Many Republicans are serious politicians who understand how the government process works. Several Republicans aren’t serious politicians and just want to make political hay. I guess that there are people back home who are cheering a government shutdown. This is the problem with the way that many Republicans are elected. They are completely supported by single issue folks. These single issue folks may have no other interests or thoughts except deep cuts in government spending. They can’t see the bigger picture because their rage is stoked by what they see is the root of all evil – the government.
From Political Animal:
The problem, of course, is that some lawmakers appear a little too eager to score political points, and deliberately avoid being practical.
Linda Bilmes, a professor at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, led a budget seminar for nearly 40 House freshmen before the start of the new Congress.
She believes freshman conservatives are itching to make a dramatic statement by shutting down the government.
“It was clear there was a group of new members who in my mind were more concerned with making statements than working with their own leadership to solve the nation’s problems,” said Bilmes. “Nothing I’ve seen in the last week changes my mind.
“There are certainly some elements within the Tea Party group that are looking to make a dramatic statement.”
Just so we’re clear, this is a sentiment that suggests Republicans would shut down the government, not just as a result of an irreconcilable dispute with the White House, but because GOP lawmakerswant to shut down the government.
On a related note, House Republicans had to know this was coming, but the White House went ahead and made the threat formal today — President Obama would have no choice but to veto the GOP’s proposed cuts for the remainder of the fiscal year, if they reached the Oval Office.
“If the president is presented with a bill that undermines critical priorities or national security through funding levels or restrictions, contains earmarks, or curtails the drivers of long-term economic growth and job creation while continuing to burden future generations with deficits, the president will veto the bill,” the White House said in a statement. It added that while the administration supports reducing spending to cut the deficit, “the administration does not support deep cuts that will undermine our ability to out-educate, out-build, and out-innovate the rest of the world.”
Just as a reminder, something has to do be done by March 4 — 16 days from today — or the shutdown will begin.
I have just a few items that like to talk about:
- 53 hours. It was 53 hours from a homeless veteran’s report to authorities that a suspicious car was on fire to authorities pulling Faisal Shahzad off a plane, headed to Dubai, at John F. Kennedy Airport. Over the past several years, we’ve heard lots of criticism of the “law enforcement” approach to terrorism. This approach appeared to have worked very well. There are some Americans who say they love the Constitution. At times of crisis, however, these same Americans sometimes seem to be the first ones who want to throw the Constitution in the trash. After word of Faisal Shahzad capture was leaked to the press, John McCain was stating that reading this naturalized American citizen his Miranda rights would be a mistake. A mistake? Does the United States Constitution not apply to all American citizens? If so, then there was no mistake. There have been times over the last 200 years when we have seen our Constitution selectively applied. Only certain citizens have, at times, been billed “American enough” for all of our laws to apply to them. It is clearly time that the Constitution applies to everyone who is an American citizen. If you’d like to discuss whether he should have been made a naturalized citizen, that’s another discussion. The What the Heck Were They Thinking? Award goes to a few Senators who want to strip Shahzad’s citizenship before he has been tired and convicted. After trial, the Senate can do what they want, but now, before trial, they should be quiet and let the wheels of justice turn. Congratulations to New York and the Obama administration for quickly capturing this terrorist. This near miss should show us once again how vulnerable we can be. As a free society, we are going to be vulnerable to those who want to do us harm.
- The immigration law signed by the Arizona governor several weeks ago is an excellent example of the overreach of government. Where are the tea baggers now? The law basically states that members of law enforcement should and must stop anyone they suspect of being in this country illegally. There’s been lots of finger-pointing from both sides about immigration. Both sides declare that the other side is weak on immigration. What would happen if Arizona went about this a different way? What would happen if they passed a law which reinforced current federal law? What if the law stated that any business that hires illegal workers (economic refugees) will be subject to a fine up to $100,000 per economic refugee and the cost of deportation of that economic refugee? What would the reaction have been? Well, there would be outrage from the business community. The Chamber of Commerce would’ve gone nuts and declared that the Arizona government was declaring war on business. Economic refugees come to United States for a reason. They don’t come here to stand on corners. They don’t come here to bus tables. They come here to make more money than they could make at home. If we were to strengthen our borders and enforce the laws we have, our immigration problem would go away.
- Finally, we need to fix Wall Street. Now, do not let your eyes glaze over. Focus. The guys on Wall Street want us to leave Wall Street alone. Like a patronizing teacher, they are patting us on our collective head and asking us to sit in the corner and be quiet. They want our eyes to glaze over at the sound of Credit Default Swaps. Three things got us into this mess. 1) Unregulated nonbank lenders 2) Low or no interest rates 3) Rating agencies stamping AAA on stuff that smelled like junk. So, to fix this we need a bill that is going to fix the rating agencies. We need to regulate mortgage lenders. Finally, we need to fix the too-big-to-fail-guys. Regulation is not going to fix everything. A few banks (six, to be precise – Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) own assests totalling over 60% of our GDP. I’m sorry. That’s too much money in the hands of six banks. These banks are currently free to do whatever they please because they know they are too big to fail. No matter how much these guys screwed up we would have to bail them out in order to prevent our economy from completely imploding. These guys need to be cut down to a size so that we, the American taxpayers, can live with them. This is a must. So, when you are listening to the news in the coming weeks, listen to see if Congress is going to break up the big banks, regulate the mortgage industry and fix the rating agencies. It’s the least Congress should do.
I guess the biggest news from yesterday was John Edwards’ endorsement of Senator Barack Obama. Edwards gave a GREAT speech.
- Nothing but ugly news is coming out of China. More and more pictures showing terrible destruction. I haven’t read any estimates of property damage but the death total continues to rise. There is significant damage to several dams which have put several cities in more danger.
- Cindy McCain sold off over $2 million in Sudanese investments. But, I prefer not to beat up Ms. McCain for being rich or even inheriting huge sums of money.
- On the other hand, I don’t mind beating up Senator John McCain for having the most incoherent Iraq policy. Just three months ago, McCain accused those who wanted to pull out of Iraq of not understanding military principles. I guess he doesn’t understand those same principles. Today, his campaign announced a plan to have most troops home by 2013. If I didn’t know better, I would say that this looks almost like a timetable.
- News from Myanmar is still awful. Farmers may miss harvest time.
- David Broder of the Washington Post has been the wise sage of journalism for a long time. Today, he waxes on West Virginia and Obama. He compares Tuesday’s contest to John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey back in 1960. Although the comparison is interesting, it has nothing to do with what happened on Tuesday. Obama made a decision not to spend $15 to $30 million to educate the voters of West Virginia. Obama would have probably still lost the primary even with the expenditure, just by less. Wouldn’t the money be better spent on Oregon where it will give him a lead in elected delegates and the popular vote that can not be over come?
- Dan Froomkin had a great article yesterday on Bush’s Politico interview. Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment was on the interview.