Obama's Shutdown/Default Scare Tactics

Obama's Shutdown/Default Scare Tactics
October 23, 2013

Edmund Contoski

Edmund Contoski has had a varied career. He is a former director of planning for an internationally... (read full bio)

Hundreds of thousands of government workers were laid off, national parks, monuments and other federal tourist attractions were closed, veterans were shortchanged, etc. All because the Republicans in the House of Representatives didn't vote the necessary money for them, right? Wrong! The House voted for all the money to keep all government activities going—except for Obamacare.

Except for federal employees involved in Obamacare, all the other layoffs and closure of the 401 national parks, etc. were not done for lack of funds but for dishonest political policy. That policy was to create unnecessary costs and inconveniences—and blame the Republicans—so people would be angry and clamor for Republicans to cave in on Obamacare to end the contrived hardships the administration imposed on them. It was also intended to scare people that a default would bring even greater hardships to the American people. 

Recently the eminent scholar, and author of more than 40 books, Thomas Sowell wrote in his syndicated column: “If [Senate Majority Leader] Reid and President Obama refuse to accept money required to run the government, because it leaves out the money they want to run Obamacare, that is their right. But that is also their responsibility. You cannot blame other people for not giving you everything you want. And it is fraud to blame them when you refuse to use the money they did vote, even when it is ample to run everything else in government.”

Furthermore, Sowell went on to say, “When Obama keeps claiming that it is some new outrage for those who control the money to try to change government policy by granting or withholding money, that is simply a bald-faced lie. You can check the history of other examples of 'legislation by appropriations,' as it used to be called.” Obama now demeans the Republicans by denigrating this historically accepted process as “extortion” and “ransom” and utilization of it as “irresponsible.”

Ron Allen recently reported in the Washington Examiner that the White House Office of Management and Budget ordered National Parks Director Jonathon Jarvis to close the parks. A national park ranger said he and his colleagues had been told “to make life as difficult for people as we can.” Allen wrote, “Jarvis and his Park Service rangers have even closed off access roads and parking lots at Mount Vernon and the Claude Moore Colonial Farm Park in Virginia, just outside of Washington. These are privately owned sites that get no federal money and depend on tourism and special events to keep their doors open and serve the American public. October is their busiest month, and they will lose tens of thousands of dollars because of these perverse lockouts. They will likely never replace that money....

"The furloughed federal workers will eventually get paid. The tourists Jarvis, Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are shafting will never get their money back for flights and fees already paid; hotel and concession operators will never be able to recoup money they lost because the public was barred from their events and facilities....

“Hunters were barred from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands in Alaska, after spending thousands of dollars, and without being given any notice of the closures until they arrived. This outrage violates laws that require notice before areas can be closed to the public.”

“[R]ecreationists are being turned away at popular sites that support thriving local economies from the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area to the Gulf Islands National Seashore off Florida and Mississippi, and Vermont’s snowmobiling favorite, White Rocks National Recreation Area....

“Groups of Grand Canyon river rafters are being stopped at Lee’s Ferry, Arizona, by armed park rangers and banned from floating down the Colorado River through the national park. One group from Philadelphia spent over $30,000 for the non-adventure and faces hundreds of dollars more for flight-change fees, to go home angry and disappointed.”

Don Amador, a promoter of motorized outdoor recreation and founder of TrailPAC, says, “National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands are likewise closed. Hunters are finding their expensive permits and tags are worthless in the middle of deer season. Some of my friends have been booted out of Forest Service campgrounds. Public land volunteer cleanups by the Off Highway Vehicle community have been cancelled. Rangers are giving tickets to recreationists on roads that have not been gated." 

The specter of government default because of failure to raise the debt ceiling has caused an even greater scare than the shutdown over Obamacare. But Sowell calls this “perhaps the biggest of the big lies” of government. He says, “Tax money keeps coming into the Treasury during the shutdown, and it vastly exceeds the interest that has to be paid on the national debt. Even if the debt ceiling is not lifted, that only means that the government is not allowed to run up new debt. But it does not mean that it is unable to pay the interest on existing debt.”

Moody's, a major credit agency, supports Sowell. In a memo dated October 7, it stated: “We believe the government would continue to pay interest and principal on its debt even in the event that the debt limit is not raised, leaving the creditworthiness intact. The debt limit restricts government expenditures to the amount of its incoming revenue; it does not prohibit government from servicing its debt.”

So, Obama is simply engaging in fear mongering in order to authorize more spending and an even larger debt.

Edmund Contoski

Edmund Contoski has had a varied career. He is a former director of planning for an internationally... (read full bio)