Posts Tagged United States Congress

Eugene Robinson: Unemployment benefits, the cruelest cut of all – The Washington Post


Eugene Robinson

Eugene Robinson

Opinion Writer

Unemployment benefits, the cruelest cut of all

By Eugene RobinsonPublished: December 30 

To 1.3 million jobless Americans: The Republican Party wishes you a Very Unhappy New Year!

It would be one thing if there were a logical reason to cut off unemployment benefits for those who have been out of work the longest. But no such rationale exists. On both economic and moral grounds, extending benefits for the long-term unemployed should have received an automatic, bipartisan vote in both houses of Congress.

It didn’t. Nothing is automatic and bipartisan anymore, not with today’s radicalized GOP on the scene. In this case, a sensible and humane policy option is hostage to bruised Republican egos and the ideological myth of “makers” vs. “takers.”

The result is a cruel blow to families that are already suffering. On Saturday, benefits were allowed to expire for 1.3 million people who have been unemployed more than six months. These are precisely the jobless who will suffer most from a cutoff, since they have been scraping by on unemployment checks for so long that their financial situations are already precarious, if not dire.

Extending unemployment benefits is something that’s normally done in a recession, and Republicans correctly point out that we are now in a recovery. But there was nothing normal about the Great Recession, and there is nothing normal about the Not-So-Great Recovery.

We are emerging from the worst economic slump since the Depression, and growth has been unusually — and painfully — slow. Only in the past few months has the economy shown real signs of life. Job growth is improving but still sluggish, withunemployment hovering at 7 percent — not counting the millions of Americans who have given up looking for work.

An extension of long-term unemployment benefits should have been part of the budget deal between Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) but wasn’t. Democrats tried to offer an amendment that would extend the benefits for three months, and they identified savings elsewhere in the budget to pay for it. But House Speaker John Boehner refused to allow a vote on the proposal.

In terms of economic policy, this makes no sense. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that extending long-term unemployment for a full year would cost about $25 billion, which would add to the deficit. But the measure would boost economic growth by two-tenths of 1 percent and create 200,000 jobs. Given that interest rates are at historical lows, and given that the imperative right now is to create growth and jobs, refusing to extend the benefits is counterproductive as well as cruel.

Sadly, cruelty is the point.

The Republican far right perceived the budget deal as a political defeat — even though it caps spending for social programs at levels that many Democrats consider appallingly low — because it does not slash Medicare and Social Security. For some in the GOP, accepting an unemployment extension would have been too much to swallow, simply because it was favored by Democrats.

For some other Republicans, unemployment isn’t really about spending, growth, deficits or even politics. They see it as a moral issue.

To this way of thinking, extended benefits coddle the unemployed and encourage them to loll around the house, presumably eating bonbons, rather than pound the streets for any crumbs of work they can find, however meager.

This view is consistent with the philosophy that Mitt Romney privately espoused during his failed presidential campaign. It sees a growing number of Americans as parasitic takers who luxuriate in their dependence on government benefits — 47 percent was the figure Romney came up with. The makers who create the nation’s wealth are not really helping the down-and-out by giving them financial support to make it through tough times, this philosophy holds. Much better medicine would be a kick in the pants.

I wonder if these Ayn Rand ideologues have ever actually met a breadwinner who has gone without a job for more than six months. I wonder if they know that some jobless men and women — and I know this is hard to believe — don’t have well-to-do parents or even a trust fund to fall back on. I wonder if they understand that unemployment benefits don’t even cover basic expenses, much less bonbons.

The Republican establishment doesn’t want this to be a campaign issue for Democrats, so it’s quite likely that the benefits will eventually be extended. Until then, more than 1 million households are being made to suffer privation and anxiety — for no good reason at all. Thanks for nothing, GOP.

 Eugene Robinson: Unemployment benefits, the cruelest cut of all – The Washington Post.

 

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Confirmed: This is the worst Congress ever – The Week


Confirmed: This is the worst Congress ever

So say the American people — and history

By Jon Terbush | December 26, 20133

 

Time for a "do better" New Year's resolution?

Time for a “do better” New Year’s resolution? (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

 

Though millions of Americans received Christmas gifts Wednesday, none got the one thing just about everybody wanted. No, not a new iPhone: A new Congress.

Two-thirds of Americans in a CNN poll released Thursday said the current Congress was the worst one in their lifetimes. And it wasn’t just one party or demographic who felt that way.

“That sentiment exists among all demographic and political subgroups. Men, women, rich, poor, young, old — all think this year’s Congress has been the worst they can remember,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

Three cheers for bipartisanship!

Meanwhile, three-fourths of respondents said lawmakers had “done nothing to address the country’s problems” through the first year of the 113th Congress. That gets at what’s primarily to blame for Congress’ horrible image: Lawmakers didn’t do much of anything this year, and the few things they did do were spectacularly infuriating. Heck, one of Congress’ most notable actions was failing to pass a bill to fund the government and, as a result, shuttering Washington for two weeks.

It’s not just a skewed, subjective view of congressional inaction either. The 113th Congress is statistically on track to be one of the least productive in history.

The 113th Congress passed only 66 laws in its first year, according to GovTrack. That was the lowest tally in four decades, or as far back as GovTrack has reliable data. Worse, only 58 of those bills became law, and many of them did nothing more than name post offices.

Meanwhile, many enormously popular bills fizzled. Nine in ten Americans supported tougher background checks for gun purchases, though Congress spiked gun control legislation. Two-thirds of Americans supported the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill, but the House refused to take it up this year.

So yes, people aren’t too thrilled with how Congress has been functioning, a sentiment that’s been made clear throughout the year. Polls have found Congress less popular than dog turds and cockroaches, and in November, Congress’ approval rating fell to an all-time low of nine percent, according to Gallup.

Don’t count on that trend turning around any time soon either. Sure, Congress just passed a bipartisan budget agreement before fleeing Washington for the holidays, but that compromise was relatively tiny, and there are other major showdowns looming, including yet another one over the debt ceiling. Oh, and 2014 is a midterm election year, which should make lawmakers even more tepid toward major action.

In other words, the 113th Congress is already one of the most unpopular and least-productive in history, and it’s probably only going to get worse.

 Confirmed: This is the worst Congress ever – The Week.

 

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More Hunger for the Poorest Americans – NYTimes.com


EDITORIAL

More Hunger for the Poorest Americans

 

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Published: December 24, 2013

 

This is a harsh season for Americans struggling to afford food. Last month, the long lines at food pantries across the country grew longer with the expiration of the boost to food stamp benefit levels included in the 2009 economic stimulus plan. Those lines are apt to grow even longer thanks to the refusal of House Republicans to renew extended unemployment benefits as part of the recent budget deal.

 

And if that isn’t sufficient pain for the neediest, Congress is getting ready to make another big cut to nutrition aid when it returns in early January.

Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat of Michigan and the chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Representative Frank Lucas, a Republican of Oklahoma who leads the House Agriculture Committee, are close to a deal on a farm bill that is said to include an increase in crop insurance subsidies for farmers and a more than $8 billion cut in food stamp benefits for the poor over the next 10 years.

That cut, about double the one contained in the Senate version of the farm bill, is more modest than the devastating $40 billion reduction in the farm bill passed by House Republicans that would have denied benefits to about 3.8 million people in 2014, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The House bill would also impose drug-testing, work requirements and other conditions, which are not expected to be included in the compromise bill. Still, the compromise deal, driven by the Republican obsession with cutting the food stamps program, will leave many Americans worse off than before.

The deal being finalized would not kick people off the rolls, but it would end a practice used in some 16 states to boost food stamp benefits. That change would reduce benefits for 850,000 of the nation’s poorest households, according the Congressional Budget Office, with the cut falling particularly hard on seniors, disabled people and working-poor families with children.

The households affected currently receive higher food stamp benefits (on average around $90 a month) under a practice known as “heat-and-eat,” which is intended to prevent poor families from having to choose between heating fuel and food. States employing this practice trigger the increased food assistance by providing selected households a nominal amount of fuel aid (as little as $1 per year), regardless of whether they actually pay utility bills.

This gaming of the system has had the positive effect of giving some hard-pressed families in high-cost areas like New York City help with their overall household budget, but it has also provided a talking point for critics bent on gutting the food stamps program.

The proposed Senate-House deal would require states to pay $20 a year to trigger the higher benefits. Some states will likely decline to increase their subsidies to that amount, so to achieve the bill’s projected savings benefits would have to be taken away from many poor families.

The right fix would be to take any savings and devote it along with other new financing to make sure basic food needs of the poorest families are met. Some Democratic lawmakers and antihunger advocates say the $8 billion cut being contemplated in the compromise deal is necessary to get the food stamps program reauthorized by both the Senate and House and that keeping the cuts to that level would be a political defeat for right-wing Republicans, who sought to do much more damage. That may be true, but it’s not much consolation for people lining up at food pantries because their inadequate monthly food stamps allotment has run out.

 More Hunger for the Poorest Americans – NYTimes.com.

 

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How to help the long-term unemployed: 5 theories – The Week


How to help the long-term unemployed:
5 theories
Just in time for the holidays, Congress is abandoning those who have been out of work longest
The bipartisan budget deal will leave a wide swath of unemployed Americans with less financial help.
The bipartisan budget deal will leave a wide swath of unemployed Americans with less financial help. (T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)
J

ust in time for the holidays, Congress is abandoning the long-term unemployed, said Matthew O’Brien at The Atlantic. Thanks to last week’s budget deal, 1.3 million workers who have been unemployed for more than six months will see their benefits expire on Dec. 28. Another 800,000 will have their aid cut in the next few months. Conservatives love this move, of course. “They think the only reason someone couldn’t find a job today is if they’re lazy — or addicted to drugs — so we just need to kick them off the dole to make them less lazy.” But such “social Darwinism masquerading as economics” ignores the fact that this economic recovery “still feels like a recession to most people” — not least because there are still three jobless people for every opening.

Indeed, if there’s a word to describe the plight of the long-term unemployed, it’s “screwed,” saidMatthew Yglesias at Slate. Most of them “probably won’t be able to find jobs ever” because companies don’t want to hire anyone who has been out of work for more than a few months. “The country failed these people first by letting the labor market stay so slack for so long that they became unhireable, and now we’re going to fail them again.”

In fact, extending benefits yet again would be the height of cruelty, said The Wall Street Journalin an editorial. “Far more than another government check,” the jobless need the U.S. economy to create more jobs. And that simply won’t happen if employers and states remain saddled with “higher job-killing payroll taxes” to pay for extended benefits. Back in 2009, when the Obama administration extended these benefits to up to 99 weeks, unemployment was at 10 percent; do we need to extend them again now that it’s seven percent and we’re in a recovery “that President Obama often hails as miraculous”?

It’s about time we woke up to the way “generous unemployment benefits may prevent jobs from opening up,” said John Carney at CNBC. Employers know they have to pay significantly more than the benefit of roughly $300 a week to get new hires to show up; if they can’t pay those wages, they don’t bother adding jobs. The answer isn’t to extend more benefits, but to reform them “so that they aren’t job-destroying.”

Some reforms certainly “merit a try,” said Bloomberg. We could streamline our retraining programs and help people pay for moving to take a job. But in the meantime, extending benefits for another year would “directly relieve the distress” of people who want to work, at a reasonable price in government spending. When the U.S. has “jobs for all who want them,” it will be far easier to make the case against extending a hand. But “the U.S. isn’t there yet, not by a long way.”

How to help the long-term unemployed: 5 theories – The Week.

 

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Poll: Americans Divided Over What Wild Animal They Would Like To See Congress Mauled By : The New Yorker


The Borowitz Report

 

OCTOBER 12, 2013

POLL: AMERICANS DIVIDED OVER WHAT WILD ANIMAL THEY WOULD LIKE TO SEE CONGRESS MAULED BY

POSTED BY ANDY BOROWITZ

borowitz-grizzly-bear-290.jpg

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—As the partial government shutdown grinds on into its twelfth day, Americans remain deeply divided over what kind of wild animal they would most like to see Congress mauled by, according to a new poll released today.

While a majority of Americans say they would enjoy seeing Congress torn limb from limb by a ferocious bear, there is disagreement over which species of bear would be best suited for that assignment.

When asked, “What kind of bear would do the best job of savaging Congress with its fearsome paws?,” Americans gave grizzly bears the highest job-approval rating, followed by polar bears, and by brown bears in a distant third.

But the poll showed that there was also strong support for the idea of Congress being set upon by a pack of rapacious animals, with rabid hyenas the first choice of many respondents, followed by feral dogs and cats.

While insatiable, bloodthirsty mammals were most often cited as the animals Americans would like to see eviscerate Congress, there was significant support for another scenario, involving Congress being consumed by a swarm of predatory insects.

Fifteen per cent of those surveyed “strongly agreed” with the statement, “Being torn limb from limb by a grizzly bear or devoured by a pack of rabid hyenas is too good for these people. They should be eaten, very slowly, by a colony of hungry fire ants. Yes, that’s it—fire ants. That would be amazing.”

 Poll: Americans Divided Over What Wild Animal They Would Like To See Congress Mauled By : The New Yorker.

 

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Government by Tantrum by Michael Reagan


MICHAEL REAGAN

Government by Tantrum

 Making Sense, by Michael Reagan

“Waaaaa! You’re not playing fair!”

“Waaaaa! You’re going to bankrupt America!”

“Waaaaa! You guys started it!”

The crybabies in Washington are at it again.

Arguing, name-calling and throwing heated rhetoric around like “extortion” and “blow the whole thing up,” our so-called leaders are acting like out-of-control little kids in a sandbox.

138544 600 Government by Tantrum cartoons

Emad Hajjaj / Cagle Cartoons

They haven’t begun hitting each other over the head with chairs or waving weapons around on the Senate floor, but give them time.

It’s government by tantrum again. It’s government by threat and scare tactic and selective shutdown of federal programs.

It’s government by and for the people in government, instead of government by and for the people who elected them.

It’s the petty, partisan kind of government we’ve been getting for too long and the kind we can’t afford and don’t deserve.

And it’s time for the bums in Congress and the president to quit trying to score political points over the debt ceiling, and start acting like responsible adults.

The House and the Senate need to get their legislative acts together.

They need to pass the 13 appropriations bills like they’re supposed to, negotiate their differences in conference committees and then do the job they were elected to do — pass the darn legislation.

We all know Washington is not going to let the U.S. government default on Oct. 17, so let’s cut with the fear mongering and rhetoric.

All it does is make the markets fearful. It makes investors fearful. It makes retired people fearful.

By delaying and dithering and crybabying, our so-called leaders in Washington have made everyone in America nervous — and angry.

One reason the D.C. crowd can’t lead is because they’re so politically spineless. They can’t decide how to vote on anything important without reading a poll. I bet they don’t pick a tie to wear until they’ve consulted Gallup.

But leadership is not looking at polls. Leadership is leading.

My father was a leader. He went through six government shutdowns under Tip O’Neill. But Ronald Reagan led, and we came through the 1980s with a growing economy that benefitted all Americans.

We need leaders in Washington. We don’t need whiners. We don’t need fear-mongers.

We don’t need poll-watchers and wimps who can’t make a principled vote on issues of national importance like the debt ceiling, the budget or Obamacare.

If no one has the courage to stand up and lead in Washington, maybe we should default.

Maybe we need to show the rest of the world that America has finally hit bottom.

Maybe we should admit that we’ve finally become Europe or Greece. That we’ve finally become the United States of California.

All because we lack leadership.

As far as I can tell, most of the people in the United States are completely fed up with all the B.S. in D.C.

I think they’d agree with me that starting today the message from all of us to our federal politicians should be, “Get the job done or resign — all of you.”

 Government by Tantrum by Michael Reagan.

 

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Spouses of the furloughed, to Congress: Take my husband — please. – The Washington Post


Spouses of the furloughed, to Congress: Take them back — please.

 

By Monica Hesse, Published: October 8


Katherine Frey/The Washington Post - Jeff Gates, who is furloughed from his Smithsonian museum job, asked his wife, Susie Krasnican, to make a sign for him to wear on the Metro when he went to work the four hours before the partial government shutdown occurred last Tuesday. Now, a week later, she has made her own sign.

 

On Monday morning, Susie Krasnican of Silver Spring walked in on her husband, on the floor, goo-gooing at the cat. “He was using the new toy that our cat is completely fixated on” and making vacant cooing noises that she hadn’t heard since their teenage children were infants.“It’s hard to be sure,” Krasnican says, assessing her husband’s sudden feline communing. “But I feel that the furlough had to have contributed in some way.”

 

She told him — and here her husband, Jeff Gates, a Smithsonian employee, joyfully remembers the exact wording — she told him: Pre-shutdown, “you used to be so intellectual.”

Nationwide, 800,000 federal employees were affected by the government shutdown, worrying about jobs, back pay, a sense of purpose. Consider the collateral damage: This means there are approximately 800,000 spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, roommates or otherwise affected parties who have spent the past week worrying about furloughed loved ones. Whether they’re all right. Whether they’re watching all of the TiVo’d “Homeland” alone, when they are supposed to wait until tonight. What, exactly, they’re doing.

Congress, take my spouse back. Please.

“He’s taken pretty much all of the CDs off of the shelves,” E.L. Farris, an author in Northern Virginia, says of her husband, a lawyer who is among the shut down. She is chronicling the experience on her blog.

The moving of the CDs is part of a grand plot to arrange them by genre, then alphabetically, then by subgenre. “It’s becoming a very complicated plan,” Farris says. And it is accompanied by a parallel effort to organize their books according to the Dewey Decimal System.

Then there is “his whole escape plan,” she continues. Which is: After nine years of meaning to, Farris’s husband is compiling a first-class disaster preparedness kit. “He can finally find the time to get to Costco,” she explains. And so water bottles are piled in the basement. “You know those crank-up radios? We apparently need to get another one of those. And batteries. We have enough of those to light up the whole town.”

He is growing, she says, a furlough beard.

The furlough beard, that scourge of the furlough spouse. As the shutdown continues, the hair grows on the faces of housebound government employees around the country. It has become a movement, with a name: “Shaveless Shutdown continues to day 7,” a furloughed employee writes on Twitter. “If this doesn’t end soon, my wife may divorce me.”

The furloughed, according to their spouses, are sometimes not changing out of their pajamas until noon. They are eating all of the cereal or buying weird things for the house.

Some also are becoming industrious: finally cleaning out the storage room, picking up the kids from school, baking furlough desserts. Were it not for the uncertainty of it — the vagueness of when this will end, and whether back pay will come through before the next mortgage payment is due — it could be a lovely thing to have a furloughed spouse at home.

“It feels like an endless weekend,” says Krasnican, an artist who works from home. In good ways and bad. Her husband has been able to explore hobbies and pick up day-to-day slack around the house, but the ambiguity of the shutdown’s duration prevents him from tackling longer-term projects.

 

And then, of course, he’s talking to the cat.

“You’re not normally together as a couple during the day,” says Rob Maher, boyfriend to a furloughed government contractor. Romantic couples are typically sequestered away from each other for nine to 12 hours every day, locked in cubicles or home offices, free to engage in their daily routines without judgment.

Maher, for example, is a comedian; he works nights and then sleeps until 10 or 11 in the morning. His girlfriend, a government contractor, normally is out of the house by 6 a.m. Due to this schedule, their household has acquired a certain rhythm. Maher is typically in charge of housecleaning. But now that his girlfriend is home because of the shutdown, the natural order of the house has been disrupted. She also has begun cleaning. This is causing guilt and confusion. “If she’s cleaning in front of me, wait, does this mean that I should also be cleaning?” Maher asks. “Or did I not do a good enough job cleaning?”

And when he’s on Twitter, doing promotional stuff for his job, does she think he’s slacking off? Does she realize this is part of his work? “She’s at home, stressed about her future, and how am I helping? I’m making snarky comments online.”

Re: the stress. On Tuesday afternoon, House Republican leaders began pushing for debt-limit negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said his party would be open to negotiations if the House passed measures to reopen the government. President Obama called on Congress to vote and end the shutdown “right now.”

After eight full days of shutdown, is an end in sight?

“I definitely have the ideal furlough husband at home,” says Amy Lupold Bair, a social media marketer whose policy-analyst husband has been dominating household chores for the entirety of the shutdown. He is picking out outfits for their fourth-grade daughter, preparing snacks, assisting with homework — tasks that usually fall to Bair, because she works from home. He is assembling items for Goodwill. The boxes of uncertain contents stacked in the garage? He is unpacking them.

The boxes have been there how long?

“Since always!” Bair says. Since the day they bought their house three years ago and stuck them there.

He is bringing coffee and doughnuts to the office staff at their church, for a midday pick-me-up. He has begun to eye the leaf-laden gutters.

“We’ve joked that I’ve needed staffing for a very long time,” Bair says, so it’s been nice to have him at home.

However, she admits. However. “I can sense that he’s starting to get restless.”

Maybe it is time to get back to work.

 Spouses of the furloughed, to Congress: Take my husband — please. – The Washington Post.

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‘Just disgusting': Outrage after shutdown delays payment for families of fallen – U.S. News


‘Just disgusting': Outrage after shutdown delays payment for families of fallen

US Army

(Left to right) Pfc. Cody J. Patterson, Sgt. Patrick C. Hawkins, 1st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno and Special Agent Joseph M. Peters were killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan on Sunday.

By Andrea Mitchell and Erin McClam, NBC News

In what veterans groups call an outrageous slight after the ultimate sacrifice, the shuttered federal government is withholding a $100,000 payment normally wired to relatives of soldiers killed at war.

The payment, known as the death gratuity, is typically sent to families of the fallen within 36 hours to help them cover funeral costs or travel to meet the flag-draped coffins of their loved ones.

The families of five American service members killed over the weekend in Afghanistan have been notified that they will not receive the payment.

“Impacting grieving families when they are at their absolute weakest point is just disgusting,” said Joe Davis, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the largest organization of combat veterans in the United States.

“Veterans, military personnel and now their families are not to be used as leverage in this political game of blame,” he said. He called on leaders in Congress to “put the country ahead of their politics.”

Congress passed a law last week to pay the military during the shutdown. Pentagon officials studied it to assess whether it might cover the death gratuity and determined that it was not possible, a defense official told NBC News on Tuesday.

So the $100,000 payment, meant to tide families over until military survivor benefits kick in, was being withheld for relatives of the killed over the weekend in Afghanistan, four from the Army and one from the Marines.

“Unfortunately, as a result of the shutdown, we do not have the legal authority to make death gratuity payments at this time,” said Nate Christensen, a spokesman for the Defense Department. “However, we are keeping a close eye on those survivors who have lost loved ones serving in the Department of Defense.”

A defense official added that if the department were allowed to pay the death gratuity during the shutdown, it would be paid “with great relief.”

The Marine was Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Collins Jr., 19, of Milwaukee, who the Pentagon said died Saturday while supporting combat operations in Helmand province. The Pentagon said that the death was under investigation.

Four soldiers were killed Sunday by an improvised bomb in Zhari district: 1st Lt. Jennifer Moreno, 25, of San Diego; Sgt. Patrick Hawkins, 25, of Carlisle, Pa.; Sgt. Joseph Peters, 24, of Springfield, Mo.; and Pfc. Cody Patterson, 24, of Philomath, Ore.

The mother and brother of Peters, who was assigned to the Army’s 5th Military Police Battalion, based in Italy, said that they were too upset to talk. His step-grandfather, Peters Jerry, said that the sergeant was getting out of the military after this tour, so that he could be home more with his 20-month-old son.

“It will be devastating,” Jerry said of the delay in the death gratuity. He said that he blamed Republicans and the Tea Party.

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, pointed out that the country had never faced a war and a government shutdown at the same time. She also took note of the 12th anniversary, on Monday, of the war in Afghanistan — “a battle that barely brushes against most Americans’ lives.”

“When people realize that they can serve and fight for their country, but that their families will get an IOU until the shutdown is over, I think they’re just shocked,” she wrote in a post on the military news site Defense One.

Families of the fallen often use the death gratuity to cover funeral and travel expenses, she said, because military paychecks stop immediately upon the death of a soldier, and life insurance payments can take a week or more to arrive.

“The casualties of war do not stop just because Washington does,” she wrote.

The shutdown stretched into its second week Tuesday. Republicans again insisted on a one-year delay in the federal health care law known as Obamacare in talks on how to make a deal on the budget and restore the government to full operation.

 ‘Just disgusting': Outrage after shutdown delays payment for families of fallen – U.S. News.

 

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Boehner Advises Americans to Delay Getting Cancer for a Year : The New Yorker


The Borowitz Report

 

SEPTEMBER 29, 2013

BOEHNER ADVISES AMERICANS TO DELAY GETTING CANCER FOR A YEAR

POSTED BY ANDY BOROWITZ

john-boehner-obamacare-580.jpg

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a special Sunday radio address, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) delivered a health tip to the American people, advising them to delay getting cancer for a year.

“We’re involved in a high-stakes fight over our freedom from centralized government control of our lives,” said Mr. Boehner, speaking on behalf of his House colleagues. “You can do your part by delaying getting cancer.”

He added that heart disease, emphysema, and diabetes were among a laundry list of conditions that would be “patriotic to avoid for a year.”

“If you delay getting any of these things for the next twelve months, together we will win this fight,” he said.

In closing, he reassured the American people that in the event of a government shutdown, members of Congress’ health benefits would remain intact: “We want to be in tip-top shape to continue to do the excellent job we’re doing for you.”

 Boehner Advises Americans to Delay Getting Cancer for a Year : The New Yorker.

 

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Bernie Sanders, ‘Two wars are enough. Let’s come home and address our serious problems.’


Bernie Sanders, ‘Two Wars Are Enough. Let’s Come Home and Address Our Serious Problems.’

By: Jason Easley Sep. 8th, 2013

sanders-syria-msnbc

On MSNBC today, Sen. Bernie Sanders made an intelligent and passionate argument for putting the middle class first while also dealing with the Syria issue.

Video:

Sen. Sanders said:

The calls that are coming into my office are overwhelming against getting involved in a bloody complicated civil war in Syria. The American people are profoundly disgusted with the fact that the United States Congress continues to ignore the enormously serious problems facing the middle class in this country. Real unemployment close to 14%. Youth unemployment even higher than that. Poverty at an almost all time high.

What the American people are saying is. We are at war in Afghanistan. We are at war in Iraq. We’ve lost thousands of soldiers, and trillions of dollars. How about coming home, and addressing the crisis facing the American people? Everybody understands that Assad is a horrendous dictator, and the use of chemical weapons is beyond words. It is totally disgusting. What we need is the world community to come together to address that issue. Other issues in the Middle East, but the American people are saying two wars are enough. Let’s come home and address our serious problems.

….

All that I am saying is chemical weapons and Assad are bad news. Let’s work with the world community, do everything we can to control that situation. But you know what? The middle class of this country is collapsing. Congress has a 15% favorability rating because day after day they find the Congress all over the place, dealing with all kinds of issues except the issues that impact them, their kids, and their parents. I think if you want to deal with a crisis Let’s deal with unemployment. Let’s deal with healthcare. Let’s deal with education. We’ve got enough on our own hands right now.

The position that Sen. Sanders is advocating is one that most of the left should be able to get behind. I think it would be morally wrong to ignore Assad’s use of chemical weapons because any response would be viewed as war, but an effort that is part of the world community would probably be much more heavily supported by the American people.

It would be great if Congress would deal with the important issues at home that Sen. Sanders laid out, but we all know that they won’t. As long as the Republican Party is in control of the House, nothing will be done on jobs and education. The only thing they are going to do on healthcare is to continue trying to repeal Obamacare.

Sen. Sanders fantastically spoke about our collective war weariness, but the truth is that whether we launch strikes against Syria or not is irrelevant because Republicans aren’t going to do anything for the middle class anyway.

It’s nice to think that by rejecting strikes against Syria we will be forcing Congress to focus on middle class issues, but that won’t be the case. To put Sen. Sanders’ argument another way, the biggest enemy of the middle class isn’t Assad in Syria. It’s the Republican control of the House of Representatives.

 Bernie Sanders, ‘Two wars are enough. Let’s come home and address our serious problems.’.

 

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