As a service to those who don't follow an arch-conservative uncle on Facebook, The National Review collects political memes* from the right-wing with some regularity. As a service to those uncles, please allow us to fact-check some of a recent crop dedicated to the current turmoil in Washington.
(* For some reason, "memes" is now used to refer to images with built-in captions that are supposed to be funny and to be shared and which are often neither. That's not really what a "meme" is, of course, but you can see how much space we save by using that word.)
The joke: The government is bad, and shutting it down is great.
The reality: We can answer these questions in order.
Who will spy on you? The NSA. As The Hill reports, the NSA's surveillance activity likely falls into the category of an essential government service, and therefore won't be switched off.
Who will waste your money? In this case, the shutdown. As The Washington Post noted last week, the shutdown could cost more than $2 billion thanks to revenue left uncollected, time wasted in preparing for the closures, additional security, and increased borrowing costs.
Who will have contempt for you? Same people as always, it's safe to assume.
The joke: Congress refuses to be subject to Obamacare, suggesting that it is flawed.
The reality: The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was created mostly to offer a publicly-accessible insurance exchange which would bring down costs by enrolling people who lacked existing coverage. Congress already offers health insurance to staffers and members, which Obamacare was never meant to cover, anymore than it was meant to cover everyone that works at, say, Microsoft.
The idea that Congress should participate in the exchanges is a long-standing one, introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa during the bill's initial passage. It's been taken up by Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, who wants to curtail even the government's co-pay. But the deterrent for Congress isn't that the exchanges suck — they haven't even opened yet — the deterrent is that forcing Congress into the exchange never made much sense, and cutting the co-pay is just a salary cut. (See this USA Today article for more details.)
The joke: The debt ceiling keeps going up forever!
The reality: Buzz Lightyear is barely cognizant that he is an earthbound toy, so it's perhaps not surprising that his understanding of the debt ceiling is incorrect.
The debt ceiling is how much money the government can borrow in order to pay existing bills. Increasing the debt ceiling doesn't not increase debt, it simply increases the government's ability to pay debt. It's not really like getting a higher spending limit on your credit card, unless your credit card lets you spend more than the limit before it is raised. Which isn't likely.
Anyway, the point is that the existence of the debt ceiling indicates that the government's borrowing authority isn't going to infinity. It is a ceiling. That's the point. Yes, it keeps needing to be raised, but that's a function of Congressionally-approved spending.
The joke: Obama misrepresented Obamacare, and laughs at the suckers for believing it.
The joke: Obama did say that Obamacare wasn't a tax; it was the Supreme Court that ruled it was allowable under the government's taxation power.
Obama also suggested healthcare costs would go down. If they will and to what extent remains to be determined — again, the exchanges open tomorrow — but recent analysis indicates that costs will be much lower than the government originally expected.
We aren't sure why Bill Clinton thinks this is so funny. He should know better.
The joke: Obama is lazy and not even trying to head off a shutdown.
The reality: Fox Nation picked up this theme, noting that President Obama played his 35th round of golf over the weekend. (The image used above is from his trip to Nantucket over the summer.) But of course it isn't up to Obama to pass measure in Congress — that's Congress' job. Had the House and Senate sent a resolution to Obama who then ignored it to golf, the point would make sense.
Obama did plan to bring congressional leaders together to negotiate a deal, but apparently Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid nixed the idea.