by Morton Blackwell
September 22, 2015
Dear Fellow Conservative,
I regret that some people who should be wiser have fallen into a leftist trap.
It’s in the left’s interest for those who would pass all government expenditures, except for one exception, to be accused of wanting a government shutdown. But it’s simply not true or fair, and to concede the leftists’ claim is horribly damaging to our constitutional system of checks and balances, separation of powers, and limited government.
The Congress has the constitutional authority to pass bills, including all the federal money bills, and the President has the power to veto legislation, subject to a two-thirds override vote in both Houses.
When the Congress passes a comprehensive money bill that cuts a single category of spending and the President vetoes that bill, it is the President who makes the decision to shut down the government. Blaming the Congress for a government shutdown in these circumstances is unfair and implausible nonsense at best.
Unless successfully challenged, this false claim will permanently undermine the chance of cutting any expenditure when a President opposes that cut. That would outrageously expand presidential power at the expense of the Congress’ legislative power.
To preserve the Founding Fathers’ constitutional order, everyone who favors limited government should refuse to accept the claim that the Congress is responsible for a government shutdown under these circumstances. And we should all point out loudly that the President should be blamed for shutting the government when he insists that every single thing he wants funded is funded – or else.
Presenting the case for blaming the President for a government shutdown of this type will not be easy, but the long-term interests of our country demand that we not sit back and allow the left to sell to the American public this distorted interpretation of the process.
Virtually all the news media, all the Democrat politicians, and even some Republicans are already claiming that the Congress will be to blame if the President vetoes a major spending bill because it defunds Planned Parenthood. That is simply false, and it would be a great pity if conservatives undermine the intense public outrage against Planned Parenthood and lose this opportunity to defund that group.
— Morton Blackwell is founder of the Leadership Institute, a longtime member of the Republican National Committee, and one of the fathers of the modern conservative movement.