The border wall fight and the federal government’s bond rating

Kevin Williamson of National Review Online focuses on one potential long-term impact of the current fight over border wall funding.

Physically securing the southern border was understood to be a valuable if not dispositive reform until it became the shiny prize in the mud-wrestling match currently underway in Washington.

The president is not wrong to be insistent about this, nor is he wrong to take extraordinary measures to see to it. You may disagree with that position — and that would not necessarily be unreasonable. Perhaps we could agree on this: The fact that trying to get the federal government to perform its fundamental duties has sent the government into its current convulsion is evidence of a dysfunction in the American system that is not uniquely related to the current leadership of either the executive or the legislative branch. In fact, that is the best argument against treating the current situation as an “emergency” at all — the federal government’s failure here goes back 50 years or more.

Fitch, the credit-ratings agency, can be a bit of a scold, but its analysts are not wrong to detect something amiss in American governance, nor are they wrong in their current mild skepticism regarding the U.S. government’s coveted triple-A bond rating. “If this shutdown continues to March 1 and the debt ceiling becomes a problem several months later, we may need to start thinking about the policy framework, the inability to pass a budget, and whether all of that is consistent with triple-A,” James McCormack, Fitch’s sovereign-ratings boss, told Reuters. From Fitch’s point of view, he said, the debt-ceiling issue is the more troubling.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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