Our View: Paul’s act would save from future shutdowns

The ongoing federal government shutdown has now entered its fifth week. It’s a depressing milestone that highlights the fact we have far too many spoiled children holding our country’s most important jobs.

Our nation’s leaders ought to be men and women of substance and honor. They ought to be humble patriots who defend the integrity of the nation before considering their own agendas. Instead, we have elected dozens of drama queens and thin-skinned demagogues who view themselves more as Twitter stars than public servants.

There are those who sometimes rise above the fray with common-sense solutions. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is currently one of them. This week, he reintroduced his Government Shutdown Prevention Act, which would effectively defuse the shutdown bomb for future presidents and congresses.

If passed into law, the act would continue funding for the government at existing levels — minus 1 percent — whenever Congress and the president fail to pass appropriations. Funding would then decline slowly, by 1 percent every three months, until our leaders could get their crap in order and do their jobs.

This act creates a balanced response to disagreements over funding. It wouldn’t allow current spending to continue in perpetuity — otherwise, Congress might never pass another appropriations bill. But the funding cuts would be so small initially that we would never again have to talk about national parks overflowing with waste, thousands going without paychecks or poor people wondering how they will eat because a few hard-headed bullies in Washington won’t give each other an inch.

The best thing about the act is the way it would douse all the drama and fireworks with boring old accounting.

The government shutdown has lasted this long in part because it gives the angry toddlers in Washington exactly what they want: doomsday scenarios they can rant and rave about ‘til the cows come home. TV commentators and partisan websites eat that stuff up and feed it to their respective bases, further radicalizing the population and causing both sides to dig their heels in even deeper.

Under the Government Shutdown Prevention Act, shutdowns would become boring. News reports would consist of wonky examinations of small funding changes over time. There would be no fuel for the fire, and leaders would be much more willing to negotiate and find common ground as a result.

We would love to see Paul’s act passed into law; we only worry there aren’t enough adults left in the Capitol to make it happen.