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Thomas Sowell on “Who Shut Down the Government?”

Posted: October 5, 2013 at 5:00 am   /   by

sowell (1)When it comes to clarity,there are few that can match Thomas Sowell.

Here are excerpts from his incisive article “Who Shut Down the Government?” (emphasis and links added). Please see also a Memo to the GOP at the bottom of this page.

There is really nothing complicated about the facts. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted all the money required to keep all government activities going — except for ObamaCare.

This is not a matter of opinion. You can check the Congressional Record.

As for the House of Representatives’ right to grant or withhold money, that is not a matter of opinion either. You can check the Constitution of the United States. All spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which means that Congressmen there have a right to decide whether or not they want to spend money on a particular government activity.

Whether ObamaCare is good, bad or indifferent is a matter of opinion. But it is a matter of fact that members of the House of Representatives have a right to make spending decisions based on their opinion.

If Senator Reid and President Obama refuse to accept the money required to run the government, because it leaves out the money they want to run ObamaCare, that is their right. But that is also their responsibility.

When Barack Obama keeps claiming that it is some new outrage for those who control the money to try to change government policy by granting or withholding money, that is simply a bald-faced lie. You can check the history of other examples of “legislation by appropriation” as it used to be called.

Whether legislation by appropriation is a good idea or a bad idea is a matter of opinion. But whether it is both legal and not unprecedented is a matter of fact.

Perhaps the biggest of the big lies is that the government will not be able to pay what it owes on the national debt, creating a danger of default. Tax money keeps coming into the Treasury during the shutdown, and it vastly exceeds the interest that has to be paid on the national debt.

Even if the debt ceiling is not lifted, that only means that government is not allowed to run up new debt. But that does not mean that it is unable to pay the interest on existing debt[If Obama and Jack Lew deliberately stiff America’s creditors, the dire consequences will be their personal responsibility.]

None of this is rocket science. But unless the Republicans get their side of the story out — and articulation has never been their strong suit — the lies will win. More important, the whole country will lose.

Sowell’s last point is the most important. Press conferences and microphone sound bites are ok, but this calls for something more.

Memo to the GOP: Hire a top-flight PR firm with plenty of cut-throat Washington Beltway political experience. Hand them Sowell’s article and give them their mission: We want every American to hear and understand this message. Pay them well and give them a big bonus if they succeed. But for crying out loud, get on with it!

Read Sowell’s full article at this link.

David Leeper

David Leeper

David Leeper is a retired engineer living in Scottsdale, AZ, with his wife of 45 years. He is currently a volunteer science teacher at In his 40-year career he held positions from lab technician to technical vice president at Bell Labs, Motorola, and Intel. He holds 16 patents in telecom technology and a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. During his career, he wrote mainly for technical journals including Scientific American. He began writing for in 2011.
David Leeper


  1. Lynne Randazzo says:

    Thank you for articulating. Citizens must understand what is actually happening in our capital.

  2. sleepergirl says:

    He writes so that even Obama’s low-info drone voters have a chance at understanding the shutdown. Otherwise, they rely on media eunuch’s  sound bites that totally get this wrong. They are lying out their eyes, ears, and mouths.

  3. General Gwok says:

    Can we just elect Mr. Sowell for President? Seriously. This man is knows how the government is supposed to be run. The yahoos in there now, both sides, either know and don’t care, or are too stupid to realize they don’t know.

    1. dleeper47 says:

      General Gwok 
      I’d love to.  But I don’t think we could get him to run.
      The old saying is that no one smart enough to be president is dumb enough to want the job.

      1. dleeper47 General Gwok So sad.

  4. ElaineCallenderHeflin says:

    Thanks for the clarification….

  5. GordonHilgers says:

    Soooooweeeee for Sowell!  Expert in Doublethink, but not even half the writer George Orwell was.

  6. Roy J Meidinger says:

    The House of Representatives has the Responsibility to fund all the Programs passed by Congress. If they don’t they are taking the law into their own hands. If the House of Representatives has a problem with the Affordable Care Act, they should introduce a bill to change it, which would be No. 46 if my count is correct.
    Roy J. Meidinger

    1. Lynne Randazzo says:

      Roy J Meidinger Thank you, Roy, for your response.

    2. poohlewis says:

      Roy J Meidinger, What clause shows that the House has a “responsibility to fund all programs passed by Congress”?   Thank you.

    3. DavidTM says:

      Roy J Meidinger
      Mr. Meidinger,
      I’ve been following your situation since the IRS denied your
      healthcare whistle-blower case even though you couldn’t have put together a
      better presentation to prove your case. I’ve been going through such a similar
      situation (my case was potentially only worth a billion dollars to the
      Treasury) since 2009 and all I’m waiting for is a report from TIGTA and no
      matter what that report says, I plan on suing the IRS for wilful disregard of
      the Tax Code, taxpayer abuse, and fair debt collection practices under the IRS
      Restructuring & Reform Act of 1998.
      The IRS held my case
      open and active for three and a half years and on the day, the so called sequestration
      cuts went into effect in March of 2013, I received a denial letter with
      absolutely no explanation. Part of my case had to do with how my previous
      employers took as many as 40 workers, all with the same job title and work
      responsibility, and then made eight friends and family member’s employees of
      the company and the rest of the other workers as Independent Contractors. The
      IRS themselves consider this exact same issue by any employer to be an
      intentional act of theft and most often adds very serious penalties which more
      than doubles the amount of unpaid taxes. I can safely estimate that this
      company got away with not paying taxes on anywhere from 30 to 50 million
      dollars over a five year period. Here’s what the IRS didn’t take into account,
      my own individual taxpayer rights.
      When I first spoke to the only IRS contact agent I was ever
      assigned I asked her for help on how I should file my taxes. As an employee,
      because I know my previous employer is guilty of misreporting my worker status
      to you or as an Independent Contractor and change the worker misclassification
      error on my taxes later. At least 30 different times, both by phone or via a
      faxed letter, I asked them for an employment status determination for my own
      individual tax filing purpose and for three and a half years I was denied help
      and an answer. I not only have most of the written requests that I made to the
      IRS as evidence but more importantly, I have the IRS’s lame responses to each
      of them. They never once gave me an answer and then let me know that if I had
      any more questions to feel free to contact them. I missed out on 99 weeks of
      unemployment pay which was $450 a week here in CA, a few hundred hours of
      overtime at $65.00 an hour, the earned income tax credit of $1,500 I believe,
      and a few other things all because the IRS chose to carry out their duties by
      violating nearly every IRS policy guideline dealing with the issue of worker misclassification.
      Congress barred the IRS from modifying any part of the Employee
      Misclassification tax laws as written. I
      can show the court how the IRS violated this portion of the law in my case and
      never fixed my employee status for not only the workers that I worked with, but
      for me individually as well. The IRS is mandated per IRS employee policy
      guidelines to correct the mistake and they won’t. So I plan on suing them for a
      million dollars plus the cost of the action because the IRS willfully
      disregarded the Tax Code and my taxpayer rights.
      As you can see, I’m pretty into my case too and before I write
      a book about my case, what I really wanted to ask you is what you think about TIGTA?
      Can a TIGTA report in our favor help us or be used as evidence to help us, win
      a court decision over the IRS? I also have an open TIGTA complaint that is due
      to be completed by next week and I can’t tell you how anxious I am to see if TIGTA
      will be fair and truthful in that final report or will they take the opposite
      approach and cover for the IRS and lie? I hope that you have time to respond, I’d
      love to know what you think. Thank you David

  7. Mike Hill says:

    The people of the USA are too complacent to care what Obama does, only what they can get for nothing.

  8. Ozzie53 says:

    There is one piece of Sowell’s argument that needs some attention. I agree when he says ” But the whole point of having a division of powers within the federal government is that each branch can decide independently what it wants to do or not do, regardless of what the other branches do, when exercising the powers specifically granted to that branch by the Constitution.”  But, the problem is that the Legislative Branch of Congress is composed of two chambers. If my read of the WSJ poll is accurate, most Americans think that it’s foolishness for the “Originators” of appropriations (the House) in the Legislative Branch to propose a funding plan that’s meaningless, because both chambers have to agree – on something. 
    In order for the Legislative branch to fully “exercise the powers specifically granted to it by the Constitution” there has to be some sort of agreement between both chambers. It’s why this whole thing is bouncing off the President like Teflon. Other than Cruz on the Senate side, who thinks this is a workable plan? Sowell’s apologetics ain’t playing with the Senate or the American people. I’m afraid getting the word out will be akin to the PR disaster the American Catholic Bishops have when they say they want to protect the most vulnerable of children. It’s not PR we need, it ‘s a change in the game plan.

Thomas Sowell on "Who Shut Down the Government?"