12/8/2017—For eight years, the Democratic Party argued that the debt limit and keeping the government running were not policy decisions, but basic responsibilities of Congress. Increasing the debt limit essentially allowed the government to pay for spending that had already happened—it was simply paying bills. So was basic funding legislation. The place to decide policy issues was elsewhere—whether money should be spent in the first place, for example. Therefore, President Obama repeatedly argued, this kind of legislation had to be “clean,” without unrelated and usually controversial provisions. Threatening to shut down the government or default on paying debts was dangerous blackmail.
Well, now, of course the shoe is on the other foot. Now Democrats lack any access to pass legislation and are threatening to shut down the government if a dreamer provision—legislation to protect immigrants illegally brought to the US as children—is not included in the funding legislation.
I believe this legislation is a good thing, but that could not be more irrelevant. Previously, and for years, the Democrats were not arguing that Republican proposals were bad ideas—they thought they were—but that good or bad they did not belong in bills like these. Obviously, all that is now out the window.
This is how decline happens. One Party—not always the Republicans (see the end of the filibuster)—engages in irresponsible conduct and then the other Party, when it gets the chance, does the same thing. For example, the Democrats are certain to block any Supreme Court nominees by President Trump if they get the chance.
Things will not get better this way. When you fight fire with fire, the whole world burns. When you forgo principle, you lead your nation to chaos.