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President Barack Obama has invited House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) back to the White House Wednesday night for another negotiating session as the government teeters on the brink of a shutdown.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told the traveling press pool that the president offered to “have a meeting this morning at the White House. He was told at that time enough progress was being made and that wasn’t necessary. He has now decided that not enough progress is being made and therefore he has extended invitations to the speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader to meet at the White House this evening at approximately 8:45 p.m.”
As the clock ticks closer to a shutdown at 12:01 a.m. EDT Saturday, the two sides remain divided on a stopgap spending measure to keep the government open and cut tens of billions from the federal budget by the end of September.
At this late juncture, even if they reach a compromise, they’ll probably need to pass some sort of short-term extension to keep things running while Congress decides whether to pass it.
At yesterday’s impromptu White House press conference, a reporter asked President Obama if he could “respond to the budget plan that the House Republicans unveiled today.” Obama largely took a pass.
“[W]e’ll have time to have a long discussion about next year’s budget, as well as the long-term debt and deficit issues, where we’re going to have some very tough negotiations,” he said.
A few hours later…White House statement said, “Any plan to reduce our deficit must reflect the American values of fairness and shared sacrifice. Congressman Ryan’s plan fails this test. It cuts taxes for millionaires and special interests while placing a greater burden on seniors who depend on Medicare or live in nursing homes, families struggling with a child who has serious disabilities, workers who have lost their health care coverage, and students and their families who rely on Pell grants.”
That’s good, but I think it’s safe to say many of the left are looking for a far more spirited fight. Greg Sargent noted this morning “the left’s increasing frustration with Obama’s absenteeism.”
When it suits him, Obama has proven willing and able to take on big arguments with a level of ambition and seriousness of purpose that suits his status as one of the leading public communicators of our time. Republicans are initiating an argument over the role of government and the nature of our national social contract that demands — and provides an opening for — a big response. Will Obama deliver?
There’s no shortage of lefties asking this question. Dionne, Meyerson, and Drum have pressed the point in recent days, and I had an item on Monday explaining that this is an opportunity for Democrats, and it’s incumbent on President Obama to lead the charge.
But here’s the reason I’m inclined to be patient: first things first.
We are, unfortunately, still fighting over the details of last year’s budget. Indeed, as everyone now knows, it’s extremely likely the federal government will shut down the day after tomorrow, and it’s a problem the White House is trying to avoid.
When it comes to the new House Republican budget plan, its radicalism, and its intention to eliminate Medicare, I have high expectations for the president and his team. I want to see a forceful, unapologetic response. I want a hearty defense of government. I want officials explaining why Paul Ryan’s plan is dangerous and ridiculous. I want Democrats drawing lines in the sand, vowing to never go along with such extremism.
But if Obama and his team want to figure out a way to avoid a government shutdown, and go on offensive over the new GOP budget plan next week instead of this week, I’m OK with waiting.
I think it might be helpful to have a quick picture that illustrates what’s going on in the Ryan budget proposal. Here’s what we get for 2030, according to the CBO analysis:
Ryan is proposing huge (and largely unspecified) spending cuts; but he’s also proposing very large tax cuts, mainly, of course, for those with high incomes. And as you can see, a large part — roughly half — of the spending cuts are going, not to deficit reduction, but to finance those tax cuts.
Actually, it’s even worse, since the revenue figure in the Ryan plan is simply assumed, and is clearly too high given what he’s actually proposing on taxes; so either the fall in revenue will be even larger than shown here, or there will be unspecified tax hikes on the middle class.
In any case, the bottom line is obvious: this is not the budget of a deficit hawk. It’s the budget of a deficit exploiter, someone who is trying to use fears of red ink to push through a political agenda that includes major losses of revenue.
When it comes to tax reform, it appears House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s courage failed him. Various pundits and Washington columnists have been falling all over themselves to praise the bravery of Rep. Ryan (R-WI) in offering a federal budget plan that abolishes Medicare, slashes services for the middle class, and yet somehow manages to keep the bonus Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. But what these instapundits are missing is the fact that Rep. Ryan’s plan for the tax side of the ledger is remarkably opaque and is almost certain to raise taxes on the middle class, and that its opacity is deliberately obscuring that tax hike. That doesn’t seem so brave to me.
Without the missing details this is nothing but pure political boilerplate. Which brackets are going to be consolidated? What will the new rate structure be? Which tax expenditures will be eliminated? Which will be limited and how? Rep. Ryan doesn’t tell us. There is no plan here.
That’s probably on purpose since any detailed description of his ideas for tax “reform” would reveal a massive tax hike for the middle class. For Rep. Ryan to cut the top rate by nearly one-third and still keep tax revenue the same as it would have been under President’s Bush tax-cut regime means he’s going to have to raise taxes somewhere else. And though he pointedly refuses to tell us where those tax hikes will come from, we can make an educated guess.
For one thing, the basic math makes a middle-class tax hike unavoidable. The rate cut at the top, of course, benefits only those in the top brackets (the richest 2 percent of Americans), but to pay for this, Rep. Ryan says he will “broaden the tax base.” Broadening the tax base means removing some tax expenditures that currently benefit both the middle class and the rich—though remember that the rich are getting a huge rate cut. For another, Ryan’s previous budget plan, the “Roadmap for America’s Future,” includes a massive tax cut for the rich paid for by an equally massive tax increase for the middle class.
Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for the rest of us, there are other independent organizations with the capability to score budget proposals. Both the Tax Policy Center and the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy produced their own estimates of Ryan’s “Roadmap” and found that, far from holding revenue steady, his proposals would result in far less revenue overall while simultaneously raising taxes for 90 percent of Americans. How did he accomplish such an impressive feat? By dramatically cutting taxes on the very wealthy. And yet Rep. Ryan was able to hide this fact by pointing to the CBO analysis that showed stable revenue. But, of course, it only showed stable revenue because he instructed the CBO to make that assumption.
His revenue estimates for this new budget plan do not come from the Congressional Budget Office. They do not come from the Joint Committee on Taxation, or the Treasury Department, or even from the comically wrong Heritage Foundation model. No, Ryan’s revenue numbers are simple assertions. And if his numbers are wrong, as they were with his “Roadmap,” then so, too, are his deficit and debt numbers.
Perhaps Rep. Ryan deserves some credit for laying out a specific plan that slashes Medicaid—the health care program that pays for nearly two-thirds of all nursing home residents—and abolishes Medicare, which ensures senior citizens and the disabled can access the quality health care they need. If those are his priorities and that is what he believes, then he should be praised for being clear and upfront about it. Of course, even here, that praise should be tempered by the great linguistic gymnastics Rep. Ryan engages in to describe these cuts as something other than what they are—an assault on the middle class. And any praise should certainly not extend to his tax plan.
1. During the last shutdown, the cleanup of toxic waste was halted at 609 Superfund sites, with 2,400 workers sent home, according to a report compiled by the Congressional Research Service. Government protocol during a shutdown calls for continuing work that is essential to “protect life and property,” but this may not include threats from toxic waste.
2. That CRS report documented another impact for human health — during the last shutdown, the National Institutes of Health had to stop answering hotlines devoted to diseases. Agencies of the federal government such as the CDC operate a number of such hotlines, offering resources on everything from AIDS to immunization.
3. Delinquent child-support cases were delayed during the last shutdown. These were among the numerous law-enforcement investigations held up by a standstill in work not tied directly to border security or the safety of federal installations like prisons and waterways. Work on 3,500 bankruptcy cases was also suspended in the mid-’90s, according to the CRS report.
4. Parks and federal tourist destinations closed during the last shutdown, and they undoubtedly would this time around as well. This would include national parks, battlefields (amid the sesquicentennial of the Civil War!), Smithsonian museums and trips up the Washington Monument and Statue of Liberty. The resulting loss in tourism would affect nongovernment entities as well, from restaurants to hotels to airlines.
5. The federal government now processes payments to recipients of Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare electronically. But with staff at many of these agencies forced to stay home during a shutdown, new users of these programs could have a hard time enrolling in them. During the 1995 shutdown, Medicare was estimated to have 10,000 new applications a day, and a shutdown this spring would be bad timing for the first of the baby boomers about to turn 65.
6. Benefits decisions for veterans could similarly be delayed. During the November 1995 shutdown, The Washington Post (which has collected online some earlier shutdown articles from its archives) reported on an injured veteran who had waited years for an appointment with the Board of Veterans Appeals, only to have it canceled in the shutdown.
7. Federal workers who process passport and visa applications will probably also be staying home. This would affect foreign tourists, Americans hoping to travel abroad, foreign workers living here who need to renew their visas, and universities and foreign exchange programs sending students back and forth.
8. During the last shutdown, The Washington Post noted one particularly ugly impact — manure piled up in a parking lot of the National Zoo when it couldn’t be transported elsewhere for composting (zookeepers, however, did continue feeding the animals). The zoo says it has updated its waste-disposal plans in the event of another shutdown.
9. Research facilities like presidential libraries and the Library of Congress will likely shut their doors. The Post reported in 1995 that the Library of Congress’ computer system went offline the moment the government shut down. At the time, it processed 1 million transactions a day.
10. Activities essential to public health and safety are supposed to continue, and this includes, according to the CRS, “safe use of food and drugs.” But clinical trials and decisions on regulating new drugs and devices could be delayed, and government scientists will likely be among those furloughed. Less clear is the fate of government inspectors.
So keep in mind that this is the metric by which Paul Ryan wants you to judge him. If you believe George W Bush unleashed an unprecedented economic boom with great jobs performance, rising incomes, and the paying off of the national debt then you’ll find a lot to like about Rep Ryan’s plan.
Republicans in Congress are still demanding that $61 billion be cut from this years’ budget – halfway through the fiscal year. If they are successful, Moody’s economic forecasting firm – and their economist Marc Zandi, who was an advisor to Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain – predicts that it would result in the elimination of 700,000 jobs in the United States.
Why do Republicans persist in demanding that we eliminate 700,000 jobs? It has to do with the influence of four major groups:
1). The CEO/Wall Street Class. Much of America’s economic royalty – which is the major base of the Republican Party – is focused exclusively on what you could call short-term greed. They want their taxes to fall as far as possible. They want Government to stop trying to regulate their reckless behavior – producing unsafe products, fouling our air and water, out of control speculation.
Many of this gang believe that if they can make enough money – for them anyway — the future will simply take care of itself. Whether or not jobs of ordinary Americans will disappear is of relatively little interest to them. They want government to be as small a factor in our lives as possible – except of course to the extent that government contracts or privatization of government services can feed their bottom lines.
And their loyalty to America is not so great anyway. They run international corporations with offices and assets all over the world.
Climate change, uneducated kids, children who die young, people unable to get health insurance – these may be unfortunate consequences of the policies needed to allow them to get richer and richer – but, they would insist – the future belongs to the strong anyway.
The hard core of this group is not populated with what you’d call the upper middle class – although a lot of upper middle class people aspire to join this exclusive club. This crowd is made up of economic royalty – people making a million plus – sometime multi-billion (with a “B”) dollar annual incomes.
2). The second influential group pushing for policies that would eliminate 700,000 jobs are the intellectuals and academics who work for the first group. And I do mean “work for.” Guys like the billion-dollar right wing Koch brothers literally pay “think tanks” and “foundations” all over America to churn out reports and studies that basically argue that up is down and black is white. They create the intellectual structure to dress up the economic self-interest of the wealthiest Americans in respectable academic clothing. They tell us there is no “scientific consensus” about climate change. They create economic theories to support their contention that Keynesian economic policies don’t work and that we need to turn instead to austerity policies and low taxes to give business the “incentive” to produce and invest.
Of course what business really needs to begin investing the two trillion dollars of cash on its balance sheets are customers with money in their pockets who want to buy their products. They need economic “demand.” But there’s no real room in right wing economic theory for such bottom-up economic concepts – and the right wing intellectual team is ready and willing to be paid to tell you so.
3). Many in the third group actually understand the budget-slashing proposals being made by Republicans in the house would cut massive numbers of jobs. This group is the Republican political class – and they would be happy as pigs in slop to eliminate those jobs. The last thing they want is for the economy to improve. If the economy fell into a second recession, they think that would be the best thing that could happen since bottled beer. As Rush Limbaugh put it, they want Obama to fail.
4). Of course the final – and most visible — group clamoring for draconian cuts that would cost 700,000 American their jobs is the Tea Party, and the many far-right members of the Republican caucus that they helped elect last year. Many of these extremist Members of Congress actually believe that the voters sent them to Washington to “shrink government.” Of course the Tea Party – and its corporate sponsors — did exactly that. But the vast majority of swing voters that helped elect them were simply furious that their own personal economic situations seemed to be getting worse and worse. The real reason for this problem is that all of the economic growth of the last two decades has gone to the top 2% of the population. Middle class incomes have not kept up with the increased productivity of the economy, and everyday people are falling further and further behind as a result.
Anyway, these extremist Republicans believe their own spin. And they are willing to administer the harsh medicine of austerity and job losses to give “shock treatment” to the country and shrink the size of government no matter who it hurts. As House Speaker John Boehner said when he was asked about job losses that would result from his program of budget cuts – “So be it.”
At the end of the day – because the Republicans won control of the House – we will have to live with some compromise that inflicts some level of damage on America’s middle class in order to keep the Government functioning. But we don’t have to make it easy – and we sure should not try to pretend that we agree that “bloated government spending should be cut.” We can’t afford to pander to that right wing notion – or to allow the debate to stay in their frame. Right now, in particular, as the fragile economic recovery begins to take hold, we need more government spending not less. And we need to make clear that the choices are not between controlling the long term deficit and economic catastrophe. The numbers are clear. Bill Clinton gave the country surpluses as far as the eye could see by raising taxes on the wealthy.
We need to make it clear that the budget debate is about choices – moral choices about what is important, who should pay and who should sacrifice. The question is simple: Do Americans want to cut education and all the rest in order to give tax breaks to the wealthy and big corporations? America’s answer to that question in poll after poll is a resounding no. Americans want to invest in their future, not cater to the short-term greed of our home-grown class of economic royals whose answer to the pain of middle class people is the modern-day equivalent of “let them eat cake.”
The Republicans thought that the budget debate would give them the high political ground. That’s why they were willing to go so far out on an extremist precipice. Now the political ground is beginning to crumble – and it’s a long way down.
Employed people pay taxes and consume government services. Non-employed people pay much less in taxes, and consume more in public services. That’s the key background as Felix Salmon has lunch with representatives from Loomis Sayles:
This year’s lunch took place yesterday, and kicked off with Loomis vice chairman Dan Fuss coming up with a very interesting macroeconomic point. Right now, he said, about 56% of Americans over the age of 16 are gainfully employed. If that percentage were to rise to 64%, Fuss reckons, then the budget deficit disappears entirely.
This is, one should note, a perfectly attainable ratio:
In a sane world, Congress, the Fed, and the President would all be talking about their absolute determination not to halt macroeconomic expansion until we got back to that neighborhood.
Signs of pain disappeared from MRI images of the brain when freshly trained novices meditated.
Seniors and the disabled would pay sharply more for their Medicare coverage under a new plan by House Republicans aimed at curbing the nation’s growing deficit, a Congressional Budget Office analysis shows.
For example, by 2030, under the plan, typical 65 year olds would be required to pay 68 percent of the total cost of their coverage, which includes premiums, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs, according to CBO. That compares with the 25 percent they would pay under current law, CBO said.
The GOP budget proposal also would raise the eligibility age for the politically popular program – and repeal big chunks of the health care overhaul law approved by Congress last year.
Besides overhauling Medicare, his 10-year budget proposal also would give states more control over Medicaid, the state-federal program for the poor, but cut the amount states would receive for the program from federal coffers by hundreds of billions of dollars over a decade.
Americans would not be required to buy health insurance, under the proposal – and employers would not have to offer it either. States would not be on the hook to set up new insurance marketplaces.
A Fayette County judge on Tuesday denied a motion to dismiss charges against a Rand Paul supporter charged with assaulting an activist before the November election.
Police say Tim Profitt stepped on 23-year-old MoveOn.org activist Lauren Valle’s head before a debate in Lexington between Paul and Jack Conway.
Profitt said he was trying to protect Paul when Valle approached the candidate with a fake award. Profitt then lost his job as the Bourbon County coordinator for the Paul campaign.
In Tuesday ruling, the judge in the case cited news footage of the incident as part of the reason for refusing to dismiss the charges.
They can spin this any way that they want, but there are three reasons why Glenn Beck is off Fox News, ratings, ad revenue, and controversy. Trying to decide whether it was the ratings or the lack of ad revenue that killed Beck’s show is a chicken and egg argument. Beck’s show was dying at Fox News. It had become one of the network’s lowest rated programs, but both Glenn Beck and News Corp recognize that he still has value as a brand, so they are moving him into the Internet realm.
Don’t be fooled by the mutual decision rhetoric in the press release. This is a demotion. Essentially, Fox News fired Glenn Beck from their TV network. This is a mutual decision just like Keith Olbermann’s departure from MSNBC was a “mutual decision.” If Beck’s ratings were better, or his show brought in even normal Fox News level ad revenue, he would still be on the air.
It is a quiet way for Fox News to get rid of the headache that Beck has become without burning any bridges in the right wing movement, or having to worry about Beck becoming the competition. The reality is that if Fox News still wanted Glenn Beck on the air, they would have signed him to a new deal.
FNC was lukewarm on bringing Beck back from the get go and, now we can say that the incredible rise and swift fall of Glenn Beck is complete.
The report, sent to Congress on Tuesday, praises Pakistan’s military for confronting the insurgency in several border regions, which Taliban forces use as training and staging areas to attack U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
But the report says that in one area, the military has conducted a “major clearing operation” three times in the past two years. The most recent operation, it concludes, is “a clear indicator of the inability of the Pakistan military and government to render cleared areas resistant to insurgent return.”
“There remains no clear path toward defeating the insurgency in Pakistan,” the report says.
The administration’s report to Congress is a semiannual appraisal of the progress and remaining challenges facing the United States in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This one comes as the administration prepares to withdraw some of the roughly 100,000 U.S. troops from the country in July and as domestic support for the war has reached new lows.
Last year nearly 50,000 male veterans screened positive for ‘military sexual trauma. When men in the military rape other men in the ranks, no one wants to talk about it. Why the sexual assault of males in the service is finally being confronted.
In the nationally-watched Wisconsin state Supreme Court race, liberal challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg has edged ahead of conservative sitting justice David Prosser by just over 200 votes.
We still don’t know who is going to win, and we may not know for some time to come. But even if Kloppenburg loses, labor strategists argue, this will have constituted a victory for unions and Dems — proof of Scott Walker’s continuing toxicity, and of the staying power of the grassroots energy he unleashed. They’re right.
Sure, GOPers will be able to crow if they win, but this is still mostly nonsense. Here’s why.
First, the current results reflect a massive and astonishingly fast swing of support away from Prosser and in Kloppenburg’s favor. In a primary election in February (Wisconsin judicial elections are nonpartisan, and the top two primary victors face off in the general), Prosser beat Koppenburg by 30 points, 55-25. The current results show she doubled her vote share in just over six weeks, while Prosser has lost ground. This huge shift happened for one reason: Scott Walker.
Second, it’s extremely rare in Wisconsin to oust sitting Supreme Court justices. In 2008, Louis Butler was unseated, but as University of Wisconsin professor Charles Franklin points out to me, he had originally been appointed and not elected. The last time this happened before that was 44 years ago, and it only happened three times before that since the court was created in 1852.
Third, for all the talk about labor muscle in this race, labor and Dems were actually outspent on the air by a sizable amount. According to an analysis of outside spending by the Brennan Center, the pro-Kloppenburg forces spent $1.3 million, while the pro-Prosser forces spent a total of almost $2.2 million, nearly $1 million more. You can argue that TV spending doesn’t matter that much in this race, because a lot of this was driven by on-the-ground organizing, but if anything, the race’s closeness would make it even clearer that labor’s ground forces outperformed expections.
No question, a loss for Kloppenburg would allow GOPers to claim a much-needed victory and boast that they held off labor’s onslaught. But even without a win, labor and Dems will have exceeded expectations big time, and will have proved that the grassroots energy unleashed by Walker’s overreach is still in full force. And of course, if Kloppenburg does pull this off, it will constitute a huge win that will only lend more momentum to the recall drives and confirm that Walker remains as politically toxic as ever.
UPDATE: Will all precincts counted, Kloppenburg leads by 204 votes, and she has now declared victory. What remains to be seen is whether Prosser will demand a recount.
House Republicans appear willing to shut down the government over a quite small difference in proposed spending, as little as $7 billion, Steve Benen writes. And you could ask why Democrats don’t just go along.
Part of the answer is that the cuts Republicans want in basic services are unconscionable for Democrats. And part of it is that what Republicans want is not so much a leaner government as one that’s remade along the lines of their ideology. “This is not a budget,” says Republican budget leader Paul Ryan. “This is a cause.”
Rachel summed up that cause on the show last night:
This is a cause. It is about seeking a shutdown. It is not about avoiding a shutdown.
It is about finding the most popular, most successful government programs, and shutting those ones down, privatizing them, hiving them off, because they’re successful, because they’re popular, because they remind people that there’s a reason to have a public sector, and it’s worth defending. And they like the mailman and teachers and firefighters and Social Security and Medicare.
The whittling away of government services is fundamentally the same strategy Republicans are using in Wisconsin, to break the unions — make people more aware of paying for them, and at the same reduce the value of them in everyday life. It’s basic behavioral economics, smartly played, except for that part where Americans really do value worker rights, and Americans really do value their government.
By almost every conceivable measure Americans are less positive and more critical of government these days. A new Pew Research Center survey finds a perfect storm of conditions associated with distrust of government — a dismal economy, an unhappy public, bitter partisan-based backlash, and epic discontent with Congress and elected officials.
This probably isn’t surprising to political scientists, but it illustrates the problem with the popular fallacy that by simply using the “bully pulpit,” the president can dramatically shift public opinion in his favor.
While it might be easy to attribute the numbers to the president losing his speechifying mojo, these numbers are pretty typical of how the public reacts to presidential speeches. As Brendan Nyhan has explained, even Ronald Reagan, supposedly the “Great Communicator,” found that his big speeches were more “likely to lower his approval and generate more public and congressional opposition than support.”
That said, support for the operation has grown slightly, from 47 percent to 50 percent, even as public opinion seems to be sorting itself back into partisan categories. A majority, though, still says the operation has no clear goal. This suggests that the President’s effort to use the bully pulpit to convince the public of the clarity of his mission just made public reaction more partisan and reinforced the sense that the mission is muddled
Speeches aren’t the only way to show leadership, but they’re the easiest ones for political writers to point to and they make for compelling (or at least easy to write up) political drama, so we tend to believe they have more of an impact than they really do.
The Center for Public Intergrity:
Global warming and low carbon fuel standards…
Energy industry tax breaks…
Bush tax cuts…
Terrorism and national security…
Hires by Key House Panel Have Ties to Koch Brothers, Big Business
A “bump” in the data at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory may be evidence of a new elementary particle, or…force of nature? Scientists say it could be the elusive Higgs boson, the invisible elementary particle thought to be responsible for endowing other particles with mass, the New York Times reports. The possibility has scientists at Fermilab, which is slated to shutter soon for good, both “cautious” and “thrilled.”
Joe Lykken, a Fermilab particle theorist, said Dr. Punzi’s group would have four times as much data in an analysis later this year. “This would be enough to claim a definitive major discovery,” he wrote in an e-mail, “just as the Tevatron — and perhaps Fermilab itself — is being shut down for budget savings.”
This is not the headline Americans for Prosperity wanted see in Ohio: “SB 5 supporters slow to organize.” Efforts to overturn Ohio’s union-stripping bill by getting it on the ballot as a citizens’ referendum appear to be rolling along. But the campaign to defend the measure is kinda nowhere, reports the Columbus Dispatch.
Today, in 2011, local businesses have been backing away from SB5. The Youngtown Vindicator reports that a handful have quit the Chamber of Commerce over its support of the bill. “By the chamber endorsing [SB 5], it put us in an awkward position. We felt it was better for us to be on the sidelines, and that’s what we decided to do,” one cafe owner tells the paper.
The head of the largest federal employees union said Tuesday that his group would likely file a lawsuit against the federal government for workers’ pay if a shutdown occurs.
Speaking at the National Press Club, John Gage, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), said his union would consider filing a claim under the Constitution’s 13th Amendment in the event of a shutdown since some workers would have to work without pay to keep vital operations up and running.
The 13th Amendment became law in 1865, ending the practice of slavery and indentured servitude in the United States. AFGE lawyers say the law applies in the instance of a government shutdown since federal workers who are deemed “essential” to government operations could be forced to come to work without pay on the threat being fired.
“If you’re deemed ‘essential,’ you have to come into work. If you don’t, you would be fired. That’s your legal compulsion right there,” Borer said. “That was supposed to end in 1865 but here we are.”
Compounding the dilemma for the federal government is the Anti-Deficiency Act. That law says the government can’t accept workers’ services for free and also cannot promise to pay them in the future if those funds have not already been appropriated by Congress.
Borer said AFGE filed a similar lawsuit during the 1996 federal government shutdown. That lawsuit was rendered moot because federal employees were eventually awarded back-pay for their work.
Gage said if the shutdown does happen, federal workers will end up being blamed instead of lawmakers for failing to reach an agreement. Americans will notice that Social Security offices are closed and other vital government services are out of commission.
“Services fall, we get criticized,” Gage said. The union president said AFGE would call upon its members to line up at their closed federal offices for work during a shutdown in order to show the public that they still want to work.
Gage also went after budget cuts proposed by the GOP-controlled House, saying they are for political reasons rather than reducing the debt.
Once again we have Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association speaking about social safety nets. Ya’ know, those “hammocks” that Paul Ryan speaks of.
Welfare has destroyed the African-American family by telling young black women that husbands and fathers are unnecessary and obsolete. Welfare has subsidized illegitimacy by offering financial rewards to women who have more children out of wedlock. We have incentivized fornication rather than marriage, and it’s no wonder we are now awash in the disastrous social consequences of people who rut like rabbits.
And children are the ones who get chewed up. Welfare, as Walter Williams has pointed out, has done what slavery, racism and Jim Crow laws could not do: destroy the black family. The Christ-centered statesman puts himself in the place of a fatherless black child, sees the catastrophic damage that the meltdown of the family has caused, and pursues policies to wean people off marriage- and child-destroying welfare, and pursues policies that incentivize marriage, incentivize self-reliance rather than abject dependence, and incentivize the reconstruction of the American family.
You can dismiss Bryan Fischer as a fringe figure if you want, but Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Haley Barbour have all appeared on his radio show. All of whom are possible presidential contenders.
The Religious-Right and the Republican Party are joined at the hip. You cannot seperate the two. And in these words you can see the philosophical and religious belief structure that is behind their fiscal policy proposals.
AND IN OTHER NEWS…
In honor of Passover—Google Story of Exodus:
The 2012 Republican budget is shocking. Republicans would:
- Repeal health care reform
- Kill Medicare as we know it and funnel its money to private insurance companies
- Shrink corporate tax bills
- Give millionaires and billionaires huge tax breaks
And thanks to these giveaways to the wealthy, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that our debt will actually INCREASE under this plan. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank said: “Ryan’s proposal isn’t a budget. It’s a manifesto for the anti-tax cause.” So much for fiscal responsibility!
Sign our petition, and stand against the Republicans. It’s simply immoral to take crucial health care away from seniors and the most vulnerable among us and use the proceeds to pad corporate pockets – and score political points.
Next National Days of Action: Tax Weekend April 15-18th!
On the weekend of tax day, April 15th-18th, let’s all take a stand for folks like Earl in our own communities. And let’s send our leaders a message- corporate tax cheats must pay up before veterans, the elderly, the unemployed, and the most vulnerable members of society are asked to sacrifice any more than we already have.
When it comes to paying their fair share of taxes, FedEx simply does not deliver. When FedEx made $1.9 billion in profits, they managed to pay less than .0005% of it in taxes by using 21 tax havens. FedEx also spent 42 times (4200%) more on lobbying Congress than they did in taxes.
When FedEx does not deliver on its fair share of taxes, we are forced to cut $373 million in teacher training programs (Americorp).
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up. ~ Paul Valery