What can be said about the shutdown that hasn't already been said? Not much. But some simple facts should not be ignored.
It used to be that conservatives claimed to be the protectors of the Constitution, the champions of "literal interpretation" and the "original intent" of the framers of the document. It seems that at least a small portion of Congress no longer agrees with the strict interpretation of the Constitution. For instance:
Article I, section 8It's pretty clear to me what the founders meant here with regard to paying debts, and borrowing money. It's right there. And it also clearly gives Congress the power to regulate commerce among the states, something that our supposed Constitutional champions always seem to forget. But I digress. At least I didn't read "Green Eggs and Ham" and prove that I lack the reading comprehension necessary to understand the message, in a children's book no less, about trying things before you decide whether you like it or not.
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes...
I also find Article VI of the Constitution interesting in light of the current manufactured crisis:
Article. VISo, the framers themselves refused to skip out on paying debts of a previous government even when proposing an entirely new structure of government to take its place. Is there any question that they expected each Congress to honor the debts and obligations in place when a new Congress is elected, if they chose to pay the bills of a previous but soon to be defunct government?
All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
And of course, everyone who's ever read the Constitution should know that Congress can repeal previously passed laws. I've lost count of how many times the House has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and the number doesn't matter anyway. The Senate and the President - you know, two parts of the Constitution that make up the Checks and Balances we all learned about in grade school, refused to play ball. Even the Supreme Court went against opponents of the ACA. To a rational mind, that would signal that there is no Constitutional option to repeal the law at present. So the guardians of the Constitution have turned on the document they claim to hold in such high regard. I just wonder what's next after they've turned on the Constitution.
And of course, there's the oft discussed 14th Amendment:
14th Amendment, Section 4By not acting to raise the debt limit, Congress will be neglecting its Constitutional responsibilities while at the same time focusing attention on the debt limit vote itself.
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.
Nowhere in the Constitution is Congress given the power to refuse to carry out its duties. For members of Congress, there should be punishment when they violate their own oaths of office to uphold the Constitution. Unfortunately, each house of Congress is granted the power to "police" its own membership, so justice for those responsible for this mess is highly unlikely. But make no mistake: this is not an abuse of power, it is the exercise of a power that is not in the Constitution, the power to not exercise a clearly enumerated power. In a way, it is analogous to those who object to the individual mandate. They are showing us how dysfunctional the ACA would be without the mandate. Only they're getting paid for inaction, instead of penalized.
This has to be fixed. I believe that a possibility would be a Constitutional amendment establishing a deadline requiring Congress to present a budget to the Senate and the President well ahead of the fiscal year, allowing a reasonable amount of time for negotiations before the next fiscal year begins. Failing a timely agreement, if one House of Congress, or the President, refuses to deal, they shall be penalized daily until an agreement is made. No more holding the nation hostage.
Then again, it would be poetic justice if all Congressmen were declared "at will employees" with no benefits, like their own gym, for instance, and required to pay for all their own expenses out of a minimum wage paycheck. If the architects of the shutdown were employed at Wal-Mart, they would all have been fired.