House Republicans Play Secession Card

Hat Tip To James

Bill Moyers, again, says what we need to hear.

Republicans have now lost three successive elections to control the Senate, and they’ve lost the last two presidential elections. Nonetheless, they fought tooth and nail to kill President Obama’s health care initiative. They lost that fight, but with the corporate wing of Democrats, they managed to bend it toward private interests.

So, we should be here on this: Obamacare, as it is known, is deeply flawed. Big subsidies to the health insurance industry, a bonanza for lobbyists, no public option and, as the New York Times reported this week, “Millions of Poor Are Left Uncovered by Health Law” — largely because states controlled by Republicans refused to expand Medicaid.

[…]

Despite what they say, Obamacare is only one of their targets. Before they will allow the government to reopen, they demand employers be enabled to deny birth control coverage to female employees; they demand Obama cave on the Keystone pipeline; they demand the watchdogs over corporate pollution be muzzled and the big bad regulators of Wall Street sent home. Their ransom list goes on and on. The debt ceiling is next. They would have the government default on its obligations and responsibilities.

When the president refused to buckle to this extortion, they threw their tantrum. Like the die-hards of the racist South a century and a half ago, who would destroy the union before giving up their slaves, so would these people burn down the place, sink the ship.

[…]

At least, let’s name this for what it is: sabotage of the democratic process. Secession by another means.

It Is Correct To Dial Back Military Aid Dollars To Egypt

While I am a strong supporter of foreign aid dollars being spent around the globe, I am also mindful that the act of pulling back money from a country, can at times, can have a powerful impact.  I am hoping such is the case with Egypt.

There was no room for glee when a democratically elected government was overthrown in Egypt earlier this year.  The killings and blood-letting that has the markings of the Egyptian military all over the bodies has to end.  Just as importantly the democratic institutions must be allowed to function and learn to mature.  Though this is a hard up-hill struggle for a nation long held under the oppressive thumb of President Murbarak, it is one that can be achieved if the people have a role in deciding their future.

While the election of President Morsi did not produce the changes that many sought, it was then up to the political process to make for changes, and not one the military should have interjected itself into with such a savage nature.

Therefore the Obama Administration is to be applauded for pulling back some of the foreign aid dollars for hardware to the Egyptian military, There will be fewer tanks, helicopters and fighter jets for the nation that now needs to find another way around their political impasses.  The brutal crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood must cease.

Congressional Republicans Think They Are Smarter Than Business Leaders

The New York Time has, in my estimation, the best read of the day when it comes to the debt limit crisis gripping not only the nation, but the world community.

What is most galling to read is how some congressional Republicans think they are smarter than business leaders.  While the ones who deal in commerce and trade are fully aware that the debt limit matter is one that needs to be dealt with at once, the GOP seems to have a lackadaisical nature about the economic doom around the corner if the limit is not increased.

When one reads this story it becomes clear that there are really unstable people in congress.

On Wall Street, among business leaders and in a vast majority of university economics departments, the threat of significant instability resulting from a debt default is not in question. But a lot of Republicans simply do not believe it.

A surprisingly broad section of the Republican Party is convinced that a threat once taken as economic fact may not exist — or at least may not be so serious. Some question the Treasury’s drop-dead deadline of Oct. 17. Some government services might have to be curtailed, they concede. “But I think the real date, candidly, the date that’s highly problematic for our nation, is Nov. 1,” said Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee.       

Others say there is no deadline at all — that daily tax receipts would be more than enough to pay off Treasury bonds as they come due.       

“It really is irresponsible of the president to try to scare the markets,” said Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky. “If you don’t raise your debt ceiling, all you’re saying is, ‘We’re going to be balancing our budget.’ So if you put it in those terms, all these scary terms of, ‘Oh my goodness, the world’s going to end’ — if we balance the budget, the world’s going to end? Why don’t we spend what comes in?”       

“If you propose it that way,” he said of not raising the debt limit, “the American public will say that sounds like a pretty reasonable idea.”

Meanwhile the business community hopes there are enough sane members left in the GOP House to secure the needed votes.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, both bastions of Republican support, sent letters to Congress on Tuesday urging action on the debt ceiling.       

“Our nation has never defaulted in the past, and failing to raise the debt limit in a timely fashion will seriously disrupt our fragile economy and have a ripple effect throughout the world,” wrote Jay Timmons, the president of the manufacturers’ group.

Will ‘Nuclear Option’ Be Required For Debt Limit Resolution?

There is no sane person anywhere in the nation, or for that matter in the world, who understands the gravity of the debt limit discussion, who thinks that not acting by the deadline of October 17th is advisable.

The circus atmosphere in Washington must come to an end, and the government must again operate in the manner that the people deserve, and the markets and world community expects.  But if there is a continual refusal from conservatives to fulfill their responsibilities as elected members of congress than Democrats might need to work in a different way to make sure the debt limit bill is passed.

Liberals said Tuesday that there may be no other way out of a debt ceiling crisis than to invoke – or at least threaten to employ – the so-called nuclear option [to gut the filibuster], an enormously contentious move that would allow the party to raise the national borrowing limit with 51 votes rather than 60. Such a move would prompt howls of outrage from Republicans and could have dramatic implications for the future of the Senate. But it would allow Senate Democrats to pass a bill raising the borrowing limit through 2014 and shift the burden to the House GOP before a potentially devastating default … Liberal Democrats vow to ratchet up pressure on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to take the unprecedented step if Republicans refuse to give their party at least six votes to overcome a filibuster ahead of the first key debt ceiling vote, likely Saturday. ‘The rules will have to change,’ Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin said when asked how Democrats should respond if the GOP blocks the debt ceiling bill. …

“[T]he prospect underscores the grim realities on Capitol Hill that the two sides are stuck at an unbreakable impasse with no clear way out of a growing economic crisis and a government shutdown, now in its second week. … Sen. Chuck Schumer, the No. 3 Democrat, was optimistic that there would be 60 votes for a straight debt ceiling increase without any policy prescriptions, particularly as the deadline gets closer. … But asked whether Democrats would change the filibuster rules to pass a debt ceiling bill if they were to fall short of 60 votes, Schumer would only say: ‘That’s where we’re leaving it today.’ … [Senate] GOP leaders warned that they would prevent a floor debate from even occurring if Democrats refused to entertain spending cuts or potential Republican amendments. … In this Congress, Reid has repeatedly threatened to use the nuclear option: an arcane process that would allow him to change the rules with just 51 Democratic votes, rather than the much-higher threshold of 67 votes that are needed to overhaul the rules under regular order.”

“If the Republicans are going to continue to obstruct, and make it impossible  to address the needs of the American people, then I think we have to think about  changing the rules,” said Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, a liberal independent  senator who caucuses with Democrats.

The liberal demands came during another day of political brinkmanship that  brought the two sides no closer to a resolution. At a news conference at the  White House, Obama reiterated his call for House Speaker John Boehner to pass a  debt ceiling increase and reopen the government with no strings attached. But  Boehner has balked, calling for at least a negotiation as well as deficit cuts  long sought by the House GOP.

Not wanting to relive the drama that in 2011 produced the first downgrade of  U.S. debt before Washington eventually raised the debt ceiling, Obama and Reid  have refused to negotiate with Boehner until he agrees to reopen the government  and increase the borrowing limit.

Will California Use State Funds To Pay For Federal Programs During Shutdown?

Another layer of angst caused by the House Republicans shutting down the federal government.

Facing the prospect of a prolonged federal government shutdown, Gov. Jerry Brown will soon need to decide if the state will shoulder the cost to keep running federal programs used by millions of Californians.

State officials say there’s no guarantee that critical social services in California — such as food stamps, subsidized school meals and nutrition assistance for pregnant women and infants — could run without interruption in November.

The Brown administration has not yet said if it plans to plug the gaps for social programs at the end of the month.

“In terms of where we sit today, it’d be premature to speculate,” said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for Brown’s Department of Finance. He said the department is continuing to evaluate potential impacts of the shutdown, which began Oct. 1.

There’s also an element of political strategy at play, with California and other states hesitant to signal too early they’d step in for the federal government and mitigate the shutdown’s impact.