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Former DOJ Attorney Disputes Obama's Catastrophic Warnings on Possible Government Shutdown


"They're focused on trying to mess with me.”

LIBERTY, MO - SEPTEMBER 20: President Barack Obama speaks to workers at the Ford Kansas City Stamping Plant on September 20, 2013 in Liberty, Missouri. Obama spoke at the plant after the Republican controlled U.S. House passed a stop gap funding measure, but also defunding the presidents health care legislation, which may lead to a government shut down. Credit: Getty Images

Serious consequences are on the way if a government shut down happens, President Barack Obama warned on the day the House passed a spending plan that funds everything in the government except Obamacare. He even said the GOP's motivation was to “mess” with him.

“If Congress doesn't pass a budget in 10 days, a week from Monday, the government is going to shut down. A government shutdown, shuts down many services that American people rely on,” Obama said speaking Friday to employees at a Ford plant in Liberty, Mo.

“This is not abstract. Hundreds of thousand Americans will not be allowed to go to work,” Obama continued. “Our men and women in uniform, even those deployed overseas, won't get their paychecks on time. Small businesses, won't get their loans processed. None of that has to happen as long as Congress passes a budget.”

LIBERTY, MO - SEPTEMBER 20: President Barack Obama speaks to workers at the Ford Kansas City Stamping Plant on September 20, 2013 in Liberty, Missouri. Credit: Getty Images

Even with a government shutdown, the catastrophic warnings are exaggerated and most of the decisions of what to fund would be left to Obama, Hans von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department attorney and currently a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told TheBlaze.

“Any consequences he is worried about would be his responsibility,” he said of Obama's dire warnings about military pay, federal jobs and small business loans. “Any consequences are his fault. The House passed the continuing resolution that provides enough funding for the particular things he talked about.”

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted 230-189 Friday along party lines to entirely fund the federal government from Oct. 1 through Dec. 15 except for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. The bill now goes to the Democrat-controlled Senate for consideration, which is certain to reject the defunding of Obamacare. If the House, Senate and president can't reach a spending agreement by Sept. 30, there will be a government shutdown.

Both sides are already debating whose to blame.

In Missouri Friday and before that, Obama said it would be the Republicans fault for not funding his signature legislative achievement. However, Republicans counter that since the Constitution says all appropriations bills must originate in the House, then it is now up to the Senate and the president.

“Our message to the United States Senate is real simple,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said after the vote. “The American people don't want a government shutdown and they don't want Obamacare. The House has listened to the American people, not it's time for the United States Senate to listen to them as well.”

Obama at one point in the Missouri speech seemed to take the actions of the House Republicans personal.

“Unfortunately right now the debate that's going on in Congress is not meeting the test of helping middle class families,” Obama said. “They're not focused on you. They're focused on politics. They're focused on trying to mess with me.”

Von Spakovsky, of the Heritage Foundation, pointed to the sequester as an example of a previous exaggerated warning.

“The sequester happened and has America even noticed?” he asked. “A shutdown would have more impact than the sequester, but as memos from the DOJ and OMB state, essential services will continue. We'll still have Border Patrol agents, the FBI will still be around, and benefit payments from Social Security and Medicare will continue.”

Von Spakovsky cited past legal precedents in recent issue brief for the Heritage Foundation. He also pointed out that 17 other times since 1977 that the government was shut down.

A 1995 opinion by the Department of Justice said “the federal Government will not be truly ‘shut down’…because Congress has itself provided that some activities of Government should continue.”

An April 2011 Office of Management and Budget memo said federal employees who “are needed for the performance of those ‘excepted’ functions” will continue to be employed even temporary shutdown.

The OMB has previously counted national security, entitlement payments, medical care, protection of federal lands, care of prisoners, law enforcement and emergency and disaster assistance among areas that would continue operating during a temporary lapse in funding, according to a Congressional Research Service report published last month.



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