Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 15, 2011

THE THREAT OF A SHUTDOWN, CONT'D.... At the White House press conference this morning, ABC's Jake Tapper brought the "s" word into the discussion -- "shutdown."

"House Republicans, as you know, want to start cutting now, want to start cutting this year's budget," Tapper noted. "Are you willing to work with them in the next few weeks so as to avoid a government shutdown?" President Obama explained a bit about what a continuing resolution is, before stressing the importance of making cuts that don't undermine the economy.

"[W]e've got to be careful. Again, let's use a scalpel; let's not use a machete. And if we do that, there should be no reason at all for a government shutdown. And I think people should be careful about being too loose in terms of talking about a government shutdown, because this is not an abstraction. People don't get their Social Security checks. They don't get their veterans payments. Basic functions shut down. And that, also, would have an adverse effect on our economic recovery. It would be destabilizing at a time when, I think, everybody is hopeful that we can start growing this economy quicker.

"So I'm looking forward to having a conversation. But the key here is for people to be practical and not to score political points."

The problem, of course, is that some lawmakers appear a little too eager to score political points, and deliberately avoid being practical.

Linda Bilmes, a professor at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, led a budget seminar for nearly 40 House freshmen before the start of the new Congress.

She believes freshman conservatives are itching to make a dramatic statement by shutting down the government.

"It was clear there was a group of new members who in my mind were more concerned with making statements than working with their own leadership to solve the nation's problems," said Bilmes. "Nothing I've seen in the last week changes my mind.

"There are certainly some elements within the Tea Party group that are looking to make a dramatic statement."

Just so we're clear, this is a sentiment that suggests Republicans would shut down the government, not just as a result of an irreconcilable dispute with the White House, but because GOP lawmakers want to shut down the government.

On a related note, House Republicans had to know this was coming, but the White House went ahead and made the threat formal today -- President Obama would have no choice but to veto the GOP's proposed cuts for the remainder of the fiscal year, if they reached the Oval Office.

"If the president is presented with a bill that undermines critical priorities or national security through funding levels or restrictions, contains earmarks, or curtails the drivers of long-term economic growth and job creation while continuing to burden future generations with deficits, the president will veto the bill," the White House said in a statement. It added that while the administration supports reducing spending to cut the deficit, "the administration does not support deep cuts that will undermine our ability to out-educate, out-build, and out-innovate the rest of the world."

Just as a reminder, something has to do be done by March 4 -- 17 days from today -- or the shutdown will begin.

Steve Benen 4:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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"It was clear there was a group of new members who in my mind were more concerned with making statements than working with their own leadership to solve the nation's problems,"

Well let's be honest here, these people didn't run for office to solve the nation's problems. It's more performance art than governing. They want to do nothing but make a statement.

I was listening to some people at work talking about the upcoming mayoral election here in chicago. None of them voted in November. They only vote in the "important ones, like for President." And we wonder why we're in the predicament that we are.

Posted by: SaintZak on February 15, 2011 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Would Obama actually veto a bill just because it contained an earmark?

Posted by: Old School on February 15, 2011 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Nauseating at so, so many levels.

Posted by: stevio on February 15, 2011 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Wilhelm Stekel could have been describing these vacuous twits when he wrote that “The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.”

Next they’ll want Purple Hearts for the “sacrifice” they made in throwing their bodies between the gears to jam the Kenyan’s machine.

Posted by: elnuestros on February 15, 2011 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Dammit, I just went on Social Security. If they mess with that, my new idiot Republican Congressman better hold onto his hat.

Posted by: bloomingpol on February 15, 2011 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

@bloomingpol: may I suggest that s/he hold on to more than his/her hat. I am also on SS, Medicare and VA benefits. May I suggest that someone messing with my "stuff" take out some major security services for himself and his family. This is not a game; this is life and death.

Posted by: st john on February 15, 2011 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

[halperin] The real point-scorer here is Obama. [/halperin]

Posted by: hells littlest angel on February 15, 2011 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

No SS check and people can't pay rent etc.
I despise these creeps.

Posted by: st john on February 15, 2011 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

st john

Oh, oops. I used your nym and meant to do a reply to you.

Posted by: Maude on February 15, 2011 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

So it won't be until March 9th that the first SS checks fail to go out.
This is when the checks go out.
For all Social Security beneficiaries receiving benefits prior to May 1997 3rd of the month
For all Social Security beneficiaries receiving benefits after April 1997 Second Wednesday
If birth date on 1st - 10th
Third Wednesday
If birth date on 11th - 20th
Fourth Wednesday
If birth date on 21st - 31st


Posted by: kje on February 15, 2011 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Doesn't that mean these same freshmen GOoPers, the ones who were chomping at the bit for their immediate government health care, won't get paychecks OR insurance? I wonder how they will feel about that.

Posted by: MsJoanne on February 15, 2011 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Halperin luckily is fair and balanced two .
With only his mature and laconic mien to guide his razzle dazzle brilliance (the weary hand of a genius's experience) , soberly estimating equally , because of his own fairness and balance , that any intelligent , productive response falls into an obscure category more readily described as poison as it poisons the juvenile shoot from the lip artists that make him his money .

Posted by: FRP on February 15, 2011 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

These brave congresspeople will receive their checks ?

Posted by: FRP on February 15, 2011 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Even if they don't receive their checks, it probably won't make a difference to them. Most of them are independently wealthy or receive their day to day living expenses from lobbyists, so their government pay is only incidental. I would hope that they have friends and family who will be massively hurt, OTOH, and would beat them bloody, so to speak, if their government checks were cut off.

Posted by: st john on February 15, 2011 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

I like this move. Tapper did Obama a favor. It is good for Obama to be the parent and tell the children that if they throw a tantrum there will be consequences.

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 15, 2011 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Again, repugs are on notice. Devastate my retirement fund one more time and you'll be very sorry you dared to!

You don't know anything about crazy Boehner!

Posted by: Trollop on February 15, 2011 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

I hope I interpreted Trollop correctly: my thoughts, exactly. Don't mess with my retirement/government benefits...

Posted by: st john on February 15, 2011 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

I liked the President's response to the government shutdown question. Having been a fed during the last shutdown my one regret is they didn't shut everything down and make the Republicans pay the full retail price for holding the public hostage to their nutball ideology. Don't back away from the threat; make the bastards stand up there and read the Old Testament until they keel over. Call their bluff. Shut it all down.

Posted by: max on February 15, 2011 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

During Obama's Press Conference, the Associated Press asked Why is Obama not taking the lead on cutting Social Security?

The Associated Press has became another handmaiden for the repukes and their wealthy benefactors. The inside the beltway pundits who so eagerly supported the tax cuts for the millionares and billionares are now eager to balance the budget on the backs of retirees.

As Warren Buffett has said There has been class warfare going on in our country and the wealthy are winning!

I wonder how many 10's of millions of $$$ are being spent by the millionares and billionares to convince the country's voters that unions and old people are the source of all of the economic problems?

Posted by: AngryOldVet on February 15, 2011 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

This is even more dangerous than I thought, because how will my Unemployment Insurance get paid if the government is shut down? People are going to DIE if the Republicans aren't stopped!

Posted by: knightphoenix2 on February 15, 2011 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

This is very personal and the private & personal information on all the Republicans who support the shutdown needs to be made public. Let them be ridiculed and shamed and let it be very personal: as someone once said, It's All Fair Game. John Boehner and his family are Fair Game. Let the Games begin!

Posted by: st john on February 15, 2011 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

I wish the "wealthy" would just leave this nation. Let the middle class build it up again by keeping our economy focused on American goods and sevices.

We'd get a whole new crop of "wealthy" who were patriotic and would not mind making millions instead of billions...where paying 70% in taxes after the first 15 million/yr would not phase them for they would be wealthy people from a rich nation rather than greedy unpatriotic wealthy from a poor nation.

Just leave already. We already have solutions to all our problems but they are continuously blocked by the wealthy and their pet congressmen who are no longer served by a Democracy. So just leave already...get out...and let us rebuild our nation...our democracy

Posted by: bjobotts on February 15, 2011 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

Today at his press conference, President Obama touted the "hostage situation" of last December's "tax cuts for millionaires, or no unemployment extensions" negotiations as a model for the upcoming budget negotiations.

Republicans will hold America hostage -- more tax cuts, or no Social Security checks! More tax cuts, or no debt limit extension! -- and Obama and the Senate Dems will cave in an instant. They want to cave already, they just don't want to take the blame for it.

Posted by: Tom Allen on February 15, 2011 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

AngryOldVet, unfortunately SS WILL contribute to the deficit; just not in the way the Republican/Teabaggers suggest.
The SS Trust Fund consists of special Treasury bonds. For 20 years SS was taking in large amounts over and above required needs. You know, sort of like saving for your retirement?(end snark)
Congress spent the cash and issued promissory notes, aka "Special US Treasury Bonds". Now THAT cash is needed and the only way to get it will be to include enough funds in the Budget to redeem the bonds.
With the SS Trust Fund included, SS can pay out 100% of expected benefits for the undetermined future. WITHOUT repayment of the Trust Fund bonds, Social Security will require either drastic increases in the tax rate, cuts in benefits, raising the retirment age, or all three. Those changes would have to start almost immediately since the present SS tax inflow simply cannot pay out 100% of the scheduled benefits.
Sooner or later some Republican/Teabagger is going to suggest, undoubtedly in the spirit of "sharing the pain", that the SS bonds NOT be redeemed and thus cutting the dreaded deficit by $200-300 billion a year.
A default by any other name is still a default...

Posted by: Doug on February 15, 2011 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

I know GOP candidates here in MO who got themselves elected without any experience in Government what-so-ever. Real estate brokers and auctioneers who became congressmen merely to enrich themselves as much as they can before being exposed. "I really don't have any plans, I just want to make Washington a more honest place"-rep Billy Long R-MO.

The logic that justifies solving our economic problems and unemployment by first creating more unemployment, then taking money out of the economy is economic lunacy.

What goober convinced Obama and the dems that the deicit was more important than creating jobs and strengthening the economy or stimulating its growth. What the hell are you doing focusing on the deficit? Stimulate the economy and create jobs and the deficit will take care of itself (if we keep slash and spend repubs out of the way).

Where's Palin and King and other whackos and why aren't they screaming about death panels and throwing 'Grandma' out into the street? Haven't we had enough of their hypocrisy?

IT'S UNEMPLOYMENT AND THE ECONOMY STUPID, NOT THE DEFICIT. Address those first.

Posted by: bjobotts on February 15, 2011 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Doug on February 15, 2011 at 8:22 PM

Doug, SS doesn't contribute to the deficit in any manner and can pay out 100% ob all benefits for next 27 yrs and then will be able to pay out 75% from then on.

Any problems with SS in the future can easily be fixed by removing the cap so everyone pays the same percentage of income into the SS trust fund making it solvent forever with huge excesses.

The only reason...THE only reason SS keeps getting mentioned by the right as being in trouble is because Wall street wants to get their hands on all that cash (about $1.3 Trillion dollars) to the point of crashing the economy to get us to let them do it. When the wealthy and their transnational corporations become a National security risk the troops can seize their assets and gov can freeze their accounts. The government will collapse long before SS stops paying out.

Posted by: Botts on February 15, 2011 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

As a senior myself taking SS, I cannot believe the Republicans would want to stop the checks. It would be political hara-kiri, and God knows what it would do to the economic recovery.

Posted by: bob h on February 16, 2011 at 6:50 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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