Posts Tagged ‘government shutdown’

boehner

Well, our government is failing us again.  At this point, it’s not even a surprise anymore.  Heck, really if government ever shows signs again of working properly, that’s when the news networks should go all “breaking news” on us.  While some want to blame both parties (and I can kind of see that from a ‘we sent these guys to Washington to figure this kind of crap out so we can get on with our own lives’ perspective), I find it hard not to pin this one squarely on the GOP.  After all, they are the ones who somehow decided that doing their jobs or not is subject to negotiation.  They are also the ones who somehow think it is plausible that a President that has become so synonymous with a law/policy that most people call it by a nickname that has HIS NAME IN IT will just sign off on getting rid of said law/policy.  It’s a ridiculous notion.

To go further, many say this is the fault of 80 or so  “tea party” representatives who signed off on a letter urging this ridiculous fight to take place.  However, by my count, there are 435 total representatives in the House of which 233 are Republicans.  If my math is right then, 80 ain’t the majority of nuthing and should have the power to do nuthing…..unless you let them.  So I think House leader John Boehner, and to the lesser extent the other Republicans, deserve more of the blame.  Conventional wisdom says that if a clean continuing resolution to fund the government was brought to the House floor today, it would pass.  BUT it would pass because of Democrats joined by enough Republicans to give the bill the votes it needs.

My thought is John Boehner decided it doesn’t look good for him as a leader or his party of a whole if he needs Democrats to pass a bill he brings up to a vote.  He can’t get the 80 or so “tea party” to vote in unison for a clean continuing budget resolution, but he can get the other GOP folks to go along with the 80 or so “tea party” folks to vote for their silliness.  And he has decided that he would rather have 100% of the Republicans vote together, no matter how silly and no matter what impact it has on the country, then to have a split GOP vote that keeps government doors open.  I guess he thinks it creates the illusion of leadership over the party even though this is far from it.

Now I think Boehner has decided that he just has to get something out of this.  Otherwise we went through all of this just to pass a bill that would have passed months ago without shutting down the government.  We even have this quote from GOP representative Marlin Stutzman, “We have to get something out of this.  And I don’t even know what that is.”  He also mentioned that the party couldn’t be “disrespected”.

But having a unified party or not being disrespected and/or looking bad, none of this has a darn thing to do with the good of the country.  Neither is the idea of “winning” the shutdown (Obama is right to say that there is no “winning” here, this is not a game and it affects real people and has real consequences).  If he ever decides to put country first, John Boeher could end this by simply bringing the Senate continuing budget resolution bill up for a vote.  I also think the other GOP members could help put an end to this by simply refusing to go along with the tea party games.   Until then, I guess our only hope for stopping this is a procedural maneuver Democrats have started to try to bring the bill up for without the need of Boehner to bring it up, though that will take at least a couple of weeks to work its way through.

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money

As we head toward another round of debt ceiling and threats of government shutdowns silliness, I think it might be good to try to put some of the proposed spending cuts by the GOP in perspective.  The United States government is a major operation, so any budgetary item you could look at is going to have a large dollar amount attached to it within the context of, say, our household incomes.  And at some point when our minds see big numbers, it just starts to translate them all as ‘big’, regardless of how they may compare to each other.  So I thought it might be helpful to look at the cuts scaled down to what we may consider more normal levels.

So let’s say we take some of the proposed cuts and divide them by a billion.  You would get something like this:  Subsidy for PBS: $0.45, Save American’s Treasures Program: $0.03, National Endowment For The Arts: $0.17, National Endowment For The Humanities: $0.17, Hope VI Program (public housing): $0.25, Amtrak Subsidies: $1.57, Community Development Fund:  $4.50, Department of Energy Grants to States For Weatherization:  $0.53, New Starts Transit: $2.00, Intercity And High Speed Rail Grants:  $2.50…….and on and on.  But you get the idea.  Now compare these items to the size of the fiscal budget scaled the same way: $3,540 for FY2012.  Or how about the national debt:  about $16,880.  It’s pretty easy to see that these are not the things that are busting the budget.

So when somebody says that Republicans are not serious about solving any sort of budget problem and just using that as a pretense to cut things they don’t like, this is why.  Unless you start looking at actual big-ticket items such as military spending ($929 FY2011) or Medicare/Medicaid ($802 FY2012), then you really aren’t making any serious cuts.  Of course, you could also look to increase revenues, but I know that’s just crazy talk.

Now somebody may say if it’s not much money, then recipients won’t miss it then.  But that’s kind of silly too.  The U.S. wouldn’t miss it much, but the recipients certainly would.  It’s like Bill Gates deciding to stop giving an annual gift of $500,000 to a charity.  To a man worth $67 billion, $500,000 is not going to make a big difference.  But to a charity worth much less than that, losing out on $500,000 could be a crushing blow.

Certainly there would be some people who would say that the government shouldn’t fund something like the National Endowment For The Arts even it was just $500 (in real terms).  And that’s an okay debate to have.  But that’s a different debate than a debate about deficits and debt.  So it shouldn’t be had under false pretenses.  Of course, having honest debate in government is way too much to ask for.

     

  • So Congress adverted a potential government shutdown with an eleventh hour agreement regarding this year’s budget.  All this bickering was because cutting 1.6% of the budget is either extreme and draconian or economically sound, while cutting 0.8% of the budget was either reasonably measured or a non-serious effort to make budget cuts.  Finally both sides agreed that 1.0% was just right.  Meanwhile the deficit will probably be the biggest ever regardless of which option was selected.
  • That said, it is important to the entities getting funded.  It is like if Bill Gates decided to give $500,000 to some local charity.  That amount of money doesn’t mean a whole lot to Bill Gates, but it would mean a lot to the charity.  So since we aren’t solving the deficit or debt anyway, the focus should be on cutting waste, not reaching some magic number in dollars that isn’t going to make a hill of beans difference anyway.  (Cutting waste does not mean cut funding from organizations that your party has a vendetta against, Mr. Boehner!).  The GAO recently submitted a study that identified hundreds of government programs which perform duplicative and/or overlapping services.  With the consolidation and elimination of duplicate programs, the government could save billions of dollars (likely a good bit more than the $38.5 billion proposed in the agreement) without reducing services provided.  Of course, what will likely happen is that this report will simply be used as an excuse to cut programs willy-nilly without putting the effort in to actually effectively consolidate and streamline government services.  Or the report will be ignored.  Or somehow both at the same time.
  • Well at least that’s over.  So what’s next?  Oh wait, that’s just the 2011 budget?  We still have to do this again for 2012?  Oh, and then there’s the debt ceiling thing we are going to have to deal with.  I’m sure that will go real smoothly.  No political posturing this time, no siree!
  • Time to give credit where credit is due.  A while back, a redneck “preacher” became a media sensation when he decided it would just be a dandy idea to threaten to burn a Qur’an.  I was of the opinion that what an idiot chooses to do with his time is not newsworthy and that the media was giving this guy exactly the attention he wanted but didn’t deserve.  Well recently this idiot “preacher” decided he wanted more attention and finally followed through on his threat.  The U.S. media ignored him this time.  But unfortunately, the international media did not.  And neither did the Afghan president and ultimately the Afghan people.  That just goes to show that poor judgment is not limited to just the U.S. press.  (Really folks, there are idiots everywhere.  You can’t get up in arms every time an idiot acts like….well, an idiot.  It will just lead to you doing something idiotic.  Or in this case, even worse.  The existence of idiots does not justify the harming of innocents, ever!)
  • Speaking of idiots, why is the media taking Donald Trump seriously in regards to a Presidential run?  If Paris Hilton or Snooki decided that they might want to run for President, would that be taken seriously?  It would be just as credible.  On second thought, don’t answer that question.  I’m afraid I wouldn’t like the answer!
  • Glenn Beck is out at Fox News.  Oh man!  Now how am I suppose to know where I can go to invest in gold and get the survival merchandise needed to be prepared for this nation’s inevitable collapse once the conspiracy that only Beck is smart enough to see through finally reaches its end goal?!!!!  We are doomed!!!!!

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  1. If you think being disruptive in a classroom setting warrants police intervention and ultimately charges filed and a fine. A high school senior in Texas faces $637 in fines.  Her crime?  She blurted out a curse word in the classroom.  Now I’m not saying that cursing in class should be acceptable.  But couldn’t we just start with just a warning?  Or maybe detention hall?  Seems a bit trivial for the criminal justice system, doesn’t it?
  2. If you take your politics so seriously that you think it’s okay to make light of sexual assault. Or was it professional jealousy?  Liberal journalist and now former NYU professor Nir Rosen decided to comment on fellow journalist Lara Logan’s assault in Egypt on the Twitter.  His posts show he is obviously upset….at all the attention she is going to get?  That she is going to be “martyr”?   Then he started cracking the jokes, because sexual assault is hilarious!  As he put it, you have “to find humor in the small things.”  Um, one “small thing” Nir….sexual assault is not funny.  At all.  And disagreeing with your world viewpoint is not a punishable offense.  It’s not an offense at all as a matter of fact.    OK, so maybe Nir might also be a bit of a male chauvinist.  So what is female conservative commentator Debbie Schlussel’s excuse?  Debbie, you may think it would be cool to be just like Ann Coulter.  But it’s not.
  3. If you place more importance on political posturing than doing your job. Looks like Republicans are all set to force a government shutdown under the guise of promoting fiscal responsibility.  That said, had Democrats not punted on passing a budget last year, we wouldn’t have this situation of needing to pass continuing resolutions just to keep funding going.  Of course, all this talk of being fiscally responsible is just utter B.S.  Realistically, you can’t balance the budget by only considering cuts in 12% of the budget, leaving the other 88% completely untouched.  Realistically you also can’t balance the budget without raising revenue.  Not passing a budget at all is a complete legislative failure on all sides.  And while some may think that a government shutdown would be a pretty great thing, such action has actual real world consequences.
  4. If you think that in 2011, a woman’s place is in the home. Apparently that is the case in Frederick County, Maryland.  Two county commissioners, in defending cuts to the county’s Head Start program, proclaim that their wives needed to stay home with their kids to educate them.  That’s what they described as “ideal”.  I’m guessing that their kids were named Wally and Theodore “Beaver”. Of course, regardless of whether or not we have moved beyond the Cleaver family ideal, let’s think about this in practical terms.  Head Start is designed specifically for low-income families.  Are these families in any position for either parent not to work?  What about single moms?  They are supposed to stay home and also make ends meet how?  Why is it during budget crunches, it seems like it is the poor that has to make the sacrifices?
  5. If you think that a football rivalry is so important that you need to poison a whole park. That’s what University of Alabama fan (just a wild guess, since his kids are reportedly actually named “Bear” and “Crimson” ) Harvey Almorn Updyke decided to do, when he decided to take a little Spike 80DF (and by a little, I mean a lot) to kill two historical 130 year-old oak trees in a place known as Toomer’s Corner which is of traditional importance to Auburn University.  See, in his mind, a prankster placing a Cam Newton jersey on a Bear Bryant statue was so egregious, he had no choice but to take the trees out.  Of course, since this was some old pathetic beer drinking country bumpkin, he had no clue what he was doing and used up to 65 times the amount required just to kill these two trees, placing the whole park at risk.  Apparently the water supply is safe, but not because this guy knew any better.  Somehow police were able to capture this criminal mastermind mostly because he called a popular local radio show to tell everyone what he did under the name “Al from Dadeville”.  Turns out, he actually lives in Dadeville, so police were able to crack the code pretty quickly.  You are not exactly the Zodiac, are you buddy?

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