The Shutdown and “He Said-She Said” Reporting

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Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, walks to the chamber as the House of Representatives works into the night on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

It’s almost certain that we’ll see the government shut down on Tuesday. The last time that happened, in 1996, it cost $2.1 billion in today’s dollars. Breaching the debt limit would be far, far worse – nobody knows how bad, exactly, but everyone agrees that it would be really bad. The risk of finding out has never been greater. This showdown is by far the most dangerous of a series of fiscal “crises” that have been contrived during the Obama presidency.

Beltway reporters who see their professed neutrality as a higher ground bear an enormous amount of responsibility for encouraging this perversion of democratic governance. With a few notable exceptions, the media have framed what Jonathan Chait called “a kind of quasi-impeachment” in typical he said-she said fashion, obscuring the fact that the basic norms that govern Congress have been thrown out the window by a small cabal of tea party-endorsed legislators from overwhelmingly Republican districts. The media treat unprecedented legislative extortion as typical partisan negotiations, and in doing so they normalize it.

But it’s not normal. Republicans are demanding that Democrats unwind their signature achievement – a piece of legislation that took 18 months to pass, survived a Supreme Court challenge and a presidential election – in exchange for a stopgap budget resolution. On Saturday, they tacked on a provision that would limit access to contraceptives.

Then there’s the other hostage – the debt ceiling. Consider the list of demands Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) issued last week for raising it, as reported by Ezra Klein:

In return for a one-year suspension of the debt ceiling, House Republicans are demanding a yearlong delay of Obamacare, adoption of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s tax-reform plan, construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, more offshore oil drilling, more drilling on federally protected lands, looser regulations around ash coal, a suspension of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of carbon emissions, more power over the regulatory process in general, reform of the federal employee retirement program, changes to the Dodd-Frank Act, more power over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s budget, repeal of the Social Services block grant, expanded means-testing for Medicare benefits, repeal of the public health trust fund and more.

This opening gambit is virtually unprecedented. In the past, a few minor sweeteners have been tacked onto debt-limit hikes. Debt limit increases have also been added to budget bills negotiated separately by the parties in order to avoid a vote altogether. What makes the current ploy novel is they are offering essentially the entirety of Mitt Romney’s agenda – in essence, a demand to do over the 2012 election and, while they’re at it, 2008 as well.

Yet you wouldn’t fully appreciate the audacity of this tactic by reading standard Beltway coverage. As Brian Beutler notes in Salon, Time Magazine reporter Zeke Miller calls this “negotiating technique… is by no means novel. Hostage taking — by promising harm if you do not get your way — has long been a standard way of doing business in Washington.” James Fallows, decrying what he calls a “failure of journalism,” flagged the headline, “Parties Digging in Their Heels as Hourglass Empties.” (The Courier-Post, a Gannett paper, similarly went with, “Lawmakers dig in their heels; government shutdown nearer.”) And Politico’s Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan described the ransom note as simply a set of “demands for reform.” All of this coverage reeks of false equivalency, implying yet again that “both sides do it.”

Let’s conduct a brief thought exercise.

In 2007, Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress and had deep political differences with then-President George W. Bush. Yet they passed a clean debt limit increase, with about as many Democrats as Republicans voting “aye.”

But imagine, for a moment, that Democrats had held the House two years earlier, in the fall of 2005, less than a year after Bush’s re-election. And imagine further that in exchange for not breaching the debt limit and bringing economic catastrophe down on the citizens of the United States, they had demanded that the Republican Senate pass, and the Republican president sign into law, all of the following: single-payer health-care, a federal living wage law (indexed to inflation, of course), the elimination of all oil subsidies, a roll-back of Bush’s tax cuts on high earners, strict limits on campaign financing, new regulations of greenhouse gas emissions and an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.

This imagined list of 2005 demands is no further from the majority’s agenda than what House Republicans offered Democrats and the White House last week. Yet it’s hard to imagine that Politico would have dismissed this 2005 list as merely “demands for reform,” or that Time would have suggested that such maneuvers were routine — the narrative would have been that Dems had gone completely bonkers.

The difference is that, with a demographic tide going against them, Republicans have gradually jettisoned the norms that make democratic governance possible. First they filibustered virtually everything. Then they started creating these annual budget showdowns to fight for cuts in taxes and spending. Now they’re using the budget battle to advance the entire legislative agenda of the hard right. In essence, they have made crisis governance the new normal — but they did so incrementally.

Like frogs in the proverbial pot, many journalists have slowly acclimated to these extreme, democracy-suffocating circumstances and now seem incapable of describing what they’re seeing. Framing everything as a standard-issue partisan fight is almost a professional imperative for many journalists. But there are three reasons this is wrong.

First, this showdown has been authored by a relatively small number of Republican officeholders with just enough votes to force their leadership into a battle that will ultimately hurt the country.

This important piece of information is often buried in Beltway coverage. Another Politico piece by Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan frames the “standoff” as “Senate Democrats and the White House at loggerheads with House Republicans” in the fourth paragraph. It’s only in the second-to-last paragraph that they acknowledge that it’s really “a small group of conservatives that have tied the hands of Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — just enough Republicans to prevent the leadership from being able to exert its will.”

One reporter who got it right, The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza looked at the 80 Republican lawmakers who signed a letter demanding that the party attempt to “defund Obamacare” – Lizza dubs them the “suicide caucus” – and noted that they “represent just eighteen per cent of the House and just a third of the two hundred and thirty-three House Republicans.” And they are political outliers:

These eighty members represent an America where the population is getting whiter, where there are few major cities, where Obama lost the last election in a landslide, and where the Republican Party is becoming more dominant and more popular. Meanwhile, in national politics, each of these trends is actually reversed.

Meanwhile, a number of Republican legislators have condemned the tactics pushed by the “suicide caucus,” and others have hinted that they’d be willing to vote for a “clean” budget resolution (and presumably a debt limit hike).

Go back to our thought exercise: what if Speaker Nancy Pelosi had wanted to pass a clean debt limit hike in 2005, but the Congressional Progressive Caucus had forced her to demand single-payer health-care and the rest? It’s unfathomable.

The second reason the standard-issue Beltway framing is wrong is it doesn’t capture the nature of the so-called “negotiation.”

A negotiation is between two parties that want different things and come to some compromise. Nobody should want a shutdown or a default and passing budgets and paying the federal government’s debts aren’t Democratic priorities. Rather, what we are seeing now is a “negotiation” in which Republicans are demanding a lot and offering absolutely nothing in return. MSNBC’s Steve Benen offered a handy chart to make this point clear:

Third, the “digging in their heels” narrative doesn’t work, because when it comes to the budget resolution, the Republicans have already won. They just refuse to acknowledge it.

In March, the Republican-controlled House and Senate Democrats passed dueling spending bills. The House locked in most discretionary spending at levels below those set by the “sequester,” while increasing defense spending. The Senate bill assumed that the sequester would end.

Last week, the continuing resolution the Senate sent back to the House set spending levels at about what House Republicans called for back in March. As Jon Healey wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “Republicans: You won the battle over the stopgap spending bill. Time to declare victory and move on.”

The reason all of this is important is simple: A faction within one of our parties has rejected the basic structure of our democratic system – the separation of powers. The only thing that will break the fever that grips them – the only thing that can break the fever – is intense public backlash, and not just from Democratic partisans, but also from the majority of Republicans who don’t identify with the tea party movement and oppose these antics. By muddying the waters of what’s really going on here with their perpetual false equivalence, the Beltway media is making that reckoning unlikely to occur.

Joshua Holland is a senior digital producer for He’s the author of The Fifteen Biggest Lies About the Economy (and Everything Else the Right Doesn’t Want You to Know about Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America) (Wiley: 2010), and host of Politics and Reality Radio. Follow him on Twitter or drop him an email at hollandj [at] moyersmedia [dot] com.
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  • Anonymous

    According to the style book, “Benghazi” must always be written in all-caps and followed by at least three exclamation points. Thank you for your cooperation.

  • Diana Reichardt

    The Republicans strike again!! Looks like they have attempted to cover everything. Medical care for everyone, denying or limiting birth control, taking money from seniors(social security) and Ryans’ plan. These are some very selfish, cocky jerks who call them selves public servants!! I think NOT!! Never will vote for a Republican again.

  • Anonymous

    What a terrific article! Should be mandatory reading for every citizen. Imagine: just18% of the House is breaking the back of this country

  • Thomas Milligan

    …which is what happens when you allow the mass media to be owned outright by the very criminal corporations mostly… it’s [theoretically] supposed to watchdog.

  • Anonymous

    While it’s difficult to fight “bias creep” in journalism I think it’s more than fair to say that each respective “camp” (left and right) have done a terrible job at being fair and credible. Let’s also not lump in people like Alex Jones, and other nutjobs with a podcast or YT channel regardless of their political leanings, create nothing but blowhard outrage filled controversy to up their ratings, views, or whatever it is they care about. TRUE journalist, the ones who actually went to journalism school and know what the hell they are doing, do get it and I hope their bipartisan reporting continues.

  • Dracul Jan Ivanescu

    youd you vote for the scoundrals in the first place? its not like they dont own tv stations, cable companies, newspapers and radio stations to get their message out you know.

  • Dracul Jan Ivanescu

    since you said someplace in public your predictions will come true…
    hunger games via internet…

  • Anonymous

    The Federal Government has more employees than the population of 24 states. It is an obscenity and the longer it is shut down the better. It will shock the productive people in this nation how many people are completely dependent on the federal government. Bravo to the push back against the grotesque growth and impact on our lives of the federal government.

  • Anonymous

    I refuse to dignify the Fourth Estate’s pitiful performance as an “attempt at fairness”. It is laziness at best or collusion at worst. And, it has been occurring over a long period of time, not just in this particular season of insane crisis mongering. The strategy at work here did not simply happen, it has been refined over several decades. Fox News was created to serve a purpose, and, mainstream media was sucked in to serve this purpose, as well. When I notice a false note being reported as factual, I become angry, because I wonder how many false reports have slid past me. It’s the “he said, she said”, the “Well, that was from the leader of the committee for such-and-such. Now, for another [equally valid] point of view, we’ll interview some guy on a street corner.”, or the always popular, “The President said this and the guy on a street corner said that, so, I guess we’ll just have to ‘agree to disagree’.” Over time, continuous false-equivalency reporting takes its toll on an informed public. And, that’s if they even bother to report and inform the public at all.

  • SNF

    What does that have to do with anything, though?

    It’s not like the media is able to vote on this. Yeah, it’s beneficial to them to have chaos, but they aren’t members of Congress, so they can’t actually cause it.

  • Anonymous

    Non-military federal employment dropped 9 percent between 1990 and 2010, despite the fact that the population grew by 24 percent during that period.

    There are lots of people who work for the government, rendering goods and services that Americans quite like, but there are very few who are dependent on the government — the severely disabled, for the most part. And most are note “entirely dependent on the federal government.” Federal prisoners are, of course, but they don’t choose be.

  • Anonymous

    I think the MSM is absolutely terrified of being called ‘liberal media elite’ by the likes of Limbaugh, Beck and Murdoch/Ailes/Fox.

  • Anonymous

    Does it not occur to you that the government of 315 million today requires more employees than the government of 2.5 million in 1776?
    And, who cares about the population of 24 relatively tiny states? There are 4 million people in my state and twice that in NYC. The only thing that tells me is that my state has too many senators.

  • Anonymous

    I think “neutrality” is inherently dishonest as it assumes (and implies) that all arguments have equal merit.

    When ostensibly neutral political reporters suggest that “both sides do it,” and that’s not the case, they are effectively taking the side of the party that’s at fault.

    I only promise to be factually grounded and intellectually honest — I would never claim to be “neutral.”

  • Anonymous

    Pundits are cheaper than journalists who investigate and report objectively. Interviews are also cheap and typically reveal talking points that have been carefully honed. News is entertainment, so go for the controversy and scandal. Even serious news outlets often succumb to the temptation to editorialize in their reporting. This article hits the problem dead on.

  • Matthew Ryan

    Really good analysis. As a former journalist who’s moved into the documentary format, it’s easy for me to see how the pressure of deadlines and “ideological capture” that happens between reporters and their “sources” — who in Washington are often working as counter-intelligence types, spinning a completely false narrative — blinds otherwise intelligent and earnest journalists into mere stenographic messengers. One of the side effects of the contraction of bureaus is the lack of true institutional specialists, but also “outsiders” who dig for the hidden story. Being first, not best has become the ethos of political journalists, and the survival of the nation may rely on that changing. Until the people of the country hear the unvarnished truth, with no worries about cynical cries of “bias!” from those who want their activities hidden, the country remains in a precarious position.

  • Anonymous

    And for nothing, because that’s going to happen anyway.

  • Anonymous

    Does it occur to you that the government in 1776 was “limited?” Do you have any comprehension what the phrase “limited government” means? Do you have any knowledge of the history of the United States government?

  • Anonymous

    People like a lot of things paid for with $1 Trillion dollars a year in hot checks.

  • Anonymous

    Please tell me a lawyer in America that won’t sue a business for malfeasance on behalf of an individual? Businesses that follow the rule of law get hit with endless nuisance lawsuits all the time. Go ahead an raise wages and watch companies go bankrupt just like Hostess bakeries, General Motors, and on and on. Watch teenage unemployment increase from the current 35%-40% to 80% by increasing minimum wages. Watch more and more machines replace people like self-service check out machines in super markets. End all tax breaks and subsidies, hear hear. For unions, business, corporate farmers, and green industry cronies of government fat cats. The people in our community make it work not the government.

    The scaremongering by big government types over the sequester got exposed and so it will again with this shutdown. Government isn’t the solution it is the problem. No one can make better decisions concerning my retirement, medical care, or any other else than I can for myself.

  • Gordon Hill

    Too much of the media has seems to have moved from “there may be two sides to every story” to “there must be two sides to every story.”

  • Jll2013

    A Two State Solution. For The Taliban GOP/Tea Party & Everyone Else.

  • Rick

    Read a book.

  • Rick

    Lots of people here know a lot more about “limited government” than you do, I would bet. Some of us even know when the Constitution was written. And it was long after 1776.

  • Rick

    Thanks for your brain-dead frontal assault on the economy.

  • Rick

    It’s really sad that you equate the problems with the NSA, which should be a real scandal, with those of Benghazi, an utterly fake scandal. Perhaps if GOP legislators spent far less time on the latter and far more on the former, people would be more aware of what’s going on there. But it seems like the GOP doesn’t care about all the spying on Americans either.

  • Rick

    “You are not honest or you would have said what I say you should say.” Um, it doesn’t work that way.
    And Boehner isn’t a Senator.
    Read a book.

  • Anonymous

    Your argument is based on cherry-picking, as if the income tax was the only tax paid. The majority of the 47% generally do pay federal payroll tax. Only about 14% of Americans, including the elderly and disabled, had no federal tax liability. In fact, the lowest fifth of the population, measured by income, pays a far higher percentage of their income in taxes than the top 40%. This is according to the Congressional Budget Office.

    Second, the 40% (and especially the top 2%) really have nothing about which they have any right to complain: they already have the lowest total tax burden they have had since World War II. There was a period of a few years when the top marginal individual income tax was lower (end of the Reagan Administration to about halfway through the George H.W. Bush Administration) but capital gains taxes are lower now than they have been since 1954. This is according to the Internal Revenue Service.

    Conservatives and Tea Party partisans worship Ronald Reagan; perhaps we should return to the rates in effect during the majority of his administration. From 1981, when Reagan took office, until 1989, when Reagan was succeeded by George H.W. Bush, the maximum individual tax rate averaged 46%; the average capital gains tax rate was 23.6%. Corporate taxes? 42.7%.

    Or how about Eisenhower? During his first term, the top marginal individual income tax rate was 92%; capital gains were taxed at 25% and corporations were hit with a maximum tax rate of 52%.

    Do those numbers rock your comfy little boat? Too bad; they’re a lot more real than the fantasies flavoring your Konservative Kool-Aid.

    BTW: Unemployment averaged 7.3% during the Reagan years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. During the Eisenhower years, it was 5.1%, including the recession of 1958. It was in 1982, the second year of Reagan’s first term, that unemployment hit 9.7%, the highest percentage in the past 64 years.

    I will agree the OWS movement was very poorly thought-out and the execution (and sanitation) was even worse. On the other hand, unlike the Tea Party, the OWS movement didn’t receive significant assistance from the Koch Brothers. More to the point, judging by the rampant illiteracy displayed on their signs and the error-ridden mantra they bought into, Tea Party demonstrators were of no more than average intelligence, so one is forced to question the source of their strategy and planning.

  • Anonymous

    Apparently a number of us have a better grasp of U.S. history than you do.

    The American government in 1776 was King George III and the British Parliament and was not notably limited. That was one of the reasons the colonists declared their independence and went to war. American independence was not secured, allowing the formation of a legitimate United States government, limited or otherwise, until the treaties signed at the Peace of Paris in 1783. The Constitution was adopted in 1787 and went into effect in 1789. George Washington became the first U.S. President on April 30, 1789.

    According to the Census Bureau. there were 391,791 full-time and part-time employees of the federal government in 2011. The U.S. population in 2011 is estimated by the Census Bureau at 311,800,000. So federal employees make up 0.13% of the population. BTW: figures include the Department of Homeland Security, which includes the Coast Guard, but do not include employees of the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marines or Navy.

    The least populous state is Wyoming with 576,412 inhabitants. This number is still higher than the total number of civilian federal employees. Your “sound-bite” statistic is no more accurate than your knowledge of history.

    I strongly suggest that, in the interest of full disclosure, you replace the word “Liberals” in your thumbnail with the word “Facts.” “Brains” would also work.

  • Anonymous

    In 1968, the minimum wage was $1.60, equivalent in purchasing power to $10.74 today. The economy did not implode. In fact, unemployment was 3.6% that year.

    Hostess Bakeries went bankrupt mostly because the management had not kept their products in tune with the time and enriched itself with lavish bonuses even as sales declined.

    General Motors secured huge wage concessions from the United Auto Workers, including a two-tier wage structure under which new hires were paid at less than half the rate of regular union employees. Regular union workers have not had a raise since 2003. The UAW also agreed to take over GM’s retiree healthcare obligations. All of this happened before GM declared bankruptcy.

    Raising the minimum wage might actually create jobs because if people could live off their income from one job, they might not need to hold two or more.

  • Jim Balter

    Everything about what Baron95 wrote is erroneous, intellectually dishonest, and enabling of treason.

  • Jim Balter

    Your icon would be better as no intelligence, no knowledge, no intellectual honesty, “surfer”.

  • Jim Balter

    Ignorant and intellectually dishonest right wing trolls are boring.

  • Jim Balter

    Did you even read the article?

  • Jim Balter

    Funny how right wingers are always so ignorant. Vern here seems to have no idea who Bill Moyers is.

  • Jim Balter

    “You are not factually or intellectually honest”

    Whoa, is that ever the pot calling the kettle black! The Dems are supposed to “concede” the ACA … with exchanges opening tomorrow … to the Republican extortion?

  • Jim Balter

    Republicans, not “the congress”.

  • Anonymous

    The really big deficits started with Reagan. The smallest deficit during his term in office was more than the largest deficit since 1901. And that’s including World War I, the Great Depression and World War II. The largest deficit, $1.4 trillion, was in 2009, Obama’s first year, but that was on a budget from George W. Bush. The deficits have been smaller in each year since then.

  • Anonymous

    Well said. I’d only add that (regressive) payroll taxes generate about the same amount of revenue for the government as the income tax –around 40%.

  • Anonymous

    Is that when you forget that you have a check in the pocket of a pair of pants and put them through the dryer?

  • jimpower

    How, exactly, is the GOP, by refusing to pay the debt they’ve created, doing something the Dems should “negotiate” with? The GOP is refusing to pay THEIR debt. Making ANY demands of the Dems is ludicrous.

    If you go to a restaurant, eat an expensive meal, and then REFUSE to pay the bill unless the restaurant meets your demands – what, exactly, is in it for the restaurant to “negotiate’ with you?

    There are no “2 sides” to this issue. Imagine if the Dems, during the Bush administration, refused to pay their bills unless Bush repealed his tax breaks to the rich? What would have been his incentive to do what the Dems want?

    This is extortion by an incredibly weak party who pander to their unhinged, uninformed party who REFUSE to accept that Barack Obama is president. It’s one of the sickest displays of gross partisanship I’ve ever seen,

  • Pat

    Neutrality over objectivity. It’s worthless.

  • Pat

    Your argument is that a lot of people are being hurt?

  • Al Oliver

    It’s not a bill Jerry. It’s a LAW. And for Repubs to complain is pure BS. I tracked insurance costs for the last 4 years of Bushs’ tenure, and it went up almost 25% a year and the Repubs did NOTHING. The Dems had to do it because the Repubs failed to do jack squat. Complaining now is like failing to repair your car brakes for 4 years, selling your car, and then complaining about the way the new owner fixed the brakes.

    You don’t get to complain when the foremost failure was your own.

  • Pat

    Given that the article demonstrates why “neutral” reporting is terrible, it would be pretty weird for it to claim that.

    Objectivity, not neutrality.

  • Anonymous

    How does “adopting a republicult plan” wind up “willing to concede nothing”? These people are simply not connected to any recognizable reality…

  • Anonymous

    It’s not actually neutrality. It’s cowardice.

  • bob

    The govt needs to start attacking congress using drones as is normally the case with terrorism.

  • destroyideas

    There were four years of debate. Why stall Obamacare for one more year when they’ve had four years to prepare?

  • destroyideas

    Would you be OK with the Democrats caving and then every year facing a government shutdown unless some major piece of legislation was passed? It’s a precedent none of us want set. It’s not government by the people, it’s not representative government, it’s legislation by crisis.

  • destroyideas

    Except Republican leaders treat their opposition as if they were Nazis, Communists, haters of freedoms, evil, etc. They can’t possibly let Democrats govern because it would kill the nation. Democrats, on the other hand, don’t treat the Republicans this way.

  • geezerette

    Yes, it should be. If a foreign enemy were to cause such a degradation of the wealth of the citizens of this country, we would go to war. Oh wait…been there, done that. That sure helped.

    Vote vote vote for anyone except dems, repubs, and teas. Green party is sensible, but there are plenty of independants who run shoestring campaigns every election. Throw ’em a few bucks and talk ’em up.

  • destroyideas

    In Dec. 2012, Rep. Boehner received a lot of concessions and he still caused the government hundreds of billions in increased interest rates when S&P downgraded the U.S. credit rating because of Boehner’s legislation by crisis.

  • destroyideas

    1/3rd of Republicans.

  • Adrian Gruber

    Mr. Moyers.
    It is clear now for everybody to see that the Republican Party is clearly malicious. It now engages in Class Warfare! When a group of people decide to make war on a class of our poor and disadvantaged it is nothing less than oppression. To deny us as a people the same benefits as members of Congress enjoy is unspeakable. How long are we going to take it?


    well they get their money from wealthy sources and can afford pretty much anything . what we the people need to do is get together on a certain day and have a strike nationwide for 1 week. no work for 1 week .This is how it’s done in europe and it works pretty well. If we do not do anything everything will just stay the same and evryone will just keep on whinning. we need action not whining. anyone in? FB

  • Corey

    I think a MAJORITY of Republicans are Conservatives making them basically the Tea Party. Nothing will change, this is how it always is when a Democrat is in the WH. Happened to Carter, Clinton and now Obama. The biggest problem I see is that the Dems think working with Repubs is a good civil idea, when its just plain stupid and naive. It’s really just a waist of time to try and change things, because what we are seeing is true Conservative Ideology. It’s “I got mine now go “f” yourself”! It’s always been that way all over the world throughout history, one reason why more people try to take their own lives when Conservatives are in control is, they create inequality and an “us against them” drum beat. The best examples I can think of are dictators, Hitler, GW Bush, just off the top of my head. So there are two outcomes: civil unrest like we saw before unions, before 5 day work weeks and 8 hour work days were the norm, or, the USGov will be busy invading the rest of the world spreading money all over, except in the USA, that someone or a few, will nuke us. Either way, Americans not our royal government will suffer, just like those union people that got shot down long ago and just like those going to work on Sept 11 2001. What is humorous to me is, there is a three day weekend coming up for a man that raped and tortured natives, that we in Anerica celebrate. Is it any wonder the government had taken away all our power so easily!?

  • Kathy Shattuck

    Andrew, the GOP was asked to conference on these issues. You might want to read this.

  • Wolf Braun

    Tell me again the purpose of government. Why does government exist? What is the singular reason we have governments at all levels? It seems to me that our elected officials and bureaucrats have lost sight of what the original founders had in mind. We need to redefine the purpose of government and develop a set of principles by which we demand our elected officials and bureaucrats work by. Anything short of that and they lose their jobs and all that goes with it.

  • Wolf Braun

    The media is controlled by large corporations. Large corporations get free rides on our tax dollars. What do we expect? More importantly, what do we do about it. Stop putting $$$ in to the pockets of media giants?

  • Michael Ryan

    I think we should all go to DC and throw hand fulls of sh!t at both houses until they fix this and start acting like grown ups and not spoiled children.

  • geezerette

    Stop buying and consuming shoddy merchandise and food. Stop feeding the communist Chinese economic monster. Stop patronizing dictatorial retailers who have driven American manufacturing into oblivion despite our superior productivity and quality. Buy second-hand if new American-made products are not available. Return to classics in education–teach critical thinking, logic, ethics, community service. Teach the Constitution at all grade levels. Contact advertisers about deceptive ads. Call local media when their reporting is incomplete and biased. Take responsibility when and where you can.

    Oops. I forgot that personal responsibility is no longer in vogue. I do what I can in my small life. How bad do things have to get before a critical mass of other citizens begin to take action?

  • geezerette

    Make sure to get the proper EPA, USDA, FDA zub zub zub permits first. And wear proper PPE’s

  • geezerette

    Oops. Reply to Mr. Ryan is above.

  • Richard

    Numbers 2 (but see also 10, below), 8 (to an extent), 9 (a little) and 10 (providing it all stays here) aren’t bad. The rest, especially 4 and 11 are bad, except that 1 doesn’t really matter because it’s just trying to fix the unfixable (employer based health care). But the dems need some sugar, too.

  • Anonymous

    Should the Democrats elect to send conferees to talk with these extremists, they should go with Progressive counter proposals in hand such as limit clip size, no automatic weapons, background checks, age appropriate sex education in each grade of public school, abortion on demand in all 50 states, .01% transaction tax on Wall Street, cut farm subsidies by 60%, eliminate oil company subsidies, targeted Pentagon budget reduction of 8%, eliminate the corporate jet tax break, elimination of tax breaks for corporations moving jobs out of the country, and building a network of small public mental health facilities to treat mentally ill and chemically dependent individuals rather than warehouse them in prisons. Perhaps the budget could be negotiated back down to the BUDGET which the Democrats have already compromised on spending levels.

  • Anonymous

    That’s simply factually untrue — they raised taxes on capital gains for high earners to help pay for ACA, and the GOP is desperate to repeal the tax on medical devices. We also had a significant payroll tax reduction, and then a fight over keeping it in place or letting it expire.

    The federal income tax is the most progressive tax, and that’s why anti-tax demagogues like to pretend the others don’t exist.

  • Anonymous

    In fact, I don’t know a single progressive who would prefer to raise earned income taxes over raising capital gains taxes and/ or closing loopholes in the corporate tax code.

    Not all Dems are progressive, but that’s true of most of them as well.

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    I am in shock that a part of one political party can hold the country hostage. I think they should all be tried for treason. This is extortion. NO NO NO NO NO

  • Richard

    Automatic weapons have been illegal since the 1930s. We already have background checks; we’d have to make big loopholes in HIPAA (fine by me) to check for the crazies; sex ed curricula is a state matter (though there should be federal standards for regular curricula); abortion has been legal (at least 1st 2 trimesters) in all states and territories since 1973, transaction tax is fine, everything else you proposed is fine. Only thing I’d add for the mentally ill is that it should be easier to civilly commit. Modern mass murders and deinstitutionalization seem to begin at around the same time (1980).

  • Sherri Y

    Are you seriously suggesting that the Federal Government shouldn’t hire enough workers to manage the needs of the ENTIRE citizenry simply because you found some irrelevant stat to match up against the size of the workforce? Heck, there are boroughs in NYC alone that have a larger population than the entire state of Wyoming. Seeing how Wyoming’s population is so sparse, maybe we should just make that state do without federal workers altogether, eh? That would make about as much sense.

  • Anonymous

    Super story. Where are the real journalists?! I miss them so much.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, but there used to be “the power of the pen” and it was mighty. There are no longer journalists with the substance to wield it.

  • Anonymous

    Time will tell. And, I don’t think this part of his career is one about which Rep Boehner can be proud.

  • Dick Burns

    The problem is that spending and owning are lame ducks.

  • Anonymous

    Exactly. They might as well just do what they know is right, and stop worrying about what the nuts think. They think NPR is leftist. Good grief.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I think we, the consumers, have to take some of the blame. We eat up sensationalism, and seem to have limited patience for good, solid, factual news.

  • Anonymous

    When you look at the actual disparity of wealth at this point, the whole system seems irreversibly doomed. It isn’t even fixable with the measures the dems are asking for. There is no longer a middle class and the next generation of kids can’t afford to go to college. We have destroyed America. And the banking and stock market investing systems are so stacked against sustainability that the average American doesn’t know what hit them.

  • Anonymous

    Learn how to get off the energy grid to create the energy you need, localize money and barter, join the local credit union and get your money out of the large banks, support 100% Money movement and educate yourself about the scandalous banking system as it now exists. Make sure your kids learn a trade. Spend time in other cultures.

  • Anonymous

    This whole argument is based on the implication that we are functioning in a democracy. When you see where the funding of political campaigns actually comes from, how much it is bought by a few monied groups, how can we be surprised that our government has come to this point?

  • Anonymous

    Wishful thinking in a nutshell.

  • Ari

    Well, it’s not Senators, first of all, it’s Representatives, in the House. And their names and districts are known and have been published. There are 80 of them, which may sound like a lot, but doesn’t actually represent a very large chunk of…well, anything. You can read more about the numbers breakdown (and district locations) here:

    As far as food stamps are concerned, nutritional education is actually a part of the SNAP (food stamps) program, though states can choose to opt in. There’s a significant movement to increase the education and to offer nutritional incentives (studies suggest that coupons and rebates for healthy, whole foods are most effective), but it’s hard to get funding to expand and improve the program because, umm, Congressional Republicans are slashing at the food assistance budget.

  • Anonymous

    No international terror ring could have come up with something like this on their own. They must be beside themselves with hysterics.
    Put all 80 of these Reps in an airline carrier and let the unpaid ATC have their way with them. And then pray for bad weather while they are stranded on a tarmac.

  • Anonymous

    Are you seriously suggesting that the federal government isn’t a grossly obese drag on the national economy and a huge source of economic headwind that holds us all back? You would think that rational thought would look at the economic collapse of the cradle-to-grave welfare state in Europe and realize that decreasing the scale and scope of the federal government is the safest and quickest path to real economic growth and prosperity.

  • Anonymous

    My argument is that the federal government is the source of most of the problems plaguing the United States today, and not a solution to any of them.

  • Anonymous

    What an irrational premise that a bureaucrat possess “more experience and knowledge than ‘us.’ It must be absolutely miserable going to be at night believing that some bureaucrat applying a cookie cutter one-size-fits all approach can run your life better than you can.

  • Anonymous

    No, the really big deficits began with FDR during the New Deal before WWII if historical accuracy holds any interest.

  • Anonymous

    Catch phrases do not an argument make.

  • Anonymous

    “Guest.” What an icon.

  • Anonymous

    In 1968 we had 500,000 troops in Vietnam. Is a ground war in Asia your recipe for solving unemployment? No, hostess bakeries went bankrupt because of the unions because it is reopened without unions. The United States government gave the UAW tens of billions of tax dollars in the General Motors bankruptcy.The UAW didn’t take over anything, the United States taxpayer (nonunion FYI) took over those obligations.

    Raising the minimum wage cripples the ability of the young and unskilled to acquire skills. This is why 16-24 year old unemployment is at record levels and going up. This is why companies can afford to replace human beings with machines.

    If the minimum wage has no effect then why not make it $100 an hour?

  • Anonymous

    No, the colonies declared independence on July 4, 1776. The government of both King George III before July 4 and the individual state government after July 4 were quite limited in the colonies. This is in fact why the Revolution began. The British “attempted” to increase the power of government and failed.

    You need to learn how to do basic research on the internet. The federal government employs over 4 million workers.

    The executive branch employs 2.756 million. The legislative branch employs 64,000, and the military employs the rest.

    You should learn to start paying attention to facts.

  • Anonymous

    Are you claiming that limited government did not precede the American Constitution? What exactly are you saying. You didn’t make a clear, unambiguous statement.

  • Anonymous

    haha you got that

  • Anonymous

    Oh, historical accuracy is of great interest to me. That’s why I study it.

    If you want to blame FDR as the progenitor of big deficits, a lot depends on what you call big: the largest deficit in FDR’s pre-war administration was $4.3 billion in 1936, during the depths of the Great Depression. The largest prior deficits, including one of $13.3 billion, came during World War I. After that, it was $54.5 billion in 1943 during the height of World War II.

    There were some relatively hefty deficits during the Ford and Carter years, but they simply set the stage for the master.

    Reagan started with a $79 billion deficit in 1981, when the U.S. was in a recession, ran it up to $128 billion in 1982 and peaked at $221 billion in 1986, the largest deficit in the history of the country. We were still one-upping the Soviet Union at the time, but I don’t seem to recall any really active wars going on and the recession was long over.

    The deficit was $290 million when Clinton took office but it shrank until 1998, when there was a $69 billion surplus that grew to a $236 billion surplus in Clinton’s last year in office.

    Bush, part two, came into office with a $128 billion surplus. By 2004, he had turned that into a nearly $413 billion deficit.

    The biggest deficit in our history hit in 2009: $1.4 trillion dollars. But Obama didn’t take office until January 2009, so that deficit was a product of the George W. Bush Administration.

    The deficit is still too high, but in 2012, it was $325 billion less than it was in 2009.

    As we have seen in so many of your comments, you need to rely more on facts and less on Fox.

  • Anonymous

    Weird reasoning on your part: must be the Kool-Aid.

    What does the ground war in Vietnam have to do with the bankruptcy of Hostess Bakeries? Not nearly as much as poor management. The union baked what it was told to bake and delivered it where it was told to deliver it. It wasn’t the union’s fault that management failed to take note of the changing tastes of the American people. It also wasn’t the union’s fault that when the company was failing, that management decided to raid the treasury for big bonuses. The bonuses weren’t the direct cause of the Hostess failure, but the bad decisions were.

    Now, this next part is very important and I want you to pay attention. The United Auto Workers union didn’t get a penny from the GM bankruptcy. Take a moment to let that sink in. The UAW didn’t get anything. Not even a raise.

    The stake in GM (and Chrysler) was given to an independent voluntary employee beneficiary trust, or VEBA. There are three such trusts, set up at the request of Chrysler, Ford and General Motors to allow them to shed responsibility for retired employee healthcare. These were set up in 2007, long before the bankruptcies, and all three automakers promised to fund the VEBAs with significant cash payments. This was all in a contract between the automakers and the union. Both GM and Chrysler defaulted on their promises, so during the reorganization, the government allocated a stake in each company to the VEBA that it could convert into cash to fund obligations it had assumed. There are union members on the VEBA board, but they are a minority and the head of the VEBA is an outside healthcare administration professional.

    The union cannot, by law, use the money for anything except retiree healthcare.

    By doing this, the Obama Administration avoided having to further burden the Pension Benefits Guaranty Trust and the taxpayers of the United States.

    The taxpayers are going to get hosed, but not by the UAW. While Chrysler paid its entire debt, with interest, in cash, General Motors sweet-talked Congress into letting them give us and the union VEBA stock. We are going to take it up the rear to the tune of billions because of that.

    So, yes, we are all getting the shaft. But it’s due to GM’s financially adroit management, not the UAW.

    That is all fact. You are welcome to do as I did and follow the money and the court documents.

    Never in the history of the minimum wage has raising it caused a significant fluctuation in unemployment and claims to the contrary are based either on ignorance or malevolence. Why is it that an increase in the cost of materials, often a significant increase, is simply passed along as a cost of doing business but an increase in the cost of labor is cause for major wailing and gnashing of teeth?

    On the contrary, paying a living wage allows jobs to be opened up because people no longer need to have two or three of them to get by.

    Recently, a budget planner McDonald’s created for its employees came to light. It only sort of worked if the employee had to full-time jobs and even then they forgot to allow for heating and food. Now let’s pay that McDonald’s employee the current equivalent of the minimum wage in 1968 ($1.60), which is $10.74. That’s nearly a 50% raise, meaning the employee could give up at least half of that second full-time job, opening it for a teenager who can only work part-time anyway.

    Yes, it would drive up the cost of that Big Mac – by about a nickel.

    Why not make the minimum wage $100? Why stop there? Back in 1980, the compensation spread between a company’s CEO and the lowest-paid employee was about 42 times the lowest pay grade. Today, a typical CEO earns about $10 million a year. Using the same ratio as in 1980, that would make the lowest-paid worker’s hourly wage $4,808. Reductio ad absurdum is fun, but not really practical.

  • Anonymous

    You don’t seem to understand the difference between a rebellion and a revolution. A revolution is a successful rebellion. America was under British rule until the American forces prevailed in 1783.

    Our “limited” government did not, in fact, come into being until 1789, when the Constitution was ratified by enough of the former colonies to go into effect.

    As far as federal employees go, you’re right. I did go back to your source. and compared the historical totals to the U.S. population at the time. Turns out that federal employees, including uniformed military personnel, make up a whopping 1.413% of the U.S. population. Civilian employees are 0.905% of the population, while the armed services are 0.508% of the total.

    It’s funny that you talk about limits. As of 2011, the percentage of Americans employed in one way or another by the federal government has only been lower in four years since 1962. Those years are 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. The smallest percentage recorded was 1.370% in 2007, when the Democrats took over Congress. In terms of civilian employees, the percentage has been lower in just one year: 2007. From 1962 to 1970, the armed forces made up the majority of federal employment. That changed in 1971 when Nixon took office.

    Even with your figures, it still sounds pretty limited to me.

  • Bryan ĸ McDonald

    Oh STOP making sense, there would be no one to point a finger at if anyone listened to this nonsense.

  • geezerette

    A program already exists that limits subsidized food purchases to o lay basic, nutritious selections. It’s called WIC (women, infants & children). Retail systems scanners are already coded for this program. Example of approved foods: brown rice, either raw or converted, regular or organic–white rice is not approved. Put food stamp/SNAP purchases under this program.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, except Article 3 says the Supreme Court gets to interpret Article 10.

  • LiberalinMD

    You see, this is why the Democrats shouldn’t let them win. They gave them the win–the below-sequester spending rates–and this was the response. Why give them anything? Every time you give them something, they throw a temper tantrum and demand more, while screaming at the top of their lungs.

  • LiberalinMD

    I don’t even like the ACA. At all. And I can still tell that what you’re spouting is errant nonsense.

  • LiberalinMD


  • Anonymous

    You don’t understand, these guys are so myopic, they do believe it.

  • Anonymous

    They got laid-off, thanks to digital.

  • Anonymous

    The reserve clause reserves powers not explicitely granted to the federal government. The Commerce Clause clearly empowers the feds to regulate a system representing 18% of the economy. That’s a pretty unserious argument,

  • Anonymous

    But not everyone qualifies for WIC (ie not everyone is a female with a kid), and the food they approve is crap food. All GMOs, processed and full of cancer causing substances, you know the stuff in our supermarkets.

  • Anonymous

    Can you imagine the destitute poor having money for bus fare? The lower middle class will soon find out.

  • Anonymous

    Congress is owned by the BIG money corporation$, it is a fact and the US downfall, imploding as you state. Foreclosure fraud by the big banks has put people in the street in the biggest land grab in history (including the ruination of the environment with fracking, oil, etc). The writing is on the wall, the US is no longer the greatest nation in the world. The media just has not announced it yet (because they are owned by the criminals). If you can, become an expat.

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    So did the guillotine.

  • Anonymous

    Occupy tried it and you see how far they got.

  • Anonymous

    Become an expat.

  • destroyideas

    Sorry, the President wasn’t the one who wouldn’t bring the Senate’s debt ceiling bill up for a vote in the House.

  • destroyideas

    Sorry, not buying it. There were plenty of reports on how much Obamacare would cost, the the CBO determined it will save hundreds of billions of dollars.

    The President and Congress knew for a fact it wasn’t unconstitutional, and the Constitutional process for determining constitutionality (Supreme Court) found in fact it was constitutional.

    The States were not forced to join, and were indeed given the opportunity to reject it (and many did). Obamacare did indeed provide incentives (free money to the tune of $900 million) and those same states rejected the money even as they were struggling to fund their own Medicaid programs.

    Obamacare does indeed have incentives to live healthier lives.

  • destroyideas

    SNAP uses a EBT card which is even easier because it’s not a voucher system where you MUST buy a bottle of peanut butter with that gallon of milk.

  • destroyideas

    Nuh uh! Sean Hannity gets that right under Article FU.

  • destroyideas

    Automatic weapons were not illegal, they just had strict regulations including a $200 tax on each gun. It was in the 1980s that it was restricted to where automatic weapons have to be owned by licenses operators.

    The background checks don’t look at mental health, and they are not universal.

  • Pat

    No, you definitely said it was great because a lot of people are effectively unemployed.

    You didn’t say anything about that at all. And that’s not even an argument until you’ve supported it with… something. If anything you’ve suggested the opposite: That the federal government is very helpful and important to a lot of people.

  • Adrian Gruber

    Amen, think “French Revolution!” Come to think of it, didn’t we have one to?

  • destroyideas

    You left out a branch. Also, the military is under the executive branch, which is where most of those 2.756 million preside.

  • Adrian Gruber

    It will never happen unless we the people take big money out of politics! From our President on down have been bought by big money! Plutocracy is rampant and the fix is in. John McCain had the courage once upon a time to limit money for campaigns but he has lost the guts for it.

  • Adrian Gruber

    Canada is not looking so bad! LOL They regulated the banks, have Social Insurance, don’t spy on their Citizens and are prosperous.

  • Anonymous

    That is what the Tea Publicans have been planning for a long time, they want to shut down the government and hold the people hostage until they get what they want. The fact that Obama has already conceded the Bush tax cut extension means nothing to them. The minority in this country are desperate but still have the majority of business interests and they will stop at nothing to protect those interests, no matter how many people they slaughter on the way.

  • Anonymous

    dems get nsa spying, irs targeted groups that oppose dems. illegal phone taps on members of congress, don’t worry dems, next president is gonna be a repub so strap yourselves in.the same thing will happen to u

  • moderator


    Before commenting, please take some time to read our comment policy. While we enjoy a free flow of ideas, we have a strict policy when it comes to personal attacks, hate speech, and misleading statements.

    Thank You,
    Sean @ Moyers

  • Anonymous

    Obviously you didn’t bother clicking on the link to educate yourself. “I” didn’t leave it out. The numbers came straight of a Federal Government website.

  • Anonymous

    The federal government is an overall negative on the country without a doubt.

  • Anonymous

    The British Monarch were ignored by American colonists going back to 1765 when the Stamp Act didn’t even get implemented in the colonies. The colonists also negated the Townshend Duties, and the Tea Act as well. Claiming that the British “ruled” the American colonies until 1783 is an utter fabrication on your part.

    We in fact had limited government in the individual colonies a century before the ratification of the Constitution.

    You choose to characterize the federal government as getting smaller when in fact it is larger than the population of 24 states. Your kind of logic says that a cast iron skillet isn’t hot because you only got first degree burns instead of third degree.

    You are the one resorting to political labels and the blame game. I never laid blame on one party or the other. The federal government is an obese, grotesque, corrupt self-serving monstrosity that has an overwhelming negative effect on the country.

  • Anonymous

    I see you left the realm of reasoned argument. I’ll let you troll to yourself.

  • Anonymous

    FDR deficits were absolutely unprecedented in peacetime American history. It is impossible to even find any kind of deficit spending to compare to the New Deal from 1933 to 1938.

    You choose to ignore the fact that I stated “peaetime” deficits and them compare the New Deal in peacetime to WWI. This is intellectually dishonest of you.

  • Anonymous

    I have trouble sleeping knowing that some government bureaucrat has any power whatsoever over my retirement, my healthcare, or any other aspect at all of my personal life. I want the federal government to deliver my mail, run the courts, that adjudicate disputes, maintain the value of our currency, protect me and my fellow countryman from foreign powers, and the other limited functions laid out in the Constitution. The federal government has no business in education, agriculture, energy, or labor. Those areas belong closer to the people at the state level where they resided for so long in our nation’s history.

    Bureaucrats, as the recent IRS and NSA scandals show, are as self-serving as all human beings are, and should not have power over other citizens in the nation. Just because you’re a bureaucrat doesn’t me you become holier than though or more moral. Bureaucrats are simply a cross-section of society, nothing less and certainly nothing more.

  • Drew Humberd

    Perhaps they should have gotten elected if they wanted to block legislation?

  • destroyideas

    You obviously didn’t read what I wrote. You did leave out a branch, or does the Congressional branch not count?

    The military isn’t just “uniformed military,” genius.

  • moderator

    thesafesurfer and destroyideas,

    Both of you have made your points quite clearly. It might be time to move on before we get too personal or off-topic.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • moderator

    destroyideas and thesafesurfer:

    Both of you have made your points quite clearly. It might be time to move on before we get too personal or off-topic.


    Sean @ Moyers

  • Andrew Dowling

    “Using alternative medicines when safe to prevent, treat, cure, and
    treat to avoid hospitals and pharmaceuticals is truly health care

    The second I saw this sentence I knew we were dealing with a typical tin-foil hat wearer. Ah yes, the secrets of solving the American healthcare system, found in the advice of quack-jobs like Dr. Mercola . . . .(roll-eyes)

  • Anonymous

    Roe v Wade has not been overturned, and that Court that ruled ACA constitutional is dominated by Conservative appointees. Your “grasp” of the Court, and civics in general, is remarkably tenuous. Laws that are likely to be challenged in the court system should not be passed?! That’s truly, profoundly silly. We’d still have segregated schools, and possibly slaves. Honestly, the mind reels.

  • Anonymous

    That is one reason. The other, much more relevant reason it went to the court was the individual mandate. You will note that the States were given relief from joining Medicaid expansion by the Court, yet the law (and the individual mandate) remain.

  • Anonymous

    “Yes I do have a better grasp than the Supreme Court.”

    That’s so awesome.

  • RoadsScholar

    That’s great Jennifer. Where did you go to law school, and where did you get your practice in studying and interpreting constitutional law?

  • ISammael

    Thank you for remaining civil. It is much appreciated.

    I know the Supreme Court heard all of these arguments and ruled it both a tax and not a tax (under the various laws). While that may fly in terms of The Almighty Lawyer’s Rules, it does not pass the sniff test. That’s why I don’t believe the Commerce Clause should apply here.

    But, then, I’m admittedly no lawyer.

  • Alex

    I don’t get your ending. One of the purposes of the separation of powers, and in essence the branches or government, is to insure that one party or one group does not have a monopoly on power.

    The House is doing exactly what they are supposed to do. Obstruct. The House has the power to spend. If they don’t authorize, there will be no spending. The President and Senate can negotiate with the House. Actually, they need the House. Or they can be held hostage. Republicans will hold the House in the 2014 elections, primarily due to redistricting. Since the Republicans are in a lose-lose situation, they will hold firm with the shutdown.

    Great leaders give their opponents backed into a corner an out and compromise to reach solutions. Since President Obama lacks leadership skills, the country will end up paying the price. Both sides are at fault. We are getting what we deserve.

  • Anonymous

    Do you have any clue what a disaster it would be if the GOP got away
    with using the budget to take legislative hostages and demand
    concessions from their political enemies? What kind of precedent that
    would set?

    It would be a disaster of gargantuan proportions and the end of America
    as we know it. America could not function under those circumstances. It
    wouldn’t work.

    And that’s not hyperbole. Its reality.

    The GOP deserves to be blamed for this and they will suffer the blame.
    And if they get burnt enough maybe the saner elements can wrestle
    control away from the lunatic fringe running their party. Or they will
    join the Whigs in obscurity. Either way America wins.


    In my opinion the Supreme Court changed the text of the law in order to try and make it constitutional. The commerce clause was never meant to cover this kind of transaction. The “fine” was never going to fly, and every thinking person knew it. So they (he) changed the transaction from a “fine” to a “tax.” Which, also in my opinion, is a vast slippery slope giving the government the power to tax just about anything.

  • Anonymous

    Congress holds the spending power, not the House. Dems hold the Senate, and the House is violating long-standing norms that made that often clunky system work.

    Most of Obamacare is mandatory spending, which neither the Senate nor the Whitehouse will allow to be defunded. The House is refusing to negotiate a budget under current law.

    It’s unprecedented to shut down the government or threaten default in that situation.

  • Anonymous

    I am hearing complaints by employers about the health care costs they are going to have to pay employees. The typical response is to blame the Obama administration. Why not blame insurance companies, who still run even this new system. In a system that works like in Switzerland, everyone is required to have health insurance and to pay for it privately. On the other hand, the insurance companies cannot call all the shots over the price of health services. This is somehow done between the medical community, the government, and the insurers so that costs are kept in check.

  • Anonymous

    There is no real escape. I go back and forth between countries. I have to say, Switzerland has a system that looks a lot like the American system but it still works. It hasn’t been bought by money. The first thing I noticed was that the democracy really IS one and people are voting on real issues. And the news is real news. But even the Swiss system is being bombarded by the devastating effects of globalization.People are less secure in their jobs and expect an economic downturn. Far-sighted people are looking for sustainable alternatives.

  • Anonymous

    I looked at my comment and nowhere did I find anything that said FDR didn’t run up record peacetime deficits. In fact, I noted that the only prior deficits of comparable size came during World War I. The next big deficits following those in the 1930s came during the height of World War II. Once again, not saying the Depression deficits weren’t large.

    In addition, FDR was dealing with a massive economic downturn he inherited from Herbert Hoover (and, no, I don’t blame Hoover for the Depression).

    However, the deficits run up by FDR pale in comparison to those in the Reagan Administration when we did not have a hot war going on and persisted even after the recession of 1980 and 1981 was past. The situation was exacerbated by the disastrous, and unaffordable, tax cuts Reagan championed that caused the deficit to balloon to a record $290 billion by the end of the George H.W. Bush Administration. The deficits were one of the primary factors in Bush reneging on his “Read My Lips” pledge and almost guaranteed his defeat in the 1992 elections.

  • Anonymous

    No, I left the realm of sound bites and provided information that can be independently verified.

    I responded to each of your points and I provided examples whereas you provided only assertions. The fact you don’t like the truth is immaterial. The fact you lie about it is inexcusable.

  • Anonymous

    So what if the federal government payroll is larger than the population of 24 states? The combined population of those 24 states is just 16.3% of the U.S.’ total population. You might as well get your shorts in a knot over the fact federal employees outnumber the residents of Montpelier, Vermont, the state capital.

    The fact remains, whether you like it or not, that the number of people on the federal payroll is smaller that at almost any time in the past 50 years.

    I am not sure why you continue to beat a dead horse: the “limited” U.S. government to which you originally referred didn’t begin until 1789 when the Constitution was ratified and the new U.S. government took office. The Americans did not secure their independence from England until 1783.

    The problem with your argument is that somebody besides us had to say we were no longer subject to British rule and recognize us as an independent nation. That somebody was, of course, Great Britain.

    The Declaration of Independence is a marvelous document but it wouldn’t be worth the parchment it was written on without the military victory that secured our independence and even that didn’t come until 1781 with the surrender of Cornwallis.

  • Alex

    The Constitution expressly provides (in Article I, Section 7): “All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.”
    This Origination Clause applies to all spending legislation. As the
    clause elaborates, when the subject at issue involves spending public
    money, the Senate “may propose or concur with Amendments as on other
    Bills”; but it may not instigate spending. The Senate can tinker within
    the spending limits set by the House, but it must live within those
    limits. The continuing resolution to fund the government, which is the
    legislation at issue in the current controversy, is no exception. The
    Senate is not permitted to originate spending, as Majority Leader Harry
    Reid did on Friday, with the indulgence of Senate Republicans – who
    voted against his appropriation of Obamacare funds but did not challenge
    the validity of it.

  • Alex

    Both sides are at fault. But don’t you see this country is at the tipping point as far as disasters go? However, if this is the only way to stop the runaway spending, then let the revolution begin.

  • Guest

    Because of redistricting, The Cook Political Report, a Washington tip sheet, estimates that 205 of the chamber’s 232 Republicans can count on a safe re-election race a year from now. Only 11 Republican seats are viewed as competitive.

    Meaning? Republicans will hold the House in 2014. You can demonize them all you want, but we will have a Republican House of Representatives throughout President Obama’s tenure. Guess what? Once this sinks in, a call for true compromise may be in order. :-)

  • Alex

    Because of redistricting, The Cook Political Report, a Washington tip sheet, estimates that 205 of the chamber’s 232 Republicans can count on a safe re-election race a year from now. Only 11 Republican seats are viewed as competitive.

    Meaning? Republicans will hold the House in 2014. You can demonize them all you want, but we will have a Republican House of Representatives throughout President Obama’s tenure. Guess what? Once this sinks in, a call for true compromise may be in order.

  • Anonymous

    The magic number is 7%+. If the Dems get 57%+ in total house votes the GOP loses the majority. Difficult is not impossible. This type of idiocy displayed by the GOP could lose them those 27 not secure seats. Don’t kid yourself that it’s impossible.

  • Anonymous

    It is true. According to Schoolhouse Rock, bills have to be passed by both the House and the Senate before being signed by the president. The power of the purse is therefore in Congress’s hands, not just the House’s. The Origination Clause doesn’t change that.

  • Anonymous

    They ruled that the mandate was constitutional under the taxation clause rather than the commerce clause. Given that it is a tax, I’m not sure why that doesn’t pass the sniff test.

  • destroyideas

    The states were not forced to join. The states had to meet or exceed certain levels set out by the PPACA or the Federal program would be in effect. That’s why in my state (California) we have our own exchange, and in states without the exchange they use the Federal exchange.

  • Bo Lora

    OMG you are so miss informed and you are a reporter???

    From the constitution: Article 1 Section 7: All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

    Obamacare which CLEARLY raises revenue and originated in the Senate (mind you through very questionable tactics) is UNCONSTITUTIONAL by Article 1 Section 7.

    Yes I know you will come back with the Supreme court ruling which upheld the individual mandate.. They did so by declaring it a tax which CLEARLY contradicts Article 1 Section 7 since the law originated in the Senate.

    As for “negotiating a budget” – this is NOT a “budget” negotiation… we are just talking about funding measures. The White House is supposed to submit a budget by April 15th of every year… They’ve missed their deadline 4 out of the last 5 years. They don’t want to negotiate our debt down, they don’t want to be on a “budget”.

    On “It’s unprecedented to shut down government…” – First of all, the only ones shutting down the government are President Obama and Senator Harry Reid. They would like the Republicans and 50% of the country they represent to take the highway. As for “unprecedented”, this is untrue as well… You obviously don’t remember Tip O’Neal and shutting down government during the Reagan years almost every year of his presidency.

    If you are going to be a reporter, at least try to present a balanced story instead of spewing propaganda!

  • Ari

    To expand on what people have already mentioned:

    WIC and SNAP are very different programs. WIC benefits are generally small (they average about $45 a month), and are not meant to subsidize an entire diet, only a nutrition-dense supplement deemed best suited to prenatal and child health. The nutrition guidelines WIC uses are generally a bit dated (it does not, for the most part, cover organic foods, and there’s an enormous emphasis on highly processed options, particularly those containing corn and corn products, for example whole grain bread made with HFCS), and food selections are based on low bidding, which means that the selection is often rather awful. The benefits come in the form of “checks” that list that month’s approved foods (and it changes monthly, according to bid), and you get one shot with it; if a retailer is out of a particular item, you’re out of luck. Only some retailers are able to accept WIC, and the “check” system is notoriously confusing, both for recipients and for cashiers. Finally, you have to live in proximity to a WIC center to receive benefits.

    In contrast, SNAP is available to anyone who meets the income guidelines, regardless of location (though the application process is much more complicated). SNAP benefits are granted on EBT cards that are simple to use and are accepted just about everywhere, even some farmer’s markets. SNAP is scaled to need, but is intended to subsidize a much larger portion of diet, and can accordingly be used to purchase any kind of food. Converting SNAP to WIC’s profile would mean altering the benefit structure top to bottom, designing a nutrition guideline based on whole diet rather than supplemental diet, retraining staff and offering new education and support for beneficiaries, and building SNAP centers…well, everywhere. Or limiting the benefit to those near WIC-like centers.

    I’m not convinced that this would be any cheaper than improving SNAP’s nutritional education and implementing the methodologies they’ve found to be most successful, namely coupons and rebates for nutritious options. I’m also not at all convinced that it would be a good idea, even if money were no issue. WIC has some laudable features (most of all the support at WIC centers, which is generally excellent), but it’s also slow to catch up to changes in nutritional standards and prey to low quality born of low bidding, not to mention labyrinthine and reported to be deeply humiliating to the beneficiaries because of the transparency of use. There exists an enormous and deeply felt cultural stigma surrounding “hand-outs”, and I find no evidence to support the idea that invoking this stigma by increasing visibility in the market line does anything to help the women, infants, and children in question.

    WIC arguably also isn’t, in limiting purchases, teaching persistent good nutritional habits. Beneficiaries take what items are available to them, but are not asked to discern nutritional quality independently, nor to make much discernment at all beyond affordability (and frankly, the problem isn’t the impoverished people didn’t pay attention in nutrition class–no one payed attention in nutrition class–it’s that, in terms of raw cost and time cost, less healthy options are often much more affordable). And that works fine for WIC, which is really all about getting nutrition in some critical times, and only secondarily about fostering good habits.

    But SNAP is a more far-reaching benefit, and seems like a better forum for presenting incentives and education–or at least, a much worse forum for paternalistic dietary management.

  • Anonymous

    You equate obstruction as an equivalent of ‘governance’ & they are not synonyms. “both sides are at fault” ? Absent rhetoric – how so?

    Also, you suggest that what is occurring is an outcome of the separation of powers but the manifestation of the outcome is not derived from a function of the separation of powers. A test of that would be quite simple – Boehner could put forth a ‘clean’ CR and, all indications are, that would pass thereby negating your assertion that the ‘shutdown’ was a manifestation of mere separation of powers. Not to be ‘nit picky’ but the ‘separation of powers’ refers to the three branches of Govt. exercising constitutional mandates – not within a branch. While not critical it does cloud the issue with imprecision.

    You also suggest that the President should offer a compromise to reach a solution – what should that compromise be? It’s funny, Ben Stein (ala Nixon and Ford administrations, Republican political thinker etc.) has articulated that the current position of Tea party members of the house is absurd. That sentiment has been echoed by many on the right. Their reasoning for the absurdity is not measured by the success of their attempt but via the ‘end-run’ they are engaging in.

  • Anonymous

    @Alex, How did Reid originate a spending measure? You said he did – just curious as I must have missed that. Thanks.

    It is not inaccurate to say “congress holds the spending power” if one interprets that to mean that it takes both the house and the senate to pass spending measure(s). Unless you think the house can unilaterally allocate resources/dollars without the senate and/or maybe you feel the Senates function is chiefly cosmetic?

  • Anonymous

    “a call for true compromise may be in order” lol. okay, i had to laugh. What compromise do you propose?

  • Adrian Gruber

    Mr. Holland, as a lifelong Republican I agree with your article. How ever I think everyone is missing the overall strategy of the small faction of Republicans who are hell bent on denying basic human rights to the poor and hard hit middle class. Lets call it for what it is. Plain and simple
    “Class Warfare”. It comes down to the “HAVES, and THE HAVE NOTS”.
    It comes from both sides of the aisle, the poor and defenseless are always the first who get shafted. Every member of congress is a millionaire, every member of congress including the President will get paid and have no disruption of their benefits and income. The suicide caucus has no problem screwing the 7 million non insurable people from getting affordable benefits, but they have their own. Another example of the republicans caring for the poor is to reduce SNAP for poor and middle class families that can’t put food on the table.

  • Anonymous

    Ah yes, the grand game of chess that is American politics. And who are the pawns? The American people.

  • Anonymous

    It is not outside the realm of possibility – but it is unlikely. If this is an attempt by Boehner, in the end, to shift the Republican party away from Tea party antics by running serious republicans, who understand the democratic process, against extremists in their own party…that could be significant. And, irrespective of congress there is no way these type of antics will result in success for the Republicans in the general election. In effect, they are gerrymandering themselves into obscurity.

  • Anonymous

    @jennifer, The real ‘measure’ of the cost of Obamacare will not be known until it is functioning for a while. Your assertions of what led to the S.C. decision are largely guided by opinion and irrespective of your opinion the S.C. ruled the ACA constitutional.
    Also, your ‘alternative medicine’ suggestion is a decent one but you do realize, I trust, that our ‘for profit’ health care model discourages both alternative medicines and preventive medicine (western or otherwise)? You advocate for alternative medicines under an umbrella of treating philosophy that discourages its implementation. If anything one would think you’d be behind the ACA as it will begin the push toward preventive care. So it is rather ironic you resist the ACA.
    As far as your opinion that the “ACA is a gross waste of tax payer money”. What is your suggestion? Individual state programs are not economically feasible and would never be effectively implemented so you can dispense with the ‘states rights’ nonsense in this regard. It’s really not relevant in terms of suggestions of improving the ‘pre aca’ system.
    Lastly, the reason it is being reported that a handful of senators (republicans) have obstructed the flow of Govt. is because it is factually. As I suggested to someone earlier – a test of this – Have Boehner take a ‘clean’ CR to the floor. ALL reports are this would pass w/ a measure of both Democrats and Republicans advancing it to the Senate.
    Eventually we will enact true single-payer health care, as all developed nations have done, and outcomes will improve, it will be more humane, it will also be more cost-effective.

  • Anonymous

    The ‘point’ of constitutional law is to, one school of thought, interpret the document. The Constitution is an ‘organic’ document e.g. women can now vote, people are no longer property, etc. Unless you think we should rescind your right to vote?
    As to the cost of the litigation – you do realize who challenged the legality of the measure right?

  • Anonymous

    That’s simplistic – at best. It’s a nice canard for the likes of the Any Randian adherents and works well for the Koch Brothers, and provides a nice ‘boogy-man’ while the reality is inequality manifest via corporate and monied take-over of much governmental process. Government, for that reason, is completely broken and on that we can agree. But, the absolute worst solution is to weaken government before we remove corporate influence from it. There is no force in this country strong enough to restore a measure of equality – economic and of opportunity if it is not via ‘the government’. And, it should be of primary importance.
    There’s a reason the Kochs are funding the Tea Party and other ‘anti-govt.’ think tanks…it serves their economic purpose…plutocrats deserve what they have and the rest can fight for scraps.

  • Anonymous

    Why do you think ‘self-service check out machines’ exist? I’ll answer – it is because they make economic sense and if not they will be phased out over time. IF self-service machines were more effective, cost less, and had a positive ‘net’ effect on a business you would see more of them irrespective of what the minimum wage was.

    Also, there is very little data to support the assertion that raising the minimum wage does not have a net-positive effect – although, it is a popular canard.

  • Anonymous

    While hostess did have horrendous legacy costs to assert it was the unions who were responsible for the demise of Hostess – absent a discussion of management is intellectually incomplete.
    Hostess collapsed by large measure because management failed to adapt (perhaps they could not) to changing diets of Americans & increasing food options – to include but not be limited to – more choices for breakfast (yogurts, fruits, etc. in-store baked goods etc.) and this holds for other meals ‘of the day’ as well.
    There were also maneuvers by private equity that enriched the equity groups while unions made sacrifices – during this time the private equity group was able to better leverage the company to enrich themselves and leave hostess even further in debt. Clearly, unions did not dictate the actions of the private equity group nor did management properly adjust to changing conditions in diet and availability of competitive ‘foods’.

  • Anonymous

    @texasbill – I did not see your comment or i would have simply echoed your position with regard to Hostess.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve found the exchange between both of you to be quite valuable (@thesafesurfer @texasbill) – But, I fail to see how @TexasBill “left the realm of reasoned argument” in the aforementioned. Can you express why/how @thesafesurfer?

  • Anonymous

    You really believe that? It’s a rhetorical question because you must ‘believe’ because your position does not comport with the facts. I’m not sure if you have noted this – but the current ‘Govt. shutdown’ is not due to, nor manifest from, the actual budget. Even Ted Cruz and Rep. King have said as much.

  • Anonymous

    It’s unfortunate, and I mean this, when one engages in discussion with the position that no matter how many people tell them they are wrong they insist on clinging to their factual errors. Sadly, much of our weakened country can put blame upon those who wear ideological blinders. That said, what is it you think President Obama can do? You do realize the ACA is constitutionaly validated law right?


    point counter point all i hear is who can be more intelligent than the next person. all i hear is yada yada yada I haven’t heard one thing about what we the people are going to do about it. Citizens United has taken care of the voting koch brothers keeps everyone flush with money and grove norquist are agains t our plaform so what are we the people going to do. stop blabbing about it and stop whining about we seriously need some serious change in this country before it is too late.Quit rationalizing and get involved and do something

  • Anonymous

    Big words presenting vague generalities do not persuade.

  • FedUp

    The Republicans claim to want less government, yet it seems they want what they want when they want it or else. How does that create less government? In my opinion we should recall the whole them, impeach them if necessary and elect a whole new Congress that is dedicated to serve THE PEOPLE, not themselves!

  • Socialmedic

    Republicans don’t want less government they want to be THE government which they achieve by destroying OUR government and handing power and our public property over to a handful of wealthy despots. No reason exists why people continue to vote them into power other than they are 1. horrendously undereducated or 2. they have been bought and think there is something in it for them, real or imagined. Since 1982 Republicans have hijacked the democratic process, selling fascism to the American people in the name of democracy. There are several events before 2008 that should have been enough to convince the American public that REpublicans were not acting in the public interest but after 2008 there is no reason that a functioning democracy would have handed them more power. As the incident with the installation of Walker in Wisconsin has shown, gullible people vote against their own interests and vote the monster in, and once the monster is in it is impossible to get it out. If a long overdue grand awakening does not occur after the present events then we know these people know damn well the evil they do.

  • Anonymous

    Yet the supreme court said it was constitutional.

    Get over it.

    Never has the funding of the govermnent been held hostage to insane demands like this.

    Grow up.

    Compromise isn’t something someone else does to placate your insane demands.

  • Anonymous

    Nobody’s ignoring the Constitution.

  • Anonymous

    Why is that so surprising? It’s known as an “intensity gap” — when one side of an issue feels more strongly about it than the other. Happens all the time in politics.

  • destroyideas

    The Supreme Court case was not brought by the states but by the National Federation of Independent Business. It was not over anything to do with the state expansion of health coverage, but with the individual mandate.

    The court did take it upon themselves to decide that the states can opt-out of Medicaid expansion, and 23 states have opted out.

  • julie collura

    Reporters (mostly network) must stop acting like stenographers of talking points! Do your 4th Estate duties.

  • Anonymous

    An amusing and, frankly, meaningless retort. But, I do like how you decided to ‘chime’ in without answering any of my questions irrespective of the size of the words used.

  • ML Hayes

    If you ask someone to make a sacrifice who has nothing to place on the alter, you ask for their blood, flesh and bone. What do the Republicans want? More of what they already have. More of what they took in 2007. More that only benefits a few who already have more than they can use.

  • Anonymous

    Well, you have to realize that we never find out what most reporters write. The ones we’re hearing from now, who get a byline at the top of an article, are mostly those who are subsidized by the billionaires who control the half dozen corporations that own the major media. They are selected by the editors, who are the ones who really decide what will be printed or said on camera. The lapdog stenographers are just doing what they have to to keep drawing their paycheck. And it’s always been that way. It’s just more obvious now because we have the Internet, which they haven’t gotten control of yet.

  • Dolly

    Thank you for voicing so well what I believe is true. I am eighty (80) years old, and I have NEVER seen a president have to deal with so much. Makes me wonder how much is just roadblocks thrown in his path.

  • Jody

    Thank you! This is the most factual, well-reasoned article I have read about the shutdown. For the media, or anyone else, to frame this is a negotiation is completely irresponsible. You have a new fan, Mr. Holland. Bravo!

  • Anonymous

    up people, you are being attacked by the worst kind of organized
    terrorism! The majority of the American People are incredibly naive.

  • Pam Driscoll

    I had no idea they were also trying to get the XL Pipeline the go ahead as well as weakening EPA rules….can we say EVIL???? They are showing their true colors and I hope this makes it crystal clear how low they have sunk, those Republicans.

  • Reynardine

    I believe that this is the first open move of a long-planned putsch.

  • Anonymous

    The Senate will take an old, dead bill — called a “shell” — that the House passed first, strip out the text and replace it with the text of a new bill.

    This is routine, regardless of which party holds what. It’s a technical workaround. The legislative process has gotten a bit more complicated than it was in 1789.

  • Allison Moss-Fritch

    Thank you Mr. Holland. I was afraid that all the real reporters died. I do remember when national news was not gossip, nor “news u tainment”…pandering to the maudlin emotions of an easily hoodwinked populace. Oh, for those days again! Give me a “Daniel Shore” or a Edward R. Murrow—or even a Huntly and Brinkley….any day!
    Who will fill their shoes? Perhaps you are on the short list, I hope so.

  • Anonymous

    How many democratic presidents in the last 60 years to be in office for 2 terms? Two.

    How many epic government shutdowns in the past 60 years? Two. How many shutdowns occured in the second term of a democratic president? Two.
    Coincidence? I think not.

  • brenda black

    The republicans let them under their umbrella They ran as republicans. The Tea Part is up to more then we are seeing.

  • Ginny Lucido

    “miss informed”? Really? Is that anything like Miss Con

  • Peggy Stoute Morin

    Kind sir, having said that, why are you a Republican?

    You said, “It comes from both sides of the aisle, the poor and defenseless are always the first who get shafted.” Hmm, if my memory serves me correctly, that has always been the domain of the Republican Party. If they had had their way, Social Security and Medicare would never have seen the light of day.

  • Will

    Thank you in return, Dolly, and best wishes. I’m hopeful when I see websites like this one with journalists such as Bill Moyers and Joshua Holland and others zeroing in on these issues.

  • zkwc

    maybe it’s time for states like California, Oregon and Washington to just form their own country and do away with the excrement that is the gridlock in the House. good luck getting your food, rest of the country. we’re keeping our avocados, strawberries, almonds, oranges, organic fields of yummy and you can’t have our milk either. stuff it. oh, and since the tea party has already made a move towards civil war, who could blame us?

  • zkwc

    no. the Senate already passed a bill. ya know, because the House wouldn’t. and the House won’t put it up for a vote. the government could get back to business within 1/2 hour of the House passing the Senate bill, which they forced them to pass in the first place.

  • zkwc

    they don’t want to negotiate our debt down? you do realize Obama has cut the debt in half since he took office, right? Bush’s debt.

  • zkwc

    yes, that and they don’t want insurance companies to be mandated to cover birth control pills. them womens, ya know and all their body parts.

  • Anonymous

    …a Republican-controlled House shut down the government…

  • Anonymous
  • Adrian Gruber

    The reason I am republican is because I believe in the party philosophy. How ever that philosophy has become increasingly unkind to the poor and middle class! I have worked in County government for a while and have seen first hand how policies have become stressed to the point that cuts in funding directly affect the poor in benefits, democrats also responsibility for this policy! The plutocracy now rule while our citizenry have been relagated to the back of the bus. I voted for president Obama in the first election because I believed he could lead. He how ever has squandered the moment. Emotions during the first election were so strong we would have followed him anywhere, lol he’s just another member of the plutocracy.

  • Anonymous

    the Republicans used the Christian nutjobs and Tea Party crazies to take over the Government and tear it apart. it was only a matter of time before the Christian nuts and Tea Party refused to play ball with the Wall St./Rich White Males Republicans.

    this is payback/blowback for making a deal with the DEVIL, aka Christian Fundies and Tea Party Loons.

    Karma sucks, doesn’t it Republicans?

  • Anonymous

    After Bush destroyed the country both money and moral wise, the Republicans have second thoughts? it is way too late. the barn door has been left open and the horses have run far far away.

    too late to say,… but, but, but, i didn’t mean to do that!!

  • mlhco12

    The rich got that way one of four ways, (a) inheritance, (b) investment, (c) worked for it, (d) undetected theft.
    If you don’t tax (a), (b), or (c) how can you detect (d)?
    There is a price for privilege. It is called responsibility. Those that can are responsible. We grant privilege temporarily so that there will be wealthy and the opportunity to obtain some personally for the price of taking risk. Those risk improve the general welfare of all and reward the risk takers. Once rewarded, the risks diminish and the reward is dis-incentivized.
    To keep rewarding the risk takers for not taking any additional risks is to create a barrier to taking risks where in opportunity is stifled. The goal of our society is to generate as much opportunity as is practical. It has always been the objective by which we measure our social imperative.
    You can’t have slavery (the optimal disincentive to opportunity) in a “free” society. You can’t deny workers rights to initialize job action redresses in an open economy. You can’t deny minorities representation or access to the ballot in a democratic republic. None of these things coincide with the promotion of freedom.
    All of them present social issues in a economic imperative. That is, if you want the freedom you have to give the society the opportunity to exercise its option to underwrite your risk taking. If the only investment you seek is financial, you deny labor’s input and increase the risks of rejection by the public.
    In a nation founded on the notion of government by the people, for the people and of the people this is a significant risk to take as the majority of the people will not seek wealth as their ultimate objective in a political sense. They seek unobtrusive security, reasonable stability in all marketplaces and peace where social issues are addressed by the various organizations of government to reduce the risks of war, pestilence, insurrection and chaos.
    This isn’t possible if a minority insist on disrupting the conduct of the majority. As an example, it was the recognition of the Americans of African descent that the any means necessary method described by Malcom X was inferior to the non-violent protest method of Rev. ML King to achieving the civil rights objective in the 1960’s. Tea Party affiliates are more like the militant advocates of disunion than the peaceful proponents of discussion and collaboration.
    RINOs need to come to their senses, you can’t have it all and have a society at all. Taking risks for rewards have seasons just like everything else and the season of greed has past. No one is suggesting that you give away your reward. But if you do not standup to the responsibility of wealth and create new opportunities for the greater society’s benefit through employment and increase in domestic productivity, the assets you have will be stripped from you and denied to your children or their offspring.
    It’s not a threat. It’s a reality of the maturity of this system of government designed to generate opportunity. Those that do are rewarded and taxed. If you continue to do, you will be further rewarded. If not, you won’t be able to hide it under a mattress. You can run away to another land, but should you do so, just remember this…
    In almost every other nation on this planet, if you are wealthy and there is no tax, you run the daily risk of violent revolution. If there is a tax, it is much more burdensome that what you are now facing because the system addresses the above statements.
    Blame whoever you please, but recognize the facts that you inherited the legacy of the worst offenders of human rights. Those whom you would oppose do not see to change the fact, just the circumstances of their directly opposite inheritances.

  • Jeremy

    And in both instances, a Republican-led house refused to compromise. Funny how a democratically led house has never refused to compromise with a Republican president to the point of shutting down the government in the last 60 years.

  • Rich2635

    Almost ALL of the GOP antics have been designed to throw roadblocks in Obama’s path. These tea partiers would hate any Progressive or Liberal. But the Black Man was the final straw that led to these tea party terrorists to become unhinged. Every day Obama is President is a “black” day for them, in more ways than the obvious one.

  • Rich2635

    They have no intention to fix anything. They are regressive. They want to bring this nation back to the Gilded Age. Look at that horrible, hypocritical Newt Gingrich: he wants to make poor children pay for the crappy education they receive by cleaning out public school toilets! Only an “ultraconservative” republican playing up to the extremist tea-baggers could come up with THAT one!
    And they certainly like the idea of denying poor people and the elderly a proper health care system, not to mention turning over Social Security and Medicare to private industry.

  • Ken Hamilton

    And we’ll keep the wheat, Corn Oh yes and the water, where will all you’re “Organic fields of Yummy” be then, blowing sand dunes greened with other peoples water. SMFH

  • William Carr

    You were under the impression that California, Oregon and Washington State import their water ?

    I’m guessing you’re high, right ?

  • William Carr

    What are you smoking ?

    It’s John Boehner making demands for outrageous concessions.

    You can’t possibly be dumb enough to believe that the Senate shut down the Government by requesting a clean Bill.

    Are you ?

  • William Carr

    Like, wow.

    A lot of great philosophy packed into that comment.

    Who have you been reading?

  • William Carr

    If the Tar Sands pipelines are finished, the price of gas in America will go up, because it will sell for more $$$ overseas.

    It’s easy to understand, unless you belong to a Cult that says Government is Evil and Profit is King.

  • Ken Hamilton

    Ever hear of something called the Hoover Dam? much of the water goes to California to water the central valley which would be desert without that.

  • William Carr

    428 Filibusters !

    I just read that in Poland, centuries ago, every member of their Sejm Parliament had the Veto.

    Yes… absolutely NOTHING could be done without unanimous consent.

    Guess how well that worked out ?

    It only took a few corrupt politicians taking bribes to paralyze everything.

    Wait… doesn’t that describe OUR Senate ?

  • William Carr

    You’re conflating two different things.

    Yes, the Republicans wasted about $60 Million staging dozens of pointless votes to repeal the ACA, knowing that they would be simply ignored.

    But we’re talking about the Shutdown; there are enough votes currently to pass a “Clean” CR if Boehner would simply allow it to come to a vote.

    The House ALSO voted for a Bill years ago, that had language in it that said “even if the President refuses to sign this, or the Senate refuses to take it up, our Budget becomes Law in thirty days”.

    No, no. It doesn’t work that way. Boy, we got a laugh out of that one.

  • William Carr

    You’re … not that bright.

    The House has the Constitutional Duty to prepare a Budget.

    The President has sent FIVE Budget Proposals to Congress so far, right on time.

    And the House has refused to do its job.

    Now, I’m going to explain this slowly so you’ll understand it.

    The House does not have the VETO.

    If a previous Congress passed a law the current Party in power doesn’t like, but that Party doesn’t have the votes in both the House and the Senate to repeal it, that’s it, discussion over.

    The Law is in place, and can’t simply be defunded.

    The House doesn’t have that power.

    Imagine if we allowed them to SEIZE that power.

    They could refuse their Constitutional Duty to pass a Budget, and only pass funding bills for the programs they like.

    The Tea Party House we have now could refuse to fund Disaster Relief after the next Hurricane, Tornado, or Flood.

    Despite the Senate ready and willing to help the storm victims, and the Executive Branch ready to roll the trucks.

    If the Speaker of the House had the Line Item Veto on spending Bills, he would be more powerful than the President of the United States.

  • William Carr

    The Senate has declined to be blackmailed.

    The House does not have the authority to refuse to pass a Budget and then pass only emergency bills that fund what they like.

    Once the ACA was passed by both Houses of Congress, Signed by the President and approved by the Supreme Court, it was confirmed LAW.

    The House doesn’t get to blackmail the Government to get a Law repealed.

  • Ira Fullmer

    Your chart showing that the Democrats get nothing in bargaining is a little deceptive when you figure that this is their purposed budget. That would mean that they get everything without any concesions.

  • William Carr

    Except this isn’t the Democrat’s proposed Budget. This is the Republican Sequester Budget.

    The Democrats already agreed to the Sequester level funding, even though we know it’s designed to hurt America and slow the Recovery.

  • William Carr

    Of course, we know your Party decided to impede and oppose Obama the evening of his Inauguration.

    It only took about six months after Obama was Elected for the Right Wing to begin attacking him openly.

    He accomplished a great deal of his campaign promises before the predictable 2010 Election. Every time a Party takes the Presidency it loses seats in Congress two years later.

  • William Carr

    Technically, the Deficit. Bush cut taxes, incurring a Deficit when there wasn’t enough money to pay the Bills, and ran up more Debt by funding two Wars off the books.

    And yes, while Obama has no Line Item Veto, the Deficit has shrunk at an amazing rate.

    Give him a Democratic Congress in 2014, and he’ll be able to balance the Budget just as Clinton did.

  • William Carr

    Actually, no. The Democrats are doing their jobs, ending the Wars Bush started, forcing Assad to dispose of his chemical weapons without firing a shot, and rebuilding the Economy.

    You need to understand. Just because one side is fanatically committed to undermining the Government and turning power over to the Corporations, doesn’t make the other side culpable for refusing.

  • William Carr

    Well, I’m inclined to be charitable.

    You might not even know how the ACA was funded.

    Democrats use a system called “Pay-Go”.

    Either a Bill has it’s own funding, or it has to be paid for by persuading the authors of existing programs to give up some of their funding.

    Senator Smith goes hat in hand to Senator Jones, and says “Buddy, your program is a success, and has $10 Million more allotted to it than you’re using. Can you swap me some of that for my support on your next Bill” ?

    And Senator Jones says “I’ll spot you $5 Mil, but I’m leaving a cushion in case of Inflation. Go ask Senator Black, he’s got some to spare”.

    And so it goes. Eventually, the ACA collected enough money that implementing it actually REDUCED the Deficit over ten years.

    That’s because if the ACA were repealed, as the Republicans long to do, the original programs would get their funding back immediately, and they’d spend it all whereas the ACA didn’t use all it collected.

    You probably think the Budget is filled with lard and pork; but in fact, because of the ACA and persistent budget cutting, it’s gotten pretty lean.

    We still spend 20% of our money on maintaining a gigantic Military; twice as large as it was under Clinton.

    We still are wasting $1.4 Trillion just developing the useless F-35 Bomber, that until recently wasn’t even rated safe to fly on a cloudy day.

    We could get $800 Billion back immediately, if we cancelled that contract.

    The stories you’ve no doubt been told about the ACA are false.

    It’s just Insurance Reform. The Government doesn’t tell you what doctor to go to, there are no Death Panels, and it’s not Unconstitutional.

    The Founders passed a law in 1789 collecting money from ship captains to establish hospitals for the Merchant Marine.

    That was a Mandate, pure and simple.

    They also passed a law in 1792 requiring men young enough to serve in the Militia to buy a rifle or musket, knife, ammo belt, etc, etc.

    That was a Mandate too.

    I’m sorry if you think Glenn Beck has the lock on what is Constitutional or not, but I’m pretty sure the Founders understood their intent better than he does.

  • William Carr

    One office holder was even term limited. He was leaving anyway.

    And if there’s a little justice, the other will get her job back in the next Election.

    The turnout was terrible, and somehow, mail-in ballots were banned for that Election against State law.

  • William Carr

    It’s like California’s Prop 8 anti-gay law.

    The $6 Million the Mormons in Utah donated to push a law in California did a lot to bring out passionately anti-gay people.

    Turnout was low, overall, but there were enough haters to pass the law, to the surprise of everybody else.

    It’s distasteful, this business of outside interests pushing laws in other States because of their religious views.

    It feeds off the tendency of people to get busy with their regular lives and not realize there’s a time bomb on the ballot they didn’t bother to fill out.

    Mail-in ballots would stop this dead in it’s tracks, if everybody voted like Oregon does.

  • William Carr

    The “Tenther” arguments are a legal fiction, designed to weaken the Federal Government.

    Conservatives know they’re losing power on a National basis, but think they can rule their States if they can just weaken the Federal government first.

  • William Carr

    Of course, they’re also fairly bland and tasteless unless you are an expert or can add lots of meat and vegetables.

    If you tried living off nothing but rice and beans you’d gain a lot of weight and get sick.

  • Kathryn Hildebrandt

    Yes, please do keep your Round-Up ready poisonous corn crops, and your hybrid, unsustainable, high-allergen bastardization of “wheat” on your side of the fence, along with Monsanto corp.

  • William Carr

    No, the ACA was built on a previous Bill from the House.

    Therefore it’s not Unconstitutional.

    And since you’re obviously misinformed, let me suggest you research your claim that “The White House is supposed to submit a budget by April 15th of every year”.

    No. The President is required to submit a Budget “Proposal”.

    Only the House of Representatives can create a Budget, and it’s their responsibility to do so, as all spending Bills have to start in the House.

    The President has sent Budget Proposals to Congress and the Republicans have ignored them.

    “the only ones shutting down the government are President Obama and Senator Harry Reid. They would like the Republicans and 50% of the country they represent to take the highway.”

    Wrong again. The Democrats are ready to do the work of governing, it’s Speaker Boehner that’s refused to even hold the vote for a Clean CR to fund the Government.

    As for the Republicans; they lost the Election. They lost seats in both the House and the Senate, and if they hadn’t Gerrymandered their Districts, they’d have lost control of the House completely.

    Democrats in Congress got over a million votes more than Republicans in Congress.

    Gerrymandering allowed the Republicans to be re-elected to their narrow Districts safely despite getting less votes.

    Here’s the rules in Politics. If you have more of the People behind you, you get to set the Agenda.

    When Republicans dominated the Government, they started two Wars, cut taxes on the Rich, destroyed the Balanced Budget Clinton labored to achieve, and authorized Torture.

    The Democrats took back control, and we’re trying to restore the Balanced Budget, restore fair taxation, and end the Wars Bush started.

    Obama has brought down spending faster than any President since the end of WWII. On a straight-line plot, we should be back at a Balanced Budget in a few years.

    It will be a lot quicker after the GOP loses control of the House in 2014.

    California, for example; they suffered from a Deficit for years until Schwarzenegger was replaced with a Democrat and the State overwhelmingly shifted to the Left.

    Now they have a Balanced Budget and a Surplus, because they cut spending and raised taxes.

  • Anonymous

    Exactly, as such, your articulations were 100% accurate.

  • Marie4662

    Grover Norquist announced earlier this year that republicans would use the CR and the debt limit to advance their agenda (additional spending cuts and entitlement reform). Grover condescendingly suggested Republicans pass two week CRs on the condition that if President Obama was “good”, and did not sign any spending bills, they would incrementally extend time between CR approval.

    Apparently, no one was listening.

  • ML Hayes

    Duh!, Point being Republicans will get something they dont want but on the otherhand, they would give nothing in return where the proof is being played out in real time at this very moment.

  • ML Hayes

    My most sincerest hope is that the people of Washington DC who know and recognize those political pimps would simply refuse to serve them publicly. Take a pic with your smartphone of co workers not seating them, not taking their orders. Not ringing their groceries…that would bring the message home in three days. No means no!

  • ML Hayes

    No! Its time to unify and use the tools you have to make the system work. Communicate! If your local waiter or waitress refuses to serve a Congressperson or Senator, you will tip them via the internet. They need to post the pic of the refusal. Just you tube the transaction and I’d tip ya for sending the idiots the message. You get behind this No! Means No! Tip the Messengers and they will find it extortion to have to compete with 300 million mad Americans willing to pay today to shut them down.

  • ML Hayes

    RINOs – They want a Confederacy

  • ML Hayes

    The only way to fire these bozos is to pay the people who service their everyday human needs to stop doing so. We recognize they have staffers who do things for them, but we know who they are. Not us in the back home districts, but those in Washington DC who wait on and serve them for minimum wage or less. Just refuse to wait on them publicly and have somebody record the fact with a webcam. Post to a social media and ask for donations to compensate .

    The idea being if a Mickey D employee. Got canned for standing up for my rights, I’d send a donation to their PayPal account and if ten thousand others did, soon a Senator or Congressperson couldn’t get a snickers from a lemonaid stand.

    That’s democracy. People helping people not sticking it to them every chance they get. Create the incentive. Pass on the plan.

  • ML Hayes

    Political protest has to evolve to be effective. Right now, the politicians seemto think they are insulated from popular opinion. Here’s a suggestion that I hope you will share with your friends, neighbors and countrymen. I propose that we use this Internet to announce to the politicians that as of midnight October 12, 2013. They are all persona non grata. From the President to the greenest Tea Party Congressional aid. No government means no service, perks or respect for your person.

    By this declaration, I would intend that people who work in service businesses in the Capital (Washington, DC) and in the hometowns of these elected representatives be compensated for refusing those in office and their staffs any service whatsoever.

    Don’t sell to them. Don’t accept them into your shops, places of business, etc… Be professional and above all YouTube them having a fit because you do to them what they are doing to all of them. Being unreasonable and obstinate.

    If you help launch this public protest, you will be responsible for saving you nation from both sides.

  • Szin

    Must be nice to be as all knowing as you.

    More of an expert in every field that the government hires people to work in. Wow!

  • Szin

    When are you going to admit you are WAY out of your league here?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t need to move anywhere. I bought a house I could afford. I saved money and opened a family business. I drive used cars so I can save money for the future. I’m “personally responsible.” I’m sure you need to look up the meaning of those words in a dictionary.

    By the way, who knows what you mean by “happy” or “social democracies.” Anyone’s guess. Why don’t you move to Somalia and teach them how government taxation and spending on entitlement programs can solve all their problems and make them happy? Are you just selfish by keeping this secret to solving Somalia’s problems to yourself?

  • Anonymous

    So you claim.

  • Anonymous

    When are you going to admit your utter ignorance of history?

  • Anonymous

    I’m all knowing for my life. I make my decisions and live with the consequences. I refuse to be a burden on others. You should try it sometime.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the humor. Let me know when you decide to make a serious statement.