OpenCongress Blog

Blog Feed Comments Feed More RSS Feeds

If the government shuts down and Congress is still getting paid, it will be the House Republicans' fault

March 30, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

A reader writes in with a good question. On March 1 Republicans and Democrats in the Senate pulled together to pass a bill that would amend current law so that members of Congress do not receive pay during government shutdowns; why isn’t the House acting on this bill so that if a government shutdown does occur Congress will take a pay cut like other federal employees?

The answer, of course, is that it has gotten tied up in a ploy to score political points. According to reports (e.g. TPM), House Republicans are rolling the Senate-passed bill into the so-called “Prevention of a Government Shutdown Act” that they will vote on Friday. Besides blocking pay to Congress during a shutdown, the bill would deem the House’s continuing resolution (CR), policy riders and all, the law of the land if the Senate does not pass a CR by April 6. It would do this despite the fact that the Senate has already voted on the House’s CR and rejected it. As the National Journal says, the bill is “purely symbolic” — it’s a complete abdication of the legislative process that would never be entertained by the Senate or the President, both on policy and procedural grounds. The House cannot make laws unilaterally — they have to work with the Senate and the President.

House Republicans are pursuing this symbolic bill at the expense of actual legislating, but it may end up helping them politically. When the government shuts downs because a deal on the CR was not struck and pundits explode in faux populist rage over the fact that Congress is still getting paid while park workers are being laid off, House Republicans will say, “We passed a bill to take away Congress’ pay, but the Senate Democrats wouldn’t vote on it.” Of course, Senate Democrats will try to explain that the Republicans are misstating the facts and that the Senate did in fact pass a bill to block congressional pay during shutdowns. The public then, unsure of who to believe, will pout the blame on Congress in general. But the fact is, the House Republican leadership could call up the Senate’s stand-alone bill to block pay to Congress during a shutdown at any time and it would pass without any resistance. Instead they’re tacking it onto a divisive, possibly unconstitutional bill that stands no chance of being enacted. If the government shuts down and Congress is still getting paid, it will be the House Republicans fault, not Congress’.

Like this post? Stay in touch by following us on Twitter, joining us on Facebook, or by Subscribing with RSS.
 

Comments

Displaying 1-30 of 31 total comments.

  • Spam Comment

  • Comm_reply
    Smith_Satellite 03/30/2011 2:50pm

    Agreed.

  • Comm_reply
    suzieqs 03/30/2011 3:12pm

    “If A didn’t happen, B wouldn’t have happened, and C didn’t need to happen.” You could put this comment all the way back to the beginning of the Bush Administration you know. If President Bush & the GOP House and Senate then would have kept the Clinton Administration’s policies in place, ie the PAYGO rule, and kept the tax base where it was, (since we were looking at a projected budget surplus when Clinton left office) but NO we couldn’t do that! God forbid that we would put a bit away for a “rainy day”. Well we had several “rainy days” first came 9/11, then Katrina and Rita, all without any effort on the GOPs part then to revert back to either the PAYGO rule or to revert back to the tax policies of Clinton> So let’s put the blame where it truly belongs, on the shoulders of the GOP.

  • Spam Comment

  • Comm_reply
    luminous 03/30/2011 8:58pm

    Your link is playing number games to manipulate the data.

    Fact is the public debt went down during the last 3 Clinton years.

    The link you provide is double counting the social security T-bills, adding the amount owed to SS by the T-bills as debt, and again adding the amount spent from those T-bills as debt even know at this point the SS T-bill money had not yet been spent(remember Clinton was pushing the SS lock box thing and the “debt and spend” republicans rejected that).

    And the last budget bill passed by the Bush white house had a $1.7 TRILLION dollar deficit. Obama has actually gotten that down a bit, And this deficit is mostly a conglomeration of temporary spending(unemployment, medicaid, stimulus), a drop in tax revenue from recession, and the continuation of the Bush tax holiday. Without these 3 items the budget would be balanced.

  • Comm_reply
    eth111 03/31/2011 3:02am

    Luminous – your statements are factually correct, but let’s be intellectually a little more honest on this site and lay blame across the political spectrum and over a longer period of time than just Obama/Dubya/Clinton.
    The cold hard truth is that Federal government spending has grown every single year since the end of World War 2 (normalized to 2005 dollars). Whether or not it is deficit or not depends on the amount of revenue being collected, which has been shown to be ~19% of the GNP regardless of marginal tax rates. What we need is a Congress and President with enough cajones to cut government, not just spending but intrusion and allow the GNP to grow while cutting actual spending.

  • Spam Comment

  • Comm_reply
    luminous 03/31/2011 10:17am

    High marginal tax rates as less designed to increase revenue as to maintain revenue along side deductions/credits/subsidies served via the tax system as a means of directing industrial/social/agricultural policy. Even now the illusion that anyone actually pays the top advertised rate of 36% is a fairytale.

    Hell we are so far down the rabbit hole of the conservative economic system that the entire middle class exists entirely from tax benefits that prop them up. Without the $106 billion in mortgage deductions, $450($300 employer/$150 individual) billion in health care deductions, $100~ in 401k related employer deductions, EIC, Child tax credits, etc The middle class would have fallen part in the mid 1990’s.

  • Comm_reply
    luminous 03/31/2011 10:23am

    The middle class no longer posses the negotiating power to maintain benefits without large amounts of business benefiting deductions, nor do they have the power to maintain their wages, even Unions over the last 20-40 years have been doing little more then negotiating what rate at which inflation eats away at their real earnings.

    Nor will further tax cuts help the situation, as we already are not collecting enough, the only way to pay for more tax cuts is to start removing deductions and attacking social services that create upwards mobility into the middle class.

    What we need is for government to start directly spending on some of these issues rather then using the tax system marry-go-round that merely props up the broken business models of health insurance, and 401k/individual retirement savings methods.

  • Spam Comment

  • Comm_reply
    luminous 03/31/2011 4:30pm

    Lowering marginal tax rates will have very little to no effect on the current economic problem. The $8-$12 dollars a week that the middle class Bush tax cuts doesn’t come close to the lose in wages the middle class has suffered for the last 30years, or does it compensate enough to come even close to covering health care cost shifting onto them each year.

    At 35% a business saves about 1$ for every 3$ spent on employee benefits via tax deduction, at 25% as the republicans are proposing a business will save about 1$ for every $4 dollars spent on employee benefits via tax deduction.

    The effectiveness of deductions as a means of tax policy are lessened with lower tax rates, their is a point where their just isn’t enough benefit to the deductions for them to be worthwhile for businesses.

    Before we can talk about lower tax rates, their needs to be talk of reform to how health care and retirement are handled in this nation.

  • Spam Comment

  • Spam Comment

  • Comm_reply
    luminous 03/31/2011 6:59pm

    I see no reason their should be a $250k and below carve out of the bush tax cuts, I think they should all expire. But that is besides the point, If we reform health care and retirement the end result could be lower marginal rates with some flattening of the brackets.

    The savings from moving to a single payer health care system could be plowed into lower marginal income tax rates. 401K’s lost $18 trillion dollars in 2007 so clearly the $100 billion a year we spend in tax deductions for those is clearly a waste, end them and plow that money into social security, along with raising the payroll tax 2.2% and removing the cap on taxable income, This would both solve the short fall projected in 2037 and allow the payout to be increased to around 70% of pre-retirement income, this would cost less then the 4%+3%match that 401k’s cost as well.

    And I disagree with this being a “states” problem, health care and retirement are an interstate issue and need to be solved by the fed.

  • Comm_reply
    eth111 04/01/2011 2:45am

    Luminous; you are mistaken if you think that big government programs are better than privately owned plans. There will be no saving with a single payer system, talk to people in the UK that buy private insurance to subsidize the “single payer” plan so that they can “queue jump”.

    As for all of your assumptions, are you proposing that the government steal people’s 401K’s just like they do their wages? If you look at the numbers posted annually at IRS web site, people making between $75K and $2M per year pay 97% of individual income tax and any business over about $1B in revenue pays 35% even with all of those deductions you decry. Please check your facts before you start spouting talking points.

    Your point about excessive deductions is accurate, but they are targeted primarily at buying votes. The solution is a flat tax of 18-20%. It simplifies everything and reduces the size of the sinkhole immediately by shrinking the IRS by probably 85%.

  • Comm_reply
    luminous 04/01/2011 5:56am

    UK isn’t single payer, its a full on socialized national health system. And overall its a bad system, better their ours but that really ain’t saying much. Taiwan, or France would probably be what we should look at.

    All my assumptions? huh, It is not an assumption that 401K’s lost $18 trillion dollars in 2007 that is a flat fact. Nor am I suggesting that the government steal that, I only suggest that the government not subsidize them as they are a horrid vehicle for retirement “savings”.

    No Businesses over $1B in revenue is much less likely to pay any taxes at all, GE, Goldman sachs, paid nothing in 2010 taxes, hell GE got $1.5 billion dollars back. The Obama 2010 tax compromise almost wipes out corp tax liability for 2011, you are misinformed.

  • Spam Comment

  • Spam Comment

  • Spam Comment

  • Spam Comment

  • Spam Comment

  • Comm_reply
    luminous 03/31/2011 9:48am

    Your missing a bar for revenue, spending can go up every year just as a normal function of growth, even if you flatline spending increasing at the rate of inflation you could theoretically have record spending every year.

    And again what do we count as debt? Normally I would think that it would just be all of the money actually spent over whatever revenues are made!!, but in many charts for some reason or another the SS bonds bought by the federal government are counted as debt not once but twice without regard for whether or not the money from the bonds actually was spent.

  • Spam Comment

  • Spam Comment

  • Spam Comment

  • Moderated Comment

  • Moderated Comment

  • DeborahJBrown 03/31/2011 4:17am

    Absolutely repulsive! We need a law that says Congress will not be exempt from any laws or rules of government. They should be held to the same standard. This should not even be an issue – if the government shuts down and no one is paid it should include Congress. I’m so sick of these people making laws that exempt them from following the laws of this country.

  • Spam Comment

  • Jbach717 03/31/2011 1:38pm

    It’s the Senate democrats fault for failing to get a deal on the table. So the government shutdown will be the democrats fault, while the fact that congress remains paid will be on the Republicans.

Due to the archiving of this blog, comment posting has been disabled.