Looking Back at the Government Shutdown’s LSAT Flaws

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Last week, the United States House and Senate finally managed to get past their differences and reopen the federal government just before things would have become a bit hairy with the debt limit. All told, the shutdown went on for 17 days, and involved lots of frustration, brinksmanship, and flawed logic. Since this is an LSAT blog, the last part is what we’ll focus on here.

Government Shutdown Flaw I:

“Since the government was shut down, and running the government costs money, we must have at least saved money in this whole affair.”

This is what I think calling the shutdown a “slimdown” is intended to imply. But federal workers are going to get back pay for the time they were furloughed, and will still have to catch up on the work they missed. The government also missed out on revenue that couldn’t be collected. And the shutdown’s costs to the economy will be significant.

Government Shutdown Flaw II:

“Since Obamacare is unpopular, we’ll score political points by shutting down the government to end it.”

Many polls indicate that most Americans still oppose the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). But opposing the act doesn’t necessarily entail supporting its repeal, and certainly doesn’t mean supporting using any means necessary to get rid of it. In the end, despite Obamacare’s mediocre poll numbers, the GOP took a big hit in the polls by trying to attack it with a government shutdown.

Government Shutdown Flaw III:

“Since the government has been reopened, the whole thing is fixed.”

This is what LSAT students know as a temporal fallacy: assuming that things will be in the future as they are now. The resolution to the whole standoff only funded the government through January 15 and resolved debt limit issues through February 7. There’s nothing to guarantee that we won’t see a repeat of the whole thing.

In other words, be on the lookout for more flaws.

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