Posted tagged ‘government shut down’

When Small Hands Hold The Reins

January 21, 2018

In 2016, Republicans won enough districts and States that US Government control rested with the Republican party. President Trump would run the Executive branch, Mitch McConnell the Senate, and Paul Ryan the House. And behind them stood big money interests along with far right zealots who passed out bags of money and sheets of carefully crafted ideological words. This combo was “taking back the country”.

The 2016 election was a free and open event for the most part. There has been grumbling, especially from Democrats, that there had been Russian intervention in support of Donald Trump. Even if that is true, Russian intervention was de minimis.

Americans must wake up and realize what a democratic process has produced.
Congressional Republicans and the indescribable President Trump hold power because too many Americans

  • did not ask questions for clarity,
  • did not consider what too much power in the hands of public servants whose souls were mortgaged to the wealthy or the extreme views would do,
  • and did not consider that collectively this Republican horde would use democracy against the majority.

In essence, voters could not distinguish between two poor choices and instead preferred the party which offered the best mimicry of the Pied Piper.

Small Hands often drive an inferiority complex which can in turn lead to Napoleonic behavior. President Small Hands, while physically bigger in height than Napoleon, acts as if he is subject to no bounds, be they historic precedents, common decency, or the best interest of future generations.

Rather than pulling in government reins to limit a greedy Congressional majority, President Trump eggs them on. Small Hands urges Congress to change long standing rules design to protect minority interests simply because the GOP holds the majority and (he thinks) should have its way.

There seems to be no thought given to what happens when Democrats regain the majority, or what either today’s actions or future Democrat’s actions might do to the country.

Weak thinkers, hubris driven, can see nothing but their goal, and continuously seek an opening, at any cost, to achieve it. Great thinkers are, on the other hand, able to ask the question, is this objective worth more than what it might destroy?

President Trump is urging Mitch McConnell to change Senate rules again. The President wants McConnell to eliminate the right to filibuster by requiring a simple majority to end debate. Should McConnell submit to the President’s wishes, Congress could in the future flip flop on any legislation by simple majority votes. Sound fair?

Think about it, Tax cuts this year, reversal next term. How could businesses plan?

In short order, our economy would be in taters and our foreign policy a valueless commodity on the global stage.

President Small Hands does not see this (or simply does not care) but Senate Leader McConnell should.

The question is will he?

I’m Feeling Depressed

October 25, 2013

In fact I’m feeling quite well.  But when I consider the automatic response I make when I meet someone on the street… “hello, how are you?”  and I say, “great, I doing just great.”  Hmmm.  Feeling depressed somehow seems more appropriate.

But why?

It is a lovely October day.  Sun’s out, crisp temperature and looking around, everyday things look full of like and quite good.  Rowers are practicing for tomorrow’s “Head of the Schuylkill Regatta”.  Full of life and grace, what could be more optimistic?

Well let’s contrast this optimism for a dose of alternate reality.

The trails of our National Parks have been hardly disturb with new visitors since their closure due to the senseless and idiotic Government shut down.  How can one logically deal with politics where one party (maybe both) thinks that negotiating is better done by holding a gun to the other side’s head?

Now its time for “immigration reform” to fill prime time.  This issue is destine to go no where, too, due to the same type of “government shutdown” thinking.  The hoot is that House Republicans will show a deaf ear mainly because there can be no reform without a pathway to citizenship.  Citizenship is seen as more votes for Democrats.  Ain’t going to happen.  (And the real hoot is that with no movement on immigration, GOP Presidential chances in 2016 go with it.

Depression also has room for non-partisan issues too.  The Eric Snowdon-NSA scandal is a gift that keeps on giving.  The latest round of revelations involves the NSA listening in on private cell phone conversations of European Government leaders.  Big brother is out of control it appears.

Back in Philadelphia, public schools remain underfunded (like about $300 million).  In addition, those who graduate (only 50-60%) in far too many cases are unemployable due to inadequate verbal and math skills.  State Government has cut support for the Philadelphia School System and called for major changes to the Teacher’s contract as the price for more help.  What about the students?

The government shutdown, immigration reform, the NSA intelligence gathering, and even the Pennsylvania State’s lack of response to the Philadelphia School District pleas have the same themes in common.  Those opposed to the current situation feel licensed to wreak disproportionate damage on innocent standby-ers.  A second common theme is that the damage is done to others and those inflicting the damage suffer nothing.

Isn’t this depressing?

But wait, there’s more.

The Pennsylvania House Education Committee has just reported out a bill which would require all public schools to post a “motto” prominently within each and every school.  The motto is “in God we trust”.  This, of course, makes a mockery of the term “Education Committee” since apparently none have read the Constitution recently.  On a higher plain, forgetting the separation of church and state, doesn’t a “motto” seem irrelevant compared to schools graduating unprepared students?

And lets not forget the Republican controlled House will likely pass this measure as will the Republican controlled Senate.  Then instead of sending more financial assistance to Philadelphia Schools, the State can spend lots of money in a losing court fight defending their ridiculous action.

Hmmm, being depressed might be the appropriate response to “hello, how are you”.


Distance Makes The Mind See Clearly

October 6, 2013

On October 1, I left the US for a short vacation in Europe.  There’s nothing special about this event.  What has, however, made this trip somewhat special is to hear about the American government shut down from those from other countries.  “What are they thinking” might summarize Spanish views of Congressional behavior succinctly.

Here in Spain, hardly Europe’s number one economy, life is good.  With over a quarter of the Spanish work force unemployed, one would expect an angry population.  And that is not the case.

To be sure, younger Spanish workers long for a stronger economy.  Spaniards are proud people.  Work is honorable, and the money comes in handy.

Government aid has been part of a carefully designed balance between “stimulus” and “austerity”.  Efforts are aimed at growing out of debt while still putting on the debt brakes.  Trains run, cleanly and on time.  Shops are open and street tables are full.  Spain is working.

Newscasts report here in astonished terms the US government shut down.  Why, they ask.  Why is the most powerful country so paralyzed?  They hear that a minority is strongly opposing President Obama but in contrast to their parliamentary government where a majority does have the ability to bring down a government, a minority cannot.

And what is the issue causing all this, they ask?  Health care?  And what is the issue that is in disagreement?

Astonishment gives way to bewilderment when a Spaniard learns that the conservative minority wants to return to “pre-affordable care act” policies.  Why would any civilized nation be comfortable with preventive health care being denied many because they cannot afford insurance or they already have known “pre-existing” diseases.  How can the most powerful and most wealthy nation turn its social back on some of its citizens?  How can some America’s citizens opt to not participate in health care coverage knowing that if they suddenly became ill, they would be cared for and might avoid all financial responsibility?


Americans like to refer to both themselves and their country as “exceptional”.  I should say that might be true.  Unfortunately, America appears here exceptional for the wrong reasons.

Most Congress members (but not all) know this.  I wonder when their actions will follow their minds?


Will History Repeat?

July 24, 2013

Shutting down the Government is risky business.  When Republicans followed Speaker Newt Gingrich’s advice and refused to approve legislation funding daily Government operations in 1995/1996, President Bill Clinton called their bluff.  Unfortunately for the GOP, it was not a bluff and the Government was forced to suspend all but essential services for 28 days.  The GOP paid the price for this irresponsibility in the next election.

The tables are almost set for a repeat.  President Obama has proposed a budget which calls for modest increases in spending while the GOP is calling for significant cuts (except in Defense and State).  They know their proposals won’t pass in the Senate but that hasn’t reduced their bravado.  To the contrary, Senate Republicans are spewing their own “Armageddon” warnings.  And what would be a better target than the Affordable Care Act?

So why this threat to repeat history?

  • Bluffing.  President Obama has demonstrated that he is a poor negotiator preferring to show his best hand right away.   The President, however, has no history of yielding as much as the GOP is asking.  Is this a wise GOP strategy?   Hmmm.
  • Principle.  The GOP has been consistently calling for a balanced budget and that will require significant spending cuts.  How can the GOP suddenly change its message?
  • Appeasing their base.  Most GOP supporters do not favor Democrat spending priorities and believe cuts are necessary.  How could the GOP not respond to this grass roots appeal?
  • Emotional reasons.  The GOP seems to believe that spending cuts, especially to entitlements and healthcare programs are a fundamental truth of life.  America is an exceptional Country, they believe, and pulling oneself up by the boot straps is simply part of what makes America great.  Hmmm.
  • Clear and logical reasons.  The GOP is supported by a brain trust of conservative economic thinkers who believe lowering taxes, emasculating Government services, and basically throwing fate to the hands of private enterprise is the way to go.  These same thinkers dismiss the notion of global economic connections (the US can prosper alone) and the experience which all the European Union nations have endured when they instituted austerity economic packages over those which could stimulate growth.  Hmmm.

In the end, it makes little difference why the GOP is so directed.  The GOP is flirting with serious damage once the American people find an alternative.  While Democrats represent more sanity on this issue, Democrats fall far short of having any long term plan for producing growth and a sound economy.

The answer to this predicament is, of course, doing nothing.  A budget compromise where spending increase below the rate of inflation and the national debt is extended without incident are the sensible answers.  The world’s economies are connected.   There is no place for the US to grow other than within its boarders  But is Congress smart enough to recognize this?

The GOP’s consistent and persistent rage against the Affordable Care Act is shameful in the absence of specific and actionable alternatives.  The GOP claim that ACA is flawed is most likely correct.  The question is where is it flawed?  (Remember the ACA is originally a Republican think tank proposal and it is a near copy of Mitt Romeny’s Massachusetts healthcare legislation.)

There is still a lot of time for reason to prevail.  The danger is that with each day, GOP leaders are gaining headlines with messages that also march them closer and closer to the cliff.  One of these days, the GOP will wake up and find that Americans (maybe not the very rich) are feeling good about the economy and the steady hand the President has carried towards domestic policy.


Take The Money And Run

September 25, 2011

A sideshow, now playing in Washington, stretches the edges of common sense.  Disaster relief funding, along with the funding needed to run all other government operations are being held captive by the GOP demand that the disaster relief be offset by cuts elsewhere.  Now there should be no question that if the objective is too reduce or eliminate the deficit, then sooner or later, government spending in total must be reduced.  But is now, like in today, the right time?

Under existing legislation, a super committee has already been formed and charged with finding a little over $1.5 trillion.  Failing to accomplish that, automatic cuts are ensured by law.  Why does there need to be a fight over the results of Hurricane Irene?

The simple answer is, of course, there is no need.

This is political theater but with serious stakes on the line.

The US is waking up to the realization that borrowing 40 cents of every dollar of government spending can’t go on forever.  This implies huge cuts in government spending.  The question is what will be cut and by how much?

This is a 2012 election battle in September of 2011.  The GOP is fighting to extend their control of the public troth.  This is big business and no issue is too small if it will aid their cause.

Democrats, not so surprisingly, are trying just as hard to thwart the GOP advances and dream of reversing losses in 2010.  Why all this effort?

We are hearing that economy is so weak that deep cuts must be delayed.  We are also hearing that entitlements are on the table or off the table depending upon who is speaking.  Why the confusion?

Cuts mean that some company or some constituency someplace in the US will lose its gravy train.  Whether it is corporate welfare in the form of sweet defense contracts, or generous spending program like Agriculture support or infrastructure repair, money will not be flowing to interests that could otherwise support the Congress member.  This is serious stuff.

The present example, the fight over cutting funds that support energy efficient automobiles as the offset for hurricane relief, lays it out for everyone to see.  The fight is about automotive jobs.  Auto workers tend to vote Democratic.

As any good Congress member would say, “don’t take my money and run!”

Laser Focus

February 10, 2011

Republicans have promised to focus like a laser on jobs.  I wonder what kind of laser they were talking about?

Their first legislative priority was repealing health care reform.  Were they to be successful, this would do nothing about health care costs other than raise them. Oh, yes the repeal would once again deny coverage to millions of Americans and leave some 30 million uninsured.

Their next focus was on rewriting the Hyde Amendment by trying to enact legislation that prevents private health insurance from including abortion coverage.  Republicans claim that since in some cases this insurance receives favorable tax treatment, that is the same as a government subsidy.  What?  People with health care insurance receive government help and people who cannot afford insurance or have a pre-existing condition do not?  And by the way, what does abortion have to do with health care reform or jobs?

Now the jobs seeking Republicans are turning their attention to the prospect of what to do with the federal debt limit.  The answer is obvious, of course.  There is no time to put fixes in to reduce the deficit, so the limit will have to be raised.

Not so fast says Representative Eric Cantor.

Any bill that would increase the debt limit, he says, must contain an amendment which excludes any government funds flowing to the health care reform bill.  This type of amendment has a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving the Senate or the White House.  If the Republicans persist, here comes gridlock and government shutdown.

So, tell me again about the laser focus on jobs.