Thursday, October 03, 2013

Government Shutdown Costing Taxpayers Much More Money Than It Is Saving

The Cost of the Shutdown is of course much greater than any monies that are being saved.

Antideficiency Act Prohibits Government Incurrence of Monetary Obligations Not Having Congressionally Appropriated Funds : Excepted are Matters Involving Human Safety and Property Protection

NBC News has an article titled 143-year-old law has Washington treading gingerly during shutdown which points to the Antideficiency Act ("ADA") of 1884, whose earliest form already appeared in 1870, which prohibits the government from incurring financial liabilities unless funds have been appropriated by Congress.

The initial law was passed after Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War was able to run up liabilities and have the funds appropriated by Congress after the fact -- and thank goodness for that, Abe!  

We find written at the Wikipedia:
"This Act [ADA] has evolved over time in response to various abuses. The earliest version of the legislation was enacted in 1870 (16 Stat. 251)[1] and provided that ... "it shall not be lawful for any department of the government to expend in any one fiscal year any sum in excess of appropriations made by Congress for that fiscal year, or to involve the government in any contract for the future payment of money in excess of such appropriations."[2] The act was amended and expanded several times, most significantly in 1905 and 1906, when it was mandated for all appropriations to be apportioned in monthly installments and criminal penalties for violations were imposed. It was further modified by an executive order in 1933 and significantly revamped in 1950.[3] The current version was enacted on Sept. 12, 1982. It is reasonable and accurate to note that the "Anti-Deficiency Act" (the "ADA") actually includes provisions of Title 31 that are not always associated with the principal provision of the Act which is found at 31 USC 1341. Thus, the ADA also includes 31 USC 1342, a provision which prohibits voluntary services. It also includes 31 USC 1501-1519, provisions which require that appropriated funds be subdivided, "apportioned" and "allocated" before any of the appropriated funds can be expended by the Executive Branch.... 

To some extent, but not entirely, it implements the provisions of Article One of the United States Constitution, Section 9, Clause 7 (the "power of the purse"), which provides that "No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law."
Although the ADA and its predecessors are over 120 years old, no one has ever been convicted or indicted for its violation.[4] However, agreements have been changed and reported due to ADA violations,[5] and punitive administrative actions are routinely taken against government employees.[6]
Exceptions are made in the law for protection of human life, safety and property, as opined in an August 16, 1995 memorandum opinion found at the site of the U.S. Justice Department:

       A government agency may employ personal services in advance of appropriations only when there is a reasonable and articulable connection between the function to be performed and the safety of human life or the protection of property, and when there is some reasonable likelihood that either or both would be compromised in some significant degree by the delay in the performance of the function in question.

August 16, 1995

Despite such a legal opinion, there is no question that a strong President of the United States -- and President Barack Obama does not seem to have that strength of character up to now -- could hold the opinion that a government shutdown per se leads to many unforseeable situations in which life, safety and property would be in danger, not just in the United States but around the world, due to the government weakness such a shutdown manifests and the message of weakness it sends to the world, a world in which the American nation has many enemies, external and internal.

Accordingly, for the sake of human life, safety and property -- one need think only of potential repurcussions on financial markets and financial properties -- one could supportably take the legal position that the President is empowered as the nation's Chief Executive to keep all services of government running until a budget has been passed, such a budget then defining what was funded and what was not.

That position, indeed, is the one that President Obama and his administration SHOULD be taking and COULD be taking, if they had the strength of character that is required to run the nation properly.

October 3, 2013 Google Doodle Honors German Unity Day with A Convoy of Trabbis Passing Checkpoint Charlie : The Trabant Car Design Was Unchanged for Over 30 Years and Reminds of the Republican Right Wing in the USA

The Google Doodle shown in Germany today honors German Unity Day by showing a convoy of "Trabbis" (Trabants) passing "Checkpoint Charlie".

The Trabbi was made in the former East Germany based on a design created after WWII and unchanged for over 30 years.

Upon reunification and for some time thereafter, as the Berlin Wall fell and the borders were opened -- we were there to see it -- the more easterly West German autobahns were quickly packed with Trabbi convoys of "sightseeing" East Germans (then derogatorily called "Ossies" i.e. "Easties") who for the first time were able to cross the border into free West Germany.

The Trabbis are not gone, by the way, and can still occasionally be seen being driven as old-timers by car collectors or in rare cases piloted by political reactionaries who yearn for the "good old days" of Communist tyranny, something callied Ostalgie, "East-Nostalgia".

Today, we suspect that the Trabbi might be serving as the secret unchanging mascot of right wing reactionaries in the United States convoying on their own "(n)Ostalgia", i.e. a nostalgic ideological path to a non-governmental America that never actually existed. On their tour into the past, they are seeking long antiquated social and political "designs" comparable to the unchanged Trabbi, that ceased being useful in the modern world long ago.

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