The Shutdown is About to Get Real

Before today, it has been easy to argue over the partial federal government shutdown in emotional terms, and in visible images of certain closed facilities like the Smithsonian. But today, all that changes. Today is what should have been the first payday of 2019 for federal workers, and they are not getting a paycheck.
Rent and mortgage payments are due. Heating bills, electric bills, car payments, and tuition bills are due. Credit card bills to pay for Christmas gifts are due. And no money is coming in for hundreds of thousands of federal workers.
It’s easy for those of us who agree that America needs better border security to poo-pooh emotional reports of workers selling their stuff on Facebook and Craigslist to pay bills as media bias. But it’s not. Washington Post reporter Taylor Telford detailed some of the stories in a Friday morning story.
“Sells for $93.88 at Walmart. Asking $10,” a government worker wrote on a Craigslist ad for a Lulu Ladybug rocking chair. “We need money to pay bills.”
These problems are real, and they are pressing. The three rich spoiled brats involved in a joint tantrum over 0.14% of the federal budget don’t care about a few thousand dollars per paycheck. Trump doesn’t even keep his paycheck (a gross check, which paid bi-monthly is well over $16,000, which the rank-and-file outside of Washington would find impossibly extravagant). Pelosi and Schumer are both rich and have been financially secure for so long that they can’t remember the last time they had to worry about paying a bill–if they ever did.
Guidance from government offices have provided little comfort so far, some workers said. No one in Washington seems to know how long the partial government shutdown will go on, but there’s been little reason to believe the end is close. Meanwhile, the Office of Management and Budget has provided sparse advice other than encouraging workers to reach out to creditors and mortgage companies before debts become due. The Coast Guard published a tip sheet this week suggesting employees hold garage sales or sell things online, walk dogs or babysit or “become a mystery shopper” to get by.
“Bankruptcy is a last option,” the tip sheet read.
To hell with arguing about the morality of a wall. For a political fight between spoiled brats to cause other, innocent parties, to be forced into thinking about bankruptcy is immoral and unconscionable.
As much as I want a wall, I believe the reality of the shutdown, should it continue, will quickly overcome this political fight. Pelosi and Schumer have surely told Democrats to hold out, let their constituents’ suffering build up, and they’ll win. I believe Trump will dig in further, or resort to the lunacy of some kind of invented “emergency power” to get what he wants.
It’s easy for political pundits to see everything through the lens of policy or a personal love/hate for President Trump. It’s easy for Jim Acosta to fly (business or first-class, undoubtedly, or coach, in the back of Air Force One) to McAllen, Texas to demonstrate how safe the (walled) border it. Acosta is getting a paycheck.
Congress is getting a paycheck (don’t believe them when they express “solidarity” and preen about not taking their pay). Ask Democrat star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez if she’ll give up her paycheck.
“I’ve gotta run!” Ocasio-Cortez told The Post when asked the question Thursday on Capitol Hill.
She then scampered down a crowded hallway to get in line for her mock swearing-in with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
There’s literally no pain for legislators and government officials who still get paid, to deprive those who have done nothing to deserve it from missing their bills, defaulting on mortgages, getting late fees and debt collector calls.
The only pain these legislators will feel is the angry phone calls. But they’re too cynical to care except to use that legitimate anger as a political weapon. Because our government is being run by a bunch of spoiled three year olds fighting over a toy. My 9- and 8-year-old boys would have solved this problem and built the wall weeks ago, because in comparison to the toddlers in stinky pull-ups we have in Washington, they are mature.
It’s about to get very real for those being used as pawns in a very stupid fight. Democrats have a reasonable offer on the table, for a near-insignificant amount of money. They want the shutdown to hurt. In fact, they’re counting on it. Trump is no better. He plays for an audience consisting of his supporters and Fox & Friends watchers (the same group).
Shame on them all.

Trump: ‘I Would Be Foolish’ To End Shutdown

President Trump met with Democrat leaders on Wednesday, but there was no apparent progress in reopening the government. The meeting which also included Republican congressional leaders seemed to leave both sides with positions unchanged.

Wednesday morning House Democrats announced a plan to reopen the government by passing six separate bills that would fund most government departments through the remainder of the fiscal year. A seventh bill would provide temporary funding for the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8 but would not include funding for the wall. Democrats plan to pass their proposals on Thursday.

At the meeting on Wednesday afternoon, President Trump and Republican leaders said that the Democrat plan would be a nonstarter. Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the Senate would not vote on the Democratic measures and would not take up any bill that the president would not sign.

“The Senate will be glad to vote on a measure that the House passes that the president will sign. But we’re not going to vote on anything else,” McConnell told CNN after the meeting, adding that he hoped that a deal could be reached within “days” or “weeks.”

When asked by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer why he would not support a partial reopening of the government, President Trump replied, “I would be foolish if I did that.”

At issue is funding over President Trump’s proposed border wall. The president is asking for $5 billion for his pet project and Democrats have only been willing to agree to $1.3 billion for border security. Trump also rejected a compromise by Vice President Pence that would have provided about half of the president’s funding request.

The current shutdown has already lasted for 13 days. The longest shutdown on record occurred from December 1995 through January 1996 and lasted 22 days. A shutdown in 1978 that lasted 18 days and the 2013 shutdown that lasted 16 days are also so far longer than the current shutdown.

With the shutdown occurring over the holidays, the effect of about 25 percent of the government being closed has been muted. As the nation goes back to work, however, the nuisance of having government offices closed will increase. About 380,000 federal workers have been told to stay home and another 420,000 have been told to work without pay. At this point, there is no way of knowing when they will be paid again. Among the government functions halted by the shutdown are the issuance of USDA rural loans and E-Verify checks of the immigration status of new employees.

Neither party has the votes to force their will on the other. A funding bill would have to navigate the Democrat-controlled House as well as the Republican-controlled Senate. Legislation in the Senate also needs Democrat votes for cloture. President Trump also has the power to veto legislation that does not meet his requirements.

Any resolution to the shutdown will require both parties to compromise. So far, neither has shown any sign of willingness to do so. The only strategy of either party is to blame the other side and hope that they eventually give in.

Guess Which Abortion Provider Is Still Being Funded During the Shutdown

The government shutdown has reached the one-week mark and there has been much discussion of what services are not available and which government workers are not getting paid, but one organization has been overlooked. Despite years of Republican efforts aimed at defunding the abortion provider, even shutting down nonessential government services doesn’t appear to have cut off the group from its government money.

The reason that Planned Parenthood continues to get federal checks when air traffic controllers, park rangers, and members of the Coast Guard do not is that most of Planned Parenthood’s federal money comes through the Medicaid program. As with most of the federal entitlement programs, Medicaid money continues to flow during the shutdown. Kaiser Health News reports that Medicare and Medicaid are already funded through the second quarter. That would take the health programs through the end of March.

There are some aspects of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding that could be interrupted by the shutdown. In addition to Medicaid, the group is a major recipient of Title X family planning grants. According to the group’s website, Planned Parenthood serves 1.5 million of the approximately 4 million Title X patients. The Title X grants make up about 19 percent of revenue for participating clinics. These grants could quickly expire in a protracted shutdown.

Defunding Planned Parenthood wasn’t the goal of the current government shutdown, but it would have been a nice added benefit, especially since Democrats don’t seem any more inclined to deal on the wall than they were a week ago. However, even if all federal money dried up, it wouldn’t totally bankrupt the group. Planned Parenthood gets about a third of its funding from the government and the rest from private donations.

For years now, Republicans have embraced a number of quixotic goals such as defunding Planned Parenthood, repealing Obamacare, and building a border wall. They have also embraced government shutdowns as a tactic in achieving several of these goals. Obamacare survived a shutdown in 2013 that also left Planned Parenthood funding intact. This year it appears that the wall will not be funded but that Planned Parenthood will.

Perhaps it is time for Republicans to find a new strategy.

What If They Shut Down The Government And No One Cared?

As the government shutdown stretches toward a week with no end in sight, most Americans seem unaffected and possibly even unaware that nonessential government services are shut down. Unlike previous shutdowns, there is little media coverage of closed parks and offices or furloughed federal workers. Even more odd, there seems to be little interest from either side in reaching an agreement to reopen the government.

The shutdown officially began at midnight on Friday, Dec. 21 and negotiations stalled almost immediately as members of Congress left on their Christmas break. Both Houses are reconvening today, but the two parties seem further apart on an agreement than they were last week, chiefly because President Trump is insisting on the apparently arbitrary number of $5 billion for wall funding.

Rather than working towards a deal, the two sides are pointing fingers at each other. Democrat leaders accuse President Trump of using “scare tactics” in attempt to build support for his pet wall project while the president tweeted, “The Democrats now own the shutdown” shortly after talks in Congress failed on Dec. 21 and said, “Nancy is calling the shots” on Dec. 26.

The president’s accusations that Democrats are to blame stand in stark contrast to his statements a few weeks ago. In a televised brouhaha with Pelosi and Schumer earlier this month, Trump boasted, “I am proud to shut down the government for border security because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. So, I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down, it didn’t work. I will take the mantle of shutting down.”

In fact, the evidence points towards Trump being responsible for the shutdown. The Senate passed a compromise temporary spending bill that would have funded the government until Feb. 8, but the House responded with its own bill that included money for the wall. The House bill could not win cloture in the Senate and President Trump refused to sign any bill without wall funding, threatening to veto the Senate compromise. Republicans in both chambers have said that there will be no more votes until there is an overall agreement that the president will sign.

“I’ve made my position very clear: Any measure that funds the government must include border security,” Trump said last week.

Democrats have offered $1.3 billion for border security that does not include funding for the wall. On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly promised that Mexico would pay for the wall.

At this point, neither side seems to have any incentive to give in. If the shutdown extends into the next Congress, which convenes at noon on Jan. 3, the new Democrat majority in the House will give them a stronger bargaining position. On the other hand, Trump knows that if he ends the current shutdown without wall funding, he is extremely unlikely to receive the money next year from the Democrat-controlled House.

Through all the political theater, Americans have collectively yawned and turned back toward their holiday celebrations. The shutdown has not affected air travel during the busy holiday season and the Post Office, which is independent of the federal government and funded by revenue from its services, has stayed open to deliver packages and Christmas cards. The topsy-turvy stock market and President Trump’s post-Christmas trip to Iraq have also provided distractions.

The shutdown has primarily affected nonessential federal employees and contractors. Military personnel – with the notable exception of the Coast Guard – continue to get paid during the shutdown. Some federal workers such as air traffic controllers are expected to work without getting paid during the shutdown. National parks may be technically open but without most of the members of their staffs.

A sign at the entrance to the Antietam National Battlefield warned visitors, “Park visitors are advised to use extreme caution if choosing to enter a (National Park Service) property, as NPS personnel will not be available to provide guidance, assistance, maintenance, or emergency response. Any entry onto NPS property during this period of federal government shutdown is at the visitor’s sole risk.”

Even if people at home don’t care about the shutdown, the Stars and Stripes pointed out that it has far-reaching effects around the world. The US government employs people around the world. Like American federal employees, essential workers will probably get back pay when the shutdown ends, but other nonessential employees and contractors may not. US government services such as the US Geological Survey are not operating due to the shutdown. This meant that the respected agency could not provide data on the recent Indonesian tsunami. The shutdown also means that embassies are not providing many services to Americans and others abroad. One of the biggest effects of the shutdown is the loss of prestige to the US constitutional system.

Contrary to popular belief, government shutdowns don’t save taxpayer money. Shutdowns are more expensive than keeping the government open. Revenue from museums and parks is lost and federal employees spend thousands of hours preparing for shutdowns and then reopening the government. This work includes shutting down systems and securing facilities that will be unmanned. Most workers receive back pay when the government reopens even if they were furloughed and told to stay home during the shutdown. The added cost of shutting down the government typically adds up to tens of millions of dollars per day.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the government shutdown is how much of the federal government is not subject to congressional appropriations. The largest part of federal spending, which includes most military spending and entitlements, is essentially on autopilot.

President Trump said on Wednesday that the shutdown would last as long it took to secure funding for the wall, telling reporters in Iraq, “Whatever it takes, we’re going to have a wall, we’re going to have safety. We need safety for our country.”

But as I wrote earlier this month, there is no clear path to victory in the shutdown strategy. Getting wall funding is contingent on getting a bill past the Democrat filibuster in the Senate. So far, there are no signs that any Senate Democrats are about to break ranks and vote for cloture on the president’s bill. That means that there is no end in sight for the shutdown.

Erratic Trump Drives Erratic Markets

Once a bright spot of the Trump presidency, the stock market is continuing in an extended rout that began earlier this year after reaching a high in early October. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin attempted to shore up the market with a phone call to bank executives over the weekend, but federal reassurances did little to calm jittery investors in trading on Monday.

Secretary Mnuchin announced in a tweet Sunday night that he had spoken with the CEOs of America’s six largest banks: Bank of America, Citi, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo. In an attempt to reassure investors that may have had the opposite effect, a Treasury statement attached to the tweet said that the “CEOs confirmed that they have ample liquidity available for lending” and that none “have experienced any clearance or margin issues and that markets continue to function properly.”

Per the statement, Mnuchin said, “We continue to see strong economic growth in the US economy with robust activity from consumers and business. With the government shutdown, Treasury will have critical employees to maintain its core operations.”

While the US economy seems to be working well, the same cannot be said of the US government. Nonessential government services are closed in a shutdown that may last well into the new year because the two parties cannot agree on how much to increase spending for the wall. The president’s unilaterally declared trade war is adding unnecessary costs to American business and consumer spending. The world watches as many of the most experienced and stable members of the Trump Administration exit the White House. In a number of cases, the departures are explicitly tied to President Trump’s capricious leadership.

President Trump sees the situation differently. In a tweet, the president said, “The only problem our economy has is the Fed.” Trump argued that the Fed does not understand “necessary Trade Wars or Strong Dollars or even Democrat Shutdowns over Borders.”

“The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can’t score because he has no touch,” the president added, “he can’t putt!”

While it’s true that the Fed has been raising interest rates this year, it’s also true that the move was long overdue. The Fed kept rates near zero during the apostle-recession years of the Obama Administration, which penalized savers and investors. Increases to interest rates now are a sign that the Federal Reserve views the economy as healthy.

Is it any wonder that investors are nervous?

With Monday’s close, the S&P 500 followed the NASDAQ into official bear market territory. The half-day of holiday trading left the S&P 2.7 percent lower for the day at 2,351. This is more than 20 percent lower than its previous intraday peak and defines the onset of a bear market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 650 points, losing 2.9 percent of its value, but technically remained clear of bear status. Today’s session was the worst-ever Christmas Eve for the Dow.

While many fundamentals of the US economy remain strong, President Trump and Secretary Mnuchin are missing the point. Investors are concerned precisely because the Trump economic policy includes massive taxes on trade in the form of tariffs and trade wars, because the government is stalemated and incapable of solving even simple problems, and because President Trump’s style of governance thrives on chaos and instability, the very things that markets abhor.

In fact, rumors are beginning to appear that Mr. Trump will attempt to force the removal of his latest whipping boy, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. It is Donald Trump and his lack of coherent policy that is driving markets lower, not some concern about bank liquidity.

“Until this weekend, markets were not that concerned about liquidity or clearance issues,” Win Thin, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman told the Financial Times. “At best, Mnuchin made a rookie policy mistake in trying to reassure markets; at worst, Mnuchin knows something that the markets don’t.”

The bottom line is that the Trump Administration cannot protect the markets from the president. Trump’s erratic behavior is translating into erratic markets. With two years to go in President Trump’s term and the senior members of the White House daycare staff hitting the exits, hopes for change seem far away.

The best gifts that Donald Trump could give to the nation this Christmas to end the trade wars, fund the government, and stay off Twitter. Unfortunately, the likelihood of these events is about the same as having Santa rappel down the White House chimney tonight.

 

Retreat On Wall Funding And Bump Stock Ban May Cause Cracks In Trump’s Base

Donald Trump boasted during the 2016 campaign that “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose any voters.” Until now that has been true. No matter what Trump has done or what revelations have come out his supporters have stuck with him. This week may have been the breaking point for some Trump supporters, however.

Core Trump supporters have a few issues that rise above all others. For many, guns and immigration top the list and this week saw President Trump take positions on both issues that are unpopular with many members of his base.

First, Trump, who many supporters lauded as a fighter, surrendered to Democrats on a temporary funding bill for the government. As recently as last week, Trump had vowed not to sign a new spending bill that did not include $5 billion in funding for his border wall. On Tuesday, however, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders retreated from that position, telling reporters, “At the end of the day, we don’t want to shut down the government. We want to shut down the border.”

Trump supporters almost universally support the border wall, even to the point of launching a GoFundMe campaign that has so far raised $1 million for the project. Many were also strongly in favor of a government shutdown over funding for the wall. The White House acquiesence to a temporary funding measure will be viewed as a defeat by many members of the base.

Even worse for Trump is the long-awaited bump stock ban. The Second Amendment is considered untouchable by many Trump supporters and conservatives yet President Trump has ordered the Department of Justice to outlaw the rapid-fire devices and require Americans who own them to either turn them in or destroy them within 90 days. There is no provision for compensating bump stock owners for their devices which could cost hundreds of dollars. Worse, the ATF under President Obama told Congress that the government did not have the authority under current law to ban the devices.

The Trump Administration’s ban has brought criticism from many Second Amendment supporters. Jerry Henry, executive director of Georgia Carry, told the Atlanta Journal, “When you start banning accessories to firearms, then you really get on a slippery slope. It doesn’t change the function of the firearm, and therefore it shouldn’t be banned.”

“It is nibbling away at our second amendment rights,” Janelle Westrom, owner of Davenport Guns, told Iowa’s TV-6. “I don’t like the decision but, myself personally, it doesn’t affect me,” she added.

“I don’t care about bump stocks,” tweeted Sean Davis, Trump supporter and a founder of The Federalist, “but I care a great deal about lawless government power grabs, based on utter lies, that will instantly turn innocent people who did nothing wrong into felons and be used to justify nationwide confiscation regimes.”

Davis also noted in a separate tweet, “Under the new rule, an individual who illegally brings a loaded rifle into an elementary school will get a shorter maximum prison sentence (5 years) than a woman who has a bump stock in her garage but doesn’t own any actual guns (10 years).”

On the other hand, some people do support the bump stock ban. “I have to agree with the ban,” Geoff Wilson of Hendersonville, N.C. told WLOS TV.. “Turn them in, get rid of them. And like I said, I’m a full supporter of the Second Amendment.”

Another supporter of the ban is Mary Margaret Oliver, a Democrat state representative who introduced a similar bill in the Georgia General Assembly earlier this year. Rep. Oliver’s bill went nowhere but she told the AJC, “I’m delighted that I can say that President Trump did something that makes me happy.”

While some Trump supporters will rally around the president and deny that the bump stock ban is an infringement of the Second Amendment and an unconstitutional overreach of executive authority, for others Trump’s moves will be a breach of trust. Where Trump’s past statements in support of gun control can be overlooked by many, the bump stock ban initiated by the president without getting anything in exchange cannot be explained away as a bargaining ploy or mere rhetoric.

Trump’s support won’t evaporate overnight but this week may mark a turning point with his base. Issuing an ultimatum on wall funding to Democrats and then backing down smacks of weakness while the bump stock ban calls into question Trump’s core principles. Supporters who have not doubted the president up to this point may now start to do so. Trump’s base won’t vote Democrat but they may stay home. This may be the president’s Fifth Avenue moment.

With No Wall Funding, Trump Retreats On Shutdown Threat

After issuing an ultimatum to Democratic leaders last week, President Trump is backing down on his threat to shut down the government if Congress does not approve funding for his border wall project. Yesterday the White House suggested that the president was willing to reverse his position that any funding measure must include $5 billion for the border wall and today Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appears ready to move forward on a measure that would fund the government through February 8. Without a deal, nonessential government operations would shut down on December 21.

On Tuesday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Fox News, “We have other ways that we can get to that $5 billion” and would “work with Congress” to that end. Sanders said that the Trump Administration could support the $1.6 billion on border security funding proposed by Democrats and that the president would seek to “couple that with other funding resources” to reach the $5 billion target.

“At the end of the day, we don’t want to shut down the government,” Sanders said. “We want to shut down the border.”

This marks a reversal from last week when President Trump boasted to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), “I am proud to shut down the government for border security because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. So, I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down, it didn’t work. I will take the mantle of shutting down.”

The White House retreat comes amid a turbulent week for the Trump Administration. The Dow fell more than 500 points on Monday and former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan warned that investors should prepare for the worst. At the same time, Trump called his former attorney Michael Cohen “a rat” on Twitter and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn continues to cooperate with federal investigators. Mr. Trump’s charity, The Trump Foundation, is also being shut down amid allegations of corruption by the New York Attorney General.

The wall was a core promise of President Trump’s campaign but funding for the project has so far proved elusive. Even though Republicans control both houses of Congress, Democrats have enough seats to filibuster bills that fund the wall. The problem will become even worse for the president next year when Democrats take control of the House of Representatives.  Given Democrats’ strong opposition to the wall, it seems unlikely that the president’s promise will ever be fulfilled.

The good news is that Democrats have indicated that they don’t oppose border security in principle, they just oppose the wall. By holding them to this position, the Trump Administration might be able to negotiate funds to secure the border by other methods that would be even more effective and less expensive than a wall. These methods would include virtual walls of sensors, more Border Patrol officers, and fencing in certain areas.

President Trump: All I Want For Christmas Is A Government Shutdown

Americans must have been naughty this year because it looks as if one of their early Christmas gifts may be a government shutdown, courtesy of President Trump, Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). After a contentious Oval Office meeting on Tuesday, there seems little chance of agreement on a stop-gap measure to fund the government through the holidays. Unless a funding bill is passed, the government will shut down on Dec. 21.

In the televised meeting, the president repeatedly emphasized the need for border security that specifically includes a wall and threatened to shut the government down in order to get it. Pelosi and Schumer repeatedly said that they were seeking a compromise that would keep the government open.

“I am proud to shut down the government for border security,” President Trump stated as the discussion became heated, “because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. So, I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down, it didn’t work. I will take the mantle of shutting down.”

Leaving aside that the Democrats do make valid points (a phrase I seldom have to type) about the cost, practicality, and effectiveness of the wall, the president’s embrace of the shutdown strategy is a losing proposition. Although government shutdowns play well with the Republican base, they seldom achieve their policy objectives and usually end in an abject surrender often by Republicans who normally are shutting the government down because they lack votes.

Government shutdowns call to mind the Underpants Gnomes of “SouthPark.” The Gnomes famously described their business plan as follows:

Phase 1: Collect underpants

Phase 2: ?

Phase 3: Profit

In the case of government shutdowns, the plan seems similar:

Phase 1: Shut down the government

Phase 2: ?

Phase 3: Victory

Like the Underpants Gnomes, shutdown advocates focus on Phase 1 and Phase 3 while the vital details of the all-important Phase 2 remain sketchy. In fact, no one has ever been able to give me a reasonable explanation of Phase 2.

When it comes to passing legislation, the Constitution is specific about the process. Those of us who came of age in the ‘80s learned about it between Saturday morning cartoons with a Schoolhouse Rock short called, “I’m Just a Bill.” The abridged version is that any bill, including Trump’s border wall funding proposal, has to be passed by both houses of Congress.

The rub for the current Congress is a detail not mentioned by Schoolhouse Rock, the filibuster and cloture votes. Even though Republicans control both houses of Congress until the new Congress convenes in January, their slim majority in the Senate means that they don’t have enough votes for cloture.

Senate rules require a cloture vote to end debate on any bill. This modern, “gentlemen’s” filibuster requires 60 votes to advance a bill to a floor vote in the Senate. In practical terms, that means that Republicans need a minimum of nine Democrats to vote for cloture and end a filibuster.

What does this have to do with government shutdowns? Everything. The only way to pass a bill is to have the required number of votes. If Republicans can’t get Democrats to cross the aisle then the wall funding bill won’t pass, shutdown or no shutdown.

The problem for President Trump is that shutting down the government does nothing to entice Democrats to vote for the wall. If President Trump leads Republicans into a shutdown over wall funding, my prediction is that Republicans will eventually surrender and agree to reopen the open the government after a few days or weeks of wrangling.

This is what happened in 2013 when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) led Republicans to shut down the government over Obamacare. The shutdown lasted 16 days during which Republican approval ratings plummeted to their lowest level in history (up to that point anyway). Republicans surrendered and agreed to a deal to reopen the government and increase the debt limit. The Affordable Care Act survives to this day. The shutdown cost taxpayers $24 billion.

The shoe was on the other foot earlier this year when Democrats shut down the government in hopes of forcing an immigration deal that would legalize Dreamers. In this case, Democrats were the ones lacking the votes and they eventually had to give in.

The bottom line is that whichever party enters a shutdown without the votes they need is going to exit the shutdown without the votes that they need. There are only two ways to change votes in Congress: compromises and elections. Shutdowns just force both sides to dig in deeper. Both parties lose in public opinion. The other big loser is taxpayers who foot the bill for all the political drama. Contrary to popular belief, shutdowns cost more than keeping the government open.

President Trump wants border security in the form of a wall, but he won’t get it from a shutdown. His best bet would be to embrace his status as an artist of deal-making and present Democrats with an offer too good to refuse. That’s what he promised in the campaign and what voters sent him to Washington to do. Pressing ahead to a government shutdown is setting himself and his party up for failure.