American Elephants

A Government Shutdown? Much Ado About Nothing. by The Elephant's Child

The media, always ready to do the bidding of the Obama administration, continues to shriek about a government shutdown — as if a shutdown were unusual. It isn’t. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) even stretched mightily to claim that a shutdown would be “as dangerous as the break-up of the Union before the Civil War.” Mild. Harry Reid has called us “anarchists” and the president’s communications director Dan Pfieffer said Congressional Republicans were “terrorists with bombs strapped to their chests” in an apparent contest to come up with the worst insult.

— There have been 17 funding gaps since 1977. Under federal law, operations and services continue for those essential for “the safety of human life or the protection of property” as well as those programs funded through multiyear or permanent appropriations.

— Crucial government services and benefits continue without interruption.  A 1995 legal opinion said “the federal government will not be truly ‘shut down’… because Congress has itself provided that some activities of Government should continue.”

— Social Security and veterans benefits will continue to be paid. 80 % of Social Security Administration employees kept working in 1995 because they were considered ‘essential’ to making benefit payments.

— National Security, including the conduct of foreign relations, is considered an essential function.

— Food and Drug safety would not be affected.

— Air Traffic Control and other transportation safety operations are considered essential, and TSA agents will continue to search you.

— Federal law enforcement at all levels will continue to operate, FBI, Border Patrol, Bureau of Prisons all stay open and functioning.

— The Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department continue to function, and the IRS keeps on collecting money.

— Emergency and Disaster services are essential services in the case of hurricanes or tornadoes.

— Federal employees who are not considered essential would be furloughed. Based on past examples this is a small number compared to the federal workforce.

Not much is shut down. Museums may not be open, Parks may be officially closed, but it really isn’t a big deal, contrary to the horrified shrieks of the Media. It’s just politics as usual.

The Daily Demagogue Report: Obama Says He Doesn’t Have to Offer Anything by The Elephant's Child

Here is Senator Barack Obama explaining his 2006 vote against raising the debt limit.

From Senator Obama’s Floor Speech, March 20, 2006:

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

Senator Obama was urging Congress not to tolerate an increase that would bring the debt ceiling to $9 trillion. Under President Obama, the debt ceiling has raised to $14.3 trillion. Without counting most of the unfunded liabilities, the national debt is now calculated to be nearing $16.7 trillion, and increasing by about $1.86 billion per day.  But things often look different from the other side of the fence.

Today the president said:

So Americans who’ve lived for years in some cases with the fear that one illness could send them into bankruptcy, Americans who’ve been priced out of the market just because they’ve been sick once, they’ll finally be able to afford coverage — quality coverage — many of them for the first time in their lives.

Some of them may be sick as we speak.  And this is their best opportunity to get some security and some relief.  Tens of thousands of Americans die every single year because they don’t have access to affordable health care.  Despite this, Republicans have said that if we lock these Americans out of affordable health care for one more year — if we sacrifice the health care of millions of Americans — then they’ll fund the government for a couple more months.  Does anybody truly believe that we won’t have this fight again in a couple more months?  Even at Christmas?

So here’s the bottom line:  I’m always willing to work with anyone of either party to make sure the Affordable Care Act works better, to make sure our government works better.  I’m always willing to work with anyone to grow our economy faster, or to create new jobs faster, to get our fiscal house in order for the long run.  I’ve demonstrated this time and time again, oftentimes to the consternation of my own party.

It would be refreshing if the president could speak honestly, without demagoging an issue. I was curious about the president’s constant repetition of the idea that everyone is only minutes away from medical bankruptcy. This is a difficult subject because bankruptcy laws are different in each state.

An essay from The American magazine from the American Enterprise Institute says : “There is no evidence to indicate that a government run healthcare system in the United States will reduce personal bankruptcies.”

Democrats are trying to push the idea that everybody is going bankrupt because of a sudden immense medical bill. They are also assuming that bankruptcy is a very bad thing. Yet our bankruptcy laws are designed to protect people from going off to the poorhouse, as they once did. There’s a big difference between medical expenses being a factor in a bankruptcy and medical expense being the cause.  When someone has to go through bankruptcy because they cannot pay their bills, medical bills might be just one of the bills. Democrats will always stretch to reach for the scariest statistic. A comparative analysis of Canadian and U.S. statistics suggests that bankruptcy statistics are being exaggerated and distorted for political purposes.

An article by Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute, points out President Obama’s claim that the cost of health care causes a bankruptcy every 30 seconds.

But the alleged link between health costs and bankruptcy is about as real as the tooth fairy. The overwhelming body of research shows that medical costs play little or no role in the vast majority of U.S. personal bankruptcies. …

The study also reviewed Warren’s early research on medical bankruptcies and found that medical spending was a factor in no more than 17 percent of U.S. bankruptcies.

A detailed analysis by The Atlantic’s Megan McArdle further discredited the link between bankruptcy and medical expense. She found that Warren’s team classified a filing as a medical bankruptcy whenever unpaid medical bills were resolved through bankruptcy proceedings — even if other debts were far bigger contributors to insolvency.

“Tens of thousands of Americans die every year because they don’t have access to affordable health care.”  Uh huh. “I’m always willing to work with anyone of either party to make sure the Affordable Care Act works better, to make sure our government works better.” Award that man multiple Pinocchios. Did he not just say that he “will not negotiate with the House?”and “I don’t have to offer anything.” Going to have a big conference with the president of the country that is supporting world terrorism though.

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