Full Text Obama Presidency October 17, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the Reopening of the Government after Shutdown, Lays Out Year-End Agenda

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on the Reopening of the Government

Source: WH, 10-17-13

President Obama Speaks on Reopening the Government

President Obama Speaks on Reopening the Government

State Dining Room

11:00 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  Please have a seat.

Well, last night, I signed legislation to reopen our government and pay America’s bills.  Because Democrats and responsible Republicans came together, the first government shutdown in 17 years is now over.  The first default in more than 200 years will not happen.  These twin threats to our economy have now been lifted.  And I want to thank those Democrats and Republicans for getting together and ultimately getting this job done.

Now, there’s been a lot of discussion lately of the politics of this shutdown.  But let’s be clear:  There are no winners here.  These last few weeks have inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy.  We don’t know yet the full scope of the damage, but every analyst out there believes it slowed our growth.

We know that families have gone without paychecks or services they depend on.  We know that potential homebuyers have gotten fewer mortgages, and small business loans have been put on hold.  We know that consumers have cut back on spending, and that half of all CEOs say that the shutdown and the threat of shutdown set back their plans to hire over the next six months.  We know that just the threat of default — of America not paying all the bills that we owe on time — increased our borrowing costs, which adds to our deficit.

And, of course, we know that the American people’s frustration with what goes on in this town has never been higher. That’s not a surprise that the American people are completely fed up with Washington.  At a moment when our economic recovery demands more jobs, more momentum, we’ve got yet another self-inflicted crisis that set our economy back.  And for what?

There was no economic rationale for all of this.  Over the past four years, our economy has been growing, our businesses have been creating jobs, and our deficits have been cut in half. We hear some members who pushed for the shutdown say they were doing it to save the American economy — but nothing has done more to undermine our economy these past three years than the kind of tactics that create these manufactured crises.

And you don’t have to take my word for it.  The agency that put America’s credit rating on watch the other day explicitly cited all of this, saying that our economy “remains more dynamic and resilient” than other advanced economies, and that the only thing putting us at risk is — and I’m quoting here — “repeated brinksmanship.”  That’s what the credit rating agency said.  That wasn’t a political statement; that was an analysis of what’s hurting our economy by people whose job it is to analyze these things.

That also happens to be the view of our diplomats who’ve been hearing from their counterparts internationally.  Some of the same folks who pushed for the shutdown and threatened default claim their actions were needed to get America back on the right track, to make sure we’re strong.  But probably nothing has done more damage to America’s credibility in the world, our standing with other countries, than the spectacle that we’ve seen these past several weeks.  It’s encouraged our enemies.  It’s emboldened our competitors.  And it’s depressed our friends who look to us for steady leadership.

Now, the good news is we’ll bounce back from this.  We always do.  America is the bedrock of the global economy for a reason.  We are the indispensable nation that the rest of the world looks to as the safest and most reliable place to invest — something that’s made it easier for generations of Americans to invest in their own futures.  We have earned that responsibility over more than two centuries because of the dynamism of our economy and our entrepreneurs, the productivity of our workers, but also because we keep our word and we meet our obligations.  That’s what full faith and credit means — you can count on us.
And today, I want our people and our businesses and the rest of the world to know that the full faith and credit of the United States remains unquestioned.

But to all my friends in Congress, understand that how business is done in this town has to change.  Because we’ve all got a lot of work to do on behalf of the American people — and that includes the hard work of regaining their trust.  Our system of self-government doesn’t function without it.  And now that the government is reopened, and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do, and that’s grow this economy; create good jobs; strengthen the middle class; educate our kids; lay the foundation for broad-based prosperity and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul.  That’s why we’re here.  That should be our focus.

Now, that won’t be easy.  We all know that we have divided government right now.  There’s a lot of noise out there, and the pressure from the extremes affect how a lot of members of Congress see the day-to-day work that’s supposed to be done here. And let’s face it, the American people don’t see every issue the same way.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t make progress.  And when we disagree, we don’t have to suggest that the other side doesn’t love this country or believe in free enterprise, or all the other rhetoric that seems to get worse every single year.  If we disagree on something, we can move on and focus on the things we agree on, and get some stuff done.

Let me be specific about three places where I believe we can make progress right now.  First, in the coming days and weeks, we should sit down and pursue a balanced approach to a responsible budget, a budget that grows our economy faster and shrinks our long-term deficits further.

At the beginning of this year, that’s what both Democrats and Republicans committed to doing.  The Senate passed a budget; House passed a budget; they were supposed to come together and negotiate.  And had one side not decided to pursue a strategy of brinksmanship, each side could have gotten together and figured out, how do we shape a budget that provides certainty to businesses and people who rely on government, provides certainty to investors in our economy, and we’d be growing faster right now.

Now, the good news is the legislation I signed yesterday now requires Congress to do exactly that — what it could have been doing all along.

And we shouldn’t approach this process of creating a budget as an ideological exercise — just cutting for the sake of cutting.  The issue is not growth versus fiscal responsibility — we need both.  We need a budget that deals with the issues that most Americans are focused on:  creating more good jobs that pay better wages.

And remember, the deficit is getting smaller, not bigger.  It’s going down faster than it has in the last 50 years. The challenges we have right now are not short-term deficits; it’s the long-term obligations that we have around things like Medicare and Social Security.  We want to make sure those are there for future generations.

So the key now is a budget that cuts out the things that we don’t need, closes corporate tax loopholes that don’t help create jobs, and frees up resources for the things that do help us grow — like education and infrastructure and research.  And these things historically have not been partisan.  And this shouldn’t be as difficult as it’s been in past years because we already spend less than we did a few years ago.  Our deficits are half of what they were a few years ago.  The debt problems we have now are long term, and we can address them without shortchanging our kids, or shortchanging our grandkids, or weakening the security that current generations have earned from their hard work.

So that’s number one.  Number two, we should finish fixing the job of — let me say that again.  Number two, we should finish the job of fixing our broken immigration system.

There’s already a broad coalition across America that’s behind this effort of comprehensive immigration reform — from business leaders to faith leaders to law enforcement.  In fact, the Senate has already passed a bill with strong bipartisan support that would make the biggest commitment to border security in our history; would modernize our legal immigration system; make sure everyone plays by the same rules, makes sure that folks who came here illegally have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, meet their responsibilities.  That bill has already passed the Senate. And economists estimate that if that bill becomes law, our economy would be 5 percent larger two decades from now.  That’s $1.4 trillion in new economic growth.

The majority of Americans think this is the right thing to do.  And it’s sitting there waiting for the House to pass it.  Now, if the House has ideas on how to improve the Senate bill, let’s hear them.  Let’s start the negotiations.  But let’s not leave this problem to keep festering for another year, or two years, or three years.  This can and should get done by the end of this year.

Number three, we should pass a farm bill, one that American farmers and ranchers can depend on; one that protects vulnerable children and adults in times of need; one that gives rural communities opportunities to grow and the long-term certainty that they deserve.

Again, the Senate has already passed a solid bipartisan bill.  It’s got support from Democrats and Republicans.  It’s sitting in the House waiting for passage.  If House Republicans have ideas that they think would improve the farm bill, let’s see them.  Let’s negotiate.  What are we waiting for?  Let’s get this done.

So, passing a budget; immigration reform; farm bill.  Those are three specific things that would make a huge difference in our economy right now.  And we could get them done by the end of the year if our focus is on what’s good for the American people. And that’s just the big stuff.  There are all kinds of other things that we could be doing that don’t get as much attention.

I understand we will not suddenly agree on everything now that the cloud of crisis has passed.  Democrats and Republicans are far apart on a lot of issues.  And I recognize there are folks on the other side who think that my policies are misguided — that’s putting it mildly.  That’s okay.  That’s democracy.  That’s how it works.  We can debate those differences vigorously, passionately, in good faith, through the normal democratic process.

And sometimes, we’ll be just too far apart to forge an agreement.  But that should not hold back our efforts in areas where we do agree.  We shouldn’t fail to act on areas that we do agree or could agree just because we don’t think it’s good politics; just because the extremes in our party don’t like the word “compromise.”

I will look for willing partners wherever I can to get important work done.  And there’s no good reason why we can’t govern responsibly, despite our differences, without lurching from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis.  In fact, one of the things that I hope all of us have learned these past few weeks is that it turns out smart, effective government is important.  It matters.  I think the American people during this shutdown had a chance to get some idea of all the things, large and small, that government does that make a difference in people’s lives.

We hear all the time about how government is the problem.  Well, it turns out we rely on it in a whole lot of ways.  Not only does it keep us strong through our military and our law enforcement, it plays a vital role in caring for our seniors and our veterans, educating our kids, making sure our workers are trained for the jobs that are being created, arming our businesses with the best science and technology so they can compete with companies from other countries.  It plays a key role in keeping our food and our toys and our workplaces safe.  It helps folks rebuild after a storm.  It conserves our natural resources.  It finances startups.  It helps to sell our products overseas.  It provides security to our diplomats abroad.

So let’s work together to make government work better, instead of treating it like an enemy or purposely making it work worse.  That’s not what the founders of this nation envisioned when they gave us the gift of self-government.  You don’t like a particular policy or a particular president, then argue for your position.  Go out there and win an election.  Push to change it. But don’t break it.  Don’t break what our predecessors spent over two centuries building.  That’s not being faithful to what this country is about.

And that brings me to one last point.  I’ve got a simple message for all the dedicated and patriotic federal workers who’ve either worked without pay or been forced off the job without pay these past few weeks, including most of my own staff: Thank you.  Thanks for your service.  Welcome back.  What you do is important.  It matters.

You defend our country overseas.  You deliver benefits to our troops who’ve earned them when they come home.  You guard our borders.  You protect our civil rights.  You help businesses grow and gain footholds in overseas markets.  You protect the air we breathe and the water our children drink.  And you push the boundaries of science and space, and you guide hundreds of thousands of people each day through the glories of this country. Thank you.  What you do is important.  And don’t let anybody else tell you different.  Especially the young people who come to this city to serve — believe that it matters.  Well, you know what, you’re right.  It does.

And those of us who have the privilege to serve this country have an obligation to do our job as best we can.  We come from different parties, but we are Americans first.  And that’s why disagreement cannot mean dysfunction.  It can’t degenerate into hatred.  The American people’s hopes and dreams are what matters, not ours.  Our obligations are to them.  Our regard for them compels us all, Democrats and Republicans, to cooperate, and compromise, and act in the best interests of our nation –- one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

Thanks very much.

END
11:20 A.M. EDT

Political Musings October 16, 2013: Senate again responsible for deals ending shutdown and raising the debt ceiling

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Senate again responsible for deals ending shutdown and raising the debt ceiling

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The Senate is again responsible for passing bills to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling before the deadline, after the House GOP on Tuesday evening, Oct. 15, 2013 failed another attempt to secure a plan ending the…READ MORE

Political Musings October 16, 2013: House GOP fails again to agree on deal to end shutdown, raise debt ceiling

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House GOP fails again to agree on deal to end shutdown, raise debt ceiling

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Republican leadership in the House of Representatives tried again on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 to create short-term bills to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling limit, to avert any further crisis, which failed to lead even…READ MORE

Political Musings October 11, 2013: President Obama refuses GOP proposed debt ceiling deal after White House meeting

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Political Musings October 9, 2013: President Obama caving in? Boehner gets White House meeting over government shutdown

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

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Obama caving in? Boehner gets White House meeting over government shutdown

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Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, R-OH may be getting the negotiations he has been requesting all through the government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis. First on Wednesday morning Oct. 9, 2013 Boehner met with House Minority…READ MORE

Political Musings October 7, 2013: Boehner, Obama stand firm on debt ceiling limit

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Boehner, Obama stand firm on debt ceiling limit (Video)

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Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, R-OH emphasized in an interview on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013 on ABC News’ This Week with George Stephanopoulos the importance of President Barack Obama negotiating with House Republicans to end…READ MORE

Political Musings October 6, 2013: First week of government shutdown ends, but Obama, GOP stalemate continues

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

First week of government shutdown ends, but Obama, GOP stalemate continues (Video)

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As the first week of the government shutdown came to a close on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, the only aspect President Barack Obama, the Democrats and Republicans agree on is that the government shutdown needs to end and that the…READ MORE

Political Musings October 5, 2013: President Obama and GOP continue government shutdown blame game in weekly addresses

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama and GOP continue government shutdown blame game in weekly addresses (Video)

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As the government shutdown entered its fifth day with no end in sight on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 President Barack Obama delivered his weekly address and Republican Sen. John Cornyn from Texas delivered the GOP weekly address, each urging the…READ MORE

Political Musings October 3, 2013: President Obama’s meeting with Congressional leaders futile, government shutdown continues

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

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Full Text Obama Presidency October 3, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the Economic Impact of the Government Shutdown in Rockville, Maryland

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on the Government Shutdown

Source: WH, 10-3-13 

President Obama Speaks on the Economic Impact of the Government Shutdown

President Obama Speaks on the Economic Impact of the Government Shutdown

M. Luis Construction Company, Rockville, Maryland

10:49 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Good to see all of you.  Please, please have a seat.  Well, hello, Rockville!

Let me start by recognizing three public servants who fight hard every day for Maryland families and businesses.  First of all, Congressman Chris Van Hollen is here.  (Applause.)  Yay, Chris!  Congressman John Delaney is here.  (Applause.)  And we have the acting head of the Small Business Administration — Jeanne Hulit is here.  (Applause.)

And I also want to give a big thanks to your bosses, Cidalia and Natalia, for being such gracious hosts.  I had a chance to meet them at the White House.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Now I know where they got their good looks from, because I had a chance to meet mom and dad, and their beautiful families.  So I’m so glad to be here.  And I had a chance to learn a little bit about their story.  So when their parents brought them from Portugal to America almost 40 years ago, no one in the family spoke a word of English.  But that didn’t stop their father, Manuel, and their mother, Albertina, from having a big dream — believing that if they worked hard, they could get ahead, and that even though they’d never had any schooling, maybe their daughters could go to college; maybe in America you could make it if you tried.  That’s what they believed.

So they started their own construction company with a pickup truck and a wheelbarrow.  And when Cidalia and Natalia turned 14, they began to help — cleaning tools, translating documents.  And they became the first in their family to go to college.  After graduation, they started their own business, and later they bought the family business from their parents.  So today, M. Luis Construction is a $60 million company with about 250 employees.  (Applause.)  And I understand you’re opening your fourth office at the end of this month.  So this story is what America is all about.  You start off — maybe you don’t have a lot — but you’re willing to work hard, you put in the time, opportunities out there, and you’re able to pass on an even better life to your family, your children, your grandchildren.

And it’s good news that after how hard the construction industry got hit during the recession, things are starting to get a little better.  Remember, it was just five years ago that our economy was in free fall.  Businesses were shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs every single month, and the recession ultimately cost millions of Americans their jobs, their homes, their savings — everything they had worked hard to build.

Today, over the last three and a half years, our businesses have added 7.5 million new jobs.  (Applause.)  Our deficits are falling.  Our housing market is healing, which means construction is improving; manufacturing is growing; the auto industry is back.  America is on pace to become the number one energy producer in the world this year.  (Applause.)  More small businesses have gotten loans so they can grow and they can hire — just like M. Luis did with the help of the Small Business Jobs Act that I signed three years ago.  So that’s part of what allowed this company to grow.  (Applause.)

So we still have a long way to go.  We’ve still got a lot of work to do, especially to rebuild the middle class.  But we’re making steady progress.  And the reason I’m here is, we can’t afford to threaten that progress right now.  Right now, hundreds of thousands of Americans, hardworking Americans, suddenly aren’t receiving their paycheck.  Right now, they’re worrying about missing the rent, or their mortgage, or even making ends meet.  We can all relate to that.  Imagine if suddenly you weren’t sure whether you were going to get your next paycheck, with all the bills that might be mounting up.  Well, that’s what’s happening right now to hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country.

Companies like this one worried that their businesses are going to be disrupted, because obviously, particularly in an area like Maryland, Virginia, where there are a lot of federal workers, you don’t know how that’s going to impact the economy.  Veterans, seniors, women — they’re all worrying that the services they depend on will be disrupted too.

And the worst part is, this time it’s not because of a once-in-a-lifetime recession.  This isn’t happening because of some financial crisis.  It’s happening because of a reckless Republican shutdown in Washington.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  That’s right!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, we’ve all seen the offices locked down, the monuments closed.  We’ve heard about services denied, we’ve heard about benefits that are delayed.  But the impacts of a shutdown go way beyond those things that you’re seeing on television.  Those hundreds of thousands of Americans — a lot of whom live around here — don’t know when they’re going to get their next paycheck, and that means stores and restaurants around here don’t know if they’ll have as many customers.

Across the country you’ve got farmers in rural areas and small business owners who deserve a loan, but they’re being left in the lurch right now.  They might have an application pending as we speak, but there’s nobody in the office to process the loan.  The SBA gives a billion dollars of loans a month to small businesses — a billion dollars a month goes to small businesses all across the country.  Right now those can’t be processed because there’s nobody there to process them.

Veterans who deserve our support are getting less help.  Little kids who deserve a Head Start have been sent home from the safe places where they learn and grow every single day.  And of course, their families then have to scramble to figure out what to do.  And the longer this goes on, the worse it will be.  And it makes no sense.

The American people elected their representatives to make their lives easier, not harder.  And there is one way out of this reckless and damaging Republican shutdown:  Congress has to pass a budget that funds our government with no partisan strings attached.  (Applause.)

Now, I want everybody to understand what’s happened, because sometimes when this gets reported on everybody kind of thinks, well, you know, both sides are just squabbling; Democrats and Republicans, they’re always arguing, so neither side is behaving properly.  I want everybody to understand what’s happened here.  The Republicans passed a temporary budget for two months at a funding level that we, as Democrats, actually think is way too low because we’re not providing help for more small businesses, doing more for early childhood education, doing more to rebuild our infrastructure.  But we said, okay, while we’re still trying to figure out this budget, we’re prepared to go ahead and take the Republican budget levels that they proposed.

So the Senate passed that with no strings attached — not because it had everything the Democrats wanted.  In fact, it had very little that the Democrats wanted.  But we said, let’s go ahead and just make sure that other people aren’t hurt while negotiations are still taking place.

So that’s already passed the Senate.  And we know there are enough Republicans and Democrats to vote in the House of Representatives for the same thing.  So I want everybody to understand this:  There are enough Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives today that, if the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, simply let the bill get on the floor for an up-or-down vote, every congressman could vote their conscience  — the shutdown would end today.

The only thing that is keeping the government shut down; the only thing preventing people from going back to work and basic research starting back up, and farmers and small business owners getting their loan — the only thing that’s preventing all that from happening, right now, today, in the next five minutes, is that Speaker John Boehner won’t even let the bill get a yes-or-no vote, because he doesn’t want to anger the extremists in his party.  That’s all.  That’s what this whole thing is about.

We’ve heard a lot from congressional Republicans in the past couple of days saying they don’t want this shutdown.  Well, there’s a simple way to prove it.  Send the bill to the floor, let everybody vote — it will pass.  Send me the bill; I will sign it.  The shutdown will be over and we can get back to the business of governing and helping the American people.  (Applause.)

It could happen in the next half hour.  National parks, monuments, offices would all reopen immediately.  Benefits and services would resume again.  Hundreds of thousands of dedicated public servants who are worrying about whether they’re going to be able to pay the mortgage or pay the car note, they’d start going back to work right away.  So my simple message today is:  Call a vote.  Call a vote.

AUDIENCE:  Call a vote!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Put it on the floor and let every individual member of Congress make up their own minds.  And they can show the American people, are you for a shutdown or not?  If you’re not for a shutdown, you’ll vote for the bill; if you’re for a shutdown, you won’t vote for a bill.  We don’t have to twist anybody’s arms.  But that way, the American people will be clear about who is responsible for the shutdown.  Or, alternatively, more hopefully, they’d be clear that this is something that doesn’t make sense and we should go ahead and make sure that we’re looking out for the American people.  It should be that simple.

But as I said, the problem we’ve got is that there’s one faction of one party, in one half of one branch of government that so far has refused to allow that yes-or-no vote unless they get some massive partisan concessions in exchange for doing what they’re supposed to be doing anyway, in exchange for doing what everybody else agrees is necessary.  And they won’t agree to end the shutdown until they get their way.  And you may think I’m exaggerating, but just the other day, one tea party Republican called the idea of a shutdown “wonderful.”  Another said that a shutdown is “exactly what we wanted.”  Well, they got exactly what they wanted.  Now they’re trying to figure out how to get out of it.

Just yesterday, one House Republican said — I’m quoting here, because I want to make sure people understand I didn’t make this up.  One House Republican said, “We’re not going to be disrespected.  We have to get something out of this.  And I don’t know what that even is.”  That was a quote.  “We’re not going to be disrespected.  We have got to get something out of this.  And I don’t know what that even is.”  Think about that.

You have already gotten the opportunity to serve the American people.  There is no higher honor than that.  (Applause.)  You’ve already gotten the opportunity to help businesses like this one, workers like these.  So the American people aren’t in the mood to give you a goodie bag to go with it.  What you get is our intelligence professionals being back on the job.  What you get is our medical researchers back on the job.  (Applause.)  What you get are little kids back into Head Start.  (Applause.)  What you get are our national parks and monuments open again.  What you get is the economy not stalling, but continuing to grow.  (Applause.)  What you get are workers continuing to be hired.  That’s what you get.  That’s what you should be asking for.  Take a vote, stop this farce, and end this shutdown right now.  (Applause.)

If you’re being disrespected, it’s because of that attitude you got that you deserve to get something for doing your job.  Everybody here just does their job, right?  If you’re working here and in the middle of the day you just stopped and said, you know what, I want to get something, but I don’t know exactly what I’m going to get.  (Laughter.)  But I’m just going to stop working until I get something.  I’m going to shut down the whole plant until I get something.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  You’d get fired.

THE PRESIDENT:  You’d get fired.  (Applause.)  Right?  Because the deal is you’ve already gotten hired.  You’ve got a job.  You’re getting a paycheck.  And so you also are getting the pride of doing a good job and contributing to a business and looking out for your fellow workers.  That’s what you’re getting.  Well, it shouldn’t be any different for a member of Congress.

Now, unlike past shutdowns — I want to make sure everybody understands this because, again, sometimes the tendency is to say, well, both sides are at fault.  This one has nothing to do with deficits or spending or budgets.  Our deficits are falling at the fastest pace in 60 years.  We’ve cut the deficits in half since I took office.  (Applause.)  And some of the things that the Republicans are asking for right now would actually add to our deficits, seriously.

So this is not about spending.  And this isn’t about fiscal responsibility.  This whole thing is about one thing:  the Republican obsession with dismantling the Affordable Care Act and denying affordable health insurance to millions of Americans.  (Applause.)  That’s all this has become about.  That seems to be the only thing that unites the Republican Party these days.

Through this whole fight, they’ve said the American people don’t want Obamacare, so we should shut down the government to repeal it or delay it.  But here’s the problem:  The government is now shut down, but the Affordable Care Act is still open for business.  (Applause.)  So they’re not even accomplishing what they say they want to accomplish.  And, by the way, in the first two days since the new marketplaces — basically big group plans that we’ve set up — the first two days that they opened, websites where you can compare and purchase new affordable insurance plans and maybe get tax credits to reduce your costs, millions of Americans have made it clear they do want health insurance.  (Applause.)

More than 6 million people visited the website HealthCare.gov the day it opened.  Nearly 200,000 people picked up the phone and called the call center.  In Kentucky alone — this is a state where — I didn’t win Kentucky.  (Laughter.)  So I know they weren’t doing it for me.  In Kentucky, nearly 11,000 people applied for new insurance plans in the first two days — just in one state, Kentucky.  And many Americans are finding out when they go on the website that they’ll save a lot of money or get health insurance for the first time.

So I would think that if, in fact, this was going to be such a disaster that the Republicans say it’s going to be, that it was going to be so unpopular, they wouldn’t have to shut down the government.  They could wait, nobody would show any interest, there would be, like, two people on the website — (laughter) — and everybody would then vote for candidates who want to repeal it.

It’s not as if Republicans haven’t had a chance to debate the health care law.  It passed the House of Representatives.  It passed the Senate.  The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional — you remember all this.  Last November, voters rejected the presidential candidate that ran on a platform to repeal it.  (Applause.)  So the Affordable Care Act has gone through every single democratic process, all three branches of government.  It’s the law of the land.  It’s here to stay.

I’ve said to Republicans, if there are specific things you think can improve the law to make it even better for people as opposed to just gutting it and leaving 25 million people without health insurance, I’m happy to talk to you about that.  But a Republican shutdown won’t change the fact that millions of people need health insurance, and that the Affordable Care Act is being implemented.  The shutdown does not change that.  All the shutdown is doing is making it harder for ordinary Americans to get by, and harder for businesses to create jobs at a time when our economy is just starting to gain traction again.

You’ve heard Republicans say that Obamacare will hurt the economy, but the economy has been growing and creating jobs.  The single-greatest threat to our economy and to our businesses like this one is not the Affordable Care Act, it’s the unwillingness of Republicans in Congress to stop refighting a settled election, or making the demands that have nothing to do with the budget.  They need to move on to the actual business of governing.  That’s what will help the economy.  That’s what will grow the economy.  That’s what will put people back to work.  (Applause.)

And more than that, House Republicans need to stop careening from one crisis to another in everything they do.  Have you noticed that?  Since they’ve taken over the House of Representatives, we have one of these crises every three months.  Have you noticed?  And you keep on thinking, all right, well, this is going to be the last one; they’re not going to do this again.  And then they do it again.

I know you’re tired of it.  I’m tired of it.  It doesn’t mean that they’re wrong on every single issue.  I’ve said I’m happy to negotiate with you on anything.  I don’t think any one party has a monopoly on wisdom.  But you don’t negotiate by putting a gun to the other person’s head — or, worse yet, by putting a gun to the American people’s head by threatening a shutdown.

And, by the way, even after Congress reopens your government, it’s going to have to turn around very quickly and do something else — and that’s pay America’s bills.  I want to spend a little time on this.  It’s something called raising the debt ceiling.  And it’s got a lousy name, so a lot of people end up thinking, I don’t know, I don’t think we should raise our debt ceiling, because it sounds like we’re raising our debt.  But that’s not what this is about.

It doesn’t cost taxpayers a single dime.  It doesn’t grow our deficits by a single dime.  It doesn’t allow anybody to spend any new money whatsoever.  So it’s not something that raises our debt.  What it does is allow the U.S. Treasury, the U.S. government to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up.  I want you to think about this.

If you go to a restaurant, you order a meal, you eat it.  Maybe you have some wine.  Maybe you have two glasses of wine — great meal.  And then you look at the tab — it’s pretty expensive — and you decide I’m not going to pay the bill.  But you’re not saving money.  You’re not being frugal.  You’re just a deadbeat, right?  (Laughter.)  If you buy a house and you decide, this month I’d rather go on vacation somewhere so I’m not going to pay my mortgage, you didn’t just save yourself some money.  You’re just going to get foreclosed on.

So you don’t save money by not paying your bills.  You don’t reduce your debt by not paying your bills.  All you’re doing is making yourself unreliable and hurting your credit rating.  And you’ll start getting those phone calls and those notices in the mail.  And the next time you try to borrow, somebody is going to say, uh-uh, because you don’t pay your bills, you’re a deadbeat.  Well, the same is true for countries.

The only thing that the debt ceiling does is to let the U.S. Treasury pay for what Congress has already bought.  That’s why it’s something that has been routine.  Traditionally, it’s not a big deal.  Congress has raised it 45 times since Ronald Reagan took office.  This is just kind of a routine part of keeping the government running.  The last time the House Republicans flirted with not raising the debt ceiling, back in 2011 — some of you remember this — our economy took a bad hit.  Our country’s credit rating was downgraded for the first time, just like you’d be downgraded if you didn’t pay your mortgage.

This time, they are threatening to actually force the United States to default on its obligations for the very first time in history.  Now, you’ll hear John Boehner and Mitch McConnell and these other Republicans say, we don’t want to default.  But everybody knows — it’s written about in all the papers — that their basic theory is, okay, if the shutdown doesn’t work, then we are going to try to get some extra concessions out of the President.  We’ll put like a long laundry list, all the things that we want that we can’t get passed on our own.  And if we don’t get it, we’ll tell them we don’t — we won’t vote to pay the country’s bills.  We’ll let the country default.

I’m not just making this up.  I mean, it’s common knowledge.  Every reporter here knows it.  And I want you to understand the consequences of this.  As reckless as a government shutdown is, as many people as are being hurt by a government shutdown, an economic shutdown that results from default would be dramatically worse.  In a government shutdown, Social Security checks still go out on time.  In an economic shutdown, if we don’t raise the debt ceiling, they don’t go out on time.

In a government shutdown, disability benefits still arrive on time.  In an economic shutdown, they don’t.  In a government shutdown, millions of Americans — not just federal workers — everybody faces real economic hardship.  In an economic shutdown, falling pensions and home values and rising interest rates on things like mortgages and student loans — all those things risk putting us back into a bad recession, which will affect this company and those workers and all of you.  That’s not my analysis.  That’s — every economist out there is saying the same thing.  We’ve never done it before.

And the United States is the center of the world economy.  So if we screw up, everybody gets screwed up.  The whole world will have problems, which is why generally nobody has ever thought to actually threaten not to pay our bills.  It would be the height of irresponsibility.  And that’s why I’ve said this before — I’m going to repeat it:  There will be no negotiations over this.  (Applause.)  The American people are not pawns in some political game.  You don’t get to demand some ransom in exchange for keeping the government running.  You don’t get to demand ransom in exchange for keeping the economy running.  You don’t get to demand ransom for doing your most basic job.

And the sooner that the Republicans in Congress heed the warnings not just of me or Democrats like Chris and John, but heed the warnings of the Chamber of Commerce, and CEOs, and economists, and a whole lot of Republicans outside of Congress  — they’re all saying, do not do this.  They’re all saying to Congress, do your job; and the sooner you do your job, the less damage you’ll do to our economy and to businesses like this one.

So pass a budget, end the government shutdown.  Pay our bills.  Prevent an economic shutdown.  Just vote and end this shutdown.  And you should do it today so we can get back to growing this economy, creating jobs and strengthening our middle class.  (Applause.)

Let me close just by sharing a story I heard as I was getting ready to come here today.  Many of you already know it.  Two years ago, a mulch factory next to M. Luis’s main equipment storage facility caught fire, and most of the company’s equipment was destroyed, causing millions of dollars in damage.  But even while the fire was still burning, dozens of employees rushed over to the facility and tried to save as much as they could — some of you were probably there.  And when they finished cutting fire lines and spraying down the perimeter of their own property, they went over to help their neighbors.

And afterwards, even though all the employees here at M. Luis are on salary, even though the company had just taken a big financial hit, Cidalia and Natalia paid everyone overtime, and along with each check they included a personalized note saying just how much they had appreciated the efforts of the workers.  And Cidalia said, everybody says the biggest asset to a business is employees.  Some people mean it, some people don’t — we actually do.

So this company right here is full of folks who do right by each other.  They don’t try to see if they can work every angle.  They don’t lie about each other.  They don’t try to undermine each other.  They understand they’re supposed to be on the same team.  You pitch in, you look out for one another.  When somebody gets knocked down, you help them back up.  You don’t ask what can you get out of this, because you know that success doesn’t depend on one of you, it depends on all of you working together.

Well, America is no different.  I see that same spirit in so many cities and towns that I visit all across the country.  It is alive and well all across the country.  It’s alive and well in this community where restaurants and businesses are rallying around their regulars, and they’re looking out for all the dedicated public servants who have been furloughed.  You’ve been reading stories about restaurants who are saying, you know what, while you’re on furlough, come on, we’ll give you a burger, we’ll give you a meal, we’ll help you out.

That’s the American ideal.  It says, we’re working together, looking out for one another, meeting our responsibilities, doing our jobs, thinking about future generations.  And that’s why I believe, ultimately, reason and common sense will prevail.  That spirit at some point will infiltrate Washington as well.  Because I think the American people are so good and so decent, they’re going to get better behavior from their government than this.  And we’ll once again make sure this is a country where you can make it if you try.

So thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END                11:21 A.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency October 1, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act and the Government Shutdown

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on the Affordable Care Act and the Government Shutdown

Source: WH, 10-1-13

Rose Garden

1:01 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good morning, everybody.  At midnight last night, for the first time in 17 years, Republicans in Congress chose to shut down the federal government.  Let me be more specific:  One faction, of one party, in one house of Congress, in one branch of government, shut down major parts of the government — all because they didn’t like one law.

This Republican shutdown did not have to happen.  But I want every American to understand why it did happen.  Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to fund the government unless we defunded or dismantled the Affordable Care Act.  They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans.  In other words, they demanded ransom just for doing their job.

And many representatives, including an increasing number of Republicans, have made it clear that had they been allowed by Speaker Boehner to take a simple up or down vote on keeping the government open, with no partisan strings attached, enough votes from both parties would have kept the American people’s government open and operating.

We may not know the full impact of this Republican shutdown for some time.  It will depend on how long it lasts.  But we do know a couple of things.  We know that the last time Republicans shut down the government in 1996, it hurt our economy.  And unlike 1996, our economy is still recovering from the worst recession in generations.

We know that certain services and benefits that America’s seniors and veterans and business owners depend on must be put on hold.  Certain offices, along with every national park and monument, must be closed.  And while last night, I signed legislation to make sure our 1.4 million active-duty military are paid through the shutdown, hundreds of thousands of civilian workers — many still on the job, many forced to stay home — aren’t being paid, even if they have families to support and local businesses that rely on them.  And we know that the longer this shutdown continues, the worse the effects will be.  More families will be hurt.  More businesses will be harmed.

So, once again, I urge House Republicans to reopen the government, restart the services Americans depend on, and allow the public servants who have been sent home to return to work.  This is only going to happen when Republicans realize they don’t get to hold the entire economy hostage over ideological demands.

As I’ve said repeatedly, I am prepared to work with Democrats and Republicans to do the things we need to do to grow the economy and create jobs, and get our fiscal house in order over the long run.  Although I should add this shutdown isn’t about deficits, or spending, or budgets.  After all, our deficits are falling at the fastest pace in 50 years.  We’ve cut them in half since I took office.  In fact, many of the demands the Republicans are now making would actually raise our deficits.

No, this shutdown is not about deficits, it’s not about budgets.  This shutdown is about rolling back our efforts to provide health insurance to folks who don’t have it.  It’s all about rolling back the Affordable Care Act.  This, more than anything else, seems to be what the Republican Party stands for these days.  I know it’s strange that one party would make keeping people uninsured the centerpiece of their agenda, but that apparently is what it is.

And of course, what’s stranger still is that shutting down our government doesn’t accomplish their stated goal.  The Affordable Care Act is a law that passed the House; it passed the Senate.  The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional.  It was a central issue in last year’s election.  It is settled, and it is here to stay.  And because of its funding sources, it’s not impacted by a government shutdown.

And these Americans are here with me today because, even though the government is closed, a big part of the Affordable Care Act is now open for business.  And for them, and millions like them, this is a historic day for a good reason.  It’s been a long time coming, but today, Americans who have been forced to go without insurance can now visit healthcare.gov and enroll in affordable new plans that offer quality coverage.  That starts today.

And people will have six months to sign up.  So over the next six months, people are going to have the opportunity — in many cases, for the first time in their lives — to get affordable coverage that they desperately need.

Now, of course, if you’re one of the 85 percent of Americans who already have health insurance, you don’t need to do a thing. You’re already benefiting from new benefits and protections that have been in place for some time under this law.  But for the 15 percent of Americans who don’t have health insurance, this opportunity is life-changing.

Let me just tell folks a few stories that are represented here today.  A few years ago, Amanda Barrett left her job in New York to take care of her parents.  And for a while, she had temporary insurance that covered her multiple sclerosis.  But when it expired, many insurers wouldn’t cover her because of her MS.  And she ended up paying $1,200 a month.  That’s nowhere near affordable.  So starting today, she can get covered for much less, because today’s new plan can’t use your medical history to charge you more than anybody else.

Sky-high premiums once forced Nancy Beigel to choose between paying her rent or paying for health insurance.  She’s been uninsured ever since.  So she pays all of her medical bills out of pocket, puts some on her credit card, making them even harder to pay.  Nancy says, “They talk about those who fall through the cracks.  I fell through the cracks 10 years ago and I’ve been stuck there ever since.”  Well, starting today, Nancy can get covered just like everybody else.

Trinace Edwards was laid off from her job a year ago today. Six months ago, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  She couldn’t afford insurance on the individual market, so she hasn’t received treatment yet.  Her daughter Lenace, a student at the University of Maryland, is considering dropping out of school to help pay her mom’s bills.  Well, starting today, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Trinace can get covered without forcing her daughter to give up on her dreams.

So if these stories of hardworking Americans sound familiar to you, well, starting today, you and your friends and your family and your coworkers can get covered, too.  Just visit healthcare.gov, and there you can compare insurance plans, side by side, the same way you’d shop for a plane ticket on Kayak or a TV on Amazon.  You enter some basic information, you’ll be presented with a list of quality, affordable plans that are available in your area, with clear descriptions of what each plan covers, and what it will cost.  You’ll find more choices, more competition, and in many cases, lower prices — most uninsured Americans will find that they can get covered for $100 or less.

And you don’t have to take my word for it.  Go on the website, healthcare.gov, check it out for yourself.  And then show it to your family and your friends and help them get covered, just like mayors and churches and community groups and companies are already fanning out to do across the country.

And there’s a hotline where you can apply over the phone and get help with the application, or just get questions that you have answered by real people, in 150 different languages.   So let me give you that number.  The number is 1-800-318-2596 — 1-800-318-2596.  Check out healthcare.gov.  Call that number.  Show your family and friends how to use it.  And we can get America covered, once and for all, so that the struggles that these folks have gone through and millions around the country have gone through for years finally get addressed.

And let me just remind people why I think this is so important.  I heard a striking statistic yesterday — if you get cancer, you are 70 percent more likely to live another five years if you have insurance than if you don’t.  Think about that.  That is what it means to have health insurance.

Set aside the issues of security and finances and how you’re impacted by that, the stress involved in not knowing whether or not you’re going to have health care.  This is life-or-death stuff.  Tens of thousands of Americans die each year just because they don’t have health insurance.  Millions more live with the fear that they’ll go broke if they get sick.  And today, we begin to free millions of our fellow Americans from that fear.

Already, millions of young adults have been able to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26.  Millions of seniors already have gotten a discount on their prescription medicines.  Already millions of families have actually received rebates from insurance companies that didn’t spend enough on their health care.  So this law means more choice, more competition, lower costs for millions of Americans.

And this law doesn’t just mean economic security for our families.  It means we’re finally addressing the biggest drivers of our long-term deficits.  It means a stronger economy.

Remember most Republicans have made a whole bunch of predictions about this law that haven’t come true.  There are no “death panels.”  Costs haven’t skyrocketed; they’re growing at the slowest rate in 50 years.  The last three years since I signed the Affordable Care Act into law are the three slowest rates of health spending growth on record.

And contrary to Republican claims, this law hasn’t “destroyed” our economy.  Over the past three and a half years, our businesses have created 7.5 million new jobs.  Just today, we learned that our manufacturers are growing at the fastest rate in two and a half years.  They have factored in the Affordable Care Act. They don’t think it’s a problem.  What’s weighing on the economy is not the Affordable Care Act, but the constant series of crises and the unwillingness to pass a reasonable budget by a faction of the Republican Party.

Now, like every new law, every new product rollout, there are going to be some glitches in the signup process along the way that we will fix.  I’ve been saying this from the start.  For example, we found out that there have been times this morning where the site has been running more slowly than it normally will.  The reason is because more than one million people visited healthcare.gov before 7:00 in the morning.

To put that in context, there were five times more users in the marketplace this morning than have ever been on Medicare.gov at one time.  That gives you a sense of how important this is to millions of Americans around the country, and that’s a good thing.  And we’re going to be speeding things up in the next few hours to handle all this demand that exceeds anything that we had expected.

Consider that just a couple of weeks ago, Apple rolled out a new mobile operating system.  And within days, they found a glitch, so they fixed it.  I don’t remember anybody suggesting Apple should stop selling iPhones or iPads — or threatening to shut down the company if they didn’t.  That’s not how we do things in America.  We don’t actively root for failure.  We get to work, we make things happen, we make them better, we keep going.

So in that context, I’ll work with anybody who’s got a serious idea to make the Affordable Care Act work better.  I’ve said that repeatedly.  But as long as I am President, I will not give in to reckless demands by some in the Republican Party to deny affordable health insurance to millions of hardworking Americans.

I want Republicans in Congress to know these are the Americans you’d hurt if you were allowed to dismantle this law.  Americans like Amanda, Nancy, and Trinace, who now finally have the opportunity for basic security and peace of mind of health care just like everybody else — including members of Congress.  The notion that you’d make a condition for reopening the government that I make sure these folks don’t have health care — that doesn’t make any sense.  It doesn’t make any sense.

Now, let me make one closing point:  This Republican shutdown threatens our economy at a time when millions of Americans are still looking for work, and businesses are starting to get some traction.  So the timing is not good.  Of course, a lot of the Republicans in the House ran for office two years ago promising to shut down the government, and so, apparently, they’ve now gotten their wish.  But as I’ve said before, the irony that the House Republicans have to contend with is they’ve shut down a whole bunch of parts of the government, but the Affordable Care Act is still open for business.

And this may be why you’ve got many Republican governors and senators and even a growing number of reasonable Republican congressmen who are telling the extreme right of their party to knock it off, pass a budget, move on.

And I want to underscore the fact that Congress doesn’t just have to end this shutdown and reopen the government — Congress generally has to stop governing by crisis.  They have to break this habit.  It is a drag on the economy.  It is not worthy of this country.

For example, one of the most important things Congress has to do in the next couple weeks is to raise what’s called the debt ceiling.  And it’s important to understand what this is.  This is a routine vote.  Congress has taken this vote 45 times to raise the debt ceiling since Ronald Reagan took office.  It does not cost taxpayers a single dime.  It does not grow our deficits by a single dime.  It does not authorize anybody to spend any new money whatsoever.  All it does is authorize the Treasury to pay the bills on what Congress has already spent.

Think about that.  If you buy a car and you’ve got a car note, you do not save money by not paying your car note.  You’re just a deadbeat.  If you buy a house, you don’t save money by not authorizing yourself to pay the mortgage.  You’re just going to be foreclosed on your home.  That’s what this is about.

It is routine.  It is what they’re supposed to do.  This is not a concession to me.  It is not some demand that’s unreasonable that I’m making.  This is what Congress is supposed to do as a routine matter.  And they shouldn’t wait until the last minute to do it.  The last time Republicans even threatened this course of action — many of you remember, back in 2011 — our economy staggered, our credit rating was downgraded for the first time.  If they go through with it this time and force the United States to default on its obligations for the first time in history, it would be far more dangerous than a government shutdown — as bad as a shutdown is.  It would be an economic shutdown.

So I’ll speak more on this in the coming days, but let me repeat:  I will not negotiate over Congress’s responsibility to pay bills it’s already racked up.  I’m not going to allow anybody to drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud just to refight a settled election or extract ideological demands.  Nobody gets to hurt our economy and millions of hardworking families over a law you don’t like.

There are a whole bunch of things that I’d like to see passed through Congress that the House Republicans haven’t passed yet, and I’m not out there saying, well, I’m not — I’m going to let America default unless Congress does something that they don’t want to do.  That’s not how adults operate.  Certainly that’s not how our government should operate.  And that’s true whether there’s a Democrat in this office or a Republican in this office.  Doesn’t matter whether it’s a Democratic House of Representatives or a Republican-controlled House of Representatives — there are certain rules that everybody abides by because we don’t want to hurt other people just because we have a political disagreement.

So my basic message to Congress is this:  Pass a budget.  End the government shutdown.  Pay your bills.  Prevent an economic shutdown.  Don’t wait.  Don’t delay.  Don’t put our economy or our people through this any longer.

I am more than happy to work with them on all kinds of issues.  I want to get back to work on the things that the American people sent us here to work on — creating new jobs, new growth, new security for our middle class.

We’re better than this.  Certainly the American people are a lot better than this.  And I believe that what we’ve accomplished for Amanda, and Nancy, and Trinace, and tens of millions of their fellow citizens- on this day proves that even when the odds are long and the obstacles are many, we are and always will be a country that can do great things together.

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  Thank you, all of you, for the great work that you’re doing.  And thank you, Kathleen Sebelius, for the outstanding work that she’s doing making sure that millions of Americans can get health insurance.

Thank you.

END
1:21 P.M. EDT

Political Musings October 1, 2013: With House and Senate at deadlock over spending bill, government shutdown begins

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Political Musings October 1, 2013: Senate rejects House spending bill hours before government shutdown deadline

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Political Musings September 30, 2013: Obama and GOP battle over spending bill as government shutdown nears

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Political Musings September 29, 2013: Obama sells healthcare law implementation while slamming GOP opposition

POLITICAL MUSINGS

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama sells healthcare law implementation while slamming GOP opposition (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Days before the Affordable Cart Act will be start being implemented for individuals and small businesses President Barack Obama has taken to the road to again to sell the unpopular law to Americans while Congressional Republicans staunchly oppose the law…READ MORE

Political Headlines May 19, 2012: GOP Weekly Address Sen. Ron Johnson, Republicans Dispappointed by President Obama’s Economic Policies

POLITICAL HEADLINES

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

GOP Address: Sen. Johnson, Republicans Dispappointed by Obama’s Economic Policies

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-19-12

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin delivers this week’s Republican address, marking this week’s Senate vote of 99-0 against a budget amendment represented as President Obama’s budget request….

Sen. Johnson lays in to Senate Democrats placing blame on the lawmakers for the Senate’s failure to pass a budget in three years….READ MORE

Full Text February 13, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech Unveils 2013 Budget a Blueprint for an America Built to Last — Transcript

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the FY 2013 Budget (February 13, 2012)
President Barack Obama delivers remarks to students on the FY 2013 Budget at the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), Annandale, Va., campus, Feb. 13, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Obama budget: National debt will be $1 trillion higher in a decade than previously forecast:

President Obama on Monday unveiled a $3.8 trillion spending plan that seeks to pump billions of dollars into the economy while raising taxes on the rich to tame a soaring national debt now projected to grow significantly faster than previously forecast.

The president’s outlook for debt reduction has deteriorated markedly since September, when Obama told Congress that his proposals would hold annual deficits well under $600 billion after next year and permit the debt held by outside investors to rise to $17.7 trillion by 2021, or 73 percent of the overall economy.

The new 10-year blueprint shows annual deficits exceeding $600 billion every year except 2018. And the portion of the debt held by outside investors would grow to $18.7 trillion by 2021, or 76.5 percent of the economy — a full $1 trillion higher. — WaPo, 2-13-12

Obama Projects Lower Deficit by Taxing Rich: President Obama projected a deficit below $1 trillion and called for raising $1.5 trillion over 10 years by taxing the wealthiest and closing loopholes…. – NYT, 2-13-12

President Obama’s 2013 Budget is a Blueprint for an America Built to Last

Source: WH, 2-13-12

President Obama traveled to Annadale in northern Virginia this morning to talk about his budget for the 2013 fiscal year — and how it will boost job creation to speed our economic recovery.

A core set of themes helps to define this budget, and in talking to the crowd, the President laid out those ideas:

[An] economy built to last demands that we keep doing everything we can to help students learn the skills that businesses are looking for. It means we have to keep strengthening American manufacturing. It means we’ve got to keep investing in American energy. We’ve got to double down on the clean energy that’s creating jobs. But it also means we’ve got to renew the American values of fair play and shared responsibility.

To help reflect that shared responsibility, the President is proposing a new set of reforms that guarantees that millionaires don’t pay a lower rate in taxes than the middle class. He said:

Right now, we’re scheduled to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was intended to be a temporary tax cut for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. We’ve already spent about that much. Now we’re scheduled to spend another trillion. Keep in mind, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households. You’ve heard me say it — Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. That’s not fair.  It doesn’t make sense at a time when we’ve got to pull together to get the country moving.

If you want to read the complete budget, you can download the PDF, or get a copy for your Barnes & Noble Nook. We’ll have a version for Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks soon.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on the Budget

Northern Virginia dale, Virginia

11:12 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Virginia!  Thank you, NOVA!  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Everybody who has a chair please have a seat.  I know not everybody has a chair.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  (Laughter.)  Great to be here.

First of all, I want to thank Mike for the wonderful introduction.  Please give Mike a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

It is great to be back here at NOVA.  I’ve been here so many times I’m about three credits short of graduation.  (Laughter.)  But there are a couple of reasons that I keep on coming back.  First of all, I think that Dr. Templin and the whole administration here is doing a great job, so I want to give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  The other reason is because Jill Biden keeps talking up how great you are.  And just as I do what Michelle tells me to do, I also do what Jill Biden tells me to do.  (Laughter.)

In addition, by the way, I just want to acknowledge that we also have our Secretary of Labor here, Hilda Solis, who’s doing an outstanding job.  (Applause.)

But the main reason I keep on coming back is I think this institution is an example of what’s best about America.  Some of you may have your eye on a four-year college.  Some of you may be trying to learn new skills that could lead to a new job, like Mike, or a job that pays more, gives you more opportunity.  But all of you are here because you believe in yourselves, you believe in your ability, you believe in the future of this country.  And that’s something that inspires me and you guys should take great pride in.

Now, the truth is, the skills and training you get here will be the best tools you have to achieve the American promise — the promise that if you work hard, you can do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.

And the defining issue of our time is how to keep this promise alive today — for everybody.  Because we’ve got a choice:  We can settle for a country where a few people do really, really well, and everybody else struggles to get by.  Or we can restore an economy where everybody gets a fair shot, everybody does their fair share, everybody plays by the same set of rules — from Washington to Wall Street to Main Street.  That’s the America we believe in.  (Applause.)

Now, we’re still recovering from one of the worst economic crises in three generations.  We’ve got a long way to go before everybody who wants a good job can find one; before middle-class Americans regain that sense of security that’s been slipping away for too long — long before the recession hit.

But over the last 23 months, we’ve added 3.7 million new jobs.  (Applause.)  American manufacturers are creating jobs for the first time since the 1990s.  The economy is growing stronger.  The recovery is speeding up.  And the last thing we can afford to do right now is to go back to the very policies that got us into this mess in the first place.  We can’t afford it.  (Applause.)  The last thing we need is for Washington to stand in the way of America’s comeback.  (Applause.)

Now, what does that mean concretely?  For starters, Congress needs to stop taxes from going up on 160 million Americans by the end of this month.  And if they don’t act, that’s exactly what will happen.  (Applause.)  Congress needs to pass an extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance without drama, and without delay, and without linking it to some other ideological side issues.

We’ve been through this before, remember?  We’ve seen this movie.  We don’t need to see it again.  The time for self-inflicted wounds to our economy has to be over.  Now is the time for action.  Now is the time for all of us to move forward.

But preventing a tax hike on the middle class — that’s only the beginning, that’s just starters.  In the State of the Union, I outlined a blueprint for an economy that is built to last -– an economy built on new manufacturing, and new sources of energy, and new skills and education for the American people.

Today, we’re releasing the details of that blueprint in the form of next year’s budget.  And don’t worry, I will not read it to you.  (Laughter.)  It’s long and a lot of numbers.  But the main idea in the budget is this:  At a time when our economy is growing and creating jobs at a faster clip, we’ve got to do everything in our power to keep this recovery on track.

Part of our job is to bring down our deficit.  And if Congress adopts this budget, then along with the cuts that we’ve already made, we’ll be able to reduce our deficit by $4 trillion by the year 2022 — $4 trillion.  I’m proposing some difficult cuts that, frankly, I wouldn’t normally make if they weren’t absolutely necessary.  But they are.  And the truth is we’re going to have to make some tough choices in order to put this country back on a more sustainable fiscal path.

By reducing our deficit in the long term, what that allows us to do is to invest in the things that will help grow our economy right now.  We can’t cut back on those things that are important for us to grow.  We can’t just cut our way into growth. We can cut back on the things that we don’t need, but we also have to make sure that everyone is paying their fair share for the things that we do need.

We need to restore American manufacturing by ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, giving them to companies that are creating jobs right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  That’s something that everybody should agree on.

We need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by ending the subsidies for oil companies, and doubling down on clean energy that generates jobs and strengthens our security.  (Applause.)

And to make sure our businesses don’t have to move overseas to find skilled workers, we’ve got to invest in places like NOVA, and make sure higher education is affordable for every hardworking American.  (Applause.)

That’s what I want to focus on today — what we need to do in terms of higher education, and community colleges in particular.  Employers today are looking for the most skilled, educated workers.  I don’t want them to find them in India or China.  I want businesses to find those workers right here, in the United States.  The skills and training that employers are looking for begins with the men and women who educate our children.

All of us can point to a teacher who’s made a difference in our lives — and I know I can.  So I want this Congress to give our schools the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best teachers.  And in return, they also need to give schools the flexibility to stop just teaching to the test, and replace teachers who aren’t helping kids learn.  That’s something that we can do.  (Applause.)

So making sure we’ve got the most skilled workers starts early.  It starts with K-12 — it starts before K-12, making sure every child is prepared.  And when an American of any age wants to pursue any kind of higher education — whether it’s that high school grad who’s just trying to get that first couple years of college education, or somebody like Mike who’s in the process of retraining — whether it’s two years or four years or more, we’ve got to make sure that education is affordable and available to everybody who wants to go.

Now, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling this July.  That’s pretty important. (Applause.)  That’s in our budget.  We’re saying to Congress, now is not the time to make school more expensive for young people.  And they can act right now to make that change.

They also need to take the tuition tax credit that my administration put in the budget over these last few years -– a tax credit that saves families thousands of dollars on tuition -– and we need to make that permanent.  It shouldn’t be temporary, it should be permanent.  (Applause.)

So between the increases we’ve provided in Pell grants, these tax credits, keeping interest rates low — all that is going to help.  And millions of students across the country have benefitted from that.  But students and taxpayers can’t just keep on subsidizing skyrocketing tuition — we’re going to run out of money.  So that’s why I’ve asked states and colleges to do their part to keep costs down.

We’re putting colleges and universities on notice:  You can’t just keep on raising tuition and expect us to keep on coming up with more and more money.  Because tuition inflation has actually gone up even faster than health care.  That’s hard to do.  (Laughter.)

So what we’re saying to states, colleges and universities — if you can’t stop tuition from going up, then funding you get from taxpayers will go down.  Because higher education cannot be a luxury; it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.  That’s part of the American promise in the 21st century.  (Applause.)

So that’s what we need to do to get more Americans ready for the jobs of the future.  But what about the jobs that are open today?  I talked about this at the State of the Union.  There are millions of jobs open right now, and there are millions of people who are unemployed.  And the question is how do we match up those workers to those jobs?  What about the companies that are looking to hire right now?

I hear from business leaders all the time who want to hire in the United States, but at the moment, they cannot always find workers with the right skills.  Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do those jobs.  Think about that.  At a time when millions of Americans are looking for work, we shouldn’t have any job openings out there.  They should all be getting filled up.

Here in America, we’ve got the best workers and some of the fastest-growing companies in the world.  There’s no reason we can’t connect the two.  And places like NOVA are proving that we know how to do it.  This institution proves we know how to do it. (Applause.)

So let’s say you are a single parent, or a returning veteran, or somebody who just wants a shot at a better-paying job.  You’re a hard worker, you’re a fast learner, you’re motivated.  You know there are companies looking to hire.  You just need to figure out how to acquire some of the specific skills, the specialized skills that the companies need, and you need to figure that out as quickly as possible -– hopefully without taking on tons of debt.

Everybody in America should be able to get those skills at a community college like NOVA.  And companies looking to hire should be able to count on these schools to provide them with a steady stream of workers qualified to fill those specific jobs.

That’s why Mike was sharing his story.  As Mike mentioned, he worked in the mortgage and real estate industry for 10 years, but when business declined after 9/11, he decided to start over. So he began selling building materials.  Then the bottom fell out of the housing market, so Mike had to start all over again.  He’s got a knack for computers.  So he figured he’d try a career in cybersecurity, where there is a lot of hiring — that is going to be a growth industry.

Luckily for Mike, NOVA is home to a program called CyberWatch.  So he signed up — even though he’s driving a limo on the side, he’s still got to pay the bills.  So he’s working while going to school.  But in December, Mike earned two certificates — and, by the way, finished with a 4.0.  So we’re proud of that.  (Applause.)   Now he’s working towards his Associate’s degree.  And when he graduates, Mike will have access to a network of over 40 companies and government agencies to help him find a job.

So we need more stories like Mike’s.  That’s why my administration is helping community colleges redesign training programs, so students can learn the skills that are most in demand in industries like health care sciences and advanced manufacturing.  And that’s why we’re making a national commitment to train 2 million Americans with skills they need to get a job right now, or start their own business right now.  (Applause.)

We’ve lined up more companies that want to help.  We’ve already got model partnerships between major businesses like Siemens and community colleges in places like Charlotte and Orlando and Louisville — they’re already up and running.  We know how they work.  And that’s why I’ve asked Dr. Biden Secretary Solis to take a bus tour through several states, including Ohio and Kentucky and North Carolina, to highlight businesses and community colleges that are working together to train workers for careers that are in demand right now.  We’ve got to make these examples a model for the entire nation.

And we also need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers — places where folks can learn the skills that local business are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing.  This should be an engine of job growth all across the country, these community colleges, and that’s why we’ve got to support them.  That’s why it’s such a big priority.  (Applause.)

So an economy built to last demands that we keep doing everything we can to help students learn the skills that businesses are looking for.  It means we have to keep strengthening American manufacturing.  It means we’ve got to keep investing in American energy.  We’ve got to double down on the clean energy that’s creating jobs.  But it also means we’ve got to renew the American values of fair play and shared responsibility.

The budget that we’re releasing today is a reflection of shared responsibility.  It says that if we’re serious about investing in our future and investing in community colleges, and investing in new energy technology, and investing in basic research, well, we’ve got to pay for it.  And that means we’ve got to make some choices.

Right now, we’re scheduled to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was intended to be a temporary tax cut for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.  We’ve already spent about that much.  Now we’re scheduled to spend another trillion.  Keep in mind, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households.  You’ve heard me say it — Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.  That’s not fair.  It doesn’t make sense at a time when we’ve got to pull together to get the country moving.

I don’t need a tax break.  We don’t need to be providing additional tax cuts for folks who are doing really, really, really well.  Do we want to keep these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans?  Or do we want to keep investing in everything else — education, clean energy, a strong military, care for our veterans?  We can’t do both — we can’t afford it.

Some people go around, they say, well, the President is engaging in class warfare.  That’s not class warfare.  That’s common sense.  That’s common sense.  (Applause.)  Asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary when it comes to his tax rate — that’s just common sense.  Because Warren Buffet is doing fine, I’m doing fine.  We don’t need the tax breaks.  You need them.  (Applause.)  You’re the ones who see your wages stall.  You’re the one whose costs of everything from college to groceries has gone up.  You’re the ones who deserve a break.

And we don’t begrudge success in America; we aspire to it.  Everybody here — I want everybody here to go out there and do great.  I want you to make loads of money if you can.  That’s wonderful.  And we expect people to earn it — study hard, work hard for it.  So we don’t envy the wealthy.  But we do expect everybody to do their fair share, so that everybody has opportunity, not just some.

And given where our deficit is, it’s just a matter of math that folks like me are going to have to do a little bit more.  Because Americans understand if I get a tax break I don’t need and the country can’t afford, then one of two things is going to happen:  Either that means we have to add to our deficit, or it means you’ve got to pay for it.  It means a senior has got to pay for it, in terms of suddenly their Medicare benefits are costing more.  It means a student suddenly sees their interest rates go up higher at a time when they can’t afford it.  It means a family that’s struggling to get by is having to do more because I’m doing less.

That’s not right.  It’s not who we are.  Each of us is here only because somebody, somewhere, felt a responsibility to each other and to our country’s future.  That’s why they made investments in places like NOVA.

Here in America, the story has never been about what we can do just by ourselves; it’s about what we can do together.  It’s about believing in our future, and the future of our country.  You believe in that future.  That’s why you’re working hard. That’s why you’re putting in the long hours.  That’s why Mike is doing what he’s doing.  Some of you are balancing a job at the same time as you’re going to school.  You’re scrimping and scratching to make sure that you can pay tuition here.  You know that doing big things isn’t easy, but you haven’t given up.

That’s the spirit we’ve got to have right now.  We don’t give up in this country.  We look out for each other.  We pull together.  We work hard.  We reach for new opportunities.  We pull each other up.  That’s who we are.  (Applause.)  And if we work together in common purpose, we will build an economy that lasts, and remind people around the world why America is the greatest country on Earth.

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
11:35 A.M. EST

The 2013 Budget

Source: WH, 2-13-12

Ed. Note: This has been cross-posted from the OMB blog

Earlier today, the President sent to Congress his budget for the 2013 fiscal year. This year’s budget reflects the President’s firm belief that our country has always done best when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. It’s a document built around the recognition that this is a make or break moment for the middle class and those trying to reach it. What’s at stake is the very survival of the basic American promise that if you work hard, you can do well enough to raise a family, own a home, and put a little away for retirement.

The Budget continues our commitment to keeping that promise alive by creating an economy that’s built to last – with good jobs that pay well and security for the middle class.

It’s a commitment that starts with jumpstarting job creation so that our economic recovery quickens and more Americans are able to get back to work. The Budget proposes more than $350 billion in short-term measures for job growth starting this year. These proposals include the extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance benefits for rest of 2012; an upfront investment of $50 billion from the surface transportation reauthorization bill for roads, rails, and runways to create thousands of quality jobs in the short term; continuing to allow businesses to write-off the full amount of new investments; and $30 billion to modernize at least 35,000 schools, and $30 billion to help states and localities retain and hire teachers and first responders.

Building an economy that is built to last also requires that we transform our economy from one focused on speculating, spending, and borrowing to one constructed on the solid foundation of educating, innovating, and building. We need to make America the place with the highest-skilled, highest-educated workers; the most advanced transportation and communications networks; and cutting-edge research that will lead to the innovations and industries of tomorrow.  To get us there, the Budget targets resources to the areas critical to growing the economy and restoring middle-class security: education and skills for American workers, innovation and research and development, clean energy, and infrastructure.

It begins with giving our students and workers the education and training they need to take the jobs of today and tomorrow. The Budget includes $850 million for Race to the Top, and $300 million in new resources to improve child care quality and prepare children for success in school. It makes college more affordable and helps achieve the President’s goal of the U.S. leading the world in college graduates by 2020 by sustaining maximum Pell Grant award; prevents student loan rates from doubling this summer; doubles the number of work-study jobs over next five years; makes permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit; and creates news incentives for colleges to keep tuition rates under control. The Budget also supports State and community college partnerships with businesses to build the skills of American workers, and creates a Pathways Back to Work Fund, which will support summer and year-round jobs for low-income youth, and will help connect the long-term unemployed and low-income adults to subsidized employment and work-based training opportunities.

The Budget also invests in American innovation — especially clean energy — and manufacturing to create good jobs and more goods stamped “Made in America.”  For example, it includes more than $140 billion for R&D overall (including $2.2 billion for advanced manufacturing R&D), increases the level of investment in non-defense R&D by 5 percent from the 2012 level even as overall budgets decline, and maintains the President’s commitment to doubling the budgets of three key basic research agencies – the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and National Institute of Standards and Technology Laboratories. Also included are proposals to support the President’s goal of doubling share of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035 and reducing buildings’ energy use by 20 percent by 2020.

To create thousands of jobs and modernize a critical foundation of our economic growth, the Budget also invests in a 21st century infrastructure. These investments include a six-year, $476 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill that’s expanded to included inter-city passenger rail, and that is fully paid for through current user-financed mechanisms and savings from ending the war in Iraq and winding down operations in Afghanistan. They also include the creation of a National Infrastructure Bank to fund projects of national importance, and the building of a next-generation, wireless broadband network.

Of course, even as we invest in the areas critical to creating an economy that’s built to last, we also have to reduce our deficit and bring down the debt. That’s why the Budget lives within very tight spending caps that reduce discretionary spending by $1 trillion over the next 10 years and, including that amount, has more than $4 trillion of balanced deficit reduction. In fact, discretionary spending in this Budget is reduced from 8.7 percent of GDP in 2011 to 5.0 percent in 2022. And by 2018, we cut the deficit to less than 3 percent of GDP, and stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio. For every $1 in new revenue from those making more than $250,000 per year and from closing corporate loopholes, the Budget has $2.50 in spending cuts including the deficit reduction enacted over the last year.

Achieving this type of deficit reduction in a balanced way requires asking all American to shoulder their fair share of the burden – and that’s what this Budget does.

Deficit Reduction Chart Budget 2013

For example, the Budget calls for tax reform that cuts the deficit by $1.5 trillion, including the expiration of the high-income 2001 and 2003 tax cuts; eliminates inefficient and unfair tax breaks for millionaires while making all tax breaks at least as good for the middle class as for the wealthy; and observes the Buffett Rule that no household making more than $1 million a year pays less than 30 percent of their income in taxes. It also calls on the largest financial institutions to fully compensate taxpayers for their extraordinary support by continuing to support a $61 billion Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee, which will offset cost of TARP and the President’s mortgage refinancing program.

The Budget implements the new defense strategy to spend $487 billion less in the Department of Defense’s base budget than was planned in last year’s Budget. This will bring the overall defense budget, including overseas contingency operations, 5 percent below last year’s enacted level.

We’ve also identified areas of the Budget to eliminate wasteful spending or improve efficiency. In fact, the Budget proposes scores of cuts and consolidations across the Federal government, including more than $7.5 billion in administrative savings. Beyond these cuts, the Budget creates more than $360 billion in savings to Medicare, Medicaid, and other health programs over 10 years to make these programs more effective and efficient and move our health system to one that rewards high-quality medicine. And it also saves $270 billion in non-health mandatory spending through reforms in areas like agriculture, federal civilian worker retirement, and the PBGC.

These deficit-reduction measures, paired with critical investments in priorities like education, innovation, and infrastructure, serve as a blueprint for building an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded. And in the weeks and months ahead, the Administration stands ready to partner with both sides of Capitol Hill to put this blueprint to work.

The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2013

Political Headlines December 15, 2011: Congress Reaches Spending Deal, Averts Government Shutdown — Negotiating Two Month Payroll Tax Extension

POLITICAL HEADLINES

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

IN FOCUS: CONGRESS REACHES SPENDING DEAL, AVERTS GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN — NEGOTIATING TWO MONTH PAYROLL TAX EXTENSION

Congress reaches spending deal: Congressional negotiators signed off Thursday evening on a sweeping $1 trillion spending agreement for federal agencies, just 28 hours before a deadline that would have led to a government shutdown.
Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees gave final approval to a plan after a four-day standoff that became entangled in a separate issue related to the payroll tax holiday. That negotiation, according to lawmakers and aides, also could be headed toward an agreement…. – WaPo, 12-15-11

  • Lawmakers Agree on Spending Bill, Avoiding Shutdown: Congressional leaders said they had agreed on a spending measure to keep the government running for nine months, but agreement on the payroll tax cut was still elusive…. – NYT, 12-15-11
  • Congressional leaders reach spending deal to avoid government shutdown: Congressional negotiators signed off Thursday evening on a $1 trillion spending agreement for 2012 for federal agencies, barely 27 hours before a deadline that could have led to a government shutdown. After dropping minor policy prescriptions that … – WaPo, 12-15-11
  • Congressional negotiators preparing 2-month payroll tax cut, jobless benefits: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says congressional bargainers are preparing a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut and expiring jobless benefits as a fallback plan in case negotiations on a yearlong package don’t succeed. … – WaPo, 12-15-11
  • Lawmakers Agree on Budget, Consider Two-Month Tax Cut Extension: The US Senate’s top Democrat said his colleagues are considering a two-month extension of an expiring payroll tax cut and extended unemployment benefits if they are unable to strike a deal on a longer-term plan … – BusinessWeek, 12-16-11
  • Congressional negotiators agree on $1T spending measure to avert government shutdown: Republicans yielded on policy affecting communist Cuba and Democrats gave way on new energy standards for light bulbs to seal an agreement Thursday evening on a massive $1 trillion-plus year-end spending package in time avert a possible … – WaPo, 12-15-11
  • Congress reaches tentative deal to avoid government shutdown: The $1-trillion plan would last through September 2012. Republicans and Democrats are still struggling with how to extend a payroll tax break. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-Nev.) says that with a tentative deal on a government funding bill…. – LAT, 12-15-11
  • Congress Agrees on Spending Deal Likely to Avert Government Shutdown: Republicans and Democrats in Congress found a compromise way Thursday night out of a deeply partisan standoff that threatened millions of Americans with a big New Year’s tax increase, the unemployed with loss of government benefits and the whole federal government with a shutdown…. – Fox News, 12-15-11
  • Government shutdown? Congress suddenly uniting to avert it: Government shutdown looms because of the absence of spending legislation. But GOP, Democratic leaders are sounding bipartisan notes to resolve conflict over payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits and avert a government shutdown. … – CS Monitor, 12-15-11

Political Headlines September 23, 2011: House Passes Stopgap Spending Bill 219-203 Then Senate Defeats Bill 59-36 — Goverment Shutdown Possibility Looms for October 1

POLITICAL HEADLINES

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES: HOUSE PASSES STOPGAP SPENDING BILL — SENATE DEMOCRATS DEFEATS BILL

Americans in hard-hit communities are counting on federal disaster relief, and disaster funds will run out as soon as Monday. The House last night passed a responsible measure to prevent this from happening. It is critical that the Senate now pass the bill and send it to the president. — John Boehner

“The bill the House will vote on tonight is not an honest effort at compromise. It fails to provide the relief that our fellow Americans need as they struggle to rebuild their lives in the wake of floods, wildfires and hurricanes, and it will be rejected by the Senate.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

House passes temporary spending measure: A day after defeating a virtually identical bill, the U.S. House has passed a temporary spending measure to fund the government through Nov. 18 by a vote of 219 to 203 after Republican leaders included a new spending cut to lure conservative votes. The measure is now on a collision course with the Democratic-led Senate, which believes the bill does not do enough for disaster victims, raising a new specter of a government shutdown when the fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

Senate defeats short-term measure to fund government: Early Friday afternoon, the Senate defeated, 59 to 36, a spending bill to fund the government through Nov. 18.
With both chambers scheduled to begin a week-long recess later Friday, the next step on the funding resolution remains unclear. The Federal Emergency Management Agency could run out of funding as early as Monday, and the resolution currently keeping the federal government open is set to expire on Sept. 30.
The House had passed the bill, 219 to 203, in the early hours on Friday morning after an earlier failure.

 

  • House passes measure to avoid government shutdown, but Senate won’t: The House of Representatives early Friday morning passed in a vote of 219-203 a continuing resolution to fund the government and avoid a looming shutdown after the first attempt to pass a resolution failed. But Senate Democrats are strongly opposed to the new measure.
    Democrats argue the new resolution includes inadequate disaster funds for FEMA, and they oppose spending cuts to programs they say are necessary to stimulate the economy.
    The Senate voted to table the resolution 59-36. Reid has scheduled a vote for Monday evening…. – AP, 9-23-11
  • House approves spending measure opposed by Senate; shutdown possible: Washington lurched toward another potential government shutdown crisis Friday, as the House approved a Republican-authored short-term funding measure designed to keep government running through Nov. 18…. – WaPo, 9-23-11
  • House approves funding bill; Senate passage in doubt: The measure would avert a government shutdown by funding the Federal Emergency Management Agency and drawing money away from a green vehicle program championed by Democrats…. – LAT, 9-23-11
  • House passes funding bill but conflict looms: Working past midnight, the Republican House narrowly approved a stopgap spending bill to keep the government operating past Sept. 30 but inviting new conflict with the Democratic Senate over emergency disaster aid and proposed cuts from alternative … – Politico, 9-23-11
  • Boehner works to rally House conservatives: GOP leaders in the House were working feverishly Thursday afternoon to persuade conservatives in their own party to reverse their opposition to a short-term funding measure identical or nearly identical to one they rejected…. – WaPo, 9-23-11
  • Senate Blocks House Spending Bill to Set Up Showdown: The Senate voted Friday morning to reject the House’s stopgap spending bill, less than twelve hours after the House’s Republican leaders had forced it through on their second try.
    The Senate vote was 59 to 36 to table the House bill, effectively killing it. Some conservative Republicans joined in rejecting the measure.
    The House, in the wee hours of Friday morning, had passed its latest version of a stopgap spending bill after rejecting on Wednesday a nearly identical version of the legislation, which is needed to keep the government open after Sept. 30 and to provide assistance to victims of natural disasters. The House vote was 219 to 203. NYT, 9-23-11
  • Senate rejects the House stop-gap spending bill. Is a government shutdown avoidable?: With near permanent brinksmanship the new normal, Congress headed into votes Friday to try to avert a government shutdown that is slated to occur on Oct. 1 if a continuing resolution bill is not passed…. – CS Monitor, 9-23-11
  • Senate blocks House disaster aid bill: The Democratic-led Senate blocked a House-passed bill on Friday that would provide disaster aid and keep government agencies open, escalating the parties’ latest showdown over spending and highlighting the raw partisan rift…. – USA Today, 9-23-11
  • Senate Delays Spending Bill, Leaving FEMA at Risk: The Senate voted to put aside a short-term spending bill that ties disaster-relief funding to cuts in Democratic-backed programs aiding the auto industry, leaving government funding unsettled…. – WSJ, 9-23-11
  • Spending bill fails: The Senate on Friday, 59 to 36, defeated a GOP-authored short-term funding measure designed to keep the government running through mid-November, ratcheting up the pressure on party leaders…. – WaPo, 9-23-11

Political Buzz September 21, 2011: House Defeats Stopgap Spending Bill 230-195 — 4 Dozen Republicans Join Democrats Defecting from Leadership — Government Shutdown Possible

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner addresses reporters during a press conference. | Jay Westcott/POLITICO

THE HEADLINES: HOUSE DEFEATS STOPGAP SPENDING 230-195 — FOUR DOZEN REPUBLICANS JOIN DEMOCRATS DEFECTING FROM LEADERSHIP

News Alert: House rejects resolution to fund government after Sept. 30: The House rejected a resolution Wednesday to fund the government through Nov. 18, as GOP leaders were unable to overcome opposition from Democrats who wanted more disaster relief and conservatives who wanted to cut more deeply. President Obama must sign a continuing resolution by Sept. 30 or risk a government shutdown.

House kills stopgap spending bill: The House has rejected a measure providing $3.7 billion for disaster relief as part of a bill to keep the government running through mid-November. The surprise 230-195 defeat for GOP leaders came at the hands of Democrats and tea party Republicans.
Democrats were opposed because the measure contains cuts to a government loan program to help car companies build fuel efficient vehicles.
For their part, many GOP conservatives feel the underlying bill permits spending at too high a rate. — AP, 9-21-11

  • Republican Defections Defeat Bill Containing Disaster Relief Aid: The U.S. House, in a surprise setback to Republican leaders, defeated a spending bill providing $3.65 billion in aid to victims of recent natural disasters and needed to prevent a government shutdown.
    Republicans unhappy with the measure’s overall cost joined Democrats opposed to a proposed cut in an auto industry-loan program to derail the measure yesterday, 230-195. Opposing the legislation were 48 Republicans and 182 Democrats; backing it were 189 Republicans and six Democrats.
    The defeat raises the prospect of a government shutdown because the bill would fund the government until Nov. 18. The current fiscal year ends Sept. 30, and Congress is in recess next week…. – BusinessWeek, 9-21-11
  • US House unexpectedly defeats spending bill: A bill that would fund the US government past Sept. 30 unexpectedly failed in the House of Representatives on Wednesday as dozens of Republicans broke with party leaders to push for deeper spending cuts…. – Reuters, 9-21-11
  • House Rebukes G.O.P. Leaders Over Spending: House Republicans suffered a surprising setback when the House rejected their version of a stopgap spending bill, leaving unclear how Congress will keep the government open and aid natural disaster victims…. – NYT, 9-21-11
  • House rejects temporary funding measure, raising shutdown risk: The threat of a government shutdown intensified as the GOP-led House failed to muster a majority to approve legislation to fund the government after Republicans insisted that federal disaster aid be paid for with spending cuts elsewhere…. – LAT, 9-21-11
  • House conservatives revolt on spending bill: A stopgap spending bill to keep the government funded past Sept. 30 collapsed in the House late Wednesday in a return of the same brinkmanship politics that so soured voters on Congress in the debt fight over the summer.
    Republicans lost 48 of their own members on the 230-195 vote, even as Democrats took advantage of the GOP’s vulnerability by pulling back their support in protest of spending cuts affecting the auto industry…. – Politico, 9-21-11
  • Vote on House spending bill reveals John Boehner’s lack of control: House Republicans tried a fresh strategy Wednesday night: Go it alone on a spending bill. The result was an embarrassing setback.
    Wednesday night’s rank-and-file rebuke of GOP leadership — with 48 Republicans bolting on a temporary spending bill — underscored the fact that the House Republican majority is still struggling to find unity on major spending bills. It also showed they still need Democratic votes to help them govern.
    The pressure from an angry Speaker John Boehner didn’t work — he even threatened to strip committee assignments. Four dozen Republicans —mostly conservatives — wanted more cuts, and they just said no, creating an uncomfortable scene on the House floor as the funding bill failed on a 195-230 vote. Democrats showed a rare moment of unity in overwhelmingly opposing the continuing resolution, which would keep the government funded through Nov. 18.
    Now, to prevent a government shutdown, Republicans will have to rewrite the bill and figure out how to get the votes…. – Politico, 9-21-11
  • House Democratic leaders urge members to vote ‘no’ on stopgap funding bill: A partisan dispute over disaster relief funds escalated Wednesday as Democratic leaders in the House urged rank-and-file members to oppose a resolution to keep the government funded beyond Sept. 30…. – WaPo, 9-21-11
  • House GOP regroups after loss on spending bill: House GOP leaders are regrouping after a surprise loss on a measure to provide $3.7 billion for disaster relief and prevent a government shutdown at the end of next week.
    Wednesday’s 230-195 defeat came at the hands of Democrats and tea party Republicans.
    Now the question confronting GOP leaders including Speaker John Boehner of Ohio is whether to push the legislation to the left or the right in hopes of passing it through the House and reaching agreement with the Democratic Senate before disaster aid runs out for victims of Hurricane Irene and other disasters early next week…. – AP, 9-21-11
  • More Budget Dysfunction: Conservative House Republicans delivered a stinging rebuke to Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday, as four dozen GOP lawmakers joined with almost every Democrat to defeat a six-week stop gap budget bill that also included extra disaster relief money for FEMA.
    Those four dozen Republicans wanted deeper budget cuts in this temporary budget, while the over 200 Democrats wanted less in budget cuts and more money for FEMA…. – Atlanta Journal Constitution, 9-21-11
  • Republican Defections Defeat Bill With Disaster Relief Aid: The US House defeated a spending bill that included $3.65 billion in aid to victims of recent natural disasters and would keep the government operating past this month…. – San Francisco Chronicle, 9-22-11
  • GOP House leaders rebuked on spending: The surprise defeat in the House Wednesday of a special funding measure to keep the federal government functioning past Sept. 30 was a sharp rebuke of the GOP leadership that controls the chamber and a testament to the fragility of the majority itself.
    The rejection of the measure resurrected the specter of a government shutdown at the end of the month and suggested that the heated confrontations that dominated Washington in the spring and early summer are likely to return this fall.
    While it is widely expected that the parties will eventually reach a compromise to avoid a shutdown, Wednesday’s 230-to-195 vote showed what can happen when the GOP majority operates with no more than minimal Democratic support.
    The failure of the bill was the result of a new solidarity among Democrats on funding issues and old divisions among Republicans on spending reductions…. – WaPo, 9-22-11

 

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES: FROM THE HOUSE FLOOR DEBATE — 9-21-11

Page: H6304
Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I call up…
H. Res. 405
Mr. WOODALL. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
GENERAL LEAVE
Mr. WOODALL. I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative…
Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 405 provides for a closed rule for…
Page: H6305
Ms. SLAUGHTER. I thank my colleague for yielding me the customary 30 minutes,…
Page: H6306
Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to yield 5 minutes to a gentleman who has…
Mr. DREIER. I thank my friend for yielding and congratulate him on his stellar…
Page: H6307
Mr. WOODALL. I yield the gentleman an additional 5 minutes.
Mr. DREIER. I thank my friend for yielding.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. I am pleased to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from…
Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, today the Republican majority has made a…
Mr. WOODALL. I reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman…
Mr. LEVIN. We’ve heard a lot of rhetoric the first 10 minutes, or whatever, on…
Mr. WOODALL. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. LEVIN. I yield to the gentleman from Georgia.
Mr. WOODALL. I appreciate the gentleman yielding.
Mr. LEVIN. You’ve been misinformed. There are millions and millions of dollars…
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE
Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume to speak to…
Page: H6308
Mr. LEVIN. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. WOODALL. I would be happy to yield to my friend.
Mr. LEVIN. There is nothing in that decision, nothing in that action that paid…
Mr. WOODALL. Reclaiming my time from my friend, you’re absolutely right that…
Mr. LEVIN. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. WOODALL. I would be happy to yield to my friend.
Mr. LEVIN. So now you’re saying we’re paying for it by taking away jobs from…
Mr. WOODALL. Reclaiming my time, as I’m not the chairman of the committee, I…
Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I want to yield myself 10 seconds to say that I…
Mr. PASCRELL. Look, we’re all Americans. We’re not Democrats, Republicans.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. I yield the gentleman another 10 seconds.
Mr. PASCRELL. This coalition is going to stay strong because America is more…
Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, to correct what may be a misunderstanding about the…
Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from New York, a …
Page: H6309
Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the rule and more broadly to…
Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. HINCHEY. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. WOODALL. I yield to the gentleman from New York.
Mr. HINCHEY. Thank you very much. I deeply appreciate it.
Mr. WOODALL. Reclaiming my time.
Mr. WOODALL. I thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. Let me just reiterate.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. I’m going to give myself another second here just to say I keep…
Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Speaker, America has had an economic disaster and a natural…
Mr. WOODALL. I reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Vermont…
Mr. WELCH. I thank the gentlelady for yielding. [Page:…
Page: H6310
Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 30 seconds just to say that we have…
Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from North…
Mr. WATT. Mr. Speaker, last Friday, the President signed the patent reform…
Mr. WOODALL. I continue to reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 3 minutes to the gentleman…
Mr. DINGELL. Mr. Speaker, this bill is brought to us by people who know the…
Page: H6311
Mr. WOODALL. I continue to reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr….
Mr. ELLISON. Mr. Speaker, there is a not-so-thin line between being frugal and…
Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. ELLISON. No, I will not yield, and I won’t cede any of my time, so you…
Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I am proud that we have been able to have a…
Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. Thank you for yielding.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. I am pleased to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Michigan…
Mr. PETERS. Mr. Speaker, I come from the Greater Detroit area, which has been…
Mr. WOODALL. I reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson…
Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, it would seem that we would come to the…
Ms. SLAUGHTER. I yield the gentlewoman 1 additional minute.
Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. Rather than declaring disasters what they are,…
Mr. WOODALL. I yield 1 minute to the chairman of the committee, the gentleman…
Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. I thank the gentleman for yielding again. I’ll be very…
Page: H6312
Mr. WOODALL. I say to my friend to from New York, I have no more speakers and…
Ms. SLAUGHTER. I thank the gentleman.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I want to urge my colleagues to vote “no,” defeat…
Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
An Amendment to H. Res. 405 Offered by Mrs. Slaughter of New York
The Vote on the Previous Question: What It Really Means
Page: H6313
Mr. WOODALL. I yield back the balance of my time, and I move the previous…
Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
Mrs. MYRICK changed her vote from “nay” to “yea.”
Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
Page: H6314
Mr. ROKITA changed his vote from “nay” to “yea.”

Political Highlights April 18, 2011: President Obama & Republican’s Divergent Debt Reduction Budget Plans

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 4/15/11

STATS & POLLS

  • Poll shows Americans oppose entitlement cuts to deal with debt problem: Despite growing concerns about the country’s long-term fiscal problems and an intensifying debate in Washington about how to deal with them, Americans strongly oppose some of the major remedies under consideration, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
    The survey finds that Americans prefer to keep Medicare just the way it is. Most also oppose cuts in Medicaid and the defense budget. More than half say they are against small, across-the-board tax increases combined with modest reductions in Medicare and Social Security benefits. Only President Obama’s call to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans enjoys solid support.
    On Monday, Standard & Poor’s, for the first time, shifted its outlook on U.S. creditworthiness to “negative” because of the nation’s accumulating debt. The announcement rattled investors and could increase pressure on both sides in Washington to work out a broader deal as part of the upcoming vote over increasing the government’s borrowing authority…. – WaPo, 4-19-11
  • New Poll Shows Obama Falling, But Not Below GOP Contenders: Economic anxiety is driving President Obama’s approval rating to nearly its lowest level yet, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows, but he still edges out any possible GOP opponent for 2012. The president’s 47 percent approval rating is down seven points from January, but he would get a majority of the vote against every potential Republican White House candidate except former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, whom he leads by a 49 to 45 percent margin.
    Results prove a direct correlation between the faltering economy and Obama’s grade: “Despite signs of economic growth, 44 percent of Americans see the economy as getting worse,” the Post reported, and Americans demonstrate particular concern for rising gas prices; meanwhile, 57 percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of the issue…. – The National Journal, 4-19-11
  • The GOP’s 2012 Enthusiasm Gap: New numbers out this morning bears bad news for Barack Obama but worse news for every single one of the GOP candidates. According to a poll by ABC News/Washington Post out today, only 43 percent of Republicans say they’re satisfied with the potential candidates for president and a further 17 percent have no opinion about the field. These two numbers are dramatically low compared to this stage in the 2008 elections, and analysts suggest that the GOP candidates’ reticence to formally enter the race might have something to do with the lack of enthusiasm…. – The National Journal, 4-19-11
  • A Gallup poll shows that 6 in 10 Americans approve of the budget deal that slices $38 billion from spending for the next six months, the president has moved toward embracing the role of deficit slayer.

IN FOCUS

  • Obama unveils plan to reduce borrowing by $4 trillion over the next 12 years: President Obama unveiled a framework Wednesday to reduce borrowing over the next 12 years by $4 trillion — a goal that falls short of targets set by his deficit commission and House Republicans — and called for a new congressional commission to help develop a plan to get there. In his most ambitious effort to claim the mantle of deficit cutter, Obama proposed sharp new cuts to domestic and military spending, and an overhaul of the tax code that would raise fresh revenue. But he steered clear of fundamental changes to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — the primary drivers of future spending….
  • Obama’s Debt Plan Pairs Cuts With Higher Taxes on Rich: In a speech on Wednesday, President Obama called for cutting the nation’s budget deficits by $4 trillion over the next 12 years, countering Republican budget plans with what he said was a more balanced approach that relies in part on tax increases for the wealthy as well as on spending cuts.
    In a speech that serves as the administration’s opening bid for negotiations over the nation’s fiscal future, Mr. Obama conceded a need to cut spending, rein in the growth of entitlement programs and close tax loopholes, officials said shortly before he spoke.
    But he also insisted that the government must maintain what he called investment in programs that are necessary to compete globally. And he made clear that, despite his compromise with Congressional leaders in December, Mr. Obama would fight Republicans to end lowered tax rates for wealthy Americans that have been in place since President George W. Bush championed them in the last decade…. – NYT, 4-13-11
  • Obama’s Debt Plan Sets Stage for Long Battle Over Spending: President Obama made the case Wednesday for slowing the rapid growth of the national debt while retaining core Democratic values, proposing a mix of long-term spending cuts, tax increases and changes to social welfare programs as his opening position in a fierce partisan budget battle over the nation’s fiscal challenges.
    After spending months on the sidelines as Republicans laid out their plans, Mr. Obama jumped in to present an alternative and a philosophical rebuttal to the conservative approach that will reach the House floor on Friday. Republican leaders were working Wednesday to round up votes for that measure and one to finance the government for the rest of the fiscal year.
    Mr. Obama said his proposal would cut federal budget deficits by a cumulative $4 trillion over 12 years, compared with a deficit reduction of $4.4 trillion over 10 years in the Republican plan. But the president said he would use starkly different means, rejecting the fundamental changes to Medicare and Medicaid proposed by Republicans and relying in part on tax increases on affluent Americans…. – NYT, 4-13-11
  • Obama’s Speech on Reducing the Budget (Text): Following is a text of President Obama’s debt-reduction speech, delivered on Wednesday at George Washington University, as released by the White House… – NYT, 4-13-11
  • A Meeting with Bipartisan Leadership on Fiscal Policy: This morning, the President and the Vice President hosted a meeting with bipartisan House and Senate Leadership in the Cabinet Room to discuss the fiscal policy vision that President Obama laid out in a speech at George Washington University this afternoon.
    In the speech, the President proposed a more balanced approach to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over twelve years. It’s an approach that borrows from the recommendations of the bipartisan Fiscal Commission, and builds on the $1 trillion in deficit reduction proposed in the 2012 budget. At the same time, it will protect the middle-class, defend our commitments to seniors, and make the smart investments we need to create good jobs and grow our economy…. – WH, 4-13-11

REVOLUTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST: LIBYA IN TURMOIL

  • U.S. defends role in Libya: U.S officials defended America’s role in the NATO-led mission in Libya Monday, amid criticism that Washington is not doing enough as the coalition struggles. White House spokesman Jay Carney downplayed reports that NATO is running out of munitions to fight the war. Carney told reporters that “a dramatic increase” in NATO sorties Sunday and Monday “demonstrates the capacity of NATO to fulfill its mission” in securing a no-fly zone over Libya. “We have no plans to change our posture,” he said…. – CNN, 4-18-11
  • Libyan rebels say they’ve reached oil town again: Libya’s rebel forces advanced once again to the strategic oil town of Brega thanks to four days of airstrikes by NATO, a rebel officer said Saturday. Following scattered clashes with government forces, the rebels reached the outskirts of Brega, which has already changed hands half a dozen times since fighting began in early March, Col. Hamid Hassy said. Explosions that appeared to be from new airsrtrikes could still be heard Saturday in the area…. – AP, 4-15-11

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

  • Paper: Documents show US funding Syrian opposition: The State Department has been secretly financing opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad, The Washington Post reported, citing previously undisclosed diplomatic documents provided to the newspaper by the WikiLeaks website. One of the outfits funded by the U.S. is Barada TV, a London-based satellite channel that broadcasts anti-government news into Syria, the Post reported Sunday. Barada’s chief editor, Malik al-Abdeh, is a cofounder of the Syrian exile group Movement for Justice and Development. The leaked documents show that the U.S. has provided at least $6 million to Barada TV and other opposition groups inside Syria, the newspaper said…. – AP, 4-17-11
  • After US pullback, Iraq envoys are more vulnerable: Make no mistake, Mazin al-Nazeni hates Americans. Soldiers, diplomats, oilmen — the militant leader in Basra, Iraq’s second largest city, considers all of them to be Enemy No. 1. But U.S. diplomats in the southern port city say they’re here to stay — even if it’s at their peril.
    It’s a quandary for the Obama administration as the U.S. tries to move from invading power to normal diplomatic partner. But with the last American troops obligated to be gone by year’s end, the protection of American diplomats will fall almost entirely to private contractors and Iraqi security forces…. – AP, 4-17-11
  • Envoy criticized for religious activism resigns: The U.S. ambassador to Malta has announced his resignation following a State Department report that criticized him for neglecting his official duties and spending too much time writing and speaking about his Catholic faith…. – AP, 4-17-11
  • US and Pakistan struggle with ‘unhappy’ alliance: When U.S. President Barack Obama inherited Washington’s partnership with Pakistan, he kept the money flowing in hopes that stronger ties would help end the Afghan war and give Pakistan more tools to keep its nuclear arsenal from falling into extremists’ hands. What Washington has gotten for its billions, however, is limited progress on clearing militant strongholds on the Afghan-Pakistan border and a souring relationship that included threats this month to limit CIA drone strikes and require Pakistani clearance for Washington spy operations…. – AP, 4-16-11
  • G-20 nations reach agreement on imbalances: The world’s major economies reached an agreement Friday on how to measure and prevent the types of dangerous imbalances that contributed to the worst global downturn in seven decades. The deal was announced in a joint statement issued following a day of talks among finance officials from the Group of 20 rich industrial nations and major emerging markets such as China and Brazil. The effort will monitor countries and prod them to take corrective actions when imbalances in such areas as foreign trade or government debt rise to excessive levels…. – AP, 4-15-11
  • China trims holdings of US securities in February: Total foreign holdings increased 0.5 percent to $4.47 trillion. However, as the government moves closer to the $14.3 trillion debt limit, it will have to scale back sales unless Congress moves to raise the limit. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said that the government will hit its current limit no later than May 16. But Geithner said it will be able to avoid an unprecedented default on the national debt through various accounting maneuvers for possibly another two months. If the government failed to pay bondholders the interest that they were due, it could drive borrowing costs higher not only for the U.S. government but also for consumers and American businesses…. – AP, 4-15-11
  • US worried Iran may be supporting Syrian crackdown: The Obama administration said Thursday that Iran appears to be helping Syria crack down on protesters, calling it a troubling example of Iranian meddling in the region and an indication that Syria’s authoritarian president, Bashar Assad, isn’t interested in real reform.
    State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the U.S. was troubled by reports that Iran was assisting its closest Arab ally to put down the protests. “There is credible information that Iran is assisting Syria … in quelling the protesters,” Toner told reporters. “If Syria’s turning to Iran for help, it can’t be very serious about real reform.” AP, 4-14-11

THE HEADLINES….

President Barack Obama President meets with the House and Senate Leadership in the Cabinet Room of the White House to discuss the budget. Attending the meeting are, from left,: House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor; House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi; House Speaker John Boehner; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin. April 13, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Obama begins selling ‘balanced’ deficit plan: President Obama began a coast-to-coast sales pitch Tuesday for something that may prove tough to sell: spending cuts and tax increases. It’s the exact opposite prescription from what Obama spent his first two years in office pitching — a one-two punch of stimulus spending and tax cuts designed to lift the nation out of a major recession.
    To make his case, the president warned that his “balanced” combination of defense and domestic spending cuts and higher taxes on upper-income Americans was the best way to block a Republican plan to privatize Medicare and cut taxes for the wealthy. “I think that is the wrong way to go,” Obama told about 550 students and local residents at Northern Virginia Community College in the Washington suburbs. “That would fundamentally change Medicare as we know it, and I’m not going to sign up for that.”… – USA Today, 4-19-11
  • Obama off to ‘friend’ Facebook in person: President Barack Obama heads to Facebook’s headquarters on Wednesday to tout his budget cuts to followers of the social media powerhouse, which he also hopes to use to help get reelected. Obama, whose audacious 2008 White House bid leaned heavily on social networking sites, will hype his “Shared Responsibility and Shared Prosperity” plan at Facebook’s Palo Alto, California, headquarters.
    With his 2012 reelection campaign just getting into gear, Obama is moving to bring some love to the more than 19 million Facebook followers he has, up close and in person.
    The US president is to take part at 2045 GMT in a scheduled question and answer session at the headquarters not far from San Francisco. If the format is different, the content should be familiar: Obama has been hammering away since April 13 at his strategy to get the federal deficit under control and pare US debt…. – AFP, 4-19-11
  • Plane carrying Michelle Obama aborts landing because of controller error: A White House plane carrying Michelle Obama came dangerously close to a 200-ton military cargo jet and had to abort its landing at Andrews Air Force Base on Monday as the result of an air traffic controller’s mistake, according to federal officials familiar with the incident. Ultimately, controllers at Andrews feared that the cargo jet was not moving quickly enough to clear the runway in time for the White House plane to land, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak for their agencies.
    Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed Tuesday that the first lady was aboard the plane and said that “the aircraft were never in any danger.” The White House referred all questions to the FAA…. – WaPo, 4-19-11
  • Immigration Is Lead Topic as Leaders Are Gathered: President Obama told a gathering of business, labor, religious and political leaders at the White House on Tuesday that he remains committed to an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws and wants to try again in the coming months to push Congress to pass a bill. With his re-election campaign launched this month and Latino communities growing increasingly frustrated with his immigration policies, Mr. Obama summoned more than 60 high-profile supporters of the stalled overhaul legislation to a strategy session, looking for ways to revive it. Among those attending were Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, an independent; Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio, a Democrat; and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, a Republican…. – NYT, 4-19-11
  • Obama to hold meeting on immigration reform: President Barack Obama, under fire for not taking on immigration reform yet, has marshaled a high-profile meeting in an attempt to show wide and varied support for an overhaul of America’s immigration laws. The invitees are among a bipartisan group expected to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House Tuesday afternoon to discuss revamping the immigration system…. AP, 4-18-11
  • Obama, Panama’s president to meet April 28: The White House says President Barack Obama and Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli will meet for the first time later this month…. – AP, 4-18-11
  • Work begins on new SC school featured by Obama: Construction is starting on a new school in South Carolina more than two years after a student wrote Congress about the decrepit conditions at her school…. – AP, 4-18-11
  • US official: US opposes Syria for UN rights body: The Obama administration will oppose Syria’s candidacy to the United Nations’ top human rights body, an official said Monday, calling the Arab country’s attempt to gain a seat in the organization “hypocritical” while it uses violence to try to silence protests against President Bashar Assad’s authoritarian regime. The diplomatic push against Assad’s government comes as thousands of Syrians continue to demonstrate for democratic reforms. Human rights groups say more than 200 have been killed by security forces in a month of protests…. – AP, 4-18-11
  • Pentagon inquiry clears McChrystal of wrongdoing: A Pentagon inquiry into a Rolling Stone magazine profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal that led to his dismissal as the top US commander in Afghanistan has cleared him of wrongdoing. The probe’s results released Monday also called into question the accuracy of the magazine’s report last June, which quoted anonymously people around McChrystal making disparaging remarks about members of President Barack Obama’s national security team, including Vice President Joe Biden.
    At the time he dismissed McChrystal, Obama said the general had fallen short of “the standard that should be set by a commanding general.” The Defense Department inspector general’s report, however, concluded that available evidence did not support the conclusion that McChrystal had violated any applicable legal or ethics standard…. – AP, 4-18-11
  • Obama extends Passover greetings to Netanyahu: The White House says President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed cooperation on counterterrorism, the Middle East peace process and violence in the Gaza Strip during a telephone conversation Monday…. – AP, 4-18-11
  • Obama to award trophy to AF Academy football team: President Barack Obama meets with some of the troops Monday, but not the usual kind or for the usual reasons. Obama will present the Commander-in-Chief Trophy to the Air Force Academy football team in the Rose Garden. The Falcons won the trophy in early November by beating West Point, 42-22…. – AP, 4-18-11
  • Job cuts for poor seniors could up homelessness: Under the Department of Labor’s Senior Community Service Employment Program, more than 75,000 elderly Americans living in poverty in all 50 states earn their keep by the slimmest of margins. To qualify, participants must be over 55 and earning less than 125 percent of the federal poverty level — $13,600 a year.
    In the budget bill signed Friday by President Barack Obama, the program was slashed by 45 percent, from $825 million to $450 million a year. Advocates say it could mean as many as 58,000 fewer jobs if states or national groups are forced to discontinue the program because of the reductions…. – AP, 4-17-11
  • Congress Can’t Kill Advisory Posts, Obama Declares in Signing Statement: President Obama is refusing to eliminate several “czars” who were cut in the fiscal 2011 spending bill, calling the provision a violation of the separation of powers. When Congress unveiled its budget compromise last week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) touted the provision as the elimination of “four of the Obama Administration’s controversial czars.” Among the cut czars was the assistant to the president for energy and climate change, a position that was held by Carol Browner until she stepped down in January. But in a signing statement Friday, Obama argued that lawmakers had overstepped their authority. “The President has well-established authority to supervise and oversee the executive branch, and to obtain advice in furtherance of this supervisory authority,” Obama wrote. “The President also has the prerogative to obtain advice that will assist him in carrying out his constitutional responsibilities, and do so not only from executive branch officials and employees outside the White House, but also from advisers within it.”…. – NYT, 4-18-11
  • Obamas report $1.7 mn in income for 2010: US President Barack Obama and his wife earned $1.7 million last year, a significant drop from the prior year as sales of the president’s books slowed, according to tax documents released Monday. The president and Michelle Obama reported 2010 adjusted gross income of $1,728,096, down from $5.5 million in 2009.
    While the salary for US president is $395,000 annually, “the vast majority of the family’s income is the proceeds from the sale of the president’s books,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement. Obama earned $1.38 million in 2010 from sales of his books, “The Audacity of Hope,” “Dreams From My Father,” and “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters.” That’s down from nearly $5.2 million in books’ revenue from 2009…. – AFP, 4-18-11
  • Obama and Biden release tax returns. Will Trump, Palin, and other contenders?: President Obama and Vice President Biden release their returns on Tax Day. Sarah Palin last released hers as a VP candidate in 2008, and The Donald’s finances are carefully guarded…. – CS Monitor, 4-18-11
  • Geithner confident Congress will raise debt limit: Geithner told ABC’s “This Week” and NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Republicans told President Barack Obama in a White House meeting last Wednesday that they will go along with a higher limit.
    “I want to make it perfectly clear that Congress will raise the debt ceiling,” Geithner said in the interviews taped Saturday and aired Sunday. He said the leaders told Obama that they couldn’t play around with the government’s credit rating. “They recognize it, and they told the president that on Wednesday in the White House,” Geithner said…. – AP, 4-17-11
  • OC Republican allegedly sent offensive Obama email: A Southern California Republican Party official was under fire Saturday after allegations she sent an email that included an altered photo depicting President Barack Obama as an ape. An e-mail reportedly sent by party central committee member Marilyn Davenport shows an image, posed like a family portrait, of chimpanzee parents and child, with Obama’s face artificially superimposed on the child. Text beneath the photo reads, “Now you know why no birth certificate.”
    The alternative newspaper OC Weekly first reported the story, and was told by Davenport that the e-mail was “just an Internet joke.” She also asked the Weekly, “You’re not going to make a big deal about this are you?”
    Republican Party of Orange County Chairman Scott Baugh told The Associated Press on Saturday that he wants an ethics investigation into the incident. “It’s just highly inappropriate, it’s a despicable message, it drips with racism and I think she should step down from the committee,” said Baugh…. – AP, 4-16-11
  • Obama assesses GOP budget: ‘Wrong for America': President Barack Obama is promoting his new deficit-reduction plan by drawing sharp contrasts with a House Republican budget that he says offers a vision that “is wrong for America.”
    In his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, Obama contended that Republicans want to dismantle venerable safety net programs and cut taxes for the wealthy at the expense of students paying for college and older adults relying on Medicare.
    “To restore fiscal responsibility, we all need to share in the sacrifice – but we don’t have to sacrifice the America we believe in,” Obama said…. – AP, 4-16-11
  • Obama: Congress will compromise, raise debt limit: President Barack Obama, insisting a politically divided government will not risk tanking the world economy, says Congress will once again raise the amount of debt the country can pile up to ensure it has money to pay its bills. For the first time, though, he signaled that he will have to go along with more spending cuts to ensure a deal with Republicans.
    In an interview Friday with The Associated Press, the president also spoke in his most confident terms yet that voters will reward him with another four years in the White House for his work to turn around the economy. Speaking from his hometown and the site of his newly launched re-election bid, Obama said he thinks voters will determine he is the best prepared person “to finish the job.”… – AP, 4-16-11
  • US says new oil pipeline study shows no new issues: The State Department said Friday that a new environmental study of an oil pipeline from Canada to Texas shows no new issues since a similar report was issued last year. The report on the proposed $7 billion, 1,900-mile pipeline, comes as President Barack Obama offered his first public comments on the project, which would carry crude oil extracted from tar sands in western Canada, to refineries in Texas. At a town hall meeting on energy last week, Obama said concerns about the potentially “destructive” nature of the Canadian oil sands need to be answered before his administration decides whether to approve a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.
    The pipeline planned by Calgary-based TransCanada would travel through six U.S. states carrying what environmental groups call “dirty oil,” because of the intensive energy needed to extract crude from formations of sand, clay and water…. – AP, 4-15-11
  • Obama: GOP tried to “sneak” agenda into budget: In what he thought was a private chat with campaign donors Thursday evening, President Obama offered the most revealing behind-the-scenes account to date of his budget negotiations with GOP leaders last week. CBS Radio News White House correspondent Mark Knoller listened in to an audio feed of Mr. Obama’s conversation with donors after other reporters traveling with the president had left the room. In the candid remarks, Mr. Obama complains of Republican attempts to attach measures to the budget bill which would have effectively killed parts of his hard-won health care reform program.
    “I said, ‘you want to repeal health care? Go at it. We’ll have that debate. You’re not going to be able to do that by nickel-and-diming me in the budget. You think we’re stupid?'” recalled the president of his closed-door negotiations on the bill to fund the federal government until September.
    What’s in the budget bill? Mr. Obama said he told House Speaker John Boehner and members of his staff that he’d spent a year and a half getting the sweeping health care legislation passed — paying “significant political costs” along the way — and wouldn’t let them undo it in a six-month spending bill…. – CBS News, 4-15-11
  • Oops: An open microphone night for the president: “I said, ‘You wanna repeal health care? Go at it. We’ll have that debate. But you’re not going to be able to do it by nickel and diming me in the budget. You think we’re stupid?
    “This is the same guy who voted for two wars that were unpaid for, voted for the Bush tax cuts that were unpaid for, voted for the prescription drug bill that cost as much as my health care bill but wasn’t paid for,” Obama said.
    “The Oval Office, I always thought I was going to have really cool phones and stuff,” he said. “I’m like, ‘C’mon guys, I’m the president of the United States. Where’s the fancy buttons and stuff and the big screen comes up?’ It doesn’t happen.” Government information technology, he complained, is “horrible.” “It’s true in the Pentagon. It’s true in the agencies. It’s true in the Department of Homeland Security.”
    “Pretty influential guy,” Obama told his donors. “He is a big booster, big promoter of democracy all throughout the Middle East. Reform, reform, reform.” Letting the careful language of diplomacy slide, he continued: “Now he himself is not reforming significantly. There’s no big move toward democracy in Qatar. But you know part of the reason is that the per capita income of Qatar is $145,000 a year. That will dampen a lot of conflict.”… – AP, 4-15-11
  • Obama signs bill striking small part of health law: President Barack Obama has signed the first rollback of last year’s health care law, a bipartisan repeal of a burdensome tax-reporting requirement that’s widely unpopular with businesses…. – AP, 4-14-11
  • Obama: Senate vote against debt ceiling a mistake: As the White House presses Congress “not to play chicken” with a vote to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, President Barack Obama says his vote as a senator in 2006 against raising the debt cap was a mistake motivated by politics. “Nobody likes to be tagged as having increased the debt limit for the United States by a trillion dollars,” Obama said.
    It’s Republicans who are now threatening to withhold their support for raising the limit. As a result, Obama says Senate Democrats will have to carry the burden of an unpopular vote when Congress votes on whether to lift the limit sometime during the next three months…. – AP, 4-14-11
  • Obama signs spending bill he negotiated with GOP: President Barack Obama signed a six-month spending bill Friday that cuts more than $38 billion from the current budget. The legislation averted a government shutdown and was the result of intense negotiations between the White House and emboldened Republicans. There was no signing ceremony.
    “The prosecution of terrorists in federal court is a powerful tool in our efforts to protect the nation and must be among the options available to us,” he said. “Any attempt to deprive the executive branch of that tool undermines our nation’s counterterrorism efforts and has the potential to harm our national security.”… – AP, 4-15-11
  • Congress passes 2011 spending plan: Republican House Speaker John Boehner needed help from the Democrats to pass a budget compromise Thursday, keeping the government open and honoring a deal worked out with Senate Democrats and President Obama last week.
    Fifty-nine House Republicans voted against the spending plan, which cuts $38 billion compared to last year’s budget. It took 81 Democrats voting yes to pass it. The final vote was 260 to 167.
    The spending bill went immediately to the Senate, which passed it with no debate, 81-19. Of the no votes, 15 were Republicans… – USA Today, 4-15-11
  • Unruly G.O.P. Puts Boehner to a Test in Budget Vote: It should have been a moment of victory for Speaker John A. Boehner and fellow members of a House Republican leadership team still learning on the job as they forced through a record level of spending cuts. Instead, it felt a little like defeat.
    Though the House voted convincingly to end the spending fight that had brought the government to the brink of a shutdown, Democrats had to ride to the rescue to provide the winning margin as dozens of Republicans turned thumbs down.
    Fifty-nine Republicans — nearly a quarter of the new majority — rejected the measure personally negotiated by Mr. Boehner and endorsed by his top lieutenants, Representatives Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader, and Kevin McCarthy of California, the party whip. Another lawmaker said he would have opposed the measure but missed the vote. Twenty-seven of the 59 who bucked the leadership were freshmen…. – 4-14-11
  • Obama’s debt plan has four elements — including Medicare and taxes: President Obama will focus on four items in today’s speech on reducing the federal debt, the White House says in a statement: lower domestic spending, less defense spending, excess spending in Medicare and Medicaid and elimination of tax breaks that favor the wealthy.
    Medicare and taxes are likely to be the most controversial: Liberal groups such as MoveOn.org have warned Obama against making changes to Medicare; congressional Republicans have said Obama’s calls for tax changes amount to a call for tax hikes.
    Obama will “borrow” many of the recommendations made by his bipartisan fiscal commission, the White House said in a statement, but it did not detail which proposals the president will endorse.
    “The president will advocate a balanced approach to controlling out-of-control deficits and restoring fiscal responsibility while protecting the investments we need to grow our economy, create jobs and win the future,” the statement said…. – USA Today, 4-13-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • Boehner: DOJ funds should pay to defend marriage: House Speaker John Boehner says the Justice Department should reimburse the House for court costs of defending a ban on gay marriage. In a letter Monday to Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, the Ohio Republican says he shares her concern over the cost of defending the law in court and intends to “redirect” some of the department’s money to the House as repayment…. – AP, 4-18-11
  • Pelosi: House Dems shut out but helped pass budget: Their votes required to pass a budget for the year, House Democrats expect a bigger role in the upcoming fiscal showdowns and other matters in which House Speaker John Boehner can’t muster a GOP majority, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Friday. Republicans “don’t have the votes to pass some of these bills,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said during an interview with The Associated Press. “If we’re going to have to supply the votes, we’re going to have to be at the table.”… – AP, 4-15-11
  • House passes GOP budget plan cutting $6.2T from Obama budget, promising Medicare overhaul –
  • A look at the $3.5 trillion House-passed budget: Highlights of the $3.5 trillion budget passed by the House on Friday. The Republican plan crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is a framework for changes to spending or tax policy in subsequent legislation for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said it would never pass the Senate…. – AP, 4-15-11
  • House passes huge GOP budget cuts, opposing Obama: In a prelude to a summer showdown with President Barack Obama, Republicans controlling the House pushed to passage on Friday a bold but politically dangerous budget blueprint to slash social safety net programs like food stamps and Medicaid and fundamentally restructure Medicare health care for the elderly.
    The nonbinding plan lays out a fiscal vision cutting $6.2 trillion from yearly federal deficits over the coming decade and calls for transforming Medicare from a program in which the government directly pays medical bills into a voucher-like system that subsidizes purchases of private insurance plans
    The GOP budget passed 235-193 with every Democrat voting “no.” Obama said in an Associated Press interview that it would “make Medicare into a voucher program. That’s something that we strongly object to.”… – AP, 4-15-11
  • Moderate Dems stand with Obama on health care: Tough re-election campaigns looming, a handful of moderate Senate Democrats voted on Thursday to keep the money flowing to President Barack Obama’s health care law despite increasing public opposition to the year-old overhaul. The deal on the spending bill struck by Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., required a separate vote on cutting off money for the year-old health care overhaul. The effort failed, 53-47, falling 13 votes short of the 60 votes needed for passage, but it put lawmakers on record — an outcome relished by Republicans looking ahead to 2012…. – AP, 4-14-11

COURT AND LEGAL NEWS:

  • High court takes no action on Va. health care case: The Supreme Court has taken no action on Virginia’s call for speedy review of the health care law. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is asking the court to resolve questions about the law quickly, without the usual consideration by federal appellate judges and over the objection of the Obama administration…. – AP, 4-18-11
  • New climate change case headed to Supreme Court: The Obama administration and environmental interests generally agree that global warming is a threat that must be dealt with. But they’re on opposite sides of a Supreme Court case over the ability of states and groups such as the Audubon Society that want to sue large electric utilities and force power plants in 20 states to cut their emissions.
    The administration is siding with American Electric Power Co. and three other companies in urging the high court to throw out the lawsuit on grounds the Environmental Protection Agency, not a federal court, is the proper authority to make rules about climate change. The justices will hear arguments in the case Tuesday…. – AP, 4-17-11
  • Gov’t asks high court to take GPS tracking case: The Obama administration on Friday asked the Supreme Court to take up an important privacy case for the digital age, whether the police need a warrant before using a global positioning system device to track a suspect’s movements. The administration is appealing a lower court ruling that reversed a criminal conviction because the police did not obtain a warrant for the GPS device they secretly installed on a man’s car.
    The federal appeals court in Washington said that officers violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches. Other appeals courts have ruled that search warrants aren’t necessary for GPS tracking…. – AP, 4-15-11
  • Court dismisses suit over National Day of Prayer: A federal appeals court on Thursday threw out a ruling that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional and ordered that a lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama’s right to proclaim the day be dismissed. A three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation did not have standing to sue because while they disagree with the president’s proclamation, it has not caused them any harm. “A feeling of alienation cannot suffice as injury,” the appeals court said…. – AP, 4-14-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • Why Arizona governor vetoed gun law and ‘birther bill,’ irking the right: Jan Brewer, Arizona governor, surprised conservatives by vetoing a bill to allow guns onto college campuses and a ‘birther bill’ to require certain proofs of US citizenship for presidential candidates…. – CS Monitor, 4-19-11
  • Obama as a chimp? E-mail gives California GOP problems it didn’t need: The California GOP had a historically bad election in 2010, partly because it has trouble connecting with immigrants and minorities. An e-mail from a local Republican official touting the ‘birther’ conspiracy and showing Obama as a chimp won’t help…. – CS Monitor, 4-19-11
  • Chicago Mayor-elect Emanuel names schools chief: Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel on Monday picked Rochester, N.Y., schools superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard to be the new Chicago Public Schools chief, selecting a leader who recently earned a no-confidence vote from his local teachers but someone Emanuel praised as not being afraid of “tough choices.”
    “And that is what Chicago students need today,” Emanuel said of Brizard, whom he called “J.C.” while introducing him at a press conference at a nearly empty Chicago high school because students are on spring break. Chicago is the nation’s third-largest district with more than 400,000 students and 675 schools… – AP, 4-18-11
  • Republican legislative gains tug nation to right: In state after state, Republicans are moving swiftly past blunted Democratic opposition to turn a conservative wish-list into law. Their successes, spurred by big election gains in November, go well beyond the spending cuts forced on states by the fiscal crunch and tea party agitation. Republican governors and state legislators are bringing abortion restrictions into effect from Virginia to Arizona, expanding gun rights north and south, pushing polling-station photo ID laws that are anathema to Democrats and taking on public sector unions anywhere they can…. – AP, 4-18-11
  • NC gov nearly moved to tears by tornado damage: North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue says her tour of tornado-ravaged portions of her state nearly brought her to tears. Perdue told said at a Sunday afternoon news conference in Raleigh that nothing she saw surprised her, given her experience with natural disasters…. – AP, 4-17-11
  • Austin residents return to wildfire-scorched homes: Gov. Rick Perry asked President Barack Obama on Sunday for federal disaster funding, and forestry officials said Monday that the threat of new wildfires remained extremely high in the western part of the state. “We really need the federal government to step up at a substantially greater role that they have been playing,” Perry said Monday…. – AP, 4-17-11

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • Dems: Sanchez likely to run for Texas Sen. seat: Democratic officials said Monday that retired Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez is expected to run for the U.S. Senate in Texas, giving Democrats a high-profile recruit to fill the seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison…. – AP, 4-18-11
  • WaPo, 4-17-11
  • 2012 presidential candidates ‘friend’ social media: Republican Tim Pawlenty disclosed his 2012 presidential aspirations on Facebook. Rival Mitt Romney did it with a tweet. President Barack Obama kicked off his re-election bid with a digital video emailed to the 13 million online backers who helped power his historic campaign in 2008. Welcome to The Social Network, presidential campaign edition.
    The candidates and contenders have embraced the Internet to far greater degrees than previous White House campaigns, communicating directly with voters on platforms where they work and play. If Obama’s online army helped define the last campaign and Howard Dean’s Internet fundraising revolutionized the Democratic primary in 2004, next year’s race will be the first to reflect the broad cultural migration to the digital world…. – AP, 4-17-11
  • ‘Tea-Paw?’ Ex-Minn. governor courts tea partyers: Republican Tim Pawlenty, “T-Paw” to his supporters, has increasingly tied himself to the new crop of grass-roots activists in the 2012 presidential campaign. So maybe it’s time to call the former Minnesota governor “Tea-Paw.”
    “I’m not trying to introduce myself to the tea party. I’m trying to introduce myself to the whole party … because I’m not known outside of Minnesota,” Pawlenty told The Associated Press in a telephone interview ahead of a Saturday appearance at a tea party rally at the Iowa Statehouse. He spoke at a similar rally in Boston on Friday and to the movement’s national summit in Phoenix in February…. – AP, 4-16-11
  • Trump stalls TV contract while mulling campaign: Donald Trump says he has put off agreeing to an extension of his “Celebrity Apprentice” reality show while he weighs a presidential bid. The real estate mogul and potential Republican contender says he told NBC on Friday he could not commit to a three-year contract extension for the series until he decides whether he’s running…. – AP, 4-15-11
  • Meaning of presidential qualification is unclear: An Arizona bill that would require presidential candidates to prove their U.S. citizenship before they can appear on the state’s ballot has rekindled a debate about the qualifications for running for the nation’s highest political office. The U.S. Constitution requires that presidential candidates be natural-born U.S. citizens, at least 35 years old and be a resident of the United States for at least 14 years.
    However, the Founding Fathers didn’t elaborate on “natural-born citizen,” so the term has been left open to interpretation… – AP, 4-15-11
  • Ariz. plows controversial ground with birther bill: Arizona, a state that has shown little reluctance in bucking the federal government, is again plowing controversial political ground, this time as its Legislature passed a bill to require President Barack Obama and other presidential candidates to prove their U.S. citizenship before their names can appear on the state’s ballot.
    If Gov. Jan Brewer signs the proposal into law, Arizona would be the first state to pass such a requirement — potentially forcing a court to decide whether the president’s birth certificate is enough to prove he can legally run for re-election. Hawaii officials have certified Obama was born in that state, but so-called “birthers” have demanded more proof…. – AP, 4-15-11
  • Likely GOP contenders plot tea party strategies: As the tea party turns 2, the still-gelling field of Republican presidential contenders is the first class of White House hopefuls to try to figure out how to tap the movement’s energy without alienating voters elsewhere on the political spectrum. Look no further than this weekend’s events marking the tea party’s second anniversary to see how the candidates are employing different strategies. Some will be out front as the tea party stages tax day rallies across the country. Others, not so much…. – AP, 4-15-11
  • Obama visits his hometown to restart money chase: President Barack Obama restarted his formidable fundraising operation Thursday with a challenge to supporters that the 2012 presidential campaign will be about how to fix the country’s money problems without doing harm to “the America we believe in.”
    “We are going to be able to present a very clear option to the American people,” the president told Chicago hometown supporters in his first fundraisers since formally announcing his re-election last week. “We can get our fiscal house in order, but we can do it in a way that is consistent with our values and who we are as a people. Or we can decide to shrink our vision of what America is. And I don’t believe in shrinking America.” – AP, 4-15-11
  • Pawlenty finally makes it unofficial: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty preempted his own long-expected presidential announcement Tuesday, telling CNN interviewer Piers Morgan: “I’m running for president.” Pawlenty’s remark, his first direct acknowledgment that he will run, came in response to a question about whether he would agree to become a candidate for vice president on a ticket led by someone like Donald Trump.
    “I’m running for president,” Pawlenty said, “I’m not putting my hat in the ring rhetorically or ultimately for vice president. So I’m focused on running for president.” “We’ll have a final or full announcement on that in the coming weeks here,” Pawlenty said. “It won’t be long too much longer, but everything is headed in that direction.”…. – Star Tribune, 4-13-11
  • Romney Makes it Official, Quietly: Mr. Romney, a top contender in the 2008 presidential campaign, has so far been content to remain largely quiet while other Republicans seek the media spotlight. At this stage, Mr. Romney tops most polls as the Republican front-runner and his advisers saw little need to compete for the boost in name recognition that comes with an early declaration.
    But the pressures of fund-raising are likely to be even greater this time around, with President Obama expected to raise as much as $1 billion for his reelection campaign. Every day that Mr. Romney waited to declare his intentions was a day that he could not raise any money for his bid. That ends now. With a new Web site — www.mittromney.com — and an official registration with the Federal Election Commission, Mr. Romney will now be able to tap his donors for money that he can use to once again seek the Republican nomination.
    “From my vantage point in business and in government, I have become convinced that America has been put on a dangerous course by Washington politicians, and it has become even worse during the last two years,” Mr. Romney said in the video. “But I am also convinced that with able leadership, America’s best days are still ahead.” NYT, 4-11-11
  • Romney in _ almost _ announcing exploratory effort: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the closest to a front-runner in a wide-open Republican field, took a major step toward a second White House candidacy Monday, formally announcing a campaign exploratory committee.
    Romney declared that “with able leadership, America’s best days are still ahead,” vigorously asserting that President Barack Obama had failed to provide it. The Republican, who has been plotting a comeback since losing the GOP presidential nomination to John McCain three years ago, offered himself as the person best able to lead a country struggling to recover from economic crisis.
    “It is time that we put America back on a course of greatness with a growing economy, good jobs and fiscal discipline in Washington,” Romney, a former venture capitalist with a record of turning around failing companies, said in a video posted on his website and on Facebook. He also announced the formation of the committee, which will allow him to raise money, in a Twitter message…. – AP, 4-11-11

QUOTES

Lawrence Jackson, 4/12/11
  • Brad Watson’s Interview with President ObamaWFAA, 4-19-11
  • Sarah Palin: Happy Passover: Tonight is Passover, the Jewish people’s celebration of their deliverance from bondage and their Exodus to the Land of Israel. Passover contains poignant spiritual and historical meaning for Jews, but it also reminds all of us of mankind’s universal aspiration to be free from bondage and oppression. Today, in the same region where the story of Exodus took place, Arabs suffering under despotic regimes are seeking their own freedom and self- determination. As Jews in Israel, the Middle East’s only liberal democracy, gather for Passover, we hope for the spread of freedom and peace throughout the region. On this Passover holiday, our family sends our best wishes to the Jewish community. Chag kasher V’Sameach. Happy Passover. And next year in Jerusalem. –
  • The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation: “This time of year calls us to reflection and remembrance about Jewish heritage. American Jews have given of their heart and soul for an America that has ever been a haven for the oppressed. That is reason for every American to rejoice and to remember.” – Ronald Reagan, 1987
  • Barack Obama: My family and I send our warmest wishes to all those celebrating the sacred festival of Passover. As Jewish families gather for this joyous celebration of freedom, let us all be thankful for the gifts that have been bestowed upon us, and let us work to alleviate the suffering, poverty, injustice, and hunger of those who are not yet free. Chag Sameach.
  • Weekly Address: “We Can Live Within Our Means and Live Up to the Values We Share as Americans” Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Saturday, April 16, 2011 Washington, DC: This week, I laid out my plan for our fiscal future. It’s a balanced plan that reduces spending and brings down the deficit, putting America back on track toward paying down our debt.
    We know why this challenge is so critical. If we don’t act, a rising tide of borrowing will damage our economy, costing us jobs and risking our future prosperity by sticking our children with the bill.
    At the same time, we have to take a balanced approach to reducing our deficit – an approach that protects the middle class, our commitments to seniors, and job-creating investments in things like education and clean energy. What’s required is an approach that draws support from both parties, and one that’s based on the values of shared responsibility and shared prosperity.
    Now, one plan put forward by some Republicans in the House of Representatives aims to reduce our deficit by $4 trillion over the next ten years. But while I think their goal is worthy, I believe their vision is wrong for America….
    I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think it’s right to ask seniors to pay thousands more for health care, or ask students to postpone college, just so we don’t have to ask those who have prospered so much in this land of opportunity to give back a little more.
    To restore fiscal responsibility, we all need to share in the sacrifice – but we don’t have to sacrifice the America we believe in.
    That’s why I’ve proposed a balanced approach that matches that $4 trillion in deficit reduction. It’s an approach that combs the entire budget for savings, and asks everyone to do their part. And I’ve called on Democrats and Republicans to join me in this effort – to put aside their differences to help America meet this challenge. That’s how we’ve balanced our budget before, and it’s how we’ll succeed again….
    So that’s my approach to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 12 years while protecting the middle class, keeping our promise to seniors, and securing our investments in our future. I hope you’ll check it out for yourself on WhiteHouse.gov. And while you’re there, you can also find what we’re calling the taxpayer receipt. For the first time ever, there’s a way for you to see exactly how and where your tax dollars are spent, and what’s really at stake in this debate.
    Going forward, Democrats and Republicans in Washington will have our differences, some of them strong. But you expect us to bridge those differences. You expect us to work together and get this done. And I believe we can. I believe we can live within our means and live up to the values we share as Americans. And in the weeks to come, I’ll work with anyone who’s willing to get it done. – WH, 4-16-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Highlights of Obama’s interview with AP: Highlights of President Barack Obama’s interview Friday with The Associated Press… – AP, 4-16-11
  • Text of Obama’s interview with the AP: Text of President Barack Obama’s interview Friday with Associated Press White House Correspondent Ben Feller, as transcribed by the White House… – AP, 4-15-11
  • Obama says he’s best prepared to move economy: President Barack Obama is making his case for re-election, saying he was able to yank the economy out of its hole and is the best person to finish the job…. – AP, 4-15-11
  • Obama says he has not made the case to public on closing Guantanamo; needs help from CongressAP, 4-15-11
  • Obama says Gadhafi is feeling pressure to leave: President Barack Obama says a military stalemate exists on the ground in Libya, but the United States and NATO have averted a “wholesale slaughter” and Moammar Gadhafi is under increasing pressure to leave… – AP, 4-15-11
  • Obama differs with tea party but welcomes debate: President Barack Obama praises the tea party movement for getting Americans engaged in politics, but he says he strongly disagrees with its views… – AP, 4-15-11
  • Obama: US troop withdrawal in summer from Afghanistan will be significant, not ‘token gesture’AP, 4-15-11
  • Obama: GOP budget plan would lead to fundamentally different society AP, 4-15-11
  • Obama says a military stalemate exists on the ground in Libya, but he expects Gadhafi to leaveAP, 4-15-11
  • Obama: Debt ceiling won’t be raised without spending cuts; he expects compromise with GOP: President Barack Obama confidently predicted Friday that a divided Congress would raise the nation’s borrowing limit to cover the staggering federal debt rather than risk triggering a worldwide recession, but he conceded for the first time he would have to offer more spending cuts to Republicans to get a deal. Pushed to the brink, Obama said, the two parties would find “a smart compromise.”…. – AP, 4-15-11
  • The Country We Believe In: Improving America’s Fiscal Future Remarks by the President on Fiscal Policy George Washington University Washington, D.C.: What we’ve been debating here in Washington over the last few weeks will affect the lives of the students here and families all across America in potentially profound ways. This debate over budgets and deficits is about more than just numbers on a page; it’s about more than just cutting and spending. It’s about the kind of future that we want. It’s about the kind of country that we believe in. And that’s what I want to spend some time talking about today….
    This vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact in America. Ronald Reagan’s own budget director said, there’s nothing “serious” or “courageous” about this plan. There’s nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. And I don’t think there’s anything courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don’t have any clout on Capitol Hill. That’s not a vision of the America I know.
    The America I know is generous and compassionate. It’s a land of opportunity and optimism. Yes, we take responsibility for ourselves, but we also take responsibility for each other; for the country we want and the future that we share. We’re a nation that built a railroad across a continent and brought light to communities shrouded in darkness. We sent a generation to college on the GI Bill and we saved millions of seniors from poverty with Social Security and Medicare. We have led the world in scientific research and technological breakthroughs that have transformed millions of lives. That’s who we are. This is the America that I know. We don’t have to choose between a future of spiraling debt and one where we forfeit our investment in our people and our country.
    To meet our fiscal challenge, we will need to make reforms. We will all need to make sacrifices. But we do not have to sacrifice the America we believe in. And as long as I’m President, we won’t.
    So today, I’m proposing a more balanced approach to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over 12 years. It’s an approach that borrows from the recommendations of the bipartisan Fiscal Commission that I appointed last year, and it builds on the roughly $1 trillion in deficit reduction I already proposed in my 2012 budget. It’s an approach that puts every kind of spending on the table — but one that protects the middle class, our promise to seniors, and our investments in the future.
    So this is our vision for America -– this is my vision for America — a vision where we live within our means while still investing in our future; where everyone makes sacrifices but no one bears all the burden; where we provide a basic measure of security for our citizens and we provide rising opportunity for our children….
    But I also know that we’ve come together before and met big challenges. Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill came together to save Social Security for future generations. The first President Bush and a Democratic Congress came together to reduce the deficit. President Clinton and a Republican Congress battled each other ferociously, disagreed on just about everything, but they still found a way to balance the budget. And in the last few months, both parties have come together to pass historic tax relief and spending cuts.
    And I know there are Republicans and Democrats in Congress who want to see a balanced approach to deficit reduction. And even those Republicans I disagree with most strongly I believe are sincere about wanting to do right by their country. We may disagree on our visions, but I truly believe they want to do the right thing.
    So I believe we can, and must, come together again. This morning, I met with Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress to discuss the approach that I laid out today. And in early May, the Vice President will begin regular meetings with leaders in both parties with the aim of reaching a final agreement on a plan to reduce the deficit and get it done by the end of June….
    But no matter what we argue, no matter where we stand, we’ve always held certain beliefs as Americans. We believe that in order to preserve our own freedoms and pursue our own happiness, we can’t just think about ourselves. We have to think about the country that made these liberties possible. We have to think about our fellow citizens with whom we share a community. And we have to think about what’s required to preserve the American Dream for future generations.
    This sense of responsibility — to each other and to our country — this isn’t a partisan feeling. It isn’t a Democratic or a Republican idea. It’s patriotism…. – WH, 4-13-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • The President, the Vice President, First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden Launch Joining Forces (joiningforces.gov) Remarks by the President, the Vice President, the First Lady, and Dr. Biden at Launch of “Joining Forces” Initiative East Room:
    THE PRESIDENT: We are joined today by members of Congress, by members of my Cabinet, Joint Chiefs, by leaders across the administration and just about every sector of American society. But most of all, we’re joined by our service members and their families, representing the finest military that the world has ever known.
    And while the campaign that brings us all together is truly unique, it does reflect a spirit that’s familiar to all of us — the spirit that has defined us as a people and as a nation for more than two centuries.
    Freedom is not free — simple words that we know are true. For 234 years, our freedom has been paid by the service and sacrifice of those who’ve stepped forward, raised their hand and said, “Send me.” They put on a uniform. They swear an oath to protect and defend. And they carry titles that have commanded the respect of generations — soldiers, airmen, Marine, sailor, Coast Guardsman.
    Our nation endures because these men and women are willing to defend it, with their very lives. And as a nation, it is our solemn duty and our moral obligation to serve these patriots as well as they serve us.
    But we are here today because these Americans in uniform have never served alone — not at Lexington, not at Concord, not in Iraq, not in Afghanistan. Behind every American in uniform stands a wife, a husband, a mom, a dad, a son or a daughter, a sister or brother. These families -— these remarkable families —- are the force behind the force. They, too, are the reason we’ve got the finest military in the world.
    Whenever I’m with our troops overseas, when I ask them what we can do for you, there’s one thing they request more than anything else: “Take care of my family.” Take care of my family. Because when our troops are worried about their families back home, it’s harder for them to focus on the mission overseas. The strength and the readiness of America’s military depends on the strength and readiness of our military families. This is a matter of national security. It’s not just the right thing to do; it also makes this country stronger.
    And that’s why, over the past two years, we’ve made major investments to take care of our military families. Secretary Gates has been one of the leaders in this process — new housing and childcare for families; new schools for military kids; better health care for veterans; new educational opportunities for hundreds of thousands of veterans and their family members under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
    And that’s why, as part of a landmark Presidential Study Directive, for the first time ever the well-being of our military families is now a national priority -— not just a Defense Department priority, not just a VA priority —- it is a federal government priority.
    Today, my administration is working to implement nearly 50 specific commitments to improve the lives of military families -—everything from protecting families from financial scams to improving education for military kids and spouses, to stepping up our fight to end homelessness among veterans. And as Commander-in-Chief, I’m not going to be satisfied until we meet these commitments. Across this administration, we’re going to keep doing everything in our power to give our military families the support and the respect that they deserve.
    But as we’ve said all along, this can’t be the work of government alone. Something else has been true throughout our history: Our military —- and our military families —- can’t be the only ones bearing the burden of our security. The United States of America is strongest -— and as Americans, we are at our best -— when we remember our obligations to each other. When we remember that the price of freedom cannot simply be paid by a select few. When we embrace our responsibilities to each other, especially those who serve and sacrifice in our name.
    And that’s why the extraordinary work that Michelle and Jill have been engaged in these past two years is so important. I remember how it began. It was during our campaign. Michelle was meeting with women all across the country, listening to their struggles, hearing their stories. And inevitably there were complaints about husbands and — (laughter) — not doing enough around the house and — (laughter) — being confused when you’ve got to brush the daughter’s hair and get that ponytail right. (Laughter.) So they were sharing notes. But in all these conversations, there was one group that just kept on capturing Michelle’s heart —- and that was military spouses.
    And she decided right then and there, if I was given an opportunity to serve as President and she was given the opportunity to serve as First Lady, she would be their voice. And that’s exactly what she and Jill have done.
    You all see the events around the country —- on the bases, in the communities, at the hospitals with our wounded warriors -— where Michelle and Jill celebrate our military families — celebrate your families -— and what we can do to support you better. But what you don’t see is what happens when the cameras are off; how Michelle and Jill come back, and they are inspired by what they saw, and they use their platform to advocate on your behalf in every single agency.
    So I want every military family to know that Michelle hears you —- not just as a First Lady, not just as a fellow American —- but as a wife, and a daughter, and a mom. She is standing up for you and your families — not just today, in public events like this one, but every day. And the voice that she promised to be, that’s what she’s been out there doing, making sure that you’re getting the support and appreciation that you and your families deserve.

    MICHELLE OBAMA: We call it Joining Forces for a very special reason. This campaign is about all of us, all of us joining together, as Americans, to give back to the extraordinary military families who serve and sacrifice so much, every day, so that we can live in freedom and security.
    Joining Forces is a challenge to every segment of American society to take action, to make a real commitment to supporting and engaging these families. And I want to thank all of you here because this campaign is the result of everything that so many of you have shared with us and taught us over the past two years.
    And I am especially grateful to my phenomenal partner in this effort, a Blue Star mom herself and a tireless champion of Guard and Reserve families, and an inspiration to me throughout this entire process, my dear friend, Dr. Jill Biden. And we need to give Jill — (applause.)
    Joining Forces is inspired by the amazing military spouses and children who we’ve met all across the country, some of whom, like Shirley, have been able to join us today; families who’ve told us that even with the huge outpouring of support for our troops over the last decade, the truth is that as a country, we don’t always see their families, our heroes on the home front. These families have appealed to us, like a military mom who wrote to me and said, “Please don’t let Americans forget or ignore what we live with.” Please don’t let them forget.
    Joining Forces is shaped by the insights of spouses like Becky Gates and Patty Shinseki and Deborah Mullen and spouses of the Joint Chiefs, spouses of our Senior Enlisted Advisors and countless spouses of all ranks, many of whom I see sprinkled around have been terrific advisors to us. Also, the passionate advocates representing military families who are here, and of course, member of Congress from both parties, they’re all in support of this. These are all leaders who’ve devoted their lives to serving our troops and their families and who’ve helped us to understand where and how a campaign like this could really make a difference.
    Joining Forces builds on the great work of the President and the Vice President and the entire administration, which has made military families a priority across the federal government, even as we recognize, as the President said, that this work cannot be done by government alone.
    And I am just excited that as a result of the work that we’ve done with so many people over the past two years, businesses and organizations across America, including some of the best known names and brands, have already responded to this call. Today, as part of Joining Forces, they are going to be announcing major new commitments to support military families, and you’ll all see those incredible commitments as we go forward, but we are tremendously grateful for so many of them stepping up so early.
    Joining Forces is rooted in those American values of service and citizenship that have kept our country strong throughout history. In World War II, for example, the whole nation went to war. Just about every family was a military family, or knew someone that was.
    However, today, with an all-volunteer force, fewer Americans serve or know someone who does. And unlike our troops, military families don’t wear uniforms, so we don’t always see them. But like our troops, these families are proud to serve and they don’t complain, so as a result, the rest of us don’t always realize how hard it can be or what we can do to help lighten their load.
    And I have to admit that I haven’t always realized it myself. My father served in the Army, but he served before I was born, so I didn’t grow up in a military family. I always revered our troops, but like many Americans, I didn’t see firsthand just how much our military families sacrifice as well.
    And that’s why we’re Joining Forces. This is about the responsibility that we each have to one another, as Americans. It’s about the fact that, as Joe said, that 1 percent of Americans may be fighting on our behalf, but 100 percent of Americans need to be supporting our troops and their families. This campaign is about renewing those bonds and those connections between those who serve and the rest of us who live free because of their service…. – WH, 4-13-11TranscriptMp4Mp3

  • Welcome to JoiningForces.gov: Today, President Obama, Vice President Biden, First Lady Obama and Dr. Biden launched Joining Forces, a national initiative to support and honor America’s service members and their families. The initiative aims to educate, challenge, and spark action from all sectors of our society – citizens, communities, businesses, non-profits, faith based institutions, philanthropic organizations, and government – to ensure military families have the support they have earned.
    Our new website — JoiningForces.gov — provides ways for all Americans to step up and show their gratitude to our service members and their families. Here, you can share a messages of thanks, find opportunities to get involved and share stories of service. We’ll also highlight Federal Government support and the outstanding American citizens, communities, and businesses that are serving our nation’s military families.
    “Joining Forces was created to recognize and serve our nation’s extraordinary military families who, like their loved ones in uniform, serve and sacrifice so much so that we can live in freedom and security,” said Mrs. Obama, “This is a challenge to every segment of American society not to simply say thank you but to mobilize, take action and make a real commitment to supporting our military families.”
    Join forces with us and stay connected through Facebook, Twitter, and email updates. – WH, 4-12-11

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Obama takes on risky topic of taxes: After spending two years on health care, President Barack Obama is about to take up another Herculean political challenge: taxes.
    In response to the Republican plans to cut spending, Obama is pushing a proposal of his own, which will include loophole-closing tax reform and increasing taxes on the wealthy. In his speech at George Washington University, the president said:
    “I say that at a time when the tax burden on the wealthy is at its lowest level in half a century, the most fortunate among us can afford to pay a little more. ”
    By injecting taxes into the mix, Obama enters into perilous territory. For decades, Democrats have mostly tried to avoid any proposals that increase taxes….
    Importantly, the shift of public debate toward deficit reduction offers Obama as much of an opportunity as a danger. The fact is that substantive deficit reduction won’t take place unless higher revenue is part of the package. Spending cuts alone won’t do the trick.
    But if Obama does not recalibrate his political strategy, he could weaken his own standing, as well as the standing of congressional Democrats, going into 2012. – CNN, 4-18-11
  • After budget battle Act 1, will Obama, Reid, Boehner have an Act 2?: Looming debt-ceiling talks may be a bigger hurdle for the three negotiators than the hard-fought deal on the 2011 budget. As for a deficit-cutting plan? Obama and Boehner are starting far apart.
    One hurdle may be that Democrats and Republicans emerge from Round 1 with different expectations for next steps. “There’s nothing inevitable about this [first budget] deal,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. “For Republicans, it’s a precedent to cut more. For Mr. Obama, it’s a precedent to think about something else besides spending cuts.”…
    “Republicans have insisted on spending cuts and deficit reduction, rather than reviving the economy, and with this speech [Obama] shifted to their ground,” says Mr. Zelizer. “This is a White House that feels that Republicans are powerful and have been successful in shifting the public to their issues.”… – CS Monitor, 4-18-11
  • Obama urged to follow Ronald Reagan way: President Obama is “missing a fundamental lesson in leadership” by focusing his attention on the “inside the beltway” politics of Washington, D.C., Ronald Reagan’s former chief of staff said Thursday. It was a mistake Reagan never made, the former White House gatekeeper, Kenneth Duberstein, said.
    In an interview prior to an evening address at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, Duberstein said that as a result of Obama’s failure to govern from the political middle, “the ball was on the Republican side of the court” in the battle over the federal budget and the ballooning national debt.
    Duberstein, a Republican who broke with his party to vote for Obama in 2008, said “the electorate is going to reward people” who deal with the deficit in a serious and comprehensive way. He credited House Republicans with doing exactly that…. – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 4-15-11
  • Julian Zelizer: Republicans are winning budget debate: Following the announcement of the budget deal on Friday night, South Dakota Sen. John Thune told Politico, “The debate is now on our side of the field. This is just the opening act. But these upcoming debates are not going to be about whether we’re going to reduce the cost and size of government, but how much. That’s very good ground for Republicans to fight on.”
    Thune is correct. The compromise revealed just how far congressional Republicans have been able to shift the debate since the 2010 midterm elections. This week, President Obama will make a proposal of his own to lower the debt, which will include the politically difficult call for higher taxes.
    Much of the energy that President Barack Obama and Democrats displayed in his first two years in office — pushing for health care reform, financial regulation, an economic stimulus and more — seems to be gone….
    Like Clinton, Obama could end up winning re-election in 2012 by capturing the center, all the while finding himself unable to pass the kinds of policies that he and his supporters focused on in 2008. – CNN, 4-12-11

    President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden acknowledge Dr. Jill Biden during the launch of the Joining Forces initiative to support and honor America’s service members and their families, in the East Room of the White House. April 12, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Budget Showdown 2011: Obama, Boehner and Reid Strike Last Minute Budget Deal — Averting Government Shutdown with 38 Billion in Cuts

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama makes a statement on the budget agreement
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 4/8/11

IN FOCUS

  • Federal Budget (2011) — Government Shutdown AvertedNYT
  • Details of the Bipartisan Budget Deal: Last night, President Obama announced that the federal government will remain open for business because Americans from different beliefs came together, put politics aside, and met the expectations of the American people. Today, small businesses will no longer worry or have to wait on a loan to open or expand their business, families will receive the mortgages they applied for, and hundreds of thousands of government workers, including our brave men and women in uniform, will continue to receive paychecks on time.
    This deal cuts spending by $78.5 billion from the President’s FY 2011 Budget request — the largest annual spending cut in our history. These are real cuts that will save taxpayers money and have a real impact. Many will be painful, and are to programs that we support, but the fiscal situation is such that we have to act…. – WH, 4-9-11
  • Congress reaches an 11th-hour budget deal, still must vote to avoid shutdown: Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have reached an agreement to fund the federal government for the next five months, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office announced Friday night. The deal will include $39 billion in spending cuts and will drop language related to Planned Parenthood. Lawmakers were still working to approve a short-term stopgap funding bill before midnight to give them time to craft the longer-term legislation.
  • Boehner Says Budget Deal Said to Be Reached to Avoid Government Shutdown: Lawmakers reached a deal just minutes before a deadline that would have shuttered federal facilities and furloughed thousands of workers, House Speaker John A. Boehner said.
    Hours from a government shutdown, leaders of the House and Senate offered dramatically different reasons for a budget stalemate and expressed little hope that the two sides would reach an agreement by midnight…. – NYT, 4-8-11

STATS & POLLS

  • Budget fight shows Washington still broken: As the midnight Friday deadline loomed for a possible government shutdown, and politicians continued their rhetorical war of words, a larger message went out to the rest of the country: Washington is still broken. The deal announced less than 90 minutes before the deadline may produce a sense of relief that the government will remain open. But given the tortured negotiations and the claims and counterclaims that were traded all day, the public is likely to find fault with both political parties.
    Public sentiment has been clear for weeks. Overall, the country prefers compromise to confrontation, stalemate and shutdown, according to the polls… – WaPo, 4-8-11

THE HEADLINES….

Philip Scott Andrews/The New York Times
The House speaker, John A. Boehner, announced the federal budget agreement reached Friday night by Congressional leaders.

 

  • Federal shutdown avoided, 2012 budget fight looms: A last-minute budget deal forged amid bluster and tough bargaining averted an embarrassing federal shutdown, cut billions in spending and provided the first major test of the divided government that voters ushered in five months ago.
    Working late into Friday night, congressional and White House negotiators finally agreed on a plan to pay for government operations through the end of September while trimming $38.5 billion in spending. Lawmakers then approved a measure to keep the government running through next Friday while the details of the new spending plan are written into legislation.
    Obama signed the short-term measure without fanfare Saturday. Congressional approval of the actual deal is expected in the middle of next week. “Americans of different beliefs came together again,” President Barack Obama said from the White House Blue Room, a setting chosen to offer a clear view of the Washington Monument over his right shoulder.
    The agreement was negotiated by Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. The administration was poised to shutter federal services, from national parks to tax-season help centers, and to send furlough notices to hundreds of thousands of federal workers… – AP, 4-9-11
  • Long meetings, dashed hopes _ but finally a deal: There was barely an hour left before the midnight padlocking of government doors. In a Capitol basement meeting room, House Speaker John Boehner was telling exhausted fellow Republicans that a deal to avert a shutdown was nearly finished when an aide alerted him that staff had completed the final details and the agreement was complete.
    “He said we don’t have the Senate and we don’t have the White House, and it’s a good day’s work,” said Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., who was in the closed-door session and later described the scene. And with that, Republicans clapped: “Not euphoria,” Kingston said, reflecting fatigue and the realization of a long year of intense budget battling lay ahead. But for now, a week of top-level White House meetings, round-the-clock bargaining by staff and lots of emotional hills and valleys had produced a bipartisan accord to trim $38.5 billion in spending over this fiscal year’s remaining six months and head off a federal shutdown that both parties feared could hurt their standing with voters…. – AP, 4-9-11
  • Analysis: GOP won first round of budget battle: Republican conservatives were the chief winners in the budget deal that forced Democrats to accept historic spending cuts they strongly opposed. Emboldened by last fall’s election victories, fiscal conservatives have changed the debate in Washington. The question no longer is whether to cut spending, but how deeply. Rarely mentioned is the idea of higher taxes to lower the deficit. Their success is all the more notable because Democrats control the Senate and White House…. – AP, 4-9-11
  • Budget deal avoids shutdown, fight ahead: President Barack Obama signed a short-term spending bill on Saturday that averted a government shutdown, formalizing a compromise deal with Republicans that paves the way for more — and bigger — deficit-reduction fights to come. With just over an hour to spare before a midnight deadline, Obama’s Democrats and opposition Republicans agreed on Friday to a budget compromise that will cut about $38 billion in spending for the last six months of this fiscal year.
    After signing the stopgap spending bill to keep the federal government running until the deal can be formally approved in the coming days, Obama underscored the fact that Washington was open with a surprise visit to the Lincoln Memorial. “I just wanted to say … that because Congress was able to settle its difference, that’s why this place is open today and everybody’s able to enjoy their visit,” he told cheering tourists from the monument steps…. – Reuters, 4-9-11
  • Obama signs bill averting government shutdown: The short-term spending bill was passed overnight by both houses of Congress and keeps the government operating until Friday. Its signing was announced in a news release, in contrast to the dramatics earlier this week…. – LAT, 4-9-11
  • Obama at Lincoln Memorial, open after budget deal: President Barack Obama made the short trip from the White House to the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday to make clear that the country’s national parks and monuments are open for business. A deal Friday night between the White House and congressional leaders avoided a government shutdown that would have closed popular tourist sites across the country.
    The president greeted surprised tourists and told them, “Because Congress was able to settle its differences, that’s why this place is open today and everybody’s able to enjoy their visit.” “That’s the kind of future cooperation I hope we have going forward,” the president said…. – AP, 4-9-11
  • Next on the Agenda for Washington: Fight Over Debt: The down-to-the-wire partisan struggle over cuts to this year’s federal budget has intensified concern in Washington, on Wall Street and among economists about the more consequential clash coming over increasing the government’s borrowing limit. Congressional Republicans are vowing that before they will agree to raise the current $14.25 trillion federal debt ceiling — a step that will become necessary in as little as five weeks — President Obama and Senate Democrats will have to agree to far deeper spending cuts for next year and beyond than those contained in the six-month budget deal agreed to late Friday night that cut $38 billion and averted a government shutdown. Republicans have also signaled that they will again demand fundamental changes in policy on health care, the environment, abortion rights and more, as the price of their support for raising the debt ceiling. In a letter last week, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner told Congressional leaders the government would hit the limit no later than May 16. He outlined “extraordinary measures” — essentially moving money among federal accounts — that could buy time until July 8…. – NYT, 4-9-11
  • Tea Party revels in newfound clout: ‘When we;re cutting, we’re winning': Americans learned yesterday the full power of the Tea Party, with newly elected conservatives calling the shots in the House rather than railing against government from the sidelines. For many in the movement, pushing the government to the brink of closure was a crowning achievement, an emphatic statement that spending must be reined in — and now. “When we’re cutting,” said Representative Nan Hayworth, a New York Republican, “we’re winning.” “It’s a victory for the American people,” declared Representative Allen West, Republican of Florida. “When you look at what has happened over the past few years — where we’ve had these astronomical debt and deficits — it’s amazing how we’re actually having a conversation in Washington, D.C., about spending cuts.”
    But for those outside the movement, it put on full display the uncompromising principles of the far right, showing that Tea Party-aligned lawmakers are so ideologically rigid they will throw sand into the gears of government to prove their point. Democrats questioned why conservatives who campaigned on creating jobs were so eager to furlough 800,000 government employees and freeze their paychecks. “The Tea Party is trying to sneak through its extreme social agenda,” Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, said yesterday…. – Boston Globe, 4-9-11
  • Budget Deal to Cut $38 Billion Averts Shutdown: Congressional leaders and President Obama headed off a shutdown of the government with less than two hours to spare Friday night under a tentative budget deal that would cut $38 billion from federal spending this year. President Obama praised the budget deal in short remarks from the Blue Room in the White House just after 11 p.m.
    Speaker John A. Boehner, who had pressed Democrats for cuts sought by members of the conservative new House majority, presented the package of widespread spending reductions and policy provisions and won a positive response from his rank and file shortly before 11 p.m. Both Democrats and Republicans proclaimed they had reached a deal and would begin the necessary steps to pass the bill and send it to Mr. Obama next week…. – NYT, 4-9-11
  • Historic’ deal to avoid government shutdown: Perilously close to a government shutdown, President Barack Obama and congressional leaders reached a historic agreement late Friday night to cut about $38 billion in spending and avert the first federal closure in 15 years. Obama hailed the deal as “the biggest annual spending cut in history.” House Speaker John Boehner said that over the next decade it would cut government spending by $500 billion — and won an ovation from his rank and file, tea party adherents among them. “This is historic, what we’ve done,” agreed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., the third man involved in negotiations that ratified a new era of divided government…. – AP, 4-8-11
  • US House Republicans told of $39 bln spending plan: U.S. House of Representatives Republican leaders on Friday presented to their membership a $39 billion spending cut plan aimed at averting a government shutdown, according to Republican lawmakers. The House is also planning to vote later tonight on a stopgap funding bill to keep the government running until the longer budget plan can be enacted into law sometime next week, the lawmakers said…. – Reuters, 4-8-11

QUOTES

President Obama records the weekly address
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 4/8/11
  • Barack Obama: Last night, leaders of both parties came together to avert a government shutdown, cut spending, and invest in our future. This is good news for the American people. It means that small businesses can get the loans they need, and hundreds of thousands of Americans will get their paychecks on time—including our brave men and women in uniform… –
  • Weekly Address: President Obama on the Budget Compromise to Avoid a Government Shutdown: Last night, after weeks of long and difficult negotiations over our national budget, leaders of both parties came together to avert a government shutdown, cut spending, and invest in our future.
    This is good news for the American people. It means that small businesses can get the loans they need, our families can get the mortgages they applied for, folks can visit our national parks and museums, and hundreds of thousands of Americans will get their paychecks on time – including our brave men and women in uniform.
    This is an agreement to invest in our country’s future while making the largest annual spending cut in our history. Like any compromise, this required everyone to give ground on issues that were important to them. I certainly did. Some of the cuts we agreed to will be painful – programs people rely on will be cut back; needed infrastructure projects will be delayed. And I would not have made these cuts in better circumstances. But we also prevented this important debate from being overtaken by politics and unrelated disagreements on social issues. And beginning to live within our means is the only way to protect the investments that will help America compete for new jobs – investments in our kids’ education and student loans; in clean energy and life-saving medical research.
    Reducing spending while still investing in the future is just common sense. That’s what families do in tough times. They sacrifice where they can, even if it’s hard, to afford what’s really important.
    A few months ago, I was able to sign a tax cut for American families because both parties worked through their differences and found common ground. Now, the same cooperation has made it possible for us to move forward with the biggest annual spending cut in history. And it’s my sincere hope that we can continue to come together as we face the many difficult challenges that lie ahead – from creating jobs and growing our economy to educating our children and reducing our long-term deficits.
    That’s our responsibility. That’s what the American people expect us to do. And it’s what the American people deserve. – WH, 4-9-11
  • President Obama’s Statement on the Bipartisan Agreement on the Budget: REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE BUDGET 11:04 P.M. EDT: THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Behind me, through the window, you can see the Washington Monument, visited each year by hundreds of thousands from around the world. The people who travel here come to learn about our history and to be inspired by the example of our democracy — a place where citizens of different backgrounds and beliefs can still come together as one nation.
    Tomorrow, I’m pleased to announce that the Washington Monument, as well as the entire federal government, will be open for business. And that’s because today Americans of different beliefs came together again.
    In the final hours before our government would have been forced to shut down, leaders in both parties reached an agreement that will allow our small businesses to get the loans they need, our families to get the mortgages they applied for, and hundreds of thousands of Americans to show up at work and take home their paychecks on time, including our brave men and women in uniform.
    This agreement between Democrats and Republicans, on behalf of all Americans, is on a budget that invests in our future while making the largest annual spending cut in our history. Like any worthwhile compromise, both sides had to make tough decisions and give ground on issues that were important to them. And I certainly did that.
    Some of the cuts we agreed to will be painful. Programs people rely on will be cut back. Needed infrastructure projects will be delayed. And I would not have made these cuts in better circumstances.
    But beginning to live within our means is the only way to protect those investments that will help America compete for new jobs — investments in our kids’ education and student loans; in clean energy and life-saving medical research. We protected the investments we need to win the future.
    At the same time, we also made sure that at the end of the day, this was a debate about spending cuts, not social issues like women’s health and the protection of our air and water. These are important issues that deserve discussion, just not during a debate about our budget.
    I want to think Speaker Boehner and Senator Reid for their leadership and their dedication during this process. A few months ago, I was able to sign a tax cut for American families because both parties worked through their differences and found common ground. Now the same cooperation will make possible the biggest annual spending cut in history, and it’s my sincere hope that we can continue to come together as we face the many difficult challenges that lie ahead, from creating jobs and growing our economy to educating our children and reducing our deficit. That’s what the American people expect us to do. That’s why they sent us here…. – WH, 4-8-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Democrats, Republicans agree on a budget deal: “We have agreed to an historic amount of cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year, as well as a short-term bridge that will give us time to avoid a shutdown while we get that agreement through both houses and to the President. We will cut $78.5 billion below the President’s 2011 budget proposal, and we have reached an agreement on the policy riders. In the meantime, we will pass a short-term resolution to keep the government running through Thursday. That short-term bridge will cut the first $2 billion of the total savings,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner said in a joint statement issued after the agreement. – CNN, 4-8-11
  • Speaker of the House of Representatives John A. Boehner: This has been a lot of discussion and a long fight. But we fought to keep government spending down because it really will in fact help create a better environment for job creators in our country.
  • U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell Welcomes Historic Spending Reductions: Let me thank my friend the Majority Leader and Speaker Boehner for their outstanding work during this difficult negotiation. You know, Mr. President, we had an opportunity tonight to decide whether we wanted to repeat history, or make history. Had we chosen to repeat history, we would have allowed a government shutdown. Instead we decided to make history by implementing in the middle of this fiscal year as the Majority Leader has indicated substantial reductions in spending.
    Now, these reductions, Mr. President, are in the billions. Once we get through this process by the end of next week, we will move on to a much larger discussion about how we save trillions, by enacting hopefully on a bipartisan basis a budget that genuinely begins to get on top of this problem. And the problem as we all know is $14 trillion in debt, and over $53 trillion in unfunded liabilities. The President has asked us to raise the debt ceiling. And Senate Republicans and House Republicans and I hope many Democrats as well are going to say, Mr. President, in order to raise the debt ceiling, we need to do something significant about the debt. My definition of significant is that the markets view it as significant, the American people view it as significant and foreign countries view it as significant.
    So for tonight, again, I congratulate the Majority Leader and the Speaker. This is an important first step, but just the beginning of what we need to do to get our house, our fiscal house, in order. –

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

Gallery: Government shutdown 2011: Congressional leaders agreed late Friday to a compromise that will keep the federal government funded for the remainder of the fiscal year.

  • Gary Jacobson, Julian Zelizer: Obama Calls Budget Deal a ‘Worthwhile Compromise': “The size of the cuts is a bit more than Democrats would like, but on the other hand, the riders are generally gone,” said Gary Jacobson, a political science professor at the University of California at San Diego. “So it’s something that might be generally popular and help both sides. Most Americans wanted some sort of compromise.”
    Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University in New Jersey, said Obama may face questions about whether he engaged in the negotiations soon enough. “All and all, this is something he survives rather than a negotiation that remakes how the electorate thinks about him,” Zelizer said. Bloomberg, 4-9-11
  • JEFF ZELENY: In Budget Deal, Signs of Obama’s Path to the Middle: President Obama opened the week by calling on Democrats to embrace his re-election campaign. He closed it by praising Republicans for forging a compromise to cut spending this year and avert a government shutdown. The juxtaposition made clearer than ever the more centrist governing style Mr. Obama has adopted since his party’s big losses in November and his recapture-the-middle strategy for winning a second term.
    But in agreeing Friday night to what he called the largest annual spending cut in the nation’s history, the president further decoupled himself from his party in Congress, exacerbating concerns among some Democrats about whether he is really one of them and is willing to spend political capital to defend their principles on bigger battles ahead…. – NYT, 4-9-11
  • 2011 is not 1995: The substance of this deal is bad. But the way Democrats are selling it makes it much, much worse. The final compromise was $38.5 billion below 2010’s funding levels. That’s $78.5 billion below President Obama’s original budget proposal, which would’ve added $40 billion to 2010’s funding levels, and $6.5 billion below John Boehner’s original counteroffer, which would’ve subtracted $32 billion from 2010’s budget totals. In the end, the real negotiation was not between the Republicans and the Democrats, or even the Republicans and the White House. It was between John Boehner and the conservative wing of his party. And once that became clear, it turned out that Boehner’s original offer wasn’t even in the middle. It was slightly center-left…. – WaPo, 4-9-11
  • The Shutdown That Wasn’t: Given the widespread consensus that the political consequences of a shutdown would be much worse for the Republicans than for the Democrats, there’s a case to be made that Reid and Obama would have been better off taking a much harder line, and then just sitting back and chuckling as the Tea Party caucus pushed an unwilling Boehner off the plank.
    So why didn’t they? Well, maybe they put country before party, and calculated that shutting down the government over what amounts to a fraction of a fraction of a vast federal budget would be horribly irresponsible, even if it made liberals happy and redounded to the Democratic Party’s short-term benefit. If so, good for them. – NYT, 4-9-11

Budget Showdown 2011: Tick, Tock — Time Running Out Before Government Shutdown — Reid, Boehner Still Hagling

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

The president said he expects an answer from John Boehner and Harry Reid as to whether Congress can come to an agreement.

John Boehner (left) and Harry Reid speak to reporters outside the White House. | AP Photo | AP Photo

IN FOCUS

  • Republican Fiscal Year 2012 Budget
  • From Reagan to Obama 30 years of spending prioritiesWaPo
  • Government shutdown 101: What does it mean for the military?: The Pentagon will continue military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, but US troops will work without pay, according to guidance issued late Thursday by the Defense Department…. – CS Monitor, 4-8-11
  • The Federal Employee’s Guide to a Shutdown: The Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the official White House agency in charge of federal-workforce policies, issued this brief FAQ Thursday night about what people can expect in the event of a federal-government shutdown, which appears likelier by the minute…. – The Atlantic, 4-8-11
  • Lawsuit says feds can’t force work during shutdown: The nation’s largest federal employee union says forcing some federal employees to work without pay during a government shutdown violates the U.S. Constitution. The American Federation of Government Employees has filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to prevent the Obama administration from requiring essential employees to keep working if a shutdown occurs… – AP, 4-8-11

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama speaking in the Brady Briefing Room on Thursday after a meeting with the House speaker, John A. Boehner, and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, on the budget impasse.<br />“/><span480
Doug Mills/The New York Times

  • With no budget deal, government shutdown looms: With a midnight deadline looming, the White House and Congress struggled on Friday to break a budget impasse that threatens to shut down the U.S. government and idle hundreds of thousands of federal workers. Democratic and Republican congressional leaders blamed each other for the stalemate over government funding for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends September 30, and could not even agree on what issues were the final stumbling blocks to a deal.
    Democrats said the two sides were at odds over federal funding for birth control. Republicans said spending cuts were the issue. Without an agreement, money to operate the federal government for the next six months would run out at midnight on Friday (0400 GMT on Saturday) and agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service would begin a partial shutdown…. – Reuters, 4-8-11
  • Shutdown nears as Americans watch and politicians bicker: Everyday American families — people who depend on federal government paychecks and those who make use of federal services that would be shuttered — fretted over how a shutdown would affect their lives if politicians don’t come up with an agreement by midnight Friday.
    Without the agreement, the government’s massive gears will begin grinding to a halt, idling hundreds of thousands of people.
    Operations from national parks to the White House visitor center would close. Even some government websites would blink out, replaced by virtual closed signs. Americans seeking new passports would have to wait. And the military would not be able to pay death gratuities to the families of those who die on active duty, although they would eventually receive them, a senior defense official said. But not everything would close shop…. – CNN, 4-8-11
  • On shutdown, White House frustration with John Boehner grows: President Barack Obama has told Speaker John Boehner he won’t accept cuts to Planned Parenthood and can’t make any new concessions to avert a government shutdown without movement from the GOP, sources close to the process tell POLITICO.
    Frustration is building in the White House over the high-wire budget negotiations with Republicans. The sense in the West Wing is that Boehner and his aide-de-camp Barry Jackson have repeatedly offered to set aside the Planned Parenthood issue in exchange for greater spending cuts from Obama, only to later say that the Planned Parenthood cuts are still on the table. Boehner was vague when asked if Title X funding, some of which goes to Planned Parenthood, was still a sticking point.
    “Almost all of the policy issues have been dealt with,” he told reporters at the Capitol on Friday. “The big issue is over the spending… We’re not going to roll over and sell out the American people like has been done time and time again in Washington… We’re damn serious.”
  • Planned Parenthood at Center of Budget Shutdown Threat Rep. Milkulski: ‘Not Throwing Women and Children Under the Bus': The elimination of more than $300 million in federal funding for women’s health care centers, including Planned Parenthood, may well force a government shutdown at midnight tonight. Republicans want to zero out Title X, a program implemented under Republican President Richard Nixon in 1970 to provide contraceptives, cancer screenings, and pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease testing at community health centers across the country. Conservative lawmakers say the money indirectly subsidizes abortions, despite the fact that the federal Hyde Amendment expressly prohibits such use of taxpayer funds…. – ABC News, 4-8-11
  • GOP, Dem huddles fail to yield progress on budget deal: After both sides huddled behind closed doors Friday afternoon, the message from both Senate Democrats and House Republicans remained clear… They’re still stuck… – MSNBC, 4-8-11
  • Shutdown Near, No Sign of Compromise: Hours from a government shutdown, leaders of the House and Senate offered dramatically different reasons for a budget stalemate and expressed little hope that the two sides would reach an agreement by midnight. In a terse statement to reporters, the speaker of the House, John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, said there was “only one reason we do not have an agreement yet, and that is spending,” and asked, “When will the White House and when will Senate Democrats get serious about cutting spending?”… – NYT, 4-8-11
  • On Budget Dispute, Obama Casts Himself as Mediator in Chief: President Obama has now assumed the role of mediator in chief in the efforts to avoid a government shutdown. Over the course of 24 hours and three separate meetings, Mr. Obama has cast himself as the sober one in the room, prodding the two sides to get past their dispute — even though he is a key player on one of them.
    “What I’ve said to the speaker and what I’ve said to Harry Reid is, because the machinery of the shutdown is necessarily starting to move, I expect an answer in the morning,” Mr. Obama told reporters moments after the third negotiation session broke up Thursday night…. – NYT, 4-8-11
  • Blame game intense as government shutdown looms: House Speaker John Boehner and the GOP leadership team just emerged from a meeting with their Republican members. Boehner insists the fight is about spending cuts, not policy issues such as funding for women’s health clinics.
    “The big fight is over spending. … We’re not going to roll over and sell out the American people,” Boehner said. “We say we’re serious about cutting spending. We’re damn serious.” “Almost all of the policy issues have been dealt with. We’re working on the spending,” he said…. – USA Today, 4-8-11
  • Shutdown could mean trash dumped at Boehner’s house: A Facebook page has been launched aimed at getting people to dump their garbage at the Ohio Republican’s pad in Washington, D.C. Trash pickup is among the services that would be halted in the District of Columbia, whose funding is tied to congressional approval.
    “If he won’t allow us to use OUR TAX DOLLARS to pick it up, maybe we should just BRING IT TO HIM,” the page says. More than 5,000 people have checked out the Facebook page and 546 people — presumably those who live in the District of Columbia or nearby — are listed as a “maybe” to actually “attend” the dumping of trash…. – USA Today, 4-8-11
  • Government shutdown nears: Federal workers nervously eyed the clock and an American public sharply divided along partisan lines watched from the sidelines Friday as Democrats and Republicans sniped at one another in a budget battle that could shut down the government and idle more than 800,000 people. Negotiators have until midnight Friday to reach an agreement, or the government’s massive gears will begin grinding to a halt.
    Should the government shut down, operations from national parks to veterans’ clinics would close. The White House visitor center would go dark. Even some government websites would blink out, replaced by virtual closed signs. But not everything would close… – CNN, 4-8-11
  • Government Shutdown Inevitable: Blame Game Increases as Clock Ticks Democrats, Republicans Met Thursday Night into Friday Morning But Couldn’t Reach Deal: House Speaker John Boehner said today he will return his pay during the days the government is shut down. He made the promise as it became clear that Republicans and Democrats — bitterly divided over women’s health funding programs — will be hard pressed to reach a deal hours before the budget deadline expires. In the case of a government shutdown, essential personnel who are kept on duty — including troops in the field — do not receive paychecks, but members of Congress do.
    “In the event of a lapse in appropriations for fiscal year 2011 causing a government shutdown, I will return any and all compensation that I would otherwise be entitled during such a lapse in appropriations,” Boehner said in a letter to fellow House members.
    Sixty senators have signed on to a bill that would ensure troops are paid through a shutdown, but time is quickly running out…. – ABC News, 4-8-11
  • Congress doesn’t shut down during a shutdown: Senators would have to push their own elevator buttons. House members would go without their free gym. Food on Capitol Hill would be sparse. And the lawmakers’ restrooms? Perhaps not as fresh.
    Congress would feel the pinch of a government shutdown, but nowhere near the pain that would be inflicted on the massive federal work force it is supposed to govern.
    Unlike the roughly 800,000 federal workers who would be affected, lawmakers get wide latitude deciding who is essential and who’s not in the fiefdoms of their own offices and committees. They also get to choose whether to give up their own pay during a shutdown — an option not afforded the furloughed…. – AP, 4-8-11
  • Boehner, Reid to skip pay in government shutdown: Add House Speaker John Boehner to the growing list of members of Congress who say they’ll skip their paycheck if the federal government shuts down tonight. By law, members of Congress and the president would continue to receive their pay in the event of a government shutdown.
    Boehner is sending a letter to House lawmakers explaining how the House Administration can help them return their pay to the U.S. Treasury, which he plans to do…. – USA Today, 4-8-11
  • Gates, in Iraq, Talks of Effects of Budget Fight: On what he described as probably his final visit to Iraq, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Thursday turned from eight years of war here to the fight raging at home. If the United States government shuts down this weekend and into next week, he told American troops, there would be a delay in their pay.
    Mr. Gates, responding to a question from a soldier here about whether he would be paid for his service in Iraq, said he would be, he just was not sure when. Mr. Gates then presented this sequence of events of what could happen to American forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world as a result of the budget showdown. NYt, 4-8-11
  • Planned Parenthood funding only issue holding up budget deal, says Harry Reid: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor Friday morning that the only issue holding up a budget deal to avert a government shutdown is funding for Planned Parenthood and other organizations that provide women’s health services… – CBS News, 4-8-11
  • As Shutdown Deadline Nears, Lawmakers ‘Can’t Agree What They Disagree On': For the third time in three days, President Obama met with congressional leaders but failed to reach a budget agreement to avoid a government shutdown. Jim Lehrer talks to The Wall Street Journal’s Naftali Bendavid and Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe about continuing budget brinksmanship that has Democrats and Republicans worried…. – PBS Newshour, 4-7-11
  • Time’s up: Obama and GOP scramble to halt shutdown: Uncomfortably close to a deadline, President Barack Obama and top congressional leaders have only hours to avert a Friday midnight government shutdown that all sides say would inconvenience millions of people and damage a still fragile economy. Obama said he still hoped to announce an agreement on Friday but did not have “wild optimism.”
    In revealing nothing about what still divides them, Obama and the lawmakers, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., all said another late night of talks in the Oval Office had narrowed their differences over cutting federal spending and other matters.
    But Obama said ominously that the machinery of a shutdown was already in motion. “I expect an answer in the morning,” Obama told reporters Thursday evening as representatives from the White House and Capitol Hill plunged ahead with negotiations into the night…. – AP, 4-8-11
  • With shutdown looming, riders threaten deal: The government will shut down today, unless Republicans do what their base loathes, but Washington knows is necessary: compromise with Democrats and President Barack Obama. That’s what it comes down to Friday, as the current stopgap funding measure expires and funding for the federal government runs dry, placing the immediate employment of 800,000 workers in jeopardy, and both political parties at huge risk a year and a half before a presidential election.
    Obama, who made a late public entry into the fight, said he expects “an answer in the morning” from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) as to whether Congress can agree on how many tens of billions of dollars should be cut from federal ledgers from now until the end of September.
    Money isn’t the only sticking point. Just as it was for Democrats when as they worked to pass a health care law, abortion is once again a major issue. Republicans insist on cutting off funds for Planned Parenthood, turning the battle to fund the government into part of the overarching culture war on Capitol Hill. Republicans say bringing Planned Parenthood into the fray is a spending issue, as they told voters they’d concentrate on jobs and the economy, not cultural issues… – Politico, 4-8-11
  • Reid: impasse based on funding for Planned Parenthood; Boehner denies it: House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio), the lead Republican in the budget impasse that has transfixed Washington and brought the nation to the brink of a government shutdown, immediately disputed Reid’s account.
    The Democrat, speaking at the Capitol, said that he and President Obama had agreed to accept $38 billion in budget cuts — $5 billion more than was on the table last week. But, Reid said, Boehner would not budge from a demand that the budget strip federal funding from the group Planned Parenthood. Negotiations continued at the staff level until 3 a.m., to no avail. “We agreed on a number last night. They can spin this any way they want,” Reid said. “The number’s done.”… – WaPo, 4-7-11
  • Budget deal remains out of reach after overnight talks: The first federal government shutdown in 15 years is hours away after parties in the budget negotiations appear to have lost ground in talks that lasted into Friday morning…. – LAT, 4-8-11
  • Latest White House huddle fails to yield budget deal; shutdown nears: A fourth White House meeting in 48 hours between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders failed to reach agreement Thursday night on a spending plan for the rest of the current fiscal year, increasing chances for a partial government shutdown to begin just over 24 hours later.
    The talks involving Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, as well as Vice President Joe Biden, ended less than an hour after starting.
    “We made some progress today,” Obama told reporters in brief remarks, saying differences had been narrowed and staff members would work through the night to try to reach agreement on the few remaining “difficult issues.” He provided no details…. – CNN, 4-7-11
  • House votes to fund Pentagon, prevent shutdown: The GOP-controlled House has passed legislation seeking to keep the government open for another week while funding the Pentagon through September. But Senate Democrats oppose it, and President Barack Obama has promised a veto should the bill reach him. Obama called the measure a distraction from ongoing negotiations on a full-year spending bill…. – AP, 4-8-11
  • Obama, Congress stare at shutdown deadline: Once again, White House and congressional aides worked through the night on a new budget deal — and they still couldn’t nail one down. The difference is that today is deadline day.
    The federal government will run out of money at midnight and shut down many operations unless President Obama, Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, can strike some kind of deal in the hours ahead.
    But while aides argue about budget numbers, Reid and other Democrats said this morning that the biggest obstacle to a deal is a Republican insistence that Planned Parenthood be de-funded because of abortion services. Boehner and the Republicans said the problem is that Democrats won’t agree to big enough budget cuts. “While nothing will be decided until everything is decided, the largest issue is still spending cuts,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel…. – USA Today, 4-8-11
  • $5 billion separates parties in elusive 2011 budget deal: Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill say they are about $5 billion apart in their haggling to reach a deal to fund the federal government for the rest of the year. That amounts to one-half of 1 percent of the trillion dollars in spending Congress doles out each year. Five one-thousandths.
    Yet weeks of negotiations have not led them to an agreement. A flurry of activity Thursday, including two Oval Office sit-downs with President Obama, did not close the gap, or even cool the rhetoric. Each side continued to accuse the other of playing politics, and of trying to force a government impasse.
    The only question on the minds of everyone in the capital — will a shutdown happen? — is now being asked with increasing urgency. If the two sides cannot come to terms by midnight , Washington will effectively run out of money and the government will close.
    “What I’ve said to the speaker and what I’ve said to Harry Reid is because the machinery of the shutdown is necessarily starting to move, I expect an answer in the morning,” Obama said just before 10 p.m. Thursday, concluding his fourth meeting with congressional leaders in three days… – WaPo, 4-8-11
  • Congress pushes for final budget deal: With time running out, an ideological fight in the Congress over abortion and environmental issues threatened on Thursday to derail an agreement to avert a government shutdown.
    The mood swung between optimism and pessimism as Democratic and Republican leaders held a whirlwind series of private meetings and public news conferences through the day to plead their case for a budget deal that would keep the government operating beyond midnight on Friday.
    “I’m not very optimistic,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, told reporters before the evening meeting, blaming the impasse on a Republican push for policy provisions that would block public funding of birth control and stymie environmental protection efforts.
    “I did express to the president my disappointment that he suggested he would veto that,” Boehner told reporters after the afternoon White House meeting. “We can get to an agreement, but we are not there yet.”… – Reuters, 4-7-11
  • GOP seeks 1-week extension as gov’t shutdown looms: Short of a deal, congressional leaders bargained and squabbled by turns Thursday on legislation to cut spending and prevent a partial government shutdown that loomed for Friday at midnight. After all-night talks among aides, President Barack Obama summoned Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. to the White House meeting for the second time in a little over 12 hours.
    Before departing the Capitol, Boehner urged the House to pass legislation to cut $12 billion, fund the Pentagon through the end of the year and keep the government running for a week. “There is absolutely no policy reason for the Senate to not follow the House in taking these responsible steps to support our troops and to keep our government open,” he said.
    Reid said otherwise, although he, too, made it clear he wants to avoid a shutdown that the White House says would crease problems for combat troops overseas and delay IRS refunds for taxpayers at home. “The issue is ideology, not numbers,” he said, criticizing Republican proposals to limit the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency and a prohibition of the use of federal or local funds to pay for most abortions in the District of Columbia. “These matters have no place on a budget bill,” he said…. – Business Week, 4-8-11
  • GOP prepares 1-week extension as shutdown looms: Republicans battling with President Barack Obama over budget cuts plan to hold a House vote Thursday on one-week legislation to avoid a government shutdown, despite opposition from the White House and Senate Democrats pressing for a longer-term solution.
    The party leaders debated as the clock ticked toward a midnight Friday deadline. Even a brief shutdown could affect a wide range of Americans, from troops fighting abroad to tourists planning trips to national parks.
    The move by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to advance the interim budget measure angered his Democratic negotiating counterparts and came after slower-than-hoped White House talks Wednesday night. The president said Republicans need to display more urgency, while Boehner said honest differences remain…. – AP, 4-7-11
  • Obama Meeting Fails to End Stalemate Over Federal Budget: President Obama and Congressional leaders said Wednesday that a late-night White House bargaining session produced no budget breakthrough that would avert a government shutdown this weekend but agreed the two sides had narrowed the issues in efforts to strike a deal.
    Emerging from a 90-minute meeting with Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, and Speaker John A. Boehner, the president said aides would work through the night and he and Mr. Reid expressed optimism that a compromise could be reached.
    “I remain confident that if we’re serious about getting something done, we should be able to complete a deal and get it passed and avert a shutdown,” Mr. Obama said. NYT, 4-7-11
  • Some progress cited in federal budget talks: Republican House Speaker John Boehner won’t acknowledge compromising with Democrats, but he and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid both cite movement in White House negotiations to avoid a government shutdown…. – LAT, 4-7-11
  • Rifts Within Both Parties Test Leaders in Budget Fight: On one level, the budget showdown that continued to play out here on Wednesday is all about the balance of power between the two parties, a question of whether President Obama has regained his footing and can still control the direction of the country or whether Speaker John A. Boehner and the Republicans are now calling the shots.
    But on another, it is a test of each man’s ability to weather challenges inside his own party. The outcome will help determine whether Mr. Boehner is leading his party or following the demands of the Tea Party movement. For Mr. Obama, it is the biggest test yet of whether he can reposition himself as a pragmatic leader who can recapture the political center and keep liberals sufficiently energized to help him win re-election…. – NYT, 4-7-11
  • Obama Presses for Budget Issues ‘Narrowed'; Parties Asked to Work Through Night as Shutdown Looms: “What [the talks] did was narrow the issues and clarify the issues that are still outstanding,” Mr. Obama said. He was confident a deal could be reached to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, he said, but “it’s going to require a sufficient sense of urgency from all parties involved.”
    Staffers from the White House and the offices of Messrs. Boehner and Reid were set to work through night, and Mr. Obama said he would check in with them Thursday morning—a day and a half before the deadline—and summon the parties back to the White House if necessary.
    “We’re going to keep pounding away at this thing,” Mr. Obama said…. – WSJ, 4-7-11
  • President Obama talks with reporters about the 2011 budget negotiations. He said he should not have to be a referee for Congress: Racing a Friday deadline to avert a government shutdown, President Obama met late Wednesday with top congressional negotiators and said afterward that he is “confident” a spending deal can be finalized in time.
    House Speaker John A. Boehner, the top Republican who met with Mr. Obama, said there is still no agreement on an overall dollar amount for spending cuts, or on what legislative add-ons will be included in any final spending deal. But all sides agreed their staffs would continue working after the high-level White House meeting.
    “What they did was narrow the issues and clarify the issues that are still outstanding,” Mr. Obama told reporters afterward. “I remain confident that if we’re serious about getting something done, we should be able to complete a deal and get it passed and avert a shutdown.”…. – Washington Times, 4-7-11
  • In Washington, squabbling over who’s an adult: Suddenly everyone in Washington wants to be an adult. President Barack Obama says he wants to have an adult dialogue on the budget. Republican lawmakers contend they’re the ones trying to have a grown-up talk. Both sides are pointing fingers yet both have agreed to repeated delays in completing a budget to keep the government open for the last six months of the fiscal year.
    The bickering might seem, well, childish, but the stakes are high as each side tries to win public opinion and display the leadership qualities to attract voters at the ballot box through 2012 and beyond…. – AP, 4-7-11
  • Administration: Shutdown would furlough 800,000 federal workers: Officials began warning Wednesday of significant cutbacks in government services as the threat of a federal government shutdown lurched one day closer to reality.
    Failure to reach a budget deal would mean furloughing about 800,000 federal employees nationwide — many of whom are expected to surrender their Blackberrys, according to senior administration officials familiar with shutdown planning…. – WaPo, 4-6-11
  • White House says shutdown will delay pay to troops: The Obama administration warned Wednesday that a federal shutdown would undermine the economic recovery, delay pay to U.S. troops fighting in three wars, slow the processing of tax returns and limit small business loans and government-backed mortgages during peak home buying season.
    The dire message, delivered two days before the federal government’s spending authority expires, appeared aimed at jolting congressional Republicans into a budget compromise. Billions of dollars apart, congressional negotiators were working to strike a deal by Friday to avert a shutdown by setting spending limits through the end of September. The last such shutdown took place 15 years ago and lasted 21 days…. – AP, 4-6-11
  • GOP budget seen raising health costs for retirees: Talks appear to be intensifying on Capitol Hill on reaching a deal on long-overdue legislation to finance the government through the end of September — and avoid a government shutdown. Whether a shutdown can be avoided in three days’ time is another matter.
    A White House meeting Tuesday that included President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., failed to produce the hoped-for breakthrough, however, with a stopgap government funding bill set to expire Friday at midnight…. – AP, 4-6-11
  • Obama presses Congress to avoid shutdown: Prodded by an insistent President Barack Obama, Congress’ top two lawmakers sought to reinvigorate compromise talks Tuesday aimed at cutting tens of billions in federal spending and averting a partial government shutdown Friday at midnight.
    According to Democrats, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, suggested at a White House meeting that fellow Republicans might be able to accept a deal with $40 billion in cuts. That’s more than negotiators had been eyeing but less than the House seeks.
    The speaker’s office declined comment, and Boehner issued a statement saying, “We can still avoid a shutdown, but Democrats are going to need to get serious about cutting spending – and soon.”
    For his part, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid sounded an accusatory note. “I hope the Republicans do what the country needs, not what they believe the tea party wants,” he said at the Capitol “I mean, it seems that every step we take, it’s something just to poke us in the eye,” he said…. – AP, 4-5-11
  • GOP budget plan would revamp Medicare, Medicaid: House Republicans set up a politically defining clash over the size and priorities of government Tuesday, unveiling a budget plan that calls for both unprecedented spending cuts and a fundamental restructuring of taxpayer-financed health care for the elderly and the poor.
    The plan would slash federal spending by $5 trillion or more over the coming decade. It would leave Social Security untouched but shift more of the risk from rising medical costs from the government to Medicare beneficiaries. It also calls for sharp cuts to Medicaid health care for the poor and disabled and to food aid for the poor.
    Dubbed the “Path to Prosperity,” the proposal by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., also calls for dramatically overhauling the complicated and inefficient U.S. tax code. It would scrap numerous tax breaks and loopholes in exchange for reducing the top income tax rate for both individuals and corporations from 35 percent to 25 percent…. – AP, 4-5-11
  • No headway on spending plan talks: The first federal government shutdown in more than 15 years draws closer as President Obama and congressional leaders fail to make progress after back-to-back meetings. Obama and Congress remained billions of dollars apart and at odds over where to find savings… – WaPo, 4-5-11
  • As shutdown looms, GOP announces budget plan for 2012: Budget plan would privatize Medicare, cut spending on Medicaid, and offer sharply lower tax rates to corporations and the wealthy…. – WaPo, 4-5-11
  • Budget Stances Harden as Deadline Nears for Shutdown: President Obama on Tuesday flatly dismissed a short-term Republican plan to keep the federal government operating past Friday as Speaker John A. Boehner sought deeper spending cuts, putting Congress and the White House on a course toward a government shutdown.
    Showing some exasperation at the impasse over this year’s budget, Mr. Obama appeared at an impromptu White House news conference and said it would be inexcusable if federal agencies were forced to shut their doors beginning Saturday because House Republicans and Senate Democrats could not bridge differences over a relatively small slice of the budget.
    “As I’ve said before, we have now matched the number that the speaker originally sought,” the president said. “The only question is whether politics or ideology are going to get in the way of preventing a government shutdown.”
    Appearing before television cameras in the Capitol shortly after the president spoke, Mr. Boehner seemed equally determined not to give ground. The speaker, who faces intense pressure from his conservative rank-and- file, said he intended to push for the greatest spending cuts achievable and would not be maneuvered by Democrats into settling for less. “We are not going to allow the Senate nor the White House to put us in a box,” Mr. Boehner said…. – NYT, 4-5-11
  • Budget wars: Moment of truth arrives: With Republicans upping the ante on spending cuts, President Barack Obama took a tougher line himself Tuesday, warning he won’t sign another stopgap bill without first reaching a deal over the 2011 budget — even at the risk of a shutdown Friday.
    Obama’s comments followed a meeting with congressional leaders at which House Speaker John Boehner floated a compromise of $40 billion in spending cuts — $7 billion more than the $33 billion target negotiators have been working toward since last week. Democrats and administration officials were miffed by the speaker’s late-breaking bid, but it was the first time the Ohio Republican has so explicitly put his name next to a number other than the $61.3 billion in cuts adopted by the House in February. And together with the president’s new stance, it sets the stage for an intense three days before government funding runs out Friday.
    Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), also present at the White House, met later Tuesday for what both sides described as a “productive” session. “The government is not going to be shut down—yet,” Reid said before closing the Senate Tuesday night. “There’s still air in the tire…I hope we have enough air in the tire to get where we need to go.”… – Politico, 4-5-11
  • Budget Talks Head to Brink Parties Far Apart on 2012 Spending, Long-Term Vision as Friday Deadline Nears: Republicans and Democrats stumbled one day closer to a government shutdown on Friday, as the two parties escalated what has become a broader battle over Washington’s role in the U.S. economy.
    Political leaders on Tuesday continued to talk past each other on federal spending, offering little evidence they could soon reach an agreement to avert a shutdown of the government this weekend. Damian Paletta has details.
    The two fights—one over funding the government for the next six months, the other over a sweeping plan to reshape the government for decades to come—showed how far apart the two parties are on basic fiscal issues ahead of the 2012 elections.
    A Tuesday White House meeting called by President Barack Obama featured a series of frustrated exchanges between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio), who upped his demand for spending cuts this year to $40 billion, according to people familiar with the session…. – WSJ, 4-5-11
  • White House, GOP fail to achieve agreement on budget: Congressional Republicans and the Obama administration were unable on Tuesday to reach a definitive budget accord that would avert a partial government “shutdown” in three days.
    President Barack Obama met at the White House with the main Democratic and Republican congressional leaders to pressure them to reach an accord on the budget for the six months that remain in Fiscal Year 2011.
    Upon exiting the meeting, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a communique that an agreement was not achieved.
    For now, the Republicans are continuing to insist on larger budget cuts and on a temporary one-week extension to keep the government functioning. But the White House does not support that strategy, taking the stance that temporary measures send the wrong message and ultimately harm efforts to move toward economic recovery…. – Fox News, 4-5-11
  • As Shutdown Looms, Agencies Brace for Its Impact: The National Zoo would close, but the lions and tigers will get fed; Yellowstone and other national parks will shut down. The Internal Revenue Service could stop issuing refund checks. Customs and Border Patrol agents training officials in Afghanistan might have to come home. And thousands of government-issued BlackBerries would go silent. This is what a government shutdown might look like.
    With budget talks between Republicans and Democrats far from resolution, official Washington braced on Tuesday for a replay of the Great Government Shutdowns of 1995 and 1996. For weeks, the Obama administration has been quietly examining the experience of the mid-1990s as a kind of shutdown survival guide. Now those preparations have kicked into high gear…. – NYT, 4-5-11

QUOTES

Philip Scott Andrews/The New York Times
  • Shutdown Showdown: Speaker Boehner Calls on Senate to Pass Short-Term Extension: “There’s only one reason that we do not have an agreement as yet, and that issue is spending,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “We’re close to a resolution on the policy issues, but I think the American people deserve to know, when will the White House, and when will Senate Democrats get serious about cutting spending?”
    Boehner said “a bill that fails to include real spending cuts will hurt job growth and signal that Washington’s not serious about dealing with its spending addiction.” “I think the Senate should follow the House lead and pass the troop funding bill and do it today,” Boehner said. “I also believe the president should sign the troop funding bill into law. This is the responsible thing to do to support our troops and to keep our federal government open.”… – ABC News, 4-8-11
  • Sarah Palin: Commander in Chief’s Appalling Action with Our Troops: Yesterday the House passed H.R. 1363, which funds our Department of Defense and our military for the rest of the year at their current levels. It allows for the continuation of current military operations, which is pretty important when you’re fighting three wars. It also funds the government for another week and cuts $12 billion in wasteful spending. So why would the Commander in Chief declare that he will veto this? Why would he play politics at the expense of our troops who are putting everything on the line to protect us? Memo to the President: I doubt the insurgents will stop and wait for a government shutdown to end before resuming actions. You need to fund our troops, sir.
    Like me, you might be asking yourself: Why on earth would he threaten to veto funding for the troops? What is his game plan? Basically, he’ll veto military funding because he wants the rest of the government funded too. And by the rest of the government, he means things like Harry Reid’s “Cowboy Poetry.” Essentially, he’s holding military funding hostage to NPR funding. This is a perfect analogy for what is wrong with this entire budget showdown. Our federal government has strayed so far from what is constitutionally mandated that they are blind to the fact that NPR funding is not a constitutional duty. Funding our military at a time of war is!
    The House GOP does not want a shut down. They just want legitimate cuts (and I would argue not even enough!). If we can’t agree to cut a billion here and a billion there, we’ll never close this $1.5 trillion deficit…. – Sarah Palin on Facebook, 4-8-11
  • Mitch McConnell: ‘Let’s be very clear about this: if the government shuts down, it’s either because Democrats are pretending that a previously non-controversial provision is suddenly out of bounds. Or they refuse to take another baby step in the direction of balancing the government checkbook, something we know the American people want. Neither reason is worth a shutdown — especially when neither side actually wants one.’ – Facebook, 4-8-11
  • President Obama on Budget Talks: What’s at Stake & Why It’s Important to the American People: I just completed another meeting with Speaker Boehner and Leader Reid, and I wanted to report again to the American people that we made some additional progress this evening. I think the staffs of both the House and the Senate, as well as the White House staff, have been working very hard to try to narrow the differences. We made some progress today. Those differences have been narrowed. And so once again the staff is going to be working tonight around the clock in order to see if we can finally close a deal.
    But there is still a few issues that are outstanding. They’re difficult issues. They’re important to both sides. And so I’m not yet prepared to express wild optimism. But I think we are further along today than we were yesterday.
    I want to reiterate to people why this is so important. We’re now less than 30 hours away from the government shutting down. That means, first of all, 800,000 families — our neighbors, our friends, who are working hard all across the country in a whole variety of functions — they suddenly are not allowed to come to work. It also means that they’re not getting a paycheck. That obviously has a tremendous impact.
    You then have millions more people who end up being impacted because they’re not getting the services from the federal government that are important to them. So small businesses aren’t seeing their loans processed. Folks who want to get a mortgage through the FHA may not be able to get it, and obviously that’s not good as weak as this housing market is. You’ve got people who are trying to get a passport for a trip that they’ve been planning for a long time — they may not be able to do that. So millions more people will be significantly inconvenienced; in some ways, they may end up actually seeing money lost or opportunities lost because of a government shutdown.
    And then finally, there’s going to be an effect on the economy overall. Earlier today one of our nation’s top economists said — and I’m quoting here — “The economic damage from a government shutdown would mount very quickly. And the longer it dragged on, the greater the odds of a renewed recession.”
    We’ve been working very hard over the last two years to get this economy back on its feet. We’ve now seen 13 months of job growth; a hundred — 1.8 million new jobs. We had the best report, jobs report, that we’d seen in a very long time just this past Friday. For us to go backwards because Washington couldn’t get its act together is unacceptable.
    So, again: 800,000 federal workers and their families impacted; millions of people who are reliant on government services not getting those services — businesses, farmers, veterans; and finally, overall impact on the economy that could end up severely hampering our recovery and our ability to put people back to work.
    That’s what’s at stake. That’s why it’s important to the American people. That’s why I’m expecting that as a consequence of the good work that’s done by our staffs tonight, that we can reach an agreement tomorrow.
    But let me just point out one last thing. What I’ve said to the Speaker and what I’ve said to Harry Reid is because the machinery of the shutdown is necessarily starting to move, I expect an answer in the morning. And my hope is, is that I’ll be able to announce to the American people sometime relatively early in the day that a shutdown has been averted, that a deal has been completed that has very meaningful cuts in a wide variety of categories, that helps us move in the direction of living within our means, but preserves our investments in things like education and innovation, research, that are going to be important for our long-term competitiveness.
    That’s what I hope to be able to announce tomorrow. There’s no certainty yet, but I expect an answer sometime early in the day. WH, 4-7-11Mp4Mp3
  • REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio, speaker of the House: We continue to have productive conversations. And you should all know they’re — they’re polite, they’re to the point. But there is no agreement on a number. There’s no agreement on the policy issues that are contained with this. We are continuing to work toward an agreement, because I do believe all of us sincerely believe that we can get to an agreement. But we are not there yet.
  • SEN. HARRY REID, D-Nev., Majority Leader: So, we’re going to continue to work to get this done. It’s not easy to do, but it’s doable. And, as I said, we don’t have a lot of time to do that. We are going to get back here at 7:00, and we hope that, that time, when we come out, we will have something done. If not, we will, of course, have to look forward to a bad day tomorrow, which is a government shutdown. –
  • John Boehner: The Commander-in-Chief has issued a veto threat on the responsible bill the House is considering that would fund our troops & keep the government from shutting down while cutting $12B. Our goal is to cut spending to create a better environment for jobs – not to shut down the government. We will send the bill to the Senate today. – Facebook, 4-7-11
  • Mitch McConnell: ‘This bill does everything Democrats have previously said they want. It cuts Washington spending by an amount that Democrat leaders believe is reasonable. The policy prescriptions it contains have been previously agreed to by Democrat leaders and signed by the President. And, most importantly, this is the only proposal out there that keeps the government open.’ – Mitch McConnell: ‘If the President wants to shut down the government over this bipartisan troop funding bill, that is his prerogative. But I would urge him to reconsider his veto threat and join us in preventing a shutdown instead.’ – Facebook, 4-7-11
  • Barack Obama: There’s no reason why we should have a government shutdown. That’s not why we we’re elected. That’s not why we were sent here. And I want to meet the expectations of the American people.
  • President Obama on the Ongoing Budget Negotiations: We just had a productive meeting with Speaker Boehner, as well as Majority Leader Reid. We discussed the impasse that we’re currently at with respect to the budget, and I thought the meetings were frank, they were constructive, and what they did was narrow the issues and clarify the issues that are still outstanding.
    I remain confident that if we’re serious about getting something done we should be able to complete a deal and get it passed and avert a shutdown. But it’s going to require a sufficient sense of urgency from all parties involved. It means that people have to recognize that a government shutdown has real consequences for real people.
    There was a interview that was done tonight on one of the nightly news networks — a man from Kentucky named J.T. Henderson. He said he’s counting on his tax rebate because his family has been scraping by, and he might not get it if the government shuts down. So J.T. said if he could speak directly to all of us in Washington he’d tell us that all of this political grandstanding has effects as it trickles down to normal, everyday Americans.
    I could not have said it better myself. A shutdown could have real effects on everyday Americans. That means that small business owners who are counting on that loan to open their business, to make payroll, to expand, suddenly they can’t do it. It means folks who are potentially processing a mortgage, they may not be able to get it. It means that hundreds of thousands of workers across the country suddenly are without a paycheck. Their families are counting on them being able to go to work and do a good job.
    There are ramifications all across this economy. And at a time when the economy is still coming out of an extraordinarily deep recession, it would be inexcusable, given the relatively narrow differences when it comes to numbers between the two parties, that we can’t get this done.
    So my expectation is that folks are going to work through the night. In the morning I will check in with the respective staffs of the Speaker and the Majority Leader, as well as my team here. If we haven’t made progress, we’re going to go back at it again. And we’re going to keep on pounding away at this thing because I’m absolutely convinced that we can get this done.
    There’s no reason why we should not be able to complete a deal. There’s no reason why we should have a government shutdown — unless we’ve made a decision that politics is more important than folks like J.T. Henderson.
    That’s not why we we’re elected. That’s not why we were sent here. And I want to meet the expectations of the American people in terms of delivering for them. – WH, 4-6-11
  • Obama: ‘Inexcusable’ not to reach budget deal: Obama’s guests at last night’s budget session — House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada — also expressed hope that a shutdown can be avoided.
    “We had a productive conversation and made good progress toward an agreement,” Reid said. “I am hopeful that we will be able to announce a compromise agreement soon.”
    Boehner, standing beside Reid in the White House driveway, said: “There’s an intent on both sides to continue to work together to try to resolve this … no one wants the government to shut down.”
    In the White House press room last night, Obama said, “I remain confident that if we’re serious about getting something done we should be able to complete a deal and get it passed and avert a shutdown.” “But,” he added, “it’s going to require a sufficient sense of urgency from all parties involved.”… – USA Today, 4-7-11
  • John Boehner: ‘No daylight’ between tea party and me: “Listen, there’s no daylight between the tea party and me,” the Ohio Republican said in an interview with ABC News conducted Wednesday. “None,” he said, when questioner George Stephanopoulos pushed back. “What they want is, they want us to cut spending. They want us to deal with this crushing debt that’s going to crush the future for our kids and grandkids. There’s no daylight there.”
    “Listen … my job is to do what I can do in the House,” Boehner said of the proposed one-week funding bill. “And I do believe that … it’s a reasonable chance of keeping the government open and funding our troops— at the critical time when we’ve got troops in two wars overseas.”… “The president— I’ve been begging the president for months, ‘Mr. President, let’s lock arms,’” Boehner said…. – Politico, 4-7-11
  • Rep. Ryan on Proposed Cuts: ‘Our Budget Literally Pays Off the Debt’: So the president gave us a plan that spends so much more money. He doubled the debt by the end of his first term. And he proposed to triple the debt by the end of this budget. And what we’re offering is a different direction. In our plan, our budget literally pays off the debt… – PBS Newshour, 4-5-11
  • President Obama on Budget Negotiations: “We Have Now Matched the Number the Speaker Originally Sought”: From the outset, my goal has been to significantly cut our domestic spending but, at the same time, make sure we’re making key investments in things like education, infrastructure, innovation — the things that are going to help us win the future.
    And I just want to set the context for this now. Again, I’m going to repeat. Speaker Boehner, Chairman Rogers, the Republican appropriations chairman — their original budget proposed $73 billion in cuts. We have now agreed to $73 billion worth of cuts. What they are now saying is, well, we’re not sure that every single one of the cuts that you’ve made are ones that we agree to; we’d rather have these cuts rather than that cut. That’s not the basis for shutting down the government. We should be able to come up with a compromise in which nobody gets 100 percent of what they want, but the American people get the peace of mind in knowing that folks here in Washington are actually thinking about them — because they’re going through a whole lot of struggles right now.
    The only question is whether politics or ideology are going to get in the way of preventing a government shutdown. Now, what does this potentially mean for the American people? At a time when the economy is just beginning to grow, where we’re just starting to see a pickup in employment, the last thing we need is a disruption that’s caused by a government shutdown. Not to mention all the people who depend on government services, whether you’re a veteran or you’re somebody who’s trying to get a passport or you’re planning to visit one of the national monuments or you’re a business leader who’s trying to get a small business loan. You don’t want delays, you don’t want disruptions just because of usual politics in Washington.
    So what I said to the Speaker today, and what I said to Leader Reid, and what I’ve said to the two appropriations chairs, is that myself, Joe Biden, my team, we are prepared to meet for as long as possible to get this resolved…. – WH, 4-5-11Transcript

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

U.S. Capitol building

The U.S. Capitol is illuminated at night as Congress continues to work to avert a government shutdown, which will happen if a budget deal is not reached by Friday before midnight. (Associated Press / April 8, 2011)

     

  • William Howell: How did we get to the brink of shutdown?: Regardless of whether President Obama and the party leadership within Congress manage to hash out a last minute budget deal before Friday’s deadline, and thereby avoid putting some 800,000 federal workers on furlough, it is worth reflecting on how we got to this moment of impasse.
    Some of the answer, to be sure, concerns the primary players in today’s politics. These politicians have plenty of reasons to battle it out. They genuinely disagree about the appropriate size and purposes of the federal government. They are jockeying for position in the 2012 presidential elections. And through it all, they are appealing to a divided public that is increasingly frustrated with rising deficit spending and persistent unemployment.
    The back story of today’s budget wars, however, goes deeper still. Lurking behind the parties and personalities who animate today’s politics are a set of historical trends and structural forces that are not going away any time soon…. – CNN, 4-8-11
  • Long Shutdown Would Harm U.S., Hit Washington Hardest: An extended U.S. government shutdown would cause increasing harm to the nation’s economy, with the Washington area — home to about 350,000 federal workers — bearing the brunt of the damage.
    “The economic damage would mount pretty quickly,” in a two- or three-week shutdown, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “The longer this drags on, the greater the odds it undermines confidence more broadly.”
    The direct costs of lost income to federal workers and contractors would be about $6 billion a week, said Zandi. “The dollars and cents would start to add up.”… – Bloomberg, 4-8-11
  • Gary King: 27% of communication by members of Congress is taunting, professor concludes: Now, a Harvard University professor has analyzed this tribe’s behavior, using computers to look for trends in members’ writings. And he’s learned something that might help explain why Congress is having such trouble working out a deal this week. He learned, to his amazement, that modern members of Congress spend about 27 percent of the time just taunting each other.
    “It’s jarring and surprising,” said Prof. Gary King, an expert in using computers to find patterns in large amounts of data. And, King said, probably counterproductive if we want Congress’s members to trust one another enough to make deals. “The entire government may go bankrupt, I guess. This week, right?” King said in a telephone interview. “We probably want our representatives to be listening to each other rather than calling each other names.”…. – WaPo, 4-8-11
  • Jay Newton-Small: Boehner’s Choice: John Boehner has a decision to make. And in some ways it’s akin to choosing between his children. By midnight tonight the government will shut down unless an agreement can be reached between the Speaker and President Obama. Whatever Boehner decides will have long-reaching implications for his Speakership.
    Ideally, Boehner would have preferred extending government funding by another week but Obama threatened to veto such a bill and the Democratically-controlled Senate declared it a “non-starter,” as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid put it. Boehner can, and has, made the case that the onus to prevent a shutdown was on Democrats – that he gave them a bipartisan option that they rejected (15 House Democrats voted for the measure). Sure, the extension came with a steep price tag, but negotiators had already agreed to the $12 billion in cuts. The bill would’ve also funded the military for the rest of the year, a move most in Congress would readily endorse with so many troops in harm’s way. As of last night 51 senators, including a handful of Democrats, had co-sponsored similar legislation. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, put Boehner’s bill on the Senate schedule late last night, but it’s unlikely the extension will come up for a vote unless a broader agreement is reached…. – Time, 4-8-11
  • It’s Not Really About Spending: If the federal government shuts down at midnight on Friday — which seems likely unless negotiations take a sudden turn toward rationality — it will not be because of disagreements over spending. It will be because Republicans are refusing to budge on these ideological demands… – NYT, 4-8-11
  • Analysis: Obama shifts to play budget dealmaker, avoid blame: “The strategy follows the political logic of President Obama’s whole career, which is to avoid messy battles which make you appear to be a partisan,” said Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University. “If presidential muscle is used, do it behind the scenes. And above all, appear to be a high-minded and impartial arbiter who negotiates compromises and is distinguished from the brawling demagogues in Congress.”
    “If the public gets angry with a blow-up over the budget and a shutdown, the president needs to be able to say, at a minimum, that he tried,” said Julian Zelizer, history professor at Princeton University. “He wants to avoid having the anger that flowed to Republicans in 1995-1996 focus on him.” –
  • Julian Zelizer: Government shutdown: How it came to this: “This is just an eyeball-to-eyeball moment where Republicans want to exercise their power,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “And Obama is trying to defend his reputation with Democrats.”… – CNN, 4-6-11
  • Steven F. Hayward: The Ryan Express One part FDR, one part Gipper: The liberal reaction to Paul Ryan’s budget plan makes it evident that liberals are more terrified than they’ve been since Jack Kemp (one of Ryan’s mentors) advanced supply-side economics back in the late 1970s. And although Ryan may not run for president next year, it is clear that just as Ronald Reagan had to embrace the Kemp-Roth tax-cut plan in his 1980 campaign, the eventual GOP nominee will have to embrace Ryan’s budget plan if he or she is going to be taken seriously by the party, and especially the Tea Party.
    As Kemp’s understanding of supply-side economics was about more than just tax rates and revenues, Ryan’s budget architecture is about much more than just fiscal balances, and this is what terrifies liberals the most. The most interesting twist on the whole matter, though, is whether Ryan’s plan would eviscerate the welfare state (cue Nancy Pelosi, et al.), or rescue it within reasonable limits… – National Review, 4-6-11
  • DANIEL HENNINGER: A Ronald Reagan Budget Paul Ryan’s budget offers much more than deficit-reduction brimstone: Nothing like Paul Ryan’s budget, “The Path to Prosperity: Restoring America’s Promise,” has been heard from a Republican since February 1981, when Ronald Reagan issued his presidency’s first budget message, “America’s New Beginning: A Program for Economic Recovery.” The echoes reach beyond the titles.
    Both budgets announced a clear break with the Washington status quo. Reagan reversed the policies of the Carter presidency and the infamous stagflation years of weak economic growth, 18% interest rates and 14% inflation. Reagan’s 1981 message posited four reversals: “a substantial reduction” in spending; “a significant reduction in federal tax rates”; relief from federal regulation; and “a monetary policy consistent with those policies.”… – WSJ, 4-7-11
  • Analysis: Obama shifts to play budget dealmaker, avoid blame: “If the public gets angry with a blow-up over the budget and a shutdown, the president needs to be able to say, at a minimum, that he tried,” said Julian Zelizer, history professor at Princeton University. “He wants to avoid having the anger that flowed to Republicans in 1995-1996 focus on him.”… – Reuters, 4-5-11
  • Tevi Troy Senior Fellow, the Hudson Institute; Former Deputy HHS secretary Plus, Paul Ryan’s budget hard-headed or inhumane?: While it has long been assumed that addressing entitlements was the dreaded “third rail of American politics,” our long-term budget woes are now so severe that a budget putting us on a path to fiscal sanity could be a political plus. Democrats will certainly demagogue Ryan’s budget, but they may find that an unwillingness to get our debt situation under control has turned into the new third rail of the 21st century…. – Politico, 4-5-11
  • Can House finance chief Paul Ryan sell his budget to Americans?: “Nobody knows who Ryan is, outside his home area,” said Allan Lichtman, a professor at American University. “I don’t think he has the clout, the charisma, the political power to do this.”
    But if Ryan has any chance of shifting the politics of these “entitlement programs,” then Sarah Binder, a professor at George Washington University, said sticking to his wonky reputation would be a good idea. “To the extent that he’s able to sort of keep his policy-wonk reputation front and center,” that helps, Binder said. She said Ryan’s best opportunity is to be seen as above party squabbling. His persuasion depends on him instead being viewed as an independent, concerned voice. “Typically, voters like short-term benefits, with the costs put off to the future,” Binder said. Ryan’s vision relies on them agreeing to short-term changes, with benefits further off. “You can’t do that without the president, and you can’t do it without the support of both parties.” – WaPo, 4-5-11
  • Julian Zelizer: Which GOP will run against Obama?: When George W. Bush finished his presidency, many observers wondered what the Republican Party would look like in the succeeding years. With Democrats in control of Congress and the White House, pundits declared the party was in crisis.
    Republicans had become too comfortable with power, critics said. They had embraced the ways and means of Washington and were as enthusiastic about federal spending as their opponents. When the Tea Party emerged on the national scene, questions about the identity of the GOP only intensified.
    Now that President Obama has officially announced his re-election campaign, it’s time to see how his opponents will position themselves. As the candidates start to emerge for 2012, it is becoming clear that the potential contenders are embracing several different traditions and approaches to Republican politics….
    The struggle over the choice of a Republican candidate for 2012 will be a struggle over the identity of the party in the post-Bush era. Republicans don’t have to choose one tradition over the other. Indeed, some politicians, such as Ronald Reagan, have brilliantly synthesized these themes together.
    But right now there is no candidate of Reagan’s caliber. This primary season will be an important one for the Republican Party in terms of explaining to Americans what the GOP is about and what exactly it would fight for if it gained back the White House. – CNN, 4-5-11 



Breaking: Senate Republican Leader McConnell says expects budget deal shortly…

‎`Let’s be very clear about this: if the government shuts down, it’s either because Democrats are pretending that a previously non-controversial provision is suddenly out of bounds. Or they refuse to take another baby step in the direction of balancing the government checkbook, something we know the American people want. Neither reason is worth a shutdown — especially when neither side actually wants one.’

www.mcconnell.senate.gov

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor Friday regarding negotiations to reduce Washington spending….
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid looks down after talking about the budget in the Capitol in Washington April 7, 2011. The U.S. Congress on Thursday neared a budget deal to avert a looming government shutdown but disputes over abortion and environmental issues posed late hurdles to a final agreement. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Budget deadline looms

Facing a midnight deadline, the White House and Congress are working furiously to break a budget deadlock and prevent a federal government shutdown that would idle hundreds of thousands of workers.  Full ArticleVideo

Budget Showdown 2011

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

With just over a day left for negotiations before the government will shutdown and despite working all night Congressional Republicans and Democrats have still not come to an agreement for the 2011 Budget. Last night President Obama met with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) at the White House, declaring some progress, still there was no agreement.

Although Obama opposes the measure Speaker Boehner and Republicans are working on a week extension to prevent the shutdown on midnight Saturday. At issue is the 7 million difference between the Democrats proposed 33 million and the Republicans 40 million in spending cuts.

The shutdown would affect 800,000 federal workers and all aspects of the government.

The last government shutdown was in November 1995 and January 1996, when Democrat Bill Clinton was President and Newt Gingrich was the Speaker of the Republican Congress. The clash over the 1996 budget caused a government shutdown for 21 days.

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