Thursday, September 26, 2013

Shutdown 2013 Update No. 1

My boss called me in today. He's a really good guy. He tried so hard to soften the message. "Well, I, uh, -sit down. I regret this, but I need to let you know that, well, you have been officially designated as 'non-essential.'"

My response: "Ha! No problem! I've been 'non-essential' for 30 years! I was shutdown by Reagan and Tip O'Neill!" He is too, of course.

We also found out, and I'm not supposed to say much about this, but certain persons, while still "non-essential," are paid out of different sources of funds. And as their salaries are already paid, they have to work. Of course that also means they will have no worries about being paid. When we get furloughed, we are legally prohibited from performing any work. And we have no expectation of being paid.

In every shutdown over the past 30 years, and there's been about a half dozen including the infamous newt shutdown which gave Pres. Clinton far too much free time, Congress has retroactively paid our salaries. I guess that's sort of guilt money because they get paid a lot for not working. They only work really, really hard at these times when they kick us out. Go figure. But with this Congress, all bets are off.

Other developments:

Sen. Bob Corker (R. Arkansas) chided Cruz & Lee on the Senate Floor for delaying a vote until Friday so they could meet the television schedule they had promised their followers.

The President today held firm that he will not negotiate on the CR (Continuing Resolution) to fund the government (not a real appropriations bill, mind you) or on the debt ceiling authority.

The House indicated that they want the Reid-cleansed CR back to them so they can add other stuff they want.

And my conclusion is we now have a 99% chance of shutdown on the theory that there are two deadlines coming up - the shutdown and the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling is far more important because it risks the full faith and credit of the obligations of the United States (that Congress has already authorized) and could either be a piffle like Y2K or more likely bring down the world economy that still relies on the US for its economic bulwark. That's because of the stability of our political system and the vitality of our markets regulated by a democratically elected representative government - a democratic republic! Well, that was because of the stability of our political system and the vitality of our markets regulated by a democratically elected representative government. The tea party sees things otherwise in their fantasy world.

[I didn't finish my thought - the President and Senator Reid (bless him!) insist on a clean CR and a clean debt ceiling clearance. They can't allow any concession on the CR or they will face worse when the Republicans come back with more demands for the debt limit. The President could then give in on Obamacare delays. Heck, he's already done some himself! But he can't do that now. So - guaranteed shutdown - the lesser of two evils. I hold supporters of the tea party responsible. And mostly, Cruz & Lee, even if Cruz is stealing all of Lee's "glory."]

There may not be a shutdown if Boehner succeeds in pulling one over on his tea party caucus by getting a clean CR for a week or so to allow them to keep fighting. But it was a succession of those that led to the infamous newt shutdown.

Oh, and this just in. There is a wonderful new tumblr and FB page from Adorable Care Act. The White House denies any involvement. Rep. Issa is sure to conduct an investigation.

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  1. You've probably gone over this before, but why do we have a debt ceiling at all, if we just have to raise it every year or so and have this "shutdown/hostage threat" every time? if it's so meaningless, why let it remain a liability?

    1. Thanks for the comment, Frank! You raise a very good point that we really don't need it as all appropriation authority lies in the Congress, with bills to originate in the House, and they can set whatever rules they want on themselves! Which is just what this is - an arbitrary limit on debt to make it appear to the voters that they are being responsible (ha!). It's been going on in one for or another since early in the 20th Century. I think the President is trying to break that leverage ploy and this stand-off gives him a good opportunity to do so. We'll see. . . .

      I shouldn't have to give out these caveats still, but of course our debt is an issue to deal with! But the way to solve is is ONLY by compromise and hard work. Which is kind of difficult dealing with a group of politicians and voters who are morally opposed to compromise in any form (and they call the President a "dictator.")

      And people believe what they want to believe. I understand the concept that we shouldn't spend more than we take in. But family budgets, even corporate and institutional budgets, work vastly different from the federal budget on the simple reason that no matter how "hard" the family breadwinners work, the government can have significant policy or legal influence on what our spending and revenues and fiscal-quantitative values are. Libertarians sometimes call this fiat money or worse. But they live in a theoretical world of "free" markets. There never have been and never well be as long as we are humans and not angels and I don't think angels need markets. The government can stimulate markets by many means and it is the vitality of our markets based on our solid, Constitutional system premised on checks and balances and representative-democratic politics (i.e., compromise) that give us our economic stability!

      So, before I head off further into diatribe territory, I'd better quit.

    2. it's hard for this to not move into diatribe territory, as everyone seems to have strong opinions on how government should work, not to mention varying understandings on how it actually works. That's probably why it's designed for compromise, hoping that between the opinions of 536+ representatives (100+435+1), we can manage something that works tolerably well for most. Personally, I'd prefer a simpler government, but that's kind of difficult when there is so much that needs to be done and so many ideas on how to do it.


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