Around October 1st of this year I began to critique many of my colleagues opinions on what eventually led to the government shutdown. The last part of this paper contending with the default and the consequences was speculative. In any case, on November 7th the White House released a report detailing the damage, among the 0.2-0.6% reduction in fourth quarter GDP, $2.5 billion in repayments to furloughed workers, and $11 million in lost revenues – there’s a whole slew of other damages that you can read about here.
Below is a review, critique, and analysis of the events leading up to the 2013 government shutdown.
On October 1st, I posted a statement, it went something like this…:
“I want to be clear about something – I blame the Republicans for the shut-down. I don’t care if you’re a Republican, or if you lean conservatively. If you think that Democrats should be blamed, than frankly, all I can say, is that you’re stuck in a whirlwind of ignorance.
Back in April, Senate Democrats came up with a budget (apparently the 1st one created by Senate Democrats in 4 years – or so Paul Ryan consistently stated). What happened when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called for a conference committee? Senate Republicans blocked the motion.
Then there was S. 1243, or the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill (THUD). Whether or not you agree with this bill, or not, is irrelevant, what does matter, however, is the fact that it was sponsored by the Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, Patty Murray in late June. In late July, the motion to recommit to the committee (sponsored by Toomey) was rejected, and on August 1st, Murray failed to get 60 votes in order to invoke cloture. This failure, was not Murray’s however, instead, the fault lies with Mitch McConnell.
There were 18 other occasions in which Murray, Ron Wyden, and Mark Warner all called for motions to create a conference committee to work out H.J. Res. 59. For those of you who do not know what that is, that is the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014, that would have kept the government funded, and functioning.
You have, primarily, McConnell, and Ted Cruz to thank for blocking Democratic attempts to conference committees.
So when the House Republicans, or Boehner (Speaker of the House), then calls for the Senate to conference, that’s nothing more then an attempt to shift a vile perception that was steamrolling its way towards them.
Make no mistake, Democrats have been attempting to work things out for a very long time, and indeed, this problem, if not much of it, could have been worked out in May – alas, it was not.
And to be clear, it is extremely irresponsible, and inappropriate to tie the budget to a piece of legislation that has been signed into law for 3 years, and subsequently upheld by the SCOTUS. 800,000 people should have been able to go to work today, so as to have job safety and a means to provide for their families. Then there are the negative implications that face the market, as a prolonged shut-down will invariable scare investors from doing what they do – investing in certain areas due to uncertainty.
There are proper means of repealing legislation, of which has failed more than 40 times. This is not a sign of Republican leadership, it’s a sign of weakness, obsession, and failure.
Nor is there an excuse for you to support a party that now questions the support of back-pay to those who will lose out.
Yes, I have my critiques of the Democratic Party, and of the President, but the failures accruing now fall predominantly in the laps of the Republican Party, with respect to Congress.”
Not surprisingly, there was some dissent. It is for this reason that I have decided to convert my various responses into a structured format so as to clarify, and source my reasons. A word of caution, however: I spent many hours watching archived C-Span videos of the Senate from March 1st, to September 30th, at the time I was not taking notes, instead making simple observations. It is because of this failure that I will not be citing every instance (this will make sense later). I apologize for this, and to those who regularly read my stuff, I would hope that I have no reason to make up various occasions to further a perspective.
For purposes of anonymity, I will be quoting respondents, and will only refer to them as “Respondent #.”
To begin, I believe it to be fairly obvious that since the shutdown, there’s been a lot of finger pointing, and a continuation of one-upmanship on the part of each chamber, and political party in Congress – even in civilian life. Based on my original premise, it’s clear that I am taking part in such finger pointing, blaming, and debate by almost squarely blaming the Congressional Republicans for systematically preventing any responsible attempt to agree on a budget prior to post-11PM, September 30th, 2013.
Another person taking part, is Respondent 1, who objected to my premise by stating:
“[Part 1] So if all that is true (which it isn’t) then why didn’t the Democratically controlled congress (because they controlled the House AND Senate from 2009 to 2011) pass a budget. Oh and they have yet to come up with a budget. [Part 2] On the topic of today, who has refused to compromise or even meet with Republicans? Oh yeah, your party! [Part 3] 59% of Americans don’t want the nightmare of the Affordable Care Act (Rasmussen poll). Your argument is invalid. The only research you appear to have done is to validate your own beliefs when there is so much more to the story. It saddens me that logic fails so many liberals and this is proof. Ciao”
I will tackle this response in three parts (bracketed for reference in the quote).
Part 1 – Fact vs. Fiction
I am unclear why he would bring up the 111th & 112th Congresses as those sessions bare no importance to the present situation (the context of this statement may be debated, but please continue). For the purposes of this section, though, these congressional sessions are not important with respect to the shutdown, as much of the shutdown, in large, could have prevented for the reasons I am about to cover.
On March 28th, 2012, John Boehner stated: “The Democrat-controlled Senate, it hasn’t passed a budget in more than 1,000 days,” which was true at the time. This became a talking point among many Republicans in both chambers of Congress, as well as the 2012 Presidential Election, whereupon Paul Ryan repeatedly brought it up. At the time, it was true.  You can listen to Paul Ryan complain about it during a January 29th, 2012 interview on Fox News Sunday. To be clear, though, Ryan was mostly blasting Senate Democrats – this is important to understanding the façade.
Still, the respondent is false in saying that a budget hasn’t been passed. On March 21st, 2013, the Republican controlled House passed a FY 2014 budget 221-207. The budget would have supposedly balanced the budget by 2023. Later that day, the Senate rejected the House version of the budget, 59-40. Two days later, on March 23rd, the Senate passed its own budget for FY 2014, 50-49.
The budget passed by the House was Paul Ryan’s FY 2014 budget titled “A Pathway to Prosperity: A Responsible, Balanced Budget” which was a tweaked version of his original “Pathway to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal” that he created for Fiscal Year 2013. This was rejected by the Senate, who then passed Patty Murray’s budget titled “Foundation for Growth: Restoring the American Opportunity.”
Factually speaking, both chambers of the House, controlled by separate parties, passed their own versions of a budget – while the Senate tabled one. Patty Murray’s budget, however, received 70 amendments. This being the case, it is not accurate to say that the Democrats, nor the Senate, had passed a budget – they in fact did.
This leads me to another point – even the 2009 budget, wasn’t a real budget. It was an the “Omnibus Approrpriations Act, 2009” [Public Law 111-8—Mar.11, 2009]. For those of you aren’t clear what that is, “omnibus” is defined as “containing two or more independent matters.” Most of the budgets that we have experienced, are this, and are done so to effectively get the executive branch to sign the bill rather than reject the whole thing. In effect, one might say that it’s a compromise – but that might be too generous. Another example of this would be the Omnibus Consolidated Rescissions and Appropriations Act of 1996, which prefaced the last legitimate budget we’ve seen, the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.
The fact of the matter is that since 1977, only four times has an entire budget been passed by the September 30th deadline, 1997 being the last time this occurred. Congress predominantly relies on continuing resolutions and appropriations bills (sometimes emergency bills) to continue funding the government. CR’s are what have been used since 2009. 2001 sets the record at 21 CR’s.
The merits, value, and practicality of the two budgets between Paul Ryan and Patty Murray are irrelevant to the issue surrounding the shutdown – and here’s why. First, both budgets have their pros and cons, and in large part whichever side of isle you walk on largely determines your perception of the other bill. Fact of the matter is, both budgets have strong weaknesses, and minor strengths. In order to properly handle the issue of the deficit, which translates into debt, both parties must understand that what is required, is decent cuts, and decent tax hikes – for a period of time, to most areas of government, but most notably Social Security, Medicare, and Defense. Still, reform is a far more practical method to simple spending cuts that has become the red headed step-child to Congressional forethought.
This all leads to my second point, and that is how budgets are made in congress. In 1974, Richard Nixon signed into law the Congressional Budget Act which created the Congressional Budget Office, along with the guidelines for which Congress is to handle the budget process.  The first step requires the President to submit a budget in early February of every year to Congress – this is what the Office of Management and Budget is for. This draft outlines how much spending, revenue, and the suggested deficit/surplus for the following year. This is nothing more than a wish-list, and a list of recommendations from the President, to Congress, on spending and tax policies, and in it, he must specify on discretionary programs. The next step is the Congressional Budget Resolution, which, in many cases, is either passed beyond its legally stated date of April 15th, or not passed at all. The proposed budget goes through both a House and Senate budget committee to determine a budget resolution. Following this, the budget then goes through 12 separate House and Senate Appropriations Committees, followed by House and Senate Committee on Appropriations reviews it, finally sending the final draft to the House of Representatives and Senate to place final reviews – in total, 28 committees!
What’s important to understand is the next part of the budget processes, it’s not uncommon for the Senate and House to disagree on budgets, appropriations, etc. In fact, this is what led to the 1996 Government shutdown. When the House and Senate disagrees on any piece of legislation they are required to resolve such disputes through a conference committee – in essence, this is where compromise happens – and it’s meant to be the more contentious and brutal aspect of a bill whereupon the difference lie between the two houses, which are often split by party.
On September 30th, what the public witnessed was the cumbersome method of attempting to resolve the differences between the House and Senate, this being the House amending the Senate’s version, passing it, and sending it back – whereupon the Senate either rejected the amendment, or made another alteration. This is also ineffective on topics that are extremely polarizing – such as the budget. This is why conferences are necessary so as to find agreement. Conferees may be instructed, but these instructions are not binding. If you wish to further understand the rules relevant to Conferences and Conferees, I encourage you to look up the Standing Rules of the United States Senate, Rule XXVIII.   
Fact of the matter is, a budget was passed in both houses, and has yet to be agreed upon. In order for an agreement to be made – especially in a timely manner – a conference is necessary.
Part 2 – On the Topic of Today, and Comprimise
The long winded discussion for the first part is all necessary for understanding this part. When Respondent makes the argument that Democrats have flatly refused to compromise with Republicans, or to meet with them, he shows that he’s gullible, and uninformed. I’ll tackle the ladder accusation as it concludes with the former.
On the matter relevant to the budget, there’s a lengthy list of attempts on the part of Senate Democrats to go to conference:
April 23rd, 2013, Attempt 1, Harry Reid: “I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the consideration of Calendar No. 33, H. Con. Res. 25…request a conference with the House on the disagreeing votes of the two Houses, and the Chair be authorized to appoint conferees on the part of the Senate, with the appointment of the budget conferees being the ratio of 7 Democrats to 5 Republicans, and there be no intervening action or debate.” Pat Toomey objected on behalf of the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.
May 6th, 2013, Attempt 2, Harry Reid asks for unanimous consent again, to which Ted Cruz objects, saying:
“Mr. President, reserving the right to object, one of my concerns is that this conference report could be used to pass a reconciliation bill that would increase the debt ceiling without sufficient input from the minority party and without addressing the fundamental structural spending problems we have in the Federal Government that are leading to our unsustainable debt. I believe this concern is well founded in history in that reconciliation bills have been used to increase the debt ceiling at least three times—in 1986, 1990, and in 1993. So for that reason, reserving the right to object, I ask consent that the leader modify his request so that it not be in order for the Senate to consider a conference report that includes tax increases or reconciliation instructions to increase taxes or to raise the debt limit.”
I quoted this for a very important reason, and that is so that you’ll understand Harry Reid’s response. The interaction between these two summarizes the next 16 attempts to go to conference, in context:
“My friend from Texas is like the schoolyard bully. He pushes everybody around and is losing, and instead of playing the game according to the rules, he not only takes the ball home with him changes the rules. That way, no one wins—except the bully who tries to indicate to people that he has won. We are asking the Republicans to play by the rules and let us go to conference…The Republicans have things they want to do. We have things we want to do. Why can’t we sit down as reasonable men and women and work out our differences? That is what a conference is all about. I object to what my friend suggests. It is actually fairly ridiculous, if you want the truth: Before we go to conference, determine what you are going to do nor do in the conference. That is not how we do things around here.”
This brief tizzy between Harry Reid and Ted Cruz underlies the reason that explained the budget process above. Reid rightly explained that for two hundred years, when there has been a difference between the two houses, it became necessary for a conference to be created to discuss those differences.
May 7th, 2013, Attempt 3, Patty Murray asks for the unanimous consent to proceed to conference (regular order). This particular day gets interesting. After asking for consent, Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) clarifies the request by noting that what Patty Murray is asking for is strictly a return to regular order, in concrete terms – go to conference. I cannot make it clear enough, nor, apparently, could the Democrats to their hyper-polarizing significant other, that the only way to move forward is a conference. Nor, apparently, did the Republicans listen, nor accept the fact, that all disagreements on passed legislation within both houses, must be resolved through the processes of conferencing, and conference reports.
In any case, Mitch McConnell interrupts Landrieu who, at the moment in time this occurs, Landrieu was trying to point out – correctly – that Republican representation on the part of the House would be in the majority. To clarify this, Harry Reid said earlier that Senate conferees would be 7 Democrats to 5 Republicans, thus, from the Senate, there’s a simple majority of Democrats to Republicans, but on the part of the House, it would be reversed. This being the case, Cruz’s statement above, that Republicans would be overshadowed by Democratic votes, is absolutely false. Still, McConnell asks exactly what Cruz asked the day before. Furthering this, Lindrieu, as quoted:
“I am flabbergasted to hear that the minority leader has just said not to that plan—said no, we not going to conference. We objected unless you do X, Y, and Z. It is always an objection, a “but.” Democrats could come up to this floor and say the same thing: I Do not want to go to conference unless we decide we cannot, under any circumstance, even talk about Medicaid or Social Security or cutting education or health care; we will not go to conference unless we put that on the table. We will never get to conference if both sides dig in before the discussions can even begin. That is where we are.”
Frankly, she’s right – and given the following 15 attempts to go to conference, the Republicans only go to prove this point!
May 8th, 2013, Attempt 4, Mark Warner asks for unanimous consent, to which Mitch McConnell objected. Patty Murray then objects to McConnell’s request to modify the original request to go to conference, to which point Murray states that what McConnell is asking, in essence, is that the budget be redone – even though there are 70 amendments to it already. Timothy Kaine (D-Virginia), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), step in to support Warner and Murray, along with express their dissent of not going to conference. Among this support, Angus King (I-Maine), puts it best: “I expected to come here and debate issues. Instead, we are debating debating.”
May 9th, 2013, Attempt 5, Patty Murray asks for unanimous consent, objected to by McConnell.
May 21st, 2013, Attempt 6, Patty Murray asks for unanimous consent, objected to by Rand Paul (R-KY). What follows is fascinating to me – John McCain objects to Rand Paul’s request for modification – and for good reason. First, Paul states that the Democrats are attempting to “orchestrate a backroom deal to raise the debt ceiling.” I personally contest this remark (not that it matters) because at least six Democrats by this point have expressed that the next step is a public conference! Nothing secretive or backdoor like. In fact, any person is open to sit in on the process, and the entire thing is aired on C-SPAN. Second, Paul’s request for modification is similar to McConnell’s. But this is what McCain had to say, pay close attention to the difference between his modification request, and that of his peers:
“The fact is, we did a budget. All of us patted ourselves on the back, and we were so proud that we did the budget. By golly, now we will move with the House of Representatives and we will have a budget and, hopefully, at least begin negotiations with the House of Representatives, in which the majority is Republicans—not Democrats, Republicans. We would decide we were going to do that. Now we are going to, according to the objection and the unanimous consent that was just asked for, in an unprecedented way, put restrictions on the conferees.
The way we usually do it is what I am about to do; that is, we instruct the conferees. We don’t require the conferees because that is why we appoint conferees, and that is why we approve or disapprove of the result of that conference. That is how our laws are made, and that is how our budgets are made.
What do we keep doing? What do we on my side of the aisle keep doing? We don’t want a budget unless we put requirements on the conferees that are absolutely out of line and unprecedented.
All I say to my colleagues is, can’t we, after all those hours—I forget what hour in the morning it was–after all those votes, after all that debate and all that discussion, we came up with a budget and now we will not go to conference, why is that?
I will object to the modification the Senator from Kentucky just asked for in a moment, but I would first ask consent that the original request by the Senator from Washington include two motions: to instruct the conferees, one related to the debt limit, and one related to taxes. That is the way we should do business in the Senate. It is instructions to the conferees.
The Senator from Washington may not like those instructions, but the fact is that is the way we do business, not require the conferees to take certain measures. If my colleagues on this side of the aisle think we are helping our cause as fiscal conservatives by blocking going to a conference on the budget–which every family in America has to be on because of certain requirements they demand—then we are not helping ourselves with the American people at all.”
Rand Paul rebuts by explaining that all he wants, along with his allies in said opposition, is that any vote on the debt ceiling be a separate vote. More importantly, in case you missed the difference between McCain’s request, and the requests made by McConnell, Cruz, and Paul, is that McCain is asking that conferees be instructed on how to tackle the two issues of taxes and the debt ceiling, whereas the other three are ultimately making a demand, one that ultimately sideswipes Senate rules, and effectively how laws are made within Congress.
What follows is a dialogue between Susan Collins (R-Maine), McCain, Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Patty Murray, and Ted Cruz. Collins expresses agreement with McCain, and defends Patty Murray, and the process for which the budget came to pass; that process being very open for debate, challenge, and amendment, even if no Republican in the Senate voted to pass the budget. To that point, however, it is irrelevant that no Republican supported the final draft, because ultimately, every Republican took part in the amendment processes, all 70 that were passed, and well over 100 that were introduced! Reid defends McCain’s request, admiring it for the fact that it’s a reasonable, legitimate, and most of all the right way to do it.
This day is important, because Ted Cruz opens up about a procedural backdoor that would avoid the required 60 votes to only 51. Sure, it’s reasonable to want to protect against such infringement – but not in the way that Cruz is suggesting. Later, Cruz states that nothing in the budget that was passed raises the debt ceiling (very important), but continues to say that Democrats will use the conference report to do just that.
To be clear, up to this point, Republicans don’t want the debt limit to be discussed in the conference, and rather than vote on the instructions for the conferees, they simply want them to be forced to do something that can’t be forced upon them. If a debt limit agreement were to discussed in the conference report, and adopted by the Senate, it would only require 51 votes – and this is why there is objection on the part of Cruz. What McCain, Collins, and the Democrats are trying to tell Cruz and his allies, is that the proper way of doing this – is to instruct the conferees on how to handle any mention of taxes and the debt limit – that’s called regular order. Still, as McCain and Landrieu pointed out – the House is majority Republican, and should be a reason to go to conference.
As Cruz goes on to ramble about how he doesn’t want to miss out on a vote, Murray interrupts by pointing out one very important fact – the whole purpose of the conference, and a conference report – is that, say a conference report does have language that would raise the debt limit, and lets, for a moment, consider the very real possibility that the Senate would pass the conference report – all of this is moot if the House of Representatives – dominated by Republicans – doesn’t pass it. Both houses must agree on the report, and pass it. If there’s a partisan split between the houses, it’s back to conference we go.
May 22nd, 2013, Attempt 7, Timothy Kaine asks to go to conference, to which Marco Rubio objects – though in the same breath expressing respect for ‘regular order’, whereupon McCain interjects stating:
“The normal regular order of this body after both sides of the Capitol have agreed on a budget is to meet and that we have a proper process to instruct conferees to have a budget. A motion to appoint conferees to be bound by a requirement, no matter how worthy it is, is not the way the regular order functions in this body, and that is a fact.
For 4 years I sat here and beat up on the majority leader for his failure to bring a budget to the floor of this Senate. We brought a budget to the floor. We spent many hours on all kinds of amendments, and now we can’t go to conference unless we agree not to raise the debt limit.
Does my colleague from Florida believe the House of Representatives, dominated by Republicans, is going to raise the debt limit? Does my colleague from Florida believe any conferees who are appointed, where we have to place certain restrictions on those conferees, that would apply to the other body as well? I don’t think so.
I don’t think that is the way this body is supposed to function. We are in a gridlock. Here we are, 4 years without a budget. We finally get a budget, we stay up all night, and because somebody doesn’t want to raise the debt limit we are not going to go to conference. That is not how this body should function.”
May 23rd, 2013, Attempt 8, Claire McCaskill asks for unanimous consent to go to conference, to which Michael Lee (R-Utah) objects. McCain gives a very long winded speech in opposition to Lee. Richard “Dick” Durbin (D-Illinois), steps in to state:
“I would like to ask the Senator from Arizona a question through the Chair.
It is my understanding the budget resolution passed by the House and the budget resolution passed by the Senate, if conferenced and agreed upon, will result in a resolution passed by both the House and Senate but never sent to the President. It is a budget resolution that governs the way we appropriate from that point forward.
So as to the question of the debt ceiling, it could not be done in a budget resolution. If there is going to be any action on the debt ceiling, it has to be in a separate legislative vehicle that ultimately goes to the President of the United States.
Even if there were an agreement on debt limit in the budget conference, it would have no impact of law. Is that not true?”
John McCain responds by saying:
“Perhaps the Senator from Utah doesn’t know about that, and the fact that even if they did raise the debt limit, it could not become law because it doesn’t go to the President of the United States.
Again, maybe the Senator from Utah ought to learn a little bit more about how business has been done in the Congress of the United States. Budget resolutions are not signed by the President of the United States, so even if we did vote to increase the debt limit as a result of the conference–which, by the way, would be irrelevant to the work of the conference–it would not have any meaning whatsoever.”
In any case, Lee admits that, yes, the budget resolution doesn’t go to the president, which would mean that even if there was language in the report of a debt limit increase, it would have no impact on the law. What he finally says, is that he doesn’t want any language, or circular method of a debt limit to even be considered! Never mind the fact, that six-months from this façade is the breach of our debt limit.
This nonsense continues…and for the sake of brevity (I know, that’s probably a funny notion by now, here’s the list in haste:
June 4th, 2013, Attempt 9, Patty Murray, objected to by Marco Rubio.
Attempts 10, 11, & 12, I haven’t been able to find. I am having issues with the videos spanning these dates…
June 12th, 2013, Attempt 13, Timothy Kaine, objected to by Michael Lee.
June 19th, 2013, Attempt 14, Patty Murray, objected to by Pat Toomey.
June 26th, 2013, Attempt 15, Patty Murray, objected to by Ted Cruz. As stated by Murray, she has asked 6 times, and her colleagues another 8 times.
July 11th, 2013, Attempt 16, Patty Murray, objected to by Marco Rubio.
Up to this point you’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with the shutdown, or even Obamacare in particular. For those of you who don’t pay attention to the ‘news’ this day is actually really important with respect to asking for a budget conference, what Murray points out, as quoted below, is that the Tea Party faction of the GOP began threatening to shutdown the government over the healthcare law.
“I was very discouraged to hear just this week from some tea party Republicans–many of the same ones who are now blocking us going to conference–who are already talking now about shutting down the government in order to defund ObamaCare. Not only do they want to push us to a crisis, but they want to do that in order to cut off health care coverage for 25 million people and reopen that doughnut hole we know so much about, causing seniors to pay more for their prescriptions, and end preventive care for seniors, and the list goes on.
This is an absurd position. We should not be talking about shutting down the government. I really hope responsible Republicans reject this approach and work with us on real solutions, not more political fights.”
Although Rubio responds by stating his ability to compromise, he’s not very sincere when he won’t even allow Congress to move forward, all because they can’t get what they want. That’s what this boils down to.
July 17th, 2013, Attempt 17, Patty Murray, objected to by Michael Lee. Patty Murray brings up the fact that in less than three weeks from this date, Senators were going to be returning home for a holiday, and that returning in September with so little time would be irresponsible. Further, she again brings up the fact that Tea Party Republicans are blasting away at the idea that they will shut down the government if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is not defunded during any budget process.
August 1st, 2013, Attempt 18, Richard Durbin, objected to by Marco Rubio. This day is an important day as well. If you’ve been paying attention, or if you have a basic understanding of how the government has been funded lately, you would know about Patty Murray’s bill, S. 1243, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill, also called THUD. This was a $54 billion bill that was co-sponsored by Susan Collins. What happened on this day, was that Collins, a Republican, asked her colleagues to vote for the bill.
The next part is what tickles me on the inside, and Durbin really drives the point home. Mitch McConnell comes to the floor to ask that all Republicans vote no on the bill. Why? Because there had been no agreement made on the budget resolution. It’s almost comical, really. There’s no budget resolution because they refuse to talk about it (go to conference), so now they are going to reject any appropriations bills that come to a vote due to the lack of agreement on a budget resolution.
This is the very detailed debacle since March 23rd. In some sense, it’s unfair to completely blame the Republican party as a whole, which is true in most cases. The fact of the matter is, however, that whether anyone wants to believe it or not, more Republicans objected to the motion to go to conference than there were Republicans defending the attempts at regular order. And this is just with respect to the Senate!
And what about the House? Well, back in June, you can watch Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer vilifying the Republican majority for their not motioning to go to conference with the Senate – 100 days after passing its version of a budget. On June 27th, the House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen, chose the democratic conferees – and further, asked Republicans to choose theirs, so that they might go to conference with the Senate.
Do you know the date for which Boehner finally chose to go to conference? Close to midnight, September 30th, 2013 – right before the government shutdown.
Hal Rogers, a Republican, and the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was even thoroughly disappointed with the removal of legislation and amendments to the House’s budget.
Part 3 – Obamacare and the American Perspective
I don’t know how many different numbers I have heard with respect to American approval of the PPACA, suffice to say that just like with any other piece of legislation, Congress, and the President – it’s constantly changing. That being said, I can’t express how disgusted I am to listen to Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and Rand Paul discuss healthcare.
Ted Cruz, on September 24th/25th, gave a 21-hour speech on why he rejects ObamaCare, indeed, Vitter, Lee, Paul, Sessions, among others, stood in support of Cruz, while McConnell, Reid, Durbin, and several other son both sides of the isle weren’t too pleased with this quasi-filibuster on the part of Cruz.
What’s important here is that whenever anyone discusses this piece of legislation, they speak for everyone, indeed, Cruz says that he’s speaking on behalf of 300 million American’s. If it wasn’t for the fact that I think Cruz needs to readjust his moral compass, I wouldn’t feel so offended.  Rand Paul, and Mitch McConnell, and the several others objecting to this act, state that the American people don’t want it!
This simply isn’t true. When the respondent to my original post says that the American people don’t want it, he’s just as wrong as the politicians who spoon feed him that message.
Never mind the fact that Rasmussen has been objected to by a number of people for asking noticeably close-ended conservative leaning questions, it isn’t the only place that has been polling and surveying public opinion the Affordable Care Act. Below is a list of updated surveys, between September 4th, and October 5th (from top to bottom). The average approval rating is 40.3%, and average disapproval is 50.6%.
|USA Today/Pew Research||
|NBC News/Wall St. Jrnl||
|ABC News/Wash Post||
The reason that I have shown you all of these is to show you the variation in opinion. Regardless of my quarrel with Rasmussen, as well as polling done by News sources, this gives a particularly well rounded view into public opinion. The average that I stated above, I believe, is a better statistical number to use than simply using Rasmussen. Still, after searching for a lengthy time, this statistic is from 7/30-7/31, 2010.
In any case, these numbers do not validate the perspective of my respondent or the Tea Party Republicans in office, nor do these numbers neutralize my argument. Why? Because these numbers simply express approval and disapproval, nothing more, nothing less. You cannot extrapolate from these two numbers, on their own, as singular as they can be, public support for the repeal of this law! Doing so only shows that you’re biased, gullible, unquestioning, uncritical, and incapable of looking deeper.
The USA Today/Pew Research poll, which was completed 9/4-9/8, asked those who oppose the law (53%) what elected officials should do with such opposition: 51% of those who oppose said that elected officials should try to make the law work as well as possible, whereas 42% said that officials should try to make the law fail. That translates to 27% of the population thinks that the law should be fixed, and 23% of the population thinks it should fail. Still, what should be taken from this, is that the majority of those who oppose the law, think that officials should fix its flaws, not repeal it.
While I will not be discussing the merits of the PPACA, or Budget Proposals and Resolutions, there’s a lot of rhetoric in both Chambers of Congress that suggests that this legislation is harming Americans. The same survey discussed above asked what effect people had with the healthcare law so far, and found that 17% had mostly positive experiences, 20% said that they had negative experiences, and 63% said they hadn’t really seen much of an effect. Listening to political rhetoric will only make you believe that it’s worse than it is.
Still, for those of you who don’t pay much attention to political issues, you would understand that premiums rise every year, and have for a very long time. Waste is a big problem that affects premium rates, and much of this is affected by geography. Healthcare costs are, in fact, so complex, that when Ted Cruz reads a letter from a constituent complaining about an increase in premiums, he over simplifies and ultimately generalizes it to every citizen – that’s just bad politics, and a fallacy! Still, assuming that your premiums did rise, that’s a vague statement. I digress.
To further drill this point home, and in support of the notion that it’s terrible politics to close the government over ObamaCare is this:
Back in July, Jonathan Chait from the New York Magazine pointed out a peculiar margin when it came to public opinion on the Affordable Care Act, and if you’ll remember (which you may not) this was about the same time that Senate Republicans began hinting at shutting down the government over the healthcare law. That margin, was that 52% of those polled want congress to implement the law, and make it better, in contrast to 34% of those who want it repealed, and only 8% of voters think it’s a good idea to delay or defund the law.  This being the case, the Republicans that have so dedicatedly objected to go to conference on the budget, only then to attempt to ‘bargain’ the defunding of the PPACA thus leading to a shutdown, are not supporting the mindset of the American people, but only a very, very, very small minority, a minority, in fact, to which these Republicans agree with the most.
Still, surveys between 2012 and most of this year have found that strong majorities of people support many aspects of the law, particularly allowing kids to remain on their parents plan (61%), banning insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions (82%), requiring companies with more than 50 employees to provide insurance (72%), and those are just some examples. And more recently, Rasmussen found that between 76% and 87% of American’s believe that they should have the right to choose between different types of health insurance plans, an aspect of which the PPACA greatly increases the access to. Where much of the opposition comes from, is with respect to taxes, and the individual mandate – the ladder of which was upheld by the Supreme Court – which doesn’t really matter in the eyes of the public.
Interestingly, a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in June of last year found that 29% of Republicans opposed the law because it did not go far enough with respect to reform. 33% of Independents, and 51% of Democrats that reject the bill rejected it for the same reasons, it didn’t go far enough. 
So finally, I must unequivocally reject any notion that any Republican in the House, or the Senate, that is in favor of using the PPACA as leverage with respect to the debt limit, and the budget, are abiding by public opinion, or even attempting to protect people.
While I tend to believe that the law itself did not go far enough with respect to actual reform, or particular areas relevant to waste spending, I do think that it has some major flaws, some of which are overstepping, and others that are irrelevant to healthcare in general.
What the people of this country want, is healthcare reform. What Ted Cruz, Toomey, McConnell, Paul, Ryan, and Boehner want is to go backwards to a state whereupon there is no reform. Setting aside the flaws in the bill, it did actually bring much needed reforms!
While I may very well take a step back with respect to blaming the Republicans, there is, nor should there be, any doubt when it comes to who has been attempting to work with whom. As evidenced above, Republicans in the Senate, particularly, have been very unwilling to follow regular order, order to which they’ve blasted the Democrats for avoiding! As September 30th came closer and closer, all of a sudden there was the notion that the government would shut down over it. But if you pay attention, Republicans are placing blame on Obama and Harry Reid for not ‘compromising’ over the Affordable Care Act. Seeing as the legislation was signed into law, many aspects of which have gone into effect, and ultimately upheld by the SCOTUS, neither the President, nor Harry Reid, has any obligation to negotiate or compromise on the bill! Anyone who believes that negotiations should take place over the bill are, frankly, stupid, unreasonable, and incapable of moving forward.
Default? And so what, the government shut down…
This paper wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t discuss the shutdown, the default, and the consequences. I’ll attempt to make it brief.
Many of you don’t know what the Business Roundtable (BRT) is. Officially, it’s a pro-business public policy organization made up of 17 corporate CEO’s, and needless to say, it’s very conservative. Unofficially, it’s an orgy of laissez faire capitalists attempting to get more money through government intervention! Anyway, on September 18th, just two weeks prior to the shutdown, the BRT warned that a prolonged debate between the two parties concerning the debt limit would cause some economic trouble. What kind of trouble? They estimated that almost half of major companies would slow their hiring, that’s just for starters. This group, which is very influential in Washington, has expressed that it would be unthinkinkable, catastrophic, and calamitous to default over debt, and that the debt limit should be raised to avoid such a circumstance. 
The shutdown of 1996 was bad, and this one will be much, much worse if it continues. Still, why would we want to risk being seen as a risk in the eyes of the rest of the world, and lenders? I believe that’s a fundamental question to be proposed here. Still, there have already been economic damages from a shutdown, and whether or not you believe that this should ever be the case, or not, doesn’t really matter. Fact is, it’s damaging, and a default may very well be worse.
China has already stepped in to implore America to raise its debt limit, and avoid default. Still, there’s the 2011 financial debacle that began to unfold on the prospect of what may have been a default, but was ultimately avoided. There is a very valuable lesson to be learned from that 11th hour decision, yet it seems to be lost in the echoing chambers of the Senate as Tea Party Republicans, who, coincidentally were elected for their stance on fiscal responsibility, yet they are leveraging such responsibility for the sake of social matters. There’s nothing responsible about what these politicians are doing.  
Still, the devaluing of the dollar, as well as the possibility of another redaction in credit scores, would be bad. Hiring freezes would inevitably occur, and lenders would not want to take part in lending to a bad client. In fact, why people don’t think it’s a bad idea is beyond me. Regardless, there’s the possibility that the S&P 500 would sink by 45% if the government were to go into default, and others echoed the notion that it would actually cause a worse recession that the world has seen since the Great Depression, and ultimately cause a global economic crisis.   
I hope that this very lengthy piece has been revelatory for you. Doing the research certainly was for me. I have no doubt in my mind that ultimately, the Tea Party minority within Congress is to blame, but I still have my objections to the GOP members that had no balls to stand up to their radicalized portion of their party. While I certainly have my objections to the Democratic side of the isle, the blame does not fall in their laps considering their ferocious attempts to reach bipartisan deals, and to avoid this dilemma. Democrats didn’t even break rules to change the rules in order to go to conference, something to which John McCain brought up, expressing that while he would disagree with such a dirty move, he would completely understand if they did, because it’s tiresome, unnecessary, irresponsible, and devastating the fact that so few were standing in the way of so much at stake.
To be clear, Republicans, specifically those aligned with the Tea Party, were not wanting to participate in a Democracy, nor were they wanting to do as they were elected to do. There’s nothing acceptable about putting the government, and the economy, in a strangle hold over a signed and upheld piece of legislation. If you believe such a tactic is acceptable, maybe Democrats should have forced the government to shutdown unless Republicans agreed to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, or Defense of Marriage Act.
I don’t care what political ideology you are, or party for which you stem from – personally, I am a left leaning independent who rebukes the actions of both parties nowadays. Even many Republicans in the House rejected this attempt – or “hostage taking” – and many who were on this crusade have stated that they realize now that it was a terrible mistake.
For a party who professes to morally superior, to be fiscally responsible, and to represent their constituents – they sure have failed. The American people, regardless of their approval with the ACA, flatly REJECTED Cruz’s idea that budget talks be contingent on all demands be met concerning ACA. Nor, do I imagine, do the American people want to pay $300 million a day, which piles onto our debt, over this debacle. I can’t imagine that the 800K employees wanted to find themselves furloughed, and I certainly can’t imagine that the American people would risk the economy over it, nor would they want their representatives to do so.
The fact of the matter is, many Democrats in BOTH houses have virtually begged for a conference and called for bipartisanship to which Republicans flatly rejected. There’s no excuse for it.
I am not defending the ACA, nor am I defending Obama, I am calling an orange and orange, and an apple and apple, and I am placing blame where blame is deserved.
For those of you who may believe that all I have done is find evidence to support a particular predisposition with respect to political matters, you are false. To reiterate, I have read every transcript of every Senate session since March 1st. Objectively, Democrats are not at fault, and there is no evidence to suggest that they are at fault for a shutdown. Those who believe that Obama and Reid are to blame agree with the premise that it’s okay to extort the function of government for the sake of a radicalized perspective on healthcare. It’s immoral, in my opinion, and devoid of all reason. It is my very firm opinion that Reid, Collins, McCain, Durbin, and the President should be applauded for defending against such an example for which the extreme wish to set. To me, and to many others, the President is not obligated to negotiate on matters already signed into law, nor is he obligated to negotiate with a party who, in a very legislative sense, are acting as kidnappers of the law, sending ransom notes, and demanding things. That is not how a Democracy works, nor is it the principles for which this Republic was founded.