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Anatomy of a Shutdown with No End in Sight

"All the president has to do is say yes and the government is funded tomorrow," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said.

by
Bill Straub

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October 1, 2013 - 9:57 am
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WASHINGTON – More than 800,000 federal workers, ranging from orderlies in Veterans Administration hospitals to lawyers with the Securities and Exchange Commission, face furloughs today with no hint of when they might be called back to work.

Congress proved unable to arrive at a stopgap spending plan by the Sept. 30 deadline, which marked the end of the federal fiscal year. Bereft of spending authority, with a debate over the fate of the Affordable Care Act complicating matters, the federal government was required to partially shut down for the 17th time since 1977, according to the Congressional Research Service.

While many of those shutdowns were short-lived – most lasting no more than a day or two – some episodes dragged on for weeks. The most recent closure, which began on Dec. 16, 1995, when then-President Bill Clinton and Congress were unable to arrive at a spending plan, lasted three weeks and cost an estimated $2.1 billion in 2013 dollars.

The federal government is America’s largest employer, accounting for more than 2 million civilian workers and 1.4 million active-duty military personnel, serving in all 50 states and around the world.

“In the event of a government shutdown hundreds of thousands of those dedicated public servants who stay on the job will do so without pay,” President Obama said during a Monday briefing. “And several hundred thousand more will be immediately and indefinitely furloughed without pay. What, of course, will not be furloughed are the bills that they have to pay – mortgages, tuition payments, their car notes.”

“These Americans are our neighbors — their kids go to our schools, they worship where we do, they serve their country with pride, they are the customers of every business in this country — and they would be hurt greatly and as a consequence all of us would be hurt greatly should Congress choose to shut the people’s government down,” Obama added. “So a shutdown will have a very real economic impact on real people right away.”

Obama pressed House Republicans, who are being urged on by Tea Party elements, to abandon their strategy to force government to partially close unless Democrats acquiesced on the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, the singular achievement of the president’s first five years in office.

“Unfortunately, right now, House Republicans continue to tie funding of the government to ideological demands like limiting a woman’s access to contraception, or delaying the Affordable Care Act, all to save face after making some impossible promises to the extreme right wing of their party,” Obama said.

On the other side of the political aisle, Republicans are blaming White House intransigence for shoving the government to the brink. House Republicans thus far have insisted on amending the proposed continuing resolution – a stopgap spending measure slated to run to Nov. 15 – to defund the healthcare law for at least a year.

Every time the House has included a defunding provision in the CR, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, has returned it with the Obamacare language deleted, doing so with the support of the Democratic majority in the upper chamber. Reid is insisting on a “clean” continuing resolution, but House Republicans continue to press for a delay in the law’s implementation.

The most recent House offer proposes to delay for one year a requirement that all Americans obtain health insurance, eliminate federal healthcare subsidies for members of Congress and congressional staff and make the president and his political staff subject to the same Obamacare requirements as everyone else.

Even if a continuing resolution with an Obamacare amendment were to pass both chambers, the president has vowed to veto it.

“All the president has to do is say yes and the government is funded tomorrow,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) said the art of compromise “apparently has been lost on President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.” Whitfield said he is “extremely disappointed that the president and the Senate Majority Leader were unwilling to work with the House of Representatives to reach an agreement to keep the government funded and prevent a shutdown.”

“The simple fact remains that Obamacare is not ready for implementation, and that is why the president has been using an unfair, piecemeal approach to delay certain components of the law while keeping others,” Whitfield said. “It will also increase health care premiums on Kentuckians anywhere from 65 to 106 percent, and that is not something that they can afford in this economy under President Obama’s leadership.”

Democrats reject the GOP’s Obamacare critique and insist they stop playing games, asserting that they have already offered a compromise.

“We are against shutting down the government,” said House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer. “Shutting down the government is bad policy, it undermines the confidence of our people, our national security, our economy and the creation of jobs.”

Hoyer said the Democratic caucus is willing to support a temporary spending measure even if it doesn’t provide the amount of funding it supports. The Republican-endorsed continuing resolution sets funding levels at an annualized total of $986 billion – about $70 billion less than what the Democratic-controlled Senate endorsed as part of its comprehensive budget plan in April.

“We are asking them to take yes for an answer,” Hoyer said. “We hope they take yes for an answer. This is not a negotiation. We are taking their number, and we would hope that they could also take their number, so that we can keep the government open, keep America’s confidence at a level of respect for their representatives sent to the Congress of the United States to make sure that government works well for them and their families.”

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Top Rated Comments   
Somehow after five years of continuous private sector suffering and the vilification of corporations and people who work for them, I could care less if a few of the public sector parasites have to tighten their belts for a change. It's no more than we've been doing while all the world called us greedy.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
What many people fail to understand that there are many of us that would be fine with taking the whole stinking bureaucracy down than be socialist. My ancestors did not fight the Brits to have more of the same here. The British then thought of Yanks as unsophisticated backwoods bumpkins. Much of the US federal government and their pals think of us the same way today and feel free to pass whatever laws they wish without concerning themselves with those in "flyover territory". The British had an attitude adjustment in 1776.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
A few million workers in the private sector have been 'shut down' by the actions (non-actions) of Obama and the democrats - and its getting worse with the implementation of the so-called 'Affordable' Care Act with more workers being sloughed off to part-time or no-time work. What is so bad about a few hundred thousand federal workers being laid off?
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (51)
All Comments   (51)
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my co-worker's sister makes $78 every hour on the computer. She has been laid off for six months but last month her pay was $21376 just working on the computer for a few hours. i was reading this------>> WWW.Rush64.COM
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't know why should we respect a buffoon who is not respected by anyone in the world any more. The Iranians touched his @$$, the Russians ate his lunch. To be abused is bad but to be abused by this good for nothing bag of foul air... that's beneath the American spirit. I except women, children, and incapacitated people but, really, why not show him an American intifada? They will understand a coast to coast shutdown of all human activity. Strike.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I still think it is insane to delay implementation beyond the next midterms so Democrats won't face voters who are experiencing what ACA really is. But Obama is playing it very stupidly.

He ought to have held meetings, even if he never gave an inch, so the imagery would have been of him working on a deal to the last minute, like every other President faced with the threat of a shutdown has done. The vast majority of potential shutdowns didn't happen precisely because a late compromise was reached.

But Obama is out declaring he won't compromise or sign any partial bills - even though the normal process is for Congress to send him thirteen separate bills for the various departments; isn't that "a piecemeal approach" too?

It could very well backfire on him, even though the lapdog media will not cover these angles.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The shutdown/"slimdown" means a cancellation of the WH person Asia trip?

He windbagged and worse?

He made a personal choice and now has to experience *personal* consequences of his own, willful choices?

It might be ordinarily humiliating and rather public?

Would it be better if, for awhile, he did not talk much on TV, on camera, and to foreigners?

Do the rest of us care to be dragged further down the commode swirlpool he has created?

Has it even registered with him what has been handed to him? [Hint: Not by "W"] {Might be any # of anatomical parts?}

Is he now in a panic and becoming delusional (as in of grandeur)?

Is there anyone around him who could and would clue him in?

Welcome to adulthood, Barry.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Somehow after five years of continuous private sector suffering and the vilification of corporations and people who work for them, I could care less if a few of the public sector parasites have to tighten their belts for a change. It's no more than we've been doing while all the world called us greedy.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Maybe we could have a movie: A Day Without Illegal Government
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The real hazard here for Obama and the Democrats is that the shutdown will go as well for them as the Sequester did. "The day they had a shutdown and nobody noticed."
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
"When it comes to Congress paying its bills ... we cannot be a country that is lurching every two months or three months from crisis to crisis to crisis... ." -Obama, NPR

I've heard Obama complaining that Congress needs to pass a budget to keep the government running—that's really funny considering federal law (Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, 31 U.S.C. §1105) states the President should have presented Congress with a proposed budget for the year months ago. Where's your budget, Mr. President?
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
People need to remember that the House approved continued spending on on these people Obama feels so sorry for. They just deleted funding for Obamacare which by all appearances isn't really ready to work anyway. It's Obama and the Senater who won't accept it. It's a Democrat shutdown.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Like last time in 1995 the govt workers will get back pay for their vacation. I have no sympathy. Shut it down. If that doesn't help, burn baby burn.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
What many people fail to understand that there are many of us that would be fine with taking the whole stinking bureaucracy down than be socialist. My ancestors did not fight the Brits to have more of the same here. The British then thought of Yanks as unsophisticated backwoods bumpkins. Much of the US federal government and their pals think of us the same way today and feel free to pass whatever laws they wish without concerning themselves with those in "flyover territory". The British had an attitude adjustment in 1776.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
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