What Makes Our Economy Grow?

Well, it’s certainly NOT what deadbeats Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei have to offer. Both voted yesterday to let the U.S. default on it’s debts, wreak havoc on the world economy and put the world reserve currency status of the U.S. dollar at risk.  But, despite their NAY votes, the bill passed and the government is once again open to conduct the people’s business, albeit temporarily yet again.  And while yet another committee works on trying to get the GOP to compromise on a workable budget, it’s time that we focus on Immigration Reform and begin to grow our economy.

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The GOP’s Little Rule Change They Hoped We Wouldn’t Notice

by  U.S. Representative  Chris  Van Hollen (D-Maryland)

Late in the evening on September 30, 2013, the House Rules Committee Republicans changed the Rules of the House so that the ONLY Member allowed to call up the Senate’s clean CR for a vote was Majority Leader Eric Cantor or his designee — all but guaranteeing the government would shut down a few hours later and would stay shut down. Previously, any Member would have had the right to bring the CR up for a vote. Democracy has been suspended in the House of Representatives.

The Weekend Reader

 

On the Sabotage of Democracy
by Bill Moyers
"At least let’s name this for what it is, sabotage of the democratic process. Secession by another means. And let’s be clear about where such reckless ambition leads."

 

Are Utility Companies Out to Destroy Solar’s ‘Rooftop Revolution’?
by Jon Queally
"What environmentalists and solar energy advocates see is the utility companies putting barriers up to a decentralized system they will not no longer be able to control or profit from."

 

Dear WWII Vets, Forget About the Monument, They Are Gunning for Your Social Security
by Mary Bottari
"As the government shutdown marches on and the dangerously real deadline of the federal debt limit approaches, it is increasingly clear that the fight over ‘Obamacare’ is merely an opening salvo."

 

Over 865,200 Gallons of Fracked Oil Spill in ND, Public in Dark for Days Due to Government Shutdown
by Steve Horn
"Over 20,600 barrels of oil fracked from the Bakken Shale has spilled from a Tesoro Logistics pipeline in Tioga, North Dakota in one of the biggest onshore oil spills in recent U.S. history."

 

At the UN, a Latin American Rebellion
by Laura Carlsen
"Without a doubt, the 68th UN General Assembly will be remembered as a watershed. What failed to make the headlines, however, could have the longest-term significance of all: the Latin American rebellion."

 

Libyan Captive Faces Interrogation Aboard Floating US ‘Black Site’
by Sarah Lazare
"The detention and interrogation of a Libyan captive and suspected al Qaeda operative aboard a Navy warship in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea is prompting concerns about an Obama administration policy of using floating ‘black sites’ to deny legal rights."

 

A Rationality Shutdown
by Robert C. Koehler
"In an agony of stupidity, the government shuts down.  Only some of it shuts down, of course. The part that stays open is the part that’s at war."

 

Supreme Court Hears Case That Could ‘Empower Super-Rich to Buy Elections’
by Andrea Germanos
"The outcome of a case dubbed the next Citizens United could bring ‘a rise in corruption both as the public understands the term – meaning the entire political system will shift still more to favor the super-rich – and as the Supreme Court defines it – meaning quid pro quo corruption,’ said Robert Weissman."

 

Their Real Goal: To Make Us All So Cynical About Government, We Give Up
by Robert Reich
"As average Americans give up on government, they pay less attention to what government does or fails to do — thereby making it easier for the moneyed interests to get whatever they want."

 

Poll: Government Shutdown A ‘Jaw-Dropping’ Disaster For GOP

by Henry Decker, The National Memo
The government shutdown has been a “jaw-dropping” disaster for the Republican Party, leaving it with historically low levels of support, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.

 

When Republicans Supported U.S. Debt Unconditionally

by Eric Foner, The National Memo
Award-winning historian Eric Foner explains how the 14th Amendment came to be — and how it could hold the answer to the debt ceiling crisis.   

image   VIDEO:  The Last Hours of Humanity — Warming the World to Extinction
by Thom Hartman

"Last Hours" is the first in a series of short films that explore the perils of climate change and the solutions to avert climate disaster.

Shut Up and Work

We wouldn’t be at this point if Congress had done its job over the last several months.

Ryan AlexanderFor the first time in 17 years, Congress failed to provide the funding to keep the entire government running. So now you have two classes of government service and two classes of employees: “essential” and “non-essential.”

If you run a national park, you aren’t essential. If you work in a government lab, you might be non-essential too. Even a staffer working in the office of a member of Congress can get the non-essential tag. The essential/non-essential sorting doesn’t really make much sense, but then again a government shutdown doesn’t either.

tcs-shutdown-KAZVorpal

Individual agencies determine whether a function is essential. If you work at an agency funded by fees, like the Patent and Trademark Office, everyone keeps working until the fee income is exhausted. In some offices, one employee is arbitrarily singled out to keep the lights on while the rest are sent home.

Even the ones working may have their paycheck deferred until Congress does its job.

And that’s what this is all about. Congress doing its constitutionally mandated job. As much as the budget debacle gets wrapped up in repealing or defunding or delaying the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), which is being implemented even as the shutdown continues, we wouldn’t be at this point if Congress had done its job over the last several months.

Both the House and the Senate adopted their versions of the federal budget — topline dollar amounts — back in March. That means they had six months to write, debate, conference, and pass the dozen separate spending bills that fund government.

The House Appropriations Committee approved 10 and four were passed by the full House. But when the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for the 2014 fiscal year, dubbed “THUD,” landed with a thud on the House floor, the House majority couldn’t round up the votes. House leaders pulled the bill.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved 11 bills. But when they brought their version of THUD to the floor, they failed as well and never tried to bring up another version of that bill. Out of a dozen bills required, the Senate adopted precisely zero. Neither the House nor the Senate even attempted to pass a spending bill in all of September.

It was legislative gross negligence.

And after a flurry of bills that were intended to convince the public that they are serious about avoiding an October 1 shutdown at the start of fiscal year 2014, budgetary trench warfare between the House Republicans and Senate Democrats has returned. The House spent the weekend after the shutdown began in session to show that its members are serious. If they were serious they would have worked the rest of the year.

The latest tactic is to pass rifle-shot single-issue spending bills. Instead of broad appropriations bills that fund several agencies, the House has adopted narrow bills to fund the military and those supporting war operations, Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Park Service, and National Institute of Health, and other discrete parts of government.

Cherry picking popular agencies and programs to re-open government is a cynical ploy and doesn’t make any sense.

Instead of hostage-taking and tactics to try to gain the upper hand in the court of public opinion, lawmakers need to simply do their job. The strangest thing about this whole affair is that the House and Senate agree on the topline budget number to fund government for several weeks, by when Congress should be able to reach a longer-term solution.

The debt ceiling — the statutory cap on how much the Treasury can borrow — is fast approaching. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has indicated that it will be reached on October 17. As bad as a shutdown is, a default would be economically catastrophic.

Congress needs to pass a continuing resolution, deal with the debt limit, and responsibly finish appropriations for the 2014 fiscal year so it can start work on the 2015 budget on time. It’s time for the finger pointing and cacophony of criticism to stop.

Instead of a shutdown, Congress needs to shut up and do its job.


Ryan Alexander is president of Taxpayers for Common Sense.Taxpayer.net.   Photo Credit to KAZVorpal/Flickr. Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)

Oklahoma Woman Tells GOP Lawmakers: Without Obamacare, ‘I Will Be Dead Before My 27th Birthday’

BY TARA CULP-RESSLER ON OCTOBER 7, 2013

26-year-old Kendall Brown

26-year-old Kendall Brown [CREDIT: COURTESY OF KENDALL BROWN]

As the deadline approached for Congress to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government funded, Republicans refused to strike a deal unless it defunded or delayed Obamacare. Now, a week later, GOP lawmakers still seem unwilling to compromise unless they are able to dismantle some of the health reform law. One Oklahoma resident wants them to understand the human impact of that political position.

On the eve of the looming government shutdown, 26-year-old Kendall Brown published an open letter to the lawmakers who wanted to delay Obamacare for one year before agreeing to pass a funding bill. Brown didn’t mince words. “I am dying, because of the political games you are playing right now,” her op-ed began.

The Oklahoma resident explained that she was born with Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that has no cure. When Brown was in college, she was removed from her mother’s health care coverage. Since her illness prevented her from being able to take a full course load, she couldn’t meet the credit requirements to qualify as a student to remain on the plan. During that time, she could only afford a limited student health plan, and she accumulated thousands of dollars in medical debt.

Once Obamacare allowed young adults to remain on their parents’ plans regardless of their academic status, Brown was able to return to her mother’s insurance. That provision of the health law was enacted at a crucial time — not long afterward, Brown needed to undergo emergency surgery to remove two feet of her intestine that had swollen shut. She wouldn’t have been able to afford the procedure otherwise.

But Brown is now 26 years old, and no longer qualifies for coverage under that Obamacare provision. Although she’s currently employed full-time at a nonprofit, the small organization can’t offer her any health benefits. She’s tried to apply for insurance plans on her own, but she’s been denied because of her pre-existing condition. She cannot currently afford the lifesaving treatment to manage her illness, a form of chemotherapy that costs $15,000 for each infusion. She is desperate to enroll in the health law’s new marketplaces so she can have the coverage she needs.

“I tell you this because I am tired of being reduced to a number, a statistic or, even worse, being described as a freeloader that wants to live off of the government health care teat,” Brown explains in her open letter. “I tell you this because if you defund Obamacare, or delay it even for one year, as you are debating today, then this will be my last letter to you. I will be dead before my 27th birthday.”

In an interview with ThinkProgress, Brown explained that she had been following the political drama in the lead-up to the current shutdown, and she decided to write her letter “out of incredible hurt and anger.”

“I don’t think that our elected officials are willfully terrible people — I think they are just so caught up in the game, so dead set on doing whatever it takes to get those votes next re-election season, that they forget that they’re talking about actual people,” the Oklahoma resident explained. “That’s what I wanted them to remember from reading my letter.”

Brown believes that Obamacare has already saved her life, because it allowed her to receive surgery while she was covered under her mother’s plan as a young adult. “Without that surgery I would have died a very painful death,” she noted. And with the law’s state-level insurance marketplaces opening to the public, Brown says her life will be saved all over again. She’ll be able to afford her medications and her regular chemotherapy treatments. She’ll hopefully be able to avoid another surgery.

But she’s still disappointed in her lawmakers. Congress ultimately failed to delay Obamacare’s marketplaces from opening for enrollment, but the federal government has still ground to a halt. And in Brown’s home state of Oklahoma, politicians are still resistant to health reform. Some Republicans continue to fight against the health law’s optional Medicaid expansion, which would help extend coverage to the state’s considerable uninsured population. Seventeen percent of Oklahoma adults don’t have health coverage.

“I am a very proud Oklahoman, and I plan to make my career and raise a family here, but I do not feel that our state elected officials are serving our best interests,” Brown told ThinkProgress, saying she’s “baffled and saddened” that her elected officials have dug in their heels against health reform.

“That, to me, is not in the spirit of being an Oklahoman,” she continued. “I grew up in a small western Oklahoma town, where you took sick neighbors casseroles and you offered to watch each other’s children. In short — you helped out your fellow man. And that’s what Obamacare is about, for me.”


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

Boehner: The Nation Will Be On ‘The Path’ To Default If Obama Doesn’t Accept GOP Demands

— BY IGOR VOLSKY ON OCTOBER 6, 2013

boehner_debtHouse Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said the nation would default on its debt later this month if President Obama does not agree to GOP’s demands to cut spending and change parts of the Affordable Care Act.

Appearance on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Boehner agreed that the risks of defaulting would be “catastrophic,” leading credit markets to freeze, the dollar to lose its value, and interest rates to skyrocket, precipitating another financial crisis. But, he insisted that “the president is putting the nation at risk by his refusal to have a conversation”:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (HOST): Let me press that. There have been some reports that you have told your own members that you would be willing to put a debt limit on the floor that would pass with democratic votes, even if it didn’t get a majority of the republican caucus. Is that no longer true?

BOEHNER: My goal here is not to have the United States default on its debt. My goal is to have a serious conversation about those things that are driving the deficit and the debt up and the president’s refusal to sit down and have a conversation about this is putting our nation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He continues to refuse to negotiate, the country is going to default?

BOEHNER: That’s the path we’re on. The president canceled his trip to Asia. I assume — he wants to have a conversation. I decided to stay here in washington this weekend. He knows what my phone number is. All he has to do is call.

Since walking away from two so-called grand bargains in 2011 — which would have reduced the deficit by increasing revenue and lowering spending on certain entitlement programs — Boehner and other Congressional leaders met with Obama to discuss the standoff on Wednesday, though no deal was reached.

As Obama continues to insist that he will only negotiate with Republicans after they re-open the federal government by passing a clean continuing resolution and raise the debt ceiling, GOP lawmakers in battleground states are seeing their poll numbers drop and veteran Republican donors are becoming “increasingly alarmed by the defiant stance of hard-line conservatives.”


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.