How Trump can beat Democrats on the budget
The continuing resolution for about one fourth of the discretionary federal budget ran out on 22 December 2018. Since then, several departments have had a shutdown. President Trump insists that the bill to fund these departments include about $5 billion to fund a wall to stop illegal immigration at our southern border. Trump will veto any bill without the wall. Democrats will not vote for any bill with the wall. It is a stalemate.
With mostly Democrat federal workers affected by the shutdown, the Democrats on Capitol Hill do not seem in a rush to negotiate. Reasons that Democrats cite for not yielding on this issue are 1) that the wall costs too much money, 2) that the proposed wall design is incorrect, and 3) that walls are not effective barriers. Refuting these points is easy. 1) The annual budget spends $4.4 trillion, far more than $5 billion. 2) Democrat politicians make lousy engineers, but now they are fascinated with wall design? 3) Walls make great barriers, as seen in the Democrats' own homes. Democrats must be against the wall for some other reason. I suspect that they see the illegal aliens as future Democrat voters. Clearly, this shutdown does not put pressure on the Democrats.
More pressure can be applied on the Democrats starting on 1 March 2019. This is when the suspension of the debt ceiling ends. The debt ceiling will then be whatever the debt happens to be that day. This means that we may have a government shutdown starting then. Such a shutdown can be managed well. We should pay our bills in this order: interest on the debt, Social Security and similar payments, purchases of contractor goods and services, and defense spending. Other expenditures, such as domestic spending, will have to wait. President Trump can authorize this. As long as our tax revenue meets or exceeds these payments, we will be within the debt ceiling.
You may be wondering how this can be justified. The government is required to spend $4.4 trillion and expects to take in $3.4 trillion. This means that it must have a $1-trillion deficit. It is also required not to add to the debt starting on 1 March. These requirements contradict each other. Without guidance from Congress, Trump has the leeway to manage this contradiction any way he wants.
The specter of the debt ceiling will give Trump the ability to shut down the agencies that the Democrats love the most. This will bring them to the negotiating table.