All eyes are on the government shutdown battle over Obamacare. Here are a few thoughts:
Word on the street is that today House Republicans will pass a bill that would keep non-essential government functions open until mid-December, delay ObamaCare for one year, but not block the illegal ObamaCare exemption President Obama’s Office of Personnel Management granted to members of Congress and their staff. If Republicans fail to include language blocking that exemption, they truly deserve the moniker of The Stupid Party.
My recent paper on the rising cost of Social Security Disability Insurance is proving to be timely.
Senator Ted Cruz’s filibuster was impressive. Naysayers claim that it was pointless because Obamacare won’t be defunded this year with a Senate and White House controlled by Democrats. But at a minimum, Cruz and supporting senators have highlighted the huge flaws in the health law and reminded everyone of its unpopularity. If Republicans actually want to repeal the law—as they all say they do—then they need to take every opportunity to hammer away at it.
Commenting on the federal budget the other day, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said “the cupboard is bare. There’s no more cuts to make.”
The possibility for a government shutdown should policymakers fail to reach an agreement on spending by October 1 is the topic du jour in Washington. The last time a government shutdown occurred over a budget impasse was fiscal year 1996 when Democratic President Bill Clinton went to the mat with a Republican-controlled Congress. There were actually two shutdowns that year, with the second one lasting a record 21 days. Prior to that, brief shutdowns were a fairly regular occurrence.
As policymakers begin fighting over this year’s appropriations, the Congressional Budget Office has released a long-term projection that puts today’s budget battles in broader context. The federal government is in the most unique and dangerous fiscal situation that it has ever been in during peacetime.
A Gallup poll released last week revealed good news: Americans’ confidence in the federal government’s ability to handle foreign and domestic problems has reached an all-time low. In both areas, a minority of those polled said that they had either a great deal or fair amount of confidence in Uncle Sam.
Farm bills traditionally contain both farm subsidies and food subsidies (e.g., food stamps). Unable to pass a traditional farm bill passed this year, the House Republican leadership separated the two components. The House passed a stand-alone farm subsidy bill in the summer and now it’s set to vote on a bill that would trim the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (a.k.a., food stamps) by $39 billion over ten years.
On September 14, 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention got a little rowdy. Joining a group of elite militiamen who staged a party in honor of George Washington, the 55 men, delegates and militiamen together, drank 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, 50 bottles of “old stock,” and ample amounts of other spirits. The final bill included an additional fee for “breakage.”