Corporate socialism: suckling billions in profits from the government teat

More proof that multi-billion dollar corporations like McDonald’s are quite successfully bilking the American taxpayer to increase their own take-home profits:

Video: McDonald’s tells workers to get food stamps – Salon.com – An audio recording released by labor activists Wednesday afternoon captures a staffer for McDonald’s’ “McResources Line” instructing a McDonald’s worker how to apply for public assistance.

The audio – excerpted in the campaign video below – records a conversation between Chicago worker Nancy Salgado, a ten-year employee currently making the Illinois state minimum wage of $8.25, and a counselor staffing the company’s “McResources” 1-800 number for McDonald’s workers. The McResources staffer offers her a number to “ask about things like food pantries” and tells her she “would most likely be eligible for SNAP benefits” which she explains are “food stamps.” After Salgado asks about “the doctor,” the staffer asks, “Did you try to get on Medicaid?” She notes it’s “health coverage for low income or no income adults and children.”

“It was really, really upsetting,” Salgado told Salon Wednesday, “knowing that McDonald’s knows that they don’t pay us enough, and we have to rely on this.” Noting that McDonald’s was “a billionaire company,” she asked, “how can they not afford to pay us?”

Of course McDonald’s (and other fast-food / big box retail corporations) could afford to pay their employees better wages and stop draining so much out of the taxpayer-funded safety net, but that would mean the corporate big wigs would have to share or reinvest some of their profits.

The new video follows two reports released last week… which estimated that fast food workers utilize nearly $7 billion annually in public assistance, while fast food corporations last year netted $7.4 billion profits.

And, by the way, many of these companies (and their executives) don’t contribute as much to the safety net as, proportionally speaking, the average middle-class taxpayer. As Scott Klinger recently noted:

In the 1950s, corporations paid nearly a third of the federal government’s bills. Last year… corporate income taxes accounted for less than a tenth of Uncle Sam’s total revenue.

Over the past year, one in nine of the companies listed on the S&P 500 paid an effective tax rate of zero percent–that’s zero as in nothing–and that’s on top of taxpayers picking up the tab on public assistance for those profitable corporations who won’t pay their workers a living wage.

There are 57 separate companies listed on the index that paid a zero percent rate from the past year. Those companies include both household names like Verizon and News Corp. and lesser-known corporate giants like the data storage manufacturer Seagate (market value $15.9 billion) and Public Storage (market value $29.5 billion). Many of the companies USA Today identified in its analysis as paying negative rates make the list because they lost money, but several were profitable. Previous analyses have shown that the typical corporation pays a lower effective tax rate than most middle-class families, and a far lower one than the statutory corporate tax rate against which business interests disingenuously rail.

Even though Mitt Romney tried to convince us that “corporations are people, my friend,” the majority of corporations today are not our “neighbors,” they don’t contribute towards the greater good of whichever country they’ve parked a headquarters—in fact, today’s corporations (and their executives) actually seem to do whatever is necessary to get out of contributing their proportional share towards the society which benefits them so greatly. Today’s corporations are run by people who are low on talent and basic morality, but are paid enormous sums of money. And they are nothing like those who came before them. Vanity Fair remembers,

In 1914, [Henry] Ford decided to pay his employees a rich wage and otherwise improve the working conditions…

In January 1914, (Henry Ford) startled the world by announcing that Ford Motor Company would pay $5 a day to its workers. The pay increase would also be accompanied by a shorter workday (from nine to eight hours). While this rate didn’t automatically apply to every worker, it more than doubled the average autoworker’s wage. While Henry’s primary objective was to reduce worker attrition—labor turnover from monotonous assembly line work was high—newspapers from all over the world reported the story as an extraordinary gesture of goodwill.

After Ford’s announcement, thousands of prospective workers showed up at the Ford Motor Company employment office. People surged toward Detroit from the American South and the nations of Europe. As expected, employee turnover diminished. And, by creating an eight-hour day, Ford could run three shifts instead of two, increasing productivity.

Henry Ford had reasoned that since it was now possible to build inexpensive cars in volume, more of them could be sold if employees could afford to buy them. The $5 day helped better the lot of all American workers and contributed to the emergence of the American middle class. In the process, Henry Ford had changed manufacturing forever.

Or, as Henry put it, raising wages “has the same effect as throwing a stone in a still pond,” creating an “ever-widening circle of buying” that increases the prosperity of a nation.

It’s simply a fact that Henry Ford didn’t base his decisions on what Ford Motor Company’s net profits would be the next quarter–he had much greater things to accomplish. Because of Henry’s decisions, an entire nation benefited for years, and you know what? So did his company. Unfortunately those times are over (Reaganomics was the beginning of The End), Henry Ford would be run out of most corporate boardrooms today, and the word Patriotism now holds some twisted meaning that includes offshore bank accounts for the wealthy and easy access to guns for the rest of us. There is no longer a balance or any kind of mutual respect between industrialists and workers—negotiated, contrived, or otherwise. And each one of us ought to ask ourselves, “how did we allow this to happen?” and more importantly, “how can we change it?

Here’s Bill Maher from last week:

“Now when it comes to raising the minimum wage, conservatives always say it’s a non-starter because it cuts into profits. Well… yeah. Of course. Paying workers is one of those unfortunate expenses of running a business. You know, like taxes or making a product. If you want to get rich with a tax-free enterprise that sells nothing, start a church.” 

“…And, look, even if you’re not moved by the Don’t-Be-Such-a-Heartless-Prick argument, consider the fact that most fast food workers (whose average age, by the way, now is 29–I’m not talking about kids) are on some form of public assistance. Which is not surprising… when even working people can’t make enough to live, they take money from the government in the form of food stamps, school lunches, housing assistance, daycare. This is the welfare that conservatives hate but they never stop to think: if we raise the minimum wage and force McDonald’s and Walmart to pay their employees enough to eat, we the taxpayers wouldn’t have to pick up the slack. This is the question the Right has to answer: do you want smaller government with less handouts or do you want a low minimum wage–because you cannot have both. If Col. Sanders isn’t going to pay the lady behind the counter enough to live on, then Uncle Sam has to. And I for one am getting a little tired of helping highly profitable companies pay their workers.” 

America’s billionaire welfare kings: the high cost of the wealthy on the rest of us

*Updated title to read welfare kings instead of queens. Seems more appropriate.

For anyone who wonders why the deficit is so large and why, at the same time, income inequality between the super-wealthy and the rest of us is at a record high, consider the various ways which the Republican Party, starting with Ronald Reagan, has gamed the system to funnel our incomes directly into the bank accounts of the one-percent.

FIRST, THANK RONALD REAGAN AND HIS “TRICKLE-DOWN” REAGANOMICS. 

GOP tax bonus for the rich ignores failure of Reaganomics

REAGAN / JULY 1981: “This represents $750 million in tax cuts over the next five years. And this is only the beginning.”

RACHEL MADDOW: “And thus was born a new economic philosophy Reaganomics, cutting government spending, cutting regulation and cutting taxes–cutting taxes especially for the richest Americans. President Reagan’s tax plan cut the top tax rate for the wealthiest Americans from 70 percent to 50 percent. Why cut taxes so dramatically for the richest of the rich in the middle of a recession? [...]

“Trickle-down economics. The idea of trickle-down economics is basically this: you cut tax rates for the richest Americans, therefore the richest Americans have more. They have more money in their pockets, therefore they have more money to spend and invest. And as they spend and invest, the effect of rich people’s good fortune and rich people spending trickles down to everybody else in the economy. A rising tide lifts all boats, right? That was the idea. That was the plan. That did not happen.

Reaganomics was a spectacular success in some ways. It was a spectacular success for the richest Americans in the country who benefited the most from President Reagan’s historic debt- exploding, budget-busting tax cuts. In 1980, the top one percent of Americans earned wages about $110,000 a year. By 1990, after about 10 years of Reaganomics, the top one percent had seen their wages rise by 80 percent. Trickle-down economics, though, right? What’s good for the rich is good for all of us, right? Not quite. Here’s the average wages in the rest of the country in 1980 and here is what happened for the rest of the country after about 10 years of Reaganomics flat. A whopping three percent rise in wages in 10 years. The richest people see their fortunes go up like the Matterhorn. Everybody else, nothing. This is what family income growth looked like during the 1980s:

1.1

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

THEN THANK RONALD REAGAN FOR HIS “GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM NOT THE SOLUTION” message, which the tea party carries on today:

The Abject Failure of Reaganomics

Reagan sold Americans on his core vision: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Through his personal magnetism, Reagan then turned taxes into a third rail of American politics… 

“[Reagan] convinced many voters that the government’s only important roles were funding the military and cutting taxes.”

Yet, instead of guiding the country into a bright new day of economic vitality, Reagan’s approach accelerated a de-industrialization of the United States and a slump in the growth of American jobs, down to 20 percent during the 1980s. The percentage job increase for the 1990s stayed at 20 percent, although job growth did pick up later in the decade under President Clinton, who raised taxes and moderated some of Reagan’s approaches while still pushing “free trade” agreements and deregulation.

Yet, hard-line Reaganomics returned with a vengeance under George W. Bush – more tax cuts, more faith in “free trade,” more deregulation – and the Great American Job Engine finally started grinding to a halt. Zero percent increase. The Great American Middle Class was on life-support.

[...] Through its ideological media and think tanks, the Right continues to hammer home the Reagan-esque theory that “government is the problem.”

Meanwhile, the Left still lacks comparable media resources to remind U.S. voters that it was the federal government that essentially created the Great American Middle Class – from the New Deal policies of the 1930s through other reforms of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, from Social Security to Wall Street regulation to labor rights to the GI Bill to the Interstate Highway System to the space program’s technological advances to Medicare and Medicaid to the minimum wage to civil rights.

Many Americans don’t like to admit it — they prefer to think of their families as reaching the middle class without government help — but the reality is that the Great American Middle Class was a phenomenon made possible by the intervention of the federal government beginning with Franklin Roosevelt and continuing into the 1970s. [For one telling example of this reality -- the Cheney family, which was lifted out of poverty by FDR's policies -- see Consortiumnews.com's "Dick Cheney: Son of the New Deal."]

Further, in the face of corporate globalization and business technology, two other forces making the middle-class work force increasingly obsolete, the only hope for a revival of the Great American Middle Class is for the government to increase taxes on the rich, the ones who have gained the most from cheap foreign labor and advances in computer technology, in order to fund projects to build and strengthen the nation, from infrastructure to education to research and development to care for the sick and elderly to environmental protections.

Meanwhile…

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

30 YEARS LATER, THE REST OF US ARE SUPPLEMENTING MINIMUM WAGE JOBS WITH GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS, helping corporate officers and shareholders who pay the shitty wages walk away with massive profits. 

“Taxpayers are spending nearly $7 billion a year to supplement the wages of fast-food workers, even as the leading fast-food companies earn billions of dollars in annual profits, according to a pair of reports released Tuesday.”

Washington Post — More than half of the nation’s 1.8 million “core” fast-food workers rely on the federal safety net to make ends meet, the reports said. Together, they collect nearly $1.9 billion through the earned income tax credit, $1 billion in food stamps and $3.9 billion through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, according to a report by economists at the University of California at Berkeley’s Labor Center and the University of Illinois.

Overall, the “core” fast-food workers are twice as likely to rely on public assistance than workers in other fields, said one of the reports, which examined non-managerial fast-food employees who work at least 11 hours a week and 27 weeks a year.

Even among the 28 percent of fast-food workers who were on the job 40 hours a week, the report said, more than half relied on the federal safety net to get by. [...] Those workers are left to rely on the public safety net even though the nation’s seven largest publicly traded fast-food companies netted a combined $7.4 billion in profits last year, while paying out $53 million in salaries to their top executives and distributing $7.7 billion to shareholders, according to the second report, by the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

“The cost is public because taxpayers bear it. Yet it remains hidden in national policy debates about poverty, employment and federal spending.”

Salon — The first study finds that 52 percent of families of workers employed at least 27 weeks a year and 10 hours a week in rank-and-file fast food jobs are enrolled in Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, food stamps, the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (the program that replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children under “welfare reform”). That includes a majority of those workers who are employed at least 40 hours week. The study, “Fast Food, Poverty Wages,” was sponsored by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of Urban & Regional Planning, and funded by the labor group Fast Food Forward. The estimates were based on government data.

second study, by the pro-union National Employment Law Project, extended the analysis to individual companies, estimating that McDonald’s workers received $1.2 billion in public assistance while the corporation netted $5.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2012 profits, and devoted $5.5 billion to dividends and stock buybacks.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

“Companies … are basically pushing off part of their costs on the taxpayers.”

The Guardian — The estimated total cost of $7bn annually is likely to be low, researchers said, because they only looked at four types of public assistance: food stamps; healthcare; the Earned Income Tax Credit and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the program typically best known as “welfare.” They did not include subsidised housing, school lunches, home heating assistance or state programs in their analysis.

“The high participation rate of families of core fast-food workers in public programs can be attributed to three major factors: the industry’s low wages, low work hours and low benefits,” the Berkeley report said. [...] Earlier this year, a report by House Democrats estimated that the cost of Walmart workers’ reliance on public assistance – including food stamps, healthcare and other programmes – is $900,000 per year at just one of the company’s 4,000 stores.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

For the vast majority of these workers, there’s little hope they’ll ever move up the socioeconomic ladder and escape this cycle of poverty and dependency.

Time This combination of low pay and limited work hours yields an average annual salary of only $11,056.14. And while it’s certainly true that some people flipping burgers and taking drive-thru orders are teenagers, that report finds that only 18% are under the age of 18 and living with their parents. Even when you includes minors who don’t live with their parents and college kids living at home, the total adds up to just under a third of all fast food workers.

Of course, fast food companies aren’t the only ones that rely on minimum- and low-wage workers; big-box retailers like Wal-Mart have also come under fire for what they pay employees. But researchers found that 44 percent of restaurant and food service workers were enrolled in one or more assistance programs, the highest of any industry.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Naked Capitalism how low the pay really is:

Screen shot 2013-10-17 at 1.08.04 AM

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

How is supplementing minimum wage jobs with taxpayer-funded government programs NOT income redistribution? Especially when you consider the results.

THE REPUBLICAN PARTY HAS TAKEN GOVERNMENT AWAY FROM THE REST OF US to benefit the one percent exclusively. 

Transplanting Taxes from Corporations to the Rest of Us

In the 1950s, corporations paid nearly a third of the federal government’s bills. Last year, thanks to the antics of Pfizer and other examples of overly creative accounting, corporate income taxes accounted for less than a tenth of Uncle Sam’s total revenue. This dramatic shortfall shows up in two ways — federal budget deficit growth and the growing trend of individual taxpayers paying an increased share of the costs of government.

Naturally, that’s resulted in some income inequality:

“The top 1% of US earners collected 19.3% of household income, breaking a record previously set in 1927.”

The income gap between the richest 1% of Americans and the other 99% widened to a record margin in 2012, according to an analysis of tax filings…

Income inequality in the US has been growing for almost three decades. Overall, the pre-tax incomes of the top 1% of households rose 19.6% compared to a 1% increase for the rest of Americans.

And the top 10% of richest households represented just under half of all income in the year, according to the analysis.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

So 30 years after Ronald Reagan… here we are. With George W. Bush’s unpaid wars and tax cuts and bank bailouts, we’re left with a record deficit, no new revenue (the GOP insists on spending cuts only to “entitlement programs”!), no manufacturing (most of it off-shored by companies like Bain Capital years ago), a crumbling infrastructure, millions of people working minimum wage service-sector jobs, and with income inequality at a record high. The rich are richer than ever! 

And yet for the past few years, the Republican Party has spent all of its time and energy trying to defund or postpone a law which will make health insurance more affordable for most Americans—this month even going as far as shutting down the government, risking default, and costing the rest of us ANOTHER $24 BILLION and a loss of services and programs for 16 days.

What Republicans really mean when they say ‘government is the problem‘ is: (1) it’s a problem if the wealthy have to contribute / don’t profit and (2) it’s a problem if the not-wealthy benefit from government services / don’t help the wealthy to profit.

The GOP has redefined the purpose of government and who it should benefit. Where everyone used to contribute for the good of most, now most people contribute for the benefit of only a few—and those few happen to be worth millions, if not billions. The one percent reap all the rewards of living here without having to invest or contribute a proportional amount of their fortunes. And the rest of us, the American taxpayers, subsidize their lifestyles with money that could be benefiting us personally and building a better future for our children.

What’s really the bigger problem today: government or living with the Republican Party’s economic plan for the past 30 years?

Chart: what Republicans got out of the government shutdown

Here’s what Republicans got out of the shutdown, in one chart

Washington Post – Back in September, Republicans released a list of their demands for raising the debt ceiling. Today, the Rachel Maddow show went back to see how they did. And this chart doesn’t even show everything the Republicans lost in the deal… via @EzraKlein

——————————————————————————————————————–

Yesterday, President Obama put the GOP’s hostage-taking and demands in perspective:

CS Monitor —  “To all my friends in Congress, understand that how business is done in this town has to change,” said the president. Obama said that politicians should stop focusing on lobbyists, bloggers, talking heads, and “professional activists who profit from conflict” to focus on creating jobs and getting the nation’s fiscal house in order. Specifically, he said Washington should now focus on a “balanced approach to a responsible budget,” passage of immigration reform, and finishing a farm bill.

[...] Obama went on to praise the work of furloughed government workers, saying they care for seniors and veterans, ensure workplaces, food, and toys are safe, and other numerous vital services. He said he recognizes that some people disagree vehemently with his policies. But disagreement needs to be resolved in the normal democratic process, he said. “You don’t like a particular policy or a particular president, then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election. Push to change it. But don’t break it,” he said.

Obama’s tough tone was hard to miss. He wasn’t singing “Kumbaya” and asking everyone to join hands. His message, in essence, was this: I won fair and square within the normal democratic process. If you don’t like it, take back the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016, if you can.

Tea culpa

Sen. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC) pleads for mercy from the Democrats:  

We won’t be the last political party to overplay our hand. It might happen one day on the Democratic side. And if it did, would Republicans, for the good of the country, kinda give a little? We really did go too far. We screwed up. But their response is making things worse, not better.

Seriously, Lindsey? Republicans--for the good of the country--would be kinder to Democrats if they screwed up this badly? You’re just lucky Republicans won’t have to face Republicans with this debacle.

Sen. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ), remarking on House Republicans inability to get their shit together in advance of Thursday’s debt ceiling deadline.

“It’s very, very serious. Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle, as I predicted weeks ago, that we would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable.”

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) provides an assessment from the moderate members of the GOP, as the prominent conservative organizations Heritage Action, Red State and FreedomWorks all came out against a last-second GOP leadership plan to avert a crisis that Democrats had warned was too far to the right: 

“This party is going nuts.”

Man of the mighty Tea-God, PAT BUCHANAN, still wants to burn it all down

“Republicans should refuse to raise the white flag and insist on an honorable avenue of retreat. And if Harry Reid’s Senate demands the GOP end the sequester on federal spending, or be blamed for a debt default, the party should, Samson-like, bring down the roof of the temple on everybody’s head.”

Who will be Pat’s holy warrior?

A Senate Republican aide placed the blame on a particular senator from Texas. TED CRUZ (R-TX) reportedly met with a group of House conservatives at Tortilla Coast, a Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C., to discuss strategy Monday night.

“Ted Cruz and his Tortilla Coast Republicans are leading us to a default.” 

Sen. KELLY AYOTTE (R-NH) says Sen. TED CRUZ (R-TX), could try to gum up the bipartisan effort underway to reopen the government and lift the debt ceiling:

“It’s up to him. I would hope that he wouldn’t. I mean, in the Senate obviously in terms of certain time frames, senators can cause to you run out the clock. But what’s he trying to gain at this point?”

Currently being discussed:


Sorry, Pat.

John McCain on polls: “We’re down to blood relatives and paid staffers now.”

“We can’t get lower in the polls. We’re down to blood relatives and paid staffers now. But we’ve got to turn this around, and the Democrats had better help.”Sen. John McCain

John McCain is right. It’s anyone’s guess how long the GOP will be able to hang onto the relatives and staffers though.

New WaPo/ABC Poll: 74% of Americans Disapprove of GOP Shutdown CrazinessLGF

The new Washington Post-ABC News poll provides more astonishing evidence of exactly how self-destructive the House Republicans’ shutdown games have been, as an amazing 74 percent of Americans disapprove of these clowns.

And more than that, the poll shows that there’s a kind of ideological war going on within the Republican Party, as the remaining sane members are repelled by the [antics] of the Tea Party crackpots.

You’d think that fiasco with Cruz and Palin at the White House yesterday would have repelled even more Republican members—in both houses.

The GOP’s unserious offers so far: why won’t Obama negotiate?

On Wednesday, Obama indicated Republicans could essentially set the agenda for budget negotiations, but only if Congress agrees first to a short-term spending plan to fund the government and to raise the federal borrowing limit to avoid a possible first-ever U.S. default next week. “I will talk about anything,” the president said.

Pretty simple, pretty clear. Right? Here’s what happened today:

House Republicans were furious with Senate Republicans and President Obama on Saturday for trying to cut a debt ceiling deal that leaves them out in the cold. Members emerged from a conference meeting saying Obama had double-crossed them by breaking off talks in order to shop for a better deal from the Senate GOP.

Oh, my. It’s terrible that the President should want to discuss solutions to a shut down and potential default in five days with both Senate and House Republicans! What a double-crosser. But what was the very serious deal offered by the official Budget Wiz of the House Republicans: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Groundhog Day)?

The House GOP framework, pushed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), would raise the borrowing limit for six weeks while replacing across-the-board spending cuts (known as sequestration) with cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits. It would also set up formal negotiations to resolve spending disputes and address the next debt limit increase. 

Got it: they won’t shoot the hostages immediately, but one of the hostages has to stay in the hole in the basement, taking lotion from a bucket for six more weeks. Basically:

  1. the government remains shut down,
  2. and let’s do this again in six weeks when we hit the new debt limit,
  3. also, by the way, let’s take the sequestration cuts that are currently shared by Defense (and other GOP favorites) and replace them completely with cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

I’m sure the offer from the Republican Senators via Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who’s reportedly fluent in Moderate, was much better:

For Senate Republicans, the focus has been on the draft proposal by Collins to extend the debt limit through the end of the year and reopen the government for six months in exchange for a two-year delay of Obamacare’s medical device tax and granting flexibility to government agencies when it comes implementing sequestration cuts.  

Senate Republicans are promising to lengthen the ankle chains the hostages wear, so they can at least reach the bucket in the corner of the cell. Basically:

  1. let’s do this again at the end of December when we hit the new debt limit,
  2. then let’s do it again four months after that, when temporary funding will run out for government operations,
  3. and, in the meantime, let’s continue this ongoing damage to our government and the entire national economy just to delay a small 2.3% tax on a select group of medical device manufacturers, who will gain business after health reform,
  4. but, here’s a bonus!, agencies will get to decide where they won’t spend the money that they’re no longer given.

Obviously these are all exciting opportunities. Why won’t Obama negotiate?

American Horror Story: Government Shutdown

Capture
The U.S. Congress, as a whole, is making $2.95 every second. That’s $177 a minute and more than $250,000 a day. And yes, it’s still making that during the government shutdown it caused.
– Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) says he needs his paycheck during the shutdown to pay for his “nice house.”
– Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) says “I need my paycheck. That’s the bottom line.”

– See: http://congressstillgetspaid.com

Capture
This evening, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the US Department of Agriculture announced that “an estimated 278 illnesses … reported in 18 states” have been caused by chicken contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg and possibly produced by the firm Foster Farms. “FSIS is unable to link the illnesses to a specific product and a specific production period,” the agency said in an emailed alert. “The outbreak is continuing.” // FSIS furloughed 1,218 of 9,633 federal employees.

Capture
Food expert Marion Nestle asks whether government-shutdown-mandated furloughs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hampered its response to the salmonella outbreak at Foster Farms… The Heidelberg strain of salmonella appears to be especially virulent. As my colleague David Pierson reported, 42% of victims have been hospitalized, double the normal rate. One big problem: Some of the salmonella strains appear to be resistant to antibiotics. Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued the initial Public Health Alert, monitoring food-borne illnesses is the job of the CDC. Thanks to the Republican shutdown, the agency was operating with a skeleton crew when the outbreak appeared. // If you’re curious why the CDC’s absence from this outbreak is so critical, this description of how the CDC works in multi-state outbreaks — by organizing the investigation and deploying lab resources that no other agency possesses — is helpful.

Capture
Most federal employees will receive a paycheck on Friday that’s only 60 percent of the usual amount, thanks to the government shutdown. This could be the last check they receive until agencies reopen. [...] The government shutdown affects the pay of both excepted employees — those still on the job — and furloughed workers. The pay of most excepted employees will be delayed but eventually they will be reimbursed for their hours [when the shutdown ends.] // USFS furloughed 18,755 of 32,015 federal employees. Fire crews and law enforcement remain on patrol to protect life and property.

Capture
Benefit checks (including pensions) for veterans and their families would end Nov. 1, if the shutdown lasts through October, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki told a congressional panel Wednesday morning… and most of the remaining 13,000 VBA workers will be furloughed.

Capture
Most federal employees will receive a paycheck on Friday that’s only 60 percent of the usual amount, thanks to the government shutdown. This could be the last check they receive until agencies reopen.[...] The government shutdown affects the pay of both excepted employees — those still on the job — and furloughed workers. …Furloughed workers will only receive back pay if Congress approves it; those who worked for a few hours on Oct. 1 to close up shop will be paid for that time.

Capture
The Utah Department of Workforce Services has seen a 500 percent increase of people requesting unemployment since the government shutdown turned federal employees away from work Tuesday. The state-run office usually process 2,000 unemployment claims a week, but since Tuesday has taken on 10,000.

Capturephoto source …aw, bb.

Capture
A report released by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR) set out the following numbers: 715,000 visitors lost daily based on October 2012 national park attendance numbers, $76 million in lost visitor spending per day and $450,000 in lost revenue each day that would go directly to the National Park Service ($300,000 in entrance fees and $150,000 in other in-park expenditures, such as campground fees, boat rentals, etc.). [...] Losses like these led the American Hotel Lodging Association to send a letter on Thursday to President Obama and members of the House and Senate urging them to reach an immediate agreement. The letter states, “Analysts say that for each day the federal government is shut down, collective American income is reduced approximately $200 million, and our nation’s hotels are losing more than $8 million in economic activity – putting jobs at risk and causing repercussions across many other related sectors. Communities near national parks are expected to lose $76 million a day in visitor spending.”

Capture
New distilleries, breweries and wineries cannot open. Certain businesses that manufacture or distribute alcohol — and firearms, ammunition and tobacco products — require permits [to operate] from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which won’t accept new applications during the shutdown. // An obscure but powerful arm of the Treasury Department has stopped approving new brews... Jim Koch, founder and brewer of Boston-based Samuel Adams…said that while it’s important to keep the focus on how ordinary people are being hurt by the shutdown, “we will quickly see the downstream effects on businesses and industries. … In short, new breweries cannot start up and new beers cannot be sold.” // 448 of 483 TTB employees were furloughed on Oct. 1.

Capture
At the close of business today, more than 90 percent of the staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will go home on furlough as a result of the government shutdown. The Commission had been operating on carryover funds since last Monday, when the shutdown began, but those funds run out today, reducing the staff to a skeleton crew of 300 “essential” personnel who will be responsible for monitoring the nation’s 63 nuclear sites until the government reopens. 

Capture
Processing of oil and gas permits by the Bureau of Land Management [has come] to a halt. BLM will continue to monitor ongoing oil, gas, coal and other mineral operations. BLM will keep inspectors and enforcement personnel on the job for some activities, including overseeing some drilling operations and patrolling oil and gas fields “to make sure that theft of oil or condensate is not occurring.” Alaska pipeline operations will also keep going because funding comes from non-federal sources and for health and safety reasons. // The Dept. of Interior furloughed 58,765 of 72,562 federal employees.

Capture
Patients hoping to enroll for treatment in cutting-edge research studies at the National Institutes of Health’s renowned hospital will have to seek care elsewhere during the government shutdown. Each week that a shutdown lasts would force the agency’s research-only hospital to turn away an estimated 200 patients, 30 of them children… [...] For the fiscal year that ended Monday, NIH was able to fund only about 16 percent of the grant applications it received, Collins said, down from about 1 in 3 applications funded a decade ago. That’s because earlier this year, NIH lost $1.5 billion of its $31 billion budget to automatic spending cuts known as the sequester, after years of budgets that didn’t keep up with inflation.

Capture
[Arizona] stopped payments averaging $207 a week to 5,200 families eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families after Tuesday’s government shutdown… The Arizona Republic reports the decision came despite assurances from federal officials that states would be reimbursed for any payments they made for the federal program. It also comes as the state sits on a $450 million rainy day fund.

NOTE: Gov. Jan Brewer paid the federal government a $651,000 donation allowing Park Service employees to reopen [Grand Canyon National Park] and manage it through Oct. 18, the park service said Friday in a statement..

Capture
The distribution of Social Security benefits will continue, but services like issuing new Social Security cards have ceased. “I just came in here to see if mailing a disability questionnaire late will affect my son’s benefits,” an 81-year-old Howard Beach woman said as she left the Rego Park Social Security office. “ All the supervisor told me was that he doesn’t know, that he couldn’t help me.” For some, that frustration has turned into anger. “It was a bad experience in there,” the woman added. “One man was so mad, he nearly punched the worker through the glass window.” // SSA furloughed 18,006 of 62,343 federal employees.

Capture
The Food and Drug Administration has been forced to suspend all routine food safety inspections for the duration of the government shutdown, FDA spokesman Steven Immergut confirmed to The Huffington Post on Friday afternoon. Until funding is restored, the FDA will be inspecting only those facilities that it has cause to believe “present an immediate threat to public health.” // FDA furloughed 976 of 1602 investigators.

Capture
In a post on his personal Facebook page that was later deleted, Pearce urged government workers to call their banks and take out a short-term loan if money is tight. “If you are a furloughed government employee, we encourage you to reach out to your financial institution as soon as you worry you may miss a paycheck,” read the post. “Don’t wait until you are behind on a bill; call now and explore your options. [Pearce is one of the 50 richest members of Congress, with a net worth of $8 million. ]

Capture
The House gym reserved exclusively for lawmakers remains open during the shutdown. It features a swimming pool, basketball courts, a sauna and steam room. “This job is very stressful and if you don’t have a place to vent, you are going to go crazy and that’s why I’ve used it all these years,” said Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who has been a user since 1973. While there’s no towel service available during these tough times, taxpayers are still paying for maintenance and cleaning. The House gym for staff members, however, is closed. // And for [lawmakers and their staff] who feel like relaxing, there’s a special little subway car …to get them there in a ride that takes about 30 seconds. The trains remain staffed and functioning during the shutdown.

——————————————————————————————————————–

More episodes of American Horror Story: Government Shutdown, as time goes on:

“The longer this goes on, the worse it will be.”President Obama

  • The Commodity Futures Trading Commission regulates trading on Wall Street. The CFTC has sent home 680 of its 708 employees. “They’re monitoring a $300-trillion market,” said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. “How many people are being ripped off, right now? The cops are off the beat.”
  • Engineering firm URS Corp and British defense contractor BAE Systems added a further 4,200 to the number of workers who have been temporarily laid off due to the U.S. government shutdown.
  • Boeing Co. (BA) said it may furlough workers at its defense, space and security unit should the U.S. government’s partial shutdown continue. … He declined to say how many employees may be idled.
  • Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin said Monday that it would trim its planned furloughs to about 2,400 employees—most of whom are based in the D.C. area—in light of the Pentagon’s decision to recall most of its civilians workers.
  • 10/8/13: One industry group estimated that after another week of shutdown, up to 300,000 government contractors could be out of work.
  • Many state governments, including North Carolina, Rhode Island, Arkansas, are also furloughing employees whose pay depends on federal funding. Wyoming furloughed 231 state employees whose salaries are paid in full or in part by the federal government.
  • A recent study released by WalletHub claims that Idaho is one of the hardest-hit states in the union, when it comes to the shutdown. Idaho checks in at ninth, due to our high reliance on federal contracting work (much of which has been put on stand-by) and our high reliance on loans from the U.S. Small Business Association (which can’t be processed). Idaho will feel even more impact from the shutdown next week, when logging in national forests is halted.
  • The housing market is expected to slow down because lenders won’t be able to verify borrowers’ incomes with the IRS and Social Security Administration. Borrowers will also face delays getting mortgage insurance from the Federal Housing Authority, which guarantees about 15% of new loans.
  • Many small business employers rely on E-Verify (an online program of the Department of Naturalization and Immigration Services) to determine a potential employee’s eligibility. But that resource is currently unavailable. 
  • Furloughs for federal inspectors also kept the National Transportation Safety Board from dispatching a team to investigate a fatal explosion on a Washington Metro line over the weekend. // Deborah Hersman, chairman of the NTSB and a West Virginia native, said there have been 14 accidents since the shutdown began — including a school bus accident in Tennessee and a worker who died on the D.C. Metro subway system — that the agency has been unable to investigate because of the shutdown. “Safety delayed is safety denied,” Hersman said.
  • National weather and emergency preparedness resources are not available.
  • The government’s Small Business Administration, Federal Housing Administration and the Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency are essentially out of reach for many people applying for funds…government funding for these agencies has essentially been halted
  • Agriculture producers cannot get market reports.
  • Government approvals for fishing and quotas are unavailable, a situation that is costing seafood companies tens of thousands of dollars. 
  • Illinois officials are scaling back on certain hospital and nursing home inspections because of the partial federal government shutdown. …a state agency gets about $1.3 million a month to pay for inspections of medical facilities. But the shutdown means the money isn’t heading to Illinois. So the Illinois Department of Public Health has put certain inspections on hiatus.
  • Head StartAfter reports during the first week of shutdown that some Head Start programs had been shuttered in Florida, Connecticut and a few other states, more programs will likely shut as local programs run out of money. [Some conservatives see the curtailing of a pre-school program for low income families not as a crisis, but as an opportunity.]
  • WIC [Women, Infants, and Children] If the federal government is still shut down at the end of October, 38,000 women and young children (in Washington state) will lose access to an important federal nutrition subsidy called WIC, and 82 King County staff will be laid off.
  • Meals on Wheelsthe shutdown comes on top of the this year’s sequester, which resulted in a roughly 8% overall cut in federal funding for Meals on Wheels, a percentage that might be higher or lower for individual programs. [How many veterans receive Meals on Wheels? It's too bad GOP politicians care more about photo-ops at national monuments than whether those elderly veterans in wheelchairs will receive something to eat in the weeks ahead.]
  • Salvation Army: The impacts of the government shut down can be seen on the shelves of the Salvation Army’s food pantry. “Usually shelves would be full like this,” explained Volpone. Since the shut down began, the Salvation Army says it is feeding 40 more mouths a day than normal.
  • Many exports and imports – including steel, lumber and computer equipment – cannot move over the border without specific permits from the federal government, permits that aren’t being given because of the shutdown.
  • Environmental Protection AgencyAll pesticide imports to the U.S. have been halted, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which must approve them but has had more than 90% of its staff furloughed.
  • U.S. Department of CommerceSome U.S. technology companies can’t fill overseas orders because they cannot obtain U.S. Department of Commerce authorization to export. Steel imports are stranded at customs-clearance warehouses awaiting paperwork.
  • MSHA [Mine Safety and Health Administration]: gave lay off notices to nearly 1,400 employees who enforce mine safety laws from West Virginia to Montana. Those cutbacks mean safety regulators can’t do routine inspections of those high-hazard workplaces. Since the shutdown began, three mine workers died in separate accidents that occurred over a three day span. However, there isn’t any indication that those deaths occurred because of fewer inspections… But its been enough to send a red flag to officials with the united mine workers of America, and local miners as they continue their work.
  • With ninety per cent of OSHA employees furloughed, workplace-safety inspections aren’t taking place.
  • Ninety per cent of EPA workers are also staying home, which means inspections of toxic-waste sites have stopped.
  • The CDC has stopped monitoring the spread of the flu.
  • As scientists had feared, today (Oct. 8) the National Science Foundation announced it was canceling the U.S. Antarctic research program for this year because of the ongoing government shutdown… The shutdown means the cancellation of millions of dollars of planned research. Graduate students may have to stay in school longer because they won’t get the data they need to complete their research. Contractors are losing their jobs. Other countries, including New Zealand, France and Italy, rely on the United States’ sea-ice runway at McMurdo Station and may not be able to conduct their own research after the pullout.
  • As a result of the federal government shutdown, many resources that researchers, academics, and library patrons depend on—like the Library of Congress (LC) archives—have been rendered unavailable in the last week. [From comments: A great deal of research is done at National Laboratories, such as Los Alamos National Laboratory, including library/digital library research, which are slated to shutdown at midnight 18th of October.]
  • Oct. 16: Federal courts could shut down. Administrators say the courts will stay open for roughly the first 10 business days of the shutdown, but they say they would have to reassess matters on Oct. 15.
  • After Oct. 17, the Treasury would have about $30 billion on hand, enough to cover only a few days. Predictions for the fallout in the financial markets are catastrophic.
  • Some economists have estimated that the shutdown costs the U.S. economy $300 million a day.
  • If the shutdown stretches through the end of October, experts at Moody’s Analytics predict a total economic impact of $50 billion.

Can we finally stop pretending the Tea Party cares about “fiscal conservatism”?

Shouldn’t that be especially obvious after this shutdown / debt ceiling hostage drama? These anti-government extremists do not give Fuck All about the government, its budget, or anyone else but themselves. Obamacare will be worse than slavery? Birth control is “abortifacients”? What does that even…. These people are charismatic grifters, dishonest clowns, and practiced charlatans.

Amanda Marcotte writes,

It’s not just that the rogue’s gallery of congress people who are pushing the hardest for hostage-taking as a negotiation tactic also happens to be a bench full of Bible thumpers. Pew Research shows that people who align with the Tea Party are more likely to not only agree with the views of religious conservatives, but are likely to cite religious belief as their prime motivation for their political views.  White evangelicals are the religious group most likely to approve of the Tea Party. Looking over the data, it becomes evident that the “Tea Party” is just a new name for the same old white fundamentalists who would rather burn this country to the ground than share it with everyone else, and this latest power play from the Republicans is, in essence, a move from that demographic to assert their “right” to control the country, even if their politicians aren’t in power.

It’s no surprise, under the circumstances, that a movement controlled by fundamentalist Christians would be oblivious to the very real dangers that their actions present. Fundamentalist religion is extremely good at convincing its followers to be more afraid of imaginary threats than real ones, and to engage in downright magical thinking about the possibility that their own choices could work out very badly. When you believe that forcing the government into default in an attempt to derail Obamacare is the Lord’s work, it’s very difficult for you to see that it could have very real, negative effects.

It should also come as no surprise that the Tea Party’s very own Freedomworks is reportedly going broke because the teabagger hypocrites who run it have spent all the money. Turns out the people who want to lecture everyone else in the country about spending and debt and responsibility can’t seem to manage their own house:

The conservative nonprofit, which raised more than $40 million in 2012, has brought in less than $10 million this year, according to the sources. And former employees say the group’s rank and file have grown increasingly frustrated with what they view as management’s exorbitant expenditures, including a pricey craft beer bar and fancy Las Vegas hotel rooms that rack up thousands of dollars a night in charges.

[...] FreedomWorks is “top heavy on management and personnel and perks,” the former high-level employee said. The source cited, for example, an $8,000 hotel bill Kibbe ran up in Las Vegas. Bodnar did not deny the charge.

Some former employees also questioned the value in FreedomWorks’ sponsorship of Glenn Beck’s network The Blaze, which one source said cost the organization $1 million last year. (A spokesperson for Beck declined to comment on the specifics of the arrangement.)

FreedomWorks’ money problems culminated in taking out a $1 million line of credit earlier this year. [...] Sources describe a culture where fiscal conservatism is ostensibly prized, but staff dine out at fancy restaurants on the company’s dollar and a microbrew bar in the office with four kegs (Kibbe is a craft beer aficionado) is paid for with FreedomWorks money.

“At every conference they go to they stay in the best hotels, and it just doesn’t seem appropriate,” one former employee said.

It doesn’t seem appropriate? Did the former employee not get the memo that the rules for everyone else don’t apply to them?

The most disgusting thing here is that not only do they imagine they’re doing the work of an imaginary, weird, fundamentalist God—who conveniently rewards greed, hypocrisy and selfishness—but they believe they’re going to take over the government any day now.  Their magical thinking allows them to rationalize that IF they destroy the country or the world… who cares? Paradise awaits elsewhere.  Nothing matters but their own rewards, immediate or future, real or imaginary.

Underneath everything they’re not good people, in the sense that most of us understand what makes someone a good person.  Their “favorite” personas at any given moment (Bachmann, Cruz, Palin, Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Paul Ryan, Coulter) are those individuals who are willing to say the nuttiest, most outlandish, hateful, and bizarre things. Because, as a group, these people are nutty, outlandish, hateful and bizarre.

Every single day, they are the ones on Fox News taking the Lord’s name in vain and calling it Fair and Balanced. And here in America, in the year 2013, they want religious law to override secular law as a means of power and control over all of us.

They are America’s Taliban and they are currently holding our government hostage.

Shame on moneyed elites like the Koch brothers for spreading this virus to save themselves some taxes, and shame on mainstream Republicans for allowing themselves to be pushed around for political gain.  Never forget.

List of 21 House Dems who voted with the GOP yesterday to piecemeal government services

Cherry-picking their way to a longer shutdown:

Since the shutdown began, 84 percent of DHS employees, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents remain at work. Border agents and TSA security staff are still screening people entering the country, essential visa applications are still being processed, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are still detaining and deporting immigrants. The border security bill is the latest of 13 selective funding bills passed by House Republicans. Democrats have criticized House Republicans for “cherry-picking” piecemeal issues rather than fixing all critical components of the government.  [...]Still, 21 House Democrats voted with 228 House Republicans to pass the border security bill, which costs $18.8 billion to enact.

Treasury has retained only 10% of its employees; NASA currently has only 3%, and HHS kept 18%. But the DHS is already running at 84% capacity, already “protecting life and property” with its excepted employees.  What’s happened, exactly, that some or all of the remaining 16% of DHS employees have suddenly become more “essential” than the other approximately 500,000 feds who are still furloughed—or the feds who are just now being furloughed (the Veterans Benefits Administration furloughed 7,000 workers this week)?

As this shutdown drags on, employees who are now working can still be furloughed, depending on budgets, just as some agencies might bring back employees for a specific emergency or situation, but send them back home when it’s resolved (FEMA brought back 100 workers and sent them back home a few days later). The furloughed are in flux, and how this impacts the public will constantly change as well, depending on how long this drags on.

Remember that, unlike Congress and the military, excepted / essential civilian employees are NOT BEING PAID for working. NO ONE GETS PAID until the shutdown ends and budgets are funded by Congress. Excepted civilian employees are simply required to show up, while non-excepted furloughed employees are required to stay home, locked out of their jobs, even though they want to work.

Here’s the list of 21 House “Democrats” who decided to vote with every House Republican yesterday to further piecemeal and cherry-pick high-profile government agencies—effectively voting to extend the shutdown by weeks or months, causing personal financial disaster to federal workers, lost income to communities and business, lost revenue for the government itself, and countless (and growing) problems for citizens nationwide.

Border Security and Enforcement Continuing Appropriations Resolution, H.J.Res. 79

  1. Bustos, Cheri (D-IL)
  2. Barber, Ron (D-AZ)
  3. Barrow, John (D-GA)
  4. Bera, Ami (D-CA)
  5. Braley, Bruce (D-IA)
  6. DelBene, Suzan (D-WA)
  7. Foster, Bill (D-IL)
  8. Gallego, Pete (D-TX)
  9. Garcia, Joe (D-FL)
  10. Lipinski, Daniel (D-IL)
  11. Loebsack, David (D-IA)
  12. Lynch, Stephen (D-MA)
  13. Maloney, Sean (D-NY)
  14. Matheson, Jim (D-UT)
  15. McIntyre, Mike (D-NC)
  16. Murphy, Patrick (D-FL)
  17. Peters, Scott (D-CA)
  18. Peters, Gary (D-MI)
  19. Ruiz, Raul (D-CA)
  20. Schneider, Bradley (D-IL)
  21. Sinema, Kyrsten (D-AZ)

——————————————————————————————————————–

If you click their names you’ll get a link to their website / contact info and Twitter account (if they have one).  If they were my representative, I’d contact them and let them know what I thought. Because you really have to wonder how these folks will vote when a bill to reopen the government or raise the debt ceiling comes to the floor—with the Republicans?

And maybe the DCCC needs to hear from the base that another candidate should be run in the next election, no more money to those who supported the Republican Shutdown with their voting behavior. Slapping a “D” behind their name does nothing helpful for the Democratic Party or the country in general if they vote with House Republicans. Someone needs to stand up to the insanity and extremism of the GOP, not encourage it. Assholes.

The ultimate price of the shutdown will be felt by everyone:

The shutdown cost $1.6 billion last week in lost economic output, according to IHS Inc., a Lexington, Massachusetts-based global market-research firm. As the showdown enter[ed] its eighth day, the office closures are now draining an average of $160 million each workday from the $15.7 trillion economy.

On Oct. 9, the shutdown cost is estimated to surpass $2 billion, which is how much economic damage the Colorado floods caused last month. Another six weeks (the length of time Boehner was negotiating for yesterday) could add at least $6.7 billion to the price tag.

Can you imagine another six weeks?

GOP House considers temporarily releasing a hostage: a six-week debt ceiling increase


image

The Washington Post reports:

House Republican leaders are pushing a short-term increase in the debt limit, without any conservative strings attached, to calm jittery financial markets, according to senior GOP advisers.

The plan, which is being presented to the House GOP caucus Thursday morning, coincides with a warning to lawmakers from Treasury Secretary Jack Lew that he will be unable to guarantee payments to any group — whether Social Security recipients or U.S. bondholders — unless Congress approves an increase in the federal debt limit.

If the GOP plan goes over well with rank-and-file Republicans, Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) could put the legislation on the floor for a vote late Thursday.

Financial markets soared on the first sign of optimistic news out of Washington in almost a month, with the Dow Jones industrial average up 169 points in the first 15 minutes of trading. The emerging plan would not deal with the now 10-day-old shutdown of the federal government, an issue that would move onto a separate track of talks.

The plan would meet President Obama’s demand for an increase in Treasury’s borrowing authority without any legislative riders, meaning Democrats would likely support the plan and it could be signed into law. But it would set the stage for tough negotiations, possibly until Thanksgiving, over bigger fiscal matters, since the tentative plan calls for a six-week increase of the debt limit.

Jonathan Chait explains how Boehner and Republican leadership might be able to spin this into a win for their side, rather than the “unconditional surrender” that Boehner has called such a compromise all along:

But the current Republican line does suggest a way out: if Republicans “win” a promise to negotiate the budget, with the debt ceiling not being subject to the outcome of the negotiations. That this has actually been Obama’s goal all along, and the thing Republicans have been trying to avoid, does not mean Republicans can’t talk themselves into it. The negotiation would probably end in a stalemate, or possibly a few small changes, but by the time it was finished the crisis would be over and conservative activists would have moved on to other issues — a new Obama scandal, maybe.

The insistent talking point that Obama won’t negotiate is a preposterous form of propaganda. But it has been taken up by a number of eager conservative pundits who seem to actually believe it. What if conservatives can be made to believe their own talking point — to believe that forcing Obama to negotiate the budget is the party’s actual goal here? Conservative self-delusion got us into this crisis. It could also get us out.

The Republican Party’s dereliction of duty

President Obama’s Oct. 8 news conference on the shutdown and debt limit

“In the same way, members of Congress, and the House Republicans in particular, don’t get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their jobs. And two of their very basic jobs are passing a budget and making sure that America’s paying its bills. They don’t also get to say, you know, unless you give me what the voters rejected in the last election, I’m going to cause a recession. That’s not how it works. No American president would deal with a foreign leader like this. Most of you would not deal with either co- workers or business associates in this fashion. And we shouldn’t be dealing this way here in Washington.” [...]

“If Congress refuses to raise what’s called the debt ceiling, America would not be able to meet all of our financial obligations for the first time in 225 years. And because it’s called raising the debt ceiling, I think a lot of Americans think it’s raising our debt. It is not raising our debt. This does not add a dime to our debt. It simply says you pay for what Congress has already authorized America to purchase, whether that’s the greatest military in the world or veterans’ benefits or Social Security. Whatever it is that Congress has already authorized, what this does is make sure that we can pay those bills.” [...]

“Warren Buffett likened default to a nuclear bomb, a weapon too horrible to use. It would disrupt markets, it would undermine the world’s confidence in America as the bedrock of the global economy, and it might permanently increase our borrowing costs which, of course, ironically would mean that it would be more expensive for us to service what debt we do have and it would add to our deficits and our debt, not decrease them.There’s nothing fiscally responsible about that. Preventing this should be simple. As I said, raising the debt ceiling is a lousy name, which is why members of Congress in both parties don’t like to vote on it, because it makes you vulnerable in political campaigns. But it does not increase our debt. It does not grow our deficit, it does not allow for a single dime of increased spending. All it does is allow the Treasury Department to pay for what Congress has already spent.”

“We can’t make extortion routine as part of our democracy…Democracy doesn’t function this way. And this is not just for me; it’s also for my successors in office. Whatever party they’re from, they shouldn’t have to pay a ransom either for Congress doing its basic job. We’ve got to put a stop to it….We’re not going to pay a ransom for America to pay its bills.”

Charlie PierceBut the basic position remains the same. Nothing happens until the vandalism stops and the hostage gets released. This is to keep the presidency intact for future presidents. This is to maintain the delicate separation of powers guaranteed to us by our Founders. This is also because the other side is completely riddled with public morons.

——————————————————————————————————————–

HERE ARE OPINIONS about the shutdown and debt ceiling from some the hardliners of the Republican House, the extreme of the extremists, the mullahs of the anti-government insurgents. They fall into two main categories, depending on the audience: (1) breaching the debt ceiling is no biggie, or (2) the debt ceiling is an excellent hostage to negotiate with (which automatically negates position #1):

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) – debt ceiling is no biggie: “There’s always revenue coming into the Treasury, certainly enough revenue to pay interest. Democrats have a different definition of ‘default’ than what we understand it to be. What I hear from them is, ‘If you’re not paying everything on time that’s a default.’ And that’s not the traditionally understood definition.”

Michele Bachman (R-Mars) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations“President Obama can’t wait to get Americans addicted to the crack cocaine of dependency on more government health care,” she said in an interview with the far-right WorldNetDaily site where she regularly gives explosive interviews. Once they enroll millions of more individual Americans, it will be virtually impossible for us to pull these benefits back from people,” Bachmann continued. “All they want to do is buy love from people by giving them massive government subsidies. … “Now is the time to put it out of its misery. We have to do what we can do. Whether that means defunding it instead of repealing it, I’m for it. If it means delaying it, rather than repealing it. I’m for it.”

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: “As we look at the debt ceiling, we do have to look at tax reform, we do have to look at entitlement reform and maybe we’re at the point where we have to roll the CR and the debt ceiling discussion together.” In addition to healthcare reforms, the bill would attempt to rewrite tax codes and reform entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: Congressman Mo Brooks says he is not bluffing. If Congress does not slash welfare programs, or take steps to adopt a balanced budget, he will vote against raising the debt ceiling. “We address the cause of the problem or else I vote against it” … He said public benefits program would also include Obamacare.

Dr. Rep. Paul Broun (MD! R-GA) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: “Obamacare is going to destroy everything we know as a nation… Wolf, I’m a doctor. I’m a medical doctor!” [Blitzer then asked] “I know you hate it, but I just want to be precise. America is going to be destroyed, you say, by Obamacare. America? This United States of America is going to be destroyed if this law is fully implemented? Is that what I hear you say?” [Dr.] Rep. Broun finally answered: “Well, it’s going to take us off the edge economically. It’s going to destroy our economy and it’s going to push us into a total economic collapse of America. And that’s exactly what I mean by it’s going to destroy America.”

Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: [Culberson] said he was holding firm in demanding major adjustments to Obamacare because he had been elected to defend “core principles.” Culberson could just as well have said he was defending core beliefs, for that is an essential element in radically conservative politics today.

Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: It’s anybody’s guess when the budget stalemate will be resolved. DeSantis was settling in for a long fight and hinted that passage of a spending bill may be linked to the Oct. 17 deadline to raise the debt ceiling.

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: [DesJarlais said] that the government shutdown could last for as long as it takes to defund or at least delay implementation of the Affordable Health Care for America Act. “We’re pretty resolved in our position that this is a necessary step for the future of this country, really, in terms of the debt and deficit. If we don’t stand firm on this issue — we were in trouble financially before the health care law — it’s just going to be almost exponential if we can’t stop this,” he said.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: “The government’s been shut down 17 times in the past,” said [Duncan]… “The majority of those were controlled by a Democrat Congress.” His very next words: “This isn’t about shutting the government down. Republicans have a plan to keep government funded but also be responsible to American voters that spoke very loudly to us that they don’t like Obamacare. Obamacare is actually shutting down America.” In 20 seconds, Duncan had insisted that a government shutdown wasn’t a huge deal, and that of course Republicans would never be holding the smoking gun for such a devastating act. One reporter followed up with Duncan, asking why Barack Obama’s election didn’t prove that “voters” had also spoken loudly in favor of the law. “I was re-elected in 2012, too,” says Duncan.

Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations:  [Fleming] reacted, “I just don’t think there’d be hardly any Republicans in support of raising the debt ceiling without cuts to spending, changes to Obamacare, and perhaps other issues.”

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: “They may try to throw the kitchen sink at the debt limit, but I don’t think our conference will be amenable for settling for a collection of things after we’ve fought so hard. If it doesn’t have a full delay or defund of Obamacare, I know I and many others will not be able to support whatever the leadership proposes. If it’s just a repeal of the medical-device tax, or chained CPI, that won’t be enough.”

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: Gingrey told CQ Roll Call on Tuesday that he and other House Republicans are “not posturing” when they say are willing to hit the debt ceiling in order to win concessions from Democrats, no matter the political consequences. “I mean, they seem to think that we will miss this opportunity for a ‘Braveheart’ moment to do the right thing for the American people and that we’ll back down for fear of losing the House and not gaining control of the Senate,” Gingrey said. The 1995 movie is based on William Wallace, who died in the 14th century after fighting in the Wars of Scottish Independence for Scotland’s freedom. “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!” he bellows during the film’s most famous scene.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) – debt ceiling is no biggie (plus bonus conspiracy theory if it happens!): [Gohmert] asserted this week that the government shutdown could actually keep the U.S. from defaulting on its debts if and when Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling — unless President Barack Obama is plotting a conspiracy not to pay the nation’s bills. …“They don’t mind seeing America suffer. And when you know — as I know you do — that we have enough money coming in every week to pay our — to keep from defaulting — now, we may have to keep some folks furloughed. Because as we know now, 94 percent of the [Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)] is non-essential. You know, we may have to ask some folks that are non-essential to stay home for a while longer. But there is no reason we should ever, ever default on our debts unless the president and the treasury secretary conspire to make us default.”

Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: It was Graves who took charge earlier this month in demanding that the defunding of Obamacare be a requirement for keeping open the government, and it is he who rebuffed Speaker John Boehner’s attempt… to keep the government running and delay the Obamacare fight until the debt ceiling showdown… “I’d like to see us keep that focus there,” said Graves. “We’ve got a responsibility to finish this up and let it play out.” [NOTE: read further down in this story. Graves doesn't pay his own bills.]

Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: “The American people have spoken already on this. They do not want Obamacare …. It is hurting people.” said [Hartzler].

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations:  [Says] he would vote against raising the debt ceiling before the government runs out of money on Oct. 17 unless he sees a long-term fiscal plan to balance the budget that also puts some restrictions on Obamacare. “I have done that in the past, but I’m not going to sit by and let the president of the United States threaten to use our senior citizens as pawns,” he said.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations:   Jordan – a politician with almost zero national profile – has emerged as the commander the House GOP’s opposition bloc, says Rep. Justin Amash, a libertarian-leaning 33-year-old Republican from Michigan… “Leadership understands that if his concerns are not addressed, there could be a large group – 40 to 50 – that doesn’t stick with leadership on big votes.” [...] A determined minority in the House today can command powers of obstruction far greater than even the filibuster in the Senate. The big, strategic votes in the House are party-line affairs. Leadership needs 218 supporters to even bring a vote to the floor. To block the Cantor Plan, Jordan and his outside allies need to pick off just 17 defections, or fewer than 10 percent of RSC members
.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) – debt ceiling is no biggie: “I don’t think the credit of the United states is going to be collapsed. I think that all this talk about a default has been a lot of demagoguery, false demagoguery. We have plenty of money coming in to service the debt. When we stop servicing the debt that would be default, we’re a long, long ways from that. We need to have cool heads and get to a solution.” King is hinting here at the idea that, even if the nation hits its debt limit, it could prioritize payments — taking money away from a certain group or program to direct it at making payments on the debt. Analysts called this plan “essentially impossible” when House Republicans suggested it during the last debt ceiling fight, after Republicans started crafting legislation to prioritize debt unless the president caved to deep spending cuts. A debt-prioritization scheme doesn’t stop the United States from defaulting on its obligations.

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: “As long as we understand we need to get something” for the stopgap spending measure “and something for the debt ceiling, then everything’s on the table,” the Idaho Republican said yesterday in an interview.

Rep. Tom Massie (R-KY) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: “All that really matters is what my district wants,” Massie said. “And my district is overwhelmingly in favor of my position.” His vaunted position is to defund Obamacare no matter what. Shut down the government over it? Yep. Destroy the full faith and credit of the United States by not raising the debt ceiling unless he and his cohorts get their way? You bet.

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: McClintock … has sponsored a bill that requires Treasury to prioritize payments in the event of default, said he wanted to address the debt limit in “small increments within the trajectory” set by the House budget resolution, which erases the deficit in 10 years. The incremental increases would be paired with “incremental reforms necessary to remain on that trajectory.” [NOPE. See Steve King above.]

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: as the shutdown drags on and Obamacare falls off the negotiating table, it’s left Republicans struggling to answer a basic question: What’s the fight even about? Even Rep. Mark Meadows, who spearheaded the fight in the House to defund Obamacare in exchange for keeping the government open, has a hard time explaining. “This fight now has become about veterans, and about National Guard folks that perhaps—reservists that are not getting paid. That’s where the fight is today,” Meadows told reporters. “Obamacare is mandatory spending, it’s going on.” Describing phone calls from constituents asking why the government is closed, Meadows doesn’t cite Obamacare, but blames Democrats for being unwilling to fund individual parts of the government. [NOTE: next week they can put it back on the table.]

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations:  Neugebauer’s the one who publicly berated a National Park Service Ranger for a situation created entirely by Congress, then excused his behavior away by telling a local radio host: “A park ranger was quoted, saying, we were told to make this as painful as we possibly can. And that’s just the Obama administration playing games with our heroes.” Not for the first time, an anonymous quote has been used to prove a theory that works for House Republicans.

Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations:  “Unless we have major reforms for the way our government spends, I am not going to sign some blind check for irresponsible policy,” said [Salmon], describing himself as a “hard” vote to get for raising the debt ceiling.

Rep. Mark “Appalachian Trail” Sanford (R-SC) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations:  During a visit to Hilton Head Island on Monday, U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford blamed the federal government shutdown on a failed congressional appropriations process, denying that a Republican effort to limit or block the health care law is the culprit. “The current debate in Washington, at the end of the day, is not really about the Affordable Care Act,” Sanford, R-Charleston, told the Hilton Head Island First Monday Republican Lunch Group. “It is about a fundamental breakdown that has occurred in this country on the way we spend money in Washington.”

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations:  Funding the government and raising the debt ceiling “don’t need to be tied together,” study committee Chairman Steve Scalise, R-La., told Politico. “The debt ceiling will have to be dealt with, but it’s got to be dealt with in a way that also puts reforms into place.” The strategy meeting of about 170 conservative GOP House members comes eight days before Oct. 17, the date the Treasury Department says it will hit the limit for paying on debt already incurred.

Rep. Dave Schweikert (R-AZ) – debt ceiling is no biggie:“I will hear language like, ‘Well, we are heading toward the debt ceiling and you are going to default.’ Anyone that says that is looking you in the eyes and lying to you, either that or they don’t own a calculator,” Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., said in a House debate Friday.

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX)  – debt ceiling is no biggie: some–mainly Republicans—in Congress [are reasoning]: if we don’t know what’s going to happen because the country has never been down this road before, how can we be sure it’ll be so bad? “We don’t know, we haven’t ever done it,” [Stockman] told ABC News, when asked what happens if the debt limit isn’t increased on Oct. 17. Part two of this theory involves “prioritizing” debt payments, so that the government is able to pay the interest on the country’s debt, and postpone other payments.

Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN)  and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: Yet a number of Texas lawmakers representing communities in and around Houston continue to offer unalloyed support for Cruz’s drive to begin dismantling portions of Obamacare in time for the 2014 midterm congressional elections. “We do watch what Ted does over in the Senate and we’re behind him – go fight that fight, make that stand, stand strong in the Senate,” says freshman Rep. Randy Weber, R-Pearland. “He’s been encouraging us to do the same thing in the House. We’re on the same team. We’re on the same wavelength.”

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) – debt ceiling is no biggie:
Capture

Also this“Stay the course, don’t give in on it, that’s what the people in my district are saying,” says Representative Ted Yoho (R., Fla.). “We did a town hall the other day, and 74 percent of people said, ‘don’t raise the debt ceiling.’”

——————————————————————————————————————–

Let’s be clear: 74% of Yoho’s gerrymandered teabagging base wants to see the debt ceiling breached — should that even matter to the rest of us? Why are Boehner and the other Republican members allowing the anarchists in gerrymandered districts like Yoho’s to dictate what happens to the rest of the country? Read above and ask yourself if any of these members sound even slightly rational, like people who will “negotiate” with others they may disagree with to re-open our government and pay its bills? All of these members have constituents like Yoho’s, but they only account for about 18% of the population. These teaparty members are rewarded for acting like anti-government insurgents—but where are all the other congressmen and senators?

Money quote from National Review:

“I think you’d see at least 50 to 60 Republicans break with Boehner if he went for something small,” predicts a House GOP aide who works closely with conservative members. “They’re also reluctant to even give Boehner a short-term debt-limit extension unless he gets something big in return.”

50 to 60 members—so what?! SO WHAT? Out of a total of 435 voting members who represent all 50 states and two political parties (one of which won the presidency and the senate), HOW THE FUCK did 50 to 60 members (or 80, depending on how you’re counting) become the only voices that matter in the U.S. House?

There are a total of 232 Republican members of the House, and it’s becoming alarmingly clear that Speaker Boehner and 151 Republican members are guilty, individually, of dereliction of duty–along with any Democratic House members who vote with them on reopening only their favorite parts of the government. 152 Republican congressmen (and, by extension of party messaging, 45 Republican senators) have willfully neglected the people they are duty-bound to represent (ALL of them), have willfully abandoned the Constitution they swore to protect, and have willfully refused to perform their duties to the people they represent and the government and its treasury and obligations. Here’s what they swore when they entered office:

“I, (name of Member), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God” (5 U.S.C. §3331).

At the request of only 18% of the people of this nation, these Republican House members and senators have, so far, willfully handed over their duties to an anti-government faction of 80 extremists in one branch of one house, a faction which has already demanded and won a government shutdown, and who WILL happily demand a breach of the debt ceiling next week for the sole purpose of political showmanship over the Affordable Care Act—a four-year old law that was passed by the House and Senate, signed by the President, affirmed in the Supreme Court, and reaffirmed by a majority of the American public with President Obama’s reelection—along with other random, non-specified spending cuts. It’s extortion, pure and simple.

The Speaker could bring a clean budget bill to the House floor for a vote today and reopen the government. He could also bring a bill to the floor today to pay the government’s bills, raising the debt ceiling.  But instead of performing his duties, Boehner–and all the Republicans (and some Democrats)–are choosing instead to do the bidding of “50 to 60 Republicans” to extend this shutdown and breach the debt ceiling next week.

If that’s not dereliction of duty, I don’t know what is.

Profiles in cowardice: put your vote where your mouth is

Those moderate, supposedly responsible Republicans who have said that they would vote for a clean CR or a discharge petition to reopen the government (and essentially go against Boehner and The Extremists) are just another myth, like unicorns.

Several of them have talked a good game over the past few days, probably to appeal to mainstream America (where disapproval of how their party is handling this fiasco is clocking in at 73%). Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY) admitted that a clean budget bill could pass with around 150 Republican votes, but only if it were a secret ballot.

Every one of these politicians, including the Speaker, are terrified of the 80 or so tea party extremists — who represent only 18% of the country in gerrymandered districts — because of their wealthy benefactors. So forget Republican “leadership” and serving the “will of the people” or even “serving the country” – Party Before Country is the guiding theme here.

So how will they handle it when we reach the debt ceiling next week? Just like they handled the shutdown: vote in lockstep with the party, then complain a little in public to make it seem like the GOP still retains some sanity or courage.

The enemy within: the cowards and anti-government insurgents of the GOP

“If the United States government, for the first time in its history, chooses not to pay its bills on time, we will be in default. There is no option that prevents us from being in default if we don’t have enough cash to pay our bills.” – Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, adding “Congress is playing with fire.”

The New York Times reports that “shortly after President Obama started his second term, a loose-knit coalition of conservative activists led by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III gathered in the capital to plot strategy. Their push to repeal Mr. Obama’s health care law was going nowhere, and they desperately needed a new plan.”

 Out of that session, held one morning in a location the members insist on keeping secret, came a little-noticed “blueprint to defunding Obamacare,” signed by Mr. Meese and leaders of more than three dozen conservative groups.

It articulated a take-no-prisoners legislative strategy that had long percolated in conservative circles: that Republicans could derail the health care overhaul if conservative lawmakers were willing to push fellow Republicans — including their cautious leaders — into cutting off financing for the entire federal government.

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told George Stephanopoulos yesterday that there’s no way he’s going to bring up a “clean” debt limit increase for a vote and warned “that the U.S. will default on its debt unless President Barack Obama agrees to make policy concessions.”

“We’re not going to pass a clean debt limit increase,” he said. “I told the president, there’s no way we’re going to pass one. The votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit. And the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us.”

Lie. Boehner means there aren’t a majority of Republicans who are willing to pass a clean CR. Why won’t he let it go to the floor for a vote?

Meanwhile on Fox News SundayRep. Peter King (R-NY) admitted “we are the ones who did shut the government down.”

But while he reiterated his opposition to the strategy, he also said he would not act to require a vote to reopen the federal government. [...] Though King and at least 19 fellow Republicans have said they would vote for a clean bill to reopen the government immediately, none have voted with House Democrats on repeated attempts to hold a vote on doing so. A discharge petition, a little-used parliamentary maneuver used by a majority in the U.S. House to bring a bill to the floor without the Speaker’s consent, would require 217 signatures.

Kevin Drum explains how the Republican Party as a whole, and with John Boehner as its House Speaker, has become the party incapable of accepting ‘yes’ for an answer: An unnamed Republican congressman interviewed by Bryan York said, “Instead, it’s no, we’re not going to negotiate, we’re not going to negotiate, we’re not going to negotiate. Which means effectively you’re going to try to humiliate the Speaker in front of his conference. And how effective a negotiating partner do you think he’ll be then? You’re putting the guy in a position where he’s got nothing to lose, because you’re not giving him anything to win.”

[...] Here’s the thing: I agree with our unnamed congressman about the device tax. It’s a fairly small thing ($2-3 billion per year) and completely nonessential to Obamacare. It could be eliminated without harm, and it would give Boehner a small bit of face-saving that might allow him to pass a budget. If this had been the GOP’s initial ask, Democrats probably would have given in.

But after weeks and weeks of tea party rage and intransigence, that became impossible. By the end of September, the Republican strategy had become crystal clear: demand unceasing concessions from Democrats at every opportunity without offering anything in return and without any negotiation. A month ago, Democrats might have shrugged over the device tax. Today, they know perfectly well what it would mean to let it go. It means that when the debt ceiling deadline comes up, there will be yet another demand. When the 6-week CR is up, there will be yet another. If and when appropriations bills are passed, there will be yet another. We’ve already seen the list. There simply won’t be any end to the hostage taking. As their price for not blowing up the country, there will be an unending succession of short-term CRs and short-term debt limit extensions used as leverage for picking apart Obamacare—and everything else Democrats care about—piece by piece.

Both King and this unnamed congressman wish their party hadn’t shut down the government, but seem unwilling to do anything about it themselves. And now our government hits the debt ceiling next Thursday. Is there not even ONE Republican member of the House with an intact spine?

Josh Marshall remarks on a profile the Post did on freshman Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL). The focus is how he’s part of the faction who forced John Boehner to trigger the government shutdown and now wants to move along to default on the national debt. How bad will default be?

“I think, personally, it would bring stability to the world markets,” Yoho told the Post

Absorb that for a moment. He’s on the team that’s driving this bus. What would at best be a huge jolt to the global economy and more likely trigger a global financial crisis and do irreparable harm to the country, he thinks will actually improve things.

Couple this with the Times article [above] detailing how the current shutdown and soon to be default crisis was planned by a working group of top GOP money men and the major far right and Tea Party pressure groups in the immediate aftermath of the 2012 election.

Brian Beutler details what will happen when America reaches its debt limit:

Once the Treasury can no longer borrow to finance deficits, it will have to arbitrarily slash spending on everything the government does — from defense, to social insurance, to medical research, and eventually to debt service.

The government currently borrows about 30 cents on every dollar, which means that irrespective of the impact on U.S. creditworthiness and global financial markets, the effects on these services will be enormous. Probably something like four or five times the impact of sequestration, but with no exemptions. And the only way to exempt anything (at least in theory) is to either force the administration to direct revenues toward favored services, which would mean much deeper cuts to everything else, or to allow the Treasury to borrow specifically to finance those services. In other words, to increase the debt limit but only for targeted purposes.

[...] The GOP’s current position thus boils down to to the laughable idea that nothing’s more important than reopening federal monuments, funding clinical trials, and spending money on veterans services for two weeks, until we breach the debt limit and they have to be shut down again.

Paul Krugman thinks that “GOP leaders fundamentally misjudged the situation (and Obama’s incentives). And now they have backed themselves into a position where they don’t know how to back down — they have to extract concessions or they’ll have been “disrespected,” in a situation where Obama simply can’t make any concessions without destroying his own credibility and betraying the fundamental norms of governance.”

So Krugman describes what the endgame will look like on Oct. 17: 

The assumption has been that Republicans will finally be moved to act by the market freakout. But given their behavior so far, why would you believe this? …My bet now is that we actually do go over the line for a day or two. And what ends the immediate crisis is not Republican action but a decision by Obama to declare himself not bound by the debt ceiling. He can’t even hint at this possibility until the thing actually happens, because he has to keep the focus on the Republicans, and he has to make them demonstrate their utter irresponsibility before he can take any extraordinary action.

But maybe I’m wrong; maybe Obama’s lawyers have concluded that there’s really nothing he can do. If so, God help us all.

USA Today editorial board takes sides: call it the Tea Party shutdown

The Shutdown Party: Our view

…This shutdown, the first in 17 years, isn’t the result of two parties acting equally irresponsibly. It is the product of an increasingly radicalized Republican Party, controlled by a disaffected base that demands legislative hostage-taking in an effort to get what it has not been able to attain by the usual means: winning elections.

Call it the Tea Party shutdown. The group will wear the badge proudly.

Pressed by this uncompromising fringe, Republicans leaders in the House are making demands that are both preposterous and largely unrelated to budgetary matters in return for keeping government running. Most absurdly, they want President Obama to undermine the health care law that he ran on in 2008 and 2012, and now considers his signature domestic accomplishment.

No president of either party could accept that kind of badgering. No president should.

[...] The question for the GOP now is how its more mainstream elements can regain control. Somehow, the party needs to get back to the model of Ronald Reagan, who was plenty conservative but understood that leadership is less about issuing ultimatums than about offering a compelling vision and working patiently to achieve it.

More immediately, the party needs to get out of the hole it is digging for itself and the nation. That will require Boehner to allow the House to vote on a bill to fund the government without any Obamacare amendments. Such a measure would likely pass with votes from Democrats and pragmatic Republicans, ending the shutdown and leaving Obamacare to succeed or fail on its own.

Yes, that would be a tough call for Boehner, but he has allowed several measures to pass without backing from a majority of Republicans, including last year’s “fiscal cliff” deal and aid for Hurricane Sandy victims.

Whether and when Boehner will permit such a vote remains to be seen, but as the shutdown drags on and the toll on the economy mounts, the public will have little trouble seeing where the blame is properly laid.

When you’ve lost the editorial board of USA Today, you’re losing the mainstream.

Currently 20 House Republicans would support a “clean” CR to reopen the government

Washington Post — An increasing number of House Republicans have said that they will support a “clean” continuing resolution. This “clean” bill is free of any amendments attempting to delay or change President Obama’s health-care law. Here is a look at what may be fueling some of that sudden bipartisanship, whether they represent a competitive district or a high percentage of the district’s workforce is employed by the federal government.

  1. Rep. Lou Barletta – won 58% of vote / district has a federal workforce of 3%
  2. Rep. Charlie Dent — 57% / 1%
  3. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart — 76% / 2%
  4. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick — 57% / 1%
  5. Rep. Randy Forbes – 57% / 8%
  6. Rep. Jim Gerlach — 57% / 1%
  7. Rep. Tim Griffin — 55% / 4%
  8. Rep. Michael Grimm — 53% / 2%
  9. Rep. Richard Hanna – 60% / 2%
  10. Rep. Peter King – 59% / 2%
  11. Rep. Frank LoBiondo – 58% / 2%
  12. Rep. Pat Meehan – 59% / 2%
  13. Rep. Devin Nunes – 63% / 2%
  14. Rep. Erik Paulsen – 58% / 1%
  15. Rep. Scott Rigell — 54% / 10%
  16. Rep. Jon Runyan — 54% / 4%
  17. Rep. Mike Simpson – 65% / 4%
  18. Rep. Rob Wittman — 56% / 13%
  19. Rep. Frank Wolf – 59% / 9%
  20. Rep. Bill Young – 58% / 2%

Let your congress member know: we’ve been Teabagged Enough Already!

via