Archive for category congress
Are Republicans really going to refuse to pay for the spending deal they’ve agreed to — by not raising the debt limit next year?
Answer: Rep. Ryan is threatening to do just that.
A letter signed by at least 18 right-wing Republicans urges House Speaker John Boehner to bring up a “clean” continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government at the low sequester level when money expires on Jan. 15. This could subvert a budget agreement being negotiated by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to mitigate some of the painful sequester cuts. Without an agreement, the result will be another GOP government shutdown.
The sequester orders 2014 spending at $967 billion — hardline conservatives don’t want to spend a penny more than that. Ryan and Murray are close to a deal that raises spending to about $1 trillion. Democrats roundly oppose sequester spending levels and many Republicans, especially defense hawks, want to ease the cuts because they believe they’re unsustainable and damaging to national security. House Republican leaders support the Ryan-Murray framework but are often at the mercy of their right flank.
Progressives are not happy with the emerging Ryan-Murray budget deal either. It would cut off emergency unemployment insurance and it won’t close any tax loopholes. The deal may also cut some $20 billion from federal employee pensions.
House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) released his own budget proposal (PDF) Thursday.
President Obama still seems intent on helping right-wing Republicans cut Social Security. But a group of politically savvy Democratic senators are proposing a different agenda. Why not phase out the payroll tax cap and increase the currently meager benefits? The Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013, introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee and co-sponsored by Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mark Begich (D-AK) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) would do just that, raising Social Security compensation for all beneficiaries by $70 per month.
Republicans are eager to cut Social Security, but they want Democrats’ fingerprints on the knife, so they don’t take the blame. The GOP base includes disproportionately older Americans who love Social Security — a fact they were reminded of when they tried and failed to privatize it in 2005. For now, Democrats still largely accept the conservative framing on Social Security and the public sees little, if any, daylight between the two parties. If they change course and force votes on proposals to expand Social Security, it could put Republicans on the spot and clarify who really supports the program and who doesn’t.
Why play the “Republican-lite” game? Put a progressive proposal out there, and let the Party of NO say no to something good. Politicians are motivated by fear, not friendship. Any so-called Dem ought to be afraid to talk about cutting Social Security.
Starting today SNAP, or food stamp benefits, will be reduced by 5 percent. SNAP used to max out at $668 a month for a family of four. Now, the maximum amount will drop to $632, or a cut of $432 a year.
Thanks to the Great Recession and a commitment to austerity by the government in the wake of the recession, an additional 21 million people were added to SNAP since 2008. Today, more than 1 in 4 U.S. children live in a home that gets food stamps.
Another group with lots of members in SNAP: Veterans. U.S. Census Bureau data show that, in 2011, some 900,000 former U.S. military personnel lived in households that used food stamps.
Economists have found that every dollar of SNAP spending generates roughly $1.70 in local economic activity. The USDA has calculated that food stamps generate an even bigger bang for the buck. So pinching food stamp recipients will ripple into the broader U.S. economy.
Food bank operators are bracing for more people lining up at local pantries while Congress debates additional cuts to the supplemental nutrition program that helps 1 in 7 Americans, including 22 million children. Utah alone is already losing $26 million in SNAP funding this fiscal year.
When we go shopping at Costco we always pick up some additional food to donate to the Utah Food Bank, which provides food to a statewide network of 134 emergency food pantries. Also we send them an annual cash contribution. Washington politicians are always ready with handouts for the rich and the corporations, but not for ordinary American people who work for a living. It’s going to be up to us to bail out the food banks!
Source: Mother Jones
The federal government’s latest annual deficit was $680 billion, the smallest it’s been since 2008, according to Treasury Department data released Wednesday. Federal spending in 2013 totaled 20.8% of GDP, down from 22% the year before. The FY 2013 deficit was less than half the record $1.413 trillion figure inherited by the Obama administration from President George W. Bush. It’s becoming clear to everyone, not just economists, that deficits are not that hard to control. If we can fix the economy and get the rich to pay their fair share of taxes, deficit spending will vanish completely.
The so-called “sequester” austerity budget has effectively sabotaged our economic recovery, but at least it accomplished one good thing. Washington politicians are no longer talking seriously about a proposed “Grand Bargain” to cut Social Security and Medicare. Progressive blogs have labeled this the Grand Betrayal, an attack on the social safety net that has kept millions of Americans out of poverty.
Paul Ryan killed any lingering hopes of a grand bargain within moments of the budget conference kickoff on Wednesday.
In his opening remarks, the Wisconsin congressman and chairman of the House budget committee laid down a firm marker against new taxes, which are essential to any major deficit reduction proposal that can pass Congress and be signed into law.
…His comments reflect the no-compromise mood of the GOP. That means the two chambers are unlikely to strike a major debt deal or reconcile the different budgets passed by the House and Senate earlier this year.
Party of NO, do your stuff!
OTOH it would be good if the 29-member budget conference committee can find some way to avoid another government shutdown on January 15 next year. Hopefully, that’s not too much to ask. They have until December 13 to reach a compromise agreement.
Tonight, Lawrence O’Donnell observed that you know you’re losing in American politics when you see Sarah Palin standing right beside you.
Seventy-four percent of Americans disapprove of the way Republicans in Congress are handling negotiations over the budget, the Washington Post-ABC News poll shows. This is up four points from last week’s poll and up 11 points since the start of the shutdown.
A plurality of self-identified Republicans are opposed to the Republican Shutdown and the even more appalling threat of a default on the National Debt that would plunge America and the world into another recession, or perhaps all the way to depression this time.
Anyone who had heard about the Million Vet March on the Memorials knew this march wasn’t meant to be any kind of political statement.
…You also shouldn’t be shocked that Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin and Mike Lee decided to turn the march in Washington DC into a photo-op for their own political gains.
…This is just more of the same behavior from Republicans. They’re blaming someone else for a problem they caused. Their party is the one that’s not allowing the House to vote on the Senate’s clean continuing resolution that would reopen the government. We could reopen the government today if John Boehner would just let the House vote, but he won’t.
So when these people show up at the White House holding symbols of racism and shouting things which are racist, while blaming President Obama for the government shutdown, they prove one glaring fact…
That they don’t know a damn thing.
Contribute to VoteVets.org to help keep this ad on the air. http://action.votevets.org/shutdown-ad
Remember that Speaker Boehner, like most of his GOP colleagues, never served in combat. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1968, but was administratively separated after eight weeks because of a bad back.
If the pointless Republican Shutdown of the federal government continues, disabled veterans benefits will be cut off at the end of this month. Boehner and the Tea-GOP would be well-advised to re-open the government before then.
Here’s the link: http://fuckyoucongress.com/
Ads like this will be the hallmark of the 2014 elections. Someone I saw on TV described the Republican Shutdown as the equivalent of a child who throws a temper tantrum in public – the only way to deal with them is to say, “Calm down, and maybe we can discuss what’s bothering you later.”
“Speaker Boehner didn’t get his way and so, like a child, he threw a Tea Party-inspired temper tantrum and shut down the federal government,” said Andy Stone, communications director of House Majority PAC. “The American people are sick and tired of the intransigence and manufactured crises that have become all too common from Speaker Boehner and the House Republicans. Speaker Boehner should stop playing politics, end the nonsense and finally focus on the real-life consequences his government shutdown has caused Americans.”
The group has launched a six-figure ad campaign in the districts of the nine Republican members it’s targeting in the 2014 elections: Gary Miller (Calif.), Mike Coffman (Colo.), Rodney Davis (Ill.), Mike Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Michael Grimm (N.Y.), Joe Heck (Nev.), Dave Joyce (Ohio), John Kline (Minn.) and Steve Southerland (Fla.).
Via Raw Story:
Yesterday, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) called out his House colleagues on their insane refusal to end the Republican Shutdown of the federal government. Congress is now less popular than: potholes, hemorrhoids, dog poop, toenail fungus, cockroaches and zombies. Thanks Tea-GOP!
UPDATE: Oops 7 percent was yesterday. Congress Approval Rating Drops To Dismal 5 Percent In Poll
The Associated Press-GfK survey found that just 5 percent of the public approves of the job being done by senators and representatives, while 83 percent disapprove.
This is what the start of a true constitutional crisis looks like. There is a reason so few functioning democracies use a system like our own. When a political disagreement is able to cause such serious economic problems and there is no way to call a new election to have voters effectively settle the issue, things can go very bad very quickly.
Public Policy Polling surveys of 24 Republican-held congressional districts indicate that shutting down the government may end up costing the GOP control of the House of Representatives in the next election.
For Democrats to win a House majority, 17 seats would need to switch to their party’s favor. Results show that would be within reach, as Republican incumbents are behind in 17 of the districts analyzed: CA-31, CO-06, FL-02, FL-10, FL-13, IA-03, IA-04, IL-13, KY-06, MI-01, MI-07, MI-11, NY-19, OH-14, PA-07, PA-08, WI-07. In four districts, the incumbent Republican fell behind after respondents were told their representative supported the government shutdown: CA-10, NY-11, NY-23, VA-02.
UPDATE: Poll aggregator Sam Wang: “If the election were held today, Democrats would pick up around 30 seats…”
Right now, President Obama is meeting with House Speaker John Boehner to discuss how to end the Republican Shutdown. Boehner can do it whenever he wants to. Until he does, parents with kids in Head Start, women and children who rely on WIC, kids with cancer, Grand Canyon river runners, NASA rocket scientists, disabled veterans, people who eat food inspected by the FDA, half the Defense Department’s civilian employees, and tens of millions of other Americans are going to hate him. Wonder what that feels like?
WASHINGTON — In the hours since the government shut down, House Republicans have slowly but steadily been coming forward to say they’re ready to pass a bill to fund the government with no strings attached.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the number of those Republicans hit 19 — surpassing the magic 17 votes needed to pass a clean funding bill if all 200 Democrats stick together and team up with them. Of course, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would have to be willing to put that bill on the floor in the first place. But if he did, the votes appear to be there for passage, at which point the bill would sail through the Senate and be signed by President Barack Obama, ending the shutdown.
The Dems have already caved on the austerity budgeting issue (aka The Sequester). They are not in the mood to grant any further concessions to the Tea-GOP.
UPDATE: Speaker Boehner just emerged from a 90 minute meeting at the White House. He’s not willing to end the Republican Shutdown yet.
UPDATE: Jon Walker on FDL:
Nothing is really happening because this entire crisis is just waiting for Speaker John Boehner to crack. This shutdown ends the second Boehner puts a clean continuing resolution on the floor. At that point it will be approved overwhelmingly in the House. Until that happens though nothing of meaning is taking place.