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Shutdown: Governor Proposes Piecemeal Rushmore Fix; Congress Must Think Bigger

It seems as though someone plotting Republican strategy in Washington, D.C., is sketching out the same strategies on responding to the federal government shutdown as Gov. Dennis Daugaard this week.

Monday, for the third time in the last three years, Daugaard volunteered to have the State of South Dakota run a National Parks Service location (in this instance and in 2011, Mount Rushmore; in an offer earlier this year, Wind Cave). In the most recent offer, Daugaard proposed to staff Mount Rushmore with State of South Dakota employees and fund some of its operations from private donations to keep the National Monument partially open to the public rather than allowing George, Tom, Teddy, and Abe to be held hostage by a U.S. Congress dysfunctional enough to make the four great granite heads lower their faces in shame.

Now Daugaard's national Republican comrades are similarly seeking ways to keep non-essential, but very popular, portions of the federal government funded despite the lack of a continuing resolution on the overall federal budget. Here are three reasons this whole new world of budget madness in response to a legitimate crisis needs to stop:

  1. There are bigger jobs to do than piecemeal appropriations. — Ideas for how to keep individual portions of the federal government open are treating the symptoms of a diseased situation rather than the disease itself. The consequences of the government shutdown are best dealt with by buckling down and solving the budget impasse, not by finding, focusing on, and "fixing" whatever shiny distraction presents itself in the form of a worthwhile program kept from doing what it was designed to do.

    Cliché yet appropriate analogy: Republicans in Congress proposing piecemeal spending initiatives are trying to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. Further, they're doing so while ignoring their responsibility to work on saving the ship. Yet further, they're the ones who set the course for the iceberg in the first place.

  2. Piecemeal appropriations set up even more battles than we already have. Starting a conversation about what important-but-already-deemed-non-essential items are popular enough that they should really get funding during a shutdown not only shirks the actual job at hand; it actively creates distractions. It starts with veterans' benefits or national parks; then it becomes the Navy-Air Force football game or the Fish and Wildlife Service. Every single advocate can get into the game and, hard as it may be to believe, make things move even more slowly and uselessly than they already are. And, just in case you think I'm making this argument up, David Montgomery at Political Smokeout digs through coverage of the 1995 shutdown to find the Department of Interior itself espousing this rationale.

    Cliché yet appropriate analogy: In keeping with the Ted Cruz bedtime story meme from last week, go (re)read "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie." If we figure out a way to keep one project or process or park open, expect every other project, process, or park to end up on the desk of some Congressional supporter asking to be the next special appropriation.

  3. Piecemeal appropriations should not be how government budgeting works. Federal taxes are not a designated levy or a directed donation. We as taxpayers (and, in turn, our elected representatives) don't get to only fund the parts of the government we really, really like. Cherry-picking the popular programs for salvation from sequestration or a shut-down sets up a flawed impression of the role of the government in our lives. If the public gets the impression from piecemeal appropriations that the things we like run just fine in a "shutdown," we lose even more of the necessary political will to solve the actual functional problems at hand.

    Cliché yet appropriate analogy: Granting piecemeal appropriations is like letting a little kid eat only the dessert at the dinner table. The kid gets what he or she likes but doesn't get the basic, if unexciting, nutrients he or she needs for complete health. Fully funding the federal government instead of piecemeal appropriations isn't just making the country eat its peas; it's ensuring that there's a meal on the table in the first place.

I agree with Political Smokeout that Dennis Daugaard's offer is a sincere and sensible, if politically expedient, one. But a national approach needs to think bigger than the South Dakota governor. It needs to tackle the systemic issues, not just come up with a way to keep National Park tourists or other vocal victims happy.


  1. Stan Gibilisco 2013.10.01

    The Tea Party has a death wish and they do not give a cuss as to who or what they take down with them, as long as they think they can destroy our President.

  2. Jerry 2013.10.01

    Denny should just tell NOem in plain English that she needs to do what is right for South Dakota with her vote. Get off the tea party wagon and start pulling the wagon for her state. If Denny has so much moolah laying around he can pick it up and help feed our poor, he can pick it up and help provide healthcare for our needy. Denny is being just as big a jerk as the prom queen, time for both to sober up.

  3. rollin potter 2013.10.01

    No problem people!!!!! Our rising star,Smilin' Jack THune, will take care of everything concerning south dakota!!!!!!!!

  4. Jana 2013.10.01

    South Dakota and other states have tried to do this in the past and been rejected for a number of reasons.

    DD knew full well that his offer was nothing more than empty words and promises to distance himself from the Washington ideologues.

    His efforts would have been better spent in working with the SD delegation to avoid hurting South Dakotans and South Dakota businesses.

  5. Jerry 2013.10.01

    What we should be asking is this, why are state workers different than federal workers at these parks? If a local worker is furloughed, isn't he or she just as important as a scab that will come in to work in their place? Where are these "extra" workers coming from that Denny intends to replace the furloughed ones work now? Do we really need them on the state payroll if they are extra? Denny thinks we are all rum dumb.

  6. Bill Dithmer 2013.10.01

    Jerry that is never going to happen. Tonight on KELO they had a clip of our John Thune on the senate floor talking about why ACA was bad for the country.

    "There was an interview done with an employer in my state of South Dakota where that person was asked about how this would impact them and they said, 'Well, I guess we're probably not going to hire as many people as we otherwise would hire.' And he said, 'I think that's going to be happening in businesses all across the country.' That's one example from my state of South Dakota," Senator John Thune said.

    Where's the meat John? Where is the name of that person that is so concerned that he would interview but not want his name used. Wouldn't he be proud to own that statement if it were true?

    This reminds me of a cheap advertisement in the back of a porn magazine.


    Are you tired of that burn and itch of hemorrhoids?
    Is this condition starting to cause a problem with your job performance?
    No time for surgery, and no money for the doctor?

    Then have we got a product for you.

    Just read a couple of these unsolicited customer testimonials.

    "I have to be on a plane or setting in back of a desk most of the working day. Stress is the name of the game where I work so it also means my condition wont just "go away."
    "My husband says that my posterior problems were starting to effect my work. He should know, he is a doctor. Then I found SIDE SADDLE. What a difference a cream makes. Oh I still have stress, but who cares my butt doesn't itch anymore.
    MB Sitllwater Min.

    "I spend a lot of time on a horse. Even when I'm not riding I'm setting on a fence waiting for the announcer to call my name so I can perform in front of the public. When I hurt everyone around me knows it. After getting help reading the label on your product I tried it and got immediate relief. Thanks SIDE SADDLE for giving me a pain free day."
    KN Castlewood SD

    SIDE SADDLE HEMORRHOID CREAM, it's not just for politicians anymore.

    Without names it's just more dribble from the floor of the senate. Is that all ya got John?

    And then this tidbit for the public machine.

    "House Republicans are planning a bill that would restore some government services including reopening the national parks."

    Really? With all the real problems we have, funding of nonessential national parks is where you choose to place your priorities? Now that's sad.

    The Blindman

  7. Michael B 2013.10.01

    Cory, which party do you think will abandon their principles to pass legislation to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling?

  8. Jana 2013.10.01

    Should we be surprised that the Governor doesn't disclose how much John and Kristi's shutdown of the government is costing South Dakota?

    I wonder if someone in the media will engage an economist and give us a number on how bad Kristi and John are hurting the South Dakota economy and South Dakota families with their petty political posturing.

  9. Jerry 2013.10.01

    It does not seem the Shrine of Democracy, more like the Shrine of Decadence when you read this kind of pain inflicted on our defenseless citizens. So much for compassion. From the Wall Street Journal.

    At the National Institutes of Health, nearly three-quarters of the staff was furloughed. One result: director Francis Collins said about 200 patients who otherwise would be admitted to the NIH Clinical Center into clinical trials each week will be turned away. This includes about 30 children, most of them cancer patients, he said.

    Maybe real news folks should ask NOem and Thune about these children. Why are they submitting them to unneeded pain and death? The republican death panel we heard about, no?

  10. caheidelberger 2013.10.02

    (Hey, Michael, did you notice TWUecker wrote this post?)

    I just heard the quote on NPR from Mr. Venhuizen about how noble it would be of South Dakota to keep the "Shrine to Democracy" open during this time when Washington is failing to serve the country. Oh, the posturing.

  11. John Hess 2013.10.02

    If Boehner submits a clean bill there are enough rational Republicans to pass it now. This attempt to undermine the law is criminal (in my opinion). The President is canceling diplomatic trips, cancer treatments will end, the list goes on. The S&P again said these antics are why we lost our top credit rating and the world is watching. Pressure will mount for him to do the right thing and dismiss the loons in his party. This really is huge. A Daily Beast article sums it up pretty well.

  12. Steve 2013.10.02

    Remember, this is only the opening volley; we will be in a similar position in weeks when the debt ceiling becomes the hostage de jour for the GOP.

    Mt. Rushmore is the element of Federal support that is the first concern of our GOP leaders? It seems the "concern for the poor" sermons in churches this weekend fell on too many deaf ears.

  13. Jerry 2013.10.02

    Do you know why the republican crooks and liars were so giddy on Saturday when the voted to shut down the government? I was puzzled as well and then I remembered the old days with the same faces. The payolla from the tobacco companies on the House floor directed by this fellow, see if you can recognize him.

    I wonder what NOem got? How much is all this worth to her? It does seem like they got a payday with the grins and the gins.

  14. TonyAmert 2013.10.02

    Great post, Toby.

    Normally the "check" on these types of shenanigans would be during the next election where the electorate could kick out any congress people that participated in this behavior. I wonder if our state is going to hold our congress people accountable? Perhaps an information campaign needs to be put in place to document the impact of this on our state?

    The cynic in my says that there are enough people in SD that support shutting down the government that this will not really alter the outcome of our next election cycle.

  15. John 2013.10.02

    66 in congress will refuse or donate their pay since Oct 1 - because congress refuses to do its job - why aren't Thune's and Noem's name on the list?

  16. Douglas Wiken 2013.10.02

    Noem and Thune's names should be on the list year around. Both worthless as teats on a boar.

    A lifetime Republican woman needed help because of her veteran husband's health problems. She got hold of Pressler. Nothing happened. Got hold of Daschle and within two days, the problem was solved. She said she has never voted for a Republican since. Believe it or not, I can't prove it. Heard it from a reliable source.

    And then there was the rancher who thought Reagan would be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Within two years, the SD Highway Patrol was helping with the foreclosure on 2000 acres of land with $500,000 of equity. The son told me the story. His old man was smart enough to never vote for another Republican.

    There might be hope for rationality out of all this after all.

  17. interested party 2013.10.05

    DD is on the phone grovelling before President Obama for a disaster declaration again. GOP hypocrisy seems endless: it's like wiping ones bottom with a hula hoop.

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