U.S. Government Shutdown 2013

Written by  //  October 17, 2013  //  Government & Governance, U.S.  //  No comments

Key figures in shutdown

U.S. Congress ends default threat, Obama signs debt bill

(Reuters) – The U.S. Congress on Wednesday approved an 11th-hour deal to end a partial government shutdown and pull the world’s biggest economy back from the brink of a historic debt default that could have threatened financial calamity.
Capping weeks of political brinkmanship that had unnerved global markets, President Barack Obama quickly signed the spending measure, which passed the Senate and House of Representatives after Republicans dropped efforts to use the legislation to force changes in his signature healthcare law.
The down-to-the-wire deal, however, offers only a temporary fix and does not resolve the fundamental issues of spending and deficits that divide Republicans and Democrats. It funds the government until January 15 and raises the debt ceiling until February 7, so Americans face the possibility of another bitter budget fight and another government shutdown early next year.

Amy Davidson: Obama’s Stubborn Victory
(The New Yorker) When the Republicans woke up on Wednesday and realized that this fight was over, a lot of press reports used the word “chastened” to describe their mood. It may have just been a numbness that settled on the party—the anesthetic of a humiliating loss. That will wear off in a few hours or days, and, then, does anyone think that the House Republicans will be wiser? Some already seem to be persuading themselves that they have learned some tricks, and can win this same carnival game in February. If the G.O.P. were a sunny, well-run juggernaut, it might push through policies that do a lot of damage to the country. But a divided, sour, reckless party that, as George Packer and Jelani Cobb point out, trades on racial bitterness ever more explicitly can poison our political culture to an extent that should give no one pleasure.
Neil Macdonald — Analysis
U.S. shutdown climbdown: the ‘triumph’ of the Republican surrender monkeys
(CBC) Right-wing critics who fume with contempt at the Main Stream Media for conspiring to silence the conservative viewpoint must by now have discovered a whole new trend. For the last several weeks, through this entire debt-ceiling-government-shutdown fiasco, the MSM hasn’t even been trying to appear balanced. It’s been ignoring Democrats, treating them like props. … It’s just that Democrats are so boringly predictable and united. …
Republican politicians have been everywhere, constantly hogging all the MSM’s ink and air time, and utterly eclipsing the other party.
The reason is simple: the classic definition of news is man bites dog. This is man bites self. And the frenzied Republican self-biting spectacle of the past few weeks has been a unique event even by the standards of American politics.
GOP blame game: Who lost the government shutdown?
(Politico) The government shutdown saga has drawn to an end. The debate within the GOP about who blew it is just beginning.
Since before the federal government closed its doors on Oct. 1, leaders within the Republican coalition have been privately – and sometimes not-so-privately – squabbling over who should take the blame for the unfolding political smashup. Some in the party questioned whether a shutdown and debt-ceiling standoff would do noticeable damage to the GOP, but many more always believed this would turn into a prime-time fiasco.
Within Republican circles, however, there’s widespread disagreement about exactly what lesson the party might stand to learn. If there’s general consensus that the party got burned, there are already competing narratives on the right about whose hand it was that touched the burner.
16 October
Boehner taps Dems to push budget deal across finish line
(Politico) Just 87 Republicans supported the bill while 198 Democrats voted for it. The bill was opposed by 144 Republicans, including House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.
Once again, Speaker John Boehner had to rely on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic Caucus to carry the bill to passage. It’s a clear violation of the much-talked-about Hastert Rule, a mantra that the House speaker should not bring legislation to the floor without the support of a “majority of the majority” of his members. The fiscal cliff legislation and relief for Hurricane Sandy passed with mostly Democratic votes, as well.
That House Republicans took up the Senate bill marked a stunning reversal for the speaker, who had backed his conservative wing’s drive to gut Obamacare as part of the government shutdown fight. The bill that cleared Congress doesn’t alter Obamacare at all. But Boehner tried everything else and was unable to get his House Republicans to rally around another plan.
Ted Cruz, one sore loser
(WaPost) Cruz refused to admit defeat. “The American people rose up and spoke with an overwhelming voice and at least at this stage Washington isn’t listening to them,” he said. “But this battle will continue.” (Actually, what’s overwhelming is the 70 percent of Americans who think Republicans put politics ahead of the country in the shutdown.)
Cruz left the reporters after a few minutes, but when he noticed the TV lights and microphones outside the Senate chamber, he stopped and reversed himself. After repeating his statement for the cameras, he took a question from CNN’s Bash, who pointed out that there has been “a lot of bruising political warfare internally, and you’ve got nothing for it.”
“I disagree with the premise,” Cruz informed her. He said the House vote to defund Obamacare, rejected by the Senate, was “a remarkable victory.” It was a revealing statement: For Cruz, the victory is not the achievement but the fight.
Here Is What Republicans Got For Shutting Down The Government
After shutting down the government for two weeks, Republicans appear to have secured just one concession from a Senate-crafted deal to raise the debt ceiling and re-open the federal government: an income verification system for individuals who earn above 400 percent of the federal poverty line and qualify for premium and cost-sharing subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
Ted Cruz Admits Budget Standoff Was All About Building Fundraising Lists
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) conceded on Wednesday that he would not hold up a vote on an emerging Senate deal to re-open the federal government and avert federal default, but admitted that the three-week long budget standoff — which began with his 21-hour speech on the Senate floor — was nothing more than an effort to build up his fundraising list.
gloomy skies over the Capitol

Dr. Charles Cogan: It’s the Constitution, Stupid!
(HuffPost) Separation of powers means separation of government. There is no institutional connection between the legislative branch and the presidency, unlike in other systems. The president does not have the power to dismiss the legislature and call for new elections in the event of an impasse, unlike in other systems. The House of Representatives has the power of the purse; the presidency does not.
With the unhindered practice of gerrymandering (manipulation of the boundaries of House constituencies) so that a significant number of seats are in effect one-party seats indefinitely, a determined faction in the House can constitute a force that potentially can block the funding of the government. Such is the crisis we have come to today. It brings government and governance to its knees, citizens suffer mightily, and there is no recourse.

Boehner cancels vote, raising prospect of U.S. debt default
Mr. Boehner struggled all day to put together a package that would both satisfy his restive Tea Party faction and stand at least an outside chance of attracting some Democratic backing. He eventually gave up trying, opting instead to regroup Wednesday morning.
Hopes now will shift back to the Senate, where Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are close to completing legislation that would end the two-week-old budget showdown. ( 8:33 PM EDT)
US shutdown: Women in senate lead effort to find accord
In a Senate still dominated by men, women on both sides of the partisan divide proved to be the driving forces that shaped a negotiated settlement. … Together, the five senators starkly showed off the increasing power of women – even those who are not on the relevant committees – as their numbers grow in the upper chamber. Of the 13 senators on a bipartisan committee who worked on the deal framework, about half were women, even though women make up only 20 percent of the Senate.
14 October
Should one need any more reasons to be angry with the members of Congress: Here Are The Sleaziest Things Congress Has Done During The Shutdown
13 October
IMF Chief Calls Out Republican Debt Ceiling Truthers
(Think Progress) As the U.S. nears the final date to raise the debt ceiling, a chorus of Republicans have downplayed the hard deadline and insisted the Treasury can “prioritize” its commitments to debt interest payments and to critical programs. But on Meet the Press with David Gregory, International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde debunked the claim that “creative accounting” would solve anything.
Lagarde likened the consequences to the financial market crash in 2008, warning that failure to increase the ceiling by October 17 would send the U.S. economy into a tailspin. “That lack of certainty, that lack of trust in the U.S. signature, it would mean massive disruption the world over and we would be tipped again into massive rupture,” she said.
11 October
Establishment Republicans Assail Tea Party Over Government Shutdown
(AP via HuffPost) — From county chairmen to national party luminaries, veteran Republicans across the country are accusing tea party lawmakers of staining the GOP with their refusal to bend in the budget impasse in Washington.
The Republican establishment also is signaling a willingness to strike back at the tea party in next fall’s elections.
Obamacare Has Gotten More Popular Since The GOP Shut Down The Government To Defund It
(Think Progress) According to a new poll, Obamacare is actually gaining in popularity at the same time as the Republican Party has taken extreme measures to take a stand against it.
A new NBC-Wall Street Journal poll finds that 38 percent of Americans say Obamacare is a good idea, which represents a 7-point jump from last month. It’s the third-highest popularity rating for Obamacare — which typically doesn’t poll well as a whole, even though Americans tend to support its individual provisions — since the health law was first enacted.
The poll also finds that 50 percent of voters don’t want to eliminate funding for the health reform law, and the vast majority are opposed to tying Obamacare to the ongoing negotiations over the government shutdown. Just 23 percent of Americans say they want to continue the current shutdown to sabotage the health law.
10 October
Robert Reich — The Tea Party Republicans’ Biggest Mistake: Confusing Government With Our System of Government
House Republicans are under intense pressure. A new Gallup poll shows the Republican Party now viewed favorably by only 28 percent of Americans, down from 38 percent in September. That’s the lowest favorable rating measured for either party since Gallup began asking this question in 1992. The Democratic Party is viewed favorably by 43 percent, down four percentage points from last month. …
The radicals who tried to hijack America didn’t understand one very basic thing. While most Americans don’t like big government, Americans revere our system of government. …
Future health-care costs should be contained by using the government’s bargaining leverage over providers (through Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act) to force a shift from fee-for-service to payments-for-healthy-outcomes. And we should spend more on high-quality education and infrastructure for everyone.
8 October
George Friedman: The Roots of the Government Shutdown
(Stratfor) Political parties ceased being built around patronage systems, but rather around the ability to raise money. Money, not the bosses’ power, became the center of gravity of the political system, and those who could raise money became the power brokers. More important, those who were willing to donate became candidates’ main constituency. The paradox of the reforms was that in breaking the power of the bosses, money became more rather than less important in the selection of candidates. Money has always been central to American politics. There has never been a time when it didn’t matter. But with the decline of political bosses, factors other than money were eliminated.
Tea Party Tactics Lead Straight Back to Secession
(Bloomberg) If there’s an analogy between past and present, it’s not the shelling of Fort Sumter.
Instead, it’s an earlier political firestorm from the 1830s called the Nullification Crisis, which involved a controversial 1828 law that became known, in the fiery oratory of Jacksonian America, as the “Tariff of Abominations.”
The debates over Obamacare and the Tariff of Abominations emerge out of the same problem. Despite all the checks and balances embedded in our national government, it is inevitable that Congress will pass laws — and that presidents will sign them — that are detested by a sizable minority of the populace.
6 October
Writing in Politico, Thomas Patterson of Harvard’s Kenndy School of Government puts forward an intriguing proposal: Should Democrats throw John Boehner a lifeline? What if House Democrats pledged to support John Boehner as speaker?
The problem with today’s Congress is its radical House Republicans. They constitute only a third of the GOP caucus, but, when combined with House Republicans who live in fear of a right-wing primary challenger, have the strength to hold Boehner hostage.
These Republicans benefit from the “Hastert rule,” named after Dennis Hastert, who preceded Boehner as speaker. The informal directive holds that no speaker shall bring to the House floor any legislation not supported by a majority of the majority party’s members. It’s not a binding rule, but, if Boehner were to ignore it on a contentious bill, he would face a palace revolt.
Therein rests Boehner’s problem. If he wants to remain speaker, he must do the bidding of Congress’s radical members. …
What the House radicals ignore is that the majority party’s claim on the speaker’s position is based on tradition only. The Constitution does not entrust the speaker’s election to the chamber’s majority party. It says that the speaker shall be chosen by vote of all House members.

The perverse math behind the Republican budget showdown: Neil Macdonald
Why the U.S. Congress is not representative of very much any more
(CBC) In most of America, both parties rig the electoral districts whenever they can. Democrats in Maryland and Illinois, for example, saw to it that their House representation far exceeded their popular vote in 2012. The Republicans, however, just seem much better at it. They in fact have a $30-million, multi-year plan called Redmap, specifically designed to redraw districts in their favour. So, this country has accepted a fundamentally undemocratic practice — “In effect, the representatives choose their voters, hardly a democratic ideal,” observes presidential historian James Thurber at the American University in Washington. And Americans are now suffering for it, about to be deprived of their government’s services and, perhaps, on their way to government default.

4 October
Shutdown gives Republicans a real reason for tears
The debt-limit threat is at the heart of the confrontation that has forced the U.S. government to shut its doors. The stated goal is to block implementation of Obamacare, the president’s signature health care law. That won’t happen: it is already rolling out and the President has no intention of axing his signature achievement. So the threat to block an increase in the borrowing limit, forcing Washington to default on its debts, is the real leverage conservatives hope to use against the White House.Boehner, if the reports are accurate, has just dismantled that weapon. While he continues to seek negotiations over Republican demands, Democrats know [he] holds no cards. He can’t block Obamacare, and isn’t willing to risk the fallout that would ensue from a default. Meanwhile, the party he heads is being widely blamed for the stalemate.
3 October
GOP Donors Revolt Against Republican-Led Government Shutdown
(Daily Beast) It’s not just Democrats who are angry at the Tea Party-led shutdown. Republican donors are furious their party has managed to ‘grab defeat from the jaws of victory’ on Obamacare—and some are withholding funds, reports David Freedlander.
It is unlikely that the gilded power brokers in the Republican Party are likely to join their local county political club any time soon, but as the stock market wobbles amid the government shutdown and the continued demand for an Obamacare delay, a number of GOP donors are wondering if it is time for a little outside counter-pressure to sap the Tea Party of some of its energy. To be clear, none are considering joining the Democrats, and they find plenty of fault with President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The deficit, taxes, and regulation remain top concerns. But several top GOP donors say figuring out a way to “break the fever”—as Obama once put it—or at least keep their fellow party members from damaging the economy any further has become Topic A in their social set.
John Boehner’s legacy on the line in shutdown
(NBC) There are enough votes in the House he leads to pass the spending bill approved by Senate, a move that would continue funding the government until mid-November. But to do so, the Ohio Republican right now would have to rely on a bare majority of his Republican colleagues as well as votes from Democratic members.
And that could put Boehner’s grasp on the speakership in jeopardy if the unwieldy group of Tea Party conservatives he’s overseen for the past two and a half years finds their leader guilty of violating the party’s principles or making a misstep in the budget negotiations. A revolt among his members would be seen as sign of weakness and could result in his ouster.
But failing to resolve the standoff has potential consequences as well, both for the long-term success of the Republican Party and the nation’s economic well-being, giving Boehner few palatable options. Why Boehner is the weakest — and most powerful — speaker in recent times
U.S. government shutdown: Editorials across the country
Most newspaper editorial boards appear to blame Republicans for deadlock
Federal shutdown idles Air Force expert honored for saving government $1 billion
One member of the despised federal bureaucracy locked out of work this week is Air Force energy expert Kevin Geiss of Alexandria. He found ways to save the government more than $1 billion in 2012 and just wants to get back to the office to save even more.
Another is fire protection engineer Dan Madrzykowski of Damascus. His furlough meant missing a meeting Wednesday in Fairfax of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, where he was to help launch a project to publicize new research on saving firefighters’ lives.
Geiss and Madrzykowski are among a select group of government employees scheduled to be honored at a gala Thursday evening with prestigious “Sammie” awards from the Partnership for Public Service.
The nonprofit, nonpartisan group will distribute the medals for outstanding accomplishments by civil servants at a time when much of the civil service is on unrequested and possibly unpaid leave. Four individuals among the 16 to be honored are on furlough.
2 October
[Alberta-born] Ted Cruz Warns That Shutdown Could Lead To A Terrorist Attack Against U.S.
(Think Progress) Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Wednesday raised fears that the shutdown of the federal government that he helped launch could potentially lead to an attack on the United States of America, calling on his fellow senators to pass a separate resolution funding the Defense Department.
1 October
Federal government shuts down for the first time in 17 years as Congress continues to debate
(Yahoo! News) The federal government officially shut down for the first time in 17 years at midnight on Monday, after House Republicans refused to drop demands that parts of the Affordable Care Act be delayed in return for approval of a mandatory government funding bill.
Federal employees who are considered essential to public safety will be expected to work this week. But most federal offices will be closed until Congress reaches a deal. The shutdown is the first one of its kind since 1996, when the government closed for 26 days under President Bill Clinton.
Despite missing the deadline, debate persisted in the House and Senate early into the morning. The House is still planning to request to establish a conference committee with the Senate, but Senate Democratic leaders preemptively rejected the offer Monday night, saying they would not negotiate until the House had passed a bill to fund the government for six weeks without any extra provisions.

Obamacare isn’t popular, but government shutdown is even less so, poll shows
Six in 10 people surveyed say avoiding a government shutdown is more important than making changes to Obamacare, a CNN poll shows. A shutdown is ‘just messing with people,’ says one frustrated American.
Government Shutdown Blame Would Fall On Republicans, GOP Seen As ‘Spoiled Children’: Poll
Most Americans would blame congressional Republicans rather than President Barack Obama for a shutdown, and many Americans view the GOP as acting like “spoiled children,” according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Monday.

House Budget Vote Passes In Favor Of New Obamacare Deal-Breaker, Shutdown Looms
(AP via HuffPost) The House voted early Sunday morning to pass a new continuing resolution, 231 to 192, which would fund the government thru Dec. 15.
The plan, which emerged on Saturday, would also impose a one-year delay of Obamacare and a full repeal of the law’s tax on medical devices.
AP story continues below:
Even before the House voted, Senate Democrats pledged to reject the measure and the White House issued a statement vowing a veto in any event. Republicans are pursuing “a narrow ideological agenda … and pushing the government towards shutdown,” it said.
The Senate is not scheduled to meet until mid-afternoon on Monday, 10 hours before a shutdown would begin, and even some Republicans said privately they feared that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., held the advantage in the fast-approaching end game. If so, a House GOP rank and file that includes numerous tea party allies would soon have to choose between triggering the first partial shutdown in nearly two decades – or coming away empty-handed from their latest confrontation with Obama.

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