Inevitable Yet Very Avoidable

Date stamp: Very early Friday afternoon.

The date stamp may seem in conflict with the title but I wanted to cover myself, just in case, however I sincerely don’t think it will prove necessary. As September ends the federal government will shut down. At this point it appears to be as unavoidable as it is preventable and that is a very, very sad state of affairs indeed!

The furthest right wing of the House Republican caucus, increasingly obviously under the orders of Donald Trump, are preventing Republican Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, from living up to the deal he cut with the Senate and White House to avert a debt default earlier this year. They are insisting on a continuing resolution – hope for a real budget deal has long been abandoned – passing the House on Republican votes alone. Keep in mind anything that they might (and I stress the word “might”!) get passed in the House on GOP votes alone would be dead on arrival in the Senate. The Senate, in an extremely bi-partisan fashion, has already passed a number of budget type bills.

Trump wants the shutdown for two reasons, one political and one personal.

Politically he hopes that a shutdown will be blamed on President Biden. I think he will fail on that one with all but perhaps some of his base which is never going to leave him anyway. Most informed Americans already know the House Republicans are causing the problem and I certainly hope that Democrats make the rest of the non-MAGAs aware of the facts. Ah, facts and truths; both are kryptonite to Trump.

Personally, Trump is fearing that he will go to prison. Reportedly he has made inquiries as to whether he would be required to wear an orange jumpsuit. Just like Trump to be concerned with a vanity issue like that considering all the trouble he is in. Through the years Trump’s main legal strategy has been to delay. He has done the same with all his current problems. I don’t know all the fine point details of just how all the investigations and prosecutions of Trump are funded but he is hoping that, at minimum, a shutdown would slow down the federal cases. He is probably correct.

There is a school of thought that McCarthy cannot lose his speakership because nobody else wants the job. I sincerely doubt that! Elise Stefanik of New York covets the job and has become “Trump’s girl”. When Trump decides it is advantageous to replace McCarthy, he will order his minions to install Stefanik. With rank-and-file Republicans afraid of Trump they will go along to avoid his wrath. Courage is not an abundant trait in the House GOP caucus.

I’m still sticking to my prediction that the shutdown will happen, but it is very easily avoided. All McCarthy has to do is structure a CR with a reasonable end date according to the outlines he negotiated and ask Democratic House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries to back him. Jeffries will deliver well over 100 votes to supplement the Republican votes McCarthy can secure. That can be done in a matter of hours. What did McCarthy do instead? After failing to even get a rules package (which his people structured) approved he sent everyone home for four days.

McCarthy cares more about his position, as weak and tenuous as it is, than he does about his country. Come to think of it, that sounds a lot like Trump. As bad a Speaker as McCarthy is I fear that we will long to have him back when the next Republican Speaker has been on the job for a bit.

Getting into this mess is easily avoidable; getting out of it will not be easy though we know the solution. Buckle up and be prepared to lose. We just don’t know how much or for how long.

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