Why President Trump May Want A 'Good Shutdown'

Since the early days of his presidency, Donald Trump has been talking about shutting down the very institution he campaigned to lead: the federal government. Sometimes he frames such a move as a “good shutdown,” much the way people used to talk about a child needing a “good spanking.”

The goal of a “good shutdown,” President Trump tweeted last year, was to fix the “mess” in Washington. Since then, the federal government has shut down twice, as congressional funding has lapsed, but so briefly as to be hardly noticeable. And certainly, Washington still isn’t performing as Mr. Trump would like. For one, Congress still hasn’t funded his long-promised border wall with Mexico.

Now, as the final, lame-duck portion of the 115th Congress begins, and the Republicans enter their waning days in control of the House, the possibility of a partial shutdown looms. Funding for several critical departments is due to expire Dec. 7. Trump speaks of a shutdown regularly, as a way to sharpen the stakes of a tension-filled border debate, please his political base, and set up the politics of 2020 with a slam on Democrats as soft on migrant caravans full of “criminals.”

“If he’s going to go all in for the border wall, this is the best time to do it,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell.

A “shutdown” in early December would actually involve only one-quarter of the government, as most departments are already funded through September 2019. Among those departments awaiting funding is the Department of Homeland Security, which includes the border patrol. Though as with all shutdowns, agency heads are empowered to exempt “essential personnel,” so the critical functions of government – including border security – would not stop.

Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor

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Analysis & Political Strategy