Analyst looks at Shutdown, Spending, Debt Ceiling as a “battle of conflicting principles”

OKLAHOMA CITY – News9 reporter Alex Cameron, opening the weekend of “Capitol Report” for the CBS News affiliate in Oklahoma City, observed the primary topic of discussion for days has been the partial shutdown of the federal government.

Cameron invited bureau chief Pat McGuigan to sketch the range of initial effects, including disruption of the the Honor Flights to Washington D.C. for World War II veterans.

In Oklahoma, the impact on civilian employees at Tinker Air Force Base was immediate, although military functions continue. Non-profits are reporting some funding challenges.

Oklahoma state government’s individual agencies are trying to anticipate the emerging impact, as the shutdown continues. McGuigan pointed out that Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed Speaker T.W. Shannon’s bill to require state agencies to have explicit, clear plans for reducing federal spending thru state agencies.

McGuigan observed it might have been better to have already been prepared with priorities for loss of federal funds, but Fallin said at the time of the veto the Speaker’s bill was unnecessary.

The Obama Administration may feel some temporary advantage, McGuigan observed, in using “The Washington Monument strategy” by closing popular parks and other programs immediately.

Around the nation, the initial impact is highest in states with a large non-military federal workforce.
McGuigan observed that military veterans sometimes refer to “the fog of war,” the confusion of situations with high stress and intensity.

In the present controversy, Americans are seeing what McGuigan believes might be called “the fog of political war” – with both sides overstating the immediate impact in order to gain an edge in the rhetorical fight. Things will get “really interesting,” McGuigan said, as the conversation switches from the shutdown to the federal debt ceiling in the next few days.

In response to the veteran television reporter’s questions, McGuigan concluded his discussion with Cameron saying that whereas President Barack Obama genuinely wants to increase the size of the federal government, House Republicans sincerely want, to “make the federal government footprint smaller, to use an environmental analogy.”

Therefore, McGuigan asserts that federal budget strife and stress is “the new normal.”
The CapitolBeatOK editor believes, “This may last awhile. This is not a fight merely over political advantage, but fundamentally over principle.”

“Capitol Report” is a regular weekend feature on News9, providing recurring analysis of top national, state and local issues drawn from Pat McGuigan’s work at the state Capitol press room, where he runs the news bureau and serves as editor of

After its weekly broadcast on News9, Capitol Report is posted both at CapitolBeatOK and is linked to the national system. 

McGuigan and Cameron have collaborated on the project for the past four years. 

McGuigan is also associate publisher of The City Sentinel newspaper. 

NOTE: Billie Rodely, an award-winning journalist, is a member of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame. Her reports appear occasionally on CapitolBeatOK, and in The City Sentinel. Rodely is moderator of the weekly “Capitol Watch” podcast which, after more than two years of regular distribution, is taking a break for the rest of October.