House Speaker John Boehner, an 11-term Congressman from Ohio who is famously known for handing out checks on the House floor to Republican Congressman who embraced tobacco industry policies, cast one vote after another to pass $1.8 trillion in borrowed tax cuts pushed by President George W. Bush and to commit the nation to two wars that have so far racked up trillions in borrowed costs in just ten short years.
Boehner votes: Then and Now
On Tuesday, Speaker Boehner offered a nothing new statement on his Quixotic effort to keep Federal workers off the job until President Obama and Senate Democrats agree to defund, delay or repeal the Affordable Care Act because they thinks it will lead to more spending, higher cumulative debt and fewer jobs.
“We can’t raise the debt ceiling without doing something about what’s driving us to borrow more money and to live beyond our means. The idea that we should continue to spend money that we don’t have, and give the bill to our kids and our grandkids, would be wrong," he said following the president's remarks to reporters in the White House press room.
“This isn’t about me and, frankly, it’s not about Republicans," he said, adding that the real issue is "saving the future for our kids and our grandkids." Speaker Boehner and a small caucus of Tea Party inspired lawmakers, who cringe at the word compromise and promise to stand their ground no matter what, want to "have a conversation" with the White House over topics the White House said it won't discuss until Republicans agree to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling so the nation can pay bills Congress incurred.
"So, it’s time to have that conversation. Not next week, not next month, the conversation ought to start today. And I’m hopeful that whether it’s the president or Democrat leaders here in Congress, we can begin that conversation," he said.
But as the speaker was claiming, as he's done many times before, that he's only listening and responding to what Americans want, the news about what Americans really want is distinctly contrary to the speaker's proclamations that he and members of his Majority Caucus in the House are saving the nation from a bad bill that will lead to bankruptcy.
Going down with the ship?
According to news reports, there has been an erosion in the proportion of Americans who identify with the most conservative members of the national electorate. Among registered U.S. voters, 23 percent now consider themselves to be supporters of the Tea Party. This is a double-digit decline from September 2010 when slightly more than one-third of registered voters nationally—34 percent—describe themselves in this way, the results of a Marist Poll show. While the proportion of voters who back the Tea Party hovered in the middle to upper 20’s for much of the past three years, this is the first time since Marist began tracking this question that support has dipped below 25 percent.
Meanwhile, Speaker Boehner, who has relied on his reliably fiscally and socially conservative district in southwestern Ohio near Cincinnati to return him to Washington every two years, should know but may not care that disapproval of congressional Republicans' budget wrangling after a weeklong shutdown has shot up to 70 percent, with 51 percent disapproving "strongly," according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Back in the Speaker's home state, which for the second straight presidential election voted for Barack Obama last year, of the 75,800 federal workers in Ohio, 6,020 had applied for unemployment by Oct. 8, likely because they’d been furloughed as a result of the federal shutdown. Policy Matters Ohio, a Cleveland-based economic think tank, said the shutdown’s most immediate impact is being felt by "furloughed workers, by small businesses near closed federal facilities and towns near closed national parks, and by homebuyers unable to close on loans because of documents needed from the IRS or other federal agencies."
If the shutdown continues, PMO reported Wednesday, "the impact will spread to low-income families as funds for critical services run out, including programs like the Women, Infants and Children nutritional program, Head Start, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and food assistance."
Toll on Ohio from shutdown
Wendy Patton, author of the PMO report, said the federal government has provided more than two-thirds of the funding for some of Ohio’s health and human services agencies and programs. "While programs generally have sufficient funds to provide services through October, a shutdown that drags into November threatens a range of services, from TANF to Head Start, WIC and SNAP."
PMO found that rural infrastructure projects have slowed, housing markets have stalled, and national parks in Ohio have closed. The halt in government funding has led to furloughs at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and for public health workers in Cincinnati.
"Initial impacts may seem minor, but the shutdown threatens workers, businesses and homebuyers," Patton said, adding that the damage will spread if the shutdown doesn’t end. "Many more people, families and communities – in Ohio and across the nation – will be severely hurt."
Not helping their cause, statements by some GOP Congressman cause worry among many. Case in point, GOP Rep. Martin Stutzman was recorded saying that Republicans are just trying "to get something out of this." Americans are becoming more weary and wary of hostile antics that are designed to let Republicans claim they didn't lose.
T Bill rates rise
For those who buy America's Treasury Bills, the standard of worldwide finance, a possible national default is something to worry about. News sources report that the possibility that the Treasury might have trouble paying or might not be able to pay its bills over the next few weeks has grown, and that the interest rate has skyrocketed from 0.16 percent at Monday's close to 0.297 percent on Tuesday, according to The Washington Post's Neil Irwin..
On Wall Street, among business leaders and in a vast majority of university economics departments, the threat of significant instability resulting from a debt default is not in question, Irwin observed. "But a lot of Republicans simply do not believe it. A surprisingly broad section of the Republican Party is convinced that a threat once taken as economic fact may not exist, or at least may not be so serious." Jonathan Weisman reported in The New York Times.
Dems relish GOP troubles
The Democratic National Committee launched a paid media campaign Tuesday targeting Speaker Boehner and his top Republicans for shutting down the government and risking a default on the nation’s obligations.
An email from the DNC identified the first phase as one that will push robocalls and online ad campaigns utilizing Twitter and Google ads targeting voters in the home states of Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Rand Paul, Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Ted Cruz. The paid media campaign will highlight the impact of the GOP’s shutdown on the Republican leaders’ states. Nationally, the DNC is running a Facebook and Google ad campaign to engage supporters around the country around the GOP Shutdown.
Not so long ago it was thought that Democrats could not retake the U.S. House in next year's midterm elections because history points to low voter turnout that usually does more for the party not controlling the White House than the one in it. But the speaker's irrational obsession to keep government closed, even though there are 218 votes to pass a cleaning Continuing Resolution, may backfire on him and the GOP next year if Democrats can win a net of 17 seats, a result now thought not as fanciful as it once seemed in past months.
"We’re holding Republicans accountable until they end this manufactured crisis, call a vote to fully fund the government through a clean continuing spending resolution, and allow the nation to pay its bills,” said DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. "The only thing stopping the government from reopening are the Republican leaders who refuse to hold a vote on a clean continuing resolution to fund the entire government. Instead of getting hard working folks back to work, they would rather hold the economy hostage to get what they want. That's unacceptable and the Democratic Party is committed to making sure that their constituents know that their representatives are not fighting for them."
Boehner blasted by Enquirer editorial
Even the Cincinnati Enquirer, a traditionally Republican-leaning, pro-business newspaper spanked Speak Boehner Wednesday over holding back a vote on funding the government as a strategy wring more concessions from President Obama.
"Boehner should allow the House to vote on a so-called clean continuing resolution to fund the government, a bill unencumbered by Obamacare or other bargaining chips," an editorial said today. "He says the votes aren’t there to pass it, but independent analyses say the votes are there. Let’s see who’s right. Moderate Republicans say this is a dangerous game that’s being played. Now it’s time to act responsibly. Boehner, even at the risk of his speakership, could restore sanity. Continuing down this path spells trouble for the Republican Party."
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