Obama isn’t trying to fix anything — it’s all going according to plan.
Under a federal law known as the Anti-Deficiency Act, it can be a felony to spend taxpayer money without an appropriation from Congress.
Obama has ordered the Grand Canyon to stay closed, even after the state of Arizona and local businesses have offered to cover the costs necessary to keep it open. In other words, the shutdown isn’t about the money — it’s about hurting the American people just because he can.
Remember, politicians are motivated by power. Obama is no exception. Everything he does has a simple agenda: maximize control of citizens, increase spending, and consolidate power.
Administration officials now live in fear of a 19th-century law that could get them fired, penalized or even imprisoned if they make the wrong choices while the government is shut down.
The law is the Antideficiency Act, passed by Congress in 1870 (and amended several times), which prohibits the government from incurring any monetary obligation for which Congress has not appropriated funds.
In shutting down the government, most memos cite the law as the reason. The Government Accountability Office says employees who violate the Antideficiency Act may be subject to disciplinary action, suspension and even “fines, imprisonment, or both.”
CNBC has learned that in several executive branch departments, high-level staff members review individual decisions about what government activities to allow for fear of running afoul of the Antideficiency Act. One White House official said he has advised his employees not to check their email or cellphones. Under the act, even volunteering for government service is expressly prohibited.
In a memo to his department employees today, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew cited the law as the reason for reduced staffing.
“For the duration of this impasse, as required by the Antideficiency Act and directed by OMB, the Department will be required to operate with only the minimal staffing level necessary to execute only certain legally exempted activities,” Lew wrote.
The only exemptions to the shutdown concern “emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property,” (i.e. get ready for ANOTHER false flag event) according to government documents. That has meant airports and the Postal Service are open, Social Security checks get paid and federal prisons and courts will operate as normal as do most national security functions including the military and the Central Intelligence Agency. But national parks and museums are closed along with big parts of the departments of Education and Commerce.
Congress passed the law as part of a struggle—dating back to the nation’s founding—for control over the power of the purse. Some presidents, such as Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, would incur obligations for which Congress had to appropriate funds after the fact.
What is ironic is that Congress in shutting down the government has to at least to some extent given up the power of the purse to the executive branch. Under the broad guidelines of what constitutes an emergency or threat to life or property, OMB now more or less decides what gets funded and what doesn’t. But that latitude is limited by the fear of officials that, sometime after the event, a given decision is found to have been in violation of the Antideficiency Act.
The Antideficiency Act (ADA), Pub.L. 97–258, 96 Stat. 923, is legislation enacted by the United States Congress to prevent the incurring of obligations or the making of expenditures (outlays) in excess of amounts available in appropriations or funds. The law was initially enacted in 1884, with major amendments occurring in 1950 (64 Stat. 765) and 1982 (96 Stat. 923). It is now codified at 31 U.S.C. § 1341. The ADA prohibits the federal government from entering into a contract that is not “fully funded” because doing so would obligate the government in the absence of an appropriation adequate to the needs of the contract. This Act of Congress is sometimes known as Section 3679 of the Revised Statutes, as amended.
This Act has evolved over time in response to various abuses. The earliest version of the legislation was enacted in 1870 (16 Stat. 251) and provided that … “it shall not be lawful for any department of the government to expend in any one fiscal year any sum in excess of appropriations made by Congress for that fiscal year, or to involve the government in any contract for the future payment of money in excess of such appropriations.” The act was amended and expanded several times, most significantly in 1905 and 1906, when it was mandated for all appropriations to be apportioned in monthly installments and criminal penalties for violations were imposed. It was further modified by an executive order in 1933 and significantly revamped in 1950.The current version was enacted on Sept. 12, 1982. It is reasonable and accurate to note that the “Anti-Deficiency Act” (the “ADA”) actually includes provisions of Title 31 that are not always associated with the principal provision of the Act which is found at 31 USC § 1341. Thus, the ADA also includes 31 USC § 1342, a provision which prohibits voluntary services. It also includes 31 USC § 1501-1519, provisions which require that appropriated funds be subdivided, “apportioned” and “allocated” before any of the appropriated funds can be expended by the Executive Branch.
To some extent, but not entirely, it implements the provisions of Article One of the United States Constitution, Section 9, Clause 7 (the “power of the purse“), which provides that “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.”
Although the ADA and its predecessors are over 120 years old, no one has ever been convicted or indicted for its violation. However, agreements have been changed and reported due to ADA violations, and punitive administrative actions are routinely taken against government employees.
A corollary of the constitutional provision is that departments and agencies of the government may not “augment” appropriations either by raising money instead of seeking and getting an appropriation or by retaining funds collected and using them instead of receiving an appropriation.
(a) An amount shall be recorded as an obligation of the United States Government only when supported by documentary evidence of—
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