Congresswoman Shea-Porter Meets with Paul O’Connor (Shipyard Metal Trades Council) to Discuss Continuing Effects of Sequestration

Submarine enroute to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

This afternoon, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) met with Paul O’Connor, President of the Shipyard Metal Trades Council, to discuss the destructive effects of sequestration and the need for Congress to replace these reckless cuts with a responsible budget.

March 21, 2013 rally at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Rally against Sequestration on March 21, 2013 at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

“Our shipyard will not survive another 9 ½ years of sequestration” O’Connor told Shea-Porter during their meeting in her Washington D.C. office. “Sequestration was never intended to be a sensible budget cutting device. It was a scheme of cuts so damaging that Congress would be forced to work together to avoid them. This is a bad law and it must end.”

Workers at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are among the roughly 650,000 U.S. Department of Defense employees who experienced up to 11 days of unpaid furloughs between July and September, suddenly reducing their income by 20 percent for the duration of the furloughs.

“I cannot stress this enough, Congress must pass a responsible budget that creates jobs and eliminates sequestration,” Shea-Porter said. “The men and women at the Shipyard are essential to our national defense and contribute $660 million to the region’s economy. Continuing the cuts of sequestration is unfair to these men and women, and it is a deeply misguided approach.”

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, sequestration will cost our economy up to 1.6 million jobs through 2014. According to a George Mason University study, the economic impact in New Hampshire is estimated to be $468 million in 2013.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter did not vote for sequestration and she spoke out against these indiscriminate cuts even before she was sworn into the 113th Congress. Since then, she has consistently spoken out in opposition to sequestration’s reckless cuts.

Want to keep the government afloat? Here’s the list of House GOP demands

ginsu


Just like the old Ginzu Knife commercials… “But wait, there’s more!”

Yes, House GOP leaders are insisting on a one-year delay of Obamacare (aka, the Affordable Care Act) as a condition of resolving this latest federal fiscal fiasco.

But that’s not all they’re looking for.

As compiled by the New York Times, here’s the list of House GOP leaders’ other demands:

…fast-track authority to overhaul the tax code, construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, offshore oil and gas production and more permitting of energy exploration on federal lands… roll back regulations on coal ash, block new Environmental Protection Agency regulations on greenhouse gas production, eliminate a $23 billion fund to ensure the orderly dissolution of failed major banks, eliminate mandatory contributions to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, limit medical malpractice lawsuits and increase means testing for Medicare, among other provisions.

Does anybody (other than Fox News and a few hundred Internet trolls) still think the House leadership is trying to “compromise” and resolve this latest Congress-created crisis?

 

GOP House Members still fighting? Gonna be costly.

Last person leaving, please dock the doors

No, it’s not de ja vu. It’s just that… so much of it is still exactly on-point.  Wish it wasn’t, but it is. So, with very few updates, here’s a repeat of my post from February 6, 2013:

————————

Last person leaving, please dock the doorsHoping for bipartisan cooperation, now that the election is over? Think again.

The weekend before the inauguration, Republicans gathered in Williamsburg to discuss strategies for “fighting” the President. Just a week later, former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan was telling a gathering of conservatives that “Republicans control both the House and most of the statehouses. So we have to oppose the president and the Senate on some fronts—and engage them on others…”

Does that sound like cooperation to you?

Looks like it’s going to be an interesting next few months. Two dates to mark on your calendar:

On March 1st, the sequestration cuts are scheduled to go went into effect. Cutting government services through these automatic, across-the-board cuts is expected to send the economy back into recession. One example: according to a study commissioned by the airline industry, the FAA’s share of the sequestration cuts is about $1 billion a year. That cut would reduce the nation’s air traffic between 5% and 10%, and the country would lose between 66,000 and 132,000 jobs related to air transportation. The irony? The economic losses would cause tax revenues to drop by as much as $1 billion a year. (Hmmn… $1 billion in tax revenues lost because of a $1 billion spending cut. Not a whole lot of deficit-reduction going on, is there?)  After members of Congress were inconvenienced by airport delays, the FAA was granted special treatment under the sequestration act.  Recent estimates of the economic costs of sequestration include:  1.6 million jobs and 1.2% of GDP.

On March 27th  September 30th, the “continuing resolution” that funded federal government expired. That means a possible “government shutdown”. According to Politico, a majority of GOP House members “are prepared to shut down the government to make their point. House Speaker John Boehner ‘may need a shutdown just to get it out of their system,’ said a top GOP leadership adviser.”

What happens if the government shuts down? Federal employees who are deemed “essential” are still required to go to work – they just don’t get paid until after Congress approves a bill to pay them. The last time there was a significant government shutdown, almost a half-million federal employees were required to work without pay for three weeks.

The economic damage went far beyond the family finances of federal employees. The crisis also caused 11 states to suspend unemployment insurance, due to lack of federal funds. Veterans’ services were suddenly unavailable (including counseling, vocational rehabilitation, and pension and education payments). The crisis affected the oil industry, leaving more than 10,000 barrels a day untapped while companies waited for federal reviews. The tourism industry suffered millions of dollars in losses each day of the shutdown, because passports and visas were not processed. The housing industry suffered when $800 million worth of mortgage loans were delayed. The crisis halted cleanup of 609 toxic waste sites. It left hundreds of thousands of children in limbo, waiting for foster care or adoption.

And that was only a partial government shutdown. Most of the government still had funding, during that shutdown. (Just imagine what may happen on March 27th! now!)

There’s a moral here, folks. Government services are integral to our nation’s economy.

Is there any hope that Congress could learn that lesson, in the next month or so? Or is the GOP going to insist on doing economic damage, “just to get it out of their system”?

The Tea Party’s ‘Penny Plan’: is it really to cut $1 trillion from seniors?

shiny_penny_by_stevendepolo_via_flikr

Teabaggers Descend on WashingtonRemember the health care Town Halls a few summers ago?  Remember all the Tea Party followers carrying “Keep Government Out of Medicare” picket signs?  Welcome to Round Two of the Craziness.

Tea Party leaders in the Senate are rolling out their “Penny Plan” to reduce the federal budget deficit.

The lawmakers are pitching the plan in the simplest terms — cutting a penny from every dollar the government spends so that spending will soon equal revenue.  “Everybody should be able to live with one percent less in order to help bring this country back from the brink of catastrophic failure,” bill sponsor and Wyoming Republican Sen. Mike Enzi said in submitting the legislation just before August recess.

And gosh, doesn’t that just sound totally reasonable?  Families all across America have been “making do” with a little less (sometimes a LOT less) lately.  So why can’t the federal government do the same?

Well, for starters, because the federal government already IS.  Remember the Sequester? That wasn’t just a one-time thing – it’s a 10-year schedule of increasingly tough budget cuts.  So, as the government plans for the next decade:

Already built into Congressional Budget Office assumptions is essentially a freeze in all government programs other than Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the other entitlements. That means that the 15 major executive departments and all of the independent agencies will be spending about 20 percent less after adjusting for inflation and population growth than they are spending now. As a result, we are already facing significant cutbacks in government services, ranging from food safety to law enforcement, air traffic control and national defense.

And now Tea Party legislators want to add their “Penny Plan” on top of the Sequester cuts.  That’s another trillion out of the federal budget.  Where do you suppose it’s going to come from?

If the FBI, the federal judiciary, the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA, the veterans medical program, the State Department, Customs and Border Patrol, the National Parks, cancer research, aid to local schools, and every other activity of every other department and independent agency of the government outside of defense was eliminated

… that would only account for about 60% of the cuts that would be required by the Penny Plan.

Don’t know about you, but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for Tea Party legislators to cut defense spending.  [See 70 years of US defense spending, in one chart, here.]  Which leaves – yes, that’s right – “entitlements”.

Shiny Penny 2001 D Macro April 30, 20101The folks pitching the plan just talk about pennies.  But the bill itself singles out three programs that help senior citizens:  Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  (Remember that more than two-thirds of all nursing home/long-term care costs are paid by Medicaid, not Medicare or private insurance.)

I wonder what a trillion dollar cut to senior citizens would look like.  (Would it maybe look like all those “death panels” everyone was so worried about, a few years back?)

Here’s another reality check: the Penny Plan already has strong support among Republican legislators.  According to one count, 16 Senators and 65 Representatives support the Plan.  The list of Senators includes at least a couple of guys who want to run for President…

… and Senate Republicans have – at least so far – blocked efforts to appoint conference committee members to negotiate with the House regarding the FY14 budget.   The FY13 budget expires in five weeks.

And the Senate still has the filibuster.

It’s going to be an interesting next few months.  I hope that, this time around, the Tea Party’s followers are able to see beyond the “just a penny” rhetoric, to all the very real damage that this Plan would cause.

———

My phrase of the day is “ginning up”.  It means

  1. To create or arouse strong feelings in (someone); move or excite.
  2. To fabricate, invent or concoct (something), typically with deceitful intent.
  3. To quickly create something where time, not careful attention to detail, is of the essence.

Synonyms include: stir up, goad, whip up, fan the flames of, provoke, incite, and ignite.

Did you attend any of those health care Town Halls?  If so, you probably already know what this term means.

 

 

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter Fights Against Shipyard Furloughs

Carol Shea-Porter_Official.2010-300x288

Congresswoman asks Pentagon for answers on exemptions

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, at a briefing on the impacts of Department of Defense furloughs, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter addressed the concerns of the 1,300 workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard who have been furloughed and will lose 11 days of work this fiscal year due to federal budget cuts under sequestration. Shea-Porter asked Under Secretary of Defense, Comptroller, Robert Hale why the Department of Defense is still furloughing workers at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard after Secretary Hagel explicitly directed that these workers be exempt.

On May 14, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stated in a memorandum that “employees in Navy shipyards will be exempted from furlough because it would be particularly difficult to make up delays in maintenance work on nuclear vessels and these vessels are critical to mission success.” After Hagel’s decision, most workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard were granted exemptions, but 1,300 others were still furloughed.

In response to Shea-Porter’s question, Mr. Hale stated that he did not know exactly why some Shipyard workers were furloughed, and promised to get back to her with an answer.

Shea-Porter said that she is hopeful that all workers at the Shipyard will be given exemptions.

“All Shipyard workers deserve to be paid in full and my goal is to work with the Department of Defense to ensure that every Shipyard worker is treated equally and exempted equally,” Shea-Porter said. “The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is a team. It should not be split up because the whole team is essential to their mission.”

As of March 1, 2013, when sequestration went into effect, the Department of Defense’s budget for the 2013 fiscal year (ending September 30, 2013) was reduced by $37 billion, including $20 billion in Operations and Maintenance (O&M) accounts that fund the civilian workforce. Because of this cut, the Department of Defense furloughed 680,000 of its civilian employees. These furloughs began on July 8, 2013.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter Cosponsors American Jobs Act of 2013

Carol Shea-Porter_Official.2010-300x288

Legislation would create jobs, repeal sequestration, cut taxes for middle class families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter became an original cosponsor of the American Jobs Act of 2013, legislation that would put workers back on the job, put money back into the pockets of hardworking families, end sequestration, and reduce the deficit.

“America has a jobs crisis and Congress must take action,” Shea-Porter said. “This bill would create jobs, boost economic growth, and reduce the deficit. That’s a win-win-win. I urge Speaker Boehner to bring this legislation to the floor immediately. Millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans deserve this vote.”

Middle Class Tax Cuts: The bill would restore the Making Work Pay tax credit. This provides a tax credit equal to 6.2 percent of earnings for low- and middle-income workers, up to a maximum credit of $400 for individuals and $800 for couples. The legislation would also allow more Americans to refinance their mortgages at today’s low interest rates, which could put more than $2,000 in families’ pockets each year. 

Tax Cuts to Help Small Businesses Grow: The American Jobs Act of 2013 would allow small businesses to write off 100% of new investments in 2014. This incentivizes small businesses to expand and create jobs.

Putting Veterans Back to Work: A Returning Heroes Hiring Credit would provide a tax break of $5,600-$9,600 to encourage the hiring of unemployed veterans.

Rebuilding the Foundation of America: The legislation would put America on a pathway to out-innovate the world by upgrading thousands of public schools with new science labs and internet-ready classrooms; it would lay the foundation for future growth by modernizing our roads, rail, airports and waterways while putting hundreds of thousands of workers back on the jobs; and it would help keep America competitive in the 21st century by expanding access to high-speed wireless as part of a plan for freeing up the nation’s spectrum. 

Repealing Sequestration: Sequestration is harmful to New Hampshire’s economy. 1,300 workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) and 229 civilian technicians at Pease Air National Guard Base are among the thousands of Americans who are taking a pay cut as a result of sequestration. The American Jobs Act of 2013 ends the arbitrary cuts of sequestration and strengthens America’s economic growth. 

Doesn’t Add a Dime to the Deficit: The American Jobs Act of 2013 is fully paid for through common sense provisions to end special interest tax breaks so that everyone pays their fair share. It would repeal subsidies to big oil companies, close corporate loopholes, and tax carried interest in investment partnerships as ordinary income.

“It’s time Congress took a stand for the thousands of hardworking Granite Staters who deserve better than a low-paying job or no job at all,” Shea-Porter said. “This legislation would cut taxes for small businesses and middle class families, close tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires, repeal sequestration, and create jobs. Let’s bring this bill to the floor and have a vote on it immediately. Then everyone in New Hampshire can see who’s working to cut their taxes and put people back to work, and who wants to stand on the sideline and do nothing. ”

In September 2011, President Obama and congressional leaders announced the original American Jobs Act. The updated American Jobs Act of 2013 works to address American’s unacceptably high unemployment rate by reintroducing many of the most effective parts of the American Jobs Act and ending sequestration.

According to an independent analysis by Moody’s, the American Jobs Act would create 1.9 million jobs and boost economic growth by two percent. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that the bill would reduce the deficit by $3 billion over ten years.

In New Hampshire, the unemployment rate in June was 5.2 percent. Nationally, the rate for the month was 7.6 percent, unchanged from the May rate.

Shea-Porter has actively worked to support policies that would create jobs, grow the economy, and strengthen the middle class. She has cosponsored three bills that would end sequestration; according to George Mason University sequestration will cost New Hampshire over 6,300 jobs and $323 million in income for state residents.

She has also cosponsored multiple pieces of legislation that would help small businesses expand and create jobs. H.R. 952, the Main Street Revival Act, would help small businesses in distressed communities by allowing them to defer payroll tax payments for one year. H.R. 1916, the TRADE for Small Businesses and Jobs Act, would make it easier for small businesses to increase their exports and expand into new markets by providing a one-stop source to monitor changes in foreign regulations and trade barriers.

“Independent analysis said the American Jobs Act would create almost 2 million jobs,” Shea-Porter said. “Saying no to this bill is saying no to millions of unemployed workers, millions of families who’d see a tax break, and millions of small businesses who could now afford to invest and create jobs.”

As NH Civilian Workers Face Furloughs, Shea-Porter Calls on Congress to Replace Sequestration

Carol Shea-Porter_Official.2010-300x288

Over 1,500 NH workers face up to 11 days of unpaid furloughs; economic loss is estimated at $3 million

Carol Shea-Porter_Official.2010-300x288

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter

PORTSMOUTH, NH – This week, 1,300 workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) and 229 civilian technicians at Pease Air National Guard Base will join the growing list of Americans who are being punished as a result of Congress’ failure to replace the arbitrary cuts of sequestration with a balanced plan that reduces the deficit and grows our economy.

“I am extremely frustrated and disappointed that furloughs are underway at the Shipyard, Pease, and across New Hampshire in spite of the critical work being done by the hardworking men and women of our state,” Rep. Carol Shea-Porter said. “New Hampshire families are being hurt by an unnecessary pay cut because Speaker Boehner refuses to bring a responsible deficit reduction plan up for a vote. I urge every member of Congress, regardless of party, to put aside political differences and consider the effects sequestration is having on our country’s national security, our economy, and middle class families. We need to work together to replace sequestration with a plan that creates jobs, invests in infrastructure and innovation, and pays down our deficit in a balanced way.”

Workers at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are among the roughly 650,000 U.S. Department of Defense employees facing up to 11 days of unpaid furloughs, suddenly reducing their income by 20 percent for the duration of the furloughs. This will result in a national economic impact of more than $2.04 billion. In New Hampshire, the economic loss is estimated at around $3 million.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter did not vote for sequestration and she spoke out against these indiscriminate cuts even before she was sworn into the 113th Congress. Since then, she has consistently spoken out in opposition to sequestration’s reckless cuts.

On February 5, she sent a letter to Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi requesting immediate action to address sequestration. In the letter, she said: “I am writing to you to express my concern that Congress has not yet dealt with the threat to our economy and national defense posed by the automatic sequestration cuts that were passed by the 112th Congress. These cuts, enacted as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, are irresponsible and arbitrary, and would place a crippling burden on many critical departments and agencies in the federal government. In New Hampshire, we are already seeing the threat posed by sequestration as the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has begun to take steps to prepare for it.”

On March 3, she cosponsored the Stop the Sequester Job Loss Now Act, legislation that would eliminate the sequester for calendar year 2013 entirely while reducing the deficit by more than the amount of the scheduled across-the-board spending cuts. It makes specific policy choices that reduce the deficit in a balanced way, with a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases.

On March 8, she submitted a statement to the House Budget Committee about the effects of sequestration on New Hampshire, specifically highlighting the importance of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to the region’s economy and our nation’s national defense.

On March 12, she cosponsored H.R. 900, the Cancel the Sequester Act of 2013, a one-sentence bill that would repeal the section of the Budget Control Act of 2011 that created sequestration.

On March 21, she expressed her solidarity with Shipyard workers after they rallied against sequestration. She said, “I stand with local workers and businesses in opposition to sequestration’s irresponsible and reckless cuts.”

On March 25, she toured the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and discussed the impact of sequestration with workers and Navy leaders. After the tour, she held a press conference with Paul O’Connor, President of the Shipyard Metal Trades Council, and Shipyard workers to denounce the harm of sequestration.

On March 28, she toured Pease to discuss her fight against sequestration, gather information about its on-the-ground impact, and push for the KC-46A tanker.

On June 3, she cosponsored H.R. 2060, the Stop the Sequester Job Loss Now Through 2014 Act. The legislation would completely replace the across-the-board cuts through fiscal year 2014, while calling for a balanced solution to stop the full multi-year sequester.

On June 20, she signed a discharge petition requiring the House to work with the Senate to produce a final budget compromise.

On June 21, she led a group of 21 Representatives in sending a letter to the House Appropriations Committee requesting that Federal TRIO Programs be protected from further cuts under sequestration in Fiscal Year 2014.

On July 8, she joined members of the Maine and New Hampshire congressional delegations in hosting General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and visited PNSY and Pease to discuss furloughs caused by sequestration.

“From the Seacoast to the North Country, sequestration not only inflicts irrational cuts on education, health, and national security priorities, but it punishes hard-working families and hampers our economic recovery,” Shea-Porter concluded. “For the health of our economy and our middle class, Congress must act to replace these indiscriminate cuts with a responsible plan that will help, not hurt, our economic recovery.”

Who cares about hungry families? Maybe not the Senate – but your letter carrier does

2013_Stamp_Out_Hunger

Congress is getting really good at pulling together just-after-the-last-minute political deals.

The latest deal passed the Senate unanimously last night.  (What? No filibuster?)  Apparently everybody agreed it would be a good idea to give the Federal Aviation Administration a special exemption to Sequestration.

“Just days after forced unpaid leaves for controllers began, delaying thousands of flights — 876 flights were delayed on Wednesday alone” the Senate decided that maybe Sequestration wasn’t such a good idea after all – at least not when it starts to affect the traveling public.  Read more here.

The bill is expected to pass the House today.  FAA furloughs should be a thing of the past before the Senate goes on vacation next week.

Wow. That was fast. But it’s a real shame that the Senate doesn’t care as much about hungry families as it cares about flight delays.

Take the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program (WIC), for example.  Even while Congress was debating Sequestration, “a number of state and local WIC agencies took steps to reduce their costs.  For example, some clinics laid off staff…  Some states closed or consolidated clinics… Some clinics reduced service hours…  making it harder for low-income women to apply for benefits, especially working women.”  (Read more here.)  And when the dust finally settled on this year’s budget, Congress had appropriated 7% less funding for the WIC program than it received last year.

Sequestration cut federal funding to food pantries, even though the number of people relying on food pantries is still rising.  Some pantries are hoping local benefactors will fill in the gap.  Other pantries are just closing.

Around the nation, Meals on Wheels programs are feeling the cuts.  One program in North Carolina – which has 200 people on its waiting list – is losing funding equivalent to 12,000 meals.  In Maryland, another Meals on Wheels program may be forced to cut its service from five days a week to only four.

The Sequester has hit Federal unemployment benefits, too.  About 15% of unemployed workers now receive extended unemployment benefits that are funded by the federal government.  The Sequester means those benefits will be cut by about 11% for the rest of the fiscal year.  Families’ choices about food versus housing, and which overdue bill to pay this week, are about to get a lot harder.

None of these programs are even on the radar screen, as the Senate prepares to leave town for vacation.  But flight delays?  That got solved by the Senate in record time – unanimously, to boot.

Wow.  What does that say about the priorities of our Congress?  (Read “The Republicans Make an Offer on Sequestration” here.)

Now, look at the priorities of the National Association of Letter Carriers.  Going door-to-door every day, postal carriers know the hunger problem in America all too well.

For more than two decades, the NALC has held a one-day food drive to help restock food pantries across the country.  This effort “is the country’s largest one-day food-collection effort. Last year, we picked up more than 70 million pounds of non-perishable food donations, which brought our grand total from more than two decades of collections to 1.2 billion pounds.”

2013_Stamp_Out_HungerThis year’s NALC “Stamp out Hunger” food drive will be held Saturday, May 11th (the day before Mothers Day).  Don’t forget to leave your sack of non-perishables out by your mailbox.  Want more details?  Click here.

Barry Goldwater explains: why Chained-CPI is such a big, hairy deal

Camel by Just_Chaos via flikr

Bactrian Camel by Just_Chaos via flikrBack in 1958, Barry Goldwater explained his opposition to a bill this way:   “If the camel once gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow.”

In other words: a tremendous – unwanted – change can be started by a little tiny encroachment… and then the rest of the change will come right along behind it.

Those of us in the union movement have seen this strategy in action, too many times to count.

Recognize this scenario?  Workers used to have fully-paid health insurance.  Then management insisted on a small “contribution” toward the cost.  Then premiums were “shared”.  Now, in too many workplaces, there is no health insurance at all.

How about this one?  Workers used to have employer-sponsored pension plans.  Then employers insisted on moving to 401(k) plans.  Now, very few jobs (other than at the CEO level) offer any type of retirement plan at all.

Or this one?  Union workers used to have job security.  Then employers insisted on contract amendments so they could hire part-timers or contractors “in emergencies”.  Now, some worksites are staffed entirely by part-timers or contract employees, and job security is very, very hard to find.

As Barry Goldwater described things: It’s the camel’s nose, creeping in… and the rest of the camel soon follows.

And that’s why union leaders are reacting so strongly to proposals that would change Social Security benefits by tying Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) to “chained CPI” (rather than the usual Consumer Price Index).

Union members have had enough experience with this strategy; by now, we recognize a camel’s nose when we see one.

The idea of “privatizing” Social Security has been rattling around the Republican Party since Barry Goldwater ran for President.

But it hasn’t happened yet – despite the recent best efforts of George W. Bush and Paul Ryan.

So during debt limit negotiations in the summer of 2011, the Republicans took a different tack.  Rather than trying to get the camel in through the tent door… they just asked for a little, tiny change to the way that Social Security COLAs are calculated.  Just one little, tiny change.

That debt limit crisis was resolved – with the camel’s nose still outside the tent – by the deal we all know as “sequestration”.  And since that time, the Fiscal Cliff has passed and a possible government shutdown has been avoided.  But that one little tiny change to Social Security has remained a Republican priority.

The White House held a press briefing the day before President Obama’s budget was filed.  One important point from that briefing was never covered by the mainstream press:

[S]enior administration officials characterized the official adoption of Chained CPI as both a recognition that rounding out a grand bargain will require making concessions to the GOP, and as a final gesture of good faith to Republicans in Congress… But the officials also stressed that Chained CPI will never become law unless Republicans respond (in unlikely fashion) by agreeing to limit tax expenditures benefiting high-income earners.  If they don’t, it will mark the end of Obama’s two-year quest to secure trillions of dollars in deficit reduction on a bipartisan basis.

In other words, don’t believe new National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden when he talks about chained CPI as “a shocking attack on seniors.”

How can it possibly be “shocking”, Rep. Walden?

Republicans have been trying to “reform” Social Security since Barry Goldwater ran for President, almost half a century ago.

And Barry Goldwater knew full well how to get a camel into the tent.

 

The House GOP Is Acting Like Teenagers, As President Obama Submits His Budget

teenagers

This Wednesday, President Obama is expected to file his budget proposal for the next fiscal year.

Are you wondering why his budget is expected to include

Straight from an observer in DC, here is the best explanation I’ve heard so far:  Having President Obama support these policies is a guaranteed way to get Republicans to oppose them.

“Yes, we have reached that level of adolescence on Capitol Hill.”

By U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Nathanael T. Miller [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Here’s the thing about teenagers: they don’t always think ahead to the consequences of their actions.