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.

How We Got Here: The Path to America’s 2013 Government Shutdown

The government is shutdown, and the world is watching how America treats its citizens in a battle of wills.  As Ezra Klein said, before the clock struck midnight starting the shutdown, “This is all about stopping a law that increases taxes on rich people and reduces subsidies to private insurers in Medicare in order to help low-income Americans buy health insurance. That’s it. That’s why the Republican Party might shut down the government and default on the debt.”

Below is info on the path to the shutdown.  Thank you to the budget expert with experience at the White House Budget Office and U.S. Senate for sharing information used below.

Here is what happened.

  • House and Senate have been fighting about the overall spending levels for months.
  • The Republican controlled House wanted the 2014 budget level at $967 billion for discretionary spending.
  • The Democratic controlled Senate wanted the level at $1,058 billion (to include a plan that replaces sequestration responsibly).
  • Democrats agreed to a level at $986 billion, which is the level of the continuing resolution (CR) that was under debate.
  • Democrats took the compromise even though it is below the desired level, thinking they would have a clean CR without any crazy ideological riders.

Fast forward to this past week.

  • The House passed a CR with a provision defunding the Affordable Care Act – (A law passed four years ago and a law tested by an election and the Supreme Court.)
  • The Senate voted against the CR
  • Senator Ted Cruz held his personal version of a filibuster.
  • The Senate voted, stripping out the ideological riders the House put in and sent a clean CR back to the House.
  • The House did not take up the Senate bill.
  • The House in turn attached more riders that are unacceptable to Senate Democrats.
  • The Senate voted and tabled those amendments, sending a third clean bill back to the House.
  • After more back-and-forth, the House asked to appoint conferees to work out an agreement and negotiate.
  • Leading up to this shutdown for six months, the Senate asked 18 times to appoint conferees for a budget conference.  Every time Republicans objected.
  • Not once has the House voted on a clean CR – which the Senate sent to the House.  Meanwhile, the Senate along with the President made it clear that anything other than a clean CR would not pass the Senate and if it was it would be vetoed by the President.

When the House declined to vote on a clean CR passed by the Senate before midnight Tuesday, the fiscal year ended.  Appropriations lapsed and the government shut down.

So now we wait!