• Advertisement

Senator Cruz Is Not The Only One Who Wants To Shut Down The Government Over The ACA

There are a lot of people talking about the upcoming showdown over the Affordable Care Act and the Continuing Resolution to keep the government running.  Without a budget or a Continuing Resolution the government will be forced to close up shop due to lack of funds.

This has been the subject of many previous debates in the last few years.  It seems that every three to six months Congress is threatening to shut down the government if they do not make significant changes.   Obviously this debate goes both ways.

Right now the debate over the Continuing Resolution (CR) has turned to healthcare, specifically the Affordable Care Act.  The debate over the ACA rages on every day.  Even after the house voted for the 41st time to repeal the ACA it should be obvious that the House is not going to get their way.  That is not stopping them; it is just making them more inventive in their repeal efforts.

The House passed a CR that would keep the government running, except they took out all the funding for the ACA.  They essentially are attempting to defund the ACA and are holding the government hostage to do it.

After they passed the bill it was quickly moved to the Senate.  Then a few Senators took that and ran with it.  Senator Ted Cruz has been all over the news talking about his position to shut the government down if they do not defund the ACA.  Cruz even got up and wasted 21 hours in a pretend filibuster. It was a pretend filibuster because the 21 hours of talking could not have any effect on whether or not a vote is going to be held.  His marathon talking session ended with a unanimous vote (100-0) to end debate and move toward voting on the actual bill.  We should be calling a 21 hour debate speech, because it is by definition not a filibuster.

The irony is that GOP leaders in the House were quick to distance themselves from this scenario.

Rep Peter King (potential GOP candidate for President) said, “He’s not standing on principle, I don’t know what he’s standing on,” King said. “But he’s standing for a strategy that can’t work. It’s going to personally help him as far as his political status, but it’s going to be bad for the county, bad for the Republican Party.”

Wait a second; are they really trying to blame Senator Cruz for holding the country hostage and threatening a government shutdown over the ACA?  Didn’t the bill that Senator Cruz is promoting came from the US House?  That’s right, it did.  Every one of those Reps who voted to repeal the ACA by defunding it, are doing the same thing.  Defund the ACA or we will not pass a CR, which is what you all voted on.

The House was even happy after the passage of the defunding-CR.

The Huffington Post reports, “Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) also took to twitter to vent. “House Republicans are turning words into action to defund #Obamacare. Ball will be in the Senate’s court,” he wrote.”

Yet now they want to distance themselves from shutting the government down because the public is adamantly against a shutdown.   The House GOP cannot get away from the fact that they voted to do what Senator Cruz is advocating for.  The House GOP cannot wiggle their way out of this.

Here is the full list of the Representative who would rather shut the government down if the President does not defund his signature bill.   Don’t let them forget it!

house votes CR 2014 Crop

 

The one video every Republican, Democrat and Independent must see!!!


More than 200 people rallied at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard yesterday to rally against the budget cuts known as “sequestration”.

At the same time they were rallying, Congress passed a bill to make most of those cuts permanent.

That bill – the “continuing resolution” to fund the federal government for six months – also rescinded a long-planned increase in pay for federal workers. Read Congress Adds Insult to Injury!

The continuing resolution was crafted to protect military contractors from the effects of sequestration – at the expense of federal employees, including Portsmouth Shipyard workers. Read more about Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s defense of defense contractors here.

As Portsmouth Shipyard worker John Joyal told the crowd yesterday:

The men and women at that shipyard over there – every single day, they put their politics aside, their gender aside, their religion aside, their ideological beliefs aside, you name it, they put everything aside to go perform the people’s business.

“That flag right there does not belong to the right-wing of the GOP of our Congress, that flag belongs to the American people. What the US Congress needs to do is, they need to grow up, put their differences aside, go into a room and perform the people’s business just like the people on this island do, every single day.

There are other options. Ending special corporate tax breaks would pay for the sequester cuts twice over. Ending tax breaks on unearned income would pay for the sequester cutsplus everything the House GOP wants to cut from next year’s federal budget.

Is this the best six-month budget that our Congress can come up with?

Congress Adds Insult To Injury! Pay Freeze Continues As Sequester Sets In

Smashed Piggy Bank RetirementLet me start by saying the last thing I want to see is a full government shutdown.  However once again Congress as a whole takes more from the piggy bank they call federal workers’ pay.

“Congress on Thursday agreed on a measure to keep the government running through the end of the fiscal year. The bill, which also extends the pay freeze on federal employees, now heads to President Obama.”  (GovExec.com)

What is becoming a normal situation for Congress, they are continuing to take more from the federal workers.  The first pay raise they would have seen in three years was killed by Congress.  This is on top of the fact that almost every government employee is facing a mandatory furlough of 11-22 days.

Furloughs are not vacation days as some people are saying.  These are days when workers are forced off from work and are not paid.  For those people who are being forced to take a 22 day furlough, that is a 12% reduction in pay, or in more simple terms, a loss of one month of pay (over the next six months).

This continuing resolution does absolutely nothing to stop the sequester cuts.

“I remain deeply dissatisfied that sequestration is not addressed and will slash the very priorities I believe all of us came here to fulfill,” said House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey, D-N.Y. (GovExec.com)

As I said before, a full government shutdown is the worst possible thing for federal employees and the entire United States.  The fact that we almost shut down in 2011, cost us in our national credit rating.

The sequester cuts have already started to have an impact on business.  According to the Huffington Post and the AP, workers are being laid off already.

  • On Monday, 250 workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state received pink slips, while another 2,500 others found out they’re facing furloughs. Approximately 9,000 people work at the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site, and the Associated Press reports that “cleanup is likely to be slowed” because of the budget cuts.
  • Continental Maritime, a contractor that repairs U.S. Navy ships, expects to lay off 185 employeeseffective April 12. Other contractors have issued conditional layoff notices — meaning that jobs are safe if Congress restores some funding to the Defense Department — to thousands of employees.
  • Four-hundred eighteen contract workers tied to the Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania are losing their jobs due to sequestration. Two-hundred sixteen people will be dismissed on April 15 and 107 on April 30, the Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., reports. The paper noted that the Tobyhanna Army Depot is losing 35 percent — $309 million — of its government funding through the end of the fiscal year, and that more than 5,100 of the people who work there are being forced to take 22 furlough days.
  • At least eight municipal employees in Monterey County, Calif., are losing their jobs as a result of a decrease in the number of military contracts.
  • In early March, 23 people who work with the parks and recreation and maintenance departments in Tooele County, Utah, were laid off in order to grapple with the federal budget cuts. “I have four kids. This is my livelihood,” said Scott Chance, a 12-year employee. “It pays my health insurance. It gives me my house.”
  • Engineering Services Network is an engineering and technology company and one of the top Latino-owned companies in Virginia. President and CEO Raymond Lopez Jr. told NBC Latino that he has “lost about 20 employees through sequestration.”
  • The Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Texas, announced in February that it was cutting 414 jobs — about 10 percent of its workforce. “I don’t know how we’re going to make it,” Raymond Wyrick, whose last day was scheduled to be March 9, told CNN Money.

Someone please tell me: how is preserving these sequester cuts in the continuing resolution going to help our economy?  How is cutting services, cutting personnel, and cutting families’ income helping our economy? Federal workers are already at the mercy of Congress. On top of sequestration, this continuing resolution that keeps the 0.5% raise off the table is just another slap in the face to federal workers.

Federal workers are not a piggy bank that Congress can turn to, every time it wants help balancing the federal budget.

There are other options.  Ending special corporate tax breaks would pay for the sequester cuts twice over.   Ending tax breaks on unearned income would pay for the sequester cutsplus everything the House GOP wants to cut from next year’s federal budget.

Hungry like a (baby) wolfRemember, too, that maintaining the sequester cuts means that 600,000 young children from low-income families are losing the free food they had been receiving through a U.S. government nutrition program.

Smack down federal employees (again) and take food away from hungry children.  Is this the best six-month budget that our Congress can come up with?   

Is there still a line between “government” and “business”?

I’ve been reading through that 2009 Interim Report to Congress about defense spending in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Of all the report’s conclusions and recommendations, here’s the kicker:

“The government still lacks clear standards and policy on inherently governmental functions.” 

In other words, we have gotten so used the government privatizing things that we don’t even stop to think about it anymore.

PBS Prisons for Profit

Click here to watch the PBS show “Prisons for Profit”

Holding people in prison.  Shouldn’t that be an inherently governmental function?  Why has it become a multi-billion dollar private industry, instead?

Taxation.  Shouldn’t that be an inherently governmental function?  Not if you have political connections.  Not if you live in Pennsylvania.  Or California.  Or Virginia.  Or Wisconsin.  (Or lots of other places here in the good ol’ United States.)

Eminent domain.  Inherently governmental?  Not since Kelo.  Just ask anyone standing in the way of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Criminal investigations, searches and seizures.  Inherently governmental function?  Not if you live in Arizona.  Or if your child goes to school there.

Counterterrorism?

War?

Where is the line?  Aren’t there still some things that are “inherently governmental” and should never be contracted-out to for-profit corporations?

And how much are they profiting, anyway?  In a 2011 survey, 63% of government contractors reported making profit rates of more than 5% of revenues (26% of the companies made more than 10% profit).

But it’s still supposed to be cheaper, right?  Another 2011 report found that government contractors pay their employees total compensation worth an average of 1.83 times more than what federal employees are paid.

How much money are we talking about?  It’s hard to tell.  Federal outsourcing was $500 billion a year in 2008.  Since then, the Obama Administration has saved taxpayer money by in-sourcing.

But look at the hoopla about Sequestration.  Remember that infamous George Mason University report calculating that the sequester would “cost the US economy 2.14 million jobs”?

That report was produced for the Aerospace Industries Association, which describes itself this way:

shapes public policy that ensures the US Aerospace, Defense and Homeland Security Industry remains preeminent and that its members are successful and profitable…

AIA lobbyingThe AIA has been investing a lot of money lately, to ensure that its members are successful and profitable.  (Read more here.)

And Rep. Hal Rogers’ bill to avoid a government shutdown?  Looks to me like that was crafted to protect government contractors from the effects of sequestration – at the expense of federal employees and programs for the poor.

Just where IS that line between “government” and “business”?

Does it even still exist?

Fund the Government?
House GOP protects corporate interests, instead

budget_cutsThe House has passed a bill to keep the federal government from shutting down on March 27th.

According to Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, the bill:

  1. provides $2 billion more than the President requested for non-war Defense funding – as well as an additional “$87.2 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) for Defense activities related to the Global War on Terror.”  It also includes $521 million more than the President requested for defense technologies research and development.
  2. includes “a provision allowing additional funding to ensure the safe and secure operation of Federal Prisons.”
  3. requires “Immigration and Customs Enforcement to sustain the mandated capacity of 34,000 detention beds.”
  4. extends the current pay freeze for federal employees.

Want to play connect-the-dots?

  1. Corporate profits of defense contractors are almost back to their pre-recession high.  Yet the defense industry “mobilized in a major way to stop the cuts to the Pentagon budget. The main thrust of the offensive has been a huge public relations campaign aimed at convincing Americans that the cuts would devastate defense contractors and the broader economy, causing the loss of about a million jobs.”  Connect the dots?   Chairman Rogers’ bill included defense funding levels that were higher than the President requested.  (For a sampling of how private contractors have wasted tax dollars, read the June 2009 Interim Report to Congress here.)
  2. The private prison industry didn’t actually feel the recession.  Contracting with the federal Bureau of Prisons is a growing business: up by almost 14% between 2010 and 2011.  Now check out the lobbyists: Corrections Corporation of America employed 33 different lobbyists last year.  (Geo Group had only four lobbyists; but one of them used to be Special Assistant for Legislative Affairs for President George W. Bush, so he probably knows a few people.)  Connect the dots?   Chairman Rogers’ bill provides “budget security” for federal prisons.
  3. And then there’s immigration.  Ever notice how – even though seven out of 10 Americans want there to be an easier path to citizenship – that idea hasn’t actually gotten very far in Congress? Ever wonder why Congress set a minimum number of ICE “detention beds”?  Just follow the money.  Private prisons spend $45 million on lobbying and rake in $5.1 billion for immigrant detention.  The industry invests in campaign contributions to key legislators.   Connect the dots?  Last month, sequestration cuts prompted ICE to release low-risk detainees from custody, dropping the number of detainees to less than 31,000.   Chairman Rogers’ bill requires ICE to resume paying for all 34,000 detention beds.  (And BTW, the cost of a detention bed is comparable to many hotel rooms.)
  4. And then there’s the pay freeze for federal workers.  (Are we ever going to have an economy that works for the 99%?)  Here’s the reality that most of us have known our entire working lives: productivity has skyrocketed, while our wages have remained relatively flat.  Growth of real hourly compensation for production/nonsupervisory workers and productivity, 1948–2011. Economic Policy Institute
    Ever since Richard Nixon was President, economic growth has been transformed into corporate profits rather than increased wages.  How does the 1% keep that trend going?  By pitting workers against each other.  By telling us to consider ourselves lucky to even have a job.  By breaking union contracts, cutting benefits and implementing pay freezes.  This move is straight out of the ALEC playbook.  Connect the dots?  Chairman Rogers’ bill extends the federal employee pay freeze and, by maintaining the sequester, mandates unpaid furlough days – guaranteeing that federal workers will be losing ground on wages, just like the rest of us.

Yep, the House GOP still thinks they were elected to protect corporate interests.  Nope, they still don’t care how their budget will affect America’s families.  Bottom line: this budget reflects the priorities of the House GOP.

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

(Where can hungry five-year-olds find a good lobbyist?)

Guinta cut FEMA money

Congressman Guinta has decided that it is important for congressional candidates to weigh in on state issues, yet in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, he has dodged questions about why he voted to cut funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Congressman Guinta voted for the Ryan budget which cuts disaster preparation and response, and passed a continuing resolution that provided $3 billion less in disaster funding than requested by the President.

“Congressman Guinta has a heartless record of voting to cut the funding for FEMA, money that  communities depend on for disasters,” said Carol Shea-Porter.  “Now, he needs to explain whether or not he agrees with Mitt Romney that FEMA should be privatized or left to the states.  New Hampshire, which has just received a federal emergency declaration, deserves to know why he voted against protecting the state and its citizens.”

Background:

  • Romney’s budget cuts FEMA, on its face, by 40%.  Romney has vowed to cut federal spending to less than 20 percent of GDP by 2016 without touching entitlements or defense. That means that non-defense discretionary spending–which includes FEMA aid–would have to be reduced by an eye-popping 40 percent. The Romney campaign won’t say whether FEMA would be spared from those cuts but stresses that the necessary funding would be available.” Washington Post.
  • On September 23, 2011, Guinta voted in favor of HR 2608, a continuing resolution meant to fund the federal government through November 18, 2011. The legislation provided $3.65 billion for disaster assistance, roughly $3 billion less than what the Office of Management estimated the federal government needed in funding. [HR 2608, Vote #727, Office of Management and Budget, 9/5/11; The Hill, 9/23/11]
  • Ryan budget could hammer storm aid, critics say:  Mitt Romney says he wants to give states more power to deal with disasters like Sandy. But his running mate’s budget plan would threaten states’ ability to respond to massive storms, some experts say.  Paul Ryan’s House-passed budget would cut non-defense discretionary funding by 22 percent starting in 2014, according to the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which said in an August report that about one-third of that money goes to state aid for a range of needs including disaster response.  [Politico, 10/30/2012]

 

  • Subscribe to the NH Labor News via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 219 other subscribers

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement