SEVERE WX: Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts

The needs of the politicians and those of the people are on a collision course

A federal government shutdown will be an expensive, demoralizing inconvenience felt all across the nation, not just i...

Posted: Jan. 19, 2018 10:23 AM
Updated: Jan. 19, 2018 10:23 AM

A federal government shutdown will be an expensive, demoralizing inconvenience felt all across the nation, not just in Washington. So why aren't legislators working overtime to arrive at a compromise?

The answer to that question is: the politics of the next election.

While several legislative leaders have tried mightily to hammer out a compromise in recent days -- notably Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois -- most legislators, with an eye on the political calendar, seem more interested in spinning the looming shutdown than preventing it.

The predominant logic on both sides of the aisle seems to be: "if we can't avoid a crisis, let's make sure we can lay it at the doorstep of the rival party."

There will be a lot of blame to go around: government shutdowns are not fun or funny. During the 2013 shutdown, for instance, thousands of people were stranded inside Grand Canyon National Park, most of them employees of hotels, restaurants and other companies that operate inside the boundaries of the park. National parks lost $450,000 a day during the shutdown, and thousands of low-wage workers, lacking funding or a place to go, faced a serious food shortage.

Overall, the government lost more than $2 billion during the last shutdown, and $24 billion was shaved from national economic output.

And yet, members of Congress are talking openly about voting in a way that ensures another shutdown.

Looming over the brinkmanship is the mix of hopes and fears about the fall congressional elections. A host of indicators suggest Democrats will make major inroads and possibly seize control of the House of Representatives.

On average, any president, Democrat or Republican, sees his party lose 36 seats in the House if the president's popularity falls below 50%. With an anemic 37% approval rating, Trump is on track to see his Republican colleagues lose enough seats to flip control of the House.

Early indicators suggest a Democratic wave is building. Nationwide, 34 state legislative seats have flipped from Republican to Democratic in the last year, a trend underscored by the high-profile victory of a Democrat in the recent Alabama special election for US Senate.

Those numbers have emboldened Democrats, who feel the political wind at their backs and pressure from an energized, restive liberal party base.

Democrats are calculating that they can play hardball and demand an extension of DACA, the controversial federal program that grants temporary residency to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

Republicans are encountering their own political imperatives. Among Republican voters, according to a recent Gallup poll, immigration is tied with "government dissatisfaction" as the number one national problem.

President Donald Trump rode to victory in the 2016 primaries on the signature issues of building a wall on the Mexico border and a now-famous call for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."

Even as they face the prospect of a Democratic wave in the fall, Republicans have to face a party base demanding a crackdown on immigration. And GOP members who vote for "amnesty" for DACA recipients run the risk of facing primary challenges from other Republicans.

So the scene is set for a government shutdown that nobody wants. It's a case, all too common in Washington, where the needs of the politicians and those of the people are on a collision course.

Article Comments

Mason City
Overcast
30° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 25°
Albert Lea
Overcast
27° wxIcon
Hi: 32° Lo: 18°
Feels Like: 19°
Austin
Overcast
27° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 18°
Feels Like: 20°
Charles City
Overcast
30° wxIcon
Hi: 32° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 24°
Rochester
Overcast
28° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 18°
Feels Like: 20°
We're tracking accumulating snowfall for tonight
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Your Friday KIMT StormTeam3 Forecast

Image

Rochester students learning dance, teaching more than just moves

Image

Retailers gearing up for black friday

Image

UMR students discuss rise in hate crimes

Image

Women discuss election wins and losses

Image

Dream season comes to an end

Image

Mobile breast exam clinic

Image

Warriors welcomed home

Image

Legal clinic for sexual assault survivors

Image

Rise above Islamophobia

Community Events