In-House Counsel, Politics

Shutdown the Shutdown

I am watching the goings-on in Washington with a sense that the Republicans have simply given up. No matter that they have no sensible argument to shut down the government, no matter who it might hurt in the process, no matter that they are basically conceding the 2014 cycle — it appears that the GOP is imploding. They can natter on and on about how Obama “refuses to negotiate,” the simple fact is that there is nothing to negotiate. There was a bill, on Capitol Hill, it went to the White House and became a law (apologies to Saturday mornings) — and beyond that, the law was upheld as constitutional by one of the more intelligent and well-thought out Supreme Court opinions in my lifetime. There is nothing to debate. Game over. Oh, they can remind me incessantly of the unfairness of universal healthcare, and how ensuring that everyone has access to healthcare is a very bad thing, but just like that time that Gore beat Bush, and the Supremes ruled in a way that changed the outcome, you have to live with this.

But what we don’t have to live with is an irresponsible act by a relative few that impacts the lives of so many. Retribution and punitive measures may not be swift or severe enough, but how I wish we had implemented the act of “caning” in this country.

There is no excuse for shuttering Head Start programs, or affecting the weakest and poorest among us because you wish to make a “point.” And if you have followed me this far into polemic-ville let me remind you that the economy is already on shaky ground. The longer this nonsense continues, the more ripples will start to be felt beyond the lower socio-economic strata. Now, if the end game is to reverse any headway that the economy has made so that 2014 has different electoral outcomes based on platforms of blame, well-attempted, but poorly executed. Even “low information” voters will not fall for this one. The “red diaper doper babies” finally succeeded in bringing a type of affordable healthcare into existence (welcome to the rest of the developed world, America), and the best thing for everyone, including us lawyers who depend upon the strength of our companies for employment, would be for Congress to pass a clean bill and move on.

But that is not going to happen. I don’t sense a good result coming out of this. The market remains relatively strong, for now, but investors do not enjoy uncertainty. And our Congress is at an impasse. I would be surprised if the President does anything, though if I were counsel, I would sure as heck be scouring Congressional rules for violations and contempt proceedings. You might be immune from parking tickets, but your Rules Committee is chaired by a Dem. If they can nail you for too much free pizza, I am confident that somewhere in that book is a way to punish you for being an asshat. The investment community is readying for a slew of 3Q announcements, and we could be in for a down turn in the market if this “shut down” does not go away. There is still time for this to end relatively quietly for both sides. Then the Dems can trumpet victory over the horrible Tea Partiers who shut down the government, and the Republicans can shout about the horrors of Obamacare. Just as long as we get the doors open. The market needs to breathe, and standing by while Jane asphyxiates could result in a long term outcome that no one wants or needs.


After two federal clerkships and several years as a litigator in law firms, David Mowry is happily ensconced as an in-house lawyer at a major technology company. He specializes in commercial leasing transactions, only sometimes misses litigation, and never regrets leaving firm life. You can reach him by email at

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