"Your Resource for News" on the Debt Ceiling,
the Fiscal Cliff Debate, and more...
December 31, 2013
GO TO THE 2014 CHRONOLOGY OF NEWS COVERAGE
Dec. 30: Fox News: Businesses brace for the highest minimum wage in the county
One employer has told a trade group it is going to close one of its two restaurants, eliminating 200 jobs. The plan has also caused Han Kim -- who runs Hotel Concepts, a company that owns and manages 11 hotels in Washington state -- to shelve plans to build a hotel in SeaTac. The company already has three hotels in SeaTac, and Kim and a business partner were looking to build a fourth on land they own. "Uncertainty is bad for business, and right now we're right in that area so we're just putting everything on hold," Kim said.
It is clear that the short-sightedness of raising the minimum wage rate does have an impact on jobs and decreases job opportunities for those who can least afford it, those who are less skilled. Many of these folks may be laid off and added to the unemployment rolls.
Dec. 27: The Hill: Jobless benefits expired this weekend – 1.3 Million affected – What does this say about economic recovery?
Dec. 25: Fox News: Dems try changing the subject turning to jobless benefits, minimum wage benefits:
Democrats have touted modest progress in the economy lately, and critics ask: If it's doing as well as Democrats claim, why are those bills needed? "Extending unemployment insurance isn't going to help," said Glenn Hubbard, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under the George W. Bush administration. The economy still is on shaky ground, but Democrats may struggle to convince colleagues that more emergency economic measures are needed. The current jobless benefits extension runs out Dec. 28.
Dec. 19: Roll Call: Now comes the hard part: Three Weeks to craft the $1 Trillion Appropriations Bill
The timetable for the next three weeks sketched begins with a deadline for the end of the week: apportioning the spending grand total into a dozen slices — the so-called 302(b) spending caps for the subcommittees that are supposed to write 12 different spending bills every year.
Dec. 19: Politico: Treasury says debt limit ceiling will be reached in March:
Dec. 18: Politico: Murray distancing self from cut in military pensions after brokering the deal with Ryan:
Her stance provides a major opening for opponents of the cut to work to get it tossed out or replaced with alternate savings — an effort that could weaken the budget deal and force vulnerable senators to continue defending their support for an agreement that would provide sequester relief for federal agencies at the expense of veterans. “We’re probably going to lose this fight, but we will win the war,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, who voted against the budget deal, declared to a group of veterans on Tuesday — vowing to take this fight into the next year.
Dec. 17: Fox News: Senate moving to cut Vet benefits instead of those for illegals:
“It’s not correct, and it should not happen,” Sessions said on the floor. "By blocking my amendment, they voted to cut pensions for wounded warriors," he said afterwards. "Senators in this chamber have many valid ideas for replacing these pension cuts, including my proposal to close the tax welfare loophole for illegal filers, and all deserved a fair and open hearing. But they were denied.” Sessions’ office claimed the vote Tuesday to block the amendment was a vote to "cut military pensions instead of cutting welfare for illegal immigrants."
Dec. 17: Washington Free Beacon: Disabled Vets not exempt from pension cuts
The Free Beacon previously reportedthat military retirees under the age of 62 would receive 1 percentage point less in their annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in the budget deal. The section of the U.S. code that has been altered also applies to disabled service members, many of whom have been wounded in combat.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, called the change “unthinkable.” “ I was deeply troubled when my staff and I discovered that even individuals who have been wounded and suffered a service-related disability could see their pensions reduced under this plan. It is unthinkable that this provision would be included in a deal that spares current civilian workers from the same treatment,” he said. “An equivalent amount of savings and more can be easily found, and I hope the Senate will move to address the unbalanced treatment of our service members before considering the legislation any further.”
Dec. 17: The Hill: McConnell: GOP ready for debt ceiling debate
McConnell was able to negotiate discretionary spending caps, including the automatic sequester spending cuts, as a condition of Congress raising the debt ceiling in 2011. In October he had less success in securing concessions from Democrats and the Obama administration in exchange for raising the debt ceiling through Feb. 7. The October deal, coming during an unpopular government shutdown.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said Tuesday he wants to demand ObamaCare changes as a condition of raising the debt ceiling. He said giving individuals the legal right to keep their current insurance policies would be one option.
Dec. 17: Fox News: Sessions tries to undo cuts to military retiree benefits in Budget “Deal”
Now it appears America's veterans and military retirees could be a determining factor in whether the deal makes it through the Senate. Some Republicans say the plan unfairly forces veterans to pick up the cost of new spending. The provision generating heated opposition from Veterans of Foreign Wars and allied lawmakers would cut retirement benefits for military retirees by $6 billion over 10 years. "It's unacceptable to single out our men and women in uniform in this way," said Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., who has already expressed her intention to vote against the proposed budget.
Democrats need to hold most of their caucus of 55 senators together and pick up a handful of GOP senators in order to reach the 60-vote threshold to advance the bill on Tuesday.
Dec. 15: The Hill: Durbin: GOP and TEA Party challengers imperil budget deal
“A handful of members of the Senate are vying for the presidency in years to come and are thinking about this vote in that context and others are, frankly, afraid of this new force, the Tea Party force, the Heritage Foundation force, that is threatening seven out of the 12 senators running for reelection,” Durbin said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), who are weighing presidential bids in 2016, have all blasted the deal.
No Senate Democrat has yet publicly voiced their opposition to the deal negotiated by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) and her counterpart, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), but Durbin expects three defections.
Dec. 15: The Hill: Ryan signals a new fight on the debt ceiling
House and Senate Republicans will discuss their debt-limit strategy at separate party retreats in January, Ryan said. Asked about the debt limit on Thursday, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) similarly deflected the question, saying he was focused on the current budget agreement, which most notably would prevent a government shutdown for the next two years. Boehner has previously demanded spending cuts or reforms greater than the increase in borrowing authority, although the last two suspensions in the debt limit did not get Republicans much in return. President Obama has vowed not to negotiate over the debt ceiling after doing so in 2011, and he is expected to maintain that position next year.
Dec. 15: The Hill: In Budget Deal, a Secret Reward for the Dems
Republicans are unhappy, as they believe the tough votes would have made it easier to defeat those candidates next fall and take control off the Senate in 2015. With ObamaCare's difficult rollout, forcing members to vote on many aspects of the healthcare law would be especially appealing. The Senate is expected to vote on the budget deal on Tuesday.
Until this spring, when the Senate approved its first budget resolution in four years, Senate Democrats had repeatedly avoided passing a budget in part because of the problems it would have created for vulnerable members. In two of the years in which the Senate failed to pass a budget, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) argued budget caps in the 2011 Budget Control Act law meant no resolution was legally necessary. Republicans said Reid was wrong then, and he’d be wrong now if he used the new bill to avoid a budget vote. “Yes we should do a budget every year and the Budget Control Act was used as an excuse and it was a poor excuse,” Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions told The Hill on Friday. “It seems to me it would be the same with this.” At this point, Democrats aren’t committing to doing a new budget.
Dec. 14: Fox News: Conservatives pushing back over Boehner and the budget “deal”
The group, which supported efforts to defund the Affordable Care Act, accused Boehner of passing a "back-room budget deal which increases discretionary spending, does nothing to reform entitlements, and fully funds ObamaCare." The organization called the deal "an out and out betrayal of the American people."
All three top Republican leaders were among 169 members of the rank and file in voting for the measure, which cleared the House on Tuesday on an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 332-94. In advance of the vote, Boehner unleashed a stinging attack on conservative groups campaigning for the bill's demise, saying they lacked credibility. He also blamed them for leading the party into the partial government shutdown this fall.
Dec. 13: The Daily Caller: Senate schedules Budget Deal for Next Tuesday
Dec. 13: Fox News:
Far-left senators like Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, Sherrod Brown, D-O, Al Franken, D-MN, Tom Udall, D-NM and Bernie Sanders, I-VT., can’t be happy about maintaining more than half of the spending caps from the 2011 debt-limit deal and making no provisions for extended welfare benefits. Given that so many Democrats are secretly rooting for a shutdown, it might even seem like the strategic thing to do for a party stuck in the bogs of ObamaCare. Reid, who needs four Republican votes if he has all 56 Democrats on board, will have to pick up one GOPer for every liberal who walks away from the deal. Boehner found a way. Can Reid? And as Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said, “I’m not sure of anything,” when it comes to the vote count.
Go nuke yourself - Republicans don’t mind squeezing Reid as he tries to corral what’s been called the “Elizabeth Warren wing” of the Democratic Party. After all, Reid just nuked filibusters on presidential nominations, so his demands for swift acquiescence sounded like laugh lines in the Red Team locker room. Among those already out: Sens. Marco Rubio, R-FL, Tom Coburn, R-OK, Lindsey Graham, R-SC, Ted Cruz, R-TX, Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, and Jeff Sessions, R-AJ. Sessions says he will lead a filibuster. Reid may be able to count on liberal-moderate members like John McCain, R-AR, Lisa Murkowski, R-AL, and Susan Collins, R-MA, but so far, they’re not saying.
Dec. 12: Breitbart.com: Senator Paul says Budget Deal is a Step Backwards:
It adds over $7 trillion in debt over 10 years. It raises taxes. And I don’t care what you call them – “fees,” “revenues” – if more money leaves the hands of the taxpayers and goes to the government, it is a tax increase; and the budget continues to avoid being balanced. “This is not a budget ‘deal’ It is a surrender,” Paul concluded. “It is a cave in [and] it’s a shame.
Dec. 12 : The Daily Caller: Here’s What’s Next for the Budget Deal
Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the budget committee, said in a statement Tuesday that he would “be unable to support the legislation,” citing the discretionary spending levels that are greater than the caps set in the budget control act, among other issues. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is not expected to support the plan either, as The Daily Caller previously reported, based on sources with knowledge of his thinking. Nor is Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the second-highest ranking Republican in the Senate. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham came out against the bill, saying in a statement that he felt “it will do disproportionate harm to our military retirees. Our men and women in uniform have served admirably during some of our nation’s most troubling times.” Graham, McConnell, and Cornyn all face re-election next year and all have primary challengers on the right. New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte said she shared Graham’s concerns.
Dec. 9: The Hill:
Dec. 8: Politico:Budget negotiators are looking at military pensions
Dec. 6: Politico:
While Democrats haven’t drawn a line in the sand over the issue, they argued Friday that such a move could bolster the vote count for a budget deal by winning the support of scores of House Democrats if the deal hits the floor, possibly next week. But so far, Ryan has resisted the push for fear it would prompt a mass revolt against the overall budget proposal among conservative House Republicans. Senior Republicans say the pricey extension of unemployment benefits spooks many in their party.
“This literally came out of nowhere yesterday, and it is totally disingenuous of them to put this in play at this point,” one Republican familiar with the talks said. “They know the impact this will have on our side of the aisle, so I can only read this as a deliberate attempt to blow up any deal.”
Meanwhile the President has said whether the provision is included or not, is not a deal breaker for the Administration.
Dec. 4: The Daily Caller: CEO’s say ObamaCare is harming the economy:
The group said uneven implementation of Obamacare, has made it tough for businesses to decide where to allocate capital for new construction or hiring. “There seems to be an exception every other day on the Affordable Care Act,” Jim McNerney, head of the Business Roundtable and chief executive of airplane maker Boeing Co, said in a conference call on Wednesday, using the law’s formal name. “Is your preferred constituency going to get an exception or not? It’s hard to know, so people respond by hedging investment and hedging employment.”
Parts of the law requiring employers to provide healthcare for their workers was delayed earlier this fall until 2015 by the White House, though it remains unclear if that will be made permanent.
As part of the short-term agreement struck in mid-October, Congress gave itself until Jan. 15 to pass a budget, and until Dec. 13 to reach a tentative deal at the committee level while also eliminating the debt ceiling for four months for the second time this year. It's Dec. 4, and despite weeks of talks the budget negotiations have only crept forward. And Congress really only has five more days this month to do anything. While the House is in session, the Senate doesn't return until next week -- and Speaker John Boehner plans to adjourn the House for holiday recess next Friday. "The speaker is very serious about us being out of here on the 13th," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-VA, said.
There may be little stomach on Capitol Hill for another shutdown showdown. The last 16-day standoff helped drive public approval of Congress to historic lows. And while President Obama took heat for refusing to negotiate, Republican leaders emerged from the battle bruised -- and with little to show for it, having failed to win any major delay in ObamaCare. Meanwhile there is no bill on the table that could avert another shutdown.
Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) made it clear on KTRH News that he and his conservative colleagues would not vote for any measure that raises taxes. This time around, the debate centers around the spending levels for 2014, and the so-called sequester. Republicans want to hold down spending, while Democrats want to boost that number. With so little time to cut a deal, some lawmakers are talking about passing another stopgap spending bill to buy more time to negotiate.
Nov. 20: The Daily Caller: Congress takes up probe into bogus unemployment data:
Nov. 18: The Blaze: If these claims are true, the Administration is headed for another scandal:
The truth may be that Welch’s comment may not be that far fetched! The September 2012 job numbers were “manipulated” and the U.S. Census Bureau, the government agency responsible for the report, knew it, the Post alleges, citing “reliable sources.” The Post’s anonymous source, who said he’s willing to speak to the Labor Department and Congress about the falsified data if asked to do so, said unemployment data manipulation, which continues to this day, involves more than just one rogue employee.
In fact, a full two years before President Barack Obama won a second term in the White House, the Census Bureau reportedly caught an employee fabricating unemployment data. However, the Post notes, instead of correcting the problem, it only got worse and escalated throughout the 2012 presidential election. The employee who was caught two years ago, one Julius Buckmon, told the Post in an interview that he “faked” the numbers at the direction of his supervisors.
Nov. 18: CNS News: Treasury forced to issue $1 Trillion new debt in first six weeks of FY 14:
Nov. 16: The Daily Caller: One Month After the Shutdown Ended Where Are We?
It’s clear now that the whole shutdown thing could have been avoided if Mr. Obama had been willing to bend on his signature health-care law — something reality has since forced him to do, and something he will likely have to continue to do — instead of accusing the Republicans of being “terrorists” who are holding the country captive.
Nov. 11: The Daily Caller: The number of people not in the labor force hits a historic high:
The labor force participation rate — or all employed and unemployed people — in accordance with the decline, also hit a record low at 62.8 percent. When President Obama took office in January 2009, the labor force participation rate was 65.7 percent. From January 2009 to October 2013, more than 11 million people have dropped out of the labor force — from 80,507,000 to October’s 91,541,000. The economic blog Zero Hedge notes that at the current rate, the number of people not participating in the labor force could exceed those working in about four years.
Nov. 2: USA Today: Food stamp cuts create higher demand for food bank supplies
Under the program a family of four that gets $668 per month in benefits will find that amount cut by $36. "It may not sound like a lot but to a person like me, it is," says Annie Crisp, 30, a single mother of two girls in Lancaster, Ohio. "It's not just a number." She says she received a little less than $550 a month in food stamps and now will receive $497. Crisp, a babysitter who brings home about $830 a month, says the food stamps help her buy her family fresh fruits, vegetables and meat.
Nov. 1: The Daily Caller: Feds targeting JP Morgan for criticizing Obama?
It’s the latest in bad news for JPMorgan, which agreed to pay a record-breaking $5.1 billion to the Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA) last week over toxic mortgage securities sold before the financial crisis. An additional $9 billion settlement over the same securities is in the works with the Department of Justice, putting the bank on the hook for an astounding $14.1 billion in penalties.
Oct. 30: The Hill: Budget talks open with fight over taxes:
Negotiators ended their day by deciding to get together again on Nov. 13, when they will have a month left to reach a deal by a Dec. 13 deadline. The clash between Ryan and Murray, and the lack of urgency suggested by the decision to not meet until after a congressional recess, could justify outside expectations that the conference committee members are unlikely to reach a deal on their own.
Oct. 30: Fox News: Report: Bankrupt solar panel firm took stimulus money and left a toxic mess:
Oct. 28: Roll Call: Long Term Budget solutions end up with better chance of stop-gap alternatives:
Last week, the Nevada Democrat and the Wisconsin Republican lowered expectations by ditching the grand bargain talk. Ryan told reporters that tax hikes aren’t going to be in the deal; Reid cited the GOP’s opposition to more tax hikes on the “wealthy” as a reason people should stop talking about cutting Social Security or Medicaid – something the Democrats claim the GOP wants to do.
The focus instead will be on forging a deal that can replace some of the sequester spending cuts — perhaps for just a year or two — and un-sticking the mess that has become the annual appropriations process. Both sides have at least some incentive to get a deal. An agreement would give Republicans a chance to change the post-shutdown political narrative that they can’t govern. And with big defense cuts kicking in come January, Republican hawks are already pressuring their leaders to find a way out. Democrats and the White House, meanwhile, have been chafing as the president’s agenda has been squeezed by both the sequester and a gridlocked Congress. If they give in on taxes in a short-term deal, would they settle for one of the unfinished Obama agenda items that has been going nowhere in this Congress, such as a minimum-wage hike, infrastructure spending or universal preschool? [Editor's Note: Since when does the Federal Government have jurisdiction over "universal preschool?" Isn't that an issue for state and local govenments?]
Oct. 26: Fox News: Congress aiming low in new budget talks as Reid dismisses entitlement reform as “happy talk!”
The Nevada Democrat won't be directly involved in the formal House-Senate budget negotiations set to begin Wednesday. But he has been among the most overt in blaming the opposite party -- even before the talks begin. And he has given perhaps the bleakest assessment for a potential compromise on tax increases and cuts to entitlement spending. "You keep talking about Medicare and Social Security," Reid said on Thursday, cutting off a Nevada Public Radio host. "Get something else in your brain. Stop talking about that. ... There is not going to be a grand bargain." He also said Republicans would have to agree on tax-revenue increases for Congress to achieve a large-scale agreement, but they instead have their mind set on "nothing more on revenue."
“If we’re gonna pass a Republican budget that’s largely or entirely with Republican votes, we’re gonna need 218 Republican votes to pass the appropriations bills that conform with the Republican budget. It’s pretty basic,” said appropriator Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania. “But a lot of members are voting for the budget and then voting against appropriations bills.
Oct. 20: The Hill:
With the current “balance of power” in the Congress, under this scenario the Senate could stop any attempt by House to limit increases to the borrowing limit instead of requiring Congress to take action in order to increase borrowing limitations.
Oct. 20: Fox News: With new budget deadlines looming – Disagreements continue”
Such a deal seemed unlikely given that Republicans think the automatic sequester cuts are the only real spending cuts that have yielded results while Democrats are saying they “won’t trade” reducing cuts on defense spending for deep cuts to entitlement, as Republicans have proposed. Democrats want to increase spending levels next year above the sequester caps and replace them with more long-term budget savings through spending cuts and tax increases, which Republicans have rejected.An additional $19 billion in sequester cuts would kick in January 15 if the negotiators fail to reach an agreement. They must also reach deals before the federal government faces another partial shutdown of government services in mid-January and reaches February 7th suspension of the dead ceiling deadline.
Oct. 18: The Washington Times:
The giant jump comes because the government was replenishing its stock of “extraordinary measures” — the federal funds it borrowed from over the last five months as it tried to avoid bumping into the debt ceiling. Under the law, that replenishing happens as soon as there is new debt space. In this case, Treasury borrowed $400 billion from other funds beginning in May, awaiting a final deal from Congress and Mr. Obama.
Usually Congress sets a borrowing limit, or debt ceiling, that caps the total amount the government can be in the red. But under the terms of this week’s deal, Congress set a deadline instead of a dollar cap. That means debt will rise by as much as the government spends between now and the Feb. 7 deadline. Judging by the rate of increase over the last five months, that could end up meaning Congress just granted Mr. Obama a debt increase of $700 billion or more.
Republicans initially sought to attach strings to the debt increase, but surrendered this week, instead settling on a bill that reopened the government and included some special earmark projects, but didn’t include any spending cuts. Democrats insisted that the debt increase be “clean,” meaning without any strings attached. They say the debt increase only allows Mr. Obama to pay for the bills he and Congress already racked up, and that it doesn’t encourage new spending.
Oct. 17: Fox News: With budget “Deal” the national debt if free to soar again:
The latest increase in the debt cap is the sixth since President Obama took office, when the debt was $10.6 trillion. It was raised three times when Democrats controlled Congress, and has been raised three times since Republicans took control of the House. Fiscal conservatives and government watchdog groups reacted with dismay Thursday after Washington, following weeks of hard-nosed negotiations, produced only a stopgap bill to end the partial government shutdown and raise that cap. And despite the chaos of the past few weeks, they are once again trying to refocus Washington on the need to -- seriously -- lasso the nation's debt and break the habit of endless over-spending.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued a rather dire warning last month about what the future holds if the trajectory is not changed. Their analysis explained how the government has been expanding at historic rates. Between 2009 and 2012, it said, deficits were larger relative to the size of the economy than at any point since 1946 -- in turn fueling the rapid growth in the debt. Deficits are projected to fall for the next few years, but then rise again, in large part because of two major factors -- interest on the debt, and entitlement programs. The growth of the debt has triggered a vicious cycle, where higher debt leads to bigger interest payments, in turn growing the debt even more. The CBO estimates that by 2038, interest on the debt will rise to 5 percent of GDP -- compared against a modern historical average of 2 percent. That means less money in the federal coffers for everything from the military to benefits programs.
But the biggest benefits programs, known in Washington as entitlements, are the dominant factor. Programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are poised to eat up more and more of the federal budget. The CBO says the share of spending on those programs will double by 2038, to 14 percent of GDP. As a consequence, spending on everything else will drop. Obama said Thursday that longer-term deficits do need to be addressed, and that budget negotiators need to focus on programs like Medicare and Social Security. But Rubio said the problem is Obama has resisted major changes to any of those programs, due in part to resistance from the liberal base.
Oct. 17: Fox Business: Sticker Shock: U.S. Debt Bill is $123K per working American
To put our country’s debt situation into perspective, if every working American had to pay their share of the $16.7 trillion debt in 2012, they would be shelling out $123,000. The national debt is on schedule to hit $17 trillion in the next few weeks, up from $10.6 trillion when President Obama took office in 2009. This debt obligation comes out to nearly $53,000 if every person living in the U.S., including children and unemployed had to pay a share, according to a Harvard Report, titled 2012 Annual Report of the USA.
Barry Bosworth, economist at the Brookings Institution says despite the political infighting in D.C., he maintains Congress has done a decent job of cutting expenditures in the past two years under a Republican-controlled House, but he still says the spending is unsustainable. “I would still worry if I were an American,” he says. “It’s not clear that these cuts are sustainable. We will have a debt problem once again."
Oct. 16: The Hill: Partial Shutdown is over, for now!
The Treasury had warned it would have only $30 billion in its accounts after Thursday, and Fitch on Tuesday put the U.S. credit rating on a negative watch. Passage will give the two parties a framework for working together, at least for a few months. The deal also gives the Treasury Department the ability to borrow beyond the debt ceiling. And for the first time in two and a half weeks, the federal government is expected to reopen on Thursday.
The next step is to go to conference committee: One immediate test for negotiators is finding a way to reconcile Democratic demands for new tax revenue and GOP opposition to any new taxes. House Democrats will fight to increase spending above the 2013 sequester levels. Senate Republicans claimed a sliver of victory by keeping current spending levels locked in place for three more months. The bill will grant back pay to an estimated 800,000 federal workers who were furloughed by the shutdown. The leaders also agreed to set up a Senate-House budget conference to negotiate broader fiscal reforms and report its work to Congress by Dec. 13. It also allows for hundreds of millions of dollars more to fix flood-damaged roads in Colorado, and sets out reporting requirements for the administration on the issue of income verification under ObamaCare.
Oct. 16: Fox News: Where Does This Leave Us?
Establishment Republicans always talk about doing the right thing for the nation, no matter the price. But when push comes to shove, they always throw in the towel. And Wednesday, McConnell and his band of merry moderates heaved their towels in an epic demonstration of lily-livered cowardice. But you’ve got to hand it to Sen. Ted Cruz for standing his ground. He held the line and ultimately paid the price. His good name was smeared by Democrats as well as McConnell’s band – most notably Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Bob Corker.
Sen. Cruz had nothing but praise for the House of Representatives. He said they held the line. They stood strong for the American people. The Senate is another matter. “The outcome of this fight would have been very, very different if only Senate Republicans had made the decision to stand and fight alongside House Republicans,” he said. “That didn’t happen. That was the critical piece.”
Oct. 16: The Hill: Ryan votes against shutdown deal
As chairman of the House Budget Committee, he will serve on a formal conference committee with Senate Democrats that must report its findings by Dec. 13. Yet in voting against the debt limit bill, he broke with Boehner and the entire senior GOP leadership team, who supported the Senate bill. “I look forward to convening the first conference on a budget resolution since 2009,” Ryan said. “And though a budget resolution by itself can’t resolve our spending problem, I’m committed to making a bipartisan budget conference a success.”
The debt limit measure passed the House on Wednesday despite opposition from a majority of Republicans. Eighty-seven Republicans voted no and 144 voted yes.
Oct 16: The Washington Times: Deal struck in the Senate – Nobody Wins!
The deal would reopen the government with a stopgap spending bill running to Jan. 15, and would provide the government with unlimited borrowing authority through at least Feb. 7. It would also require both the House and Senate to name negotiators to try to reach a final deal on a 2014 budget, giving them a December deadline. The only major concession Republicans won was to include strict income monitoring of those seeking taxpayer subsidies under Obamacare.
Earlier, the Pentagon also announced most of its 350,000 furloughed civilian military personnel would return to their jobs. And CIA Director John Brennan said he would begin bringing back employees deemed necessary to the agency's core missions. "It appears they are truly just making this up as they go along, as they have put out one inconsistent policy after another," House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-WA, said in a statement, accusing the administration of playing "political games." Charges that the Obama administration exaggerated the cutbacks from the outset were amplified Sunday when hundreds of vets marched in Washington to protest the closure of popular war memorials, including open-air sites.
Oct. 14: Fox News: Senate leadership scrambles to put together a new budget plan:
Oct. 13: USA Today: Mr. President, Tear Down This Walls! WWII Memorial Protest
The memorial has become a political symbol in the bitter fight between Democrats and Republicans over who is at fault since the shutdown began. Earlier rallies have focused on allowing access for World War II veterans visiting from across the country with the Honor Flight Network. Sunday's rally was more political. A protest by truckers converged with a rally by a group called the Million Vet March at the World War II Memorial. Participants cut the links between metal barriers at the National Park Service site and pushed them aside.
Oct. 13: Politico: Federal Judges forget decorum and blast Capitol Hill; Guess it depends on who’s ox is being gored!
“The dispute has been how to undo the sequester,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on "Face the Nation" on CBS on Sunday, explaining that Democrats want a mix of entitlement reforms and revenue increases.
"If you break the spending caps, you're not going to get any Republicans in the Senate," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) declared on "This Week" on ABC. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said undoing the sequester cuts would be "a real big step in the wrong direction." "Now they want a spending bill that increases spending and dramatically will increase the debt," Paul said on CNN's "State of the Union." "It's a non-starter."
“And then they found out that the debt ceiling was the issue,” she told NBC’s Meet the Press. “They found out that the government had shut down and that there was no remedy in sight. So it really completely transformed the meeting in the last few days.” Lagarde also threw cold water on claims by GOP lawmakers that Thursday’s deadline to raise the debt limit is not consequential, since it might not lead to automatic default on the country’s debts. Members of the GOP have pointed out that even if the debt ceiling is reached there are more revenues coming into the U.S. Treasury than would be required to pay the interest on the existing debt and so that the issue is whether to raise the amount of debt, thereby increasing the interest payments in the future. The GOP contend, and a majority of those surveyed agree, that the problem is the level of federal spending.
Oct. 13: The Hill: Democrats may seek the “Nuclear” Option on the Debt Limit
"I would assume that they might be referring to the so-called 'nuclear option,'" Manchin said. "If you have to use that basically to keep this country from falling into default—do we go to 51 votes on the Senate side to prevent that from happening?" But Manchin said he hopes Democrats aren't forced to make that decision. "I don't think we need to go that direction whatsoever, and I think we can come to an agreement," Manchin said.
But the GOP Senators are pushing for a bill that raises the debt limit until January, and are also trying to curb future spending. In turn, top Senate Democrats blocked a GOP-drafted bill that would have set 2014 spending to match the 2011 sequester plan. On Friday and Saturday, Obama rejected the latest compromise offered by the House GOP. Roughly one-sixth of Obama’s administration is shut down because 2013 spending bills have expired, and he is expected to hit his credit-limit Oct. 17. Since his 2009 inauguration, his government has borrowed $6 trillion to fund its ambitious spending programs.
Oct. 10: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: World War II Memorial Shutdown
A week ago, National Park Service employees, citing the shutdown, blocked access to the World War II Memorial. Members of Congress intervened and barriers that surrounded the monument were moved so groups of veterans participating in Honor Flight trips could enter the open-air memorial. "That was terrible and I felt terrible to hear about it," said Mr. Lichko, who flew in from Toledo, Ohio, Wednesday with Honor Flight Northwest Ohio, a nonprofit group that provides transportation and escorts for veterans visiting war memorials.
Oct. 9: The Weekly Standard: National Park Service shows politics involved in selecting site closures:
Even so, consider the actions of the National Park Service since the government shutdown began. People first noticed what the NPS was up to when the World War II Memorial on the National Mall was “closed.” Just to be clear, the memorial is an open plaza. There is nothing to operate. Sometimes there might be a ranger standing around. But he’s not collecting tickets or opening gates. Putting up barricades and posting guards to “close” the World War II Memorial takes more resources and manpower than “keeping it open.”
The closure of the World War II Memorial was just the start of the Park Service’s partisan assault on the citizenry. There’s a cute little historic site just outside of the capital in McLean, Virginia, called the Claude Moore Colonial Farm. They do historical reenactments, and once upon a time the National Park Service helped run the place. But in 1980, the NPS cut the farm out of its budget. A group of private citizens set up an endowment to take care of the farm’s expenses. Ever since, the site has operated independently through a combination of private donations and volunteer workers.
The Park Service told Claude Moore Colonial Farm to shut down. The farm’s administrators appealed this directive—they explained that the Park Service doesn’t actually do anything for the historic site. The folks at the NPS were unmoved. And so, last week, the National Park Service found the scratch to send officers to the park to forcibly remove both volunteer workers and visitors. Think about that for a minute. The Park Service, which is supposed to serve the public by administering parks, is now in the business of forcing parks they don’t administer to close.
We’re not done yet. The parking lot at Mount Vernon was closed by the NPS, too, even though the Park Service does not own Mount Vernon; it just controls access to the parking lots from the George Washington Parkway. At the Vietnam Memorial—which is just a wall you walk past—the NPS called in police to block access. It’s one thing for politicians to play shutdown theater. It’s another thing entirely for a civil bureaucracy entrusted with the privilege of caring for our national heritage to wage war against the citizenry on behalf of a political party.
This is how deep the politicization of Barack Obama’s administration goes. The Park Service falls under the Department of the Interior, and its director is a political appointee. Historically, the directorship has been nonpartisan and the service has functioned as a civil, not a political, unit. Before the current director, Jonathan Jarvis, was nominated by President Obama, he’d spent 30 years as a civil servant. But he has taken to his political duties with all the fervor of a third-tier hack from the DNC, marrying the disinterested contempt of a meter maid with the zeal of an ambitious party apparatchik.
Oct. 8: Roll Call: Republicans Say Obama Underestimates their Resolve as the Debt Ceiling Debate Heats up:
President Barack Obama held a news conference Tuesday during which he reiterated his position that Democrats would not negotiate with Republicans “for the mere act of reopening the government or paying our bills.” But Republicans insist Obama will have to negotiate if he wants the debt ceiling raised, and it is that impasse that makes a debt default far more likely than many anticipate. “I don’t think he’s going to win a game of chicken,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-OK, about Obama’s “no negotiations” position. House Republicans were expected to pass a bill Tuesday evening that would create a bipartisan, bicameral working group to address the current fiscal impasse.
Oct. 8: Fox News: Poll shows majority are against raising the debt ceiling:
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said the country will be unable to meet its commitments starting October 17. Most Republicans (78 percent) and a majority of independents (57 percent) would vote against raising the limit. So would almost all Tea Partiers (88 percent).
Oct. 8: Fox News: Boehner calls Obama position on the fiscal crisis “non-sustainable”
The speaker said he wants conversations about spending cuts to start "now," not "next week" or "next month." It's unclear how Republicans will navigate Obama's stance going forward, with the country in week two of the partial government shutdown. Their demand is that they get some concessions -- like spending cuts -- in exchange for passing a spending bill and raising the debt ceiling.
Boehner's appeal on Tuesday was for Democrats to simply come to the negotiating table. "It's time for us to just sit down and resolve our differences," Boehner said. "There's no boundaries here. There's nothing on the table, there's nothing off the table." His remarks followed Obama’s lengthy non-press conference, in which he again accused "extreme" Republican lawmakers of holding the nation for "ransom."
The president tried to stake out his position during a lengthy exchange with reporters in the White House briefing room. Even the nature of the event was unclear. Though it was not considered a formal press conference, the president answered questions from 11 reporters and spoke for over an hour. The takeaway was that the president, while willing to talk with Republicans about "almost anything," will not do so until they pass the spending bill and debt ceiling legislation.
Oct. 8: Fox News: Making the “Shutdown” as painful as possible by closing down various operations that don’t cost much money to run such as shutting down Websites
Oct 7: The Washington Examiner: Park Service OKs Immigration Reform Rally on grounds of the Closed National Mall:
Susana Flores, a spokesperson for the rally, confirmed for the Washington Examiner that the Park Service will allow the event to take place under the group's rights granted by the First Amendment. About 30 members of Congress are expected to attend the rally, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA. The event is hosted by several immigration activist groups, together with the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO. The decision to allow some to use the mall but others not has caused some to question whether a group's political persuasion is the determining factor!
Oct. 7: Politico: Cracks start to appear in Democrat debt limit fight:
By late Monday afternoon, nervous Senate Democrats had reached out to the White House to ensure they were on the same page — and the concerns on Capitol Hill seemed to be alleviated after senior administration officials downplayed the idea of a short-term increase. But the incident underscored the fear among the congressional Democratic leadership that President Barack Obama may eventually back away from the no-negotiation stance he and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have voiced for weeks in order to avoid a first-ever default. And it raised questions about Senate Democrats’ next step in the debt ceiling debate if Republicans successfully filibuster a bill to increase the $16.7 trillion national debt ceiling.
Oct. 5: The Weekly Standard: NBC Reports Park Police Remove Vets and Visitors from the Vietnam Memorial Wall in DC:
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is a black granite outdoor wall on which the names of the 58,272 service members who died or were unaccounted for during the Vietnam war are inscribed. It takes more manpower and costs the government more money to close down an outdoor wall than to let people walk past it and pay their respects. The Obama Administration has been very selective in devoting resources to shutting down memorials.
Oct. 5: Fox News: House passes bill to pay federal employees back pay once shutdown is over:
House leaders on Saturday again put the blame on Democrats, particularly Senate leadership. “The House just took another step to try to ease the pain,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. “We have majority leader in senate that won't work out differences.” The House-passed measure gives 800,000 furloughed federal workers retroactive pay once the government reopens. The Senate was expected to OK it as well, but the timing is unclear. The White House backs the legislation.
Oct. 5: The Hill: House to Obama: Let furloughed military chaplains serve!
The resolution, from Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), is a response to an op-ed from John Schlageter, general counsel at the Archdiocese for the Military Services. On Thursday, Schlageter claimed that it would be illegal for contract chaplains to minister on base if they have been furloughed, and could face arrest if they ignore that. Republicans were outraged at this possibility, and quickly developed the resolution on Friday in response. "The First Amendment rights of our military do not sunset with the lack of appropriations or even a shutdown," said Rep. John Fleming (R-LA). "Will our priests and ministers this weekend… be arrested if they recite a Hail Mary, if they lead in prayer?" asked Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).
Oct. 5: Fox News: Pentagon orders 200,000 civilian furloughed workers back to work:
The Pentagon did not immediately say on Saturday exactly how many workers will return to work. The Defense Department said "most" were being brought back. The law ensured that members of the military, who have remained at work throughout the shutdown, would be paid on time. It also left room for the Pentagon to keep on the job those civilians who provide support to the military.
Oct. 4: The Daily Caller: White House distances self from celebrating shutdown quote:
“This is absurd,” Carney tweeted Friday, after political observers noted the callousness of the administration’s supposed position. “POTUS wants the shutdown to end now.” Reporters and bloggers were quick to note the irony of the White House press secretary rejecting a statement by a “senior administration official.”
Oct. 4: The Hill: “This isn’t some damn game” Speaker Boehner says:
Lawmakers emerging from the meeting said Boehner told his colleagues they are locked in an “epic battle” with President Obama and Democrats on the shutdown, and vowed they would not “roll over.” They said Boehner sought to hype up his conference a day after reports emerged that the Speaker has told some members he would not allow the country to default and is willing to bring legislation to the floor that would depend on Democratic votes for passage. Speaking to reporters, Boehner continued the recent GOP strategy of casting Republicans as the party interested in talking, and blaming Democrats for stonewalling them.
Oct. 4: The Weekly Standard: WWII Memorial Closed Off
Who is ordering the National Park service to go to such great lengths to shut down the open-air World War II memorial that is usually unguarded? On Tuesday, Carol Johnson of the NPS told me that the White House’s Office of Management and Budget “sends everything down t all other departments. We are part of Interior. Interior gives us our instructions.”
Oct. 4: The Daily Caller: Obama promises to veto funding bills:
Obama’s aggressive stance is intended to force the GOP to abandon its Obamacare reforms. Those GOP-reforms include ending a tax on the revenues of high-tech medical device makers, ending the lucrative Obamacare subsidy for Democratic and Republican congressional staffers, and setting a one-year delay in the 2010 law’s requirement that all adults buy health insurance, no matter their age, health or other priorities. Democrats fear those reforms will lead to the collapse of the hugely ambitious health-sector takeover, which has yet to win support from a majority of Americans.
Oct. 4: Politico: Chris Wallace: “White House debt message is bull”
CNN’s Candy Crowley also she doesn’t expect the shutdown to end anytime soon. “When you look at the dynamics of what’s going on inside the Republican caucus, I don’t think they’re there yet and ready to give anything up. And if you go out and listen to the public words of Sen. Reid and the president, there’s no give there either.”
Oct. 4: The Hill: GOP halts Democrat attempt to pass a clean spending bill less the defunding of ObamaCare:
Friday's House vote came up at the end of debate on a rule that will allow the GOP to call up nearly a dozen smaller spending bills on issues like disaster aid, nuclear weapon safety, nutrition and education.
According to the Treasury, the U.S. will reach its borrowing limit on October 17, and if the debt ceiling is not raised before then, the country will default on its debt. “In a government shutdown, Social Security checks still go out on time,” President Barack Obama said Thursday, the Huffington Post reported. “In an economic shutdown, if we don’t raise the debt ceiling, they don’t go out on time.”
Oct. 4: The Daily Caller: Carney can’t cite any actions by Obama to ease the government shutdown:
Has the President “used his agency power and asked any regulator to make life easier in any way for Americans, for example … not putting out signs, not picketing parks, and restarting websites?” The Daily Caller asked Carney in the Oct. 4 White House briefing. “Please give me some examples.” Carney evaded the question and several follow up questions before recognizing another reporter for a question.
Oct. 4: The Hill: Walker defies Fed and keeps state parks funded with federal money open:
Oct. 2: Washington Examiner: Feds Close Popular Memorials Leave the others open:
On the other hand, Hastings' team noted that the Constitution Gardens, the Upper Senate Park, and the Japanese-Americans Memorial, among others, remain open.
Oct. 2: Fox News: House to try again to pass emergency government funding bill.
Unlike on Tuesday, the latest bills will not be treated by House GOP leaders as suspension bills, which means they only need a simple majority vote to pass. On Tuesday, each measure needed 286 votes to pass. The parks funding bill went down by a tally of 252 in favor to 176 against, the veterans programs by 264 in favor to 164 against and the D.C. government funding by 265 in favor to 163 against.
Both the Senate and the White House say the bill is a non-starter. So who is to blame for where we are? The House has sent the Senate numerous bills that would fund the government and the Senate refuses to compromise. It almost feels like the Democrat-controlled Senate wants the government shutdown for political reasons. It is time that they come to the table and give a little! [See Related Story on the Shutdown Battle from September 30th]
Oct 1: Fox News: Much of the government is not shutdown, only slimmed down
Sept. 30: Roll Call: Shutdown Battle About Setting the Stage for the Debt Ceiling Fight:
Democrats cannot repeat their performance from two years ago, largely because there are not really any more politically viable discretionary domestic cuts to be made. Quite the contrary, Democrats such as Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., are pushing aggressively to roll back the sequester that mandates the cuts in the first place. While they would never say so vocally, there are likely some Republicans who quietly hope Democrats stand firm against the conservatives pushing to attach Obamacare provisions to the spending bills, because without Democrats being the enemy in this case, the GOP establishment will have a difficult time turning its attention back to its comfort zone: cutting spending.
Sept. 30: Fox News: Senate kills latest House counteroffer, kicks the can back to the House:
“Senate Democrats have made it perfectly clear that they’d rather shut down the federal government than accept even the most reasonable changes to ObamaCare,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell countered. The latest House bill, which the chamber backed on a 228-201 vote, would have delayed the law's individual mandate while prohibiting lawmakers, their staff and top administration officials from getting government subsidies for their health care. The Senate voted 54-46 along party lines to reject it.
There is also an effort underway by some House members to request a conference committee -- a bicameral committee tasked with hammering out the differences between the warring pieces of legislation. At this point, it’s unclear what common ground the two sides can find. The latest GOP proposal stirred dissension in the ranks, with some lawmakers reluctant to hurt their own staff by taking away additional subsidies for their health care costs. According to the site Legistorm, the average House staffer salary is under $60,000. Twelve House Republicans peeled off in the latest vote to oppose the bill.
The Senate earlier Monday rejected a GOP proposal that would delay the health care law by one year and repeal an unpopular medical device tax. Reid warned Republicans not to fiddle with the spending bill any more.
Sept. 29: Fox News:
The lower chamber also passed an amendment 248-174 to repeal the health-care law’s medical-device tax and voted 423-0 to approve a bill to pay the military on time should a temporary shutdown occur, in a series of votes that started shortly before midnight. The final tallies came in after midnight, and the House adjourned until 10 a.m. Monday shortly after.
"I don't think we're near the precipice of a shutdown," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-MD, said after the votes. "We are on the precipice." The vote to delay ObamaCare basically hewed to party lines, with two Democrats voting for the amendment and two Republicans voting against the amendment. 17 Democrats voted with every Republican member of the House to repeal the medical-device tax. The medical-devise tax is a major source of funding for ObamaCare and the subsidies that will be provided to those who cannot afford the "affordable care."
Within minutes, the White House vowed President Obama would veto the plan, resulting in the federal government technically running out of money Monday night and forcing a partial shutdown. So stand by for the NON-Headline in the mainstream media... "Senate and Obama Shut Down the Federal Government!"
Sept. 26: Roll Call: GOP Leaders Hunting for Debt Limit Votes:
The House Rules Committee earlier passed a “same-day” rule allowing legislation to be brought up the same day it is introduced. Earlier in the day, Chairman Pete Sessions, R-TX, said he believed his panel would be meeting on the debt limit bill Thursday evening. But after a whip count during a vote series, that proved too optimistic.
Tim Huelskamp, R-KS, said he believed “it’s at least 18” Republicans who are still in opposition to the debt limit measure. I don’t think they bring it up if it’s really 18,” Huelskamp said Thursday afternoon. Republicans would need 217 votes, if every member of the House were voting, to pass a debt limit bill. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-LA, is resigning Friday, which will bring the GOP number down to 232. That means Republicans can’t lose more than 15 members on the debt limit bill if all members are voting.
Sept. 22: Politico:
President Barack Obama is once again warning House Republicans that he will not negotiate over a debt-ceiling increase, even as the U.S. government moves closer to its borrowing limit. Obama called Speaker John Boehner Friday night to reiterate his hard-line stance. The Ohio Republican’s office said the president called to say “he wouldn’t negotiate with him on the debt limit.” The question is, “Is this another of Obama’s ‘Red Lines” and will he cave on this line drawn in the sand like he did on Syria?”
“Given the long history of using debt limit increases to achieve bipartisan deficit reduction and economic reforms, the speaker was disappointed but told the president that the two chambers of Congress will chart the path ahead,” a Boehner aide said in an email. “It was a brief call.” A White House official said Obama spoke to both Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Sept. 20: The Daily Caller: Obama tells public you can’t always get what you want
Sept. 17: The Hill: McConnell punts on showdown solution:
That approach was dismissed by the right wing of his conference, and now 70 House conservatives are supporting an effort to tie a one-year defunding of ObamaCare to the government funding resolution. McConnell, who crafted deals to end the 2011 debt-ceiling standoff and the 2012 fight over the "fiscal cliff," said it's up to the House to find a path forward. “One thing all Republicans agree on is that we think ObamaCare was the worst piece of legislation in the last 50 years. …The question at this point is what the House will send us,” he told reporters. “It’s up to them. We will react to what they send us. And we’ll be happy to vote on it at that point.”
McConnell made clear that he supports Boehner’s call to attach spending cuts to the debt ceiling increase that will be needed by mid-October. “I would be stunned if we raised the debt ceiling and didn’t do something about the debt. That’s the view of virtually every Republican,” he said. He said that Obama has only shown a willingness to reduce the deficit when forced to by GOP leverage. “The request to raise the debt ceiling is one of those opportunities,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Tuesday dared the GOP to allow the U.S. to default on its payment obligations. “If the Republicans think that it’s good for the country to not pay our bills and risk the full faith and credit, then that’s what they’ll have to do. We are not negotiating over the debt ceiling,” he said. "We are not going to have them hold the CR or the debt ceiling hostage to ObamaCare.”
Sept. 16: Politico: GOP leaders link debt hike to CR
One option under consideration is an accelerated vote on the debt ceiling. There is discussion in House Republican leadership circles about setting a debt ceiling vote before Sept. 30. If Republican leaders show in the next few weeks how they will use the debt ceiling to delay Obamacare, it will display that the party’s brass is serious about an all-or-nothing legislative brawl with Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama. That could help ease the passage of the continuing resolution to fund the government.
In discussions among leadership aides, the CR would defund Obamacare, and the debt ceiling would include a delay of the health care law. The debt ceiling package could also include tons of conservative goodies: construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, entitlement reform and principles for tax reform, according to GOP sources involved in the discussions. All of these random policies would help Republicans attract 217 GOP votes.
Highlighting the urgency of the debt ceiling issue, the House Republican Conference on Monday announced that they scheduled a session focused on the debt cap. On Wednesday, top leadership policy will “provide members with information” about the debt ceiling, according to an email sent to lawmakers Monday. They are searching for a new strategy because Speaker John Boehner and the House Republican leadership have a trust problem. As they circle throughout their conference trying to persuade lawmakers to pick a fight on Obamacare as part of the debt ceiling negotiations instead of a government funding bill, they are finding a lot of skeptics. Many House Republicans feel that they are being duped by the leadership, who earlier in the year had advised them to fight over the CR, not the debt ceiling, to fund the government.
Sept. 16: The Hill: House GOP move forward with $40 Billion Food Stamp Cut
The House later passed a bill just dealing with the rest of the farm bill, including crop subsidies and crop insurance, before the August recess. Rural Republicans appeared torn on the new bill, which has 10 times the level of cuts to the food stamp program as the Senate-passed farm bill. The difference could make it impossible to complete a planned House-Senate farm bill conference. "You’re talking about $40 billion in cuts vs. $4 billion, which is a huge gap," said Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL). "We need that farm bill and cannot do an extension of the Pelosi farm bill. If that happens we are really going to get screamed at the town halls."
Farm bill supporter Rep. Steve King (R-IA) who is whipping the food stamp bill, predicted that it would pass and that some compromise with the Senate will be found. "It will pass and we will get a farm bill," he predicted.
Sept. 14: The Hill: Confident Democrats want separate showdowns with House on Fiscal Battles
Sept. 6: Roll Call: Cantor insists on Budget reforms in return for debt hike:
Cantor’s threat has a somewhat different standard than the demand from Speaker John A. Boehner, R-OH, that any increase in the debt ceiling be accompanied by an equivalent amount of “cuts and reforms.” Boehner’s demand, known as the “Boehner rule,” was violated earlier this year when the House punted on the debt limit, but the Speaker recently promised a “Whale of a fight” this fall. Cantor also said Republicans would demand Obama agree to keep the sequester in place past Sept. 30 — and slash $64 billion from the levels Obama signed months ago. “In signing a CR at sequester levels, the President would be endorsing a level of spending that wipes away all the increases he and Congressional Democrats made while they were in charge and returns us to a pre-2008 level of discretionary spending,” Cantor said.
The White House has repeatedly declined to answer whether Obama would sign a bill that lets the sequester continue. If the Senate blocks the measure, or Obama vetoes it, a partial government shutdown will ensue. That, of course, would require Cantor to be able to actually pass such a bill through the House. And Cantor’s memo makes no mention of tying the CR to Obamacare — something scores of the GOP conference have sought.
Instead, Cantor alludes to Boehner’s strategy to chip away at the law through “a series of strategic votes.” If that’s not enough for the rank and file, GOP leadership will either have to include Obamacare defunding in the CR and endure headlines saying they are risking a government shutdown, or they will have to woo Democrats for votes.
Aug. 30: Roll Call: Can Obama Regain his lost leverage on spending?
Unlike in 2011, when Republicans successfully held a critical debt limit increase hostage to extract more than $2 trillion in spending cuts, Obama no longer has to worry about a default crisis imperiling his re-election. His charm offensive with Senate Republicans aimed at reaching a budget deal has been a dud so far. He’s signed little of consequence since being sworn in for a second term in January. But one bill Congress will have to send him this fall is the measure keeping the government open past Sept. 30. His signature — or veto — on that bill is the biggest piece of legislative leverage he has left.
So far, Speaker Boehner has promised to play hardball on spending, because he believes it’s a fight Republicans can win. But the speaker also has been resisting calls from the right for a shutdown showdown over defunding Obamacare, which the speaker’s allies dismiss. Boehner told lawmakers on Aug. 22 that he plans to pass a stopgap continuing resolution that would keep in place the sequester spending cuts that have become a tourniquet on Obama’s second-term ambitions. Will Obama cave yet again — as he did in March when he signed a bill that allowed the spending cuts to continue unabated? Or will he use a veto threat to demand funding for his priorities? The White House won’t say and, by all public accounts, the president hasn’t decided yet what to do. But all those grand visions and soaring speeches about investing in his priorities won’t amount to much if he can’t get Congress to cough up the cash.
Boehner doesn’t think Obama can credibly risk a shutdown aimed at forcing Congress to spend more money. “The American people won’t stand for it, and we’re not going to be swayed by it,” he told his conference. “The president’s desperation to rid himself of sequestration is apparent, but any effort — or even threat — to shut down the government over it will surely backfire,” Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said. “Sequestration is bad policy, but after all his blown predictions, the president has very little credibility on the issue.”
Aug. 29: Politico: Deficit talks break down, focus returns to the House:
Aug. 29: Politico: House Conservatives prepare for Fiscal Fights:
“We’ve been in constant communication in the course of the August recess,” South Carolina GOP Rep. Mick Mulvaney said in a phone interview as he walked in to a town hall meeting along with South Carolina GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy. The pair spent a chunk of the recess together, holding joint constituent meetings in both districts. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has given little indication that he’s going to give conservatives what they want, specifically a continuing resolution that would defund Obamacare. But conservatives think if he doesn’t, it could be a first shot in a renewed battle within the party. “I’m still trying to get our leadership to actually take on Obamacare when it really counts,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) said.
As part of a deal to keep the government running, conservatives want to defund Obamacare, but are also seeking to maintain spending at levels both consistent with the sequester and the House-passed budget. They will only agree to sign off on a debt ceiling hike if it cuts spending, but are unsure whether that should be part of a CR. Taking it a step further, conservatives argue that they aren’t simply seeking symbolic votes in the House, but real measures on which their leadership will stand firm in negotiations with the Senate.
Aug. 27: Roll Call: Boehner: President in for a “Whale of a Fight” over the Debt Limit
On Tuesday, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told CQ Roll Call that the speaker’s comments are “consistent with his long-stated position: Any increase in the debt limit must be accompanied by cuts and reforms greater than the increase.” When pressed on Boehner’s comment that he would insist on cuts “greater than” the increase in the debt limit, Steel said, “the standard has always been, ‘equal to or greater than,’” signaling that the speaker was, perhaps, just short-handing his so-called Boehner rule — a dictum requiring “cuts and reforms equal to or greater than any increase in the debt ceiling.”
The White House, for its part, was also resolute on the matter Monday. “Let me reiterate what our position is,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. “And it is unequivocal: We will not negotiate with Republicans in Congress over Congress’ responsibility to pay the bills that Congress has racked up. Period.”
Aug. 26: The Daily Caller: GOP lawmakers to Holder: Lay off online lenders:
Led by Missouri Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, the group says that federal regulators are “intimidating some community banks and third party payment processors with threats of heightened regulatory scrutiny unless they cease doing business with online lenders.” By targeting the banks and payment services online lenders work with every day, regulators “eliminate the basic processing services that legitimate lenders rely upon to serve millions of Americans.”
“More than one in four American households conducts some or all of their financial transactions outside the mainstream banking system,” the letter notes, arguing that poor families who use payday loans are most likely to suffer from the crackdown. “Your actions to ‘choke-off’ short-term lenders by changing the structure of the financial system are outside of your federal mandate,” the lawmakers added, calling on the federal agencies to halt their enforcement actions.
Aug. 26: The Hill: Treasury tells Congress the nation will breach debt ceiling in mid-October:
Shortly after Lew's letter became public, the White House reiterated its stance on raising the debt limit — it is not up for debate. Of course earlier this year the Congress allowed the debt ceiling to “float” earlier this year when it passed the No Budget No Pay bill which did away with the debt limit for about four months. Time will tell whether the Congress will take any similar action again and what they will call it this time!
Aug. 22: Politico: House hopes to lump debt ceiling and sequester into one debate
Republicans will also aim to include other items to please the base, including the building of the Keystone XL pipeline, various energy policies and revising parts of Obamacare, including the individual mandate. But here’s where the fight begins: A senior Obama administration official said there is nothing that will compel the White House to negotiate over the debt ceiling — including the sequester. The White House doesn’t believe the Republicans will push the nation into default if they don’t get their way. Furthermore, House and Senate Democrats want to increase taxes in exchange for changes to popular entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid — something the GOP says doesn’t have a prayer of passing. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), for his part, wants to keep the issue of government funding and the sequester separate from the debt-ceiling fight.
Aug. 10: Fox News: Obama warns disabled vets that sequester could put their benefits jeopardy:
he president but the blame squarely on Congress, which returns in about four weeks to work on a new federal budget and increasing the federal debt limit. “We’ve got these reckless, across-the-board budget cuts called the sequester that are hitting a lot of folks hard,” Obama said. [We have heard this before: dire warnings about the impact of sequester cuts, cutting off White House tours while the President takes multiple expensive vacation trips. It it called ruling by fear and this administration has made it an art form!]
Aug. 10: The Daily Caller: The New face of Food Stamps; used to buy lobster for surfer and his buddies (video) [Please note: Some of the language contained in the report linked to is not suitable for children]
Aug. 10: The Hill: Economist are split on whether Taxes hurt economic recovery:
But let me add one observation. Look at what is happening with ObamaCare. Because companies with 50 or more full-time employee are required to provide health care benefits or pay fines (the Supreme Court calls them Taxes) what are we seeing? Small and medium-size companies are increasing the number of part time workers (who work less than 30 hours) while the number of full-time employment positions in these firms is on the decline. So you decide whether taxes hurt the economy!
Aug. 6: The Daily Caller: Obama urges revival of “bubble-era” mortgage policies:
This time around, Obama insisted, massive government interference in the private real estate market would not produce the catastrophe Americans endured in the last decade. “I hope everybody here learned some hard lessons from what happened… It was kind of crazy,” Obama told his Phoenix audience. “So what we want to do is something stable and steady,” he said. Obama’s proposal to stimulate the real estate sector echoes Bush’s call in 2002 to spur home-buying by immigrants and African-Americans.
Aug. 6: The Daily Caller: Left and right unite to blast sequester-imposed cuts on defense:
While critical of the Pentagon’s plan, the scholars reserved most of their ire for the sequester itself, which they said forced the Defense Department to consider such drastic action in the first place. “At the time [of its enactment] sequestration seemed better than doing nothing,” O’Hanlon remarked. “Now I think it’s worse than nothing. It’s a bridge too far.”
Eaglen argued that the Pentagon is being unfairly targeted compared to other federal agencies. “Roughly $1 trillion was taken out of current, planned or future DoD spending in the last four years before sequestration,” she said. “In many of these other departments, they’re coming off a budget wave from the stimulus.”
Aug. 4: Politico: Cantor: Real problem is entitlements, not sequestration
The Republican leader also said most in Congress, including conservatives, do not support a government shutdown when the new fiscal year starts Oct. 1. “What we're trying to do is fund the government and to make sure, also, that we take away the kinds of things that are standing in the way of a growing economy, of better health care,” Cantor said, “and all the while keeping our eye focused on trying to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit.”
Aug. 3: The Hill: Obama: Shutting down the government won’t help the middle class, but who is the one responsible for shutting it down?
The problem is that Obama’s got it all wrong. What is being suggested is NOT shutting down the entire government, but ONLY ObamaCare. The rest of the government would be fully funded. So, if the President were to veto a continuing resolution that funds everything but ObamaCare, the question is “Who would really be responsible for shutting down the government [e.g., air controllers, the Patent and Trademark Office, the National Parks, and so forth)?” The proposed CR would fund all of these! So wouldn’t it be the President, and not the Congress, who is ultimately responsible for shutting down the federal government if this should happen?
Boehner’s remarks came a day after GOP leadership made the decision to pull from the floor, mid-consideration, an appropriations bill funding transportation and housing programs. Boehner on Thursday morning reiterated the official party line, that the choice was because of scheduling concerns, not concerns that there weren’t enough Republican votes to bring the measure over the finish line. But that talking point has run in conflict with speculation from fellow Republicans, including those on the Appropriations Committee, who say there was not adequate GOP support — from conservatives who said the bill didn’t cut deeply enough and from more moderate Republicans who couldn’t stomach cuts to key programs on which constituents in their districts rely, from Amtrak to Community Development Block Grants.
Aug. 1: Politico: Speaker calls for short-term Continuing Resolution:
July 28: Fox News: White House doubles down on vow; won’t agree to more spending cuts:
He also repeated what the administration has said in the weeks ahead of talks on short-term funding for federal agencies before a Sept. 30 deadline -- that Capitol Hill lawmakers must replace so-called sequester cuts with less drastic ones. “Congress should find a way out of sequester,” Lew said.
The administration is facing a credibility gap when it claimed all kinds of horrible things would happen because of the current sequester, things that did not happen or agencies were able to avoid. At the same time, while they were forecasting doom and shutting down White House tours the Obamas were continuing to take expensive vacations which raised eyebrows at the time.
July 28: The Hill: Lew warns GOP to avoid ‘false crises’ over spending and the debt limit:
July 26: Politico: The Fiscal Cliff and Funding the Federal Government all over again:
Capitol Hill has been immersed in debate over immigration and the farm bill, but that will change once Congress returns from its August recess. There’s an Oct. 1 due date for passing a continuing resolution to keep the government funded, and the nation is expected to hit its borrowing limit sometime between October and the end of the year.
House GOP leaders and many rank-and-file lawmakers appear to be itching for another showdown with the White House over raising the debt ceiling — one of the few real leverage points they have to deliver on their pledge to cut spending. In the Senate, a trio of potential 2016 GOP contenders — Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Rand Paul of Kentucky — want to defund Obamacare as part of a deal to keep the government open.
How those battles play out is likely to become a dominant political story line heading into the election year. That’s especially true in the battle for the House, because it’s been center stage for Washington’s recurring fiscal drama ever since the tea party-led GOP takeover of the chamber in 2010.
July 26: Politico: 60 GOP House Members to Speaker: Obamacare funding must go or shut down the government:
“In light of the Administration’s recent delay of the employer mandate and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal, it is imperative, now more than ever, that Congress do everything in its power to halt the implementation of the healthcare law,” Meadows writes. “It is entirely unacceptable that the IRS, a government agency that actively discriminates against Americans, is in charge of implementing a law that Americans do not want.”
July 25: The Hill: CBO says sequester cuts could cost up to 1.6 million jobs through 2014
July 23: The Hill: Reid’s firm stand increases the likelihood of a government shutdown standoff:
When asked if he would support a continuing funding resolution that maintains sequestration, Reid said, “I can’t speak for other Democrats — I wouldn’t.” He warned that keeping government funding levels at post-sequester levels would have dangerous consequences for the U.S. economy. “Let’s see what the House winds up doing. I think it would be a disaster for this country and I would do everything within my ability to oppose that,” he said. A Democratic aide said Reid is objecting to the decision of House Republicans to restore defense funding to pre-sequester levels and paying for it by cutting non-defense domestic programs.
July 23: Roll Call: Democrats Grudgingly Accept Student Loan Deal:
This manner of accounting is nothing new. The formula used to calculate payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients always assumes a huge cut in payments to providers in future years, a budgeting debacle that’s come to be blocked through the stopgap known as the “doc fix.” Reed said he planned to offer an amendment with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA., to cap the rates for students at 6.8 percent, instead of allowing them to float higher, with no real anticipation of success.
July 21: Fox News: First Family returns to Martha’s Vineyard summer vacation, while furloughs kick in:
July 18: The Daily Caller: DC’s “living wage” law is a dead end! Those who conceived it don’t understand the free market:
Some will always benefit from minimum wage laws because their hourly wages go up. What is not so apparent is the damage that minimum wage causes — increased unemployment and less economic opportunity for unskilled workers, and a lower wage for those workers not subject to minimum wage laws, among other things. An increase in the hourly wage of an employee might not seem like much money when considered individually, but it is a lot of money for an employer with a large number of employees who are subject to minimum wage. Since the employer only has so much money budgeted for his labor pool, the logical solution is to eliminate some of these positions, or to cut hours and scale back in a variety of ways.
The result is that some minimum wage workers will lose their jobs. Others will never be hired in the first place, becoming “that which is not seen.”
July 18: Politico: Democrats renew anti-sequestration push:
July 15: Politico: Should Glass-Steagall be reinstituted limiting bank involvement in commercial enterprises?
Fed Gov. Daniel Tarullo said Monday that the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999 was not a major factor in the 2008 financial crisis and that putting it back in place would not necessarily address the current threats to the financial system, such as banks’ reliance on volatile short-term funding markets. “There’s some question as to how much that separation would actually prevent the kind of problems we saw from developing,” Tarullo said in reference to financial institutions that ran into trouble during the financial crisis. The repeal of Glass-Steagall has been seized upon by reform advocates as a moment when Wall Street deregulation went too far and the era of excessive risk taking that led to the 2008 financial crisis began in earnest.
July 15: Politico: Air Force Thunderbirds Flying Again amid Sequester
July 14: The Daily Caller:
Carson argued that his time as a neurosurgeon has given him a unique view of race and humanity. “When I take someone to the operating room and I cut the scalp, and peel it down, and take off the bone flap, and open the dura, I’m actually operating on the thing that makes that person who they are. … Their skin doesn’t make them who they are. The color has nothing to do with who they are. But you know, people who tend to be superficial. You know, superficial things mean a lot. People who tend to be deep are able to see through that and evaluate a person for who they are, and that’s what Martin Luther King meant when he said judge a person by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.”
July 5: The Hill:
The economy has added an average of 202,000 jobs per month for the first six months this year, a jump from 180,000 in the six months prior, another sign that businesses are hiring despite fiscal headwinds. "While more work remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further confirmation that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression," Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House's Council of Economic Advisers said in a statement.
June 29: The Weekly Standard:
While the amounts spent were deemed fairly ordinary by government insiders, the fact that the closely-held information was found on a publicly available government website had some speculating that perhaps the postings had been inadvertent. Wolf Blitzer, who spent seven years reporting from the White House, even called it "an extremely rare glimpse." However, further investigation has revealed that the information is not as rare as previously supposed.
June 28: Politico: Sequestration will be a long hard process:
Next year’s cuts probably won’t create images on TV of long lines at airports or terrifying headlines about the threat of tainted meat — actual examples that rallied Congress and the White House earlier this spring to make sequester exceptions. Plus, the cuts are coming as the economy improves, leaving sequestration opponents who say the recovery is too fragile to withstand a shrinking government with the argument that things could be better — but they can’t point to worse. The result for Washington: Strap in for sequestration’s long, slow burn.
“As far as I can tell, we’re going to be operating under the sequester for the foreseeable future,” said Jim Manley, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In addition Washington’s attention has shifted away from the fiscal fight and the fallout that comes with $1.2 trillion slashed from the Pentagon and most domestic agencies. The budget debate will inevitably return when the fiscal year ends Sept. 30 and a House-Senate-White House deal is required to avert a government shutdown. House Republicans are also still demanding concessions from President Barack Obama before they approve an extension to the country’s debt limit.June 27: Common Sense Video: Time to Sequester Air Force One Vacation and Campaign Flights?
June 19: Politico: Bernanke not coming back: Adjustments in the future?
The prospect of the post-Bernanke era raises a series of thorny questions for global markets and the United States economy as well as political players inside and outside the Beltway. There remains serious doubt that the economy and the stock market can fly on their own without extraordinary Fed assistance. If the Fed bungles the transition from its current policies and the country stumbles back toward recession, it could spell big trouble for Democrats like Hillary Rodham Clinton hoping to replace Obama in 2016. The fact that Bernanke was often the lone operator in Washington capable of administering emergency aid to the economy during a period of Beltway gridlock is another reason market players and economists are so worried about the Fed transition. They fear that Bernanke’s successor, partly due to political pressure to back off and partly due to signs the economy is picking up, will move too fast to stop buying assets, possibly tanking the stock market and reversing the recent housing market recovery.
June 19: The Daily Caller: Stockman’s Communications Director can live on Food Stamp without problems!
Stockman’s office noted that Ferguson did not use coupons, discount programs, or a shopping list, and he shopped at locations accessible via public transportation. “Not only did I buy a week’s worth of food on what Democrats claim is too little, I have money left over. Based on my personal experience with SNAP benefit limits we have room to cut about 12 percent more,” Ferguson said. ”I could have bought cheaper vegetables instead of prepared red beans and rice, but I like red beans and rice. Folks aren’t buying fast food instead of vegetables because of benefit limits, they’re buying fast food because fast food tastes great and vegetables taste like vegetables.”
June 17: The Daily Caller: GOP seeks to cut “green energy” spending in half next year:
The Obama administration’s proposed 2014 budget increases the Energy Department’s funding by 8 percent to $28.4 billion to fund clean energy programs, improve energy security, address global warming and modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons systems. The budget proposal also permanently extends green energy tax credits. Renewable energy and energy efficiency programs make up $23 billion in spending over the next decade in the Obama budget blueprint. Republicans have attacked the Energy Department’s controversial loan program, which lent millions of dollars to the now failed green companies Solyndra, Abound Solar and Beacon Power. More recently, the luxury hybrid manufacturer Fisker Automotive has been circling the drain, and could represent the largest taxpayer loss since Solyndra — taxpayers stand to lose $171 million. Republican lawmakers argued their bill would prevent the Energy Department from “subordinating” taxpayers’ stake in government backed loans to the interests of other investors.
June 16: The Hill: Gore presses Obama on carbon rule, calls Keystone pipeline an “atrocity”
June 14: The Daily Caller: Obama plans international tax uniformity, wants to use G8 meeting to crackdown on legal tax loopholes! Looking for money where ever he can find it!
June 14: The Weekly Standard:
After The Post questioned the costs of a planned family safari, the White House nixed the plan. "The president and first lady had also planned to take a Tanzanian safari as part of the trip, which would have required the president’s special counter-assault team to carry sniper rifles with high-caliber rounds that could neutralize cheetahs, lions or other animals if they became a threat, according to the planning document. But the White House canceled the safari on Wednesday following inquiries from The Post about the trip’s purpose and expense, according to a person familiar with the decision."
June 14: The Daily Caller: Baucus: Interest in carbon tax is “creeping up”
The Senate Finance Committee takes up the issue next week, but Baucus is unsure if a carbon tax could gain real momentum. Republicans in the House have introduced a resolution opposed to the carbon tax, and a bipartisan group of senators voted in March to oppose a carbon tax in an amendment to the Senate Democratic budget plan. Michigan Republican Rep. Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said, “I don’t support a carbon tax.”
June 6: Politico: Speaker Boehner blast Obama Veto Threats on Spending Bills:
“Your administration’s sudden demand to increase spending and taxes — yet again — or else shut down the government can only be described as reckless,” Boehner told Obama in his letter. “As a president who decried ‘manufactured crises’ and said the economy should not be subject to a ‘politically self-inflicted wound,’ Americans deserve to know why you and the members of your administration would now willfully and needlessly raise the specter of a government shutdown,” the letter said. Boehner added that he and Obama “agree that sequestration is the wrong way to cut spending” and notes that the House has twice based “sequestration replacement” bills, although these measures were dismissed as a political stunt by Obama and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill. “But sequestration is here, as a result of legislation that you signed into law, and you have said yourself that we should not make the situation worse by creating ‘another crisis’ ….” Boehner wrote.
The White House this week said Obama would veto the Homeland Security appropriations bill unless there is “an overall budget framework that supports our recovery and enables sufficient investments in education, infrastructure, innovation and national security for our economy to compete in the future,” according to a Statement of Administration Policy. Obama has also threatened to veto the Military Construction spending bill.
May 30: The Daily Caller: Senate Staffers offered classes on forgiveness, relaxation, sleep in the midst of sequestration:
May 24: Breitbart.com: Some Unions Now Angry about Obamacare:
May 24: Politico: Furlough Friday: Will anybody notice?
May 24: The Hill: Congress and Pentagon lack consensus on sequestration fix:
From potential base closures to a reduction in health and retirement benefits, Pentagon leaders are working multiple, politically distasteful options to reduce the impact of those across-the-board budget cuts. The Defense Department is preparing to cut $41 billion in 2013, and its 2014 budget request could get slashed by another $52 billion if the sequester is not eliminated. For its part, the Air Force has already grounded 17 squadrons and severely cut back on critical training missions to pay for their end of sequestration. But in the end, if Congress does not grant the Air Force and the rest of the services the fiscal leeway on base closures and benefits, it could deal a crippling blow to the air service.
May 19: The Hill: Extraordinary measures become standard as US hits debt limit again:
After a brief hiatus, the nation’s debt limit has returned as a major hurdle for Washington to overcome, and one that will play a central role in fiscal fights heading into the fall. Congress agreed to suspend the nation’s $16.4 trillion borrowing limit the last time they approached it, at the beginning of the year. But that suspension expired May 19. The latest numbers from the Treasury Department indicate that the overall debt of the United States swelled by about $300 billion during the period of the suspension, and now totals roughly $16.7 trillion. With the government once again operating under a borrowing cap, the Treasury is back to employing special measures to free up space under the limit.
May 19: Politico: GOP may roll out debt ceiling plan before August:
President Barack Obama has said he won’t negotiate with Republicans over hiking the debt ceiling but has remained open to a larger deficit deal. In a series of conversations between Capitol Hill Democrats and the White House, Obama’s team has been firm that he would only accept a clean debt ceiling bill. GOP leadership will soon begin meeting with small groups of lawmakers to gauge exactly what kind of package could win enough Republican votes for passage. This week’s meeting saw leadership taking copious notes about what the rank and file wanted to see in the bill. Allowing members to sell the plan would create momentum for it in a Democrat-dominated Washington.
Separately, conservative Republican Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Tom Price of Georgia are trying to “refine” what they would like to see in the package. They’ll meet with Speaker John Boehner within the next few weeks to finalize a plan.
May 19: The Hill: Despite talks, no effort taken in Congress to change Obamacare’s Employer mandate:
In part, the lack of action stems from Republican divisions over whether it’s OK to “fix” parts of the healthcare law. Some conservatives say the party should focus solely on repealing the law and shouldn’t help Democrats solve potential problems."There are members of leadership that told me, ‘Hey, we're willing just to let it collapse, and somebody else will get blamed, and it'll be a great political issue,’” Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) said.
Huelskamp is a hard-line conservative, and he opposed a recent bill that was described as fixing a part of the healthcare law. But he said Republicans should consider small, targeted changes to the law’s employer mandate. "That’s a reasonable part of a Republican strategy … that seems to make sense. Folks here are really concerned about small business,” he said.
The employer mandate requires businesses with more than 50 full-time-equivalent workers to offer health insurance or pay a fine for each uninsured worker. Businesses have to offer coverage to every employee who works more than 30 hours per week. Some businesses have cut their employees’ hours, capping them at 29 hours per week to avoid paying for health insurance.
May 18: The Hill: Senators want to move forward to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:
While details are still being hashed out, the basic premise is that the government's role in the housing finance market would be reduced in favor of more private capital during a transition that is expected to take several years. “Obviously we're discussing lots of options but I don't know of anybody that's working on an option where Fannie and Freddie are what they are today,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) told The Hill. “No one is looking to re-IPO [initial public offering] them or anything else.” Corker said that talks are ongoing and “there have been a lot of very fruitful discussions” While reforms of the mortgage industry is far from the forefront of the legislative agenda, there are some indications that it has a pulse.
May16: The Daily Caller: In a meaningless gesture the House Votes to Repeal Obamacare
Many of the Republicans who voted for the repeal also voted for fully funding the Affordable Care Act in a vote earlier this year as part of the Continuing Resolution. So are they for repeal, and if so, how come they voted to fully pay for the implementation, administration and enforcement of it? Could it be that they did so, so that they could go back home and tell their constituents that they voted to repeal the measure – even though they know that the vote to do so will have no effect? In the days leading up to the vote, Democrats dismissed the effort as wasteful and unproductive. For once, we would agree with the Democrats! If the House leadership wanted to deal a fatal blow to Obamacare they should have done so as part of the Continuing Resolution, prohibiting the use of any of the funds for this program!
May 9: The Hill: Credit Raters Wary of GOP proposal on Debt Limit:
Nikola Swann, the primary analyst for the U.S. rating for Standard & Poor's, pointed out that if a prioritization plan were in place, reaching the $16.4 trillion borrowing limit would still carry potentially huge economic and financial consequences. The government would cut bond payments and Social Security checks, but a whole range of other government payments would be cast into doubt. The impact would be "perhaps even a little bigger" than the "fiscal cliff" that threatened the nation's economy at the end of 2012, he said. The U.S. might be able to avoid a literal default on its debt obligations, but the resulting turmoil could still chip away at the nation's credit rating.
"But the real issue is not who will go to the head of the line for payments if the debt ceiling is not raised" the editor of "Your Resource for News" pointed out. "The real issue is that we are not cutting spending! The Obama Administration is calling a reduction of the increase in spending, cuts. But that's not true spending cuts." he notes, "because the amount we spend is still increasing. What is need is for the Congress and the Administration to take a serious look at reducing the amount our county spends and then start paying down the debt." It should be noted that earlier this year the Congress enacted, and the President signed, a bill that does away with the debt ceiling limit until the middle of this month.
May 8: The Hill: Despite Sequester fix, some lawmakers blame flight delays for missed votes:
May 7: The Hill: Ten people to watch in the debt showdown:
The following is a list of 10 players to watch on the debt-limit battle, The Hill says.
May 7: The Daily Caller: Increase in coal-fired power generation may be short-lived:
May 7: The Hill: Sequestration Cuts Expected to Hit the Job Market over the Summer:
May 6: The Hill: Senate Approves Internet Sales Tax Bill:
May 6: The Daily Caller | The Hill: Reid and Cruz trade jabs on Senate Floor
But immediately upon hearing Reid’s remarks, Cruz stepped up and took on the Senate Majority Leader. “I wasn’t aware we are in the schoolyard,” Cruz replied. Reid pushed back on procedural grounds at Cruz, telling him he could either object or not, to which Cruz eventually objected to Reid’s measure.
May 4: Fox News: States: 'Blindsided' by plan to shift costs of 'uninsurables' to them under ObamaCare:
In a letter this week to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, state officials said they were "blindsided" and "very disappointed" by a federal proposal they contend would shift the risk for cost overruns to states in the waning days of the program. About 100,000 people are currently covered. "We are concerned about what will become of our high risk members' access to this decent and affordable coverage," wrote Michael Keough, chairman of the National Association of State Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans. States and local nonprofits administer the program in 27 states, and the federal government runs the remaining plans.
May 4: The Hill: Vacancies, furloughs piling up at OMB:
It remains to be seen how the personnel issues at OMB will affect its work. The annual budget season will not heat up until the fall, but the office will likely not want to repeat the two-month delay it had in delivering Obama’s budget this year. The budget came out in April despite being due in early February.
May 2: The Hill: Small Businesses Sue the IRS for "Illegal" implementation of Obamacare:
The suit accuses the IRS of illegally implementing subsidies to help people buy private insurance. And because the administration is giving out too many subsidies, the plaintiffs argue, it is also forcing too many employers to provide insurance even in states. “ObamaCare is already an incredibly massive program. For the IRS to expand it even more, without congressional authorization and in a manner aimed at undercutting state choice, is flagrantly illegal," said Sam Kazman, general counsel of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is coordinating the lawsuit.
It all starts with the law's insurance exchanges — new marketplaces where individuals and small businesses can buy private insurance. The law sets up an exchange in each state, and authorizes the federal government to build the exchange in any state that doesn't build its own. The law also provides subsidies to help low-income people buy insurance through the exchanges. And that's the catch — the law specifically refers to subsidies flowing through exchanges "established by the state." The law's critics say subsidies should therefore only be available in state-run exchanges — not in the federal version. “The IRS rule we are challenging is at war with the act’s plain language and completely rewrites the deal that Congress made with the states on running these insurance exchanges," Carvin said.
May 2: The Hill: The Price for a Debt Ceiling Increase will be a balanced budget, conservatives say:
The new pressure from conservative groups comes as House GOP leaders are discussing measures that would tie a hike in the debt limit to tax reform legislation and additional spending cuts. President Obama, however, has said he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling, urging Republicans to raise the limit without preconditions. In 2011, Obama was forced by congressional Republicans to accept dollar-for-dollar cuts to the federal budget over ten years for a $2.1 billion increase in the debt ceiling, a move he has said was a mistake.
Club spokesman Barney Keller confirmed to The Hill that a “path to [a] balanced budget within 10 years,” is the Club’s stance in the new debt fight. The Club had made a similar demand in January when Washington last dealt with an approaching debt limit. The debt ceiling was increased then when the Senate and Obama accepted a bill that included a provision withholding lawmaker pay if each chamber failed to produce a budget. The Senate quickly adopted their first budget in four years.
House conservatives agreed to the “No Budget, No Pay” solution in January in exchange for promises that the House 2014 budget would balance within ten years, that the sequester would be allowed to go into effect unless replaced only with spending cuts, and that GOP leaders would try to use the next debt ceiling increase to get the House budget adopted
May 1: Money Morning: Schiff: 2/3 of America to Lose Everything Because of This Crisis:
Schiff says that, despite "phony" signs of an economic recovery, the cancer destroying America, stems from a lethal concoction of our $16 trillion federal debt and the Fed's never ending money printing. Currently, Bernanke and company is buying $1 trillion of Treasury and mortgage bonds a year. That's about $85 billion per month against a budget deficit that is about the same level. According to Schiff, these numbers are unsustainable. And the Fed has no credible "exit strategy." Eventually interest rates will rise... and when they do, Schiff says, stocks will tank and bonds dip to nothing. Massive new tax hikes will be imposed and programs and entitlements will be cut to the bone.
May 1: The Hill: President Obama signs bill to ease flight delays from FAA furloughs:President Obama signed legislation on Wednesday to end the air traffic controller furloughs from sequestration that were blamed for hundreds of flight delays last week. The White House said Obama signed the measure, the Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013 (H.R. 1765). The bill allows the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to move money around in its budget to eliminate furloughs for air traffic controllers. The money would come from a grant program used for airport improvements.
Obama has criticized the measure as a short-term solution that does not fix the problems caused by the spending cuts from sequestration. "Congress responded to the short-term problem of flight delays by giving us the option of shifting money that's designed to repair and improve airports over the long term to fix the short-term problem," he said during a press conference on Tuesday. "Well that's not a solution. Essentially what we've done is, we've said, in order to avoid delays this summer, we're going to ensure delays for the next two or three decades." Conveniently omitted was the fact that sequestration was the idea of the Obama Administration.
May 1: Fox News: Americans find ways to soften sequester; saving tourist seasons, programs for needy:
May 1: The Hill: Federal Reserve: Fiscal policy 'restraining' economic rebound:
In its latest statement, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) said the U.S. economy was growing at a "moderate pace," no thanks to its fiscal course. "Fiscal policy is restraining economic growth," the FOMC said. As sequestration continues to take effect, the Fed said it was sticking to its "quantitative easing" plan, buying up $40 billion of housing bonds and another $45 billion of Treasury bonds. It added, for the first time, the Fed could potentially increase the size of those purchases, as well as decrease, depending on what happens with the economy or the Fed's handle on inflation.
Apr. 29: Politico: Democrats ask “What Debt Crisis?”
Apr. 29: Fox News: US loans from China at issue in debt-ceiling fight
The national debt will soon be front-and-center again as a deeply divided Congress wrestles with an expected new Obama administration request to increase the government's borrowing authority, the legislatively set debt ceiling. The higher limit would not authorize borrowing for new spending but just enables the government to pay all the bills already racked up. The upcoming summer debate could be a repeat of the divisive debt-ceiling crisis in August 2011 when weeks of political irresolution nearly plunged the U.S. into its first-ever financial default -- and did trigger a downgrade in the government's once-sterling credit rating.
Apr. 29: Fox News: Obama Blames GOP for Sequestor Even Though It Was Originally His Idea:
Apr. 26: The Hill: Experts: Debt-ceiling increase might not be needed until October:
Apr. 26: Politico: Obamacare Round Two Looks as Shaky as Round One:
Obama’s allies know the health care law needs a massive outreach effort, but Obamacare Round 2 is already starting to look a lot like Round 1, when Democrats roundly accused the White House of botching its appeal to the public, giving Republicans the upper hand on defining the law. In the meantime leaders like Senator Baucus (D-MT) has been warning of a major train wreck on the horizon.
Apr. 26: Politico: House Bill Reverses Controller Furloughs
Apr. 24: The Wall Street Journal: Airlines Seek Clarity on Controllers Shortages:
Mr. Isom, Chief Operating Officer of U.S. Airways Group, Inc., said in an interview that the airline can't plan pre-emptive cancellations to avoid the worst delays because carriers only learn of problems on morning calls with the agency and aren't privy to the information the FAA has when it announces the slowdowns and ground delays. "We really don't know what information the FAA has."
Apr. 24: Politico: Top Lawmakers work on Exemption from Obamacare for themselves and Congressional staff:
The talks — which involve Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), the Obama administration and other top lawmakers — are extraordinarily sensitive, with both sides acutely aware of the potential for political fallout from giving carve-outs from the hugely controversial law to 535 lawmakers and thousands of their aides. Discussions have stretched out for months, sources said.
Apr. 23: The Hill:
Apr. 23: The Daily Caller:
Apr. 23: The Hill: Reid will try to replace sequester with war savings from Afghan draw-down:
In 2013, the Pentagon has said it has saved some $81 billion that it would otherwise have spent on the war in Afghanistan if not for President Obama’s decision to draw-down the U.S. troop presence. Republicans have derided war savings as a budget gimmick in the past.
Reid is acting as public concern over the cuts has begun to emerge due to airport delays.
Apr. 23: The Hill: GOP Blocks Reid from creating a Conference Committee on the Budget.
April 22: Fox News: Travelers brace for delays as FAA imposes furloughs, lawmakers decry 'stunt'
Coburn claimed the FAA has failed to make "smart cuts" to avoid this outcome. He suggested the agency could reduce spending on "consultants, supplies and travel" by 15 percent, saving $105 million. He also claimed the agency could save much more than that by trimming a grant program for airport improvements. Others suggested that the FAA could reduce the impact on the flying public by cutting other parts of their budget, travel being one of them. Meanwhile the Associated Press reported flight delays piled up across the country on Monday as thousands of air traffic controllers began taking unpaid days off, providing the most visible impact yet of Congress and the White House's failure to agree on a long-term deficit-reduction plan. At one point, the delays were so bad that passengers on several Washington-New York shuttle flights could have reached their destination faster by taking the train.
Apr. 22: The Weekly Standards: White House Endorses Internet Sales Tax – Impact on Small Family Businesses:
Apr. 22: Fox News: Lawmakers Warn Cost of Federal “Free Phone” Program is Spinning Out of Control:
Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, was incensed when she got an offer of a free phone. "I got solicitation for a free phone at my apartment, which is certainly not a building where you're going to have people who are qualified for free phones. ... There is clearly money being wasted here." And Vitter adds, "The FCC, itself, said in a recent year there were 270,000 beneficiaries that had more than one of these subsidized cellphones. That's completely against the law right there."
Apr. 21: Politico: Food Stamps: Do We Want to Kick People Off If There are No Jobs for Them?
For this reason, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) is resisting the move. But back home, the Oklahoma state Legislature recently took steps to reinstate work requirements. And the office of Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has repeatedly raised the issue with Lucas as a way to win conservative votes for his farm bill, now slated for markup May 15.
Apr. 19: The Hill: Top House Dems offer mixed reaction to new Bowles-Simpson deficit plan:
Bowles said Friday that his new plan is 76 percent spending cuts and 24 percent revenue increases when changes already adopted by Congress since 2010 are taken into account. That is roughly in line with the 70 percent to 30 percent ratio the 2010 Fiscal Commission report presented.
Apr. 19: Politico: Flights May Be Canceled, FAA Says, Due to Sequestration of Funds for Flight Controllers:
“With this number of delayed flights, airline schedules will extend into the late evening or early morning hours unless the carriers cancel flights,” the FAA wrote in its report. Among those likely to suffer, the documents show, would be flights out of San Francisco, which may see maximum delays of 380 minutes and an average wait of 230.4 minutes during bad weather. During normal “blue sky” weather, delays in San Francisco would be a maximum of 68 minutes and an average of 18.8 minutes. At least one airline has acknowledged that it will need to proactively cancel selected flights, primarily during off-peak hours, in an effort to try to get ahead of the anticipated delays.
Apr. 18: EverydayHealth.Com: Cost of individual health care insurance may rise by 30-80% in 2014 under Obamacare:
Apr. 18: The Hill: Pompeo to Baucus: ObamaCare 'train wreck' is your fault:
If it's a train wreck, Pompeo said, Baucus has no one to blame but himself."No one in the country bears more responsibility for the complexity of this law than you," Pompeo wrote in a letter to Baucus who chairs the Senate Finance Committee and which was a key architect of the Affordable Care Act. Most of its major provisions were crafted in his committee, and the Finance draft was consistently treated as the primary bill even as other Senate and House committees worked on their own proposals."You drafted it, you twisted arms to get it passed, and, until now, you have lauded it as a model for all the world," Pompeo wrote to Baucus. Your attempts to pass the buck to President Obama’s team will not work, nor will they absolve you of responsibility for the harm that you have brought via this law."
Baucus has a competitive reelection fight coming up next year — just months after the biggest pieces of ObamaCare are set to take effect. Republicans have already made clear that they plan to target Baucus over his role in getting the healthcare law passed, and problems with the implementation could make the GOP's job easier.
Apr. 17: Politico: GOP House Members Want to Stop the “Stop Gap” Approach to Funding the Federal Government:
“Continually governing by CR wastes money, creates massive inefficiencies, and can weaken our national security,” Graves wrote in the letter, which he also sent to Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY). “This is exactly opposite of the good government initiatives and reforms each of us promised our constituents. Rather than negotiating yet another Continuing Resolution at the last minute, the Appropriations process should work as it was originally designed, with Appropriations bills passing the House and the Senate and being signed into law by the President, after robust debate, with a process for amendments.”
Apr. 17: Politico: It’s About Time, Mark Warner (D-VA) Says the federal Deficit is more of a Danger to the Country than the Boston Bomber:
Apr. 17: The Hill: House Democrats up pressure on Boehner to start budget conference:House Democrats on Wednesday increased their pressure on Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to convene a formal House-Senate budget conference committee. All 17 Democrats on the House Budget Committee sent a letter to Boehner calling for the committee to be created. The letter, organized by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD), the Budget panel’s ranking member, and David Cicilline (RI) comes a day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) accused Boehner of dragging his feet on the budget conference. The Senate passed a budget this year for the first time in four years, after Republicans made its failure to do so a pet issue.
Apr. 15: The Hill: The good, bad and ugly in President Obama’s new budget:
First, on the good side, the president through his budget has declared his willingness to support serious entitlement reform. Moving to a chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) calculation is a big step toward putting the social security system on a path to solvency.
Apr. 15: Politico: McConnell Has No Desire to be in the same room with Reid to discuss budget:
And while the leaders don’t get along, relationships among the other 98 senators will be tested when voting begins on the controversial gun and immigration measures — starting with this week’s expected vote on expanding background checks for firearms purchases. McConnell plans to pull out all the stops to block the bill, and GOP senators are blasting any immigration plan that they say smells of “amnesty.”
Apr. 15: Fox News: Gold prices plummet:
Apr. 14: The Hill: Reid could move to create conference on budget this week:
Apr. 14: The Daily Caller: Left-wing Democrats push Norquist-style no-cuts budget pledge:
Apr. 10: FoxNews.com: Obama budget proposes more than $1 trillion in taxes, fees:
Here are a few of the notable tax increases in Obama's 2014 budget blueprint that are likely to prove controversial in that debate:
Apr. 10: Fox News: Republicans not happy with 'unbalanced' budget proposal, bristle at proposed tax hikes:
But Republican leaders, while praising the president for proposing a change to curb the growth of Social Security, said they had no interest in agreeing to new tax increases for a budget that wouldn't balance anyway.
Apr. 9: CNSNews.com: Safe from Sequester: $704,198 for Gardening at NATO Ambassador’s Home:
A State Department spokesperson said that Truman Hall regularly hosts visitors from the 28 NATO nations and other Alliance partner countries around the world and is a valuable platform for America’s diplomacy. The award provides for grass cutting, edging, trimming, weeding, and other gardening and landscaping services. It will also mandate the planting of 960 violas, tulips, and begonias. In a letter to Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) on Feb. 11, Kerry said sequestration means $2.6 billion less in fiscal year 2013 for State Department programs.
Apr. 9: The Weekly Standard: White House to Furlough Assistant Chef for Sequester”
Apr. 9: AirForceTimes.com: Reduced flying hours forces grounding of 17 USAF combat air squadrons:
Seventeen combat-coded squadrons will stand down effective Tuesday or upon their return from deployments, according to the documents. The Air Force will distribute 241,496 flying hours that are funded to squadrons that will be kept combat ready or at a reduced readiness level called “basic mission capable” for part or all of the remaining months in fiscal 2013, the documents said. The grounding includes F-22s from Virginia, F-16s from Utah, B-1B Lancers from South Dakota, and A-10s from Arizona in addition to B-52s and F-15Es.
Apr.8: Politico: President’s Budget: Late and DOA for the Senate Republicans:
Apr. 8: The Daily Caller: Obama housing agency’s staggering debt won’t stop it from insuring more high-risk loans:
The Obama administration, which reportedly believes that the housing recovery is "leaving too many people behind," hopes to encourage lenders to use “more subjective judgment” in offering loans to people with low credit scores and to people who “owe more than their properties are worth” in order to allow them to refinance at current interest rates.
Apr.8: Politico: Liberals Put Democrats on Notice – Vote for Entitlement Cuts and Face Opposition in November:
PCCC, a prominent liberal group, also launched a website called NoBenefitCuts.com. It asks supporters to sign a petition pledging to “support primary challenges to congressional Democrats who support benefit cuts.” “We’re very serious,” Adam Green, PCCC’s co-founder, said in an interview. “Any Democrat who votes to cut Social Security benefits shouldn’t call themselves a Democrat … It’s not in our minds an empty threat.”
Apr. 5: Politico: Too Little Too Late GOP says about Obama Budget:
By putting it on the table, however, the White House is including what is sees as a significant concession in the budget battles. Some progressive lawmakers were already venting steam about the move on Friday, and it could cost Obama with his base without the Republicans having given further on taxes. It was the first time the president included the language in a budget document. “It doesn’t address the core structural problems: a dramatic growth in the number of beneficiaries congruent with a shrinking number of payees/taxpayers,” the aide said. “It is very unlikely to elicit dramatic movement on a grand bargain…our members feel like they have acceded to more revenue than they agree with under any scenario, so this kind of chippy small-ball won’t do it for them.”
Apr. 5: The Hill: Right, left pan Obama budget plan:
Apr. 5: The Daily Caller: CBO: Budget deficit $601 billion in first half of fiscal year:
Spending still increased on the entitlement programs Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as on agriculture, disaster assistance and veterans’ benefits. President Obama will announce a new budget next week where he is expected to propose changes to Social Security and Medicare along with tax increases in an effort to find common ground with the GOP.
Apr. 5: The Hill: Obama budget to take aim at wealthy IRAs:
Apr. 5: The Daily Caller: Obama’s California fundraising trip irks left and right:
Apr. 5: Fox News: FAA delays closure of air traffic control towers:
Apr. 4: The Washington Times: Taxes heat up battle against ‘Obamacare’; focus turns to partial repeals:
The device tax is one of several that kicked in this year, along with higher taxes on investment income and an increase in the Medicare payroll tax among households making $250,000 per year. The tax penalty imposed on those who refuse to obtain health coverage will kick in next year, with a minimum penalty for low-income individual taxpayers of $95 in 2014, rising to $325 in 2015 and $695 in 2016. Those with higher incomes will end up paying more because their penalty is based on a percentage of their income — 1 percent in 2014, 2 percent in 2015 and 2.5 percent in 2016 and beyond.
Apr. 3: Politico: Republican View of Sequestration:
But so far, even the White House admits there’s little chance of reversing all the cuts. There’s been no sudden shock to the system. In fact, the economy seems on the mend, with housing starts higher than before the Great Recession. In fact, there’s some evidence that the sequester cuts are becoming the new normal — perhaps the surest sign that the GOP is holding the high ground so far.
Apr. 3: Politico: Democrat View of Sequestration:
Spending cuts undermine the ability to “catch the bad guys, whether it’s white-collar crime, like mortgage fraud, or street crime, or despicable things like trafficking women and children,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski said in a recent floor speech. The Maryland Democrat noted that the spending cuts hurt local law enforcement officials who rely on federal grants to help in staffing and equipment purchases. “It’s not the biggest thing in the federal budget but it’s the biggest thing to cops,” she said. “Why? Because it buys bullet-proof vests.”
The whole thing leaves Democrats looking a little like they’re rooting for bad news— though they insist that they’re only saying what is likely to happen if the money isn’t replenished.
Apr. 3: Fox News: White House throwing star-studded concert despite sequester:
Though the White House last month decided to suspend official tours of the "people's house" citing the sequester, the budget cuts apparently have not impeded the concert schedule. Since their inception in 2009, the White House concerts have featured Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and other stars.
Apr. 3: The Daily Caller: More Political Games! Citing sequester, Dem. senator furloughs staff, returns part of salary:
We need to be making responsible cuts wherever we can, and there is no reason that members of Congress shouldn’t feel the pinch like everyone else,” Begich said in a statement. “This won’t solve our spending problem on its own, but I hope it is a reminder to Alaskans that I am willing to make the tough cuts, wherever they may be, to get our spending under control.”
Apr. 2: The Daily Caller: White House scolds media for failing to cover pain caused by sequester:
Henry was pressing Carney on why the Obama administration had originally told reporters that the sequester would pull 5,000 border patrol agents off the border, only to announce Monday that the agency had reconsidered the decision for the short-term.
Apr. 2: Fox News: Brit Hume: ‘The laws of political gravity apply to Barack Obama after all’
Apr. 1: Fox News: Watchdog: Energy Department skirted rules to pay contractor execs $300G salaries:
The investigation found a senior management official at the Oak Ridge Office approved the salaries -- which exceeded the HR-approved market-value rates -- without proper authority. The 25-page report cited two “extreme cases” of overpayment: a $337,581 salary that exceeded the market rate by 82 percent and a $299,800 salary that was 74 percent higher than the market rate of $164,889.
Apr. 1: The Hill: Pentagon Says It Will Not Extend Furloughs into 2014
But DOD Comptroller Bob Hale on Monday said the department would not extend the furloughs, but rather seek "long-term options" to pay off the Pentagon's sequestration bill. "We will look for other options. They may not be pleasant, and they may force us into some difficult choices. But we definitely don't want to repeat what we're doing now," Hale said during a web conference sponsored by the Association of Government Accountants.
Apr. 1: Fox News: Customs and Border Protection delays agent furloughs amid 're-examination' of plan :
Deputy Commissioner Thomas S. Winkowski told employees in a letter Monday that the temporary spending bill President Obama signed last week that funds the federal government over the next six months allows the agency to “mitigate to some degree” the sequester's impact. However, sources told Fox News a recent surge in illegal border crossings contributed to the re-examination, as the Senate nears a final proposal on immigration reform that hinges on secure borders.
Apr. 1: Reuters: No Medicaid Expansion, Perry Reiterated, and that's no April 1st Joke:
Apr. 1: The Hill: OMB Gets Sequester Cuts But So Far, not the White House Itself:
Mar. 31: Forbes: The Age Of Unreason: Senate Democrat Budget Mythology:
But the fallacies in the Senate Democrat budget include not even remotely understanding the House Republican budget. For example, the Senate budget states that the House Republican budget shows that, “They believe that we should make massive cuts to education, health care, and other investments that benefit the middle class, seniors, and the most vulnerable families.” But the House Republican budget makes absolutely no cuts to anything. It continues to grow government spending every year. After 10 years under Ryan’s budget, by 2023, the federal government would be spending $1.4 trillion more in that year than it would in 2014. Ryan’s Republican budget proposes to spend $41.5 trillion over the 10 year budget window. Obviously, any talk of massive cuts in this budget could not be more silly, inexcusable and irresponsible.
Mar. 30: The Hill: Momentum builds to revamp nation’s ‘broken’ budget process:
Mar. 30: The Hill: GOP presses Obama to approve ‘no-brainer’ Keystone XL pipeline:
“Keystone is primed to give our economy a shot in the arm and make energy more affordable, and it won’t cost the taxpayers a dime," Terry said Saturday in the weekly Republican address. Earlier this week, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made the case that House Republicans pushed the Democratic-controlled Senate to approve a pro-Keystone amendment to a nonbinding budget resolution.
Mar. 28: Fox News: Calls to shed debt-burdened Fannie, Freddie:
"The biggest problem with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is that they are financial institutions with a social mission," said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste. That social mission, critics say, is to heavily subsidize mortgages for people who don't meet sound lending qualifications. "Lower income homes have a tougher time paying mortgages and when the housing market started to go under, that was the first to go," Schatz said.
Mar. 28: Politico: Obama's Ranking in the Polls Drops below 50% in Virginia because of the Sequester:
Mar. 28: The Daily Caller: Big Government Hurts Average Americans - Senator Johnson (R-WI) Explains:
Johnson commenced his new “Victims of Government” project with a short film detailing the plight of Granite City, Ill. resident Steven Lathrop who spent more than 20 years attempting to comply with federal wetlands regulations to alleviate flooding in his neighborhood — only to end up in a mess of red tape, bureaucratic mistakes and eventual financial distress.
Mar. 28: Politico: Obama Budget Anticipated April 10, Two Months Late:
Mar. 27: FoxNews: Cutting Nonproductive Federal Workers Might Help Budget but Prove Hard to Do:
If Congress and the Executive Branch are loath to confront the bloat in government, there may be good reason. Firing federal workers is hard. Referencing Jeff Neely, the organizer of the infamous $800,000 General Services Administration conference in Las Vegas, Schatz said "it's extremely difficult to fire anyone in any agency unless you're sitting in a hot tub with a wine glass and you're in charge of the GSA agency out in the west."
Mar.27: Fox News: Millions spent on Federal AWOL, ‘standby’ workers while others brace for furloughs:
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is now urging the government to crack down on this alleged waste, saying targeting these workers could yield billions of dollars in savings -- and even avert some furloughs. "It makes little sense to furlough air traffic controllers and border patrol agents while retaining employees who are AWOL, on standby, not performing official duties, or sitting idle awaiting security clearances," Coburn wrote in a letter Wednesday to John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management.
Mar. 26: Alabama.com: President Signs Continuing Resolution that fully funds Obamacare:
The measure sets spending at $984 billion and keeps sequestration's $85 billion cuts in place. The previous CR expires today. The new one freezes federal worker civilian pay and Congressional salaries for a third consecutive year but breaks out separate appropriation bills dealing with Agriculture; Commerce; Justice and Science; Defense; Homeland Security; and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.
Mar. 25: Citizens Against Government Waste: Not all Budget Cuts Need to be Painful:
Mar. 25: The Hill: Murray, Ryan face new mission impossible on the budget:
Mar. 25: Fox News: How they are spending our money to study a duck's private parts:
Mar. 25: The Plain Dealer: Cleveland Air Show Canceled - Administration blames sequestration:
Mar. 22: Fox News: Senate Dems reject push to balance budget in 10 years, prepare to vote on new spending plan:
Sessions used the vote to needle Democrats into taking more aggressive action to tackle the nation's debt problem. Debt is pulling down our economy now. Not tomorrow -- now," Sessions said. "But tonight, the Senate's majority party denied the American people the growth, jobs, and confidence a balanced budget would create. They denied our children a future free of crushing debt. They denied millions trapped in failed government programs the reforms they need and deserve.
Mar. 22: Fox News: FAA to close 149 air traffic towers, senator calls for using untapped research money to save them:
The cuts will affect small airports starting April 7. The closures will not force the shutdown of any of those airports, but pilots will be left to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves over a shared radio frequency with no help from ground controllers under procedures that all pilots are trained to carry out. The FAA decided to keep open 24 towers that were on the original list of possible closures.
Mar. 22: The Hill: | The Daily Caller: Senate endorses Keystone XL in budget amendment vote:
"It puts the Senate on record in support of the Keystone pipeline project. And that's just appropriate," Hoeven said. "The Department of State has done four environmental impact statements over the last five years — four — and said there are no significant environmental impacts. And it's time that we in the Senate stepped up with the American people." All Republicans voted in favor. The Senate Democrats’ budget plan is non-binding, and reconciliation with the GOP House version is unlikely.
Mar. 22: The Daily Caller: Stanford University Drops Popular Pro-Capitalism Course:
Mar. 21: The Daily Caller: GOP winning sequestration debate, but losing spending fight:
But California Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, a member of the House budget committee, says the approval of the continuing resolution on the budget this week deferred Republicans’ ability to make serious spending reductions until at least this fall. “The CR prevents the House from using its appropriations power to effect spending reforms until September 30,” McClintock told TheDC. “Obviously the battle can be fought on appropriations as of October 1. But this effectively postponed the House’s power until then.”
Mar. 21: Fox News: | The Daily Caller: House and Senate Play Ping Pong with their Budget Bills:
The measure, similar to previous plans offered by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, (R-WI)., demonstrates that it's possible, at least mathematically, to balance the budget within a decade without raising taxes. But its deep cuts to programs for the poor like Medicaid and food stamps and its promise to abolish so-called "Obamacare" are nonstarters with the president, who won re-election while campaigning against Ryan's prior budgets. It passed on a mostly party-line 221-207 vote.
Mar. 21: The Daily Caller: Oil, gas industry fends off Obama’s proposed
The poll of 1,000 registered voters, 92 percent of whom voted in the last presidential election, took place from March 8 to March 17, weeks after President Barack Obama proposed in his State of the Union Address that “we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good.” “We could raise far more revenue to the government in the form of income taxes and royalties and lease bid payments,” Stephen Comstock, API’s director for tax and accounting policy, said in a conference call accompanying the poll’s release Thursday.
Mar. 21: Fox News: | The Hill:
Mar. 20: YouTube Video: Dowdy Presses ICE Director on Release of Illegal Alien Felony Offenders:
Mar. 20: The Hill: Senate Avoids Government Shut Down; Fully Funds ObamaCare, Works on Budget:
The bill is similar enough to a House version that it is expected to swiftly pass the House Thursday and reach President Obama’s desk before federal agencies are set to close on March 28, when the current stopgap funding bill runs out. The measure includes the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts known as sequestration.
Mar. 20: The Daily Caller: Senate keeps White House closed, gov’t promoted winery music, cook books, iPhone apps, winter festivals continue: The Senate on Wednesday voted to leave the White House closed to public tours, instead leaving funding in place for government-promoted winery music, cookbooks, iPhone apps and winter festivals, according to Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn’s office.
The amendment to reopen the White House for tours, which was introduced by the Oklahoma Republican, would have reduced National Heritage Area funding by $8.1 million and directed $6 million of the savings toward keeping the White House and other National Parks open. It failed by a 54-45 vote. “In effect, with this vote, the Senate decided the following activities which are promoted by the government-funded NHA’s were more important than redirecting the funds to ensure the public has access to the White House,” a Coburn spokesman explained
Mar. 20: The Hill: House Democrats Force GOP Hand on Study Committee Budget:
That would have allowed Democrats to train their campaign ads on the RSC budget, which would boost the Social Security age to 70 and cut Medicare benefits, including for people now 59 years old. The RSC blueprint would balance the budget in four years. Democrats urged their members in an email just before the ballot to vote present.
The budget plan would cut discretionary spending to 2008 levels, and then freeze them there until the budget balances in 2017. It also seeks to simplify the tax code and would move Medicare to a premium-support system. Supporters of the bill said Congress needs to balance the budget as soon as possible in order to start paying down the government's $16.5-trillion debt. "If a budget is nothing else, it is a statement of our values and our priorities," Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) said. "And the Republican Study Committee's value and priority is to end the passing of responsibilities from this generation to the next, to be responsible for the bills that we create today and paying for those priorities today."
Mar. 18: Politico: Senate Greatly Expands House Continuing Resolution - Sending Us Down the River?
The strength of the vote all but assures passage, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it was his “sincere hope” that this will occur Tuesday. All indications are once the Senate acts, the House Appropriations Committee leadership is prepared to take the modified Senate CR directly to the House floor, possibly as early as Thursday.
Mar. 18: The Hill: House conservatives’ budget balances in 4 years, raises retirement age to 70:
House and Senate leaders appear to have minimized defections on their budget plans in a show of strength ahead of fiscal fights this summer. The dueling blueprints from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) tested party unity on both sides, but a whip count by The Hill indicates leaders have enough support to pass them. None of the vulnerable, red-state Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2014 have so far come out against Murray’s budget despite the $1 trillion in tax hikes the plan contains. The party can only afford five defections in order for it to pass.
Similarly, in the House, only Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA.) had as of Monday promised to vote against Ryan’s plan, indicating that GOP leaders will stay well below the 15-defections limit to approve the budget over unified Democratic opposition. Neither budget resolution has a shot at being reconciled with the other, but both sides believe the votes — which could happen later this week — will give them leverage as they head into another high-stakes battle over the debt ceiling.
Mar. 17: The Hill: Awkward choice: Vote your conscience or for your paycheck
House Republican leaders came up with the idea as a way to win conservative support for a debt-ceiling extension while forcing Senate Democrats to vote on a budget for the first time in four years. But it is their GOP colleagues in the Senate who could find themselves in an unintended financial bind if Democrats fail to win 50 votes for the budget that Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) unveiled this week. But as reported earlier, the Senate Budget is likely to be dead on arrival in the House, so even if it passed the Senate, there is not a big probability that it will go anywhere. The big issue related to the "No Budget, No Pay" bill is that it essentially did away with the debt ceiling until May 18th. Many of the Republican House members either did not understand this, or chose to ignore it, when they pushed this legislation through the House.
Mar. 17: Fox News: Judge Jeanine: Is the White House being honest with us?
Mar. 17: The Hill: Ryan: House budget only a ‘down payment’ on looming debt crisis
Ryan acknowledged that it was unlikely Obama would sign the House GOP budget into law. “But let’s get a down payment, let’s get a good start on the problem. That, to me, is something that a constructive, bipartisan engagement can accomplish” he said.
Mar. 17: The Hill: Democrats’ fiscal ‘Jenga’ could topple entire economy, says senior Republican
McCarthy said that Democrats were delaying the tough spending cuts and entitlement reforms the nation needed to restore its fiscal health. “This week, Republicans will have a budget that balances in ten years; the Democrats' budget never balances. No household can run that way,” he said, neither can the government!
Mar. 16th: Fox News: Feds fund ecoATM, Robo-squirrel despite warnings about chronic disease research cuts:
These are just a few of the 164 grants the National Science Foundation approved two weeks ago. Yet around the same time, the administration was warning that the sequester would cut into critical research on chronic diseases. While some of the less critical grant ideas were scrapped as the NSF looked for ways to scale back and prioritize, the number of allegedly frivolous grants still in play is not sitting well with Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.
Mar. 14: The Daily Caller: Another Obama Appointee Caught Stretching the Truth - ICE released over 2,000 illegals:
Mar. 14: Politico: Sparks Fly at Senate Budget Hearing:
During Thursday's hearing, Republican members came out swinging, using time that was allocated to ask technical questions of the staff to make the case that the budget lacks any deficit reductions and instead grows the size of government. “I would really appreciate it if you would stop claiming $1.85 trillion in deficit reduction. It’s false. It’s false,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said after a series of tense exchanges with a budget staffer.
Mar. 14: The Hill: Speaker Boehner: 'So far, so good' on Senate's continuing resolution bill:
Senate Democrats added several full-year appropriations bills to the measure, which already included separate bills for the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. But Boehner indicated he did not object to those additions. “I think I’ll wait to see what the Senate produces once it comes off the floor. So far, so good,” he told reporters at his weekly Capitol press conference. Final passage in the Senate is expected before the end of the week.
He openly discussed his proposal to adopt a less generous formula for calculating inflation growth for entitlements, known as chained CPI, in exchange for more tax revenue from Republicans. The offer is controversial with liberal Democrats, as it would reduce the size of Social Security payments over time. Leaving Thursday's meeting, some House members said they weren't ready to concede that change.
Mar. 14: Politico: Obama to Democrats: "I've Got Your Back"
Mar. 10: Wall Street Journal: [print edition] Peggy Noonan, writing for the Editorial Page of the WSJ Weekend Edition, says we are not facing a debt or a deficit crisis, it is a job crisis. The debt and deficit crisis is just part of the job crisis. The federal tax code is part of it -- it's a drag on everything. The administration's inability to see the stunning and historic gift of the energy revolution is part of it. But it's a jobs crisis that is the central thing. Noonan goes on to say Mr. Obama is making the same mistake he made four years ago. We are in a jobs crisis and he does not see it. He thinks he is in a wrestling match about taxing and spending, he thinks he is in a game with those "dread Republicans". But the real question is whether the American people will be able to have jobs.
Mar. 8: The Hill: Obama budget delayed until April:
Republicans have slammed Obama for delaying the budget so far past the deadline. "This indicates a troubling unwillingness to lead," Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, said of the new delay. "It is odd to me that the president would not have a plan and want the Congress to consider it."
Mar. 8: Fox News: Park ranger: Supervisors pushed sequester cuts that visitors would see:
The National Park Service is among many federal agencies warning of a major impact from the sequester cuts, which took effect last Friday. The agency has warned of delayed access to portions of Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks, closed campgrounds at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, reduced hours at the Grand Canyon visitor center and other ramifications.
Mar. 8: The Daily Caller: Boehner: Obama ‘silly’ to close White House to visitors:
“We’d love to have the American people come and visit their Capitol. You know, even though our budget’s been cut, like everyone else’s, thanks to proper planning, we’re able to avoid furloughs amongst Capitol workers, and tours are going to remain available for all Americans,” Boehner told reporters on Thursday at the Capitol.
Mar. 8: Fox News: White House suspends public tours, but first family trips in full swing:
Obama's pricey golf outings have been a target for those who see them as examples the administration's selective concerns with running up the tab of Secret Service resources. March 5, Louis Gohmert (R-TX) filed an amendment to a House resolution that would prohibit federal funds from being spent on Obama's golf trips until public tours of the White House resumed. Gohmert referenced reports putting the cost of a recent Obama golf outing with Tiger Woods at $1 million. He also cited press reports saying 341 federal workers could have been spared furloughs if Obama had stayed home.
Mar. 8: The Daily Caller: White House: Probably not possible for Fox News hosts to privately fund White House tours:
Mar. 8: The Hill: Lawmakers: Spare our flight towers:
But Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, all Democrats, said in a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta that the Connecticut airports should be spared from being closed. "While we understand the extraordinary funding situation the FAA is in as a result of the sequester, we strongly believe that these closures will put at risk public safety in and around the airspace of Connecticut and the local economies that rely on these facilitates for tax revenue and jobs," they continued.
Mar. 8: The Hill: Economy adds 236,000 jobs, unemployment falls to 7.7 percent:
Mar. 7: The Daily Caller: Fox News personalities offer to pay for two weeks of White House Tours:
Mar. 7: The Hill: President Wants Debt Ceiling Deal by July to Avoid Midterm Election Concerns:
A GOP lawmaker who met with Obama said the accelerated timeline has two advantages. Reaching a broad deficit deal by August would allow the president to avoid another messy standoff over raising the debt limit. The president, who has said he will not negotiate on the debt limit, believes it will be harder to forge a major deal in September and beyond, as both parties begin to position themselves for the 2014 mid-term election.
Mar. 7: The Daily Caller: Coburn offers FAA easy alternatives to closing towers, cutting air traffic controllers:
“The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced today that it will close 173 air traffic control towers, effective April 7, and could furlough nearly 47,000 employees, ‘including all management and non-management employees working within the Air Traffic Organization,’” Coburn wrote in the letter, dispatched Wednesday. “All of the 173 towers closing April 7 are privately run under contracts. The department’s inspector general, however, reported that these same contract towers are both cheaper and safer than towers operated by the FAA.”
Mar. 6: The Congressional Record: How The Texas Delegation Voted on HR 933.
This is not an easy decision to make because the leadership of the House (the House Rules Committee) did not allow amendments that would defunded ObamaCare. That meant our Congressmen were stuck with an up or down vote. Below is how the Texas Delegation voted. Only two of the Texas Republicans voted against the measure (Louis Gohmert and Steve Stockman).
Mar. 6: CBS News: Obama administration struggles to illustrate pain from sequester:
On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters that major airports had seen lines ballooning to 150-200 percent their normal size. The Transportation Security Administration later clarified that it was not yet seeing longer-than-normal checkpoint lines, though Customs and Border Protection told CBS News there had been increased wait times at two airports due to reduced staffing. The Wall Street Journal reported however, that "officials representing a dozen major airports said there were few if any unusual flight delays or lines at security or customs checkpoints." That included an official at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, which is one of the two airports that had been specifically cited by Customs and Border Protection.
Mar. 6: ABC News: The Most Convoluted Sequester Controversy Known to Man?
Republican Tim Griffith and Kristi Noem reportedly circulated the email, which came from a USDA field worker who works for the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in Raleigh, N.C. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was asked about it Monday before the House Agriculture Committee. The email seemed to indicate that USDA shut down an appeal for budgetary leeway, telling him that USDA had already told Congress the sequester would mean cuts to services, and “you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be.”
Mar. 5: CNS News: Rep. Huelskamp: 'Defund the Implementation of Obamacare'
"[T]he biggest threat to the future of our country fiscally and otherwise is Obamacare -- $1.4 trillion in new spending coming up because of this program," Huelskamp told Fox News's Sean Hannity Monday evening. Defunding Obamacare would save the government "a few billion dollars," Huelskamp said, but beyond that, "it will help millions of Americans keep their current employer-sponsored health insurance, it will stop HHS (Health and Human Services Department) from continuing to implement a very unpopular law that's driving up premiums."
Asked if Republican leaders in the House are supporting such a move, Huelskamp said, "Right now, it doesn't look like they'll let us vote on defunding Obamacare, and I'm disappointed in that. Hopefully there will be some minds changed in the next 24 to 48 hours."
Mar. 5: The Washington Times: Email tells feds to make sequester as painful as promised:
In the internal email, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service official Charles Brown said he asked if he could try to spread out the sequester cuts in his region to minimize the impact, and he said he was told not to do anything that would lessen the dire impacts Congress had been warned of. “We have gone on record with a notification to Congress and whoever else that 'APHIS would eliminate assistance to producers in 24 states in managing wildlife damage to the aquaculture industry, unless they provide funding to cover the costs.’ So it is our opinion that however you manage that reduction, you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be,” the internal email says Brown's superiors told him.
Mar. 4: The Hill: Members on Congress Had a Tough Decision to Make!
Mar. 4: The Hill: House Appropriations funding bill seeks to soften sequester's blow:
It also takes several steps to help other agencies from the cuts. These include provisions aimed at making sure border and nuclear security are maintained, that the Federal Bureau of Investigation maintains staffing levels, that security at embassies is increased in the wake of the Benghazi attacks, that the Forest Service has more money to fight wildfires and that federal prisons have enough staff. The bill also includes detailed appropriations for the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments and to fund military construction. In total, the bill includes $518 billion for defense, $2 billion more than President Obama requested for this year.
The bill also extends the current two-year pay freeze for federal workers. Obama has ordered a 0.5 percent increase in federal worker pay after March 27. The House Rules Committee will take up the bill tomorrow (March 5th) with House floor action slated for March 7th.
Mar. 3: The Hill: Carrier Cancellation Heats Up Sequester Fight:
“We now have the president going out — because of this piece of paper and this agreement, I can’t do what I need to do to protect the country,” Woodward said on MSNBC. “That’s a kind of madness that I haven’t seen in a long time.”
Mar. 3: The Hill: Sperling Predicts GOP will Cave on Tax Increases when they see the Pain from Sequester:
Sperling, the Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the president for Economic Policy, said that Republicans will eventually "choose bipartisan compromise over an ideological position," on Sunday on ABC's "This Week."
Mar. 3: The Hill: Boehner: No one tried harder than me to avoid the sequester:
Boehner pushed back against criticism that his party is unwilling to compromise to avoid the $85 billion sequester because they won't accept new revenue. "The president got his tax hikes on Jan. 1," Boehner said. "How much more does he want? When is the president going to address the spending side of this?
Mar. 2: Fox News: Obama Still Dealing with Accuracy Issues Re: Sequester Impact
Carlos Elias, the Capitol Building superintendent, sent out a memo Friday reminding staffers that the current sequestration plan does not include “reductions in force or furloughs” and that “pay and benefit of each of our employees will not be impacted.”
The president, in what appeared to be the administration’s attempt to maximize the potential impact of the cuts, said at a press conference earlier that the folks who are cleaning the floors at the Capitol, the security guards and the janitors "... just got a pay cut, and they’ve got to figure out how to manage that.”
Mar. 1: Fox News: Bob Woodward -- Was he threatened?
Woodward reported in an OpEd piece in Washington Post that the President was the author of the sequester idea. He also talked about Obama "moving the goal posts" asking for more tax increases instead of dealing with cutting spending as part of the sequester.
Woodward also said, "The problem is that members of the press who are not as experienced and have not been doing this as long as I have are giving in to the pressure being brought by the White House. Woodward has gotten email messages from a lot of his colleagues saying that they got similar treatment from the White House.
Lanny Davis, a syndicated columnist reported on WMAL that his editor got a call from a senior White House official saying that if he didn't moderate his columns the editor's reporters would lose their White House press credentials.
Feb. 28: Fox Business News: Republican Sequester Alternative Fails in Senate Vote:
Feb. 28: Fox News Special Report: Multiple Reports on the Sequester:
Meanwhile, the Senate considered two alternative plans to the sequester which would allow flexibility on how to cuts would be applied. Both plans failed. Republican leader McConnell questioned why actions were not taken long before we got to this point and said there would be no last minute deals while Majority Leader Harry Reid continued to push for closing "tax loopholes" instead of cutting spending.
In a related story, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward made public emails from the White House telling him he should reconsider his reporting and that he should recheck his facts, something that seemed as a veiled threat. Subsequently other reporters are coming forward saying they have received similar email messages from the White House and some reporters have privately admitted they have changed their reporting.
Feb. 27: Fox News Special Report On-Line:
Feb. 25: Fox News: Cuts? There Will be No Cuts!
Feb. 25: Fox News: The Economy May Be Stalling, Some Economists Say:
Feb. 22: Fox News: In the October 2012 Presidential Debates Obama said the sequester was not his idea and it will never happen. It looks like he may be wrong on both fronts. The first is that the sequester was, in fact, the President's idea. The second is that it looks like the sequester may, indeed, happen. According to Fox contributor Rich Lowry, over ten years, these cuts are a drop in the bucket equaling about three percent of the total U.S. spending. It is about the amount that the Federal Government spends in nine days. The Administration is painting a picture of the worst possible case in order to instill fear so they get what they want. Lowry says these cuts should happen. If we cannot cut the budget by three percent, he said, we might as well declare bankruptcy right now!
Feb. 22: Fox News: Administration ramps up budget cut warnings, Republicans say drama 'won't solve the problem' The Obama administration on Friday ramped up its campaign to paint an ominous portrait of what would happen if automatic spending cuts take effect March 1, with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warning that air traffic control towers would be shut down as part of a host of travel-disrupting FAA cuts.
After a week marked by intense partisan bickering, LaHood again put the pressure on Republicans to find a way out of the impasse. "Trying to drive up Republicans' negative poll numbers by posing with first responders and the men and women of America's Armed Forces while making vague calls for higher taxes won't solve the problem," Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner.
Political groups on both sides are also weighing in. The conservative Crossroads GPS put out a web video Friday airing Obama's dire warnings alongside news broadcasts reminding viewers that the idea for the so-called sequester came from the White House. "The sequester is Obama's mess. Let him clean it up," the video says.
Feb. 21: Fox News: Because You Asked -- What is the Truth About the Sequester?
Feb. 21: Fox News: VA Town Braces for Sequester Cuts:
Tom Taylor, who runs MF&B Marine Warehouse in Hampton Roads, is already watching contracts with the Navy dry up at his small ship-repair business. "It's not like turning on a spigot. You don't turn it on and turn it off," Taylor said in an interview with Fox News. "These (contracts) are months or years in the planning stage, so if they are canceled, you know, they don't come right back. ... So that's pretty alarming."
Feb. 21: The Daily Caller: White House Sequester Scare Campaign Continues:
“The president spoke with Sen. [Mitch] McConnell and the Speaker” John Boehner, Carney said during the midday press conference. “I have no content to read out to you from those conversations,” he said.
Feb. 21: The Hill: President Offering False Choices, Wants Us to Raise Taxes Twice in Eight Weeks!
“President Obama has said that unless he gets a second tax hike in eight weeks, he will be forced to let criminals loose on the streets, the meat at your grocery store won’t be inspected and emergency responders will be unable to do their jobs,” Cantor said in his statement. I would contend that if he makes these choices, he is making the wrong ones!
Feb. 20: Fox News: Boehner says to Obama - You Created Spending Cut Crises, You Fix it!
Feb. 20: The Hill: Administration Threatens Deep Civilian Defense Cuts:
Feb. 20: The Daily Caller: Obama Spokesman Admits the Sequester Would Not Cause the Loss of Jobs Claimed:
Feb. 20: The Hill: Obama Takes the Attack on Sequester to Local TV Markets:
The interview with WCVB is part of a public relations effort Obama designed to win over the public to his side in the fight over the sequester, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will reduce hiring by 750,000 and take 0.7 percent from economic growth.
Feb. 19: The Hill: Who is Going to be Blamed for the Sequester?
Feb. 19: Fox News: President Grandstanding Again?
But this is not entirely truthful. Napolitano can make other cuts instead of the ones Obama is using to publicize his position. So it's not true that she will have "no choice" but to make those cuts. For example, she could presumably cut other parts of her agency's budget, the high volume of ammunition orders for instance. But doing that wouldn’t be so dramatic. What is a better photo op? Having Obama pose with a case of shotgun shells or with people who run into burning buildings for a living. It is important to remember that what sells well on TV might not really be the truth!
Feb. 17: FoxNews: In an effort to avoid costs, three states join others in rejecting to set up state health insurance agencies: As the final deadline for creating state health insurance exchanges passed Friday, New Jersey, Tennessee and Florida said they would not work with the federal government on operating insurance markets required under ObamaCare. Exchanges are online markets required under the federal health care law where consumers will be able to buy individual private policies and apply for government subsidies to help pay their premiums.
Meanwhile FoxNews reports other governors are making forays into states like California urging businesses and residents to consider moving to states with low taxes and less regulation.
Perry’s foray started with a radio campaign in which he urged California businesses frustrated by myriad regulations and new tax increases to “come check out Texas.”“Our low tax taxes, sensible regulations and fair legal system are just the thing to get your business moving to Texas,” Perry said in the 30-second spots.
Feb. 16: FoxNews: Rep. Roby leads Republicans in asking Obama to take lead to avert drastic cuts:
Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) said the president is responsible for the cuts because his administration proposed the plan, known as sequester, during the 2011 debt-limit negotiations. “In his State of the Union address, President Obama himself admitted that these cuts are a really bad idea,” Roby said Saturday in the weekly Republican address. “What the president failed to mention was sequester was his idea.”
Roby, chairwoman of a House Armed Services subcommittee, is among several lawmakers, including Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who after Obama's speech Tuesday, is saying how the across-the-board cuts to the military would impact bases, including those in their home districts.
Feb. 16: The Hill: Experts debate the benefits of a proposed minimum wage hike:
"It's probably not going to affect that many people," Hall said. Looking at the 2011 statistics 1.7 million workers earned exactly the prevailing federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour while BLS reports that there are 73.9 million workers who are 16 years or older. That would mean that about 2.5% of the total workforce would be affected by the proposed increase.
Feb. 16: The Daily Caller: Legislation repealing Obamacare tax paid by small businesses reintroduced:
Feb. 15: The Wall Street Journal: Millions Defraud Federal Phone Subsidy Program:
According to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) payments are shooting up from $819 million in 2008 to $2.2 billion last year. Recent FCC rules required that carriers verify recipient's eligibility under the program. As a result the five top Lifeline carriers revealed that 41 percent of its 6 million subscribers could not demonstrate eligibility or did not respond.
Feb. 13: The Hill: House GOP prepares stopgap spending bill to avoid shutdown:
The stopgap spending bill would be set at the current level of $1.043 trillion for the entire fiscal year that began Oct. 1. It would specify that the $85 billion sequestration is allowed to take place unless it is separately turned off.
Feb. 13: The Hill: Obama is Delusional on Debt:
“It seems as if they think the heavy lifting on debt reduction, deficit reduction is behind us, we have just a little bit left and then we’re done,” Ryan said. “I really worry that our partners in government, here — two-thirds of it, the Senate and the White House — are deluding themselves in thinking this thing is taken care of.”
Feb. 13: The Wall Street Journal: In his State of the Union address, Obama, addressing a Congress driven by disputes over how to rein in budget deficits, rejected broad changes to Medicare, the federal health program, as some Republicans have proposed. The president, who won an increase in tax rates on high wage-earners earlier this year, said he would press for deficit reduction by ending tax breaks and deductions for wealthier Americans, as well as for spending cuts. [Editorial Comment: Deficit reduction? Really? From the person who helped lead us into a $16+ trillion debt? The way he plans on reducing the deficit is by spending more and then raising taxes even higher in order to cover the cost. The problem with this approach is that it will doom our economy and drive businesses overseas.]
In the Republican Party's formal response, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said the president was wrongly relying on government, rather than the free market, to boost the middle class. "Presidents in both parties—from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan—have known that our free enterprise economy is the source of our middle class prosperity," Mr. Rubio said. "But President Obama? He believes it's the cause of our problems."
Obama also encouraged the Congress to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9. What he doesn't understand is that if this happened it would mean an increase in unemployment as companies hire fewer people and try to maximize the productivity of those employees who are left.
Feb. 13: The Hill: Republicans: Obama State of the Union dims hopes for deficit-reduction deal:
Feb. 11: The Hill: Senate Dems aim to have sequester bill ready by Thursday:
Feb. 11: Fox Business News: Democrats Getting Worried that the Sequester Might Actually Happen/Increase Rhetoic: A memo from Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee delivers the emotional impact of the $85 billion in mandated sequestration cuts coming March 1. The memo warns of furloughs of two weeks or longer for roughly 4,000 employees at the Federal Aviation Administration, and an unspecified number of layoffs of USDA food safety inspectors -- which could force meat plant shutdowns, it says.
Also, 5,000 border patrol officers could be furloughed, which “could jeopardize security at points of entry,” the memo says. Another 1,300 correctional officers could be laid off, as well as 1,000 federal law enforcement officers at places like the FBI. “The Justice Department would have to furlough hundreds of federal prosecutors,” says a White House official.
Feb. 10: The Hill: Defense, domestic groups ally for last-minute drive to halt sequester:
Feb. 9: FoxNews: Obama to refocus on economy in State of the Union
Feb. 9: From the Editor: My family and I attended the Brazoria County Lincoln Day Dinner this evening. Senator John Cornyn was one of the speakers. He talked about the "generational theft" taking place in Washington as we continue to spend more than we take in. He noted that the only "real" debt reduction seems to be the mandatory sequester cuts and those the President wants to take off the table.
For more on the mandatory sequester visit FoxNews: White House outlines deep cuts that could be coming soon: Trying to ratchet up pressure on Congress, the White House on Friday detailed what it said would be the painful impact on the federal work force and certain government assistance programs if "large and arbitrary" scheduled government spending cuts are allowed to take place beginning March 1. At a White House briefing Obama budget officials said the cuts would include layoffs or furloughs of "hundreds of thousands" of federal workers, including FBI agents, U.S. prosecutors, food safety inspectors and air traffic controllers.
Feb. 8: The Daily Caller: Despite optimism-mongering in the media and in certain quarters of Washington and elsewhere, we’ve had indication after indication in the economic data that whatever lousy progress has been made in nudging up GDP, American workers have not benefited from it. But now we know from the horse’s mouth, so to speak: they’re mired in a tough new reality that is in many ways getting worse.
“Deeply pessimistic” is the term used in the sobering survey, “Diminished Lives and Futures: A Portrait of America in the Great-Recession Era.” A confirmation of bits and pieces of economic data that has been trickling in over the years on this topic.
Feb. 7: The Daily Caller: The nation’s economy will grow by only 1.4 percent in 2013, and unemployment will remain above 7.5 percent through 2014, according to a Feb. 7 forecast by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
“If that occurs, 2014 will be the sixth consecutive year with unemployment exceeding 7½ percent of the labor force, the longest period of such high unemployment in the past 70 years,” said the CBO’s statement, titled “Economic Growth Is Likely to Be Slow in 2013 and Pick Up in Later Years.”
Feb. 6: The Hill: Here is your chance Congress to shut down Obamacare: The Appropriators are preparing stopgap bill to avoid government shutdown in March. The move is a strong signal that House and Senate deals on more detailed appropriations bills — deals that were close to being finished last December — are unlikely. Work on the stopgap bill is technical at this point, and it’s unclear how long the stopgap bill would fund the government. The most likely scenario is a six-month bill to finish out the fiscal year.
Now, here is how to shut down Obamacare:
Do you remember the "Hyde Amendment" from back in 1976? It was a provision placed on appropriation bills that prohibited the use of Federal funds for abortions. The same process can be used today. All appropriation bills must originate in the House of Representatives. This includes Continuing Resolutions (CR) such as the stopgap measure discussed in The Hill article (above). All that is needed is to have the House include language that stipulates none of the funds authorized in the CR may be used to initiate, administer, enforce or fund any of the programs and provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Then, and this is the hardest part, the House needs to stand firm. They need to stop worrying about whether they will be reelected next year. They need to do what is right and be statesmen.
If the Senate doesn't agree with the CR amendment language (and it probably won't), the House needs to make it clear that the House is not shutting down the Federal government. They are only prohibiting the use of funds to implement, administer, and enforce Obamacare. De-funding Obamacare will also have the side benefit of reducing federal spending which is what we need to also do. [See More]
Feb. 6: The Daily Caller: Over-regulation, not phantom spending cuts, caused economy to shrink in fourth quarter: Last Tuesday, The Conference Board — a private group that measures consumer confidence —announced that consumer confidence had plummeted in January. One day later, the Commerce Department reported the U.S. economy had contracted by 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. Then on Friday, the Labor Department announced that the unemployment rate had moved back up to 7.9%. The mainstream media and President Obama downplayed the news or blamed phantom “spending cuts.” Hardly anyone brought up the dramatic increase in regulation over the last few years and the fear that President Obama’s re-election opens the door to a massive onslaught of intrusion into every aspect of our lives.
Feb. 6: The Wall Street Journal: A slowly improving economy and recently enacted tax increases will help bring down the federal deficit for the next few years, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday, but it will take another $2 trillion in belt-tightening over the next decade to begin to move the federal debt closer to historic levels. CBO projects that if current laws are left unchanged, the debt will be 77% by 2023, and it will be higher if across-the-board spending cuts are diluted or various expiring tax breaks are extended. (The deficit is the difference between spending and revenues in a given year; the debt is the government's total borrowing, or the sum of past deficits.)
Douglas Elmendorf, director of the nonpartisan agency that advises Congress on budget and economic matters, emphasized the risks of failing to stabilize the debt. "At this level of debt relative to GDP, our country would be incurring costs and bearing risks of a sort that we have not [had] in our history except for a few years around the end of the second World War," he said. "At the same time, bringing debt down relative to GDP requires reductions in services that we are getting from the government, or higher taxes paid to the government."
Feb. 4: Daily Caller: Former Reagan budget director warns of new housing bubble:
“It’s happening in the most speculative subprime markets, where massive amounts of ‘fast money’ is rolling in to buy, to rent, on a speculative basis for a quick trade,” he said. “And as soon as they conclude prices have moved enough, they’ll be gone as fast as they came.” Any kind of interest-rate increase will lead to a bust, Stockman said.
“As soon as the Fed has to normalize interest rates, housing prices will stop appreciating and they’ll probably head down,” he explains. “The fast money will sell as quickly as they can and the bubble will pop almost as rapidly as it’s appeared.” Two major buyers are missing from the current real estate market, according to Stockman: first-time buyers and trade-up buyers. High unemployment and burdensome student loan debt, he said, will restrict the younger generation from entering the market.
Feb. 4: Daily Caller: Obama criticized for not submitting budget on time, again:
Said Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the House budget chairman, in a Monday press release said “I’m disappointed the President has missed his deadline. But I’m not surprised.” Obama is required under the Budget Act to submit a budget to Congress by the first Monday in February. White House budget director Jeffrey Zients has blamed the lateness of Obama’s budget on the American Taxpayer Relief Act — the legislation pushed by Obama that raised taxes on wealthy Americans.
Feb. 4: The Hill: GOP seizes on Obama's blown budget deadline:
“President Obama missed a great opportunity today to help our economy. This was supposed to be the day he submitted his budget to the Congress. But it’s not coming. It’s going to be late. Some reports say it could be a month late,” Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said on the House floor.
On Wednesday, the House will vote on a bill to require the president to submit a budget that eventually balances — something Obama’s 2013 budget never did. The GOP’s political offensive began when it forced the Senate and White House to accept No Budget, No Pay legislation that will require senators to go without pay if they fail for the fourth time in a row to do a budget resolution this year. [See analysis of what this legislation really does.]
Feb. 1: Politico: Jobs Growth Continues Slow Grind
Jan. 30: The Wall Street Journal: Recovery shows a Soft Spot:
Jan. 30: FoxNews: Economic Growth in the U.S. Goes Negative:
With the new Obama taxes in place, including an across-the-board hike on workers with the expiration of Obama’s payroll tax holiday and a sharp increase on income taxes on top earners, some in the financial world worry that the economy is just not strong enough to bear the burden of the Obama tax hikes. Deepening their concerns is the fact that reduced spending by Defense contractors ahead of looming cuts was such a big part of the plan. The deal reached on taxes between Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t address the pending cuts, nor does a stopgap plan from House Republicans to temporarily extend the government’s credit limit.
Jan. 30: The Fiscal Times:Why the GOP retreated on the debt ceiling debate: GOP Hill staffers heard an explanation that gives a sense of how more conservative thinkers view the debt limit. As it was explained, the U.S. needs to pay the obligations it already has regardless of the government’s legal borrowing authority. The problem is not so much with the debt limit, although that is certainly a major issue. The problem is with the hunger to spend more and not reduce the current level of spending. It is going to take a livestyle change to get the country back on track.
Jan. 29: Business Insider: How The House's Unprecedented Debt Ceiling Bill Could Make The Next Round Much Easier: The bill, championed by Republican House Speaker John Boehner and House Budget Chair Paul Ryan, is an unusual one with a format that is unprecedented in recent debt ceiling history. But analysts think that in some ways, the setup could actually be beneficial for future fiscal talks because it takes out much of the uncertainty leading up to the next potential fight.
The big difference between this debt-ceiling bill is that it is not technically a clean hike in the nation's debt limit. It's a suspension of the debt ceiling for a certain time period. On May 19, the debt limit will be raised by an amount "necessary to fund commitment incurred by the Federal Government that required payment." The Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that number will be around $450 billion.
Jan. 29: FoxNews Business: Analysis: U.S. rating still at risk despite reduced threats from DC:
Jan. 27: Editorial Comment on the "No Budget No Pay" Bill: The House passed the "No Budget, No Pay" bill. But is the bill a good thing? Let's take a look at it for a moment. Yes, it is a good thing to require both the House and the Senate to pass a budget. The House has done so every year while the Senate has not done so in over three years. And tying the pay of the House and Senate members to the passage of a budget is also a good thing. But does it really stop the Members of the House and Senate from getting paid? Not really! Take a look at the language and you will see that it only postpones the payment until either a Continuing Budget Resolution for FY 2014 is passed by the affected house of Congress or the end of the 113th Congress. So the members will get paid but maybe a year and a half from now! That is not to say that doing this is not an incentive to get to the business at hand, but it is not a complete prohibition on their getting paid as the short hand name of the bill would suggest.
But let's look a little deeper at what the bill does! First, it eliminates (removes) the debt ceiling for three months. The Secretary of the Treasury may increase the debt, subject to a resolution of disapproval from the Congress. That means that the Secretary has a free hand to increase the debt because it is highly unlikely that the Senate will pass any resolution of disapproval, thereby nullifying the ability of the House to stop him. Second, it only requires that each house of Congress pass a budget bill. So what does that really mean? It means that all they need to do is to pass a bill. The bill can be dead on arrival at the other house -- which is likely what the Senate will do. It does not require that a budget resolution be adopted by both houses of Congress and sent to the President for signature. So in short, the bill has no teeth in it and it has no real impact other than to eliminate the debt ceiling for three months -- which is not a good thing! Is there any wonder why 86 Democrats voted for this measure, seven of them from the Texas delegation? Five Texas Republicans stood their ground and opposed the bill. See how each member of the Texas Delegation voted (below).
What does the bill not do? It does not require a reduction in spending. It does not require any spending cuts on the part of the Administration or the Congress. Folks, we have a spending problem which, in turn, is causing our debt problem. The credit rating agencies are down grading the credit of the United States because of the inability of the Congress and the President to cut spending [See Source]. Unless we start dealing with our spending problem we can expect to see a further downgrading of our credit rating, regardless of the amount of the debt ceiling.
Jan. 23: CSPAN: The House, by a vote of 285-144 passed the "No Budget, No Pay" measure that ties a temporary suspension of the federal debt limit with the Senate passing a budget. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) called the measure "a plan to balance the budget over the next ten years." The deal would raise the government's current $16.4 trillion debt limit until May 19. In exchange, the House and Senate must pass a budget resolution by April 15 or place members' salaries in an escrow account until the chamber acts.
How the Texas Delegation voted on "No Budget No Pay"
Jan. 23: CNN: The House on Wednesday passed the "No Budget, No Pay Act," a Republican bill that would effectively defuse the debt ceiling threat for several months. The bill would let the Treasury Department borrow new money until mid-May. In exchange, the legislation would require lawmakers in both chambers of Congress to pass a budget resolution or have their pay withheld until they do.Most House Democrats spoke out against the bill. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the salary provision a "joke" and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer called the bill a "political gimmick" that perpetuates uncertainty. But other leading Democrats said they would support the bill because it takes the immediate threat of default off the table and divorces the debt ceiling from Republican demands for spending cuts. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would pass the House bill. President Obama will not oppose the bill if it reaches his desk, even though he would prefer a debt ceiling longer term increase, the White House said Tuesday.
Jan. 23: Business Insider: The House overwhelmingly voted in favor of a bill to suspend the debt ceiling through May 18. The bill won bipartisan support, and passed with a final vote of 285-144. The bill now heads to the Senate, where Democrats have indicated it will pass. The White House has also indicated that President Barack Obama would sign the bill.
The GOP plan is something of a retreat from previous positions, as Republicans found themselves in a virtual no-win situation by attempting to use the debt ceiling as leverage to force spending cuts from President Barack Obama and other Democrats. During the 2011 debt-ceiling debate, Boehner established the rule in his namesake that said every dollar increase in the debt ceiling had to be accompanied by a corresponding amount of spending cuts.
Jan. 22: The Wall Street Journal: The Ceiling is scarier than the Cliff: Alan Blinder's "The Debt Ceiling is Scarier Than the Fiscal Cliff" (op-ed, Jan. 15) misses the mark and perpetuates a few myths. First, in the fall of 2011 S&P lowered the U.S. credit rating due to the failure of the Congress to reduce deficits and reduce the upward trajectory of spending. This, along with the unwillingness of the president to consider spending cuts and deal with entitlement reform and the failure of the Senate to pass a budget in over three years are the real reasons for credit-rating agencies to consider additional reductions in our rating. If investors were concerned about federal government defaults, interest rates on Treasury bonds would be rising, not falling.
Mr. Blinder asserts that the hyperpartisan Congress has failed to pass a budget, resulting in the use of continuing resolutions to fund federal activities. In fact, the House has passed budgets that begin to address the spending and deficit problems. The roadblocks to progress on debt/deficit reduction are clearly the Senate Democrats and the president, neither of whom are willing to address out-of-control spending.
Jan. 22: CBS News: President Obama and congressional Republicans have both drawn a line in the sand over the upcoming series of budget battles, the first of which is whether Congress will raise the country's debt limit - which is expected to hit as early as Feb. 15. The president is refusing to negotiate, imploring Congress to "do its job."
"They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy," he recently said of Republicans. "The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip." House Republicans, meanwhile, will hold a vote Wednesday that, if it eventually passes both the House and Senate, would raise the debt ceiling for about three months, giving lawmakers some time to figure out how to avoid default. However, while kicking the can down the road offers a brief respite from one fiscal hurdle, there are still two others that Congress is facing.
In addition to the debt ceiling, lawmakers also have to deal with averting $1.2 trillion in self-imposed automatic spending cuts, or sequester, that takes effect on March 1, and they'll also have to pass a bill to extend government funding, which currently expires at the end of March. As both sides are worlds apart on all three issues, any failure to reach an agreement over three budget-related emergencies in the next few months will have consequences for taxpayer's pocketbooks.
Jan. 22: Fox Business News: President Barack Obama "will not stand in the way" of a three-month debt-limit measure if it passes Congress. While the president believes the extension should be longer, he welcomes the fact that Republicans appear to be giving up on using an increase in the debt ceiling as political leverage, according to Carney. House Republicans will take up a bill on Wednesday to raise the U.S. debt ceiling for three months, in an attempt to push the deadline to mid-April and force the Senate to pass a budget. Carney said the White House will work on a budget deal. "We will work with Congress on moving forward with balanced deficit reduction, because it is important," he remarked at a briefing.
Jan. 22: The Wall Street Journal: Two prominent conservative advocacy organizations, the Club for Growth and Americans for Tax Reform, said Tuesday that they won’t oppose House legislation suspending the debt ceiling until mid-May, providing political cover for conservative Republicans inclined to vote for the measure.
Jan. 22: FoxNews: House Republicans are teeing up a vote this week on a new debt ceiling bill, marking the first legislative battle of President Obama's second term and one that could determine whether the country once again risks default over a political fight. While the short-term increase is getting mixed reviews, the second plank of the legislation -- meant to pressure Senate Democrats to pass a budget -- has also raised questions. Under the proposal, Congress would withhold the pay of lawmakers in either the House or the Senate if their chamber fails to pass a budget by April 15. House Republicans have passed budgets for two consecutive years, but the Senate hasn't passed one since Obama's first year in office.
But the so-called "no budget, no pay" provision has run into complaints that it's not constitutional. Critics point to the 27th Amendment, which states: "No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened." Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said Monday "it appears that the 27th Amendment does not permit Congress to alter its pay in the midst of a current session."
Jan. 21: Politico: Republicans Confident in Debt Ceiling Bill: Shortly after returning from their retreat, House Republicans will vote on Wednesday to raise the debt ceiling without matching spending cuts — a proposal that represents both a concession and a new legislative strategy for them. The fact that House GOP leaders have scheduled a vote on the controversial bill in less than a week since the idea surfaced signifies that they have an unusual amount of confidence in their 233 members. That’s despite the fact that Republicans have hardly been able to pass a single piece of important legislation without Democratic support.
Jan. 21: FoxNews: House Republicans are touting a new plan that calls for temporarily resolving the debt-ceiling standoff and passing a bona-fide budget for the first time in years. But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are claiming there’s a problem – they say it’s unconstitutional.
In an effort to break the partisan deadlock, GOP leaders on Friday pitched an ultimatum aimed at the Democrat-controlled Senate. The plan, dubbed “no budget, no pay,” allows the government to get three more months of borrowing authority, with no immediate spending cuts required, in exchange for having to pass a budget within that time. If senators fail to do so, they will be denied their federal paychecks. “We will authorize a three-month temporary debt limit increase to give the Senate and House time to pass a budget,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said. “Furthermore, if the Senate or House fails to pass a budget in that time, members of Congress will not be paid by the American people for failing to do their job.”
Jan. 21: Politico: The House Rules Committee has announced a 2 p.m. Tuesday meeting to mark up the bill that would raise the debt ceiling to continue funding the government through May 18.
House Republicans released the text of their short-term debt ceiling legislation that would suspend the U.S. borrowing limit through May 18 and put members pay at risk if a budget is not adopted. Backing off their earlier plan to demand dollar-for-dollar spending cuts in return for a debt ceiling increase, Republicans are not including any spending reductions in the measure. They'll consider the bill on the House floor Wednesday. House GOP leaders will now have to ensure they have the votes to pass the plan.The House GOP proposal is an attempt to change the dynamics of the fiscal debate and shift the political onus to Senate Democrats, who haven't adopted a budget plan in more than three years.
Jan. 21: Politico: The GOP’s attempts to be nice to the President couldn’t conceal its real feelings about the content of Obama’s inaugural address, delivered before lawmakers from both parties on the Capitol’s West Front. Republicans really didn’t like the liberal policy agenda that Obama outlined, including just about every progressive priority and only some of their own, including hugely controversial topics like gay rights, income inequality, climate change, gun control and immigration.
In fact, Republicans complained that the 18-minute speech sounded much more like a sharply edged partisan campaign speech meant to set up a fight than an inaugural address intended to inspire togetherness and unity with soaring rhetoric. “The words were code for a progressive agenda. I’m hoping that the president will recognize that compromise should have been the words for today, and they clearly weren’t,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a frequent Obama critic who has zealously pursued a contempt case against Attorney General Eric Holder.
Jan. 19: The Hill: Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) hammered Senate Democrats on Saturday for not approving a budget resolution in nearly four years. Lankford also criticized President Obama for falling behind on finalizing a budget proposal in time for next month's deadline, saying he has "already missed more budget deadlines than any of his predecessors."
"Every family and every business has a budget, our nation should have a budget as well," Lankford, the new chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, said during the GOP's weekly address. Unlike the Senate, he said the House will pass its budget on time and vowed that "it will be a plan to slowly but surely walk our nation out of debt, deficit and decline."
Jan. 18: MySanAntonio.com:At least the President didn't call Republicans terrorists at Monday's press conference. But the "divider in chief," who only two years ago urged Americans to usher in a new era of civility, who said then “only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation,” employed plenty of ugly rhetoric.
Having conceded to the president some of his beloved tax increases in the fiscal cliff negotiations, and having received from the president pledges to cut spending and “shrink our deficits in a balanced way,” Republicans reasonably want to see a proposal from the White House that fulfills those pledges before raising the debt ceiling. For that act of treachery, Obama blasted them for negotiating “with a gun at the head of the American people,” wanting to “gut Medicare or Medicaid” and threatening to “wreck the entire economy.”
Jan. 17: The Hill: House Republicans are discussing a short-term debt ceiling increase to buy time for broader deficit reduction negotiations with Democrats, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters Thursday. “We’re discussing the possible virtue of a short-term debt limit extension so that we have a better chance of getting the Senate and the White House involved in discussions in March,” Ryan told reporters gathered at the Kingsmill resort in Williamsburg, where the House GOP is holding its annual retreat. . A GOP leadership aide said there was no consensus on the size of a debt limit hike, and that it would have to be coupled with entitlement reforms or spending cuts.
Jan. 17: FoxNews: Brit Hume: The Republicans should not expect a fair fight over the debt ceiling. The GOP needs to learn that its not enough to be right, you need to be effective, Hume said. He pointed to the Speaker's efforts to block tax increases for everyone but millionaires and he could not get support amoung his own party. The result was that they got a tax increase they liked even less -- increases for those earning above $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples.
The Republicans need to pick a pressure point that sounds reasonable to the public, stake out their position, and not budge from it and, Hume continues, they need to all be saying the same thing. It may be that the automatic cuts would be the most effective. If the Republicans can live with the defense cuts, it is not at all clear that the President and the Democrats in Congress can live with the domestic cuts, Hume concluded.
Jan. 17: The Hill: Rank and File Republicans tell GOP leaders to keep sequester, shutdown 'on the table': Meeting in Williamsburg GOP leaders on Thursday heard from rank-and-file members in a closed-door session, with many urging sequester cuts or a government shutdown to take effect in hopes of forcing the White House into accepting spending cuts.
Jan. 15: FoxNews: Brit Hume: Can we really blame the Repubicans for endangering U.S. credit? The Fitch credit rating service has said that even if the U.S. debt ceiling is dealt with quickly they would still probably down grade the U.S. credit rating "if there is no creditable medium term deficit reduction plan." Last year, Hume notes, S&P down graded the U.S. credit rating because the debt ceiling deal in their opinion "falls short of what would be necessary to stabilize the government's medium term debt dynamic." Translation? The debt ceiling deal did not do enough about the debt itself. So, Hume sugests, keep this in mind when the Republicans are blamed for the downgrading of the U.S. credit rating!
What the Republicans are saying that we have maxed out the credit card. We need to pay what we owe while stopping to add to the debt we already have. The President and the Democrats are trying, successfully, to frame the debate around the theme that Republicans are trying to stop the government from paying what it has already contracted for. This, of course, is not the case.
Jan. 14: The Daily Caller: VA Congressman Introduces Bill to link Congressional Salaries to Passage of a Budget: A Republican congressman is pushing a bill in the House that would automatically cut the salaries of lawmakers if federal spending increases. Speaking by phone with The Daily Caller, Rep. Randy Forbes said on Tuesday that the proposed Congressional Accountability Pay Act is intended to incentivize members of Congress to figure out how to pay down the country’s $16 trillion debt. “So if spending goes up by 10 percent, we’re reducing your salary by 10 percent,” Forbes explained in the interview. “If it goes up by 5 percent, we’re going to reduce it by 5 percent.”
Jan. 14: FoxNews: Can President Obama use the 14th Amendment to raise the debt limit and circumvent Congress? A legal opinion.
Jan. 14: The Washington Times: Obama and Biden Oppose Raising the Debt Ceiling as Senators: President Obama’s vow not to negotiate on the debt limit this year is a stark reversal for an administration whose two top officials both have a history of balking at debt hikes. Mr. Obama himself voted against a debt-limit increase in 2006, saying the government’s leaders had deepened the deficit so badly that they didn’t deserve a debt hike. And Vice President Joseph R. Biden in the 1980s led the exact same kind of rebellion that Mr. Obama now says he won’t tolerate from the GOP.
Indeed, that October 1984 fight was only solved after the government dispatched two Air Force planes to pick up senators back in their home states and bring them to Washington so they could help defeat Mr. Biden — exactly the kind of last-minute standoff Mr. Obama now says he wants to avoid.
Jan. 14: The Daily Caller: On his Monday radio show, conservative talker Mark Levin said that if President Barack Obama sidesteps Congress on the debt ceiling fight and attacks the Congress’ constitutionally enumerated “core power” – that is control over spending and taxing — through executive action, Congress will have “no choice” but impeachment.
Jan. 11: The Hill: Senate Democrats will support the unilateral increase of the debt ceiling: Senate Democratic leaders have sent a letter to President Obama pledging their support if he raises the nation's $16.4 trillion debt ceiling unilaterally in the face of Republican resistance. Support has been growing among Democrats in Congress for Obama to invoke the 14th Amendment or another legal justification for expanding the nation’s borrowing authority without congressional approval.
“In the event that Republicans make good on their threat by failing to act, or by moving unilaterally to pass a debt limit extension only as part of unbalanced or unreasonable legislation, we believe you must be willing to take any lawful steps to ensure that America does not break its promises and trigger a global economic crisis — without Congressional approval, if necessary,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other Democratic leaders wrote in a letter dated Jan. 11.
Jan. 11: FoxNews: More on Senate Democrats suggesting Obama circumvent Congress: If President Obama were to break the impasse with Republicans over raising the debt limit by taking unilateral action, such a move would have the potential to set off a firestorm of controversy and spark a protracted legal battle.
Meanwhile the White House has dismissed talk that Obama would rely on unusual measures to raise the nation's debt limit without Congress' approval, but administration officials also have warned that the country could default on its debt and trigger a new economic crisis if lawmakers don't increase the limit on borrowing. Even so, with this President the past has shown that anything can happen!
Jan. 10: The Hill: Panetta orders DOD to 'prepare for the worst' on sequester, including furloughs: The beginning of budget cuts from sequestration, the looming debate on Capitol Hill over the debt ceiling and a critical vote on the defense appropriations bill for fiscal 2013 are all set to come crashing down on DOD next month, Panetta warned. "We have no idea what the hell is going to happen," he said. The secretary and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said they have ordered service leaders and combat commanders to begin taking "precautionary" cost-cutting measures in anticipation of sequestration.
Jan. 10: The Daily Caller: Obama wins America Loses According to a recent Pew Poll:A new Pew Research Center poll says most Americans — including 74 percent of Republicans — believe President Barack Obama won the "Fiscal Cliff" face-off, but most also believe the deal is bad for them and the economy. Fifty-two percent of independents believe the deal will mostly hurt the economy, and 55 percent believe the deal will mostly “hurt people like you!”
Jan. 8: The Daily Caller reports that a group of Democratic senators has sent President Barack Obama a letter urging him to invoke the 14th Amendment (see text below) and bypass Congress to address the debt ceiling. That unlikely political power play would almost certainly result in a lawsuit from House Republicans, according to the Daily Caller report.
Sec. 4 of the 14th Amendment reads: The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
|Dec. 24: Fox News: What happens if 'fiscal cliff' deal not reached? Jamie Weinstein, Senior Editor of The Daily Caller says even if we go over the Fiscal Cliff there will be negotiations to lessen the impact starting in January. In addition the Republicans still feel they will have some leverage once the issue of raising the debt ceiling limit hits in February. There is some incentive, especially in the Senate, to take no action and then, early next year, to pass legislation that will cut taxes that will be put in place by going over the fiscal cliff. This will make the law makers look good because they can say that they are cutting taxes again.|
|Dec. 24: The Wall Street Journal: James Oster, a senior VP of foreign-exchange for an Ohio company says the consequences of a complete failure in lawmakers' negotiations would be severe, as some $500 billion in scheduled tax increases and spending cuts could come into effect. But like many traders, he takes comfort from the belief that even if Washington doesn't reach a pact by Dec. 31, a deal will be scrambled together in January to minimize the damage to the economy. |
|Dec. 23: Fox News Sunday: Senator Barrasso says that "President Obama is eager to go over the cliff." He sees it as a political victory. He gets additional tax revenues for new programs, he gets cuts to military spending which he has wanted for a very long time, and he gets to blame Republicans for the impact going over the cliff will have on the average American. The President seems to have been successful in framing the debate around the tax issues while not dealing with the spending cuts that are needed. [See a related article on what is really happening from Minute Man Press.] |
|Dec. 21: The Wall Street Journal: How the Fiscal Cliff Negotiations Hit the Wall! House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.) said he could not support "Plan B." Then Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), whom Mr. Boehner had spent weeks wooing, said he couldn't sign on because it didn't make structural changes in entitlements.
The speaker went ahead with Plan B, which collapsed Thursday night before he could even bring it to a vote, leaving talks at a perilous standstill just days before the year-end fiscal-cliff deadline
|Dec. 18: National Center for Policy Analysis: If nothing is done by January 1, taxes will increase while federal spending is cut. Under current law, increases in the top rate of nearly every major federal tax will go into effect on January 1 because the Bush tax cuts expire and tax increases to pay for ObamaCare go into effect, says Peter Ferrara, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. The fiscal cliff will decrease Medicare payments to doctors, many of whom will stop seeing Medicare patients. All of this will increase the Federal Government's take from citizen's paychecks. The end result will be higher unemployment and a deeper recession.|
|Dec. 15: Raising Taxes is Not the Solution [Bill Sargent Speaks Out]|
|Dec. 14: The Fiscal Cliff: A Primer[The Tax Foundation]
13: Telling the Truth About Budget Cuts and the Fiscal Cliff [Minute Man News]
|Dec. 12: Should we Tax Only the Rich or Everyone? [The Fiscal Times]|
|Dec. 11: Reducing the Debt and Improving the Economy [Mercatus Center, George Mason University]|
|Dec. 10: What Happens When We Tax Overseas Corporate Profits? [The Tax Foundation]|
|Dec. 9: The Fiscal Cliff Means Red Ink for Local Governments [The Fiscal Times]|
|Dec. 8: Tax Policy Has a Direct Impact on Behavior [Mercatus Center, George Mason University]|
|Dec. 7: What is the Impact of Raising State Taxes? [The Fiscal Times]|
|Dec. 6: Driving Off the Fiscal Cliff: The Impact on the U.S. Economy [The Tax Foundation]
||Dec. 5: FHA May be the Next to Raid the U.S. Treasury, adversely impacting the U.S. Economy [The Wall Street Journal]
| Nov. 27: The Wall Street Journal Almost all American households would take a financial blow next year—and low-income families would be among the hardest hit—if the White House and Congress fail to solve the "fiscal cliff" of big tax increases and spending cuts set to start Jan 2. A married couple making between $20,000 and $30,000 a year would go from receiving, on average, a $15 tax credit to owing $1,408, according to research by the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute.|
|Nov. 12: How to Truly Help Small Business and Why Washington has it wrong [The Wall Street Journal]|
|Nov. 7: The Wall Street Journal All You Wanted to Know About the Fiscal Cliff But Were Afraid to Ask|