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Government Shutdowns

By Tyler Bauer

Over the weekend, President Trump threatened to shut down the government if no deal could be reached regarding border security and immigration. Yesterday, he doubled down on his willingness to shut the government down. CSPAN shows President Trump doubling down in the following tweet:

The threat of a government shutdown is a commonly-used tactic when it comes to political disagreements in Washington. A number of these threats have even come to fruition, resulting in actual government shutdowns. However, government shutdowns are threatened much more than they actually occur. What causes this discrepancy?

Threats vs. Reality

Politicians – especially Republican politicians – love to threaten to shut down the government. However, despite enjoying using a government shutdown as a negotiation tool, the government shutdowns are relatively rare. This is because few politicians are willing to shoulder the blame for a government shutdown. Advocating for or allowing a shutdown causes many to be viewed as obstructers and disruptors rather than public servants. In the eyes of most politicians, being seen as the reason for the shutdown is extremely bad publicity.

Republicans Should be Pro-Shutdown

The Republican Party prides itself on being the party of small government. However, most Republican politicians seem unwilling to shut the government down. I understand that most Republicans don’t want no government, they just want a smaller government. That being said, why are Republicans so opposed to government shutdowns?

Only non-essential government employees quit working. (By the way, why do we have non-essential government employees?) Government shutdowns immediately reduce the size of government by cutting excess personnel, something I’d expect Republicans to get behind. I understand that many people go without paychecks, too, but why is this such a bad thing? This is an immediate cut to government spending, which Republicans also claim to support. Even though this spending cut is temporary, I’d argue it’s still worth showing that the government can continue to function without these employees and previous spending levels.

If there is indeed the possibility of a government shutdown in the near future, I challenge Republicans to put their words into action. If you actually want a smaller government, don’t be afraid to shut the government down.

What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen? Some bad publicity, most likely.

And what’s the best thing that could happen? You can prove that our society wouldn’t fall apart if we eliminated non-essential government programs and jobs or cut spending.

I don’t know about you, but I think the reward far outweighs the risk in this scenario.

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Happy Birthday, Milton Friedman!