Tag Archives: Debt Ceiling

Congressional GOP Gets Lost in Oz

16 Oct

ScareBoehner copyToday’s post will be greatly enhanced if you start humming the wishful tunes of Dorothy’s stalwart companions. The Shutdown has already cost close to 5 Billion Dollars thus far. As the government shutdown enters its third week and the debt ceiling looms, Republicans in the House and Senate seem to be searching for a brain, a heart, and some courage.

IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN! Sadly, the longer the shutdown continues, the more absurd the claims of individual GOP Congresscritters gets. Initially, the refusal to fund the government was presented as a “principled” stand against the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare.”) When their bullying demands were met with stern resistance by Senate Democrats and President Obama, the House GOP got confused very quickly. They still stand for something, they assure us, and they’ll be sure to let us know what it is… as soon as they figure it out.

Almost daily, Speaker John Boehner hints at a new plan, lets a few details leak, holds a short press conference, and fails to bring anything to the floor. Apparently he left the shared brain with Mitch McConnell, who needed it to try to reason out a compromise that might pass the Senate. In the meantime, the usual crew — Ted Cruz, Michele Bachmann, Louis Gohmert, Mike Lee, and all the rest of the lollipop guild — keep changing their off-kilter tune. The fight isn’t really about health care (except when it is), it’s about the size of government (except when it isn’t). Forced to abandon their thinly-veiled racist rants against the president’s signature accomplishment, they just don’t know what to do.

IF I ONLY HAD A HEART! Members of Congress continue to draw their salaries while hundreds of thousands of federal workers go without. There’s still no guarantee that retroactive pay will be part of any deal. Even more dramatically, nearly SEVEN MILLION FTE worth of government contractors are without work during the shutdown and have no chance of retroactive pay. All this ignores the thousands of kids turned away from Head Start, the millions deprived of food, medical, and housing care, the thousands more who are just waiting for funds to run out one program at a time. If the shutdown continues to the end of the month, there will be no money to pay out Social Security or Veterans’ Benefits. And, just to prove how heartless they are, GOP leaders in both chambers of Congress are proposing to strip health benefits from their staff, driving them (ironically) to the ACA exchanges without an employer subsidy. You can bet all those staffers would like to drop a house on the leaders of the House.

IF I ONLY HAD THE NERVE! The media still spin this as a problem coming from the far right of the GOP (when they aren’t falsely laying blame on the President). It may be that the loudest voices from the fringe started the shouting, but in every vote so far the Republicans have voted as a tight bloc, more evidence of the GOP sharing one brain. All the so-called moderates have refused to stand up for what’s best for the country. In the Senate, the GOP managed to filibuster a clean debt ceiling bill. If there are voices of reason in the party, they refuse to speak. Sadly, the Gerrymandering of House districts leaves too many representatives sheltered from reality. GOP ratings in polls are dropping like the Wizard’s balloon but most House members can rely on at least a slim majority to return them to office.

CALL TO ACTION: We live in the United States, not Oz. We need elected officials who take their responsibilities as civil servants seriously and who govern with compassion, reason, and courage. Republicans should look seriously at their Representatives and find ways to support new voices in Congress that will bring true compromise and balance. Democrats should take courage and support challenges to GOP folks that seemed undefeatable. The people are paying attention, and the next election should be a clear message about what we really need.

Rep. Chris Garrett Chimes in on Debt Ceiling and Senator Hatfield

10 Aug

Rep. Chris Garrett

I first met Rep. Chris Garrett when I was lobbying for Planned Parenthood at the State Capitol.  I must confess, I was a bit caught off guard by how young he looks, but then I remembered he is not that young, I’m just that old. What impressed me most was his eagerness to be engaged and willingness to talk with us.  As a gay man and a feminist, I feel fortunate to have him as my state representative.

Rep. Garrett was gracious enough to visit with me about the Debt Ceiling crisis and the recent passing of Senator Mark Hatfield. Just to show you how down to earth he really is, he called me at home and said, “Michael, hey this is Chris.”  How nice to have an elected official that not only works to represent me, but strives to make people feel safe and heard.

How did you feel when you heard about the bill passed regarding the Debt Ceiling? 

Relieved.  I felt they would always get there in the end, but the whole episode has been very discouraging because it seems that with every passing year there are more people in Congress who would rather stick to a pure ideological position than make the compromises necessary to govern. The fact that they were willing to go all the way to the brink was scary. Some even said a default would “not be that big of a deal.” Too many Republicans are playing to the very extreme, uncompromising wing of their party.

How will the bill that was passed affect Oregonians?

It depends on how the federal spending cuts are implemented.  Like all states, Oregon relies heavily on federal dollars for certain programs like Medicaid. Any decrease in federal entitlement spending would have an effect here in Oregon just like anywhere else.  Unfortunately, spending cuts will affect the very people who need the most help getting through this recession.

Can you share your feelings about the loss of Senator Hatfield?

I admired Senator Hatfield and I think he would be horrified to see what has happened in the past few weeks.  He was an example of someone who could have very strong, principled views, yet recognize the legitimacy of other points of view enough to work together and find common ground.  At the end of the day, he knew that it was about governing, not just political positioning.  That type of thinking seems to be more and more rare in Washington.

Do you feel Oregon is working well?

In some ways.  The state is still hurting very badly economically, and we need to put some serious work into reforming our systems of public finance.  But we had a pretty good legislative session here in Oregon and we do have people crossing party lines to work together, far more than we’ve seen in Congress.  .

I want to thank Rep. Chris Garrett for taking the time to visit with me and for working to combat partisanship and actually providing leadership by working for the betterment of his constituents.

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