The President went down to talk with the Advisor the day after the Speaker of the House announced his resignation. The Advisor asked, “Mr. President, do you believe the next speaker will be willing to shut the government down over the ‘Planned Parenthood’ issue?”
“That’s my decision, not the speaker’s. The Constitution gives the House the sole right to appropriate funds for the government. Early in my administration, the House forgot it had that power and did not use it. Power not used is power lost.
“For example, no one should blame the president for the current budget deficit. I can’t spend anything unless the bill originates in the House, is passed by the House and Senate, and sent to my desk. If the Republicans believe the budget should be balanced and the deficit reduced, why don’t they do it? The answer is simple, they just don’t have the political courage to make the hard choices. In the vacuum they created, I stepped in and am now governing as if I could appropriate funds.
“My base doesn’t want them to defund ‘Planned Parenthood’ so I said I would veto any bill that defunds ‘Planned Parenthood.’ Since they were planning to send the defunding issue up to me in the major budgeting bill, my veto of the bill would shut the government down. They are too dumb to change the messaging. It is not their fault I vetoed the budget bill. I vetoed the bill because it contained something neither I nor my base wanted. Ever since Speaker Newt Gingrich’s battle with President Clinton over spending issues resulted in a presidential veto and the shutdown of the government, all professional Republican politicians are in mortal fear of a presidential veto that results in a political shutdown of the government in the most painful way possible. I guarantee the pain part.
“Now I can control the legislature simply by threatening to shut the government down. In reality, taking $500 million out of a trillion-dollar budget would hardly be noticed. In this case they weren’t even cutting the funds, merely spreading the funds to other women’s health clinics. The government could go on as normal. The Republican Party members who fought so hard and successfully to win the House and Senate, now wonder what is the difference? The people we sent to Washington to represent us are not listening to us. In political fact, I now decide what to fund and the funding levels. I am Appropriator-in-Chief.”
“Will a new speaker be able to regain the Constitutional power to appropriate funds?”
“I doubt it. Maybe if the majority of the media supported the Republican Party, but I don’t think any of the contenders will have the courage to confront both me and the media. Rest assured, if I shut the government down over some funding bill I don’t like the media will blame it on the Republicans. Their own members and the conservative media will also automatically blame the Republican radicals for any shutdown. That is a strange but accurate view of the political scene in America. Senate and House leaders are playing the power game by traditionally cherished rules and procedures. I make my own rules and procedures. Therefore I win.”
Seeing the President check his watch, the Advisor said, “Mr. President, I fear you are needed back in the above-ground world. Thank you for the education. I don’t agree with your goals but you must be one of the most astute and aggressive presidents ever to play in the biggest of all power games.”
“I think that is a compliment. So thank you.”
This is an account written by a fictional advisor who doesn’t exist but should.
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