Post-shutdown, I'm still mulling two things: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn't seem to know what the House of Representatives is supposed to do, and President Obama doesn't seem to know the way "checks and balances" are supposed to work. Either way, We the People are in danger until more leaders with an affinity for the U.S. Constitution are elected.
Reid first. Throughout the shutdown, House Republicans passed "mini" spending bills to fund key government functions, each of which Reid blocked from coming to a Senate vote.
This was the Democrats' "all or nothing" strategy. They kept "all" of the government closed so that "nothing" (Obamacare) would be subject to compromise. In other words, no matter what those talking heads, headlines and microwaves targeting your brain tell you, the Democrats were the Mr. No's of this shutdown.
Rankled by House votes to open parts of the government, Reid asked: "What right do they have to pick and choose what part of government gets funded?"
What right? The answer is "they" -- House members -- have every right; in fact, it's their job! Article 1, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution says: "All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills." Of course, we never think of Congress "raising revenue" to spend as they go, item by item. They just seem to fund everything.
But not this time, not for 16 days. House Republicans, who were returned in the majority in 2012 to defund Obamacare, tried, along with their conservative counterparts in the Senate, to hold the line for their constituents.
It didn't work. There are still too many tax-and-spend liberals in Republicans' clothing in Washington: GOP legislators who have less in common with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) than with Harry Reid, not to mention Barack Obama. Washington's crocodile tears over the "cost" of the shutdown (the figure $24 billion is flying around) shouldn't fool anyone -- not when the Congressional Budget Office projection for Obamacare's first decade is $1.8 trillion, and this same establishment doesn't bat an eye. And what about that "debt ceiling" they refuse to bring any closer to earth?
It's not the economy and fiscal responsibility so much that concerns the winners of this round of the budget battle; it's the government -- namely, the continued expansion of the government.
"We don't know yet the full scope of the damage, but every analyst out there believes it slowed our growth," President Obama said after it was all over. The president, of course, was talking about the economy, but it almost sounded like he was also talking about the government. Meanwhile, if "damage" to the economy bothers Obama so much, why didn't he push Senate Democrats to work with House Republicans to open up the government, sans Obamacare, weeks ago?
Obama also said this:
"But to all my friends in Congress, understand that how business is done in this town has to change."
"Has to change"? The president sounds as if he's addressing a gang of outlaws in the Old West, not a co-equal branch of government, of which many members sought to exercise their constitutional duty not to rubber-stamp bills they oppose. That's how "checks and balances" are supposed to work, and no president has the constitutional power to change that.
President Obama continued:
"We all know that we have divided government right now."
For a conservative, divided government is the next best thing to small government. The less the government gets "done," the better. But stalling poses a threat for the social Democrats in the Washington establishment. It slows growth -- government growth.
The president then rhapsodized about the role of "the government" in our lives -- not just in the military and law enforcement, he said, but "caring for our seniors and our veterans, educating our kids, making sure our workers are trained for the jobs that are being created, arming our businesses with the best science and technology so they can compete with companies from other countries. ... It plays a key role in keeping our food and our toys and our workplaces safe. It helps folks rebuild after a storm. It conserves our natural resources. It finances startups. It helps to sell our products overseas. It provides security to our diplomats abroad."
(A tone-deaf remark, given events in Benghazi.)
"So," he continued, "let's work together to make government work better, instead of treating it like an enemy or purposely making it work worse."
No, making it work less. As we've seen with the Obamacare rollout, government works worse all by itself.
"That's not what the founders of this nation envisioned when they gave us the gift of self-government."
Aside from the fact that "checks and balances" is exactly what the founders set in place, is self-government a "gift" in the sense that it is something that may be taken away? "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all mean are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among them are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
As history shows us, socialists, statists, Marxists and the like always want to regulate and constrain our Creator-endowed rights, rendering them, in fact, not unalienable. Interposing ever-expanding governments between men and their Creator, they seek to become keeper and dispenser of rights. Obamacare is another such Utopia by a different name.
Like all Utopias, it won't work. But, in Utopia, neither will our Constitution.