Trump is counting on his Republican allies in Congress to help his campaign with a vicious government shutdown this fall. And they are fighting to deliver. You saw the absurd demands they are making to pass the budget and keep the government running? Juliegrace Brufke reporting House Republicans are whispering about a shutdown. From what I can see, they are screaming about it one.
No one thinks McCarthy can survive if he doesn’t let the MAGAts have their way on a shutdown, no matter how much harm it will do to swing district Republicans. Brufke wrote that the nihilists and fascists “oppose the use of an ‘omnibus’ to package all 12 must-pass appropriations bills together— but lawmakers are pessimistic about the odds of passing the bills individually by Sept. 30… Many of the House GOP's appropriations bills are being loaded with measures on hot-button topics like abortion that could threaten passage— and make it harder to negotiate with the Democratic-controlled Senate.”
Government shutdowns— like the Trump-era shutdown over border wall funding from December 2018 to January 2019— can cause disruption and hardship.
With most functions of government lacking funding, federal benefits like food stamps would halt, and services like national parks would be closed.
Only workers deemed essential— such as military and federal law enforcement— would be allowed to work. Those not on the list would be furloughed until the government reopens.
Congress can extend the existing budget with a continuing resolution and provide members with more time to hash out a deal.
But many members are alarmed by the debt ceiling deal's across-the-board 1% cut to discretionary spending that kicks in on Jan. 1 unless Congress can pass a new budget.
Talks of minibuses— which could link some of the 12 appropriations bills together without being a single big package— are emerging despite conservatives balking at the idea of bundling the bills.
McCarthy told reporters this month that he won't put an omnibus on the floor, but isn't opposed to linking bills.
“I think anything but voting on 12 appropriations bills is going to be a no go,” one senior lawmaker said.
Jeff Stein proposed some tepid ideas for how to avoid a shutdown, but short of Trump choking to death on a Big Mac, there’s no way to do it. A shutdown will mean layoffs for hundreds of thousands of workers and if it lasts more than a few days could impact the whole economy— exactly what Trump wants, and nothing his allies in Congress care about. They have until September 30 to pass these bills, get the Senate to agree and get Biden to sign off. Because part of the McCarthy plan was to wait for the last minute, that’s nearly impossible.
Stein explained that McCarthy says the debt limit deal he did with Biden “specified that most of the federal government should be funded at essentially flat levels for the next two years. But some House Republicans say that bipartisan agreement only means the government won’t spend more than the caps— and that spending less is just fine. Many GOP leaders are pushing to limit funding for the 2024 fiscal year to what the budget was in 2022, which would mean a $115 billion cut that Democrats reject.
Stein thinks a way out would be a CR (continuing resolution), which is a bullshit way for congressional leaders of avoiding the consequences of their own incompetence… briefly.
The core issue is how much money the government should spend next year.
Under the debt ceiling deal reached by McCarthy and Biden, Republicans agreed to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for keeping funding flat for most domestic spending programs, which would amount to an inflation-adjusted cut. (The deal did not affect federal programs funded outside the annual appropriations process, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.)
But since then, senior Republicans have again pushed for more cuts, citing inflation as a reason to cut government spending. House Appropriations Chair Kay Granger (R-TX) said in a statement that the debt ceiling deal “set a top-line spending cap” but “not a floor” for the following year’s government funding. Negotiators remain particularly divided over the appropriations bill that primarily funds the Education Department, the Labor Department and the Department of Health and Human Services.
…Democrats have ridiculed the idea they should vote for a lower spending number than what McCarthy and Biden agreed to in May. Bobby Kogan, senior director of federal budget policy at the left-leaning think tank the Center for American Progress, said the GOP appeared to be trying to force Democrats to make concessions on other matters in exchange for sticking to the original spending agreement.
“Republicans reneged on the deal so they could defund, damage, or destroy vital programs and investments,” said Rep. Brendan Boyle (PA), the top Democrat on the budget committee, in a statement. “MAGA extremism has put us on the path toward a shutdown.”
Beyond the top-line number, Democratic and Republican lawmakers have numerous disagreements about what should be in next year’s federal budget.
The House Republicans’ push for lower spending has led them to seek cuts to the Internal Revenue Service, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, among other federal agencies. Democrats have also sharply criticized the proposed cuts to the education budget, which Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said would lead to 22,000 fewer teachers.
In the future, historians may wonder about the complicity in the fascist takeover of America (if Trump wins next year). Beyond just McCarthy, Scalise, Traitor Green, Boebert and Gaetz, Republicans who will surely be judged complicit include Matt Rosendale, Andy Biggs (“The House is gonna say no, we’re gonna pass a good Republican bill out of the House and force the Senate and the White House to accept it, or we’re not going to move forward. What would happen if Republicans for once stared down the Democrats and were the ones who refuse to cave and to betray the American people and the trust they put in us when they gave the majority? So we don’t fear a government shutdown.”), Bob Good (“We should not fear a government shutdown Most of what we do up here is bad anyway”), Andrew Clyde, Mike Collins, Byron Donalds, Ronny Jackson, Ralph Norman, Clay Higgins, Anna Paulina Luna, Chip Roy, Eli Crane, Mary Miller, Scott Perry, Eric Burlison, Josh Brecheen, Ken Buck, Troy Nehls, Dan Bishop, Andy Ogles and Warren Davidson.
While many historical examples of fascism, primarily Nazi Germany under Hitler, involved wars of conquest and the extermination of certain groups— in this case Jews, Roma, homosexuals and others— those specific actions are not inherent to the definition of fascism itself. Fascism as an ideology is primarily characterized by its authoritarian and dictatorial nature, extreme nationalism, and suppression of opposition. Different fascist regimes throughout history may have exhibited various forms of aggression, discrimination, and human rights abuses, but those actions are not exclusive to the ideology itself. The core values of Trumpism are the core values of fascism: ultranationalism, the rejection of democratic principles, centralized authority. Netanyahu, for example, is a fascist… but, like Trump, not anti-Jewish.
And that brings us to Christopher Browning, Holocaust historian and author of 9 books, including Ordinary Men (1992), Nazi policy, Jewish workers, German killers (2000), The Origins of the Final Solution (2004) and Remembering Survival: Inside a Nazi Slave-Labor Camp (2010). In his new essay for The Atlantic yesterday, he has conflated fascism with anti-Semitism and excuses himself for not recognizing Trumpism as fascism until now. He was slow and he missed it. Instead, though, he wrote that those of us who recognized it years ago were using “imprecise applications, and as a historian of Nazi Germany, I did not think Trumpism was anywhere close to crossing the threshold of that comparison. I still deny that Trump’s presidency was fascist; but I’m concerned that if he wins another trip to the White House, he could earn the label.” The guy is almost 80 and not idiot. He’s right about Trump’s next stint in the White House, wrong about the first. He’ stuck on manifestations of fascism— “wars of imperial conquest and outright genocide”— that do not define fascism. His big mistake: “Placing Trumpism in the same category seemed to me trivializing and misleading.” And then he claims Viktor Orbán isn’t a fascist either— just, like Trump, “an ‘illiberal populist.’” I wonder how he would classify Franco and Portugal’s António de Oliveira Salazar. He claims that fascists are “ardent militarists and imperialists” and that “war was the crucible in which the new fascist man was to be forged; territorial expansion was both the means and the end of fascist power and triumph.” The world has changed and not evert fascist starts exhibiting all the manifestations of fascism immediately.
Not recognizing it in Trump until now is… a flaw, not something to boast about. He concedes that “Trump inflicted grave damage on our country’s political culture, stoking toxic polarization and reveling in dishonesty. And Trumpism did exhibit distinct elements of the fascist style of politics: the inflammatory rallies; the incessant mongering of fear, grievance, and victimization; the casual endorsement of violence; the pervasive embrace of conspiracy theories; the performative cruelty; the feral instinct for targeting marginalized and vulnerable minorities; and the cult of personality.” That was enough for me but Browning excuses Trumpsim because Señor T “lacked any warlike, expansionist interest, and that made it decisively unlike 20th-century fascism.” OK, it’s 21st-century fascism if gas chambers has to be part of the definition of “20th-century fascism,” which is really doesn’t.
But here’s why the nihilists and neo-fascist congress members I listed above need to be prepared to be harshly judged— if not by a tribunal then by history:
Thankfully, also, Trump himself was too lazy, inexperienced, and unprepared to set about systematically constructing a true dictatorship. The main focus of the Trump presidency was less plans and programs and more the theatrics of satisfying his constant, insatiable need for attention and adulation. Everything—whether the state of the economy or the chocolate cake served to China’s Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago—had to be extolled as “the greatest ever.”
Until the final weeks of Trump’s term, the guardrails of American democracy seemed to hold firm. The institutions of the federal government remained relatively intact, and civil servants largely secure and uncorrupted. The United States experienced democratic backsliding but not democratic collapse.
In a second term, however, a newly emboldened Trump could well attack democracy itself. The MAGA Republican Party of his making has openly explored ways to transform states where they control all branches of government. States that were once pluralistic democracies with at least some chance of a transfer of power are coming to resemble one-party regimes directed by a minority of the population. (Anne Applebaum’s report from Tennessee is a case history in point.)
In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis, Trump’s putative rival for the 2024 Republican nomination, has turned his state into a laboratory for testing how a determined, calculating, uninhibited authoritarian can maximize executive power. In many respects, he has already accomplished at the state level what Trump did not have the discipline and focus to do at the federal level. And DeSantis has created a blueprint for other Republican state leaders to follow.
Just as state Republicans have become more ruthlessly autocratic in their methods, a new Trump presidency would be much more efficiently goal-oriented at the federal level. A huge transformation of the administrative state is being deliberately planned. The government agencies and civil service he has decried as the “deep state” would be purged or politicized, and the “retribution” he has promised against his enemies would also be carried out. The “unitary executive” theory long promoted by some Republicans would become the reality of an unabashed authoritarianism.
The very last months of the Trump presidency foreshadowed what a second term would entail. When formerly loyal vassals such as Attorney General William Barr and Defense Secretary Mark Esper demonstrated that they would not cross the line into unconstitutional insurgency, Trump sought sycophants for whom no such line existed. In a new Trump administration, total devotion to the leader would be the sole qualification for appointment.
Unlike previous fascist leaders with their cult of war, Trump still offers appeasement to dictators abroad, but he now promises something much closer to dictatorship at home. For me, what Trump is offering for his second presidency will meet the threshold, and the label I’d choose to describe it would be “isolationist fascism.” Until now, such a concept would have been an oxymoron, a historical phenomenon without precedent. Trump continues to break every mold.