View Full Version : 10 things to watch during the shutdown battle

04-04-2011, 05:36 AM
Its never a dull moment. Things are getting interesting.

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1: The riders

Politically, the number of cuts is nothing compared to the controversial amendments attached to the House-passed bill. Clearly, they are the biggest hurdles to getting a deal. The right and the left are pressing Congress on various amendments, most notably on defunding the healthcare reform bill and Planned Parenthood. The White House and Democratic leaders have said those riders are dealbreakers.

2: Cracks in party unity

If a deal is reached, the left and the right won’t like it and the tension will test party unity. Last week, eyebrows on Capitol Hill were raised when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) ruled out another short-term continuing resolution while Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) kept the option on the table.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last month voted against a two-week stop-gap spending bill while Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) backed it. That dynamic could be in play again, but the media’s attention will be on the Republican side of the aisle, specifically on: Will Tea Party lawmakers in the House and Senate break from their leaders on a grand bargain?

3: Presidential politics

A bipartisan deal will include funding for healthcare reform so GOP leaders should be expecting criticism from 2012 White House hopefuls. “They’ll all have to attack it,” GOP strategist John Feehery recently said.

Feehery, a contributor to The Hill’s Pundits Blog, added, “No matter what John Boehner does, he’ll be criticized by these folks, because they’ve got to run against the political establishment, no matter what.”

4: Rush Limbaugh, Jim DeMint, Michele Bachmann and Mike Pence

These outspoken conservatives are not known for embracing bipartisan compromises and will likely blast any deal endorsed by President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). If a government shutdown is averted, GOP leaders will be looking to outmaneuver the loud voices on the right, including powerful right-wing groups that agree with Pence that “it’s time to pick a fight.”

5: The magic number

Vice President Joe Biden said the parties have agreed to cutting $33 billion, though Boehner says there is no deal whatsoever. Some expect that number to increase, but nowhere near the $61 billion called for in the House-passed bill.

6: Confusion

When Biden last week announced Democrats and Republicans had coalesced behind the same number, he cited $73 billion in cuts. But that figure was in comparison to Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget request, which was never enacted. The media quickly translated $73 billion into $33 billion of actual cuts.

More confusion will be on tap as both parties look to appease their respective bases. For example, at some point, Republican leaders will have to communicate that the final fiscal 2011 budget bill will not defund Obama’s healthcare law. How they choose to communicate that is loaded with political landmines.

7: Preparations for a shutdown

In the mid-1990s, the Clinton administration issued guidance to government agencies on a possible shutdown. President Clinton’s administration was more willing to shutter the government than President Obama. But agencies will soon need some help on defining which employees are “essential,” especially because this would be the first government shutdown after the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

8: Leverage games

Democrats and Republicans have been seeking leverage every way they can over the past couple of months. That won’t stop this week. Initially, the GOP had the leverage advantage, but the pendulum has swung to the Democrats. After some shrewd decisions in February and the beginning of March, the House Republican move last week to pass its “force of law” bill – essentially seeking to freeze the Senate out of the process – backfired. Senate Republicans criticized it and 15 House Republicans voted against the measure on Friday.

There are factions within the House Republican Conference who believe shutting down the government is the best leverage. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) on Thursday said, “Some, I’m sure, are willing to shut the government down to have their positions prevail.”

9: The fiscal 2012 GOP budget

The new House Republican budget is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, and that’s no accident. Boehner and other leaders are already suggesting the fiscal 2011 budget is old news, making the case that the 2012 budget will take a gigantic bite out of the deficit. From a policy perspective, they have a good point, but urging conservatives to watch a coming attraction before the ending of the fiscal 2011 drama has played out may not work.

10: The 72-hour rule

Should there be a deal, House Republican leaders face a tough choice: Abide by their new 72-hour rule, which allows the public to read legislation before they are voted on, or waive the rule and quickly try to pass it. The former would allow GOP critics plenty of time to go on cable news channels. The latter may further infuriate Tea Party activists, who railed on the House Democratic majority’s decision to pass the massive healthcare reform and climate change bills without giving the public days to review them.

04-04-2011, 06:53 AM
The political maneuvering and posturing is still the biggest hurdle our country faces in trying to recover from the mess we have created.

Here's my plan. Defund both the Democrat and Republican parties, and force INDIVIDUALS to run for leadership positions.

It is the party money that pays for the government we have been given, and it pretty much sucks.

Maybe if people didn't have the little (D) or (R) to help them decide who to vote for, they would have to learn more about the actual candidates.


04-04-2011, 07:10 AM
It's actually simpler than that.

End payroll withholding and let people actually receive all of their money and then have to pay the gubmint what the gubmint wants.

This alone would make the taxpayers become involved in the budget process.

04-04-2011, 07:10 AM
Wasnt campaign finance reform supposed to fix this?

04-04-2011, 07:16 AM
The next easy fix would be to return the appointment of US senators to the state legislatures.

The original intent of the COTUS was for their to be 2 houses of congress with distinctly different agendas:

1 - The people's house, which represented the interests of the people as a whole and kept the individual states from joining in cahoots against them.

2 - The state's rights being represented by the senate. This was to act as a stop against the evils of pure democracy and to prevent the fed from running roughshod over the individual states.

Today, both houses are de facto the same thing and it is increasingly difficult for anyone to be elected who doesn't rob from states 2 through 50 to provide for state #1.

This abomination has led to unfunded mandates by the congress to the states, whereby the masses are told they are getting something for free from the federal gubmint when in reality all they are getting is a guarantee of higher local taxes ... loss of control of local government ... and busted budgets as we see across this land today.

04-04-2011, 10:21 AM
Very good listing of most of what's in play on this subject, and thanks for posting it up.

What's even MORE discouraging is that this is probably only the second act in maybe a five act play. Which is to say this will not be a deal to fund the entire rest of the fiscal year, but only to kick this can down the road a bit (couple of months perhaps) to needing to do it again and again and again this year.


04-04-2011, 10:27 AM
It's funny you mention unfunded mandates.

I'm certain that Gingrich's '94 Contract with America included as one of its planks, ending all future unfunded mandates on the states.

I also know that few of the CWA's proposals made it into law by passing the Senate (and some were not even passed by the House, although to be most accurate, the CWA never even promised they'd be passed by the House, just that these things would be brought to a vote in the House within that 100 days or whatever).

Still, I seem to recall the unfunded mandate plank DID pass into law. (Not looking it up right now). Did it? And if so, what happened, say, with regard to the underfunding of No Child Left Behind (which surely created an unfunded mandate, unless technically we could say it WAS funded, just not fully, by the feds)?

BTW, it's odd to call the popular election of the Senate, which is then a representative democratic institution, some kind of pure democracy. A representative democracy is NOT pure democracy, per se. So popular election of the Senate no more creates pure democracy than it does in the House-- both are examples of representative democracy, not its pure form.

04-04-2011, 01:06 PM
It's a very simple concept if you think it through.

The intent was the people's house would be directly elected by the people and present bills representing what the people wanted.

The senate was intended to be a legislative body which took the laundry list of things the people wanted and culled it down to what the people were willing to pay for, being that higher taxes were seldom on the wish list.

Today we have the people's house voicing what the people want with the senate confirming both what the people want and that the people don't want to pay for it ... hence so many laws are passed in Washington with some/most/all funding to be handled by state legislatures that were never for it in the first place.

Perhaps "pure democracy slogging through mud" would have been more appropriate.