Finley: End impasse by actually shutting down gov't

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News
Finley writes: "Shut it all down and see how long Congress and the president can withstand the public outrage that will result."

Two weeks into a partial shutdown of the federal government, and most of us still haven't noticed an impact on our daily routines.

And perhaps that's why the standoff continues.

As long as the only ones feeling real pain are the federal workers who are keeping the government running without getting paychecks, our political leaders can indulge their game of chicken, refusing to compromise or even to negotiate.

That would change in a heartbeat if the government truly shuts down.

If Americans arrived at the airport to find they couldn't get on the flight they'd paid for because TSA officers and air traffic controllers were off the job, this shutdown would be over tomorrow.

Same is true if the customs and border control agents didn't show up for work and all those caravanners lined up at the southern border were free to walk on in.

That happens, and Americans start calling congressional offices and the White House to demand relief. If they don't get a response, they'll show up in Washington with pitchforks.

Some 400,000 federal workers who have been deemed essential are compelled by the government to show up every day, even though they aren't being paid.

Because those workers go along with that outrageous deal, Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi can dig in their heels and wait for President Donald Trump to crack.

They wouldn't have that luxury if members of Congress were fielding thousands of calls each day from angry constituents. Nor would Trump.

They'd have to get a deal done fast.

Government shutdowns have become a substitute for regular order governing. Democrats and Republicans refuse to debate and pass an annual budget, waiting instead until the government runs out of money and then counting on the threat of a government shutdown to squeeze concessions from the other side.

That'll keep happening until the rules of a shutdown change.

Start with this: No government worker in any department should be compelled by politicians to work without pay. Employees should not bear the burden of Washington's political dysfunction.

And add a requirement that if the government does shut down, members of Congress won't get their paychecks. It's absurd that those responsible for this mess get paid, while the folks manning the airport control towers don't.

Take away congressional pay and see if the members so meekly follow their leaders.

There is plenty of room for a compromise that would give Schumer/Pelosi and Trump enough of what they want to declare victory. But there's no incentive. The howls from the public haven't become loud enough to move them to action. 

So if we're going to have a government shutdown, let's have a real one. Shut it all down and see how long Congress and the president can withstand the public outrage that will result.

Catch “The Nolan Finley Show” weekdays 7-9 a.m. on 910 AM Superstation.