To all of you who rely on this blog for information, I apologize. First of all, because I’ve been gone for a week and have not been giving you the knowledge you crave; and second of all, because you haven’t discovered that CNN and The Wall Street Journal exist and actually provide news constantly.
Anyway, I was just in Toon Town a.k.a. Washington, D.C., getting a big fat blast of truth from our nation’s leaders. You are probably wanting to know if they told me whether or not President Trump is going down with the Mueller probe, or if Big Tech is going to de-balled by Congress and/or the DOJ’s anti-trust clippers, but I was too busy nuking beers on lobbyists’ expense accounts to remember any meaningful information on these subjects.
However, one thing did stick out:
Everyone in D.C. is planning on a Christmas shutdown. Agencies are delaying regulations and Congressional staffs are already contingency planning for either: (1) an emergency session between Christmas and New Years; or (2) a protracted stand-off in which everyone agrees to eat bon-bons and tweet nastygrams about Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi until the 116th Congress starts in January.
I usually interpret this type of information the way that the geniuses at The Farmer’s Almanac read into thick bark on trees and extra-fluffy caterpillar coats: as proof that we’re in for a long winter, which means shutdown time in Toon Town.
What real information do I have to support this? Well, to begin with, there was the amazing WWE match between Trump, Pelosi, and Schumer in the White House last week, in which President Trump told Chuck Schumer that he would be, “proud to shut down the government for border security,” and that, “I will be the one to shut it down — I’m not going to blame you for it.”
This was an absolutely brilliant move, because if there is one thing that voters love, it’s politicians who deliver on their promises. So, now President Trump can shutdown the government (as he promised) so that if he doesn’t get the border wall that he also pledged, he’ll still come out on top. What a winner.
Additionally, now that we’ve had two shutdowns in the past five years, the PR stink has probably washed off of them. I am going to go out on a limb and guess that most Americans aren’t counting time by the 2013 government shutdown, or the 2018 weekend furlough the way that say, your average Louisianan remembers Hurricane Katrina or your grandpa pipes about the Dust Bowl. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter that much to ordinary people, which has basically been Trump’s genius all along: slaughter a few sacred cows, barbecue them on the White House lawn, and wait to see if anyone actually gives a care. Most of the time, the answer is no. What that says about democracy is either liberating or horrifying but I would recommend reading a more boring publication if you want to talk about that.
Lastly, the word on the street is that House R’s are having insane attendance problems now that at least 30 of them have lost re-election. This literally means that there are a few dozen Republicans who are not coming to work anymore. Anyway, even though the GOP Majority in the House isn’t going to mathematically expire until January, the number of actual Republican Congressmen who are in D.C. on any given day is about the same as whatever number of Democratic votes Nancy Pelosi has in her non-gender-binary piggy bank. This is extremely unhelpful when it comes to moving controversial legislation like a border wall.
Now, as far as I am concerned, there are a few arguments against a shutdown. They are:
— There is always a lot of posturing about whether or not Trump is serious about shutting down the government, and he almost never does.
— The video of the President blasting Schumer and Pelosi on camera might be what every prior budget conversation is like, we just don’t know because CNN wasn’t there.
— One of Trump’s favorite activities is changing his mind. So maybe he’ll stop caring about building the wall.
— Sometimes Trump listens to Mitch McConnell, who talks him out of stupid stuff like government shutdowns.
— Trump could be right that there is a secret cabal between Rs and Ds to build the wall. However, I think this is just as likely as his claim that Ted Cruz’s dad was in on JFK’s assassination– which is to say about 40%, max.
— Every time Republican Congressional Staffers tell me something is a lock, they are flat wrong and I wind up getting hosed. This really shouldn’t be surprising considering the fact that most of them gave money to Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.
My thoughts? Based on all observable evidence, a shutdown looks likely and is probably priced right (55%). I bought some YES shares but don’t really love the play– I still think there are decent odds that the President cuts his losses and changes his tune on the border wall. Under 60, this could be a good play. Over 60, and I’m out.