In the USA...United Surveillance AmericaRepublicans to stage piecemeal budget votes as shutdown accusations fly
Democrats likely to reject GOP's stopgap measures as Boehner says 'all we are asking for is to sit down and have a discussion'
Dan Roberts in Washington
theguardian.com, Friday 4 October 2013 18.11 BST
Republicans will stage piecemeal budget votes over the weekend offering symbolic funding to additional public services, as Republicans and Democrats accused the other of deliberately dragging out the wider government shutdown into a second week.
The GOP-dominated House of Representatives will attempt to re-open the National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) and child nutrition and development programmes, as well as pledging to provide back pay for other furloughed federal workers.
Democrats are likely to reject the stopgap measures, however, which they regard as gimmicks aimed at shifting blame for the shutdown away from Republicans holding the president to ransom over his healthcare reforms.
Similar piecemeal votes affecting national parks and monuments, veterans services and the District of Columbia have already been blocked in the Senate, which is calling for a "clean" vote to continue all government funding.
As the two sides looked further apart than ever at the end of the first shutdown week, the debate shifted instead to allegations that both sides are seeking to prolong the stalemate for political advantage.
Republicans seized on off-the-record quotes in the Wall Street Journal which appear to show the White House settling in for a long fight.
It claimed a senior administration official had said: "We are winning … It doesn't really matter to us [how long the shutdown lasts] because what matters is the end result."
Though unclear whether such a remark really reflects the view of the Obama administration, the quote was jumped on by House speaker John Boehner in a press conference setting out Republican tactics.
"This morning I get out the Wall Street Journal out and it says: 'We don't care how long it lasts because we [the Democrats] are winning'," said Boehner. "This isn't some damn game. All we are asking for is to sit down and have a discussion."
White House spokesman Jay Carney dismissed the allegation that it wanted a shutdown as "absurd" on Friday, repeating calls from Obama for the Republicans to allow a "clean" budget vote in the House that would probably see a majority voting to end the shutdown.
Instead, Democrats seized on a candid conversation between Republican senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, who were recorded discussing their tactics to keep blaming the shutdown on the president.
"I don't think they poll-tested 'we won't negotiate'," Paul told McConnell. "I think it's awful for them to say that over and over. I know we don't want to be here but we are going to win this."
The continued war of words between both sides dashed overnight hopes that Republican leaders might be preparing a partial climbdown.
Boehner, in particular, rejected any notion that he had ruled out voting against an increase in the debt limit.
"I don't believe we should default on our debt, but after 55 years of spending more than what you bring in, something ought to be addressed," he said. "I think the American people expect that if we are going to raise the amount that we borrow, we ought to do something about our spending problem."
Optimism had previously grown that Republicans were tiring of the fight when Boehner was reported on Thursday to have told moderates in his own party that he would work with Democrats if necessary to avoid a debt limit breach and possibly even pass continuing spending resolution.
Unofficial Washington estimates suggest around 25 moderate Republicans would back a vote on a "clean" funding resolution, which would be enough to pass if supported by Democrats, but this group still appears smaller and less determined than the hardline Tea Party supporters driving Boehner toward confrontation.
An eventual solution to the crisis is still likely to come in the form of a deal with Republican moderates, but all the time the party leadership believes it is at least persuading the American public to blame both sides for the shutdown they are likely to be encouraged to keep seeking concessions from Obama.
There are also signs that some Democrats are wavering in their support for the tough line adopted by Obama and Senate leader Harry Reid, as 57 House Democrats joined Republicans to vote for the piecemeal funding measures debated earlier this week.
****************Republican Terrorists Have Exposed Themselves as The Traitors They Are
Oct. 5th, 2013
Most Americans have experienced the sensation of being excited and celebratory at achieving a long sought-after goal, but have to temper their glee with disappointment that although successful, they failed to meet all of their expectations. Republicans have had a lot to rejoice over in the past week because they finally achieved their goal of shutting down the government to inflict harm on the people and economy, and convinced Senate Democrats to pass a GOP austerity budget with sequestration cuts in place allegedly to stave off the shutdown. From a conservative terrorist’s world view, there is much to celebrate and be excited about, but as pleased Republicans are, they are disappointed and angry they failed to prevent millions of Americans who likely have never had healthcare insurance from purchasing affordable plans when the Affordable Care Act exchanges went live on Tuesday.
Ideally, Republicans had hoped to inflict more damage on the people with their shutdown, and it is really true congressional Republicans are upset they failed at the national level to prevent Americans from receiving healthcare, but their compatriots in the states are picking up the slack and having a field day in the movement’s crusade to keep Americans sick and in poverty. Despite the national effort to extend healthcare coverage to millions of Americans, two-thirds of poor African Americans and single mothers and over half the low-wage workers who do not have insurance have been left out because Republican-controlled states rejected Medicaid expansion and prevented 8 million impoverished Americans from getting healthcare. In all, the 26 states that rejected Medicaid expansion contain about half the country’s population and about 68% of poor uninsured African Americans and single mothers, and 60% of the country’s uninsured working poor.
To demonstrate the Republicans’ depth of depravity, the states that rejected Medicaid expansion, many in the southern United States, are the “places where the concentration of poverty and lack of health insurance are the most acute. It is their populations that have the highest burden of illness and costs to the entire health care system” according to Dr. H. Jack Geiger, a founder of the community health center model. It is tragic, but every Deep South red state except Arkansas rejected Medicaid expansion that implies racial animus informed the decision to reject providing healthcare for the poor, particularly when the cost to states is zero for three years and no more than 10% thereafter. For state-level Republicans, rejecting Medicaid expansion is a beautiful thing because they are allowed to keep their residents sick and still benefit from the shutdown that brings its own damage to poverty level Americans. It is a feat congressional Republicans lusted after and doubtless they will “stand their ground” and keep the government closed to take advantage of the inherent damage permanently shuttering important agencies in a credit default scenario will bring the people.
Although many Republicans claim Americans will not notice the effects of the shutdown and intend keeping it in place until the 2014 midterms to prove government is unnecessary, real Americans are already feeling the shutdown’s consequences. For example, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) halted its flu program just as flu season gets underway, over 2 million federal employees will have paychecks delayed and 800,000 may never be repaid, and food safety operations will grind to a halt. For disabled Americans their benefits could be interrupted, the Women’s, Infants, and Children (WIC) program serving 9 million poor women and children is suspended, and Head Start programs start closing soon. Millions of Veterans may miss the benefits if the shutdown lasts more than two weeks because the Department of Veterans Affairs said it may not have money to pay disability claims and pension payments. The shutdown could affect 3.6 million Veterans, so they had better start making poverty plans today because Republicans plan to keep government closed at least until the deadline to raise the debt ceiling in two weeks. The shutdown may last until the 2014 midterm elections when they hope to make it permanent because they claim the people will realize they do not need, or want, a federal government; even for national security.
Republicans exposed themselves as the traitors they are because about 70% of the 86,000 civilians employed at 16 U.S. intelligence agencies have been furloughed prompting the spokesman for the director of national intelligence to warn that “the intelligence community’s ability to identify threats and provide information for a broad set of national security decisions will be diminished for the duration.” It seems reasonable that the intelligence community would identify the Republican shutdown as a threat to national security, but without 70% of its workforce, it is likely many threats, including those posed by teabaggers and Republicans, will go unidentified “for the duration.”
It cannot be stressed strongly enough that the shutdown’s duration, according to many Republicans, is going to be at least through the Republican debt ceiling crisis at which time the solvency, or lack thereof, of the government may inform that Republicans succeeded in their goal of a permanent government shutdown. Americans need to comprehend that this shutdown tactic was not just about preventing 30-million uninsured citizens gaining access to affordable healthcare insurance; it was also about Republicans gaining leverage in the impending crisis over the debt ceiling and beyond. According to the National Review, “Boehner called groups of members to his Capitol office, and it became clear, members say, that Boehner’s chief goal is conference unity as the debt limit nears.” The Republican message has shifted away from defunding the Affordable Care Act to items Boehner talked about slashing last month including discretionary spending cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and concentrating on tax reform (cuts) for the rich and corporations.
If Americans cannot see what Republicans have in store for them, and this country, with their government shutdown and plans to rape the economic life out of the people in the looming debt ceiling crisis, they are blind. The simple fact that they planned months ago to shut down the government to prevent 30 million Americans from having healthcare insurance, or succeeded in keeping 8 million poor Americans sick by rejecting free Medicaid expansion, means they have no qualms deliberately crashing the economy and defaulting on the nation’s debt. The price the people will have to pay to save the nation’s economy from a catastrophic collapse is ceding their Social Security, Medicare, Affordable Care Act, and myriad domestic programs to give the rich and corporations more tax cuts, deregulation, and control of the government through privatization. It is clear that Republicans will inflict the maximum damage they can on the people either by defaulting on the nation’s debt or extorting truly draconian cuts and “limited government” from the people that means no government services or protections.
The shutdown will not end soon, and when it does the resulting America will not be pretty if Republicans have their way. Republicans have dispensed with “defunding Obamacare” talk and boast that with the shutdown they are “strengthening their hand in the debt limit talks.” With the full faith and credit of the United States hanging in the balance, they will crash the economy if they do not get their way because their goal is eliminating the federal government and what better way than bankrupting the nation so there is no Social Security, no Medicare, no Obamacare, no domestic programs, and no chance of any American ever escaping poverty let alone have healthcare. Whether they crash the economy, or decimate government social programs for the people, Republicans intend on having the celebration they have lusted after for 80 years when killing New Deal provisions began the long journey to where America is today; being held hostage by a group of home-grown conservative terrorists.
*************Boehner the Lost Clown
By: Hrafnkell Haraldsson
Oct. 5th, 2013
john boehnerYou might laugh to know that The New York Times reports that “Speaker John A. Boehner began a closed-door meeting of House Republicans on Friday morning with a recitation of letters from local schoolchildren on how they deal with stress. A shower helps, one child counseled. So does a nap.”
A child’s help and advice is apropos for our embattled but intrepid Speaker, as his behavior has, to date, been absolutely childish.
Having steered the Republican clown car into a chasm as deep as the six-miles-to-the-bottom-drop of the Valles Marineris on Mars, lost clown John Boehner sees no way out but forward against a White House whose back he has put against a wall.
Boehner says he wants to negotiate but by negotiate he means unconditional surrender. And surrender for President Barack Obama means not only a personal defeat for his signature healthcare law, a law the American people say they want, but a diminution of Executive powers, not only for his own presidency but for all future presidencies.
Surrender would make the Executive Branch a permanent hostage of any House majority.
Needless to say, that isn’t what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they laid out their plan for the separation and balance of powers. Given Congress’ historically low approval ratings, it is not what American voters want now. Boehner insists he is acting on behalf of the American people, but the American people want the Affordable Healthcare Act and the American people do not want a government shutdown.
Boehner has ignored them on both counts.
It is what Republicans, who lost the last two national elections, and who seem bound and determined to lose a third, insist upon.
All the while, from 2010 till now, the House Republicans could have backed off, but impelled forward by unyielding ideology, fear of a fanaticism they themselves fueled, and a pornographic addiction to corporate money, they continued full-speed ahead, careless of the consequences, to which, in truth, they seem to have given little thought.
It is easy to blame Ted Cruz (and he certainly deserves blame), but John Boehner is supposedly the Speaker of the House and it falls upon him to guide and direct his wayward flock, something he has never been able to do. Bad as Republican driving skills have been since 2000, Cruz surpasses them all, yet it is Boehner who controlled the brakes, and he refused to apply them. He abrogated his authority, making Ted Cruz de facto speaker of the House and has become nothing but a cipher who blames everyone but himself for his present sorry state.
Unable to lead himself, he demands unconditional surrender of the one man in the country willing and able to lead: President Barack Obama. The man, coincidentally, elected by the majority of the American people – twice.
And what advice does Boehner have? What inspiring words for his troops? According to the Times,
“We are locked in an epic battle,” the speaker told his rank and file, those who attended the meeting said, urging them to “hang tough.”
Hang tough. The clown car is at the bottom of a six-mile deep canyon. Hang tough.
About 2,000 British soldiers troops and auxiliaries tried the hang tough thing at Isandlwana in 1879. But there were 20,000 very angry Zulus who had their backs against the wall. The calculus of such contests is easy.
As iPad’s Siri says in a recent Microsoft Surface commercial, “Oh snap!…This is not going to end well for me, is it? No, definitely not ending well.”
Her final, forlorn question is a meaningless appeal to vanity: “Do you still think I’m pretty?”
Boehner finds himself in a similar position and there is no hope of anyone, even fellow Republicans, outside of tea party fanatics, finding any of this pretty. His self-righteous attitudes, his blame-shifting – none of these fool Democrats and at this point, probably few independents given what polls say about who is responsible for the shut-down.
It is no secret any longer that Republicans have been planning this coup since 2010. As Harry Reid told Boehner with a laugh, it is all a show for Boehner’s benefit. So when the Speaker says “This isn’t some damn game. The American people don’t want their government shut down, and neither do I,” we should all be laughing. Because Boehner does want the government shut down. That has been the plan from the very beginning.
The Republican clown car and its orange-faced clown driver is lost and there is no way out. Boehner might want to consider the children’s advice: a hot shower, maybe a nap.
And then, whether it is today or tomorrow, or some day between now and 2014, he will be sent to his room without dinner, privileges lost, his keys taken away, there to wait for the ignominy he has been stumbling toward since the day he became Speaker of the House.
But he won’t be lonely. The tea party will be along to join him shortly.
*************The White House Obliterates John Boehner’s Fake Government Shutdown Outrage
By: Jason Easley
Oct. 4th, 2013
John Boehner’s latest attempt to muster public outrage at Obama over the government shutdown was destroyed by the White House with a single tweet.
Boehner claimed at his press conference today that he just wants a simple discussion about Obamacare, “The American people don’t want their government shut down and neither do I. All we’re asking for is to sit down and have a discussion and to bring fairness – reopen the government and bring fairness to the American people under ObamaCare. It’s as simple as that. But it all has to begin with a simple discussion.”
However, House Republicans are saying that Boehner refuses to roll over and is still demanding major changes to Obamacare. According to Roll Call, “I think the important takeaway is this stuff that’s floating around in the media about, you know, he’s not willing to challenge, is not true,” said Rep. John Fleming. The Louisiana Republican quoted Boehner as saying he wouldn’t ‘roll over.’…Boehner indicated that House Republicans will still insist that the president agree to change 2010 health care law in exchange for an agreement to reopen the government.”
Speaker Boehner is trying to win the PR battle when he and his party have already lost the war. Even the latest Fox News poll shows disapproval of the Republican Party skyrocketing since they shutdown the government. The easiest way for Boehner and the House Republicans to prove that they don’t want a government shutdown is to allow a vote on the Senate passed CR.
Boehner says that this isn’t a game, while he continues to keep the government closed unless his party gets major changes to the healthcare law.
The White House response to Boehner came via a Tweet from Press Sec. Jay Carney:
.@SpeakerBoehner It's no game, Mr. Speaker. So why deny the House a vote on clean CR? Many R's will vote yes & govt will open. #JustVote.
— Jay Carney (EOP) (@PressSec) October 4, 2013
The White House also disavowed an anonymous quote in the Wall Street Journal that claimed that Obama doesn’t care when the shutdown ends:
.@morningmoneyben So am I, Ben. We utterly disavow idea WH doesn't care when it ends. House should act now, no strings attached. #JustVote
— Jay Carney (EOP) (@PressSec) October 4, 2013
Boehner and the Republicans see their only way out as getting public opinion on their side, but their years of saying no and obstructing Obama are coming back to haunt them. Boehner’s promise not to roll over was designed to appease the base. Even as the Republican Party is in the midst of a fiery downward spiral, Speaker Boehner remains incapable of doing what is right for the country.
Obama isn’t going to give them anything on the ACA, so House Republicans have been reduced to tough talk in public as they frantically search for a way out in private.
Speaker Boehner has no power, but his comments were revealing in one respect. Like any professional political prostitute, John Boehner won’t roll over unless he gets paid. Boehner’s attacks are so weak that they aren’t even worthy of a White House statement.
The Obama administration is destroying Boehner via Twitter, because that is truly the level of attention that his delusional PR campaign deserves.
***************Democrats Plan to Use the GOP’s Own Bill Against Them to End Government Shutdown
By: Sarah Jones
Oct. 4th, 2013
Democrats are finally catching on regarding how to fight the nihilistic, anarchistic fringe minority that’s running the Republican Party.
Greg Sargent at the Washington Post revealed that Democrats have found a possible way out of the Tea Party shutdown:
Dems have hit on a way to use a “discharge petition,” which forces a House vote if a majority of Representatives signs it, to try to force the issue. Previously, it was thought this could not work, because a discharge petition takes 30 legislative days to ripen, so if this were tried with the clean CR that passed the Senate, this couldn’t bear fruit until some time in November.
But now House Democrats say they have found a previously filed bill to use as a discharge petition — one that would fund the government at sequester levels.
That bill Representatives Chris Van Hollen and George Miller will reportedly use (The Government Shutdown Prevention Act) happens to be a Republican bill, so that’s rather fitting. Jennifer Bendery, who covers the White House for The Huffington Post, tweeted, “Dem Rep. George Miller on rounding up 218 votes for discharge petition: ‘We expect we can get them all in one day.’”
Dem Rep. George Miller on rounding up 218 votes for discharge petition: "We expect we can get them all in one day."
— jennifer bendery (@jbendery) October 4, 2013
But this is the House of Representatives, so naturally, predictions based on reason are worthless. On cue, Sabrina Siddiqui, a Politics Reporter at the Huffington Post, tweeted, “GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, of “tea party lemmings” fame, says there’s “not a chance” he’d sign Democrats’ discharge petition.”
GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, of "tea party lemmings" fame, says there's "not a chance" he'd sign Democrats' discharge petition.
— Sabrina Siddiqui (@SabrinaSiddiqui) October 4, 2013
Of course, Republicans want to appear as if they got something for holding a gun to America’s head — apparently a super bad reputation isn’t enough to take home to their tea districts. They have to post the heads of their enemies in the town square or they’re losers tea party style.
Sargent says Dems can force a vote by October 14th and if they get the 218 signatures on the discharge petition, they can replace the Lankford bill with a clean CR. (Let us not forget that we would not even be here discussing a short term CR if Republicans hadn’t been deliberately avoiding budget conference with Democrats for the last five months, waiting until they could get their hands on quivering victims like the international economy.)
Speaker Boehner (R-OH) won’t put up the Senate passed CR up for a vote because it would pass, and this would be very bad for his future career. The Senate passed CR is funded at sequester levels, so essentially Republicans are once again refusing to vote yes on their own ideas because it might help Obama if the country didn’t tank.
That means that the country is paying for John Boehner to keep his job. Boehner keeps saying he wants to “talk” but he refuses to take the gun away from the country’s head first. That’s a stick up, not an offer to talk, but whatev.
Dave Weigel of Slate tweeted that the Democratic strategy is to wait until Republicans wake up, which is hardly comforting since that will never happen: “Rep. Jim McDermott on Dem strategy against GOP: ‘We sit here until they figure out they f**kin’ lost.’”
Rep. Jim McDermott on Dem strategy against GOP: "We sit here until they figure out they f**kin’ lost."
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) October 4, 2013
Before anyone lets the alleged moderate Republicans off the hook, as I’ve pointed out numerous times, they have refused to stand up to the corporate tea party. They have had ample opportunity to end this shutdown standoff. In but one example, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) gave them a chance to use procedural votes to end it, but instead they bowed down to the tea money. Their words mean nothing. Their votes mean everything.
Every Republican who did not jump on King’s coup is responsible for the shutdown, because in the grown up world, beating up the vulnerable kid because your friends were doing it isn’t a valid excuse.
**************Bernie Sanders Explains How The Koch Brothers Are Keeping The Government Shut Down
By: Jason Easley
Oct. 4th, 2013
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) explained on The Ed Show how the Koch brothers are using threats and their money to keep the government shut down.
Ed Schultz asked the Vermont Senator if the Citizens United was the root cause of the government shutdown standstill.
In many respects it is. What’s going on right now. We have seen some moderate, moderate conservative Republicans having the guts to stand up to Boehner and say,ok, we don’t like Obamacare, but you know what? We don’t think you should shut down the government. We are prepared to vote for a clean CR, Continuing Resolution.
What’s happening now, as I understand it, is when moderate Republicans are saying that, or thinking about standing up to Boehner, the extreme right wing is coming around saying you do that, let me tell you what’s going to happen. We have the Koch brothers behind us. We have hundreds of millions of dollars behind us, and if you dare to support a Continuing Resolution, a clean CR. We’re gonna primary you. We have unbelievable sums of money to defeat you.
So what you are looking at now is what Citizens United is all about. And that is giving a handful of billionaires, the Koch brothers and others, incredible power to tell members of Congress what they can and can not do, very dangerous.
Citizens United is the Supreme Court decision that opened the door for billionaires like the Koch brothers to control the Republican members of Congress.
The Koch millions didn’t disappear from our political system after Obama was reelected in 2012. The government shutdown demonstrates that the Kochs and their fellow right wing billionaires are still fighting in defiance of the results of last year’s election. Moderate Republicans may say that they are willing to defy Boehner and vote for a clean CR, but many of these same Republicans aren’t willing to defy the Kochs. Until the Koch brothers are the other right wing billionaires are going to feel any pain, expect Republicans to refuse to open the government and raise the debt ceiling.
Democrats have to dig in and fight, because this battle isn’t about really spending, budgets, or even Obamacare. The confict isn’t even about who controls the government. What is at stake is the kind of government that the United States will have. Will democracy’s brightest star be a government for the many, or will it be a government dicatated by the wealthy few?
The government will eventually reopen, but what is to be determined is what kind of government it will be.