How to Shut Down the Government

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About one-quarter of that amount is for highway repair and maintenance, necessary for safety. But the other three-quarters ($30 billion a year) are for new highways. The Republicans should zero-fund new construction and say that America needs a three-year moratorium on new highway construction. Repair and maintain what we have, but we will have to do without new federal roads for the next year to save $30 billion. It’s a tradeoff, they should say, but we need deficit reduction more than we need the new roads.


Other prominent candidates for zero funding are Obama’s National Infrastructure Innovation and Finance Fund, a pork-barrel construction project ($4 billion a year), and his Build America Bonds, which provide for a federal subsidy to states and localities to pay the interest and principal on their bonds for infrastructure ($11.5 billion a year).

Together, these three programs cost us $45.5 billion a year, close to the GOP spending reduction goals. Nobody is going to bleed if they are cut, and most voters will accept the necessity of zero-funding them for at least a year and possibly for three years.

For additional political advantage, Republicans should zero-fund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting ($500 million a year) and the National Endowments for the Arts and for the Humanities ($500 million a year).

And, for political cover, the House should propose rolling back the congressional budget to 2008 levels (saving $500 million a year).

Add in $4 billion cuts already agreed to and $6.5 just proposed by the White House, and you come to $57.5 billion — very close to the $61 billion the GOP proposed.

Then the Republicans should leave all other federal agencies intact with no cuts. They should present the Democrats with bills for continuing funding for the other agencies that are identical to those that would have passed the Senate. Then, if the Democrats choose to vote against the funding for these other agencies, it is they who will have held the country hostage and closed down the government. Republicans would be perfectly willing to keep all the other agencies open.

And, by unilaterally zero-funding the targeted agencies, Republicans will, de facto, have accomplished their budget reduction goals and be able easily to explain them to America. And who will care that these agencies are zero-funded?

The result will inevitably be a total victory for the Republican Party and for those who want to cut the budget.

Then, Republicans should take the next step and roll back Medicaid funding to 2008 levels and block-grant it to the states.


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  • Steve

    This is crazy. You're here talking about how the Republicans need to approach reducing the budget by $61B for 2011 when we are borrowing in excess of $100B per month. Keep in mind that we're already half way through FY2011 — congress SHOULD be working on FY2012!

    At this rate, congress won't be in a position to negotiate the FY2012 reductions to "bring things into control" until this time next year. We may not have that type of time anymore. This is not an exaggeration. US Government Spending as Percent of GDP is up to 44%. Meanwhile, tax revenue has been terrible, as illustrated in data available in Wikipedia and theObama 2011 budget. The 2010 estimated tax collection was only $2.2T. While the administration expects $300B more this year, it’s not clear that anything is going on that would increase tax collection. Given the strength of the dollar and the vulnerability of the economy to stability in nations with oil, the US economy may contract even with inflation this year. We don't know how much the government will be able to collect in taxes for 2011 (or for that matter what the actual 2010 numbers ended up). Congress needs to set a budget that stops borrowing and the administration needs to manage within that budget. Period.

    Social welfare benefits increased by over $500B the past two years. Meanwhile, federal employment has increased by over 230,000 jobs since the beginning of the recession, the majority of which occurred under the Obama administration. And if that isn't enough, the Obama budget recommendation included around 15,000 more Federal jobs. Bringing those two areas along — welfare benefits and Federal staffing — to 2008 levels along should generate $600B in savings alone.

    It shouldn't be hard to significantly reduced the debt requirements very quickly. The administration and congress need to do the job we pay them hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to do — make the tough decisions that run the country with a reasonable budget while protecting our rights.

  • Mach1Duck

    The citizens of this country could shut down the government by not spending except for essentials. The banks could not issue faith money (money backed by nothing) and the politicians would not have faith money to spend.

  • Morning Quickie

    Why are the democrats blaming women for the government shut down?

    They ignore our issues for years but suddenly women’s rights are important enough to shut down the government. They should stop hiding behind our petticoats!