Tea and Sympathy

Ted-Cruz-Wrecking-Ball Thousands of  federal employees returned to work this morning as the 2013 #GovernmentShutdown ended.  With the damage left by The Tea Party, a small faction of the Republican Party being assessed.

Perhaps they intended to create waves and ripples of destruction.  Or perhaps, they were just immature and didn’t realize their actions would take $24 billion dollars from our sluggish economy.   Perhaps, they believed seventeen days of bickering over a continuing resolution and raising the debt ceiling would strengthen our economy.

What I realize is that the resolution passed by Congress only provides, a short term solution.  There still is no resolution of the bigger problem, we don’t have a budget.  So the continuing resolution creates more uncertainty as we creep closer to another potential shutdown in 90 days.

The President in his statement today summed up the shutdown and damage from it with this, “we don’t know how much damage this has caused….we do know it has caused unnecessary damage to our economy.”

And though we don’t know how much, we do know this. Everyday working Americans and the poor were hurt by the shutdown.  We know our economy didn’t create jobs during the shutdown.  We know consumer and business confidence was impacted.  And we know that in the days to come it translates to slower future job growth and less money for consumers during the Christmas season.

That is why it is WE the People’s turn to focus on ways to create broad based prosperity.  It is our turn to rewrite history, by never forgetting the past seventeen days.  By collectively pointing the finger at ourselves.  By looking in the mirror and figuring out how to send responsible elected officials to Washington, that unite, not divide.

In the aftermath of this, it is our turn to remember that government is not the problem.  Not this government, that seeks to play a vital role in taking care of our elderly and our poor?  Not this government that protects our food supply, guards our waterways, expands our technologies, secures our national parks and protects us after a natural disaster.  This government is not the problem!

The Tea Party, that extremist faction of the Republican Party that is spewing hate, waving Confederate flags and trying to return  America back to the ideological age of slavery and segregation, is the problem.  They are a dying breed that is unpatriotic and un-American.  Who instead of passing a budget, immigration reform, gun control legislation, a jobs and farm bill, use tactics to manufacture a crisis that weakens our economy, instead of strengthening it. This government is not the problem, irresponsible governance is the problem.

If we want a resolution that solves the problem, we must take hold.  We must have hope.  We must move FORWARD.  That is why it is time for us to go Back to the FUTURE.

WE, the People must move out of the way those who wish to obstruct us from progress.

WE, the People must take responsibility in removing those who seek to destroy opportunities for upward mobility in wealth and education.

WE, the People must replace them with elected officials who wish to construct the bridges of opportunity that open the gateways for prosperity.

WE,the People must send to Washington, men and women who promote the founding fathers fundamental principle of “one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”

So let us not forget in 2014, what irresponsible stewards of our American democracy on Capitol Hill sought to do in 2013.  If we do that.  If we vote our conscious in 2014, we will find a responsible resolution to the problems that cause the dysfunction in Washington.

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Time Out!

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Politics has become a childish blame game. Right now led by Republicans pointing fingers at everyone but yourselves, in the US Congress. So We The People want YOU to go to the Time Out corner.

My great-grandmother Georgiana used to recite us portions of Edgar Guest’s poem “Myself”.

I have to live with myself, and so,
I want to be fit for myself to know;
I want to be able as days go by,
Always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don’t want to stand with the setting sun
And hate myself for the things I’ve done.

Republicans what are you doing for the country, workers and the economy? Can you look yourself in the eye and say you are doing all you can for the American people.   Go to Time Out until you get through this temper tantrum.

Your tantrum hurts America. You have cut wages to federal workers and defeated gun reform with valid mental health guidelines in it.  Now you fight a budget and debt ceiling deal.

You need to stop whining and get Americans working.  We need you to pass a Jobs Bill to get millions of Americans working again.

Stop whining and attacking President Obama.  Senator McConnell you smirked years ago saying your number one priority is making sure the President wasn’t reelected.  Well he was reelected, you lost, move on.

Your whining, pettiness and bitterness hurt the country.  Going after one person while holding millions of Americans hostage in an attempt to do what?

That is the question, What is your end game?  It isn’t ObamaCare.  That’s the smoke screen.  Is it to expose the Cruz/Tea Party element to get moderate, traditional Republicans into office?  There are better ways to do that.

Is it to destroy the President’s legacy?  That’s not good for America?

As elected officials, leaders of your political party, you are failing the American people.  That’s not good for America. You have focused on repealing laws rather than offering ideas to strengthen them.   You haven’t introduced or passed anything to promote strengthening our economy. That’s not good for America.

Senator McConnell, Speaker Boehner, where is the legislation that puts Republicans at the forefront of pulling the poor from the depths of poverty?  Moves the middle class into the upper middle class?  Makes small businesses stronger and lowers the unemployment rate?

Your attention is so focused on defeating Obama, you forgot to position the Party to win in 2014 and 2016.  Instead you pulled the victim card.  You scream, lie and cheat the American people.  Crying foul and painting yourself as the victim.

It is sickening to watch grown men cry foul, sounding like crybabies.  So you go to “Time Out.”

Sit and reflect on what you are doing that is hurting the country.  You can’t come out until you tell us how you are going to help Americans get back to work.

Stop whining!  American families need to know when this #governmentshutdown will stop.  We need you working for the American people not against them working.

As we wait and you sit in the Time Out corner, I leave you with this portion of Guest’s poem.  Wondering at the end of the day at the setting sun, one day will you hate yourself for the things you have done.

 I want to deserve all men’s respect;
But here in this struggle for fame and pelf,
I want to be able to like myself.
I don’t want to think as I come and go
That I’m for bluster and bluff and empty show.

Do The Right Thing!

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DC streets are empty as the #GovernmentShutdown enters Week 2.  If you ever saw the movie S.W.A.T., you may remember Samuel L. Jackson saying,”Sometimes doing the right thing, ain’t doing the right thing.” With that in mind, what if federal employees after the shutdown ends refused for days to go back to work? Would elected officials think two or three times before ever considering shutting government down again?

The President and the Democrats are right to stand firm on their position. What I offer here is a personal assessment. That is that Democrats should call out Republicans and in particular Speaker John Boehner. They should paint Republicans refusing to vote on a clean Continuing Resolution (CR) to get the government running, as “unpatriotic” and “un-American.”

Instead of going through the litany of accusations, Dems should say over and over, that keeping the government closed, weakens our national security. That it morally fails to protect poor children. That shutting down the government impacts good American families and is un-American.

This would raise the volume in the Republican echo chamber. We would hear people like Senator Rand Paul crying with statements like this one he made yesterday, on Meet the Press.  “President Obama is unwilling to negotiate.  He wants 100% of ObamaCare. He doesn’t want to give up on anything. It is his way or the highway.”

Senator Paul stop whining, stop crying! You’re as responsible as anyone for this #governmentshutdown. You want more than 100% of a number of things. That isn’t negotiation. You are holding the American economy, American worker and country hostage.

Dems should ask Senator Paul, how keeping health care to 40 million uninsured Americans is unpatriotic. How pushing reforms for preventive care that positively impacts all Americans is un-American.

Dems should ask questions like Vanessa Guthrie did hosting Meet the Press yesterday to Senator Paul, “if you think the Dems want to keep the government shutdown whey would you fall into their trap?”  Paul’s response was weak, because there isn’t a good answer.  Just like there isn’t a good answer supporting keeping the #governmentshutdown.

FEMA employees were called in over the weekend because of a storm hitting the east coast.  After the danger subsides they will be furloughed again. These are additional and unnecessary costs that impact the economy?

Employees at FEMA are an example of how good American people strengthen not weaken our nation. The budget sequester and the shutdown should never have happened. Both weaken our economy, strain American families directly and indirectly.  Where is the patriotism in this? How does it promote American values.

That is why Speaker Boehner, you can demonstrate your patriotism by putting a clean CR to a vote. Even if it means losing your position as Speaker of the House.  Sometimes doing the right thing ain’t doing the right thing. Because doing the right thing for one or some, isn’t the doing the right thing for all.

Have the courage! Do the right thing!  Call for a vote and let Congress vote it’s conscious. Hold a vote on the debt ceiling and stop tying this to a law that’s already been passed. Do the right thing!

Frederick Douglass a Republican said “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has, it never will.  Find out what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both.  The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

Speaker Boehner you are losing power. The course you are on, will lead to losses now and in 2014.

You can no longer secure power protecting just a few.  The right thing to do, is the right for the country. There is nothing to negotiate Mr. Speaker. Let none of us forget that “arguing with a fool, only means there are two.” Stop arguing with the Tea Party. Stop letting this small faction of the Party try to govern the country. Mr. Speaker, “Do the right thing!” for America.

Day 4: The Rules Of Washington

It is Day 4 of the “Dysfunction in Washington,” so let’s go over the “Rules of Washington.”  It may help us understand why the government is shutdown and why we will go late into next week before an agreement is reached! 

If it’s worth fighting for, it’s worth fighting dirty for.

Don’t lie, cheat or steal…unnecessarily.

There is always one more son of a bitch than you counted on.

An honest answer can get you into a lot of trouble.

The facts, although interesting, are irrelevant.

Chicken little only has to be right once.

“NO” is only an interim response.

You can’t kill a bad idea.

If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you ever tried.

The truth is a variable.

Fight implementation every step of the way.

A promise is not a guarantee.

If you can’t counter the argument, leave the meeting.

By Monday, unless there is an agreement, and I will be very surprised if there is one, we will be on Day 7.  This is getting closer to Oct 17th when a debt ceiling agreement must be reached.  Next week, we will be watching the Stock Market ever so closely because although Speaker John Boehner says he will not let the government default let’s remember the Rules of Washington “a promise is not a guarantee.”

So Now We Wait……

Rules of Washington come from http://politicalhumor.about.com/library/jokes/bljokerulesofwashington.htm

Costs to Prepare for A #GovernmentShutdown

Today, I was amazed, flabbergasted, surprised, and amused when in a press conference, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid  apologized to House Speaker John Boehner for hurting his feelings. He said Boehner said that’s the reason we have a government shutdown.

This afternoon, shots fired at the Capitol.  Is this frustration from a disgruntled federal employee?  Or someone directly or indirectly impacted from the shutdown of government services.  In the meantime, we wait with hopes that no one was injured or killed.  

We also watch as the Congress debates and we see no Progress in sight.  The richest nation in the world doesn’t have an approved budget to pay 800,000 workers or provide services to those in need.  Each week the government is closed the economy directly loses 1billion dollars that would go toward paying these employees.  Some economists estimate that can translate upwards of 10 times  when businesses are impacted. 

Today, DC streets are empty, highways from the suburbs during rush hour are like Sunday morning.   But what was the cost associated in the days leading up to October 1, 2013.  On that day, federal employees reported for four hours of work to change voicemail messages, lock up files and shutdown computers and printers. 

One federal employee working for an agency directly overseeing government agencies shutdown activities leading up to the shutdown shared some of the work they were involved in during the weeks leading up to the shutdown. 

They attended:

  • Weekly meetings with Politicals and General Counsel preparing for government-wide calls with agencies and various Councils (CFO, CAO, CIO, CHCOC, PMC), labor unions, and state government offices.  
  • Some Councils required separate calls (for various reasons– e.g., to review IT-specific policies with agency CIO shops, etc.) which required scheduling pre-meetings and meetings to discuss guidance, identify any anomalies prior to the call (researching regulations and policies for clarification), responding to emails, calls from leadership prior to the calls– then the gov-wide conference calls themselves.

There was daily work with teams across the agency to prepare and review draft guidance and FAQs for agency – budget, procurement, human resources, and IT shops.

  • Updating the agency’s internal guidance in draft, posting online.
  • Reviewing all agency contingency plans (before they were allowed to post on their intra/internets). Coordinating the primary agency conference calls and town hall with the Director.

When adding up the number of meetings, conference calls (some operator assisted — no telling how much that contract costs), government-wide calls with up to 200 Feds, plus all the salaries (of SES, political appointees, GS employees, etc.), staff staying up late to post shutdown guidance (and I’m talking past midnight), not to mention our daily work which we had to set aside, the costs are high.

So as the days led up to the #GovernmentShutdown it is hard to assess the cost associated with the shutdown.

  • We would have look at ongoing projects that were tabled and pushed aside.
  • The cost of shutting these projects down, in some cases flying people home.
  • And the cost of getting them going again and flying people back to the places they were.

We may never know the exact cost to shut the government down. We do know that it added work, hours and more importantly did nothing to advance the mission of our government agencies.

Congress continues debating the trivial matters of getting government restarted based on ideological differences.

So Now We Wait…..

“Showdown to A Government Shutdown”

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Today, minutes wind down on the “showdown to a government shutdown.” The clock ticks as elected officials in Washington guide us toward a rock that could sink the ship.

People like Ted Cruz from the Tea Party took the helm last week to bring attention to defunding ObamaCare. Cruz reminded me of a Harry Belafonte speech I heard a few years ago. In it he said, “Don’t worry about the Tea Party, because you know what happens when you put a tea bag in water?…It sinks!”

The Tea Party is sinking the ship. What many don’t accept is that ObamaCare and raising the country’s credit limit called the debt ceiling is good for Americans and the world economy.

To call ObamaCare immoral is wrong. To lead the country to a shutdown or a to default on the debt ceiling is as immoral as purposely guiding a ship toward a dangerous rock. A ship that responsible elected officials keep trying to guide to smooth waters that will allow the country to strengthen the economy.

Congress has allowed a budget sequester to go too long. Government workers who have been furloughed several days a month, now may not receive any pay at all. If the shutdown occurs what is immoral is that they also may not receive back pay after it ends.

What is immoral is, if we have a shutdown, 800,000 Americans will not receive a paycheck. It means 1.3 million servicemen and women and thousands of essential government workers will work but will not receive a paycheck until the shutdown ends.

As the minutes tick toward midnight, Republicans and Tea Party Republicans have the future of the American people in their hands.

So now we wait!

We Need an Oval Office Address

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In a relationship or friendship, when you’re upset or disappointed with the girlfriend, boyfriend, friend or spouse etc. do you go tell someone else and hope they tell it to the appropriate person? Or do you say it to someone and hope that they tweet it, blog or put it on Facebook!

No, you tell it directly to the person, right? Well, Mr. President WE the PEOPLE need to hear you speak directly to us from the Oval Office on the issue of the debt ceiling and the potential of a government shutdown.

THE PEOPLE have a right to hear it, directly from you.

As the only person in the country voted for by the entire nation, we need to hear from you. We may not agree with everything, but we have to all agree on this, you are THE PRESIDENT of THE UNITED STATES of AMERICA. We need to hear you speak directly to us, not from the EAST ROOM, not from the PRESS ROOM, but from the one stage only you can, THE OVAL OFFICE.

And to your advisors who may think its a bad idea. Fire them! They are hurting you!

From the OVAL OFFICE you speak from a position of strength. It is not the seat of a mediator. It is the seat where you make the most difficult decisions. It is the seat where the leader of our country sits, whether we agree or not.

When you speak from this seat, the Message is directed to your constituents, The American people.

That’s why we need to hear you explain what is going on with the debt ceiling and why you’re taking the position you are to possibly let the government shutdown because your opposition has a bad plan. We need to hear you, from your office, THE OVAL OFFICE where you can best explain why there’s a looming government shutdown and why the opposition’s plan is not in the best interest of the nation.

As a nation some voted for you, some didn’t. Others didn’t vote at all. But as a nation by a popular vote mandate, WE the people elected YOU.

Therefore, we are in this relationship for the long haul. You were elected and reelected because the majority of the nation trusts you. Now trust us with the message and let us decide. Let us hear you, from The Oval Office.