As we move away from Holidays and into times when the impact of a federal shutdown will be felt more dramatically, I feel compelled to make some observations.
Budgets and spending are the purview of Congress, not the president. The concept of an authoritarian leader that dictates policy and budget should be anathema to every American. The very existence of the United States of America is a rebuttal to authoritarian leadership. Spending and policy is decided by the will of the people as represented through our legislature. The President's job is to oversee the execution of those legislative decisions, carrying out the decisions of Congress in an effective manner. The President can, and must give Congress a budget, outlining the spending needs to implement their decisions. The president should have no authority to present ultimatums to Congress. It is Congress' responsibility to decide if a budget is appropriate, or if the policies need to change. Congress does not serve at the will of the president.
Over the last decades, we have seen Congress increasingly abdicate its responsibility, tacitly allowing the President more authority and control over policy and spending. It is time that Congress rises to its responsibility as representatives of the American people and take back that authority. Make decisions. Work across party lines. Compromise. Present the President with a spending and appropriations bill that has the support of the people through our Congress. It won't be perfect. Not everyone will be happy. But only Congress can bring the diverse views and needs of America together, and only Congress can work through the compromises necessary create a spending package that reflects the will of the people.
This shutdown is unnecessary. Congress needs to pass a spending bill and give it to the President. And then the true colors of our President will show - will he represent the American People or will he represent his own special interests.