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Senator Shaheen Reiterates Call To Reopen The Government

Image from Senator Shaheen's Website

Image from Senator Shaheen’s Website

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) hosted The Provident Bank President Chuck Withee this afternoon at a Small Business Committee hearing where she also renewed her call for a bipartisan solution to end the government shutdown.  At the hearing Shaheen cited the severe consequences the shutdown is having on the economy and Withee specifically noted how lending has stalled due to the shutdown which has caused uncertainty and hurt New Hampshire small businesses as a result.  The hearing provided a forum for multiple small business owners to discuss the government shutdown’s impact on their businesses.

“The brinkmanship in Washington is hurting New Hampshire businesses and jobs and it needs to end,” Shaheen said. “I share the frustration and worry about the very real consequences on small businesses and families of this unnecessary shutdown.

“Holding jobs, the economy and critical services hostage to score political points is irresponsible,” Shaheen added. “We need to work together to do what’s right for our country and get our government running again.”

The Small Business Committee hearing is the second official meeting this year focused on the impact of Congressional impasses on small businesses. Earlier this year, the Committee held a roundtable on the impacts of the indiscriminate budget cuts which Shaheen voted to replace in a responsible Senate Budget Resolution in March. In New Hampshire small businesses make up 96 percent of the state’s employers and nationally, small businesses create two out of every three new jobs. The shutdown has put a stop on critical sources of small business credit, services and economic certainty.

“Small businesses across New Hampshire are suffering for every day the government is shut down,” said Withee, who testified at the Small Business Committee hearing. “The impact is real – small businesses don’t have the certainty they need to function and that hurts every aspect of our economy.  Each day Congress doesn’t reopen the government only makes our situation worse.”

Withee also noted that The Provident Bank, which has offices in Southern New Hampshire and Massachusetts, has had twelve small business loans for a total of $2.7 million stall because of the shutdown, resulting in uncertainty for business owners.

Shaheen has been part of a bipartisan effort to end the obstructionism that has paralyzed Congress and has repeatedly urged for bipartisan cooperation to reopen the government.  Shaheen has also advocated for Congress to reform its broken budget process and convert it to a two-year biennial budget cycle. She joined Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) to introduce legislation  to convert the annual spending process to a two-year budget cycle, which the Senate adopted as an amendment to its budget resolution passed in March.

Shea-Porter Urges Speaker Boehner to Stop Playing Games with U.S. Default

CSP Official PhotoWASHINGTON, DC – Building on her efforts to end the government shutdown and put Americans back to work, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today called on Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) to stop threatening default, end the government shutdown, and work across the aisle on a bipartisan budget that grows the economy and creates jobs.

In two days, the United States is slated to exhaust its borrowing authority, resulting in self-inflicted wounds that could cripple economic growth, create uncertainty for families and businesses, and drive the country back into recession. Increasing the debt limit does not authorize new spending nor does it increase the deficit. It simply allows the Treasury Department to pay the bills Congress has already incurred.

“Instead of taking our country to the brink of default, Washington Republicans should reopen the government and ensure America pays its bills on time so we can negotiate a bipartisan budget and focus on growing the economy,” Shea-Porter said. “For Speaker Boehner to allow the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party to put its ideology ahead of the health of the U.S. economy and financial security of New Hampshire families is irresponsible and unacceptable.”

In recent days, Senate Democratic and Republican lawmakers have held multiple meetings over a bipartisan approach to ending the government shutdown and raising the debt ceiling. To date, House Republican leaders have refused to bring a bipartisan funding bill up for a vote. Today, Speaker Boehner discussed introducing legislation that would only raise the debt ceiling if parts of the Affordable Care Act were repealed or delayed, such as removing requirements that employer-offered health insurance cover birth control and other forms of contraception.

“These partisan politics are exactly what Granite Staters hate about Washington,” Shea-Porter said. “This shutdown has now dragged on for two weeks, and that’s two weeks too many. It’s time to re-open our government, pay our nation’s bills, and work together to create jobs.”

Economists and politicians have widely agreed that failure to raise the debt ceiling will have significant negative consequences on the U.S. economy.

President Ronald Reagan: “The full consequences of a default — or even the serious prospect of default — by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate.”

Judd Gregg, Former Republican Senator from New Hampshire: “Defaulting on the nation’s obligations, which is the alternative to not increasing the debt ceiling, is not an option either substantively or politically. A default would lead to some level of chaos in the debt markets, which would lead to a significant contraction in economic activity, which would lead to job losses, which would lead to higher spending by the federal government and lower tax revenues, which would lead to more debt.   It understates things to say merely this is not a smart position to put forward. It is a terrible policy that would produce immense economic disruption and very difficult times for people on Main Street.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce:  “The U.S. Chamber respectfully urges the House of Representatives to raise the debt ceiling in a timely manner and thus eliminate any question of threat to the full faith and credit of the United States government.” [letter to Congress, 9/18/13]

Ben Bernanke, Chairman Federal Reserve Bank: “A government shutdown, and perhaps even more so a failure to raise the debt limit, could have very serious consequences for the financial markets and for the economy.”

Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics: “It will be devastating to the economy… Consumer confidence will sharply decline, investor confidence, business confidence. Businesses will stop hiring, consumers will stop spending, the stock market will fall significantly in value, borrowing costs for businesses and households will rise.”

Bloomberg Editorial Board: “A default could trigger a global crash.”

Steve Bell, Senior Director for Economic Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center: “I don’t know any serious person who doesn’t think this will be cataclysmic.”

Washington Post: “[A] debt-ceiling breach would push the economy into a free fall…The Obama administration will have to decide whether to delay — or possibly suspend — tens of billions of dollars in Social Security checks, food stamps and unemployment benefits if negotiations to raise the federal debt ceiling are not resolved this week, experts say, one of the many difficult choices officials will have to make at a time when the government will essentially be running on fumes.”

New York Times Editorial Board: “The Republican-induced government shutdown and the party’s threats to create another crisis next week over the debt ceiling are causing harm internationally as well as at home. They are undermining American leadership in Asia, impeding the functioning of the national security machinery, upsetting global markets and raising questions about the political dysfunction of a country that has long been the world’s democratic standard-bearer.”

 

Does The Government Shutdown Mean “The End of the World”? The Radical Religious Right Thinks So

The End of the World Is Nigh

Ok, so maybe the government shutdown IS “the end of the world.”  At least as far as some Tea Party leaders are concerned.

Yes, seriously.  No, this is not a joke.

This eye-opening analysis comes from Rev. Morgan Guyton, a pastor in Louisiana:

I wanted to do some research into the theological roots of Senator Ted Cruz, the standard-bearer of the Tea Party Republicans behind the shutdown… It turns out that Ted’s father, Rafael Cruz, is a pastor with Texas charismatic ministry Purifying Fire International who has been campaigning against Obamacare the last several months. He has a distinct theological vision for what America is supposed to look like: Christian dominionism.

Here’s Christian Zionist charismatic pastor Larry Huch, a year ago, when he was introducing Sen. Cruz’s father as a guest preacher at Huch’s “New Beginnings” megachurch:

But here’s the exciting thing… The rabbinical teaching is… that in a few weeks begins that year 2012 and that this will begin what we call the end-time transfer of wealth.  …It’s said this way: that God is looking at the church and everyone in it and deciding in the next three and a half years who will be his bankers. And the ones that say here I am Lord, you can trust me, we will become so blessed that we will usher in the coming of the messiah.

Here’s how the Rev. Guyton distills the current state of Cruz’s theology:

The reason governmental regulation has to disappear from the marketplace is to make it completely available to the plunder of Christian ‘kings’ who will accomplish the ‘end time transfer of wealth.’ Then ‘God’s bankers’ will usher in the ‘coming of the messiah.’ The government is being shut down so that God’s bankers can bring Jesus back.

—–

OK, take a minute to breathe here.  Remember that most Christians (including, particularly, Rev. Guyton) don’t believe that bankers can bring Jesus back.  (Most Christians take a very different message from the Bible.  Remember my post “The Republicans Make an Offer on Sequestration”?)

But it’s a very enlightening perspective on the current federal crisis.

—–

Prepared for even more enlightenment?  Read Rev. Guyton’s post on “The God of No Compromise and the Government Shutdown.”

[For evangelicals], the word ‘compromise’ has always been a bad word. It means to allow non-Christian values and influences to corrupt your devotion to Biblical truth.  … a stormtrooper evangelical Republican must categorically reject any idea that is generated by a Democrat because accepting it would amount to a compromise of worldview.

This need to “categorically reject” Democratic ideas helps explain why the right-wing Heritage Foundation so adamantly opposes Obamacare.  If you’re a policy geek, you might remember that the Heritage Foundation actually proposed the individual mandate, back in 1989.  But now that’s a Democratic policy… Sen. Cruz believes it’s a reason to shut down the government.

It also helps explain why – no matter how hard President Obama may try to “compromise” – his attempts to “meet in the middle” are always going to be rejected.  Read “Translating from TeaPartyese: What ‘negotiate’ really means.”

Translating from TeaPartyese: What “negotiate” really means

Stahlwille ratchet head (1/2 SQ)Don’t let them fool you.

When GOP Congressmen say they “just want to negotiate” – what they’re really saying is “we’re going to have it our way”.

And when they talk about “compromise” – they’re really talking about “ratcheting it down even further.”

You know how a ratchet works, right?  When you turn it, the screw can only go one way.  And the Tea Party’s position is: government can only get smaller.

They’re yelling about the federal deficit – and accumulated federal debt – but the only “solution” they’re willing to entertain is to cut spending.  Have you heard anybody suggest raising revenues, lately?

The fact is: as a share of the nation’s economy, federal tax revenues are at almost-record lows. Yes, they were lower, back when Harry Truman was President – but that was before Medicare was enacted in 1965.

Federal Tax Revenues as Percentage of GDP

And it looks like the GOP may have already won the federal budget game.

Remember 2011, when House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan came out with his budget“$4 trillion of cuts over decade

Remember how radical that budget seemed, back then?  How far to the right?  How extreme the cuts appeared?

Now, take a closer look at the “continuing resolution” passed by the Democratically-controlled Senate last week, in a last-ditch effort to avoid the government shutdown.

Yeah, the same “continuing resolution” that the House GOP won’t send to an up-do-down vote, without further concessions.

Funding levels in that “continuing resolution” are about 10% less than what Chairman Ryan proposed, back in 2011.

And it came from the Democrats.

And it’s still not enough for the GOP.

Ratchet, ratchet, ratchet.

—————————————

Read more about how the Senate’s continuing resolution compares to the Ryan budget here.

See the tax revenue data that my chart is based on here.

 

 

 

NH Congresswomen Weigh In On The So-Called “Full Faith and Credit Act”

Carol Shea-Porter_Official.2010-300x288WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives voted on H.R. 807, a bill that would ensure Chinese bondholders are paid before American soldiers in the case of a government default.

After the vote, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter issued the following statement:

“I strongly oppose this deeply irresponsible legislation. Middle class families can’t pick and choose which bills to pay, and neither should Congress. 

“H.R. 807 guarantees that if Republicans push our nation into default, bondholders from China and the Cayman Islands would be paid before America’s veterans, Medicare providers, and small businesses. 

“Instead of playing chicken with our nation’s credit rating, Congress should act responsibly and pay the bills that it has incurred.  I, once again, call on Speaker Boehner to appoint budget conferees so Congress can compromise on a sensible budget that ends sequestration, helps create jobs, and responsibly reduces the deficit.”

Congresswoman Annie Kuster also released a statement after her vote:

Ann kuster head shot LG“This bill is nothing more than a plan to default on our nation’s obligations, plain and simple,” Kuster said. “It sets the stage for yet another manufactured crisis that would prioritize payments to China and other foreign creditors over our obligations to seniors on Medicare, veterans, and the men and women of our Armed Forces.”

“Rather than simply bracing for default, both parties need to work together to reduce the deficit in a balanced way that will help create jobs, grow the economy, and strengthen the middle class,” Kuster added. “As we do, Congress must reassure creditors and the American people that our government will continue to meet its obligations and avoid a catastrophic default. Any suggestion that we would even consider doing otherwise would be irresponsible, undermine confidence in our government, and put our credit rating at risk.”

 

Congresswoman Kuster Tells Congress: No Budget, No Pay!

Ann kuster head shot LGDo you want to see some changes in Washington, threaten to take away their pay.

Today Congresswoman Kuster voted for the No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013, which prevents the federal government from defaulting on its debt through May 19 and prohibits pay for Members of Congress until they pass a budget.

“I voted for the No Budget, No Pay Act to remove the immediate threat of default and ensure that America will continue to meet its obligations. However, this bill is only a temporary fix and a far cry from responsible governing,” said Kuster. “The American people did not send us here to pass last-minute, stopgap measures that create uncertainty in our economy. They sent us here to come together to reduce the deficit in a balanced, responsible way that will help create jobs and grow the economy, put our nation on a sustainable fiscal path, and protect seniors and middle class families. While it’s far from perfect, this bill gives Congress time to focus on coming together to pass a budget that cuts the deficit.”

In addition to preventing a default on the nation’s debt, the No Budget, No Pay Act also withholds pay from Members of Congress if they fail to pass a budget by April 15.

“When Congress fails to pass a responsible budget, I believe that members of both parties should be held accountable,” Kuster added. “New Hampshire families and businesses have to live within a budget and make hard choices to balance their checkbooks. Members of Congress need to do the same. If they don’t, they shouldn’t get paid – period.”

How About We Maybe Don’t Intentionally Cause a Recession by Breaching the Debt Ceiling?

Written by Seth D. Michaels on the Working America Main Street Blog

This is the first thing you need to know before you hear anything else about the debt ceiling: it has to go up and everyone knows it. Before you listen to any of the political rhetoric or watch any of the media coverage, commit that truth to mind and remember it.

Why does it have to go up? For two reasons.

1. The debt ceiling doesn’t authorize new spending. It covers spending that Congress has already appropriated. Congress sets revenue levels and spending levels, and the administration has to obey those levels—that’s how it’s laid out in the Constitution. The debt ceiling only refers to Congress allowing the administration to borrow in order to meet the spending levels Congress appropriated.
2. If you breach the debt ceiling, it’s really, really bad. The exact extent to which it’s really bad is somewhat unpredictable, because we’ve never breached it before, but it’s guaranteed to have a big negative effect on the economy.

In his press conference yesterday, President Obama said—correctly—that the debt ceiling has to be raised to cover spending Congress already passed. Contrary to what theWashington Post’s Aaron Blake says, that’s not exactly a “semantic” difference or a “trick”—that’s how things actually work.

Nevertheless, Republicans in Congress continue to claim that this is an “opportunity” for them to force through unpopular policy changes they couldn’t otherwise carry out. In their public rhetoric, they’re claiming that raising the debt ceiling is something that President Obama wants, rather than a basic requirement of governing that everybody needs to happen. Put simply, they are lying.

So what happens if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling? A few descriptions from folks who have looked at it closely:

• “Unprecedented legal and economic chaos.”
• “The greatest smash in world financial history.”
• “Havoc would ensue.”
• “The markets will go haywire.”
• “We’d default on 40 percent of our obligations, over and over again…It would be pandemonium.”

Breaching the debt ceiling is essentially the same as tearing up your credit card bill and refusing to pay after the bank tells you that you hit your limit. It’s a declaration that we’re not good for the promises we’ve made, and that we won’t actually carry out the laws we’ve passed. Investors have been happy to put their money into the U.S.—refusing to raise the debt ceiling would hurt our national credit-worthiness far more than any deficit ever could. It would have spiraling consequences for the economy and could actually increase the deficit.

Who actually gets the checks when the government spends? A third of what the government spends is Social Security and Medicare benefits. Another fifth is taken up by military spending, including pay for active duty soldiers. Smaller portions are made up by veterans’ benefits, unemployment compensation, and Medicaid. That doesn’t even get into things like food safety inspectors, federal highway maintenance, air traffic controllers and college grants and loans. That’s real money that matters to real people—people who have house payments, kids to feed, medical needs.

The biggest problem we have in the economy right now is weak purchasing power—not enough people are employed and wages aren’t growing fast enough. We’re still trying to recover from a recession that devastated Americans’ purchasing power. A hit to purchasing power on the scale of a debt-ceiling breach would pull us back into recession.

Some officials are claiming that the government could pick and choose which bills it pays, so there wouldn’t be any “default,” just a “partial shutdown” of some government services. At the moment, that’s not true at all; the administration has no legal or constitutional power to pick and choose what to implement among the many kinds of spending Congress has mandated.

Republicans in Congress who understand how things work know that we have to raise the debt ceiling, but they’re hoping you don’t. The more confusing the argument over the debt ceiling is, the better off they’ll be. In reality, though, they’re threatening to intentionally tank the economy—to put us back into recession—unless they get policy changes that they couldn’t get through the normal democratic process. The word for that is “extortion.”

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