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Friday, October 21, 2016

Washington (AFP) – The U.S. government was on the brink of shutting down Sunday after the House of Representatives approved a Republican bill seeking to delay President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Congress now has less than 48 hours to strike a deal that keeps the government open, but the ping-ponging of legislation is making that unlikely. Obama has already threatened to veto any bill seeking to halt his sweeping health overhaul.

The House measure funds the government at current levels until mid-December, but also includes a one-year delay of the president’s signature health reforms — dubbed Obamacare — and the repeal of a tax on medical devices.

The bill needs approval in the Senate, where Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid has said it will be rejected.

“Now that the House has again acted, it’s up to the Senate to pass this bill without delay to stop a government shutdown,” House Speaker John Boehner said shortly after the vote. “Let’s get this done.”

The impasse means that the federal government is now dramatically closer to its first shutdown in 17 years, which would require hundreds of thousands of federal workers to stay home.

After hours of raucous debate, the Republican-controlled House approved its own measure just after midnight Saturday, voting largely along party lines.

Republican leaders set off a political firestorm when they announced Saturday that their stopgap federal spending bill sought to delay implementation of the health care law by one year.

The White House sharply rebuked the move, and warned it was a step toward shuttering federal agencies once the fiscal year ends Monday night.

Reid was uncompromising.

“To be absolutely clear, the Senate will reject both the one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act and the repeal of the medical device tax,” Reid said.

Boehner nevertheless plowed ahead with the strategy, convening a rare Saturday session as Congress struggled to break the funding gridlock.

Under pressure from his Republican party’s most conservative wing, Boehner doubled down on his caucus’s bid to stop Obamacare.

“The American people will not be extorted by Tea Party anarchists,” said Reid, referring to the ultra-conservative faction of Republicans.

He derided the House measure as “pointless” brinkmanship that could end in economic crisis.

Driving the point home, a Senate Democratic aide told AFP that it was “highly unlikely” the chamber would be in session before Monday.

But Boehner warned that if the Senate waits until Monday afternoon to vote, “it would be an act of breathtaking arrogance by the Senate Democratic leadership.”

Given the Senate’s likely rejection of the House bill in the waning hours of the fiscal year, a Republican aide acknowledged that a temporary shutdown was the likeliest scenario.

House Democrats, a minority force and largely powerless to stop the Republican legislation, worried that this was a repeat of the 1995-1996 crisis, when a budget deadlock resulted in a 21-day federal work stop.

Democratic Representative David Scott said what was occurring was nothing less than “a shutdown being ordered by the Republican Party.”

“You have been hijacked by a small group of extreme folks who simply hate this president,” Scott said, breaking protocol as he addressed Republican House members directly.

“The American people are never going to forget that it was you who shut down the government.”

A chorus of criticism, which included centrist Republican senators, accused Tea Party-backed lawmakers of unwisely threatening a shutdown if they did not get their way.

Former President Bill Clinton decried the Republican strategy and backed Obama’s no-compromise stance.

“If I were the president I wouldn’t negotiate over these cuts,” Clinton told ABC’s This Week program.

“They’re taking food off the table of low-income working people while they leave all the agriculture subsidies for high-income farmers… It’s chilling to me.”

Many conservatives were unapologetic about seeking to halt a health care law they insist is not ready for prime time.

“I’m a free-market guy, and I truly believe that Obamacare could be the linchpin in shifting America over into an almost irreversible socialist economy,” Congressman Trent Franks said.

As if anticipating a possible shutdown, House Republicans introduced a separate measure that would ensure US troops get paid in the event of a work stop.

The measure passed unanimously.

AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • Dominick Vila

    I would not be surprised if the GOP highlights their support for the facets of the Affordable Care Act that have already been implemented, with little or no funding from the Federal government, and limit their objections to funding the mandate that forces everyone to get insurance coverage from for profit insurance companies. I would also not be surprised if both sides kick the can down the road, which would be the end of ACA considering the probability of the GOP controlling the Senate and the House after the midterm election.
    It is evident that the party that, purportedly, champions personal responsibility if anything but responsible when it comes to trading Reagan’s ER freebies, which are heavily subsidized by the Federal government and by higher hospital costs paid for by patients, to paying for insurance coverage like most of us do.
    The GOP position on this issue is consistent with their refusal to raise the tax rate of the wealthiest members of our society, which is a contributing factor for the deficit spending and the need to borrow to pay for what we need that, with a brief interval, has been the norm for decades.
    Personal and fiscal responsibility for the GOP means take anything that benefits the middle class and the poor away from them, and do everything you can to help those who don’t need our help to accumulate more wealth. In a nutshell, the implementation of a plutocracy and an elitist system where the famous 47% does not even have the right to dream and the takers demonize the last vestiges of humanity that exist in our government to ensure the status quo they profit from is protected.

    • kanawah

      very good post, on the mark.

    • kanawah

      Also, it is not the 47% that are “taking” our nation to the cleaners, it is the1%.

      • Dominick Vila

        Very true. The top 1% of our society and their minions in Congress are the main beneficiaries of government largesse and of the most important reasons for the socio-economic malaise that afflict our society and our economy.
        With that in mind, why are we willingly taking the punishment? Why don’t we – the people – do something about it. For starters, we should do everything in our power to remove those who remain intent on privatizing Social Security, dismantling MEDICARE and replacing it with a voucher system, replacing public schools with charter and/or religious schools, and repealing or defunding ACA from office. If that fails, the next step should be a massive protest in Washington, with millions of mainstream Americans demanding an end to obstructionism and overt attempts to preserve or advance policies that benefit a few at the expense of many.

        • jmprint

          I’m in and ready to march.

        • Elisabeth Gordon

          I’m also in – please provide time and date…..I have plenty of annual leave left, for now…

    • Mikey7a

      So you are saying after ALL the Republicans have done to ruin this country’s economy, Americans will STILL vote out Dems, and replace them with more Republicans? How in the world could anyone see this as anyone elses fault, than the Tea Bagger Traitors??

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        The Tea Party was rightfully investigated by the IRS. Then, the GOP hypocrites whose noses are in everyone else’s business but their own called a IRSGate scandal.

        Now, it’s up to the Justice Dept. to investigate how much money the Koch Billionaires are REALLY pumping into the anarchist Tea Party. And make no mistake…they are anarchists. What else do you call a bunch of politically heavy-handed tyrants who would knowingly jeopardize the country with a shut down just to prove they are more powerful than the rest of us. Allow that to happen and you don’t live in a democracy …you live in a dictatorship.

        • Dominick Vila

          The Benghazi tragedy, its timing, the main beneficiaries of that tragedy, the conclusive claims about the administration’s conclusions being lies (which imply the GOP knows what happened), and the considerable investments – and contacts with former Kaddafi associates – that the Koch brothers have in the oil rich Benghazi region should also be investigated. There may be more there than oil and sand…

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Dominick…So very true. It’s time to push the Justice Dept. to go ahead with these investigations. The only thing I ever disagreed with President Obama on was not investigating Cheney’s involvement in Iraq after becoming president. (Bush never was president. Cheney, in my opinion, pulled off one of those corporate power plays I have witnessed so many times in the 3 corporations I’ve worked for.)

            This is what the CEOs of the GOP are pulling off right now…a corporate-style power play to take over total control. In other words, a subtle but well orchestrated hostile government takeover. And this is not treason?

        • Lovefacts

          Of course, the T-partiers and Obama haters sure stopped talking about the IRS when it was discovered they’d rejected more Democratic groups than Republican ones. But then, the media–including CNN, MSNBC, and the networks–also didn’t do their job and didn’t report this information with the same fervor as they had the T-party rejections.

      • Dominick Vila

        There are states and districts in many parts of the country, especially in the South and the Bible Belt, where facts are irrelevant when compared to ideology and prejudices. In some parts of the country what resonates are issues such as abortion, gay marriage, illegal immigrants, gun control, etc. The midterm election, for them, is not an opportunity to demonstrate their pragmatism, but an opportunity to get even with the man that has championed some of the most grievous flaws in our society.

    • midway54

      I submit that we have been in a Gilded Age II Plutocracy since the 1980s and the rightwing lunatics are not in the early stages of implementation; rather, the economic and persistent military need for more hugely expensive adventures around the globe status quo is so serious one wonders how long it will be before masses of demonstrators take to the streets, much like what happened during the Viet Nam war when public opinion was considered irrelevant by the same crowd of plutocrats and their political and media servants extant in those days as exist now.l

    • howa4x

      They already have by saying they would keep kids on the policy till 26, stop companies for denying coverage and no pre existing conditions to be used as a reason to deny coverage or drop a policy holder. So why repeal it?

      • Dominick Vila

        Because the final phase of ACA to be implemented, joining the ACA exchanges and negotiating insurance coverage at reduced premiums, will result in widespread support of ACA and the end of GOP opposition on an issue that should have enjoyed bipartisan support from the outset.

        • howa4x

          True but the red states are going to everything possible to forestall it. In my state the governor is against it and the hospital association is setting up the exchanges

  • AlfredSonny

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the Republicans would be at the mercy of Americans instead of Puppeteer Koch?

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    The GOP wants shutdown? We want GOP Shut Out…until they stop bullying and holding an entire country hostage. The US right now is about as close to government takeover as it has ever been. Think about it. The GOP bulls are demanding their way or the highway. What do you call that kind of monstrosity tryant behavior if not treason? The GOP knows the American people do not want this shut down. And, they are going ahead with it just as they did the sequester. Who gave them the right to decide our fates and that of our country? A handful of anarchist wussie bois making ALL the decisions for us? In a democracy? BS to that. GOP Shut Out Now!

    • Dominick Vila

      It is hard to believe that 80 or so Tea Party zealots are holding our government – and our entire country – hostage until we agree to their demands. The fear of retaliation that is evident in Speaker Boehner’s decision to risk defaulting on our debt, downgrading our credit rating, and shutting down services critical to our national security and well being, is very disturbing, to put it mildly.
      Why are we intimidated by the morons that lost in 2012? Why do we allow the losers to control our destiny?

    • itsfun

      The GOP has passed a budget to keep the government funded. The Senate and President are the ones that want to shut the government down. The House has said it will listen to and negotiate with the Senate. Its the Senate and President that are saying no negotiations at all. I think its the President saying my way or the highway.

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        itsfun…Knock off the slicky boi BS…The GOP bill includes cutting funding to the ACA and to stop the program for one year. Your House bois are dead in the water. The senate just sent it back to the House and it’s time to call the GOP tyrants bluff as Clinton stated. When a party of politicians attempts a non-violent politicall assassination as the GOP has done for 4 years now…who do you and your right wing buddies think they are fooling? The Senate and the President are not going to hand the country over to Koch billionaires on a silver platter. If your idea of compromise is marching to the brown shirts of the GOP tune, give it up already.

        • itsfun

          Brown shirts of the GOP? Isn’t Obama the one who wanted his own private police force? The House will just sent it back to the Senate. If the government shuts down, we may just find out we don’t need about half of what it does. You talk about non-violent political assassination, what about the job the libs and left wing media did to George Bush?

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    How utterly rational is it to demand higher taxes on the lower and middle incomes and then use those taxes for corporate tax cuts, breaks and billions every year in subsidies all while the corporations don’t hire or create jobs? Who is going to pay taxes with more and more Americans unemployed? It’s almost poetic justice to watch the Know it All genius bois with all the moolah pushing themselves further and further down the toilet. But, that IS what always happens when men become too wealthy too fast.

  • Elisabeth Gordon

    I would venture to guess, that back in the early days of this country that we call the “United” States of America, these bast urd Rethuglicans would have been driven out of town after being tarred and feathered, or at the very least put in stockades on the town green for all of their fellow townies to hurl rocks at…

  • George D

    If Obama and Democrats give into Republican demands expect this damaging to the middle class and lower class to go full bore. Did the TeaPartiers get their way on school lunches and food subsidies for those in need? Next time they may try to restrict voting by minorities or the right of workers to organize. After that they may criminalize debt. Perhaps even indenturing debtors. Yea….we are talking full blown slavery to debtors who lose jobs or get sick. These folks would have the American people all living in the streets having to beg for food and dying on park benches like they do in Mexico when they run out of money or cannot work. Did you see the drunken smirk on Michele Bachman’s face when she said her Tea Party folks passed this crap? She got her farm subsidy money and her husband got his money for his phony sex preference clinic paid for by you and me. They stole from us and will not allow our money to pay for those of us who cannot work or lose jobs and get sick or need to eat. Love that drunken smirk?

    • Elisabeth Gordon

      George – I fear that what you say is not only possible but inevitable if someone doesn’t stop these traitors and NOW !…otherwise, we’ll all be fleeing this country for the very reasons that got us here in the first place…

  • FT66

    There is nothing good which comes without sweating for it first. I praise the Senate that they are fighting tooth and nail to protect the ACA “Obamacare”. Don’t give up at all, as every branch of the federal government did approve of the law. You need to stick to your guns, don’t let the minority grab your power which you hold. You were elected by people with the reasoning that you will protect, defend their needs. The shutdown might happen, unfortunately, BUT we the people, know who is holding that cup and intend to break it, and we will make sure that they own those pieces of the cup they broke purposely and they will be rewarded accordingly.

  • howa4x

    To say Republicans painted themselves into a corner is an understatement. There was no need to place the ACA in the CR bill except as a symbolic move to placate the idiot wing of the party. Anyone with a brain knows that a government shutdown will not stop the act from going forward since it is not a discretionary program, it is a law. The tealiban have never been known for their brilliance and most don’t even understand what is in the law. Polls have already shown that a majority will blame republicans if the shutdown goes forward. House republicans have to realize that this is not one of their symbolic and meaningless repeal Obamacare votes. This is real and has major consequences for them. If they think the ACA was the worst program ever then just let it fail, why stop it? The reason is because they are afraid it will work and then it will ruin their chances for national office for good. If they think they will pass this CR and pull this nonsense during the debt ceiling debate then they are really hallucinating. This shutdown will cause some damage but a failure to raise the debt ceiling will have major consequences including stopping of SS checks to every senior in the country. Seniors are already skeptical of the tealiban who they think are too extreme. If a default happens because of them, then republicans all over the country will have to try and explain that all this pain was worth if because of Obama care. That should be really interesting.

    • Bill Boltz

      Stock Market is ging down…hope Kock brothers go down with it. America will not forget who did this to them.

      • howa4x

        I think a shut down will galvanize all the people who are sitting on the fence and show them who the tealiban really is and their funders the Koch bros

        • Bill Boltz

          One can only hope…..only the truly intelligent will recognize the anarchists and throw them out!!!

  • johninPCFL

    Michelle Bachmann still gets both her Congessional salary check and her government farm-subsidy check. The trifecta would be if her husband also got a SSI mental disability or social security check.
    As she continues screeching about government spending, her hypocrisy knows no bounds.

  • Elisabeth Gordon

    I do not see ONE thumbs down here….where are all the cowards today that agree with these Thuglicans? Perhaps, just perhaps, they are coming to their collective senses…but, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    • Bill Boltz

      Don’t Elisabeth…..we need you!

  • johninPCFL

    The Constitution says that revenue bills start in the House, though spending bills (i.e. appropriations bills) can begin life in either the House or the Senate. So while the Democrat-controlled Senate passed 11 appropriations bills to fund the federal government through 2014, the GOP-controlled House has voted 43 times to defund, abolish, or roll-back the ACA.
    Perhaps the House should have skipped the August and September vacations and actually performed some work for a change.

  • itsfun

    The House has passed a budget that completely funds the government, except for the obamacaretax. Harry Reid says it won’t pass the Senate, and Obama has said he will veto any budget that doesn’t contain obamacaretax funding. Does this mean Obama is saying that the obamacaretax is more important then our national security, our military, and every government function? Obama is saying he won’t negotiate on anything to do with the obamacaretax. I have heard over and over that politics is compromise and negotiation. Apparently Obama doesn’t feel this way, its his way or the highway. If the government shuts down, it won’t be the fault of the House, it will be the Democratic controlled Senate or the President.

    • howa4x

      The ACA is settled law that was voted on and passed an election of president on this issue plus a supreme court challenge. This reminds me of all the segregationist southern politicians that used to try and repeal civil rights laws. to say Obama doesn’t care about the military is ludicrous since he funded the surge in Afghanistan, and had Bin Laden killed on his watch. What about all the drone strikes that decimated Al Qaeda? It is the tealiban that has a my way or the highway attitude. what bills has the house passed? Did they pass a jobs bill? All they did was to pass the repeal of the ACA 41 times and take food out of the mouths of 4 million kids while giving subsidies to agra- business. the Tealiban is made up of callous, uncaring, vindictive, insensitive, angry older white Christians who know nothing about the true teachings of Jesus.
      What is the republican plan to insure 32 million people? I haven’t heard it yet

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    All the GOP loonies are doing is showing the country and the world have childish and irrational they truly are. What makes the GOP think it can pull off this CEO-style power play with Americans as their hostages? These nut jobs needs to be seen to and altered in the public square.