Congress Prepares To Kick The Can. Again.

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MICHAEL MATHES / AFP / Getty Images

Protesters hold placards urging the U.S. Congress to end the federal government shutdown on Oct. 9, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

In six days, the federal government will find itself not just shut down, but on the brink of default, and Washington is stumbling its way toward a familiar solution: a short-term reprieve from both fiscal crises. But there is little reason to believe that the temporary relief will make the spending struggles any easier next time, let alone permanently solve DC’s budget battles.

In recent days, both parties have raised the prospect of passing short-term bills to raise the debt limit and reopen the federal government, while also setting the stage for negotiations on a broader solution. Aides in both parties say this course is now the only solution to the current stalemate being seriously considered.

Behind the scenes, Republicans are preparing to move ahead with a short-term increase in the debt limit, potentially without precondition, a significant capitulation given their three-year opposition to raising the borrowing limit without matching spending cuts. The development was Thursday morning in a meeting of the House GOP conference before an afternoon meeting between leadership and President Barack Obama at the White House. House Speaker John Boehner was expected to ask his members for a six-week debt limit increase at the conference meeting, the Associated Press reported Thursday morning.

(MORE: Congress Postures, Pretends at Governing as Markets Sink)

But it remains to be seen whether the GOP is willing to act swiftly on the less urgent need to reopen the government. Republicans are calling on President Barack Obama to negotiate over budgetary issues before the government reopens, while the president has said he is happy to negotiate—once the government is back open.

But regardless, the fix to the funding crisis will almost certainly be temporary. “All we want is a short term [continuing resolution] because we think the [spending level] is not acceptable,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi after a meeting with Obama at the White House.

Democrats and the White House are not keen on a short-term debt limit deal. “It doesn’t restore confidence… I don’t think it’s a responsible place to go,” Pelosi said Wednesday. But while not ideal, Pelosi and her colleagues said they would support it, “if the alternative is to default.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has introduced a bill to raise the debt limit until after the 2014 midterm elections, setting up votes on the measure later this week. But such a long-term solution, as preferred by the White House, will not be acceptable to Republicans, aides say.

“We would do a six-week reopening of government and, if the Republicans are proposing it we would consider, a short-term debt ceiling extension,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the ranking member of the budget committee. “If those are clean.” “We’re not going to vote against making sure that America pays its bills,” Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said simply.

(MORE: Republicans Recalibrate Their Asking Price to End Shutdown)

But Republicans and Democrats remain far apart on the underlying issues that precipitated the shutdown, first among them Obamacare. And while that issue has taken a backseat in recent days to the GOP’s focus on broader budgetary reforms, it has not disappeared.

“We’d give the speaker some flexibility on a short-term debt limit increase to keep the focus where it should be, which is on Obamacare,” Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham told reporters Wednesday morning at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “But any CR that doesn’t address Obamacare is something that we’d be very strongly against.”

Democrats, meanwhile, want to undo the deep spending cuts implemented under sequestration, and are divided over potential compromise issues like entitlement reform.

Obama met with House Democrats for more than an hour Wednesday evening, where he encouraged them to hold firm in the face of a wave of piecemeal budgetary measures from Republicans to reopen popular government programs. Democratic members told Obama stories of the ten-day shutdown’s impact in their districts.

Obama is set to meet with the Senate Democratic caucus and with House Republican leadership on Thursday, the White House said.

With reporting by Alex Rogers / Washington.

MORE: When Will U.S. Actually Run Out of Time on the Debt Ceiling?

63 comments
j45ashton
j45ashton

Basically we're talking about dealing with Medicaid & Medicare.  Medicaid recipients have no money...so you can't raise their premiums.  They're already living in wards with bathroom facilities that offer little or no privacy.  Cut funds to Medicaid & these people are almost out on the street.  Democrats will never agree to block grants to the states because they're too afraid of the money of the money being misappropriated & it's not even clear how block grants would save significant money.  That leaves Medicare.  Payments to doctors & hospitals have already been cut.  So what's left.  Democrats will never cut basic benefits & people don't want their benefits cut.  For Democrats, this either means higher taxes,  higher Medicare premiums or both.  So Paul Ryan will propose his old plan again which is a non-starter.  But take a look at what Ryan's plan means.  He wants to give a set voucher amount to people over 65 and have them get their own insurance.  Guaranteed the voucher amount will not cover the full cost of insurance.  You'll have to pay more.  For those who want insurance, this is just like raising taxes in that people will have to pay more.  Except instead of spreading the amount through general taxation, in effect this becomes a burden just on the elderly.  But some people would take the voucher money & just bank it.  So what happens when they get seriously sick?  They go through their money & then the rest of us wind up paying for their treatment either through higher hospital charges for everyone, Medicaid or both.So there’s no escape from paying more in Ryan’s plan either except a lot of immediate burden would be placed on those over 65.The Democrats will never agree to it.  So both sides are stuck.

Our national debt isn't a recent phenomenon.  We still owe money going back to WWII.  Some debt is a good thing.  People like buying bonds and receiving fixed, dependable income from the government.  But we have amassed too much debt.  Everyone agrees about that.  So if more discretionary spending is out and there won't be any significant changes to Medicaid & Medicare, how are we going to pay off the national debt down to acceptable levels?   Nobody likes it but the need is clear.  The government needs a lot more money to pay down the debt.  Where's it going to come from? 

meddevguy
meddevguy

If we are lucky,for the next three years we'll see this struggle between giving away every cent for social purposes and not burdening our grandkids with impossible payments. If the President achieves his goal with this fiscal drama and gets a repeat of the Pelosi rubber stamp House to go along with the Reid rubber stamp Senate, you won't get any kicking the can down the road -- it will be turning the spigots on full blast and the conservatives and international community be damned.

If we get a totally liberal government in 2014, all this stuff will be forgotten -- the rest of the world will give up on us, first as a reserve currency and then as a world influencer. That will leave Americans a lot poorer, but the same guys in charge.

penny1980
penny1980

"But it remains to be seen whether the GOP is willing to act swiftly on the less urgent need to reopen the government." It burns me that this is not an issue. How everyone talks about the partial shutdown. Unless your military, and thank you for your service, you do deserve it; all exempt, essential employees are working without pay. We are being offered unemployment benefits, charitities, and Human Resource Services to pay our bills, rent, and get food on the table. Federal workers are now eligible for finte services that could be better used elsewhere because our government asks us to work without pay.

BobJan
BobJan

Social Security is not part of the debt problem. Never has been, never will be. If it needs more funding to continue benefits then raise the amount taxed or raise the percentage. Again, Social Security is not part of any crisis on the table today. Medicare is part of the problem so lets go to a single payer system and immediately lower costs. Doctors, Specialists and Hospitals might be paid less but then there will be more money to put back into the economy. Business/employers everywhere including the unions must stop the health care merry-go-round. Let the people get their health care the same way they purchase auto/life insurance.

jmac
jmac

The "budget geek", Paul Ayn Rand Ryan, is back in the picture.   The guy who "remains among his parties brightest stars" is willing to step forward, negotiate more spending cuts over what Boehner already promised as a compromise, make sure the cuts will keep the economy stagnant - and, of course, make sure they raise the debt ceiling (even temporarily) so Wall Street will settle down and be happy  and the little guy can keep feeling the pinch.  

It's all about big money and power to them, but not about the American people.  

grape_crush
grape_crush

> Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has introduced a bill to raise the debt limit until after the 2014 midterm elections

Bad move, Senator. Take the shorter-term extensions so that when the House GOP shuts down government services or threatens the stability of the financial markets again, Americans can be continually reminded of why they shouldn't be voting Republican in 2014.

I mean, they're doing a great job marginalizing themselves politically and demographically. I just want that whole process to go a little faster.

JohnDavidDeatherage
JohnDavidDeatherage

The long term solutions are term limits for Congress and a line item veto for the President.  The framers of the Constitution envisioned 'citizen statesmen', not the career politicians we have today.

thebax
thebax

You ever stop to think the problem just might be you have not had a budget for over 6 years?!! How about starting with realizing we are broke!! Borrowing money to give it away to other Countries is absolutely idiotic! When you're broke quit writing checks...get your finances in order and when you're back in the black start with spending money on the citizens you work for and supposedly represent. Our poor and elderly need to be taken care of before you give our tax money to people that are not citizens of the United States of America! Giving money to other Countries to help them build their Country while our infrastructure deteriorates is beyond my comprehension. Just what do you think justifies that?!!

firmsoil
firmsoil

Deadbeat generation voters of america deserve this leadership.

VictorCraig
VictorCraig

This is a Face Saving act by ALL of the individuals who have un-necessarily caused this crisis.

A "pox" on their houses

allthingsinaname
allthingsinaname

Democrats in inaction.

 "Democrats and the White House are not keen on a short-term debt limit deal. “It doesn’t restore confidence… I don’t think it’s a responsible place to go,” Pelosi said Wednesday. But while not ideal, Pelosi and her colleagues said they would support it, “if the alternative is to default.”



mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

So the Hostage takers want to delay the Swat Team while they figure out what exactly they want? No thanks.

allthingsinaname
allthingsinaname

Well here we go again. Obama can say he won and give the GOP SS and Medicare, the GOP can say it won and give Obama Obamacare.

The public? Sheep.

MrObvious
MrObvious

So on one side we have pretty much all reputable economists plus most of the American business world and the institutions representing it. You have an overwhelming majority of citizens opposing the shut down over Obamacare and you have a market reacting quite negatively.

On the other side you have Rand Paul, a bunch of repealers (sorry, they should be called legislators but they insist on being judged on what they repeal) and a guy that the business insider calls the stupidest comment of the year

http://www.businessinsider.com/ted-yoho-on-the-debt-ceiling-2013-10

Ted Yoho. Freshman Teabillie and veterinarian turned super genius chief economist. 

And the best our congress can do is to ignore the will of the people (in the real sense, not the real Amurikan unicorn fantasy), economists and the business community itself and insist on more stalemate and another crisis x months from now.

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

Don't do it!  No more short term anything just so we all have to relive this crap in 6 weeks, and then in 6 weeks after that.

That is no way to govern a country.  Have an actual budget.  And as for the debt ceiling, this constant rerun of kabuki theatre will in and of itself erode economic confidence in us. 

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

The Senate should reject the short term deal. The whole point of the exercise is to discredit using the debt ceiling as a weapon. Failure to do that is more harmful than a default.


jason024
jason024

We all knew the GOP would do this eventually...When the Koch Bros are against the shutdown and for raising the debt limit....you know the Tea Baggers are already in the the deep end. 


AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

There are two related reasonable ways forward; 1) join with NoLabels to get Congress working again and 2) consider the revised Bowles/Simpson fiscal plan.

In the current political environment there is no way congress can put together a reasonable and sustainable budget plan.  Nor can it adequately address the national debt.  It will take time to do both right.  But both sides want concessions now utilizing a knee-jerk reactionary process.  If congress does, in fact, put together a plan under these circumstances it will be short sighted, not well planned out, and would probably do more harm than good.

Memo to Congress: pass a temporary but clean CR and raise the debt ceiling to restore confidence and get the government working again.  Give yourselves the time to seriously consider (have that "conversation") and enact a bi-partisan budget plan proposed by Bowles/Simpson (who have studied this for years - ALL options are on the table) once and for all.  DO NOT kick this can again! 

tom.litton
tom.litton

@meddevguy The deficit has increased under every republican president and decreased under every democratic president. 

So if you reverse republicans and democrats that is about accurate, historically speaking.

jmac
jmac

@meddevguy This shutdown is costing us a lot of money?   Don't you think your grandkids are going to have to pay for THAT?

Bill Clinton had a Democratic House and Senate and got the economy moving without one Republican vote.  He slashed government (yes, he did) as he put a tax on the wealthy.  It worked.  It's too bad Obama is a Republican on the economy and you can't even see the fact that his compromises over and over with Republicans has not helped to stimulate the economy and that's why Bernanke has to step in.    

Republicans do not have a history of paying the bills.  Bill Clinton paid the bills.   Reagan tripled the National Debt and Bush doubled it as Cheney said 'REagan proved deficits don't matter'.   Clinton handed Bush a budget SURPLUS as Bush handed Obama a budget over a trillion in debt and a Great Recession.   That's a fact. 

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

@meddevguy Your concern would be significantly more touching if Republican control of the Government resulted in anything but MORE runaway debt. It is well known that your concern for your children abruptly disappears as soon as the R's are in charge.


Sparrow55
Sparrow55

@jmac It's all about the GOP trying to re-fight and win the 2012 election, which they lost miserably. 

tom.litton
tom.litton

@JohnDavidDeatherage I view those as handling the symptom.  They will help, but the real problem is the combination of extortion and bribery that politicians are required to participate in when running for office.  Fix that and you may see all the other issues go away.

jmac
jmac

@JohnDavidDeatherage @JohnDavidDeatherage The long term solution is to do what California did and stop the gerrymandering.  California is in the pink.  Jerry Brown has turned the state around.   Districts should represent the country - rich and poor, educated and the non-educated, etc.   Then the representative has to compromise and not be beholden to extremists to keep his job.  Then Republicans can finally figure out that the reason the party always selects the more  moderate  nominee for president is because our country is moderate.  

Obama took Pennsylvania by 52%, yet it's House delegation has 13 Republicans to 5 Democrats.    Not a good thing.  




MrObvious
MrObvious

@JohnDavidDeatherage 

That leaves lobbyists as the only ones with any institutional memory. How about removing money out of the process with a simple constitutional amendment. Make humans the only thing considered 'people' and money not free speech.

What we need is the boring civil servant. Where people who want to serve for the greater good of the country and its district. And without money in the system you get rid of the grifters and opportunists that are looking for a short term gig to get on the inside gravy train.

'Time' is not the enemy to our political system. Money is. And have always been.

grape_crush
grape_crush

@JohnDavidDeatherage > The long term solutions are term limits for Congress...

Nope.That's what elections are for. Term limits would only encourage pols to grift harder and faster.

> ...and a line item veto for the President.

It was tried back in the Clinton years; the Supreme Court found it to be unconstitutional. It would take an amendment to make it happen, and no one really wants to give that much power to the president anyway.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@AlphaJuliette I agree the 2 sides need to come together.

However, Obama has gone as far as the democrats will let him, giving up a lot of spending cuts, including CPI for social security.  The republicans haven't given up anything.  

In order for the so called grand bargain to go forward, the republican's will need to give up something.  Revenue increases, extra infrastructure spending, etc.

grape_crush
grape_crush

 @AlphaJuliette > There are two related reasonable ways forward...

Maybe, but the two ways you've mentioned sure as hell ain't it.

NoLabels? Seriously?

jsfox
jsfox

@AlphaJuliette There is much wrong with the Simpson Bowles plan starting with their entitlement fix.

meddevguy
meddevguy

@tom.litton @meddevguy tom -- that's insane! Our President has increased our debt by more than all of the preceding Presidents together since Washington -- and he has three more years of social engineering to go.

I don't care if he is Republican, Democrat, Buddhist, Marxist -- stop spending -- WE"RE BROKE! Find some other way of getting votes!

meddevguy
meddevguy

@jmac @meddevguy jmac -- yes correct -- Bill Clinton (one of the smartest guys to sit at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue) gave up his liberal garbage after his first two years and worked with a belligerent Newt Gingrich to create a surplus. And that's while dodging Republican bullets because of a happening in the Oval Office that should have been between him and Hillary.

Yup, the President inherited a recession. Then, aside from throwing a trillion dollars at buddies in the "Stimulus" ignored the economy to work on social engineering. It worked -- we passed Obamacare and the economy, instead of recovering in a year or two is still slowly going up.

But Yes if your excuse is our President is really a great executive, who could have gotten the economy going if only it weren't for that dumb war-starter "Bush" -- yes you have your excuse. If you'd rather make excuses than demand excellence for the person we hand our entire country over to and give a fleet of 747's to flit about the country and globe -- sure -- Our President is a President -- you win!

meddevguy
meddevguy

@PaulDirks @meddevguy Paul -- you are correct that spending and debt did climb under GWB, who was a Republican! Not as much in 8 years as we have in 5, but yes, the prescription thing was expensive. Then there was this thing about somebody flying planes into buildings eight months after he was in charge -- and the entire Republican and Democrat Congress voting to approve and fund those expensive ventures.

And the "Bush-era" TARP that was caused by giving away houses for votes that began in the Clinton era -- that was almost a trillion. All of that pressuring the Freddie and Fanny to cheat mortgages (and the TARP) could have been used to incentivize businesses to create jobs so the people could really afford those houses.

My concern is honestly the opposite -- that when the Republicans get back in charge that they will use the same dirty, sleazy tricks the Democrats have taught us all in the past five years. Watch this space for fireworks if a solid Republican government tries to pull a Pelosi-style bypassing of the American people like the midnight cheating with the ACA that got the Democrats kicked out of the House. Or if a Republican tries to order around the US Senate as the President is now doing. No, my love for the children and of an ethical government responsible to us American citizens is NOT dependent upon a stupid political party.

CodyEvans
CodyEvans

@PaulDirks @meddevguyKind of how the anti-war and fiscal responsibility rants from the left end once they get a big D where they want it. Stop playing into the stupid two-party BS, it's time we ousted both these groups of inept fools... Democrats have had a majority in at least one house of congress during 16 of the 18 shut downs we've had since 1976. During five of those, there was a democratic majority in both the house and senate, as well as a democrat in the White House. Eight of the 18 shut downs resulted during democratic majorities in both the house and senate. both parties are equally responsible for the current political situation, and we'd all be better off taking as much power away from these psychopaths as possible.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@PaulDirks @meddevguy 

More magic tax cuts, slashed infrastructure and manufacturing base and increased Military spending.

Sounds like fiscal prudence to me.

PerryMacdonald
PerryMacdonald

@jmac @JohnDavidDeatherage I agree. California has 29% Republican representation (15/51) in the House whereas Romney lost  that state with 38% of the vote. This is much closer balance compared to PA.

tommyudo
tommyudo

@MrObvious @JohnDavidDeatherage


I'm all for having strict donation limits for campaigns, say $200 for an individual and $500 for a corporation, with  he rest of the campaign money coming from public funds.but it’s not going to happen.

The media won't like it, and whoever controls the dissemination of information controls the agenda. Also, how do you convince any pol to support a constitutional amendment, when it's against their self-interest to do so? Most of the pols in DC and state capitols are there to line their pockets, serving not the public good, but very narrow parochial interests.

It seems to me that a whole new paradigm to governance is needed, and that will only come by an economic catastrophe and social upheaval, the likes of which would make the Great Depression  child's play.

We need a total do over, not a tweaking here and there

JohnDavidDeatherage
JohnDavidDeatherage

@grape_crush @JohnDavidDeatherage Both Term Limits and a Line Item veto would require amending the Constitution.  The governors of 43 states have line item veto power.  15 different states impose term limits.  Arguably, most states are in better fiscal condition than the federal government. 

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@jsfox @AlphaJuliette And thus far there isn't anything else being considered by Congress that isn't a knee-jerk reactionary plan.  "Cut Spending!" "Cut entitlements!" "Cut Social Security!" "Cut Medicare!" "Cut Food Stamps!"  "Cut!" "Cut!" "Cut!" 

Does that sound like a reasonable and sustainable plan?  You've got to start somewhere and Bowles/Simpson represents that sane approach. These guys have been studying the problem for years now and offer the best perspectives on how to reasonably and responsibly move forward. 

tom.litton
tom.litton

@meddevguy @tom.litton yes, thats insane!.  And also the truth.  Look it up for yourself.  

In fact, this is the fastest decline in the deficit in a very long time.

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

@CodyEvans @PaulDirks @meddevguy You have a valid point about the "anti-war rants" but the fact of the matter remains, Democrats are willing to pay for their spending and the Republicans want it tax-free.

I'm not sure where you're getting your information about 'shut-downs' but there happens to be no precedent whatsoever for what's currently taking place. 


PerryMacdonald
PerryMacdonald

@JohnDavidDeatherage @jmac TommyUdo is right. I voted for Arnold, but he just didn't have the  tools to get the job done.  I voted against Brown, but he is making it happen in CA.  I was wrong both time and I admit it.  It's great to see CA doing better again.

tommyudo
tommyudo

@JohnDavidDeatherage 


You don't have to accept it, but California under Dem control is steadily getting on sound footing. They are cleaning up the mess made by Arnold and the GOP. I know that is tough for many of you to accept, but it's happening.

tommyudo
tommyudo

@JohnDavidDeatherage 


No the tweaking is term limits and a line item veto. With term limits you are tossing out the good with the bad. Term limits would only mean that pols have a shorter period of time to become millionaires, nothing more. I thought amending the Constitution would be done to limit big money out of the electoral process. That's just not going to happen.

Even a band aid like McCain-Feingold didn't go anywhere.

JohnDavidDeatherage
JohnDavidDeatherage

@tommyudo @MrObvious @JohnDavidDeatherage  Both Term Limits and a Line Item veto would require amending the Constitution.  The governors of 43 states have line item veto power.  15 different states impose term limits.  Arguably, most states are in better fiscal condition than the federal government. 

Amending the Constitution is not tweaking here or there.....


grape_crush
grape_crush

 @AlphaJuliette @grape_crush > Yes! Seriously!

Blue Dog Democrats and GOPer moderate 'RINOs' aren't going to swoop in to save the day no matter how marketing you put behind them, sorry. 

> But both sides want concessions now utilizing a knee-jerk reactionary process. 

This isn't a 'both sides' thing. There's one side that's clearly at fault here for manufacturing this crisis...and it's a major problem that self-identified centrists need to lay blame in that manner. 

If the Dems say the Earth is round and GOPers say it is flat, it's ludicrous that some prefab 'grassroots' organization representing the vital center like NoLabels wants to get everybody to join hands, sing Kumbaya, and negotiate an acceptable planet shape between round and flat.

allthingsinaname
allthingsinaname

@AlphaJuliette @jsfox  

Well from your approach what we will get is Cut in spending, Cut in entitlements ( SS, Medicare ) , Cut in food stamps, Cut in Education, Increase in National defense, Couple more wars, and more a holes in Congress.

jsfox
jsfox

@AlphaJuliette @jsfox Let me add the President's budget year after year have reflected a lot of thinking that came out of Simpson Bowles. Problem is the Republicans will never go for it because it absolutely requires tax increases.

jsfox
jsfox

@AlphaJuliette @jsfox And thus far there isn't anything else being considered by Congress that isn't a knee-jerk reactionary plan.  "Cut Spending!" "Cut entitlements!" "Cut Social Security!" "Cut Medicare!" "Cut Food Stamps!"  "Cut!" "Cut!" "Cut!" 


Let's be clear here there is nothing else being considered by the Republicans in Congress. Both the President and the Senate Democrats have budgets that are far more balanced.