Who Could Possibly Have Seen This Coming?
Tires squeal and kick up a cloud of dust as the driver floors the vehicle — it’s Kevn McCarthy with a car full of furious, screaming Democrats. Behind him, Matt Gaetz accelerates his enormous pickup in hot pursuit, truck nuts flapping behind him. The bridge up yonder was washed away in the last flood, the Speakers’ only hope is to get enough speed to jump the gap. He’s off — he’s airborne, he’s —
Freeze frame. Waylon Jenning’s voice echoes across the dusty plain: “That McCarthy boy sure is gonna have a hard time gettin’ out of this one!”
If you’re reading this article you’re probably familiar with the Great Budget Bill Showdown XI, but let’s back up anyway. The legislative branch has the power of the purse, which means that every year they have to pass an enormous omnibus spending bill so the government can pay to do things. Republicans would like the government to do fewer things. Democrats would like the government to do more things. The budget determines how many things the government can do. You see the problem here.
If the omnibus spending bill doesn’t make it through the House and Senate, and receive the President’s signature, the government can’t pay for almost any of the things and it shuts down. Some people, like air traffic controllers, have to come in and work but they don’t get paid to work. They get backpay if and when Congress gets their shit together, but not before. We’re talking 2.2 million federal workers and 1.3 million active duty military personnel. Some essential services remain open, like socialized medicine for veterans. The Brookings institute has a good breakdown of who gets screwed when the budget doesn’t happen.
In the past, mainstream Republicans and Democrats have agreed that the government should do some things, which meant that no one wanted a shutdown, even though we got them all the time. Now, however, we have something called the Freedom Caucus, so named because they would like to free us all from the shackles of everything the federal government does except for national defense and *checks notes* yeah, basically just national defense. Everything else is either states’ rights or a free-for-all.
From these maniacs’ perspective, a government shutdown is kinda rad