Rand Paul is calling the shutdown a ‘temporary inconvenience’—and his party has said little about the kids with cancer, food stamp recipients, and others affected. That fits right in with GOP priorities, says Jamelle Bouie.
For Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), the government shutdown is just a “temporary inconvenience.” The libertarian lawmaker is right that the shutdown is temporary, but I’d be hard-pressed to label it an “inconvenience.”
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty
Among the people affected by House Republicans’ refusal to fund the government are kids with cancer, who have been refused admittance for clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health; kids in Head Start; women who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); shipyard workers; domestic violence counselors; disease and infection trackers at the Centers for Disease Control; college students on federal work study programs; and hundreds of thousands of federal workers, as well as the communities who serve them.
Republicans have offered measures that fund specific areas—in particular, veterans benefits and national parks—but have had little to say about these other functions of the federal government. That’s no surprise. The substantive outcome of the shutdown fits broadly with House Republicans’ long-standing policy priorities: cuts to programs for low-income Americans and the preservation of retirement benefits for today’s senior citizens.
It’s not just Democrats who are angry at the Tea Party-led shutdown. Republican donors are furious their party has managed to ‘grab defeat from the jaws of victory’ on Obamacare—and some are withholding funds, reports David Freedlander.
On a Monday last month, Rep. Greg Walden, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, met with some top GOP donors for lunch at Le Cirque on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. The donors, a youngish collection of financial industry types and lawyers, had some questions for Walden, a mild-mannered lawmaker from eastern Oregon known for speaking his mind.
House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor speak to the media on the "fiscal cliff" on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)
Why, they asked, did the GOP seem so in the thrall of its most extremist wing? The donors, banker types who occupy the upper reaches of Wall Street’s towers, couldn’t understand why the Republican Party—their party—seemed close to threatening the nation with a government shutdown, never mind a default if the debt ceiling isn’t raised later this month.
“Listen,” Walden said, according to several people present. “We have to do this because of the Tea Party. If we don’t, these guys are going to get primaried and they are going to lose their primary.”
The GOP has a long history of making their perversion of the rules of Congress the new normal. Lawrence Lessig says they’re ignoring the political responsibility the system needs to operate.
So you’re walking down the street, and a man steps in front of you with a gun. “Give me your money,” he says. “No,” you (perhaps stupidly) reply. “Give me half your money,” he insists. “No,” you insist again. “Hey, what’s the matter with you,” he says, outraged. “Don’t you know how to compromise?”
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), walks to the House floor after midnight on October 1, 2013, at the Capitol. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
To most Democrats, the behavior of House Republicans in the current budget standoff is just like this. The Republicans have made a serious threat to an already weakened economy. If it isn’t resolved soon, the likely default on United States debt could be catastrophic. To threaten these fundamentals over a disagreement about insurance policy seems crazy to Democrats. Even worse, illegitimate. “By what right,” Democrats ask, “does a minority hold the United States government hostage?”
But the problem for the Democrats is that Republicans are not behaving like armed thugs, because their demand is not (yet), within our system, illegitimate. Politicians are free to support legislation for whatever reason they want. Subject to the rules regulating bribery, they’re free to demand whatever they want in return for a vote. Democrats might not like that the Republicans have this power. But their exercising it within our constitutional system is not a crime.
The shutdown has forced the Treasury Department to furlough most of the employees enforcing sanctions on Iran, just as the U.S. is beginning new negotiations. Josh Rogin and Eli Lake report on the potential fallout.
With the government shut down, most U.S. officials enforcing sanctions on Iran are not at work, potentially undermining pressure on Tehran as U.S.-Iran negotiations recommence, according to administration officials, lawmakers, and experts.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a news conference at the Millennium Hotel in New York on Sept. 26. (John Minchillo/AP)
The Treasury Department has furloughed approximately 90 percent of the employees in its Office of Terrorist Financing and Intelligence (TFI), which is responsible for the monitoring of illicit activities and enforcement of sanctions related to several countries, including Iran, Syria, and North Korea, Treasury officials told The Daily Beast. The drastic scaling down of personnel working on those activities comes just as the Obama administration is engaging in its first set of diplomatic negotiations with the new Iranian government, led by President Hassan Rouhani.
A subsection of TFI, the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), which implements the U.S. government’s financial sanctions, has been forced to furlough nearly all its staff due to the lapse in congressional funding, said a Treasury Department spokesman.
To the rest of the world, the U.S. government’s closure is baffling. From the populists in Brazil to the conservatives in the U.K., here’s the view from abroad.
The British may not be natural optimists, but those planning vacations to the U.S. were able to see the bright side of the congressional debacle. “Dollar Pounded After U.S. Shutdown” screamed the Press Association, as David Swann, a currency trader explained the good news: “Britons will be getting their best U.S. dollar rates since January,” he said.
French tourists look at the closed Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on October 2, the second day of the federal-government shutdown. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty)
Prime Minister David Cameron took a more somber approach, claiming that the meltdown on Capitol Hill was a warning for Britain to keep a tight grip on the deficit. “It is a reminder to all of us that we that we need to have properly planned public expenditure systems, properly planned tax, properly planned arrangements for getting our deficit down,” he said at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester.
RTs president’s cry to end the shutdown.
Ted Cruz is quite literally just pushing buttons to raise eyebrows at this point. The Texas senator who essentially campaigned for a government shutdown with his crusade against Obamacare is now protesting one. Cruz answered the president's rallying cry on Twitter to end the shutdown, retweeting Obama's status: “Retweet if you want this #shutdown to end.” The irony of the move wasn’t lost on other Twitter users. “Damn, bruh. How does it feel to be a liar?” was one response. Another quipped: “@SenTedCruz endorses @BarackObama!” According to a Pew Research poll, a majority of Twitter users blame Republicans for the shutdown, but an equally large number oppose Obamacare.
‘Veep’ creator Armando Iannucci talks to Kevin Fallon about tackling a fictional government shutdown in a Season 2 episode of the HBO comedy.
Congress and the White House can’t agree on a budget. A revolving door of employees is getting furloughed … and then un-furloughed … and then re-furloughed again. Trash is piling up on the streets. There’s no one to fight bears.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Anna Chlumsky in a scene from the HBO series "Veep." (Lacy Terrell/HBO)
Those events are from a Season 2 episode of the HBO comedy Veep, but they could easily describe the current state of affairs as the U.S. weathers its second day of a government shutdown—albeit reflected through a funhouse mirror.
In the episode, “Shutdown,” Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s Vice President Selina Meyer is saddled with the blame when congressional gridlock leads to a government shutdown. She must decide which employees are “nonessential” and can therefore be furloughed. With government agencies closed, trash builds up on the streets. National parks can’t staff the grounds with park rangers. A hiker is attacked by a bear and dies. The widow blames the government (and, by proxy, Selina).
Republicans are indisputably responsible for the shutdown, but now they’ve erupted into a chorus of blaming everyone else. Jamelle Bouie says it’s time for the party of personal responsibility to own its mistaken calculations.
Last night, on CNN’s The Lead, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy told Jake Tapper that Republicans “never wanted to shut the government down.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner speaks to the media, with U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) (L), in Washington at 1:00 a.m. on October 1, 2013. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)
Most observers would disagree. For almost everyone paying attention, it’s clear that the government shut down because Republicans wanted to shut it down. During the summer congressional recess, Tea Party conservatives—led by organizations like Heritage Action—called for the House of Representatives to defund the Affordable Care Act, and lawmakers like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia joined the crusade, demanding that Speaker John Boehner give up gimmicks—like shunting the defund vote to a separate amendment—and tie government funding to a repeal of Obamacare.
“House Republicans should pass a continuing resolution that funds government in its entirety–except Obamacare–and that explicitly prohibits spending any federal money, mandatory or discretionary, on Obamacare,“ Cruz said in a statement at the beginning of the month, “They should not use any procedural chicanery to enable Harry Reid to circumvent that vote.”
On October 1, 2013, Democrats opened up a program to bring health care to all, while Republicans peacocked around trying to stop history. It’s obvious which side will be judged more kindly years from now, says Michael Tomasky.
We sometimes don’t notice history as it’s unfolding right before us, so let’s stop and take note of what a historically momentous day Tuesday was. Twenty, 50 years from now, when historians or college professors are trying to describe to their readers and students what the difference was between the two political parties in our time, they will direct them to October 1, 2013. That one day says it all.
The Democratic Party was opening up its historic program to bring health care to all citizens, and the Republican Party was closing down the federal government, a fanatical minority manipulating the rules of our democracy and holding a gun to the country’s head, all because it wants to deny all citizens health care and is furious that it failed three times in that effort.
Tuesday perfectly expressed what these two parties have come to be about. The Democrats have many flaws, and money has corrupted them at certain times on certain issues almost as much as it has corrupted Republicans. And yes, sometimes some Democrats behave divisively, too. But at least they have had good moments, even great ones. The passage of Social Security. Medicare and Medicaid. Civil rights (and please, you cynical Everett Dirksen-invokers, give it a rest and go away; you would have long since drummed Dirksen out of your party today). Women’s rights. And most recently gay rights, including same-sex marriage; history will recall Barack Obama with admiration as the first sitting president willing to voice his support for that.
Travel is a big business, and it just tanked. Daniel Gross on how the shutdown could wreak havoc on a key part of the U.S. economy. (In other news, this selfie stick is a thing.)
On the mall in Washington yesterday morning, World War II vets stormed the shuttered World War II monument. In New York, the Statue of Liberty was closed. The South Dakota state government is trying to keep Mount Rushmore open. Campers in glorious Yosemite have been given 48 hours to get out.
The anecdotes from government-run parks and tourist states are symbolic, and make for good images of the real-world impact of a government shutdown. (There are certain upsides, of course. The Klan apparently canceled a rally it had planned at Gettysburg.) But they also speak to a larger truth. There’s a certain blitheness of spirit surrounding the impact of the shutdown. Most people at most companies simply showed up for their jobs as usual, and can easily conclude that it won’t matter much. But in some industries, including some really vital American industries, the impact of the government shutdown is immediate—and difficult.
Travel is a very big business in the U.S. I could tell you precisely how large a business it is, but the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s website is closed today. And the section of the Commerce Department’s website that contained very detailed data on tourism is likewise shuttered temporarily. However, the U.S. Travel Organization put out an annual report that estimates the impact of travel generally in the U.S. The report suggests 14.4 million total jobs are supported by travel, or one in every eight in the private sector. For 2013, it forecasts travel spending will be $889.1 billion, up 3.9 percent from $855.4 billion in 2012. New York City alone in 2011 welcomed (or didn’t welcome, as the case may be) 50.9 million tourists.
Sure, Harry Reid is refusing GOP calls for a bipartisan conference to help end the shutdown. But until the crisis, Republicans filibustered all Democratic calls for a budget conference, says Jamelle Bouie.
As part of a last-minute messaging ploy after the government shutdown began, House Speaker John Boehner announced that he would shift all negotiations to a bipartisan conference of lawmakers, a plan rejected by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “We will not go to conference with a gun to our head,” the Nevada senator said.
From left, Senators Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, Patty Murray, and Dick Durbin speak to reporters after the Democratic-led Senate rejected conditions that House Republicans attached to a temporary spending bill, at the Capitol in Washington on Sept. 30, 2013. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
On the face of it, Reid and the Democrats are indulging in the obstructionism that Republicans have accused them of. But a look at the broader picture makes clear why Reid does not want to engage.
Recall this spring, when Senate Democrats, led by Washington Sen. Patty Murray, passed the chamber’s first budget in four years. The House followed suit with a proposal crafted by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. The two budgets were close to irreconcilable, with the former reflecting the priorities of the center-left of the Democratic Party and the latter a variation on the GOP agenda of the previous year.
Will be kept from clinical trials.
You can’t do much worse than angering WWII veterans and hurting kids with cancer, Washington. Every week the government is shut down, 10 children with cancer will be barred from starting clinical trials due to the National Institutes of Health’s furloughing nearly 75 percent of staff. An estimated 200 patients will be delayed each week of the congressional impasse, around 10 of whom are children with cancer, because there will be no new patients enrolled in trials or new trials beginning during the shutdown.
The National Zoo removed its panda cam from the Web, so we did what had to be done. World, meet our panda cam.
The dreaded government shutdown has claimed its tiniest, most beloved victim: the National Zoo's panda cam.
The live streams, which require federal resources to run, were deemed not essential during a shutdown, according to the zoo. But we don't want you going panda-less.
We went out to the Petco in New York City's Union Square, picked up a spectacular little fish, named him Panda, and turned on a webcam. World, it's time you meet your newest star: Panda Fish! He'll be swimming live for the cameras as long as the National Zoo's pandas are sleeping in the shadows.
Visitors to New York were mostly amused to find out they couldn’t see the Statue of Liberty thanks to government incompetence. But the locals who sell them tickets and give them ferry rides are feeling the pain.
You know what's funny? An America without a government.
That's what some tourists in lower Manhattan were saying on Tuesday as they mulled around figuring out what to do instead of hopping on a boat to the Statue of Liberty. It's closed, by the way. So are many other federal buildings in the city, putting an estimated 72,000 workers out of a job in New York state alone. But while the country seems gripped by shutdown fever, many tourists from here and abroad had no clue it would affect their plans. Their reactions ranged from outrage to despair—but mostly they had a good laugh at our expense.
The U.S. Government shutdown has ended and the debt ceiling crisis has been averted for now. Americans feel relieved, but how does the rest of the world feel about it?
In the aftermath of Nelson Mandela's death, Daily Beast Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown describes the 'tragic dynamic' between Madiba and Winnie Mandela.
Few expected Mississippi’s senior senator to stand for reelection. Now he’ll be bringing the Republican Party’s civil war to another state, facing an insurgent from the right next June.