American citizens owen an apology for shutdown

Monday, December 24, 2018

It’s doubtful a solution to the government shutdown will be found by the time this newspaper is delivered to readers, but if so, it will be a welcome gift from Washington.

As it is, there won’t be much difference between a federal government shutdown and the normal holiday disruptions.

Social Security checks will go out on schedule, healthcare providers will receive their Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

The U.S. border, a key to the current controversy, will continue to be policed by the Border Patrol and Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration officers and the FBi will stay on duty.

Food inspection, air traffic control, veterans’ administration health care, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and many other “essential” government programs will continue to run as usual.

Amtrak will continue to run as usual — unfortunately, as some rail-riding skeptics might add.

The U.S. Postal Service, an independent agency, is continuing to deliver those last-minute packages, and you’ll still be able to apply for a passport, since those are funded by fees and not government spending.

Many federal monuments and museums have made plans to stay open, as have national parks in Arizona and Utah, and New York is keeping the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island open.

Legislation is already in place to give the 420,000 essential federal workers who stay on the job back pay once the government is reopened, but more than 380,000 employees will be furloughed, including most of NASA, Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department, and despite those parks staying open, 80 percent of National Park Service employees will be furloughed, as will 52,000 IRS staffers. Don’t expect to get away without filing your 1040, however.

Our president isn’t shy about creating drama, but he actually has a way to go to match earlier presidents’ record on disruption of federal services.

Jimmy Carter oversaw a government shutdown every year he was in office, averaging 11 days each, and there were six shutdowns during Ronald Reagan’s two terms, typically a day or two.

We may have already forgotten a three-day shutdown in January, caused by Democrats’ insisting on protection for “Dreamers,” and a few hours last February over deficit spending, but before that, the longest was in 2013, when tea party conservatives tried to block implementation of Obamacare.

Shutdowns always seem to be successful in getting Washington off high-center by actually creating some sort of compromise.

But rather than declaring victory, each side should apologize for the lack of true leadership that made disruption of government services necessary.

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