Welp…looks like we’re moving dangerously close to another government shutdown.
House Republican leaders — bowing to the demands of their conservative wing — will put to a vote on Friday a stopgap spending measure that would strip all funding from President Obama’s signature health care law, increasing the likelihood that the government will shut down in two weeks.
The fact that Tea Party members have chosen Obamacare as their so called “red line” is further evidence that House Republicans are far more interested in ideology and elections than governing. If conservatives were rallying their government shutdown threats around social security reform, job creation, or preparing for the inevitable zombocalypse (IE something important) instead of their self indulging masterbatory jihad to defund Obamacare, they would have a lot more credibility with the American people. Instead we’re left to watch as the once proud American democratic system is hijacked by people who refuse to believe that the President is an American citizen but insist that the world is only 2,000 years old.
With some government insiders saying there’s about a 40% likelihood that federal employees are going to get at least a few unscheduled days off from work, it’s important to note how we got here. As much as I would love spending hours writing about the oh so interesting intricacies of government budgetary regulations, Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post has (sadly) beat me to it. In all seriousness, Matthews’ “Everything you need to know about why the government might shut down” is both a well written and accessible explanation about the countdown to Sept 30th.
This blog entry doesn’t mean very much for anyone who doesn’t agree with the ontological assumptions upon which its based. Assertions are cute, but if you don’t “impact” out your arguments then they don’t really mean much to me. For example, yes Obama is calling for supplemental money for Afghanistan. And this is bad because…(But that’s just a pet peeve of mine. You know thinking people should back up their arguments, yep, me being anal again.) That being said, this article highlights the biggest problem with the country’s foreign policy decisions.
As most of you know, I’m a democrat whose worked in democratic politics for a couple of years, so I’m hardly spouting off biased right wing bullshit. But it seems pretty clear that the democratic party doesn’t have and never really had a foreign policy strategy.
Yup, I said it.
Sure, we have very valid criticisms of Bush adminstration policy and arguments why the United States should do less of A and/or more of B. But at the core of the discussion, democrats have yet to supply a real world strategy outlining their goals in the Middle East and actions they should take to achieve them. Even the vocal and outspoken liberal wing of the party has yet to codify an alternative strategy, choosing to rely instead on constant calls of withdrawl of our military troops anytime they’re deployed, wherever they’re deployed.*
* There’s nothing wrong with withdrawl per se, though I personally disagree with the idea. The problem lies in the fact that withdrawl is a tactic not a strategy. Same goes for diplomacy.
Okay, this angers me:
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates visited southern Afghanistan late last week not only to assess the American war effort, but also to showcase the kind of conflict he thinks the military must prepare to fight in the years ahead.
Mr. Gates predicted more of these messy, unconventional wars, and he argued that this kind of conflict requires America to shift spending to items like mine-resistant vehicles, surveillance drones and medical-evacuation helicopters, at the expense of tanks, bombers and aircraft carriers.
But as Mr. Gates returned to Washington on Saturday for what will mostly likely be a lengthy, detailed and often hostile series of Congressional budget hearings this week, opponents of his risk assessment are attacking the spending plan as rendering America unprepared for traditional war.
They say the proposal goes too far in shifting money to unconventional warfare from the weapons needed to deter and defeat an enemy nation. And Mr. Gates’s focus on counterinsurgency training, they say, means that troops have not spent enough time honing their skills for conventional conflict.
Why is Congress telling the military what it does or does not need to fight a war? I understand that there’s a certain amount of oversight that’s necessary when you’re spending government money. Lord knows, I support more oversight of the Pentagon, but this isn’t oversight. This is politicians trying to decide US military tactics. This is especially alarming when their criticism comes in the form of “forget about buying weapons that will save lives and help win the war against terrorism right now, and buy more weapons for a theoretical war that MIGHT happen SOMEDAY.”
Look, I know that you did JROTC in high school and you’re getting huge kickbacks campaign contributions from defense contractors but why don’t we stay out of this one and let the real experts handle this one.
What the hell is reconciliation? What does it have to do with the budget? Health care, Cap and trade, deficits? ITS ALL SO CONFUSING!
Which is why I have a blog. That’s awesome. And full of information.
I know that the reconciliation discussion is getting a bit hard to follow. The quick version is that reconciliation is a complicated budget process that could pass health reform with 50 votes. It short-circuits the filibuster. But to be used, reconciliation “instructions” must appear in the budget. They don’t exist in the Senate budget. They do exist in the House budget. The question is what happens when the Senate and House meet to iron out their differences. After talking to various Hill sources today, there appear to be three serious possibilities:
- Straight-Up Reconciliation: Senate Democrats bow to the preferences of House Democrats and simply import the reconciliation instructions from their budget. Senate Republicans flee the process but are no longer needed anyway. The trick becomes where Harry Reid can hold his own caucus and fend off parliamentary challenges from Republicans (more on those here).
- Time Bomb Reconciliation: Senate Democrats and House Democrats agree on a new set of reconciliation instructions. Under this scenario, the budget only activates the reconciliation process in the event that there’s no bill by the fall. Reconciliation then acts as an enforcer on the legislative time frame: If the two parties can’t come to agreement by September or so, the reconciliation process activates and Republicans are essentially locked out.
- Back Pocket Reconciliation: Reconciliation is purged from the budget but the chairman of both budget committees essentially signal that if the normal process breaks down, they will pass budget revisions that include reconciliation instruction. Such revisions would only require 50 votes and 10 hours of floor debate.
If you’d like a more detailed version click here to read Ezra Klein’s detailed explanation about the reconciliation process and why it’s important. It’s Teh Awesome
NOTE: If you think that the debate about reconciliation is unimportant think again. Now that the budget has passed in both the House and the Senate, the big debate in Congress right now is whether or not to use reconciliation to prevent a fillibuster on either Healthcare or Cap and Trade. Pretty big policies right there.
I already told you that the House GOP budget is more about shits and giggles than actual government policymaking. But the DNC has decided to take their critism one step further by actually creating a word on urban dictionary to describe it.
1. Of or resembling a budget. Lacks specificity such as numbers and/or ideas.
Usually encased in blue glossy folder and 19-pages, including cover pages and table of contents.
My heart really goes out to the Republicans in the House of Representatives. Try as they might, they’re just not good at this whole budget thing. After releasing last week’s budget budget “preview”, a 19 page document that contained more pictures of windmills than it did numbers (1-0), republicans tried again by releasing a new and “improved” budget today…Yes today…April 1st.
You know, political opinions aside, you’d have to think that someone might have realized that releasing a budget on april fools day, was probably…not a good idea.
But what’s worse, is that the budget could easily be confused with an April fool’s joke. Yeah, its that bad. How bad you ask? I think the best description probably was : “This is just embarrassing. It’s like watching a Pauly Shore movie.”
As far as anyone can tell, the House budget is basically a fairy tale of what would happen if the rules of common sense didn’t apply. For example, a person who wants to lose weight wouldn’t cut off their leg. Ah, but the person would lose weight, according to the GOP and their budget. And losing weight is the goal here right?
Imagine if I wrote up a budget proposal for a small business and asserted that revenues will grow next year after Warren Buffett dumps several large bags of money on my doorstep. It would probably be true that if Warren Buffett dumped several large bags of money on my doorstep, revenues would increase. But he’s not going to do that.
And we’re not going to do this. We’re not going to echo Hoover and radically slash spending amidst a demand slump. We’re not going to voucherize Medicare and then tie the worth of the vouchers to a “premium payment” that grows more slowly than health costs and so is worth less every single year. We’re not going to repeal the stimulus bill and let Pell Grants fall below inflation and let unemployment benefits expire and let Social Security benefits cease growing with the economy. We’re not going to freeze funding for food stamps and home heating assistance and road repair and law enforcement. A five-year spending freeze is far beyond anything George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan ever contemplated. It’s not what you do when you’re responsible for running the government. It’s what you propose when you’re responsible for running the messaging.
You know, I was going to write a long serious post about the counter budget the House GOP released last, but I can’t.
Why you ask?
Because the House GOP didn’t release a budget. Instead they released a series of pages stapled together that incoherently rants about President Obama being a bastard for 15 pages.
You don’t get it though. I’m being serious. Their “budget” has no numbers, no estimates of future spending, no projections for deficits, no proposals for lowering the deficit. Nothing.
For some perspective consider this important detail. Obama’s budget – 142 pages. House GOP budget – 19 pages. OUCH