Dems unprepared for a partial government shutdown that lasts for months and months

Conventional wisdom among the media and politician branches of the Democratic Party holds that President Trump and the Republicans will pay a serious price for the very partial (25%) "government shutdown" as it drags on.  The passage of a House budget bill with not even one dollar, as Speaker Pelosi averred, is supposed to increase pressure on President Trump in their view.  They seem to believe that the public so loves visiting national parks in the middle of the winter – one of the few aspects of the 25% of the federal government that affects ordinary voters – that Republicans will crack under public pressure.

Actually, though, they don't even get to such a calculation of who is missing what government services during a 25% shutdown.  To a Democrat politician, government is so essential, so fundamental to his role as good people serving needy citizens of all stripes, that nobody could possibly endure a shutdown that lasts for months and months.  It is literally unthinkable, which is why Democrats have not bothered to think through who is going to start screaming the loudest as time continues its march forward with only 75% of the federal government funded.

They are wrong.

Senator Richard Shelby yesterday warned them:

"I'm thinking we might be in for a long haul here," Shelby told reporters at the Capitol. "I'm not optimistic now."

Shelby added, "If we can ever get over this, I think then you've got another week.  A new week, a new day, and so forth."  But that seems increasingly unlikely, he said.  "If we don't get over this – if this goes on for months and months, and it could, I hope not, then that might be a preview of coming attractions."

By far the biggest and most powerful political faction within the Democrat camp negatively affected by the shutdown is federal employees, who are forced to live on savings.  The loyalty of federal employees as a partisan constituency – as voters and especially as donors – has had many benefits for the Democratic Party, including ongoing obstructionism of President Trump.  But President Trump sees the other side of that coin, one that Pelosi, Schumer, and others are blind to.

Most people as well paid as federal bureaucrats (they earn substantially more than the general public they "serve" at all but the top levels) can handle one or two missed paychecks.


Source: Foundation for Economic Education.

But to go three months or more with no income, but mortgages or rent, food, electricity, insurance, and other continuing expenses not on shutdown, requires real, liquid financial resources that many salaried people do not accumulate.  My guess is that the pain of unpaid bills is going to start gaining momentum, just as Christmas gifts charged to credit cards have to be paid this month.  In another month, in February, those paycheck-less federal employees are going to see exactly how much interest has accumulated on their credit card bills.  March will be much worse for them, as interest accumulates on top of the new bills that have to be charged to the plastic.

In other words, a prime segment of the Democrats' coalition is in a financial hole that gets deeper and deeper with each passing day – all because Nancy Pelosi says a border wall is "immoral," a nonsense proposition that only sycophants can mouth without inner doubts.  The position that not even a dollar should be spent on a border wall is not viable, which means that a compromise on calling it a "slatted fence" or "border protection" or some other euphemism is going to get more attractive to the federal employees and to the political bosses.

How long will it take?  My guess is that a second unpaid credit card bill for federal employees whose last paycheck was last year – at about the time the electric utilities, mortgage lenders, and landlords start sending warning letters – is when the pressure on Pelosi and Schumer becomes unbearable.

Meanwhile, the public learns every day that life goes on pretty darn well with a federal government only 75% as big as it was last year.  If the shutdown lasts until April 15, who knows what conclusions might be drawn?

Conventional wisdom among the media and politician branches of the Democratic Party holds that President Trump and the Republicans will pay a serious price for the very partial (25%) "government shutdown" as it drags on.  The passage of a House budget bill with not even one dollar, as Speaker Pelosi averred, is supposed to increase pressure on President Trump in their view.  They seem to believe that the public so loves visiting national parks in the middle of the winter – one of the few aspects of the 25% of the federal government that affects ordinary voters – that Republicans will crack under public pressure.

Actually, though, they don't even get to such a calculation of who is missing what government services during a 25% shutdown.  To a Democrat politician, government is so essential, so fundamental to his role as good people serving needy citizens of all stripes, that nobody could possibly endure a shutdown that lasts for months and months.  It is literally unthinkable, which is why Democrats have not bothered to think through who is going to start screaming the loudest as time continues its march forward with only 75% of the federal government funded.

They are wrong.

Senator Richard Shelby yesterday warned them:

"I'm thinking we might be in for a long haul here," Shelby told reporters at the Capitol. "I'm not optimistic now."

Shelby added, "If we can ever get over this, I think then you've got another week.  A new week, a new day, and so forth."  But that seems increasingly unlikely, he said.  "If we don't get over this – if this goes on for months and months, and it could, I hope not, then that might be a preview of coming attractions."

By far the biggest and most powerful political faction within the Democrat camp negatively affected by the shutdown is federal employees, who are forced to live on savings.  The loyalty of federal employees as a partisan constituency – as voters and especially as donors – has had many benefits for the Democratic Party, including ongoing obstructionism of President Trump.  But President Trump sees the other side of that coin, one that Pelosi, Schumer, and others are blind to.

Most people as well paid as federal bureaucrats (they earn substantially more than the general public they "serve" at all but the top levels) can handle one or two missed paychecks.


Source: Foundation for Economic Education.

But to go three months or more with no income, but mortgages or rent, food, electricity, insurance, and other continuing expenses not on shutdown, requires real, liquid financial resources that many salaried people do not accumulate.  My guess is that the pain of unpaid bills is going to start gaining momentum, just as Christmas gifts charged to credit cards have to be paid this month.  In another month, in February, those paycheck-less federal employees are going to see exactly how much interest has accumulated on their credit card bills.  March will be much worse for them, as interest accumulates on top of the new bills that have to be charged to the plastic.

In other words, a prime segment of the Democrats' coalition is in a financial hole that gets deeper and deeper with each passing day – all because Nancy Pelosi says a border wall is "immoral," a nonsense proposition that only sycophants can mouth without inner doubts.  The position that not even a dollar should be spent on a border wall is not viable, which means that a compromise on calling it a "slatted fence" or "border protection" or some other euphemism is going to get more attractive to the federal employees and to the political bosses.

How long will it take?  My guess is that a second unpaid credit card bill for federal employees whose last paycheck was last year – at about the time the electric utilities, mortgage lenders, and landlords start sending warning letters – is when the pressure on Pelosi and Schumer becomes unbearable.

Meanwhile, the public learns every day that life goes on pretty darn well with a federal government only 75% as big as it was last year.  If the shutdown lasts until April 15, who knows what conclusions might be drawn?