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Parties Dig In as Government Shutdown Approaches

March 30, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

In the midst of the conflict in Libya, the disaster in Japan, and the economic crisis at home that’s still very much hitting the poor and middle class, a government shutdown could have dour consequences for the U.S. economy. Consumer confidence is already starting to dip and a shutdown could be just the thing to throw consumers and financial markets into a panic that could push us back into another recession. Yet, with just a handful of legislative days left for Congress to pass a budget and prevent a shutdown, Senate Democrats and House Republicans are moving further apart from a deal. Instead of negotiating, they’re preparing for the politics of the shutdown, each trying to pin the pain it would cause on the other party.

On Monday, Senate Democrats offered to agree to the full amount of spending cuts that the House Republican leadership had originally proposed — about $31 billion below 2010 levels. But House Speaker Rep. John Boehner [R, OH-8], pushed further to the right by Tea Partiers and freshman in his caucus, has rejected the offer. Meanwhile, House Republicans are basically ruling out another stopgap to prevent a shutdown if a long-term deal can’t be struck by April 8. Minority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor [R, VA-7] yesterday called a stopgap without a long-term deal “unacceptable” and Republican freshman are planning to protest on the Senate steps until a long-term deal is reached.

Meanwhile the policy riders that were added to the long-term funding bill in the House — stuff like defunding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and blocking the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases — are still a huge problem. Senate Democrats are saying that including any of the Republicans’ social policy items in the budget bill would be a deal breaker. House Republican freshman say they won’t accept a bill that does not include them. Now that they’ve won votes based on the false premise that subsidizing Planned Parenthood provides taxpayer dollars for elective abortion services, they’re not willing to restore the funds.

House Republicans have turned to messaging. Boehner is calling on the Senate to “do its job” and pass its own budget bill, suggesting that somehow having a Democratic proposal through the chamber will change the negotiating landscape with GOP freshmen. It wouldn’t, of course.

The Republicans are planning to hold a vote Friday on a symbolic bill called the “Prevention of a Government Shutdown Act.” As the National Journal reports, “Passage will do nothing to avoid a government shutdown since no deal has been reached with Democrats in the Senate and the White House. But it will give the House GOP the opportunity to claim that they’ve tried to prod the Senate toward a deal on spending cuts.” The bill would deem the House Republicans’ budget bill, including all of its policy riders, law if the Senate doesn’t pass it’s own bill by next Wednesday, even though the Senate has already held a vote on the House budget and rejected it.

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  • hawkeye4u 03/30/2011 9:02am

    We as the voters of the U.S. need to contact our Congressional leaders and Reps. and let all of them know that there is a serious problem and they all need to drastically cut spending. Not, this tiny 61,000,000,000.00, we need to cut 500,000,000,000.00 a year and cut spending to at least 2008 levels so that our children and grandchildren are not stuck with this enormous debt that both parties are the cause of. Pres. BO and his party have made things so much worse and both parties need to seriously address this issue with huge signifficant cuts. Unfortunately everyone is going to feel the pain. Pres. Bo, Harry Reid, and the Dems. had better get their act together and do what the voters message was in Nov. 2010 or the voters should replace any and all Repubs. and Dems. that want to keep spending and growing Gov. The voters are serious about spending cuts and big gov. and we are not going away. SO, CONGRESS START DOING YOUR JOBS AND BALANCE THE BUDGET LIKE THE LAW SAYS YOU ARE TO DO!

  • buffalobill91 03/31/2011 10:26am

    hey… look at the positive:

    …at least while they are shut-down we wont launch anymore nation building exercises or start any more wars…

    I find it ironic how we have no money to pay the unemployed or keep our own government running but we can spend millions every day on more missiles, bombs, and aid to yet another country that has never contributed a dime to anything American. Then these politicians sit around like morons and wonder why we are broke.

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