Tad DeHaven

It’s looking like it will take a week or more for Republicans and Democrats to reach an agreement to “reopen” the federal government. Regardless, with each passing hour a resolution necessarily becomes closer at hand because a so-called “government shutdown” effectively means that a budgetary impasse in our two-party dominated system has reached the end stage.

I say “so-called” government shutdown because most federal activities will continue and most federal employees will continue to work. If you had plans to visit Yellowstone National Park, you’re out of luck until the government reopens. However, the NSA will continue to track our private conversations, the military will continue to expend blood and treasure protecting the interests of wealthy allies, and the federal entitlement system that’s the source of our future fiscal imbalances will continue to pump out the checks.

So while it is true that some of the federal leviathan’s tentacles will take a brief respite, its reach into practically every facet of our lives will continue largely uninterrupted.

Unfortunately, one of those tentacles that will live to see another day is Obamacare. As a libertarian, I would obviously like to see it completely dismantled. But the political environment is not friendly to this stated aim of House Republicans. Democrats still control the Senate and the law also happens to be the current White House occupant’s signature policy “achievement.” It would take overwhelming public opposition against reopening the government with Obamacare in place for the president to even consider agreeing to such a deal. The law might not be popular, but neither is shutting down the government over it. A mainstream media that is less sympathetic to an interventionist federal government would be helpful to the House Republican cause, but the opposite is reality.

The good news for those of us who want less government is that Democrats have already agreed to support a continuing resolution at a funding level that is lower than they originally desired. Although I was initially concerned that the opposite would be the case, the House GOP’s willingness to go to the mat over Obamacare probably enabled this small win for taxpayers.

This article appeared on National Interest (Online)


Tad DeHaven

Tad DeHaven is a budget analyst at the Cato Institute. Previously he was a deputy director of the Indiana Office of Management and Budget. DeHaven also worked as a budget policy advisor to Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Tom Coburn (R-OK).