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Thomas Sowell on “Who Shut Down the Government?”

Posted: October 5, 2013 at 5:00 am   /   by

sowell (1)When it comes to clarity,there are few that can match Thomas Sowell.

Here are excerpts from his incisive article “Who Shut Down the Government?” (emphasis and links added). Please see also a Memo to the GOP at the bottom of this page.

There is really nothing complicated about the facts. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted all the money required to keep all government activities going — except for ObamaCare.

This is not a matter of opinion. You can check the Congressional Record.

As for the House of Representatives’ right to grant or withhold money, that is not a matter of opinion either. You can check the Constitution of the United States. All spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which means that Congressmen there have a right to decide whether or not they want to spend money on a particular government activity.

Whether ObamaCare is good, bad or indifferent is a matter of opinion. But it is a matter of fact that members of the House of Representatives have a right to make spending decisions based on their opinion.

If Senator Reid and President Obama refuse to accept the 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.

When Barack 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 appropriation” as it used to be called.

Whether legislation by appropriation is a good idea or a bad idea is a matter of opinion. But whether it is both legal and not unprecedented is a matter of fact.

Perhaps the biggest of the big lies is that the government will not be able to pay what it owes on the national debt, creating a danger of default. 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 government is not allowed to run up new debt. But that does not mean that it is unable to pay the interest on existing debt[If Obama and Jack Lew deliberately stiff America’s creditors, the dire consequences will be their personal responsibility.]

None of this is rocket science. But unless the Republicans get their side of the story out — and articulation has never been their strong suit — the lies will win. More important, the whole country will lose.

Sowell’s last point is the most important. Press conferences and microphone sound bites are ok, but this calls for something more.

Memo to the GOP: Hire a top-flight PR firm with plenty of cut-throat Washington Beltway political experience. Hand them Sowell’s article and give them their mission: We want every American to hear and understand this message. Pay them well and give them a big bonus if they succeed. But for crying out loud, get on with it!

Read Sowell’s full article at this link.

David Leeper

David Leeper

David Leeper is a retired engineer living in Scottsdale, AZ, with his wife of 45 years. He is currently a volunteer science teacher at In his 40-year career he held positions from lab technician to technical vice president at Bell Labs, Motorola, and Intel. He holds 16 patents in telecom technology and a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. During his career, he wrote mainly for technical journals including Scientific American. He began writing for in 2011.
David Leeper

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Thomas Sowell on "Who Shut Down the Government?"