Category Archives: Government Shutdown

Jay Leno Calls Out Ted Cruz On Shutdown: ‘You Looked Like A Big Fan From Where I Was Standing’

Somebody needed to call this clown out.  Jay Leno helped expose Ted Cruz’ blatant hypocrisy…

The Huffington Post

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) made his first foray into late-night television on Friday, facing some prodding questions from Tonight Show host Jay Leno on the government shutdown.

About four minutes into the interview, Leno asked Cruz why the shutdown took place, posing the idea that if Obamacare had been allowed to go forward without shutting down the government, the early struggles with the law may have been seen in a different light.

“Listen, Jay, I’m one of the many people who was not a fan of shutting down the government,” Cruz said. “Throughout this whole thing, I said…”

“Well you looked like a big fan from where I was standing,” Leno interjected.

“I said throughout, ‘We shouldn’t shut down the government,’” Cruz said seconds later. “And the reason we had a government shutdown is President Obama and the Democrats said ‘we will not negotiate and we will not compromise.’”

Recent polls show that three weeks after the shutdown came to a close, Americans are still angry at both Congress and President Barack Obama. A HuffPost/YouGov survey unveiled Thursday showed only 7 percent believe most members of Congress deserve reelection, compared to 73 percent who said they don’t.

Obama has taken his own share of heat, as a Friday Pew Research survey showed the president’s approval rating has plummeted to 41 percent. That marks an 11-percent drop since January 2013.

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6 long-term effects of the government shutdown

Got a flu shot? Good, but the CDC is now more than two weeks behind in tracking the viruses.

The Week

The pain has just begun

Now that the first government shutdown in 17 years is over and we’ve avoided defaulting on the debt (at least for a little while), life in America is returning to normal. Federal employees are going back to work. Museums and parks across the country are reopening. The panda cam at the National Zoo is up and running again.

But that doesn’t mean we won’t be feeling the consequences of the shutdown and debt ceiling fiascoes (sic) in the weeks, or maybe even months, to come. Thanks to the political theater in Washington, the full faith and credit of the U.S. government has once again been called into question and an already shaky economic recovery has been handed a major setback. It’s going to take some time to dig out of this self-inflicted hole.

Let’s take a look at six lasting effects of the fiscal brinkmanship:

1. GDP growth will likely decline
We’ve all heard anecdotes about restaurants remaining empty and family vacations being canceled because of the shutdown, but shuttering the government has been a tremendous drag on economic growth. Economists at Moody’s Analytics estimate that the shutdown caused a drop of 0.5 percentage points in gross domestic product, while Standard & Poor’s believes it “shaved” at least 0.6 percentage points off GDP growth in the fourth quarter of this year.

That amounts to taking roughly $24 billion out of the economy. Slower growth will send a signal to companies that it’s not time to invest, which in turn could lead to fewer jobs being created. Fewer jobs mean a slowdown in spending, and the cycle continues.

2. The veteran disability claims backlog grew
Eric Shinseki, secretary of Veterans Affairs, testified before Congress on Oct. 9 that the budget impasse was hampering his agency’s ability to rectify a massive backlog in disability claims. Hundreds of thousands of veterans — many of whom have been in limbo for more than a year — have been waiting for their claims to be approved and to start receiving disability checks. The VA had been making some progress before the shutdown. Between March and September, claims processors decreased the backlog to 418,000, from 611,000.

But the shutdown forced the furlough of 7,800 employees within the Veterans Benefits Administration, and the backlog grew again. The VA is still tabulating the damage that was done, but some estimates indicate as many as 2,000 cases may be affected.

3. CDC lost ground tracking the flu
It’s flu season, which means that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would normally be at work tracking viruses. This year, however, researchers lost almost three critical weeks to study whether the current crop of flu viruses will respond to anti-viral medication and whether the flu vaccine will be effective.

“It’s going to take us some time to assess where we are so we can salvage what we can,” said CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds. It’s not clear how long it will take to get the research back up to speed, since 85 percent of flu trackers were sent home during the shutdown. “We’re trying to figure out what the priorities are,” said Reynolds. “The sooner in the flu season that we do these things, the better.”

4. Consumer confidence has plummeted
The shutdown undermined confidence in the economy, which slid in October to its lowest level in nine months. According to Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan, consumer confidence fell on their index to 75.2 in October, from 77.5 in September. Another gauge, the Bloomberg Consumer Confidence Index, dropped 22 points from September to October.

When people don’t feel good about the economy, they tend to spend less. A recent survey commissioned by Goldman Sachs found that a whopping 40 percent of Americans cut spending because of the shutdown. That’s a problem heading into the holiday season, which is when retailers bring in a healthy portion of their revenue. “The timing is terrible from that perspective because the retail sector has been having a rocky year,” said Joe Fuller, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School. “People are anxious about what’s going on in Washington, and so they’re saying it’s a good time to be prudent and save money.”

5. Research was disrupted
There are scores of research projects funded by the federal government, most of which were put on hold during the shutdown. Clinical trials for cancer patients were delayed. Scientists are scrambling to save data sets that track constantly changing ecosystems. And the 16-day hiatus affected research of annual arctic sea ice, climate change, and planetary exploration, just to name a few.

Furthermore, the National Science Foundation will most likely have to delay reviewing and awarding grant proposals. “If people have funding, they can continue, yes,” Stephen Merrill, director of science, technology, and economic policy at the National Research Council, told The Washington Post. “But anybody caught between grants or dependent on a new grant, or even the extension of an existing grant, they’re all directly impacted.”

6. Interest rates may increase
There are several factors that explain why interest rates go up and down, but the latest round of debt ceiling negotiations have creditors a little jumpy. (JPMorgan Chase sold all of its short-term Treasury holdings last week.) Rating agencies in the U.S. and abroad have signaled they aren’t pleased with members of Congress openly advocating for default.

Before a compromise was reached, Fitch Ratings put the U.S. on notice that its credit rating may be downgraded. “That immediately ripples through to pricing,” said Fuller, noting that lenders will want to adjust their interest rates to cover the additional risk. “When anybody who owes somebody money makes a credible threat that they are not going to pay, a prudent lender says that borrower is riskier than I thought.”

Even though Washington finally agreed to raise the borrowing authority until Feb. 7, Dagong, one of China’s four biggest credit rating agencies, dropped the U.S.’s rating from A to A- because the same political theater may repeat itself in four months.

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Lowdown on the shutdown in 3 minutes

CNN Politics

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October 13, 2013 · 10:26 AM

Jon Stewart Goes Off On ‘Bipartisan Curious’ Republicans Who Won’t Come Out Against The Shutdown

The Huffington Post

As the government shutdown continues, we keep hearing about those moderate Republicans in the House who would vote for a clean continuing resolution, if only Speaker Boehner would allow a vote.

Jon Stewart wonders, however, if there are so many of them, why don’t they force the issue? Watch above as he and Al Madrigal discuss the “bipartisan curious” Republicans who care more about keeping their government paychecks than everyone else getting theirs.

 

 

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Boehner wants to keep one hostage, briefly let the other go

                                                                               Associated Press

The Maddow Blog

Have you looked at the major Wall Street indexes this morning? As I type, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up over 200 points, and as a matter of percentage, the S&P and Nasdaq indexes are doing even better. After weeks in which stocks were on a downward trend, what caused the sudden spike?

Wall Street is now under the impression that congressional Republicans are not going to use the debt ceiling to crash the economy on purpose. This leads to a variety of questions, not the least of which is whether Wall Street’s exuberance is rational.

It may not be. Jane Timm reports from Capitol Hill:

On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner proposed a short-term debt ceiling increase — if President Obama will negotiate on opening the government.

That plan may be presented to Obama this afternoon, when a delegation of Republican negotiators will meet at the White House.

And this is where things start to get messy.

We talked earlier about the subtle shifts in the Republicans’ posture, as it slowly dawns on them that they’re losing the public; they won’t achieve their goals through extortion; and they need to find a way out of the trap they set and then promptly fell into.

So, Boehner and his team came up with a plan. They’ll let the government shutdown continue, but raise the debt ceiling for six weeks. In exchange for not crashing the economy on purpose, Democrats will have to agree to participate in budget negotiations.

Will Republicans agree to let the government reopen during the budget talks? No.

Will Republicans take the prospect of a debt-ceiling crisis off the table? No.

Is there any chance in the world Democrats will consider this a credible solution? No.

Indeed, it’s already been rejected.

The White House indicated that while the president might sign a short-term bill to avert default, it rejected the proposal as insufficient to begin negotiations over his health care law or further long-term deficit reductions because the plan does not address the measure passed by the Senate to finance and reopen the government.

“The president has made clear that he will not pay a ransom for Congress doing its job and paying our bills,” said a White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The Democratic appeal to Republicans can basically be summarized in a few words: Just do your job. The government needs to be funded, so fund it — without strings attached or a series of demands. The debt ceiling needs to be raised, so raise it — without demanding treats or taking hostages. At that point, the parties can enter negotiations on just about anything and everything.

But the GOP’s new “offer” is predicated on the same assumptions as the other “offers”: Republicans won’t talk unless the threat of deliberate harm hangs over the discussion. It’s effectively become the GOP’s prerequisite to every process: only plans involving hostages will be considered.

Indeed, why raise the debt ceiling for just six weeks? Either Republicans are prepared to hurt Americans on purpose or they’re not. This is either a threat or it isn’t. Boehner is willing to put the pin back in the grenade, but he wants Democrats to know he’s prepared to pull it again around Thanksgiving?

I suppose it’s evidence of some modicum of progress that GOP officials are looking for a new way out of this mess, but this new “plan” is hardly any more credible than the others.

I wish I could share in Wall Street’s excitement, but I don’t.

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Rachel Maddow To GOP: You Broke It – You Brought It

For some, the post below this one may be too long to read.  I saw this segment of The Rachel Maddow Show last night in which she runs through the same thing as The Nation article…but with even more detail and information.  Enjoy…

Rachel Maddow reviews the years-long Republican plan to sabotage the Obama presidency at any cost, and talks with Ryan Grim, D.C. bureau chief for the Huffington Post, about House Speaker John Boehner’s struggle to find a way out of the government shutdown he allowed his party to force America into. ~ Licentiathe8th’s channel

Courtesy of the  The Rachel Maddow Show.

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Meet the Evangelical Cabal Orchestrating the Shutdown

The Conservative Action Project is a right-wing group that has contributed to the recent government shutdown. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

The Nation

At Ebenezer’s Coffeehouse, a small shop next to Union Station and around the corner from the Heritage Foundation, “fair trade” coffee is dispensed and Christian books are available for customers to read.

A group of political operatives and evangelical firebrands behind the strategy to shut down the government over healthcare reform couldn’t have picked a more unassuming meeting place. Though the more famous “Wednesday meeting” is across town at the offices of Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the shutdown plotters often meet at a weekly lunch held on Wednesday at the event space of Ebenezer’s. (The group also meets regularly on Wednesday mornings at the offices of the Family Research Council.)

This other Wednesday group is a convening of the Conservative Action Project, an ad hoc coalition created in the early years of the Obama administration to reorganize the conservative movement .

The coalition is managed by Heritage and the Council for National Policy. The latter organization, dubbed once as “the most powerful conservative group you’ve never heard of,” is a thirty-year-old nonprofit dedicated to transforming the country into a more right-wing Christian society. Founded by Tim LaHaye, the Rapture-obsessed author of the “Left Behind” series, CNP is now run by Christian-right luminaries such as Phyllis Schlafly, Tony Perkins and Kenneth Blackwell.

Yesterday, The New York Times revealed in great detail how the Conservative Action Project has orchestrated the current showdown. The group initially floated the idea of attaching funding for Obamacare to the continuing resolution, and followed up with grassroots organizing, paid advertisements and a series of events designed to boost the message of senators like Ted Cruz.

Though the Heritage Foundation, through its 501(c)(4) Heritage Action sister organization, has played a lead role in sponsoring advertisements and town-hall meetings, tax disclosures reviewed by TheNation.com show that the Council for National Policy has provided a steady stream of funding for the organizing effort.

In my new book published this year, The Machine: A Field Guide the Resurgent Right, I profiled how the Conservative Action Project came about, and how its existence sparked a schism within the conservative movement. The group has played a background role in several high-profile political debates.

It was this rival Wednesday group that gave rise to the farcical “Ground Zero Mosque” conspiracy in 2010. The Conservative Action Project also played a consequential role in whipping up opposition to a number of key Obama judicial nominees, including judges David Hamilton and Goodwin Liu. Through rapid-fire memos and coalition advocacy, the Conservative Action Project can claim large responsibility for the fact that Obama has been deprived more than any modern American president of appointing judges of his choice for the federal bench.

But like the quagmire that GOP leaders find themselves in today, the hard-charging Conservative Action Project has bristled at establishment criticism in the past. Notably, it was the Conservative Action Project that first courted controversial Senate candidates like Christine O’Donnell and Joe Miller. For my book, I spoke to Colin Hanna, a Conservative Action Project leader, who told me that through weekly meetings with Republican legislators, his coalition members were able to persuade Republican campaign committees to generally back off and allow their insurgent candidates to compete in GOP primaries. O’Donnell later went on to cost the GOP one of its most prized Senate seats.

In another episode that enraged the Republican establishment, Republican Study Commission employees were caught encouraging conservative advocacy groups to attack the debt-ceiling deal negotiated by President Obama and Speaker Boehner in 2011. The story, reported by Politiconoted that RSC employee Wesley Goodman e-mailed a listserv, “We need statements coming up to the Hill every hour of the day in mounting opposition to the plan.” Goodman now officially works for the Conservative Action Project, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Many of the leaders involved in this effort are well-known Christian conservative icons, including “Christian Zionist” and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer and Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, an activist famous for his over-the-top attacks on the gay community.

The group has engaged in clashes with libertarian-leaning GOP leaders, particularly Norquist. That is not to say the group is not well connected with well-heeled interest groups.

The board of the Council for National Policy, the Conservative Action Project’s sponsor, features Michael Grebe, an influential Republican lawyer who leads the Bradley Foundation—a GOP money machine with close ties to Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus and Governor Scott Walker. The Heritage Foundation’s Ed Meese and Becky Norton Dunlop, both well-respected among mainstream Republicans, are said to be prime players in the effort.

Kevin Gentry, a key employee of Koch Industries’s lobbying subsidiary Koch Public Sector, has served on the board of CNP. Gentry now helped to run the new $250 million fund for conservative advocacy groups called Freedom Partners and manages the twice-annual secret gatherings for Charles Koch’s cohorts. (It was at a CNP gathering that Charles Koch once compared himself to the theologian Martin Luther.)

One CNP official has a surprising connection to President Obama and the shutdown. Since 2009, a consultant named Patrick Pizzella has helped to ensure that the Conservative Action Project achieves its goals. For a fee of $133,333, he’s been the highest-paid full-time employee since 2009, when the effort began.

In August of this year, President Obama nominated Pizzella to be a member of the Federal Labor Relations Authority. The FLRA acts as a miniature National Labor Relations Board for federal workers, helping to arbitrate disputes between federal employees and labor unions. Two months later, 800,000 federal employees now find themselves at home because of Pizzella’s political project.

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4 reasons President Obama isn’t negotiating with Republicans

Obama and Biden are standing pat. (Getty Images)

The Week

The GOP has blasted the president for refusing to compromise

As the government shutdown enters its second week and Congress hurtles toward a deadline to raise the debt ceiling, Republicans are coalescing around a message that they appear to believe will sway public opinion in their favor: President Obama refuses to negotiate.

Never mind that earlier this year House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made a big deal about foregoing any budget negotiations with the president. This week, he accused Obama and the Democrats of “risking default by not having a conversation” about a variety of Republican demands, including defunding or delaying ObamaCare and broader cuts to the budget.

The stakes in this fight are high. Not only are 800,000 federal employees out of work, but the U.S. government is expected to hit its borrowing limit in less than 10 days. If the the United States defaults on its debts, economists say the country would likely be plunged into another recession — one that the Treasury Department warned could be even worse than the last one.

But Democrats show few signs of compromising, even as Republicans fight amongst themselves over whether or not to strike a potential deal. Here are four reasons Obama and the Democratic Party are standing firm.

1. They feel they have already compromised
Remember the sequester? The Democrats do. They weren’t too happy about it back in March, when they were forced to swallow $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts because the two parties couldn’t agree on a long-term budget.

Still, on Sept. 27, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a continuing resolution that kept those spending cuts in place, funding the government at $988 billion — lower than the $1.058 trillion they initially wanted.

The Daily Beast‘s Michael Tomasky explains:

[T]his whole thing started with a significant Democratic compromise. But once the Republicans decided that they were going to use both the shutdown and the debt ceiling to try to defund and/or delay ObamaCare, they couldn’t even vote for a bill that gave them a major fiscal victory. [The Daily Beast]

Yes, some Republicans don’t like the sequester’s defense cuts. But many Tea Partiers “learned to love” the sequester, writes The New York Times‘ Annie Lowrey, while pretty much every Democrat views it as a disaster, since it bites into aid programs that are already strapped. That explains why Democrats view the GOP’s current demands as gratuitous: They come on top of concessions that have already been made.

2. It would set a bad precedent
As Obama himself has argued, if he gives in to the GOP’s demands, then it would set a precedent for any minority party to use the debt limit as a very dangerous weapon to extract concessions.

Even Republicans might not like that, warns The Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank:

Under that standard, a small band of future Democrats could shut down the government if a future Republican president didn’t agree to, say, strict gun controls, abortion on demand, a carbon tax, a higher minimum wage, expanded Social Security and Medicare benefits, or open borders.

Had this been the standard before, Democrats might have shut down the government to try to force George W. Bush to end the Iraq war, or to make Ronald Reagan end his arms race with the Soviets. [Washington Post]

The fact that the shutdown was carefully planned and funded, as reported by The New York Times, by conservative activists means that Democrats have every reason to think that Republicans will try this again in the future — unless Obama draws a line in the sand.

3. Republicans are asking for way too much
Obama obviously isn’t going to repeal or delay ObamaCare, which duly passed Congress in 2010, was upheld by the Supreme Court, and survived a presidential election. And in terms of what Republicans have in mind for the budget, their reported offer skews heavily toward Republican priorities, while barely acknowledging Democratic preferences.

Indeed, previous, torturous negotiations between Obama and Boehner have shown that there is very little Republicans are prepared to accept, particularly when it comes to new government revenue.

While advocating for Obama to offer an olive branch, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat acknowledges that the president has every reason “to avoid making any kind of concessions to an opposition party that’s locked into essentially unreasonable demands.”

4. The public blames the Republicans for the shutdown
To be clear, nobody is coming out of this smelling like roses. Still, the GOP is hurting far worse than the Democratic Party.

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that a whopping 70 percent of Americans disapprove of how Republicans have handled the government shutdown, compared to the 51 percent who disapprove of Obama’s performance. Even 59 percent of self-described conservatives don’t like what Republicans are doing.

Those numbers are consistent with the theory that “the executive benefits and the legislature is punished” during government shutdowns, writes The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein. In political terms, that “would suggest that a shutdown would be bad for everyone serving in Congress, but good for Obama.”

That might not turn out to be true. But it certainly gives the president more of an incentive to stand firm while Republicans flounder.

 

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The Big Lie Behind Rand Paul’s Pack of GOP Shutdown Lies

Rand Paul

PoliticusUSA

The GOP, driven by tea party extremism, has shut down the U.S. government, costing taxpayers on the order of $40-$80 million per day at a conservative estimate. Some estimates go as high as $300 million per day. According toShutdowncost.com, as I write this, the shutdown has cost in excess of $1,593,276,000 and it is literally climbing by the second.

Yet Rand Paul (R-KY) writes an op-ed on CNN.com on Fridaywith the disingenuous claim that he doesn’t understand why the WWII memorial isn’t open:

This week, we saw the outrageous spectacle of World War II veterans being told by our government that they couldn’t visit their own memorial. These former service members, who stared down the Japanese and the Nazis, were told that they couldn’t step through barricades arbitrarily placed in front of their memorial because the government has shut down. Some have speculated that it might have cost more to place the barricades there than to have done nothing at all.

This is a tear-jerker, and it is meant to be. But Paul is being as dishonest here as the day is long.

He says putting barricades up cost more than to have done nothing. But Rand Paul doesn’t mention that, the shutdown his party is responsible for is costing Americans more than if the Republicans had done nothing. And the shutdown is costing Americans more than a few barricades.

Let me put it this way: Not only do the spending cuts the GOP demands not reduce the federal debt, but the shutdown Republicans initiated claiming Obamacare is costing Americans too much money, costs more money than Obamacare.

If this makes sense to you, you are probably a tea partier.

Yet Rand Paul says Obamacare makes no sense, because, apparently, giving millions of Americans access to insurance for the first time, and forcing insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, makes no sense.

He accuses President Obama of being “tone deaf” to Americans, completely ignoring the fact – and it is a fact – thatthe majority of Americans want Obamacare and that the majority of Americans do not want a government shutdown.

I think we know who is tone deaf, and it isn’t President Obama.

Then Rand Paul pulls out the Big Lie, the same one every Republican who began planning for this shutdown in 2010 are all using, that none of them wanted a shutdown. Keep in mind that they shut down the government using Obamacare as an excuse. Keep in mind that Obamacare is the law of the land, and more, a law upheld by the Supreme Court.

No one wanted a government shutdown. Republicans have continued to offer multiple compromises that would keep the government open. I offered an amendment to keep the government open an additional week while negotiations continued. My proposal was rejected. In fact, all of our proposals were rejected.

Paul tells another lie when he claims, “Every attempt to bargain, negotiate or compromise has been rejected by the Democrats.”

Let us be clear: The Republicans have offered no compromises. They refused from the start to negotiate. Their demands – and they can be construed no other way – have been predicated on 44 unsuccessful votes to defund Obamacare, and when that failed, to delay it for a year, when, they hope, a new majority in the Senate will kill it for good. In other words, delaying Obamacare is, from their point of view, no different than killing it. Some compromise. Either way, it’s “kill Obamacare.”

Apparently, Rand Paul yearns to be known as the biggest liar in Washington, D.C., to judge by this next whopper:

Pundits like to talk about dysfunctional government in Washington. This week demonstrated how right they are. Our government is too big, inefficient and incompetent to possibly handle American health care effectively. Why can’t this administration get its act together?

A Republican-dominated House of Representatives rushing down a road to nowhere with no clear end-game in mind save unconditional surrender by the administration, and Paul says the administration doesn’t have IT’S act together?

Paul pulls out one lie after another, each worse than the last, arriving at the tried and untrue Republican claim that Obama is building the deficit at a record pace:

And what do we have to show for this largely dysfunctional government? Annual trillion dollar deficits and a $17 trillion debt than keeps climbing.

The truth is exactly the opposite. In fact, Obama is reducing the deficit at a record pace. It is a fact, as Sarah Jones reported here in May, that the Obama administration has presided over the most rapid deficit reduction since World War II.

In fact, government spending under President Obama has grown at a slower rate than it did under any president since Dwight D. Eisenhower, according to Bloomberg(that’s over 50 years ago, if you’re counting).

Where does that leave Paul’s op-ed? Lie, lie, another lie, followed by more lies. So does Rand Paul have anything to say that is not a lie?

No, sadly he does not. All Rand Paul has is lies.

And so the liar from Kentucky concludes, dishonestly, that because his party has shutdown the government over a law that has been upheld by the Supreme Court, that, “What Americans were reminded of this week — more than anything else — is that big government doesn’t work.”

What doesn’t work is the House of Representatives, which has spent 15+ percent of its time this year trying to get rid of a law that has been upheld by the Supreme Court. A law, moreover, that most Americans want.

The GOP, to nobody’s surprise, is a party these days of liars and shills. But Rand Paul, apparently – and this is saying something when you consider the company he keeps – wants to be the liar of the century.

Right now, he has that award hands down.

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Why the U.S. government is shut down: 5 theories from abroad

America was never all that popular in Pakistan to begin with. (AP Photo/Arshad Butt)

THE WEEK

There’s no doubt that the government shutdown has been an embarrassment for the U.S., with its friends and enemies alike looking on with amusement and/or horror as Congress descends into apocalyptic theatrics over a bill to finance the government for a mere six weeks.

The fight is particularly confusing to the U.S.’s allies in the developed world, where universal health care, another bone of contention in the shutdown fight, is as commonplace as traffic lights, clean tap water, and other hallmarks of modernity.

Here, a taste of how other countries are explaining the government shutdown.

America is insane:
In an editorial headlined, “Wake up, Jefferson, they’ve all gone mad!” France’s Le Monde writes: “There’s no rational explanation for the Tea Party’s actions. It’s pure hatred of the president, a conception of politics as permanent civil war.”

For the French, ObamaCare is not the real issue. “This is the pretext chosen by the core extremist, fundamentalist, the Republican Party, the Tea Party, to sabotage President Obama. This reflects a growing polarization of American public life to shame the Founding Fathers of this great Republic.”

America is not a democracy:
Waleed Aly says in Australia’s The Age that the gerrymandering of congressional districts by Republican-controlled statehouses has rigged the system in the GOP’s favor.

“To get a sense of the scale of it, consider that in the seven states redrawn by Republicans, near parity voting (16.7 million votes to 16.4 million) delivered 73 Republicans and 34 Democrats. That’s a clear perversion of democracy and it’s no accident.”

“Freed from the need to defeat any meaningful Democrat challenge, Republican politics is now such that everyone’s racing to outbid each other for the mantle of true believer. It’s a classic case of a closed system encouraging ever more radical posturing.”

America is a failed state — and fat, to boot:
Pakistan’s Express Tribune is miffed that the U.S. will drop drone missiles on Pakistan when it can’t even govern itself.

“Were the same yardstick to be applied to America that it so often applies elsewhere, it might be possible to say that it is displaying one of the symptoms of failed statehood — namely a breakdown of governance to the detriment of the populace as a whole.”

“To the mystification of many, both inside and outside America, this looks like the infliction of a wound the nation — already chronically obese and with health care geared to a ruinously expensive, if you are poor, insurance system — does not need.”

America has a death wish:
Clemens Wergin in Germany’s Die Welt says the U.S. has made itself so ungovernable that it will lose superpower status. “America’s political class has shown itself in the past few years to be as dysfunctional as we’ve seen European problem states to be — including Italy right now. Apparently it doesn’t take old and new rivals Russia and China to shove the West down the staircase. We do it ourselves.”

Americans hate their government:
Eric Grenier at Canada’s Globe and Mail says lawmakers brought the shutdown upon the U.S. because they have nothing to lose — after all, America detested them well before the shutdown began.

“A political class so despised by and disconnected from the American people can hardly damage itself any further as a result of the shutdown of the U.S. government. They are likely to come out of it unscathed and as unloved as they were before it occurred.”

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