridiculous project is carried out to a conclusion. Thus if Trump is successful in having the Congress approve paying for the wall with taxpayer money desperately needed elsewhere (and in a day and age of already immense national debt) under threat of government shutdown, then, the principle having been established, what is to keep him from issuing such a threat or a similar one on each such item in the budget he wants funded in the future? The Constitution clearly gives the exclusive rights to make appropriations of public monies to the legislative branch, but is silent on the political maneuvering which may be required to persuade the Congress to do so.

Trump’s  cavalier off the cuff threat to shut down the government (if he can and if carried out), would cost more just in terms of the costs of bureaucratic shuffling and reshuffling for the event than building the wall would cost, not to mention the potential for an economic crisis since we would have disavowed payment of our debt. I would expect violent contractions in the stock and bond markets, a dollar gone south in currency markets, a negative Moody’s rating that would perhaps greatly increase our interest on federal paper, a foreign investment crash etc. etc. etc., all as a direct result of such domestic political games.

If we default, as Trump suggests we do unless his demands are met, such a default, along with his other hare-brained tactics, could give us an almost instant recession or even worse. Markets (and especially bond markets) abhor uncertainty, so even the threat of default could roil not only our markets but also those intertwined with ours around the world if his threat is taken seriously. To give some historical perspective to this disgusting turn of events where an addled president must have his way or remove the sand from the sandbox where he is playing with the nation’s economic future, we did not default and maintained good credit per rating agencies (though few were lending) even during The Great Depression of the 1930s.

I finally conclude that the legacy of an ousted Bannon lives on north of Trump’s neck even though Bannon (at least officially) has returned to his self-admitted Leninist propaganda perch and is now freed from political constraints on his First Amendment rights and ready to go after, as he terms it: “The deconstruction of the administrative state,” a necessary precondition, of course, to formation of a new state, whose hazy outlines suggest a fascist state with authoritarian control. Trump’s whole career up to and including today involves bullying anyone who is either in his way of making a buck or (given his narcissistic instincts) who insult his inner soul and his already established proclivities would fit well with this new version of an authoritarian state. There is no end to fantasy in his otherworld, so why not be an unelected emperor of the world rather than a mere president subject to compromise in a democratic state with a Constitution?

Bullying the Congress is only one example of what this essay is about, one among many other pieces of evidence of Trump’s authoritarian plan to gobble up all power contrary to the Constitution’s careful delineation of power to the executive, legislative and judiciary as co-equals, and while as a practical matter we expect horse trading between the legislative and executive in the ordinary course of things since their respective goals may not coincide, threats to shut the government down, however unlikely to happen, cannot be ignored in these turbulent times with an addled helmsman steering our ship of state, and should a shutdown come to fruition, considering the enormous stakes involved, I would insist on his removal from office without further adieu.

I am not sure that even a threat of such a catastrophe is not definable as an impeachable offense, but if carried out I think such a horror is or has to be an impeachable offense – abuse of power – and that in such event he should be removed from office summarily and immediately with a 25th Amendment action pending impeachment proceedings in the House and a trial in the Senate designed to permanently remove him from office. The reason I call for a 25th Amendment immediate suspension from office pending further proceedings is because impeachment proceedings and a Senate trial may take weeks or months and there is no telling what such an addled and defiant Trump might do if allowed to stay in office pending a final determination. One would hope that he would resign, but don’t bet the farm on it. There’re always Obama and Crooked Hillary to blame for his predicament.      GERALD       E

 

 

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