Budget, debt unresolved on shutdown's 3rd day

Three days into a government shutdown, President Barack Obama pointedly blamed House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday for keeping federal agencies closed, while the bitter budget dispute moved closer to a more critical showdown over the nation's line of credit.
AP Wire
Oct 3, 2013

The president canceled a trip to Asia to remain in the capital as the Treasury warned of calamitous results if Congress fails to raise the debt limit.

Answering Obama, Boehner complained that the president was "steamrolling ahead" with the implementation of the nation's new health care law. As the government operated sporadically, the stock market sank to its lowest level in nearly a month.

The shutdown was clearly leaving its mark. The National Transportation Safety Board wasn't sending investigators to Tennessee to probe a deadly church bus crash that killed eight people and sent 14 others to the hospital. The Labor Department said it wouldn't release the highly anticipated September jobs report on Friday because the government remains shuttered.

Late Thursday, the White House announced that Obama was abandoning an already abbreviated trip to Indonesia and Brunei next week in the face of the shutdown. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Secretary of State John Kerry would travel instead.

Earlier, outside the Capitol, shots rang out at midafternoon bringing an already tense Congress under lockdown, a nerve-wracking moment in a city still recovering from a Sept. 16 mass shooting at the Navy Yard. Authorities and witnesses said a woman tried to ram her car through a White House barricade then led police on a chase that ended in gunfire and her death outside the Capitol more than 1 mile away.

Despite the heated political rhetoric, some signs of a possible way out of the shutdown emerged. But the state of play remained in flux.

Two House Republicans said Boehner told them he would allow a House vote on restarting the entire government — but only if conservative GOP lawmakers assured him they would not attack it for failing to contain curbs on the health care law. So far they have been unwilling to give that commitment. The two spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal details of private discussions.

The shutdown and the approaching debt ceiling were merging into one confrontation, raising the stakes for the president and Congress as well as for the economy.

Obama and his Treasury Department said that failure to raise the nation's borrowing limit, expected to hit its $16.7 trillion cap in mid-October, could precipitate an economic nosedive worse than the Great Recession. A default could cause the nation's credit markets to freeze, the value of the dollar to plummet and U.S. interest rates to skyrocket, according to the Treasury report.

Obama catalogued a litany of troubles that could be caused by the failure to raise the debt ceiling, from delayed Social Security and disability checks to worldwide economic repercussions. "If we screw up, everybody gets screwed up," he said.

The speaker's office reiterated Boehner's past assertion that he would not let the United States default on its debt. "But if we're going to raise the debt limit, we need to deal with the drivers of our debt and deficits," his spokesman, Michael Steel, said. "That's why we need a bill with cuts and reforms to get our economy moving again."

Conservatives have insisted that either reopening the government or increasing the debt ceiling must be accompanied by a measure that either delays or defunds the nation's new health care law. Absent those concessions, Republicans want cuts in spending, savings in major benefit programs and an overhaul of the tax system.

Obama, for his part, firmly restated his opposition to a negotiation.

"You don't get to demand some ransom in exchange for keeping the government running," he said tartly. "You don't get to demand ransom in exchange for keeping the economy running."

Looking to deflect the Democratic finger-pointing on the shutdown, the Republican-controlled House pushed a pair of bills through the House on Thursday restoring money to veterans' programs and to pay National Guard and Reserve members. House leaders also have scheduled a vote on legislation backed by some of the chamber's top Democrats to give federal workers furloughed in the ongoing partial shutdown their missed pay when the government reopens.

That vote could come as early as Friday or over the weekend.

Senate Democrats made clear they will not agree to reopening the government on a piecemeal basis. "You can't fall for that legislative blackmail or it will get worse and worse and worse," said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York.

Speaking at a construction company in Washington's Maryland suburbs Thursday, Obama cast Boehner as a captive of a tight group of conservative Republicans who want to extract concessions in exchange for passing a short-term spending bill that would restart the partially shuttered government.

"The only thing preventing people from going back to work and basic research starting back up and farmers and small business owners getting their loans, the only thing that is preventing all that from happening right now, today, in the next five minutes is that Speaker John Boehner won't even let the bill get a yes or no vote because he doesn't want to anger the extremists in his party," Obama said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was even more pointed in singling Boehner out.

"We can't perform the most basic functions of government because he doesn't have the courage to stand up to that small band of anarchists," he said.

Moderate Republicans have said they think they could provide enough votes to join with minority Democrats and push a bill through the House reopening the government with no restrictions on the health care law. But under pressure from House GOP leaders, they failed to join Democratic efforts on Wednesday aimed at forcing the chamber to consider such legislation.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., who is close to Boehner, said he doesn't think the speaker is ready to push any measure that would fail to win the backing of most of his 232 House Republicans. But some Democratic votes eventually will be needed in the 435-seat chamber, Cole said, because some hard-core conservative Republicans are unlikely to vote to end the shutdown or raise the debt ceiling without major concessions from Obama.

"You can't ask those Republicans to just put their political life on the line for nothing," he said. "They've got to be able to go home and say 'These are the things that I was able to do.'"

Even the Senate chaplain got drawn into the rising intensity of the partisan battle, opening Thursday's session with an unusually pointed prayer.

"Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable," said Dr. Barry Black. "Remove the burdens of those who are the collateral damage of this government shutdown."

And in a bit of sardonic understatement, Obama's motorcade passed workers outside an office building holding up a sign that simply asked, "Rough week?"

Comments

Lanivan

Basically, what an estimated group of about 40 Tea Party Republicans are doing is subverting the Constitution. As a minority within the three Houses of Congress, they are coercing their Republican colleagues in the House to take the unprecedented step of blocking the budget not because they object to something in it, but for something else entirely - the ACA.

This is a very serious breach of the public trust, not to mention democracy. If a minority in Congress can repeal settled legislation through government shut down, this makes all legislation vulnerable, and essentially makes America ungovernable.

Obamacare was passed by a majority of Congress; it was ruled as constitutional by the SCOTUS; Obama won re-election by a solid majority with Obamacare a major campaign plank. Congressional Republicans must respect voting Americans, the Supreme Court, and the voting process, and let the people decide in the next election whether the ACA is working or not.

By allowing the government to shut down, impacting hundreds of thousands of Americans, as well as costing $300 million A DAY, and threaten to not lift the debt ceiling, which would have disastrous economic repercussions in the States as well as globally, is stunningly callous. They are trying to nullify established law through extortion.

Vladtheimp

1. Actually, the part of it that was ruled unconstitutional (threat to take away state Medicare funding if they don't bow to the Central Government / Obama diktat to establish Exchanges is what is causing much of the problems with Obamacare today - and knowing that would be the case, as with so many other unworkable provisions, Obama chose not to permit the Congress to amend it before implementation, but charged ahead to assuage his ego.

Inasmuch as I believe you are capable of informed reasoning, unlike the Mystical and Unamused Ones, I provide this short primer on the role of the House of Representatives: http://legalinsurrection.com/201...

In that regard, I note that what Obama is demanding the House fund is NOT what the Congress passed - it has been unconstitutionally "amended" by Obama about a dozen times. If you want to be a stickler for following the rules, you should support sending Obamacare back to Congress for amendment to reflect what it is today, along with additional funding since its cost has far exceeded what was promised when it was passed in its original form.

Lanivan

Actually, most of the states denying Expanded Medicaid are Red States that have the greatest percentages per capita of poor, unhealthy, under/unemployed people; they top the list of states that have for decades received vastly more in Federal dollars than taxes paid ~ yeah, we here in the mitten are included in the list of states that have helped bail out these idiot Red State governments for years. But, hey, Roberts had to throw something out there to assuage his ego and that of his hyperventilating compatriots (was that too uncivil for you?).

Flattery will get you nowhere. The legalinsurrection article, written by neo-neocon (the name alone tells one everything one needs to know) is written by a hyped-up naysayer. "Primer"? Please! I stand by my words 101%. The spirit driving this shut-down and threat to refuse to lift the debt ceiling is unprecedented; it is ill-conceived out of desperation and the hope that the populous remains ignorant and misinformed, and it is failing miserably.

Obama did not "amend" the ACA. Amending denotes changing the meaning of the law, and he basically extended deadlines or made minor changes to accommodate hypocritical religious types who were suddenly appalled - appalled, I tell you - that they had to offer contraception within their employee insurance policies, when, oh dear!, they've actually been offering it for YEARS!

Look how some select members of Congress are eviscerating the USofA by manufacturing crisis after crisis to steer the US back into the 1930's, their allegiance to Grover Norquist over their sacred oath of office and to the US Constitution, and their transigence/obstructionism/buffoonism.

They are on the wrong side of history, and they will not succeed.

As for the ACA cost overruns, I certainly don't like it. It brings back bad memories of the Iraq war: 11/15/2002, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense

"Five days or five months, but it certainly isn't going to last longer."

01/10/2003, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense

"... something under $50 billion for the cost. How much of that would be the U.S. burden, and how much would be other countries, is an open question.”

Just think! Funding for killing, maiming, and laying waste was approved into the Trillions, but to offer health care options via national health care reform/free markets that will help to stem the tide of exploding health care costs and help citizens be healthier and more productive is castigated and castrated at every opportunity.

Wolverine49457

Breath into a paper bag...75% of the government is still running...and as for the Constitution good' ol' Mr. Obama has stated more than a few times it needs to be altered…thank the Lord someone who almost grew up here came along to fix us!
He and other progressives (Socialists) tramp on it all they can...just for the record...most T.E.A. party people are so because they feel both houses have become so corrupt and blinded by greed for power that only a handful of men still exist in the houses that actually care about America and the foundations it was created on.
The T.E.A party was formed because they feel the Republicans have become just as corrupt and they could be and desire a change.
Don’t be among those that still insist on the idiotic and myopic notion that we are a new branch of the Republican party or that the progressive curmudgeons in the GOP take their marching orders from the T.E.A party…Progressives should be removed from power, both Democrats and Republicans have become bloated with progressives like Pelosi, Reid, Boehner and even GW…

Wingmaster

"Breath into a paper bag..." how appropriately funny. That's exactly what all the bloviating needs. The political operatives in both parties are playing the citizens. Wake up people if you want real change.

Meanwhile, the murderers of the citizens who served this country in Libya still have not been brought in or held accountable.

Barry Soetoro

"The political operatives in both parties are playing the citizens."

You nailed it, Wing! I will be submitting this for "Comment of the Year".

SignalMaintainer

Yet the Tea party! which started out as a reasonable grass-roots movement is now completely controlled and funded by massive corporations that go against what is good for the American citizen. The Tea Party is just as corrupt as the government; both are being controlled by the corporations and lobbyists.

Wingmaster

Obviously the left fear the Tea Party more than the Republican Party and they must be destroyed. The Tea Party is the first real threat to Democratic power in years and it is apparent by all of the smears the left is throwing their way.

They demonize them any chance they get, even tried to form (hijack) their own group against them "occupy" to no avail. More to come, watch and listen for this in the media (and here) over the next couple of weeks people, as this screech comes from the left.

Wolverine49457

C’mon just look at the hateful legislation marked "from the T.E.A. party"...couple those with all the evil legislation from Rush Limbaugh forcefully passed even when the ambassador of socialist leaning countries (Mr. Obama) had a majority in both houses…Yep them Rush Limbaugh bills sailed through and there was nothing he could do…maybe if he’d grew up in America he would have a better understanding of why the majority of us do not like being forced into buying a product to be monitored by the tax people...perhaps if he set foot in America prior to getting a free ride to college the teleprompter would not have to school him regarding what being an American is like.

Mystic Michael

And this is exactly the kind of thanks the President gets for having collaborated as closely with Republicans as he has - including Tea Party fanatics - especially early in his presidency: nothing but disrespect, contempt - and even more hate.

And this is why, having given in to their demands during previous hostage crises, i.e. the debt ceiling negotiations of 2011, the budget negotiations of last year, etc. they now are confident that he will fall apart this time as well.

The more accommodating he has been, the more they brazenly demand from him. The more civilly and reasonably he has treated them, the more they mock him, and belittle him, and ridicule him.

I realize that people like Wolverine & Wingmaster will never comprehend this truth, let alone ever acknowledge it - either to themselves or to other people. But they, and those others who think like them, are at the actual root of this entire problem. And the rest of us are now living with the legacy of what their blind hate has wrought.

Tri-cities realist

Mythic Michael, Obama didnt collaborate with Republicans early on (or ever) in his administration. The Dems controlled the House and Senate for 2 years, so he didn't care what the GOP had to say. Nice try though.

Captain Obvious

I think the President and Senate should meet and compromise with the House Republicans. But first they need to bring some proposals to the table that they have not been able to get passed. How about:

1) Tighter financial controls on Wall Street (not the weakened, watered down underfunded bill that was passed) Does anybody remember the crash that tanked our net worth 6 yrs ago? Wall Street did it.
2) Repeal tax credits for big profitable oil companies. They have enough incentive to explore and drill.
3) Increased taxes on Coal-Fired Electric Power Plants to help hasten their demise. Replace with Natural Gas. Tear down smokestacks.

Then all parties would have something to negotiate about rather than holding America hostage.

Mystic Michael

No fear of the Tea Party here. More like disgust. Even a little pity.

While you may not yet realize it, the Tea Party is already in decline - and will soon destroy itself. It peaked in 2010 with that disgraceful display of armed hoodlumism that was choreographed for the congressional "town hall" meetings that summer - and has gradually been diminishing ever since. Even the corporate front groups that covertly provided all the seed money & organization have been discreetly backing away.

The Tea Party is a major reason why Mitt Romney got blown out of the presidential election last year. During the Republican primaries, it forced him farther to the right than he wanted to go. And during the general election campaign, it prevented him from swinging back to the center.

The current Tea-infused debacle in Congress will only hasten its demise, as millions of Americans get their first good look at the full extent of its overreach. By 2016, it will be a mere shadow of its former self. By 2020, the Tea Party will have about as much relevance to American politics as does the Whig Party.

Wingmaster

Yup you're right. Must be why you are so viciously opposed to it. Relax if you believe your own words.

Mystic Michael

"Relax" while it inflicts so much unnecessary injury on the entire country? I don't think so.

Wingmaster

So are they effective or not, damn your a mess. Do you believe what you post or not?

Mystic Michael

You're the one who's confused here, Wingy. There's not much I can do to correct that.

Vladtheimp

For your edification, there in New Yawk:

A comment by Chuck Schumer yesterday over Senate Democrats’ refusal to pass House funding bills for the NIH’s clinical trials for children with cancer, and similar House bills for veterans and national parks, pretty much sums up how Democrats’ seething hatred of the Tea Party movement has clouded Democrats’ thinking and ability to govern (via John McCormack at The Weekly Standard)(emphasis added):

As Politico reported Thursday, during the 1995 government shutdown congressional Republicans and President Bill Clinton were able to agree to a “stopgap bill to assure funding for veterans, welfare recipients and the District of Columbia.”

Why won’t Senate Democrats and President Obama agree now to any more stopgap funding bills?

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York told THE WEEKLY STANDARD following a noon press conference Thursday that in 1995 “it was a different world.” Why is that? “Because we have a Tea Party,” Schumer said without elaborating as he walked away.

We have seen similar irrational conduct by every senior Democrat, from Obama on down to Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and so on.

Anyone who thinks this is a reaction to the current funding dispute is ignorant of history.

Nancy Pelosi wrote an Op-Ed for USA Today over the summer calling Tea Party anti-Obamacare protesters “Un-American.” That wasn’t the summer of 2013, it was the summer of 2009, August 11 to be precise. That summer Pelosi also derided the Tea Party as Astroturf and just a puppet.

Chuck Schumer’s hatred of the Tea Party long predates the current funding crisis. In November 2011, Schumer stopped Mike Lee from meeting with Tea Party supporters in the Capitol, sending security to remove them as the meeting was getting started.

Since the start of the Tea Party movement in the late winter and early spring of 2009, Democrats have been demonizing the movement in the most crude terms. Every time there is a public act of violence, the immediate response is to look for a Tea Party connection, which never is found.

It’s not surprising that in the past couple of weeks we have heard Democratic Party eliminationist rhetoric become even more shrill and hateful:

http://legalinsurrection.com/201...

Mystic Michael

"You can't ask those Republicans to just put their political life on the line for nothing," he said. "They've got to be able to go home and say 'These are the things that I was able to do.'"

Sorry, Congressman. That's not the way it works. You and your cronies still don't seem to get it.

Those Teapublicans were the ones who put "their political life on the line" of their own accord. Nobody forced them to do it. It was their own recklessness & irresponsibility & hubris & stupidity that got them into this mess. Why should the entire country pay the price of implementing any of their crazy demands - just so they get to save face?

What galls me is how, after pulling a treasonous stunt like this, Republicans dare claim the moral authority to ever lecture the rest of us about the sanctity of the Constitution, or about "patriotism". In a just world, they'd be lucky to escape punishment with their skins intact.

Wingmaster

The simple truth is the Democrats have shut down the government and are doing so because they are using the issue to gain political points. Republicans have voted 4 times to fund everything BUT Obamacare! Don't trust me, look it up.

Mystic Michael

The Affordable Care Act is already fully funded. Its funding is almost completely independent of the ordinary federal budgeting process.

House Republicans have refused to pass an ordinary, routine authorization bill that would fund government operations - covering everything from the National Parks Service, to the Centers for Disease Control, to Head Start, etc. - in hopes that they can hold that funding hostage, and thereby extort the Senate and the White House into repealing a federal law that is already in process of implementation.

Look THAT up! You need only consult any reputable news source.

Barry Soetoro

I would argue that "reputable news source" is an oxymoron.

Wingmaster

"...reputable news source" he says. That's your problem, you keep drinking the media koolaid. I'm trying to help you here but you just can't seem to drink from the goblet of truth. Oh well, at least we determined the Tea party is effective.

Vladtheimp

Ha! - You're as deranged as Harry Reid - if Obamacare is already fully funded why did Harry Reid and Obama shut down the government to keep from it being de-funded? Let's test your assertion - will you support, and urge Obama to support - a clean CR that only fails to provide additional funding for Obamacare, since it is independent of the ordinary budgeting process?

Your derangement extends to the funding for the National Parks Service, to the Centers for Disease Control, to Head Start, etc., which the House has provided with significant bipartisan support and sent to the Senate, where it was rejected by Harry Reid, who in effect has defunded the Parks, Veterans Benefits, the National Institutes of Health, etc.

Look THAT up! - wait - I'll do it for you! http://washingtonexaminer.com/57...

Wingmaster

Poof! Where did the mist go?

Barry Soetoro

To the football game to yell at Farley.

Mystic Michael

Six months ago, the House and Senate laid out different budgets, assuming different levels of spending and investment. For the last six months, Republicans in the Senate have repeatedly filibustered every attempt to negotiate an agreed-upon budget.

More recently, to avoid a shutdown, the Senate simply agreed to the House level. Unfortunately and incredibly, House Republicans refuse to accept their own budget unless Democrats accept their ransom demand of gutting or delaying the Affordable Care Act.

It has been widely reported that a majority of the House would vote to pass the bill passed by the Senate and re-open the government, but Speaker Boehner refuses to let the House vote.

What the House Republicans have been spinning as "willingness to negotiate" is actually continuing to hold hostage the government funding bill as a way to try to extort concessions from the Senate and the White House, while dangling the occasional carrot of "funding a particular program here and there, for a limited amount of time" - usually the most popular or high-profile programs - as a way of taking heat off themselves, and to try to make Democrats look bad for refusing to take the bait.

Even if it were possible to fund the government in such a hodge-podge, piecemeal manner - which it is not - what they've been doing simply reeks of the worst kind of dishonesty, crass hypocrisy and gamesmanship. It is the farthest thing imaginable from negotiating in good faith. It is political terrorism - pure & simple.

Under the circumstances, President Obama and Senator Reid are completely justified in refusing to deal with them. Doing so would only encourage more terrorism. It has to stop now.

Forget about the Affordable Care Act. The ACA is a done deal. It is out of your reach. You lost. Get over it.

Vladtheimp

Even if it were possible to fund the government in such a hodge-podge, piecemeal manner - which it is not - Are you an historical dunce? That's the way the government was funded for a century, with different appropriations committees with expertise in the subject area of the appropriation in question debating and voting on the specifics of the appropriation under their jurisdiction - it might be helpful if you learned some history of how the Congress was set up and operated before you exposed your ignorance.

You can continue to ignore the Constitutional role of the House in your effort to obfuscate the reality of the situation - I thought it was beneath you but I guess I was wrong. And of course you seemingly forgot the fact that the Senate failed to produce a budget for 3 + years to hide the reality of their deficit spending.

Tri-cities realist

Hypocrisy and gamesmanship? How much was spent to rent the barriers to restrict access to the WWII memorial? Who ordered it to be barricaded? No gamesmanship there.

LIAMD

The tea party is alive and well and growing in numbers, they don't subscribe to either side of the isle and their voice has been resolute . The entire country is paying the price for this divisive narcissist and his minions who whine like a babies if they don't get their way. The American people in opposition and standing up for their beliefs against this corrupt Govt.should just bow down, give up taking a stand for what you believe in is somehow reckless,irresponsible, stupid and arrogant ? Sounds to me like like Democracy is working just fine and your opposed to it's existence.

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