Just as they did in October of 2013, the media is uniformly calling the selective starving of government by Republicans in Congress a “government shutdown.” It is anything but. The term “government shutdown” gives the public the false impression that the entire government is being shut down, when in reality, only a small percentage of the government gets shut down—and for starkly ideological reasons.
What we are really facing is a liberal government shutdown—which is to say programs designed to help the vulnerable and poor are gutted, while institutions designed to serve the rich and powerful remain unscathed.
If the last “shutdown” is any guide, the military, Trump’s luxurious vacations, soft power, our bombing of seven Muslim-majority countries, NSA bulk surveillance, agencies that prop up the oil and gas industry, the CIA’s arming and funding of Syrian rebels, and the FBI’s entrapment regime will remain entirely untouched. The parts of government that serve the poor and working class, however, will be first on the chopping block: libraries, tax collection, national parks, labor and safety regulators, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (which oversees the derivatives market), environmental regulators, financial regulators, welfare, and WIC will all be axed. Indeed, the one time the government got remotely close to undermining, even briefly, a pillar of the right-wing state, the powers that be arbitrarily decided to leave the Defense Department virtually untouched.