Well, the government didn’t shut down last weekend.

These days, I suppose that can be considered a legislative accomplishment. Anymore it seems like that’s all the legislature can accomplish.

The House and Senate came to an agreement last weekend that will take us to the end of the fiscal year.

What that means is the Republicans rolled over and gave the Democrats pretty much everything they wanted.

Remember all those things President Trump campaigned on?

There was the border wall, defunding Planned Parenthood, repealing and replacing Obamacare, increased defense spending, simplifying the tax code.

None of that stuff got in.

Basically, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer threatened to shut down the government if there was “$1 earmarked for a border wall” and the Republicans caved.

Odd, because as a majority party in both houses of Congress and the White House, you’d think it would be the Republicans calling the shots. Not so much.

The GOP agreed to continue funding pretty much all the Demo’s Obama-era pet projects. They didn’t get a dime for the wall that defined President Trump’s campaign and they bagged dozens and dozens of conservative policy riders.

Vice President Mike Pence, speaking to a highly skeptical Rush Limbaugh, characterized the budget deal as "actually a clear win for the American people."


I suppose this is because Republicans are afraid of being blamed for a government shutdown – and who could blame them?

Trump says he wants money for a wall. Schumer says, if you put money for a wall in the budget, we’ll shut down the government. Senseless as it may seem, this is translated by the national media as the Republicans shutting down the government.

No matter the tactic, no matter the strategy, no matter the issue, it’s always the Republicans’ fault if there is a government shutdown. That’s just the way it is.

Frankly, it might be better if the government did shut down, it would save some money.

It’s more than a little troubling to me that our venerable leaders keep spending us into oblivion. Almost $20 trillion in debt is no way to go operate a government, is it?

Right now, it takes roughly 6 percent of the budget –  around $250 billion a year in interest – to service our government’s debt. That’s more than we spend on veterans, food and agriculture, education, transportation, housing, international affairs, energy and environment or science.

It’s about a third of what we spend on defense, a fourth of what we spend on Medicare and health and a fifth of what we spend on Social Security, unemployment and labor.

It’s a lot of money, and it’s growing. According to projections by the Congressional Budget Office, annual – annual – deficits are expected to exceed $1.4 trillion a decade from now, and then keep growing after that. And, of course, the budget office paints a whimsically optimistic picture, only taking into account current levels of taxing and spending.

It assumes there are no terror attacks, no wars, no tax cuts, no economic downturns or no big new government programs.

And as bad as that is, it’s not horrible servicing all that debt right now because interest rates are so low.

But if rates rise to levels seen before the Great Recession of 2008, deficits would explode, putting taxpayers on the hook for trillions more.

Writing for The National Review, Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, says, “This should give pause to any lawmakers seeking large tax cuts or spending increases. A $1.4 trillion deficit within a decade is risky enough, and deficits of $2 trillion or $3 trillion would be economically catastrophic. Perhaps the CBO is correct that interest rates will remain historically low, but it would be irresponsible to bet the economy on that assumption. Instead, responsible deficit reduction can ensure that future generations are spending their tax dollars on their priorities, rather than making cataclysmic interest payments on earlier expenditures they never voted for.”

I whole-heartedly agree with that assessment. Unfortunately, half the lawmakers in Washington don’t. I say half because it’s always one party or the other that is   concerned about deficits – never both parties at the same time.

During the Obama administration, it was the Republicans who cared about deficits. Now that Trump is president, it’s the Democrats who care about deficits.

President Obama had the largest deficits of any president in American history.

He spent mad cash, convincing Congress to add the $800 billion in economic stimulus to Bush’s 2009 budget. (Remember all those “shovel-ready” jobs that didn’t happen?) Then there was the Obama tax cut, which added $858 billion to the deficit in two years – exceeding the amount of discretionary spending. Then there was Obamacare.

Long story short, Forbes dubbed President Obama, “The biggest government spender in the history of the world.”

But while this was going on, guys like Schumer were fine with it.

Now, things are different. Schumer slammed Republicans for proposing $9 trillion in new debt over 10 years, which, of course, was fractionally less than the new debt Obama added during his term.

Of course, the converse of this is true. During the Obama years, Republicans were decrying profligate spending and you never heard a Democrat utter the word “deficit.”

At one time or another, all Washington lawmakers give lip service to the perils of deficits. Truth be told, none of them really seem to care.

There are exceptions. Some share my view – deficits are always bad regardless of who’s doing the spending. There’s just not enough of them to make a difference.

Here’s what Rand Paul, a Republican Senator from Kentucky, said earlier this year:

“The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. Republicans won the White House. Republicans control the Senate. Republicans control the House. And what will the first order of business be for the new Republican majority? To pass a budget that never balances … To pass a budget that will add $9.7 trillion of new debt over 10 years. Is that really what we campaigned on? Is that really what the Republican Party represents? Our first order of business will be a budget that never balances? ... That’s not why I ran for office! That’s not why I’m here. That’s not why I spend time away from my family and from my medical practice. It’s because debt is consuming our country.”

He gets it.

Unfortunately, he’s in a minority.