US Government Shutdown

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Jeff Kuta
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Re: US Government Shutdown

#61 Post by Jeff Kuta » Sun Jan 21, 2018 1:12 am

Hastert was Speaker of the House, so it really only applies in that chamber. But, the mentality of the Hastert Rules still applies. The House is way more conservative than the Senate, in part due to the existence of the filibuster which forces compromise.

That's why I say the GOP cannot control its caucus (spanning both chambers).

And yes, I do like the filibuster as it *ought* to be used. But in the past 20-30 years, it's gone off the rails.

For garden variety appointments to administrators or federal judges, I think 50%+1 should be sufficient. It probably should be that way for heads of agencies and SCOTUS justices too, just so the business of government can proceed.

But I think the filibuster is even more important for major legislation to forestall any great shocks to the system. I loathe when any party tacks on major legislation to a budget reconciliation bill. It's a total abdication of responsibility taking the easy way out.

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Re: US Government Shutdown

#62 Post by Deeply_Dippy » Mon Jan 22, 2018 5:57 pm

Fundamental flaw in US budgeting system being exploited for political ends.

Whether you agree with the reasons for doing so or not, it's only possible because the system allows it.

If you don't like it, change the system. Good luck with that by the way.

Wouldn't happen in the UK.

Foxcastle
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Re: US Government Shutdown

#63 Post by Foxcastle » Mon Jan 22, 2018 6:33 pm

I'm not sure it's a fundamental flaw, any more or less than "government funding continues on autopilot" would be, anyway. Forcing lawmakers to deal with appropriations for government operations annually is supposed to foster oversight and prudent consideration of spending priorities. Obviously, that's not happening, but the shutdown crisis isn't a systemic flaw (implying that it can't be prevented), it's the byproduct of a political breakdown. Congress chose this action.

I think that there's benefit to forcing Congress to resolve political disputes. For one thing, it gives voters to judge in the next election. For another, it prevents Congress from fiddling while the Republic burns—which does not mean that the Republic is not on fire, and does not mean Congress (collectively or individually) is helping to fight the fire, but it does mean that lawmakers cannot just shrug and ignore it and let it get worse.

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Re: US Government Shutdown

#64 Post by SuperSteve » Mon Jan 22, 2018 8:27 pm

Meh... the system works. It lets the 30 Senators from the crazy red states (Alabama, Mississippi) ramble on and lets the 30 Senators from the crazy blue states (California, Oregon) ramble on and appeal to their constituencies while "fighting" the other side.

For the most part, the ones in the middle control the agenda which, the Senators on the extremes prefer. It lets the work get done and allows them to ramble on to please their base and everyone gets to put sweetheart deals in the legislation to reward the donors that keep them in their job.

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Re: US Government Shutdown

#65 Post by Octavious » Mon Jan 22, 2018 8:46 pm

This is obviously some strange usage of the word "works" that I wasn't previously aware of.

Jeff Kuta
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Re: US Government Shutdown

#66 Post by Jeff Kuta » Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:28 pm

http://history.house.gov/HistoricalHigh ... 9?ret=True

“If we make the ratio [of persons per Representative] too large the idea of representation becomes attenuated and less definite. The personal interest of the voter in his representative becomes less important to him, and we may lose something of the vital strength of our representative form of government.”

This is the problem with our government. Worse, people blame representatives who cannot properly represent the people. They end up working with special interests. Not a good way to keep up a Republic.

Population
United States = ~320,000,000
Great Britain = ~65,000,000

Representatives/MPs
United States = 435
Great Britain = 650

Population per Rep/MP:
United States = ~735,000
Great Britain = ~100,000

With more representation comes more chance for smaller parties to find some breathing room and caucus together instead of having 2 parties dominate.

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Re: US Government Shutdown

#67 Post by JamesYanik » Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:42 pm

hmm.... it'd be interesting to split it up more @JK, one proposed method is splitting up California into 3 different states.

it's a massive landmass with a massive population base, but for the east coast and smaller heavily populated areas... it's hard to say

Jeff Kuta
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Re: US Government Shutdown

#68 Post by Jeff Kuta » Tue Jan 23, 2018 12:50 am

Fixing the Senate will take a lot more than breaking apart larger states into multiple smaller ones, despite what California Republicans and Texas Democrats may want. Better would be to make three superstates by combining:

North Dakota/South Dakota/Nebraska
Idaho/Montana/Wyoming
Maine/New Hampshire/Vermont

Anyway, corporate interests will reign supreme until Citizens United is overturned.

The "Wyoming Rule" ought to be used, but smaller states won't have it because it will dilute their power.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wyoming_Rule

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Re: US Government Shutdown

#69 Post by CAPT Brad » Tue Jan 23, 2018 3:14 am

So much for the 'shutdown'. It was barely a long weekend.

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Re: US Government Shutdown

#70 Post by TrPrado » Tue Jan 23, 2018 3:32 am

I mean it still objectively shut down lmao

It was just a bit more convenient than past shutdowns.

President Eden
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Re: US Government Shutdown

#71 Post by President Eden » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:34 am

Jeff Kuta wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:28 pm
http://history.house.gov/HistoricalHigh ... 9?ret=True

“If we make the ratio [of persons per Representative] too large the idea of representation becomes attenuated and less definite. The personal interest of the voter in his representative becomes less important to him, and we may lose something of the vital strength of our representative form of government.”

This is the problem with our government. Worse, people blame representatives who cannot properly represent the people. They end up working with special interests. Not a good way to keep up a Republic.

Population
United States = ~320,000,000
Great Britain = ~65,000,000

Representatives/MPs
United States = 435
Great Britain = 650

Population per Rep/MP:
United States = ~735,000
Great Britain = ~100,000

With more representation comes more chance for smaller parties to find some breathing room and caucus together instead of having 2 parties dominate.
We're on opposite sides on a lot of issues so I wanted to give you props for an interesting post here, Jeff.

I think the notion of ensuring that small states have relevant representation matters quite a bit. It's one of the big reasons why I prefer the use of the electoral college to a more intuitive "one person one vote" system for electing the President.
But in my mind, the whole point of the Senate was to secure exactly that. Strategies such as the Wyoming rule you cited in your other post make a lot of sense. The House is meant to be the "people's" house of representation, so trying to preserve the representative power of small states should be of lesser importance than ensuring the proper representation of all people.

I never considered using a ratio of citizens to Representatives, but that is a great idea. The immediate problem I see: how do we determine the correct ratio? You point out Britain's, which is much smaller than ours. How do we know that's a good number? I can buy that ours should be smaller (for exactly the reason you state with regard to undue corporate influence), but why stop at 100,000 when we could do 50,000? Or why go down to 100,000 when we could stop at 250,000?
Of course, if you go too small, you end up with too many people in the House to get anything done. Can you imagine the chaos of a thousand-person House?

I would also be very hesitant to merge states. At least, not without coming to understand how culturally related the states are. From the outside, North and South Dakota look like they might as well just be "Dakota," and the history of their being split suggests as much (done for mostly political considerations), but for all I know, North and South Dakotans don't see each other as similar at all. And even if you fused them, I'm sure Nebraskans see themselves differently (paging brainbomb). In the South, I could easily see outsiders arguing that Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama could be merged, since they all share the same cultural split of "Anglo Protestant north, Cajun French and Spanish Catholic on the Gulf Coast," but none of those states see themselves as being like their neighbors enough to consider combining (even ignoring the obvious interests they have in remaining separate). I do like the idea, but I think it would be irresponsible to do this without giving very serious consideration to how culturally similar the states are to each other.

Verming
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Re: US Government Shutdown

#72 Post by Verming » Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:12 pm

Did anyone really notice? Genuine question.

Jeff Kuta
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Re: US Government Shutdown

#73 Post by Jeff Kuta » Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:57 pm

President Eden wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:34 am
I think the notion of ensuring that small states have relevant representation matters quite a bit. It's one of the big reasons why I prefer the use of the electoral college to a more intuitive "one person one vote" system for electing the President.
I also like the Electoral College even if I hate the result that we got in 2016. It means the medium sized states which are most diverse with respect to political perspectives are the determining factor by razor thin margins and therefore DEMAND attention. The Midwest was pissed off and changed the course of the election. My entire extended family of farm hands and factory workers (blue and white collar) hails from Ohio, Indiana and Michigan so I deeply understand what is going on there.
President Eden wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:34 am
But in my mind, the whole point of the Senate was to secure exactly that. Strategies such as the Wyoming rule you cited in your other post make a lot of sense. The House is meant to be the "people's" house of representation, so trying to preserve the representative power of small states should be of lesser importance than ensuring the proper representation of all people.

I never considered using a ratio of citizens to Representatives, but that is a great idea. The immediate problem I see: how do we determine the correct ratio? You point out Britain's, which is much smaller than ours. How do we know that's a good number? I can buy that ours should be smaller (for exactly the reason you state with regard to undue corporate influence), but why stop at 100,000 when we could do 50,000? Or why go down to 100,000 when we could stop at 250,000?
Of course, if you go too small, you end up with too many people in the House to get anything done. Can you imagine the chaos of a thousand-person House?
If it were up to me, we should pick a number slightly larger than that of the population of the smallest state and divide it into the entire population of the United States, make that the number of representatives, and apportion those Reps to the states as normal.

Then, after each census, re-evaluate by the same formula with two constraints:
1) The number of representatives should not decrease (leads to less representation); and
2) The smallest state population number should not decrease, including times when a new state is added (can lead to a dramatic increase in representation as projected on the wikipedia page when Nevada was added).

Ball park, if 600,000 were the United States number and we have 330,000,000 people, we'd end up with 550 reps in the House. Not really that bad.
President Eden wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:34 am
I would also be very hesitant to merge states.
I would also be hesitant to merge states. I was playing devil's advocate a bit for those who want to break up large states which lessens their importance in the Electoral College. If those merges were done, there'd probably be one Democrat in the House from Dakota/Nebraska and RockyMountain, and one Republican from New England, and their influence on the Senate would be duly reduced.

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Re: US Government Shutdown

#74 Post by PRINCE WILLIAM » Tue Jan 23, 2018 5:18 pm

Being a European I am a little lost here. Can someone explain to me how the system works there? Does the government bills need an approval on a regular basis?
Unfortunately for citizens across the globe, politicians are most often than not interested in their own gain or lose than the country's well being.

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Re: US Government Shutdown

#75 Post by JamesYanik » Tue Jan 23, 2018 5:39 pm

well, only through congress do we vote on stuff, there's a lot of stuff that goes through executive agencies and never gets voted on.

which *technically* is kinda against the constitution, but precedents and whatnot keep them going

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Re: US Government Shutdown

#76 Post by Foxcastle » Tue Jan 23, 2018 5:55 pm

PRINCE WILLIAM wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 5:18 pm
Being a European I am a little lost here. Can someone explain to me how the system works there? Does the government bills need an approval on a regular basis?
Unfortunately for citizens across the globe, politicians are most often than not interested in their own gain or lose than the country's well being.
In the US, Congress has to pass annual legislation ("appropriations") to provide funding out of the Treasury to federal agencies. The intent of that process is to foster Congressional oversight of spending and allow consideration to consider spending priorities regularly and frequently. The appropriations bills are valid for a certain period, and after that period, if a new appropriations law is not passed, the Treasury does not have legal authority to disburse funds to agencies. Agencies are, by a separate law, not allowed to do anything without funding (basically, they can't incur costs... they have be able to pay up front). This includes paying employees, so employees are not allowed to work, since they're not getting paid, which is why employees get furloughed. So a shutdown occurs when the prior appropriations bill expires, which leads to the Treasury not being able to disburse money to agencies, and agencies are therefore not allowed take any action they cannot pay for. A shutdown ends when Congress passes a law to start spending money again.

"Essential" employees continue to work... This includes the military, law enforcement, and a variety of other positions. By law, anyone who is essential must be paid for their work after the shutdown. (Shutdowns have always given all employees backpay, whether they were essential or furloughed, but they are not required to give backpay to furloughed employees... It's all up to whatever's in the law that ends the shutdown.) Agencies that are self-funded, i.e. do not require money from the Treasury for operations, also continue to operate. Examples include Air Traffic Control (paid for by fees on airline tickets). Agencies that have some income from fees can use those funds to stay open until those funds run out; e.g., the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) collects fees for processing applications, so they can shift those funds to cover operations that would normally be covered by Treasury funds.

Under the regular appropriations process (defunct for more than a decade now), Congress is supposed to consider 12 separate appropriations bills that cover government operation. Political breakdown has made that impossible, and Congress has instead come to rely on big, grand bargain bills that pile all 12 separate appropriations segments into one massive bill. Or, failing that, they pass a Continuing Resolution (CR), which are often temporary (anywhere from hours to months), and continue funding over the time period at the same annualized rate. So they were supposed to have completed last year's appropriations bills by September 30, failed at that, passed a CR through December 8, failed again, passed another CR through December 22, failed some more, passed another CR through January 19, failed even harder and shutdown, and then reopened under a CR that runs through February 8. At which point we will probably get another shutdown.

Questions?

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Re: US Government Shutdown

#77 Post by Jeff Kuta » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:09 pm

Also, Congress annually passes a budget which requires 50%+1 to pass. Appropriations bills (and continuing resolutions) are different and require 3/5ths majority to overcome a filibuster. Congress frequently attaches “riders” to continuing resolutions to change policy outside of regular order, so appropriating funds has become even more contentious and led to shutdowns.

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Re: US Government Shutdown

#78 Post by Foxcastle » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:23 pm

Jeff Kuta wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:09 pm
Also, Congress annually passes a budget which requires 50%+1 to pass. Appropriations bills (and continuing resolutions) are different and require 3/5ths majority to overcome a filibuster. Congress frequently attaches “riders” to continuing resolutions to change policy outside of regular order, so appropriating funds has become even more contentious and led to shutdowns.
The Budget only sets topline numbers, and is basically Congress's agreement with itself on what it will appropriate for the year (not enforceable as law). And usually, when the two sides are trying to negotiate a grand bargain to avoid a shutdown, they change the Budget (or gut it altogether) without a second thought.

Policy riders were more of a problem a few years ago, when you were pretty sure an appropriations bill would actually pass. Now that you can be more sure that it won't pass, riders are less common. (And it's really, really tough to get a rider or anything extraneous on an omnibus appropriations or a CR.)

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Re: US Government Shutdown

#79 Post by Jeff Kuta » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:30 pm

Even without riders, continuing resolutions require 3/5ths majority to beat a filibuster, and continuing resolutions should not and would not be necessary if Congress did its job and passed a budget. The fact that the GOP and Trump have been unable to do so considering it only takes 50% +1 for the budget is telling.

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Re: US Government Shutdown

#80 Post by TrPrado » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:45 pm

The bill has to be a reconciliation bill to overcome filibuster without 3/5 of the Senate. This bill was not a reconciliation bill because the reconciliation for the budget year was used on the tax reform. That’s the only reason Democrats had leverage to negotiate against a shutdown at all, when they didn’t on the tax bill.

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