The Coming Shutdown Fight


I hope all of you reactionaries are having a nice weekend.

Regarding the coming shutdown fight, the current conventional wisdom is correct. Threatening to shut down the government over a wall-for-subsidies threat, is a bad strategy, unlikely to work and also likely to cause Trump and the Republicans collateral damage as it fails to work.

But the limitation to applying the conventional wisdom here is that this is not the conventional shut down scenario, so applying conventional wisdom must be done cautiously and with regard for the differences.

The biggest difference is that in this case it is the president, a Republican president, who is making the threat, taking the legislative hostage, while in all previous such games of legislative chicken, it was the legislative Republicans playing chicken against a Democrat president. Well, if the game is chicken, a unitary actor, such as the president, has a big structural advantage over players that are group actors, such as the House and Senate. The mechanics of how this would play out, if they go forward with it, is that Trump vetoes at least the funding bill that does the subsidies. The thing is, he can veto or swerve aside at the last minute entirely on his own will, without having to keep a majority behind either course of action. That inherently renders any threat he makes much more credible than anything Republicans or Democrats in Congress threaten. They have to keep a coalition together, Trump doesn’t.

And this unitary actor in the WH is unusually credible at threatening consequences that more conventional politicians would shrink from actually going through with. Trump has this combination that would indeed be a winning combination in a game of chicken, that he doesn’t care about the destructive consequences even if he believed they would actually happen, and he can convince himself that they won’t happen. It’s not even wishful thinking for him, it’s willful lack of thinking.

It is true that the adversary in this game of legislative chicken will be the Republican leadership in Congress. The threat Trump makes, and then has to follow through on if the other side doesn’t knuckle under, is to veto at least the subsidies funding bill that the Republican leadership has gotten through both chambers. The Republican leadership is more likely to follow the conventional wisdom that shutdowns are bad politics, and will therefore more likely not do what it would have to do to get the subsidies-for-wall provision into the funding bills. At the least, this would involve changing the rules of the Senate to allow such a bill to get through on a simple majority rather than requiring 60 votes. But it’s also possible that enough moderate Republicans, House and Senate, would vote against funding the wall that such a funding bill wouldn’t get a majority in one chamber or the other. This is even more likely if funding the wall is linked to threatening subsidies.

But, from Trump’s perspective, fighting this game of chicken against the Republican legislative leadership is a feature, not a bug. Success against that leadership will make the triumph entirely his. It will validate his presidency in a way that even solid and respectable legislative achievements gained the conventional way, working with his party’s Congressional leadership, could not. The Republican Congressional leadership would get all the credit for such successes, because Trump has already made it clear that he is some combination of uninterested and totally incompetent at getting things through Congress the conventional way, through negotiation and compromise.

Take that thought as the strongest reason for Trump to go through with this game of chicken, that he will never have any success doing things the conventional way. He’s unsuited to that method, and so obviously unsuited that he will get none of the credit even for what pathetically small success he might achieve by playing the conventional game. And Trump has to succeed bigly, not in some small way, not like Obama who struggled mightily for years to barely manage to get Romneycare through. Trump was not elected to get small incremental changes in public policy through. His whole political identity is that refuses to play along with the conventional constraints that keep America from its former greatness. He will make the bold plays that will outrage and dismay conventional politicians, of both parties, and thus achieve the great things that both parties now leave unaccomplished because they do not dare to be great. If he fails to deliver big decisive wins by upending conventional politics, then he will be a failure. If he fails even at small things after cravenly going back on his promise and pursuing conventional means, then he will be an abject failure, a laughingstock, someone who isn’t even any good at the conventional politics he once scorned as beneath him.

If Trump had a work ethic and some basic competence and self-insight, this is what he would do, take up legislative chicken and crush his enemies, chiefly the Republican Congressional leadership. This is the only way he wins. Fortunately for all of us, he doesn’t seem to have much work ethic, or to be taking guidance from some eminence grise who could effectively pursue this game of legislative chicken. That’s all we have at this point, the hope that these people are just purposeless idiots, that none of them – at least none of them who can get Trump to play his role in their schemes – has any real vision or drive. This is probably not a vain hope, but hope really isn’t a plan.


Funny you mention that, since Hope was 50% of the plan your lord and savior Barrack Hussein Obama of Kenya gave to us along with the reaming 50% being the Change that no one wanted, and that we are unchanging by the day.


I don’t think that most people watch Congress closely enough to know when the President is at war with a faction of his own party, or that they give the President much credit when he manages to “win” such a contest. For that matter, people pay little attention to conflict between the White House and Congress when they are controlled by different parties, save for on the whole being more likely to hold the President responsible when gridlock occurs. I think that Trump supporters already expect him to overcome any resistance in Congress, such that if he succeeds in doing so he will only meet their expectations. I don’t think that he will gain any larger respect for claiming that he steamrolled obstructionist Republicans in order to get legislation passed.

If Trump plays chicken with the Democrats and wins, that would be something he could brag about. But I can’t really argue with the suggestion that he’s in a poor position to do so. The present strategy seems ill-conceived, setting Trump up for being portrayed as the President who took away people’s health insurance because he couldn’t get Mexico to pay for a border wall. I see the chance of the Democrats folding on the issue of border wall funding as being exceedingly low, such that Trump will either have to follow through and shut down the government (… and then what?) or claim that he was bluffing and sign a spending bill that does not provide funding.

The danger with having a bull in the china shop is that he won’t know when to stop, so it is possible that he’ll decide that a shut-down won’t be that bad, or that as bad as it may be it will be worse to look weak by having the Dems call his bluff. Unless the Dems are so foolish as to fold, it’s difficult to see how Trump could come out of this stand-off without weakening himself.


I like that… and ANTIFA is not reactionary… BLM is not reactionary… Hell, Hillary is not reactionary… BAHHHH! you have a good weekend too.


I don’t know… I could be wrong but the visual that most people have about a shutdown is the last one created by Obama… the nonessential people he sent home were intended to create the maximum amount of discomfort to the most amount of people. I would contend that a shutdown could be arraigned in such a way that the average person would not really see the effects but could lend senior department heads a nice amount of time to … tidy up some of the office space… if you get my drift… and one way to find out what works and what doesn’t is to send people home, find out what breaks… cover it… and cull what doesn’t… Some might think that he isn’t that much of a strategist… I think he is… I think that the medical industry knows that he wants prices to drop too…


Good points. Also, if some are sent home and something critical falls apart, I’m sure there is a way to recall the people who work on whatever it is. If a bunch of people vanish and the place still functions…well we just found out who is expendable.


You mean like Obama and his shutting down the government???


Shutting down the government, even just shutting down HHS, will immediately get this fight wall to wall coverage. It will become, instantly, the fight of the century.

And the fight here can only be between Trump and the R Congressional leadership. The Democrats control nothing. It will be Republicans who back down and let Trump win, or refuse to back down and let the government shut down.

If Trump were a conventional Republican, maybe his supporters would expect him to lead the party to legislative success by the conventional process of negotiation and compromise. Of course he would get to final passage of his agenda by working closely with the Republican leadership, because they really don’t need Democrat votes to pass anything, as long as they keep their party together. But that’s an alternative reality Trump who shows up to put in even one honest day’s work at careful compromise. The actual Trump either cuts the Gordian Knot, succeeds by upending conventional politics, or he fails. Humiliating the Republican Congressional leadership, reducing them to lap-dog dependence on his will, is job one if Trump is to succeed. Fighting establishment Democrats isn’t even on the list of priorities right now. He’s already beat those losers, he doesn’t have to fight them until 2020, and his best shot at winning that fight is to succeed on his own terms beating the Republican party’s conventional, PC, leaders, this year.


Congressional democons or republicans, they are the same.

No on wants to offend anyone by building a wall to reducing spending.

After all they have their political careers to worry about.


@feddo Simply put, I can’t agree. There are a great number of holes in your argument. I choose…: a new President with unprecedented low popularity is in no position to make matters worse by hurting constituents in order to force Dems to vote against their will.


Do you know how many times the government has been shut down??

And after all that, the Federal Government still survives. Both parties survive today. As much bluster and positioning that will be done, everything will remain the same.

In the last shutdown as much as the president tried to hurt people to get his point across, he remains in office and just like the news cycle it was soon forgotten.


‘remained’… just damn well sayin :grin:


Yes for 8 very long years and the media cheered him on while people were shut out of government facilities.
At the time I lived near a national forest where I spent a great deal of time hiking. On the way to the forest The county sheriff was blocking the road and then let people through. 3 national forest vehicle were stopped and not allowed to pass. I asked the officer what was happening and he said the county was taking temporary control of the forest and allowing citizens to access the forest and told us to have a good day. I was told that the national forest employee called the state police and wants to press charges. They were told that they were on a county road and that the Sheriffs department had jurisdiction. A great day for citizens a bad day for federal employees. The story never hit the news. Imagine that.

Brings to mind an interesting question. Does the government own the national parks, monuments, etc. or are they a care taker for the American people?


I tried reading the OP but it was just too long.
As far as the shutdown…
I hope it happens
I hope millions of useless government employees have to go find real jobs
I hope that power decentralizes
I hope there’s no moar war
But that ain’t happnin’
I guess I’ll just keep drinkin’



You are right but keep in mind that he wants funding for EXACTLY what he campaigned and won on… it is democrats who want to stonewall his agenda… the threat by him is retaliatory and I am quite sure he can explain that to enough people that the press will once again show their bias and hypocrisy… The left just can’t help eating itself…


I hope that we avoid a government shutdown.

No, not because it would amount to Armageddon–the last time we had a government shutdown, most of us did not even notice–but because most of the media will portray it as all the fault of the Republicans. And that will likely harm the GOP in the 2018 midterms.


Didn’t seem to harm the GOP in th last 2 elections did it.

p.s. Americans have the attention span of the next news cycle.


Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), said President Donald Trump’s proposed wall between the U.S.-Mexico border was “a sign of weakness.”

Pelosi said, “What is wrong with that scenario is the wall. He talks about how tall it is, who will pay for it, and all of the rest of that. You have to understand this part of the country there is a community with a border going through it. The president, I think, talking about this wall, is expressing a sign of weakness. He is saying I can’t control our borders, I have to build a wall. We would certainly like to — we have a responsibility to control our borders but building a wall is not an answer. Not here or anyplace.”

No Pelosi… what he is saying is that he WILL enforce the laws and control the border but he will make it a damn sight harder for the next Obama to ignore the border if it is made out of steel and concrete…


It’s time to get rid of the Senate filibuster. No filibuster. No shutdown.

Sad, but true.


The nuclear option is alive and well.