US Politics

Over. For Now….

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Phew.

The partial government shutdown is over and the US is no longer on the brink of default. Once again we have not fallen over a fiscal cliff. This story is becoming a bit redundant… Every September and October, millions of Americans collectively “facepalm” as Congress creates a mockery of an institution. An institution that (in recent years) just can’t manage to accomplish anything.

While the country struggles to recover from a recession, unemployment rates continue to remain high, families are being ripped apart by a broken immigration system, and millions of Americans are straddled with overwhelming debt; Congress continues to be held hostage by a small group hellbent on completely dismantling public programs.

I know many people are happy today. The shutdown is over. Federal employees are back to work. There are no longer barricades at the national monuments. Yellowstone and Glacier are open! Yet I have a pit in my stomach. Because we will be back in this same place come January, when this “resolution agreement” expires. And it will be back to square one and yet another continuing resolution, the stop gap measure that we have been relying on for over three years. Without a budget, we will be having regular financial fights as each continuing resolution expires.

The 2014 elections are starting to heat up. Montana will have an open Senate and (probably) open House seat. My hope is that Montana voters remember the anger and frustration they felt during the past few weeks, and recall those feelings when casting their ballots a year from now. My hope is that voters will do research and support candidates that will put Montana interests first, candidates that will work to pass a budget for our country to operate, so our low income families, people with disabilities, our seniors, our Native Americans, and our children are supported.

The nightmare of continuing resolutions, fiscal cliffs, sequestration, and default will continue as long as the US continues to operate without a budget. We need a budget to invest in infrastructure and our communities. We need a budget to get Americans back to work and to strengthen our economy. We need a budget to realistically deal with the national deficit.

And most importantly we need a budget so that America can stop being a global laughing stock.

 

About the author

Sheena Rice

A professional rabble rouser, Sheena is a Butte girl now calling Billings home. She loves Montana, music, politics, cheap beer and dinosaurs. She hates the big banks and pants. All of her posts are done on her own time and of her own accord and are not associated with the organization that she works for.

35 Comments

  • People need to be reminded that this 16-day Republican temper-tantrum cost (according to Standard & Poor’s) $26 billion. That’s a major hit to the national economy. And it doesn’t reflect the human costs of the shut-down. Not everyone is going back to work.

    Steve Daines owes us for this. We owe him nothing except our contempt.

  • I am pretty happy myself this crap is over until after Christmas, but I do have the dates marked on the calender. Ive got a terrible feeling we haven’t seen the last of this clown car of errors…. not to mention we have a whole herd of cats coming our way this election cycle.

    What kind of crap are they gonna lie about in the future considering they are already in denial they did anything wrong now.

  • I am not a Republican by any stretch, but I look at them and realize that they would never let a “crisis” like this happen if it were to be staged by Democrats. They are smart and cagey, even if we do not like their morals or goals. They would threaten, intimidate, pull surprise moves, perhaps even do serious bargaining.

    However, Democratic leadership is also smart and cagey and possessing the presidency and the Senate, can only allow this to happen due to unwillingness to force their hand. I therefore conclude that they are willing participants in a charade.

    To what end? I do not know. To this point, I have thought it was to allow them to bargain away the things they supposedly hold dear. Perhaps only a distraction, as the exchanges have opened up and a host of lipstick-on-pig insurance policies are being hawked. Haven’t heard anything about that.

    We do not yet know the devil in the details. till then, I would not be breathing sighs of relief. We must survey the damage that took place behind the curtain, and think about the activities of all politicians with great vigilance and suspicions. You have far fewer friends than you imagine.

    • There’s actually a few relatively simply explanations that you are ignoring.

      1. You argued that Obama could have re-opened the government and dodged the debt ceiling with sheer executive force, by declaring an emergency or some such. Carter, Reagan, and Clinton all went through gov’t shutdowns, and not one did anything of the sort. Doing so would have been an enormous expansion of executive power and almost certainly unconstitutional. I may be overly concerned, but I honestly think it would have led to small-scale bloodshed because people are that paranoid, and rightly so, about ’emergency powers’.

      2. You need to understand the Senate, and understand House districts, and understand the electoral college. Democrats generally have only a tenuous hold on Senate and the White House; Republicans are statistically almost incapable of losing the House of Reps. Therefore, while they have less political power, they also have a great deal more room to maneuver before they actually lose anything, which gives them room to try gambits like this. Democrats, to hold a Senate and electoral college which are also skewed conservative, but not so absurdly as the House, must maintain their image as responsible and moderate, and so they have to patiently deal with these GOP gambits in a cautious way.

      Similarly, Democrats are on a short leash, money-wise. This is the part of the equation you are acutely aware of already, but it bears repeating. Democrats remain acceptable to the moneyed classes because their policies generally allow for continued economic growth. But the GOP can get away with damaging the economy because they deliver something even better to the plutocrats: an increase in relative wealth, so that even if the ‘pie’ is smaller, their piece is relatively larger and their status is thus increased. So even when they cost the country 26 billion dollars, the plutocrats know the GOP is still firmly on their side. After all, obscene wealth in a Banana Republic is ever more powerful than obscene wealth in what’s left of the American Republic.

      3. Democrats did not bargain away really anything this time. This is where we can test two alternative hypotheses. Your theory was that Democrats welcomed the threat of shutdown in 2011 and the various other budget dramas during the 2010-2012 session to give them cover for things their plutocratic overlords really wanted to do – cut social programs (the fact that their biggest sacrifice was raising the payroll tax, thus hurting the working class but strengthening social security, does not run against your argument but is not much support for it, either). However, this time they had another chance to do it – say, cut entitlements substantially to raise the debt ceiling, blame it on Ted Cruz and largely get away with it. They didn’t. What’s different this time? It’s really quite simply. In 2010, they lost an election, rather badly. In 2012, they won. Not just the presidency and the Senate, but a majority of the votes cast for the House. Therefore, although the actual control was the same as 2011, the public opinion (which you so denigrate) was in a very different position, and when it was clear they had the public behind them Democrats in fact stood firm.

      • We DO NOT know what happened! what agreements went forward, or the true reasons for this charade. However, I am glad you stopped by. It was otherwise pretty boring here, people unable to pierce the veil of party politics. At least you’ve got some chops in that area.

        “Let’s not forget that $450 billion was cut in the 2010 continuing resolution. Remember the first debt ceiling fight – $200 billion. $960 billion [was taken] out of the budget control .. like that was the debt ceiling. [?] The fiscal cliff deal … $860 billion. $3.6 trillion dollars have been cut, by this president! He’s also cut public service jobs by 750,000. Way more than Bush ever did. The first thing he ever did was a tax cut. You would think the [Tea Party] – what does it stand for? “Taxed Enough Already” – you would think that when the first thing the president did was cut taxes, they would like that.”

        That’s Bill Maher, a Democrat DEFENDING Obama. That is the kind of pretzel logic you have to do to justify your party and it’s leader, to praise him for carrying out the right wing agenda. Maher is a very funny man, and dumb.

        Foreign policy? Just to show that those who control domestic policy also control foreign policy (even if there are internal squabbles), here we go:

        Continued war, slaughter and military bases in Iraq; 40,000 more plus troops in Afghanistan to protect the heroin trade; aggressive war against Libya, cutting oil production by 90%, creating chaos and poverty, making it a source of terrorism and weaponry for the assault in Syria; drone attacks killing thousands of civilians in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia; a cross-border attack on Pakistan creating 1.5 new refugees; the new command and assault on Northern Africa; hundreds of thousands of new Somalian war refugees; continued support for Israel and it’s nuclear and chemical arsenal, and it’s ethnic cleansing of the West Bank; sending the fleet to the Persian Gulf to threaten Iran, a peaceful country; Gitmo still up and running; using a transparent ruse to threaten to bomb Syria (only falling short due to superior maneuvering by the Russians, who saved perhaps a million lives); imposing Iraq-style sanctions on Iran, a peaceful country, using food and medicine as weapons, a war crime, as is already carried out against Cuba and North Korea; and refusing the recognize a democratic election in Venezuela indicating yet another regime change in the works.

        This is not a mean of peace. he’s a dangerous warmonger who needs to answer for his crimes, but will not of course, as that is not how the world works. But self-encirclement is happening with the BRICS having had enough.

        Obama needs to be stopped. Now. He’s dangerous, almost maniacal, and yet, due to the D, you honestly cannot see any of this. That’s why D’s are the problem.

        When he attacked Libya, you pretzeled yourself into making it a good attack. You you’ve pretzeled our corrupt financially-backed politicians into being supported by good and bad plutocrats.

        Piece of work, you are. We are headed into Nepal, don’t know if I can use internet. But this ain’t over. Your mindset is at issue here, your real and selective blindness.

        • If you want to discuss foreign policy, do it on a foreign policy thread. Lets look at domestic policy here.

          The cuts that you are addressing happened after Americans voted for Republicans. Not enough to give them the Senate, not in a year when the president was up for election. But Americans voted for Republicans, and Republicans made it clear they wanted to cut government spending. While Americans and Republicans were both atrociously misinformed and made an economically disastrous decision, the fact remains that what happened in DC in 2011 was broadly in line with what American voters indicated they wanted.

          The same is true for what happened this week – American voters in 2012 broadly endorsed Obama and Democrats in every chamber of congress, Democrats who had made it clear they did not support further cuts without further revenue and that they intended to uphold their healthcare reforms. Americans, in an election, approved that message and what happened in DC reflected that election.

          Now, are there backroom deals and shenanigans that subvert the will of the people? Absolutely. There are even very obvious front room deals and shenanigans, like drawing a majority of districts to have a moderate but unassailable GOP majority, that subvert the will of the people. But you’re looking for a backroom explanation for something that is much more easily explained by electoral politics.

          As far as pretzeling – the point is that Obama has not exploded spending. He has, however, managed to raise taxes on the wealthy and cut defense spending along with discretionary non-defense spending. That’s not much in total scale, but it’s a hell of a lot more than nothing and quite a bit more simply ratcheting in what happened under Bush.

          Also, I didn’t ‘pretzel’ at all on Libya. I have from the beginning supported intervention in areas currently at war where a new government may be better for the people than the current one. I supported that back when Gaddafi was buying weapons from the West; there’s ample evidence of it here and at 4&20. I supported regime change in Afghanistan (under a GOP president), although I’ll admit now that this was very badly botched and perhaps impossible from the start. The intervention in Libya, the public part anyway, was absolutely in line with my previously stated beliefs. Similarly, I absolutely opposed intervention in Syria even when it appeared my ‘D’ president was going to do it. I put my predictions on record (they have been generally correct domestically as well – unlike your ‘Obama will privatize social security’ prediction), as well as my opinions, so you can be quite sure I’m not changing them to suit a president of any particular party.

          • As I tell my readers at my blog, I don’t care what you comment on, even if they change the subject. Sometimes what I write is boring. I hate it when the teacher/curriculum/we study this now not that/ mentality creeps in.

            Social security is always under attack. it exists because of its popularity. Politicians do mot make that happen. It’s popularity forces them into misdirection, as Obama’s 2% payroll tax cut, clearly a move to defund. It failed in that he could not dislodge a general fund payback, and so gave that up. He’s doing chained CPI now, completely unnecessary. But It never ends. They never stop the attacks. There are not enough progressive democrats to protect things, perhaps maybe 50 total? If a non-military program does not enjoy wide public support, and is not meant to benefit the wealthy, it’s under attack.

            His failure to achieve significant damage to the program does not mean we can relax. Ever. Food stamps does mot have a strong constituency as does Social Security, as it’s beneficiaries are poor, disenfranchised and unorganized. It is suffering accordingly, would be gone entirely if our food giants did not prosper from it. So it’s under full frontal attack. This country, both parties, the president, the Supreme Court, most of our institutions, our supposed environmentalists even – all corrupt. Terrible times we live in.

            Mostly the American public is clueless, even if there is general undefined free-floating concerns about this or that. They are easily misled, bamboozled, and herded into the two-year election cycle to give them the idea that they are in charge. that’s all elections are for these days – the illusion of self-governance.

            So when I read your words, yet again, that politicians are busy carrying out public will and making elections matter, I spit my coffee. It’s an easy thing to do, to take everything that happens and work it backwards to say that that was the cause. It means you never have to be wrong. It’s mindless, reverse-engineered, just like your attitudes in foreign policy. You’re not vigilant, incredulous, inquiring and curious about how public affairs are really played out.

            For instance, you failed to mention one important factor that governs the behavior of public officials: money. As in “follow it.” You are truly now aware that it is the driving force behind every one of them, and that what they do and say in public are intended only for effect.

            That’s boring and incurious.

            • I can tell when you know you’ve lost the argument, Mark, because you slip back into generalities. You saw that you were losing earlier, and tried to steer the conversation to Syria or something. Now you’re changing the overall point of the discussion again. Lets stick to the topic at hand:

              One government near-shut down led to tens of billions in spending cuts in a depressed economy. Another, last week, did not. The money didn’t change. The poor, middle class, and unemployed will benefit immensely from that fact. So, it’s worth finding out – why did this shutdown end so differently from the last? That should give us some indication of what is driving political decision making.

              Did the money change? No. The same parties are still getting the same amounts from the same sources. So while money is important, it could not have been the determining factor here.

              (Granted, it was probably influential – specifically, monied interests probably encouraged the GOP to back down rather than risk whatever a debt ceiling scenario would entail. But they were not able to pressure Democrats to give up much of anything, whatsoever).

              Obviously there was another big change between 2011 and 2013, and that was 2012, wherein Democrats walloped Republicans in a nationwide election. That could be our cause here. Right now, it’s just a correlation – it could be the tides or the alignment of the stars. But there is no correlation between this very different budgetary outcome and the source or supply of political money, so causation is almost certainly not to be found there.

              Again, you’re looking to over complicate this. It’s quite simple – Republicans have gerrymandered themselves into a permanent majority in the House. But, some of those seats are so conservative, and the money supply is this country comes from so far to the right, that a primary challenge is more dangerous than a general challenge. So, those districts breed further and further right wing congressmen who are ignorant of economics and set on exceedingly right-wing goals. That is a sufficient explanation for what happened here; any other factors may exist but they are not causal, at least not primarily so.

              • ” It’s quite simple – Republicans have gerrymandered themselves into a permanent majority in the House.”

                Permanent? I disagree. Difficult to dislodge? Yes. But not impossible to dislodge. One throw the bums out election is all it takes to overcome the gerrymandering.

                • Fair point. But even single digit congressional approval doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be thrown out. It may not be a permanent majority, but it’ll be very hard to dislodge during a mid-term election. Given a highly charismatic presidential candidate, we may get the House back in 2016; if not, redistricting cuts both ways (I’m sure the Democratic Party has realized this by now, and will be investing quite a bit into a few state legislatures as we approach 2020).

              • My generality: The differences between the parties are mostly in the eye of the beholder. It is painfully obvious to anyone looking at matters objectively that government policies do not change when one party takes over in majority in congress or the White House. Only the way we view them does. Debt, once a democratic issue became a republican one in 2008. Bush agreed to a SOFA that Obama reluctantly carried out in Iraq. You now say he got us out of Iraq. We’re still there. See how it works? just broaden it to everything and you’ll have a better perspective. Events that happened after the election are credited or blamed to the new administration. Meanwhile you never, ever follow the money.

                Things happen, there are public debates, but most of what we see is meant to be seen and so should be ignored. Sometimes it takes months, sometimes we never realize the true purpose of staged events – the “red line” was child’s play, as was the “fiscal cliff.” The appearance of the Tea Party in 2009 appears to have been timed to manage perceptions regarding Obama in general, as new movements are usually ignored and don’t get their own network unless there is juice behind them This same “Tea Party,” whose members may indeed be stupid people, are given unusual power to manage affairs in DC even as they are fewer in number (32) than either the black (46) or progressive (71) caucus. Please question that.

                Please question everything.

                • ” It is painfully obvious ”

                  Then you shouldn’t have to flee from specifics.

                  “Obama reluctantly”

                  For someone who questions everything, you’re really taking this one at face value. Why would Obama have wanted to stay in Iraq? He opposed the war, ran on his opposition to the war, and then mere weeks after his election he gets an easy out! Sure he has to act reluctant to make it seem like Maliki is in charge, but you of all people should realize that until the actual withdrawal of troops the Iraqi government was only able to achieve through negotiation what the US government wanted them to achieve.

                  But that’s neither here nor there. The big question is – why didn’t big money get what it wanted out of this shutdown like they did with the almost shutdown in 2011? I’ve got a pretty good idea, but you reject the only obvious hypothesis.

                  “The appearance of the Tea Party in 2009 appears to have been timed to manage perceptions regarding Obama in general”

                  Reaching for another rather complicated theory when there’s an obvious one in front of your face. The TEA party, just like the Contract with America, was funded by the very wealthy to paralyze a centrist president. They is enough latent knee-jerk conservatism in this country that enough airtime will always be able to spawn a movement against any kind of economic centrism. The TEA party certainly hasn’t done Obama any favors: perceptions of him have fallen almost as much as those of congress, and so it seems unlikely the goal was to ‘manage perceptions’ unless the perception attempting to be created is that of an incompetent government (and if so, we agree: the goal of the very wealthy is to paralyze government and then foster the opinion that this is the inevitable state of government, as though they had nothing to do with it but would be happy to help out if we only privatized more things).

                  “are given unusual power to manage affairs in DC even as they are fewer in number (32) than either the black (46) or progressive (71) caucus. Please question that. ”

                  How about I answer it? The TEA party caucus has relatively little (in the most recent showdown, no) sway in the Senate, because they are associated with the minority party. They have power in the House because they are associated with the majority party, and because they represent an organized force in nearly every GOP district (they are a larger portion of the GOP base than moderate Republicans, second only to Evangelical Christians and largely overlapping with them). Black people are concentrated through gerrymandering so they only present a powerful force in a minority of districts (46, I bet), and do not have a lot of money to throw at primary campaigns.

    • The alternative then, a real alternative hypothesis, is that your party leaders are not strong, crafty, or intelligent. Since this is politics, Norma, you might want to consider, if only for a second, that they are corrupt, smart, strong, and that you are the ones being played. It happens you know, politicians do take advantage of people.

          • Since your comment is based on your very low standards of reality, and I don’t take ridiculous assumptions into account on any given day…. Especially by a guy who doesn’t use his right to vote….. you shouldn’t get so worked up that I ignore you Mark, and protect the right you won’t to vote.

            Its just that simple man

            • If only you would ignore me! You’ve got nothing to add!

              The problem with low curiosity, credulity and perceptual intake is that people who are incurious, credulous and non-perceptive are the last to know it.

              Now please – ignore me!!!

              • I can’t ignore countless stupidity Mark.

                I am the person who when hauling to the dump stops to pick up the fallen trash of those who go before me, without a care to tie down their loads of trash…. Never realizing, they strew their crap all over the countryside ….. clueless to the destruction they induce into the environment.

                And when I find those guys, like any good citizen, I report them to authorities because they are serial trash dumpers just like you.

  • Nice to know there is life after a trillion.

    It’s called quadrillion.

    I agree with your last few sentences tho. Now who has failed to produce budgets in the last years?

      • First one in a long time. But hell, who needs them.

        Two top Democrats in Congress say the legislature doesn’t really need to pass a budget. Excuse us, but passing a budget isn’t optional; it’s required by law. Is this the future of rule under the Democrats?

        House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer is tired of passing budgets as the law demands. He thinks Congress can just keep spending money without any sort of budget.

        “The fact is, you don’t need a budget,” he said last Tuesday. “We can adopt appropriations bills. We can adopt authorization policies without a budget. We already have an agreed-upon cap on spending.” -IBD

          • The message is that the parties are one. As Lenin said, the best way to control the opposition is to be their leaders. Democrats do not hold their leaders accountable, so that Republicans easily slip into leadership roles. Think Baucus x 200 in the Congress,and Obama in the White House. There are a few progressives on the margins of that party, but there are also gatekeepers everywhere, such as this blog.

            Debt was not a problem when your glorious leader was the perceived executive. When Obama took that chair, there was an immediate perception maneuver. Debt instantly became the dominating issue. That’s thought control. You’re its poster child.

            Debt is not a problem in a recession, and cutting government services causes the economy to retract further so that debt even appears bigger as a percentage of GDP. We are only talking about it because a Democrat is in office, so that Democrats are asleep. It’s a good time to go after the safety net. And they have.

              • I wish someone would explain that. Dislodgment and and arrest of public officials by fiat is very … Nazi. I imagine that the charges are trumped up, and if not you should realize that everyone can be scandalized at the will of those who have the power of fiat appointments. I would suspect that a Joe Nacchio-style example is being made of him for the benefit of any others who dislike the way that state is being run.

                • The problem with you Mark is that you’re just to damn impatient.

                  The strategy of forcing political change through orchestrated crisis. The “Cloward-Piven Strategy” seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse.

                  Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven were two lifelong members of Democratic Socialists of America who taught sociology at Columbia University (Piven later went on to City University of New York). In a May 1966 Nation magazine article titled “The Weight of the Poor,” they outlined their strategy, proposing to use grassroots radical organizations to push ever more strident demands for public services at all levels of government.

                  The result, they predicted, would be “a profound financial and political crisis” that would unleash “powerful forces … for major economic reform at the national level.”-National Review

    • Those in gerrymandered districts will be as stupid as usual, and Ted Cruz? that Bozo thinks he is winning?

      Break out the tiger milk!

      But really think of this, the whole new world order they believe in is without education, this is why corporate sponsors have to hire Educated people from other countries and bring them in on Visas…. the GOP is dumbing themselves and their children right out of a job !

  • Self-linking is generally frowned on and draws a snarl, but that’s a good piece and worth a read. Steve Kelly is pretty good about eyeing the big picture while I get drawn into discussions such as this. The BRICs are beginning to take a larger role in affairs, it appears. The Syria showdown was immensely important.

    I see the seeds of our current state planted long before, under Truman with dropping of the bombs and passage of NSA. OSS became CIA and is now self-funded and unaccountable and has planted operatives throughout media and supposed opposition groups. They are our SS. FBI serve as political police, and can target any politician for removal. NSA spies on everyone in office or nearby and in the media. It ‘s classic Pathocracy. For that reason it is impossible to take the public words and deeds of any public official at face. There’s too much juice behind the scenes. They are all scared, scandalized, bought or all of the above.

    It’s 12:30 AM where I’m at. I still have not flipped my clock. This is worrisome.

  • Mark reminds me of the idiot sword carrying American buffoon in the movie; The Russians are Coming, The Russians are coming. I highly recommend this film, as it kinda explains the Tea party of today and those jerks like Mark who enable it and Hate.

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