Tag Archives: Congressional Research Service

8 Things To Know About A Government Shutdown

An empty Senate meeting room, just outside the chamber, is seen Monday in Washington. Only a week remains for Congress to pass a funding bill to avoid a government shutdown.

This article was written about a week ago, but the information is worth the read…

NPR – It’s All Politics

In  [a few hours], the federal government runs out of money.

While the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a resolution Friday that keeps the government funded through Dec. 15, the measure also defunded President Obama’s signature health care law — which means it has virtually no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate.

If a budget resolution doesn’t hit President Obama’s desk before Oct. 1, that’s a big problem: The government will be forced to close its doors.

With that prospect looming, here are eight things you should know about the possible shutdown:

It won’t be the first time

Since a new budgeting process was put into place in 1976, the U.S. government has shut down 17 times. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan each dealt with six shutdowns during their terms in office, lasting anywhere from one day to 2 1/2 weeks.

The last actual shutdown came in 1996 — though the government came close during budget negotiations in 2011.

The last shutdown lasted three weeks

The three-week shutdown that lasted from Dec. 16, 1995, to Jan. 6, 1996, ranks as the longest in U.S. history. As a result, about 284,000 federal workers were furloughed, and around 475,000 essential employees went without a paycheck, although they were eventually reimbursed.

They weren’t the only ones inconvenienced. Some benefits for military veterans were delayed, and cleanup at more than 600 toxic waste sites was stopped. The government also shut down for six days in mid-November 1995, initially resulting in the furlough of 800,000 federal employees. The Congressional Research Service reported the shutdowns cost taxpayers a combined $1.4 billion.

Only the “essentials”

Only federal employees deemed “essential” would continue to come to work during a shutdown. Employees who qualify as essential include those involved in national security, protecting life and property and providing benefit payments.

That means members of the military, border control agents, air traffic controllers, the FBI and the TSA are among those who would remain on duty. The president and members of Congress are also exempt from furlough and must decide which of their respective staff members to keep around during a shutdown.

The checks are in the mail

Even in the event of a shutdown, Social Security beneficiaries will still find their checks in their mailboxes and doctors and hospitals will receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. However, if the government does not resolve the budget situation by Nov. 1, those entitlement program payments could be delayed by up to two weeks.

Even in a shutdown, the Postal Service delivers

One reason Americans will get their entitlement checks: A government shutdown would not hit the operations of the U.S. Postal Service. Government agencies that the Treasury Department does not directly fund, like USPS, would be relatively unaffected in the short term by a shutdown . Some postal employees would very likely face furlough, but it wouldn’t be enough to completely close down the agency.

National parks and museums? Forget it

Have plans to visit a national park or go sightseeing in the nation’s capital? You might want to cancel them. During the Clinton-era shutdowns, 368 national parks closed, resulting in the loss of 7 million visitors. In Washington, D.C., the public would be unable to visit the monuments and museums that millions of tourists flock to every year. The Capitol building would remain open, though.

Visa and passport delays

Those hoping to enter or leave the country during a shutdown would most likely experience some difficulty. The government was unable to process around 200,000 pending passport applications and a daily average of 30,000 visa and passport applications by foreigners during the 1995-96 shutdowns. This would result not only in a headache for would-be travelers but a loss in millions for the airline and tourism industries.

Who would be blamed for a shutdown?

Generally speaking, no one comes out looking good if the government shuts down. A Pew Research poll conducted Sept. 19-22 shows 39 percent of Americans would blame Republicans if a shutdown were to occur, compared with 36 percent who would fault the Obama administration and 17 percent who would hold both sides responsible. According to a Pew poll from a comparable period during the 2011 budget battle, the public spread the blame around nearly identically.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Government Shutdown

A government shutdown will cost us billions

They claim they want to shrink government spending but the irony is mind-boggling:  Shutting down the government will cost billions of dollars.  What’s wrong with the TEApublicans strategy here?

Congress, you’re doing a terrible job. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomber)

WAPO – Wonk Blog

To understand what Congress is risking every time it nears a shutdown, consider what past ones have cost. In 1996, the Office of Management and Budget tallied the two major shutdowns of the decade at about $1.4 billion. Adjusting for inflation would bring that total to more than $2 billion in today’s dollars.

But as an analysis (pdf) by Roy Meyers, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, found, that estimate left out a lot. It didn’t account for the lost value of work that wasn’t done or the $300 million the federal parks would have taken in or the reduced pace of IRS audits. And then there are the less visible consequences.

Meyers suggests that contractors might start charging the government a premium after shutdowns to compensate for the uncertainty of their payments. And a large body of work shows that unstable budget processes at the state level raise borrowing costs, meaning some of the costs are permanent, or at least long-lived.

Even getting near a shutdown costs money. The government must prepare, and that means a lot of hours spent on nothing useful.

“You have to pull people off whatever they’re doing to inform employees about what they can do and when they can come in,” said Stan Collender, a budget expert at Qorvis communications. “You have to prepare to change the Web sites with new information about what to do during the shutdowns. You have additional security costs for the buildings because you have to lock them up so no one can get in. You have additional maintenance costs in terms of heating and cooling. And let’s say you’re a supplier who is supposed to deliver parts to the government on Oct. 2. What do you do?”

The irony, Collender added, is that “Republicans who are so big on uncertainty and government efficiency would never think it’s prudent to ask a business to operate the way they’re asking government to operate. Can you imagine a business telling employees, ‘We might shut down, and keep an eye out for an e-mail telling you whether to report next week’?”

Which gets to a final cost that none of these analyses are considering: the cumulative toll these bouts of brinksmanship are taking on consumer and business confidence.

During the 2011 government shutdown debate, Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index tumbled 24 points. It rebounded after the deal was reached, but then fell 30 points during the debt-ceiling debate. And Gallup wasn’t alone in that finding.

Continue reading here…

4 Comments

Filed under 113th Congress, TEApublicans

No, a government shutdown won’t kill ObamaCare

The president’s signature domestic policy achievement is sticking around — so far, anyway.

The Week

Even if the government were to temporarily close down later this year, ObamaCare would still live on, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

The nonpartisan government agency said this week that even if lawmakers fail to pass legislation to fund the government, it would not prevent the bulk of the Affordable Care Act from taking effect. Some conservative Republican lawmakers have floated the idea of agovernment shutdown as a way to block the law and force President Obama to ultimately scrap it.

“It appears that substantial ACA implementation might continue during a lapse in annual appropriations that resulted in a temporary government shutdown,” the report said.

That’s primarily due to two factors. First, the government can keep spending during a shutdown using “no-year discretionary funds” and reserves set aside for mandatory expenditures. The ACA specifically set aside billions of dollars for its own implementation that won’t be touched by a shutdown.

Second, the report said ObamaCare could fall under one of the limited exceptions in which the government is allowed to allocate funds in lieu of a spending bill from Congress.

In short, the White House would have the money and the power to keep the ACA up and running even if the lights go dark in Washington.

Plus, the centerpiece of the law, the individual mandate, would be completely unaffected by a government shutdown because it’s a tax, not a line item expenditure. Though it’s tempting to wish that taxes would cease to exist while lawmakers squabble over a budget, that’s just not how the government works, the report said.

“If a government shutdown were to occur during calendar year 2014, the lapse in funding would not automatically suspend the requirement of the individual mandate,” the report explained. “In other words, during the time period that the government is shut down, taxpayers who fall within the coverage of the individual mandate would still be accruing penalties for any months in which they lacked minimum essential coverage.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) is trying to rally others in his party to refuse to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government unless that bill cuts off funding for ObamaCare. Even if such a bill made it to Obama’s desk, the president, barring a stunning change of heart over his signature domestic policy achievement, would certainly veto it.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who has been critical of such a gambit, requested the CRS report and then made it publicly available Tuesday.

“I’d be leading the charge if I thought this would work,” Coburn told the Washington Examinerlast week of the defunding drive. “But it will not work.”

Still, the very fact that Republicans needed to be convinced not to purposefully shut down the government, once considered an extreme measure, was seen as further evidence of systemic dysfunction in the ruling class.

And the report is unlikely to end the GOP’s internal debate over shutting down the government. On Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who like Lee is a Tea Party stalwart, insisted a shutdown wouldn’t be bad for the party, adding, “If there is ever a time to defeat ObamaCare, it is now.”

2 Comments

Filed under 113th Congress, Obamacare

Shaking Up CNN

Mario Piperni channeled my thoughts on CNN’s programming and the media in general.

More on CNN’s  problems can be found here.

Mario Piperni

CNN doesn’t need a shake up in their leadership, they need a shake up in their programming.

I’m tired of all the partisan hacks — including John King and Wolf Blizter. About the only show CNN has that’s worth watching is GPS. State of the Union is better with Candy than John King, but it’s just another forum for the political hacks to spread more BS.

Here’s some free advice CNN.

How about educating the public on the facts contained in the bills and the consequences of them by the non-partisan wonks who can report facts not lies and spin.  Instead of having the politicos smearing them with their ideological spin, how about interviewing those who study the bills for their impact from, say, the Congressional Research Service — you know those really smart folks who write up the reports that apparently many members of Congress don’t bother to read?  Or someone from the Government Accountability Office, or some non-partisan think tanks that actually understand the impact a bill will have?

Let’s go behind the scenes and expose the back room deals and fund-raising meet-ups with the lobbyists!  Let’s raise some questions about the abuse of power, whether it be by Democrats or Republicans.

If we want D.C. to be cleaned up, then we need the media to get out of bed with the political class and start doing some real reporting. Who cares what the pols have to say — when it’s spin, CYA, or out and out lies? I’m tired of it — I love Rachel cause she goes after all of them with real facts and she takes on Democrats and Republicans.  She’d spend more time on the Democrats, if the GOP didn’t give her so much fodder.

If you want me to tune back in, ditch the pundits, commentators, politicos and start dishing out the truth and nothing but the unvarnished truth. We’ll never straighten out the mess we’re in, until we can agree on the facts and demand solutions.

Example — instead of all the spin about the health care bill, they should have brought in people who study the problems. There was a great white paper The Cost Of Lack Of Health Insurance by the College of American Physicians and by  who wrote The Cost Conundrum in the New Yorker. No one ever asked them a single question to explain the problems and discuss solutions.

The media is pathetic. Cronkite would cry.  And to my shortened post on this over at HuffPo, one response was “Murrow would puke.”

The American public is craving honesty in D.C. — how about setting a new trend CNN?

2 Comments

Filed under Mario Piperni

Media Matters: The Lies of James O’Keefe

I don’t like this guy at all.  What he and Andrew Breitbart did to ACORN is unforgivable in my opinion.  O’Keefe needs to be called out on all of his bogus videos.

Media Matters

CNN reports that conservative activist James O’Keefe attempted to “punk” a CNN reporter by luring her onto a boat “filled with sexually explicit props” and recording the encounter, a charge O’Keefe denies. If true, the alleged deception would be the latest in a string of lies and falsehoods O’Keefe has used to push his ideological agenda.

James O’Keefe: A history of lies, falsehoods, and deception

O’Keefe falsely claimed that ACORN tapes were a “nationwide ACORN child prostitution investigation” that implicated many ACORN employees. Discussing the ACORN videos created by O’Keefe and fellow conservative activist Hannah Giles, O’Keefe falsely claimed that the video campaign was a “nationwide ACORN child prostitution investigation” implicating many ACORN employees. But in at least six of the eight heavily edited videos produced by O’Keefe and Giles and distributed by Andrew Breitbart, either the activists did not clearly tell the ACORN employees that they were planning to engage in child prostitution; or the ACORN employees refused to help them or apparently deliberately misled them; or ACORN employees contacted the police following their visit.

Law enforcement officials criticize O’Keefe’s “highly selective editing of reality.” Three separate investigations cleared ACORN workers of any criminal wrongdoing, and a December 22, 2009 report by the Congressional Research Service stated that California and Maryland criminal laws may have been violated by the undisclosed taping done by O’Keefe. California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr. pointed out that the videotapes were “severely edited by O’Keefe.” In a statement, Brown said, “The evidence illustrates … that things are not always as partisan zealots portray them through highly selective editing of reality. Sometimes a fuller truth is found on the cutting room floor.” Likewise, a March 1 New York Daily News article reported that “a law enforcement source” said of O’Keefe and Giles: “They edited the tape to meet their agenda.” A March 2 New York Post article, headlined “ACORN set up by vidiots: DA,” reported of O’Keefe and Giles’ ACORN tapes: “Many of the seemingly crime-encouraging answers were taken out of context so as to appear more sinister, sources said.”

Breitbart and O’Keefe withheld exculpatory LA ACORN video for two months. For more than two months after Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com website began posting videos in which O’Keefe and Giles posed as a pimp and prostitute in ACORN offices, O’Keefe and his cohorts withheld video that directly contradicted what they said the videos showed. In September 2009, Giles and Big Government editor-in-chief Mike Flynn had both falsely claimed that every ACORN office O’Keefe and Giles visited had offered to help them. Also during September 2009, both Breitbart and O’Keefe were asked directly by reporters whether any ACORN offices had refused to help; Breitbart and O’Keefe chose not to disclose the existence of a tape that showed at least one ACORN worker who refused to help. In a video released November 16, 2009, O’Keefe finally acknowledged that a Los Angeles ACORN worker they filmed in August 2009 “would not assist us obtain a house for our illegal activities.”

O’Keefe pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal charge of entering Senate office under false pretenses. As reported by The Times-Picayune on May 26:

The four defendants who were arrested in January in Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office in the Hale Boggs federal complex in New Orleans pleaded guilty Wednesday morning in federal court to entering real property belonging to the United States under false pretenses.

Magistrate Judge Daniel Knowles III sentenced Stan Dai, Joseph Basel and Robert Flanagan each to two years probation, a fine of $1,500 and 75 hours of community service during their first year of probation.

James O’Keefe, as leader of the group and famous for posing as a pimp in ACORN office videos, received three years of probation, a fine of $1,500 and 100 hours of community service.

O’Keefe’s BigGovernment video omits relevant clip in claiming that “Census supervisors” were “systemically encouraging employees to falsify information on their time sheets.” In a ten-minute video posted on BigGovernment.com, O’Keefe stated that he had been hired as a Census worker and attended two days of training. He said, “What I found were Census supervisors systematically encouraging employees to falsify information on their time sheets.” The video includes clips of census leaders, who according to O’Keefe, “didn’t seem to have a problem with the discrepancy” of the hours recorded on his time sheet versus the hours he claimed to have worked. O’Keefe omitted a clip that was later aired by ABC, which shows a census leader emphasizing the importance of accurately reporting on miles driven by census enumerators. 

Friend of O’Keefe reportedly objected to past transcript distortion. A September 18, 2009, New York Times article reported that Liz Farkas, a college friend of O’Keefe’s while at Rutgers University, said she “grew disillusioned” after O’Keefe asked Farkas to help deceptively “edit the script” of a video involving a nurse at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Comments Off

Filed under James O'Keefe