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Kuster Leads 178 Democrats In Calling on Speaker Boehner to End Threat of Government Shutdown and Default

In letter to Speaker Boehner, Kuster and colleagues urge House Republican leadership to publicly declare they will not use threat of a government shutdown or default as leverage in budget negotiations 

Estimates show recent shutdown cost U.S. economy $24 billion, reduced 4th quarter GDP growth by 0.6 percent, and triggered higher interest rates that added $100 million to deficit in final week of shutdown alone 

Kuster to Boehner: No More Shutdowns

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As lawmakers from both parties begin to negotiate a long-term budget agreement, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-05) are leading a coalition of 178 Democratic lawmakers in calling on Speaker Boehner and Republican leadership to publicly declare that they will not use the threat of another government shutdown or default as leverage in budget talks. Underscoring the economic damage caused by the recent shutdown, the group of lawmakers said that Congress must work together to pass a responsible budget agreement and take the crippling twin threats of a shutdown and default off the table for good.

“We are sending a clear message to the Republican leadership on behalf of the American people – No More Shutdowns,” said Kuster and Esty.

“The 16-day-long federal government shutdown is over and default on America’s debt has been averted, although no one is relieved that this latest crisis ever occurred.  Now, we are deeply concerned that the American people are in danger of another shutdown or threat of default early next year,” the lawmakers wrote. “The most powerful source of uncertainty to American families and businesses is the threat of a government shutdown and default on our debts. That is why we are writing to you to urge you and your leadership to publicly declare that you will not again use the threat of a government shutdown or default as leverage in the important discussions regarding long-term deficit reduction and economic growth.”

Earlier this month, Kuster was part of a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers that voted for a compromise measure that ended the shutdown, prevented a default, and gave Congress more time to work together on a balanced, long-term budget agreement. During the shutdown, Kuster wrote an op-ed calling on Speaker Boehner to let Congress vote on a simple, bipartisan bill to fully end the shutdown so that Congress could return its focus to helping create jobs and opportunity for middle class families.

 

The full text of the group’s letter is below:

October 31, 2013
Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House
Washington, D.C.  20515

Dear Mr. Speaker,

The 16-day-long federal government shutdown is over and default on America’s debt has been averted, although no one is relieved that this latest crisis ever occurred.  Now, we are deeply concerned that the American people are in danger of another shutdown or threat of default early next year.

The most powerful source of uncertainty to American families and businesses is the threat of a government shutdown and default on our debts. That is why we are writing to you to urge you and your leadership to publicly declare that you will not again use the threat of a government shutdown or default as leverage in the important discussions regarding long-term deficit reduction and economic growth. 

The American people depend on their elected representatives to be problem solvers and get our work done. When we fail to do our job, however, it is not the American people who should pay the price for our inability to reach critical agreements. 

The cost to our nation is too high. The absence of paychecks to hundreds of thousands of federal employees during the course of the shutdown caused real economic hardship to those employees and their families and to private businesses whose livelihoods were affected by the shutdown.

Ratings agencies and economists from across the political spectrum agree that the shutdown and threat of default took a real toll on our economy and that the possibility of repeating these crises is causing ongoing uncertainty and economic weakness. 

  • Standard & Poor’s estimated that the recent shutdown cost our economy $24 billion and reduced 4th quarter GDP growth by 0.6 percent. The shutdown triggered higher short-term interest rates, adding $100 million to the federal budget deficit in the last week of the shutdown alone.  And Standard & Poor’s said that the threat of another shutdown and possible default weighs heavily on the economy.  “The short turnaround for politicians to negotiate some sort of lasting deal will weigh on consumer confidence, especially among government workers that were furloughed,” the agency said in its October 16 report.
  • Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, “said he has downgraded his projected growth for the gross domestic product for the last quarter of this year from 2.6 percent to 2.1 percent because of the shutdown and simply the threat that Congress would not raise the debt ceiling on time,” according the Times-Tribune of Scranton, PA.
  • Joel Naroff, founder of Naroff Economic Advisors, said the “shutdown trimmed fourth-quarter growth by 20% – an outcome any business would ‘consider a disaster’,” according to USA Today.
  • Gennadiy Goldberg, economist at TD Securities, said, “’The recovery is on hold for another four months,’ citing the unresolved differences in Washington over the government budget,” according to Thompson/Reuters.
  • And Adam Posen of the Peterson Institute for International Economics said, “This will accelerate the rate at which the Chinese renminbi becomes accepted — at least throughout Asia — as an alternative to the dollar, or Chinese government bonds become accepted as an alternative [to U.S. Treasurys],” according to National Public Radio.

This sobering economic hardship should have never been visited upon the American people. The shutdown and threat of default were unnecessary and costly. 

Congress has voted itself 90 days to reach a long-term budget agreement. We respectfully request that Congress work hard to reach an agreement sooner than that and that you and your colleagues in leadership remove the threat of another shutdown or default on America’s debt as a weapon in these talks.

We are working in good faith to meet our responsibilities and achieve the goals set out in last week’s agreement to open the government and avoid default.  All House Democrats and some Republicans voted for that agreement.  By acting now to take the threat of another shutdown or default off the table you can provide certainty and economic relief that American families and privates businesses desperately need.

Unions Lobbying To Keep Federal Workers Out Of Debt Reduction Plans

There has been a lot of talk in Washington about the ‘Fiscal Cliff’. It is dominating the new media outlets.  Some of the largest and most powerful unions helping members get in touch with their elected representatives in Congress.   Some are meeting face-to-face.

The Hill reported:

“Hundreds of union members will be on Capitol Hill this week to lobby lawmakers to leave entitlements alone and let tax cuts for the wealthy expire.”

“Union members from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the National Education Association (NEA) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) will also be on Capitol Hill this week to lobby lawmakers.”

Richard Trumka President of the AFL-CIO stated:

“We just had an election in which one candidate proposed to lower tax rates for the richest 2% of Americans and cut benefits for Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare. He lost,” Trumka says in the letter. “We ask you to respect the will of the voters and promise to (1) let Bush tax rates for the richest 2% of Americans expire in December and (2) oppose benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.”

AFSCME and American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) are really making the push to leave Federal Workers out of the deficit reduction plans.   Just the other night AFSCME President Lee Saunders was a guest on “The Ed Show”  to talk about what needs to happen during these negotiations.  Increasing taxes on the top two per-cent and leaving Federal Employees out.

The Ed Show

The Republicans on the Hill are already pushing out their ideas.  GovExec.Com reports that many of the unions are already rejecting the GOP proposal due to another three year pay freeze.

“Federal employee unions have come out strongly against a new Republican deficit reduction proposal that includes a three-year pay freeze extension for the federal workforce and increases the amount employees would pay into their pensions.”

“A problem as serious as the fiscal cliff deserves serious solutions, and Sen. Corker’s proposal sadly falls short of that mark,” William R. Dougan, national president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, said in a statement. “Though his proposal contains many promising provisions such as capping tax deductions and means-testing entitlements, the remainder reads like a greatest hits album of anti-federal employee policies. Under Sen. Corker’s proposal federal workers would pay more for health care, more for retirement and do it all on a smaller paycheck — that is, if they still have a job.”

President Dougan is referring to the employee attrition plan that would hire one employee to replace every three that leave.

AFGE is planning a nationwide phone bank for members. They are encouraging their members to call 1 (888) 907-5171 to be patched through to their Congressional Reps.

The federal workers need our help.  Look up your Representatives here, and then call them.  Use this sample script below (from AFGE).

Urge your representative and senators to end the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2% — those making more than $250,000 a year. And urge them to oppose any cuts to federal pay and pensions, critical services, and Social Security and Medicare. Remind them that middle class Americans, particularly federal employees, have sacrificed enough. It’s time for the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.

Even if you are not a federal worker, they need our help.  Make the call, these programs they want to cut will not only hurt federal workers but all working middle class families and seniors.

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