First of all, let’s understand the United States Federal Budget and Debt Ceiling and their relationship (source Wikipedia):
“The Budget of the United States Government often begins as the President’s proposal to the U.S. Congress which recommends funding levels for the next fiscal year, beginning October 1. However, Congress is the body required by law to pass a budget annually and to submit the budget passed by both houses to the President for signature. Congressional decisions are governed by rules and legislation regarding the federal budget process. Budget committees set spending limits for the House and Senate committees and for Appropriations subcommittees, which then approve individual appropriations bills to allocate funding to various federal programs.”
“The United States debt ceiling or debt limit is a legislative restriction on the amount of national debt that can be issued by the Treasury. Because expenditures are authorized by separate legislation, the debt ceiling does not actually restrict deficits. In effect, it can only restrain the Treasury from paying for expenditures that have already been incurred.”
- The President submits a recommended budget for funding of the government to Congress
- Congress is required by law to pass a budget and send it to the President to sign
- Congress utilizes budget committees to set spending limits on the House, Senate and Appropriations subcommittees
- Congress votes on the budget and sends the approved budget to the President
- The debt ceiling is the total amount of money the government can borrow to pay its obligations
There has always been debates (dickering) between parties when it came to submitting and getting a federal budget passed. However, after much debate, compromises are made and the details are worked out and a budget is passed. At times, when the debt ceiling was going to be met or exceeded, Congress would debate controlling spending; then approve extending the debt ceiling so the government could pay their bills (as approved in the budget). They all understood the alternative; if not approved, the government would default on paying their obligations.
In 1979, noting the potential problems of hitting a default, Tip O’Neill, the legendary Speaker of the House, gave Dick Gephardt the assignment to pass the debt ceiling [increase]. As a result, Dick Gephardt imposed the “Gephardt Rule,” a Congressional rule that deemed the debt ceiling raised when a budget was passed. This resolved the contradiction in voting for appropriations but not voting to fund them later. The rule stood until the overzealous Republican Congress, led by Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, repealed it in 1995.
The United States federal government shutdowns of 1995 and 1996 were the result of conflicts between Democratic President Bill Clinton and the Newt Gingrich-led Republican Congress over funding for Medicare, education, the environment, and public health in the 1996 federal budget. When Clinton refused to cut the budget in the way Republicans wanted, Gingrich threatened to refuse to raise the debt limit, which would have caused the United States Treasury to suspend funding other portions of the government to avoid putting the country in default. The government shut down after Clinton vetoed the spending bill the Republican Party-controlled Congress sent him. The federal government of the United States put government workers on furlough and suspended non-essential services from November 14 through November 19, 1995 and from December 16, 1995 to January 6, 1996, for a total of 21 days (source Wikipedia).
The more things change…the more they stay the same.
Current Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and his totally dysfunctional Republican political extremists have now threatened to refuse to raise the debt limit, holding the American people and the United States economy hostage unless their demands are met; creating yet another Republican-made crisis. Welcome to the United States federal government shutdown crisis of 2013. Sound familiar?
So, thanks to John Boehner and his totally dysfunctional Republican political extremists that has forced the federal government of the United States to shut down, the government has had to put government workers on furlough and suspended non-essential services…AGAIN.
To make matters worse, this follows on the heels of the sequestration enacted March 1, 2013. Sequestration has already triggered $85 billion in cuts with another $109 billion in cuts coming in January, 2014. These deep cuts are already damaging the economy and causing job losses. Do you know what caused the sequestration? It started with the 2011 standoff over the U.S. debt ceiling. Once again, Republicans in Congress attempted to use the debt ceiling as leverage for deficit reduction, demanding spending cuts in exchange for giving the Obama administration the needed legal headroom to pay the federal government’s obligations (remember the fiscal cliff). The delay in raising the debt ceiling led to the first ever downgrade in the federal government’s credit rating. The credit downgrade and debt ceiling debacle contributed to the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 2,000 points in late July and August. Sound familiar?
And what are these totally dysfunctional Republican political extremists demanding in exchange for releasing the hostages? To defund the Affordable Care Act (i.e. Obamacare).
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or “Obamacare“, is a United States federal statute passed by the House and Senate and then signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. On June 28, 2012, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the ACA law.
Do you think John Boehner and his totally dysfunctional Republican political terrorists care about all the common people getting laid off and/or hurt by all these cuts? Of course not! First of all, they are not impacted because the government workers that are least deserving of a paycheck…is Congress. Yet, they continue to be paid their $174,000 salary plus benefits. Of course, John Boehner himself deemed Congress’s private gym an “essential service” and remains open during the shutdown.
So what’s the end game here? To make President Obama fail.
Their goal from day one was to make his presidency a failure, regardless of the costs and economic damage to the country. It’s all about political gamesmanship, deflection and theatrics. One of the major tactics they use is to manufacture continual crises. The Republicans want to distract and mislead the people from what’s really happening. They are afraid that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will be a success, thus rendering President Obama a success.
To this point, John Boehner and his totally dysfunctional Republican political terrorists have brought a vote to the floor of the House over FORTY (40) times to repeal and/or defund the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). It’s not like the country has any real problems they should be addressing.
This is why, according to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, disapproval of Congress has hit an all-time high of 83 percent. Do they care? No.
And now that President Obama has stood his ground and made it perfectly clear that he will “not negotiate” over the debt ceiling; Mitch McConnell and his Republican cronies in the Senate are now proposing severe cuts not only to the Affordable Care Act, but to Medicare and Social Security – and threatening to default on our debt and sabotage our economy if they don’t get their way. Sound familiar? It never ends when dealing with blackmailers. Yet they cry “foul” because President Obama refuses to negotiate paying their ransom requests.
Any doubt why our economy is faltering? Do you remember any of these issues or shutdowns during the Bush years with his unfunded, back-to-back, endless wars? All put on the credit card and being paid for by the Obama administration.
We have a saying where I work: “We will hold those responsible…responsible!”
So, I am holding the Republican Party, which has morphed into political terrorists, responsible for deliberately stagnating our country’s economy and making our government so dysfunctional for the past five years. All because they want President Obama to fail.