The GOP’s Little Rule Change They Hoped We Wouldn’t Notice

by  U.S. Representative  Chris  Van Hollen (D-Maryland)

Late in the evening on September 30, 2013, the House Rules Committee Republicans changed the Rules of the House so that the ONLY Member allowed to call up the Senate’s clean CR for a vote was Majority Leader Eric Cantor or his designee — all but guaranteeing the government would shut down a few hours later and would stay shut down. Previously, any Member would have had the right to bring the CR up for a vote. Democracy has been suspended in the House of Representatives.

More Outright Lies Directly from the Mouth of Eric Cantor

“The president said we do not need a bigger government, but a smarter government, and I agree. But actions speak louder than words,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). “For four years, we have seen record deficits and mountains of debt heaped on our children and grandchildren. And for four years we have seen little to no action from President Obama or his Democratic colleagues in the Senate to take our spending problem seriously,” Cantor added.

Really?  If that were the case, one would expect to see bar charts, on one web page after another, exploding ever upward.  But that’s absolutely NOT the case.  In fact, the opposite is true.  The Federal Budget Deficit is dropping!

Deficit-chart-02-06-13

Yes, I recognize there is a difference between “deficits” and “debt”.  Yes, the deficits are declining, but because there is still a “deficit” … that means that debt is still rising.  The federal budget deficit in 2013 is projected to be $845 billion, the first time the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has forecast a deficit below $1 trillion under President Obama.

That reduction in the budget deficit comes after Congress finally approved higher tax rates on households with annual income above $450,000.

Mr. Cantor would like you to believe that cuts in spending are the ONLY remedy our nation needs to bring down the deficit.  He’s about to be proved absolutely and definitively WRONG.  You see, the sequester is now hanging out there ready to cut the living bejesus out of government spendin.  And, the Republicans want you to believe it’s Obama’s-quester —thus any bad effects are all his fault.  But, that’s simply NOT the case.  The GOP leadership in their stubborn stance failing to consider any form of compromise actually helped design the sequester’s inflexible and arbitrary across-the-board deep cuts. And, they were thrilled with that result.

Don’t believe me … then let’s go to tape … and listen to Boehner himself  declare just how happy he was with the resultant agreement:

The GOP’s hands are not only stained with the sequester’s nastiness, but they voted en masse to ensure its passage—after all, they thought of it as a means to get their way.  They should have been more mindful about what they wished for, because in 2 weeks, those draconian sequestration cuts are slated to take effect.

Apparently, they couldn’t care less.  By their actions, they’ve communicated that they view this as nothing more than some big game of “bluff” and they intent to see who’s gonna blink first. Why else would they be recessing Congress and heading home like their job was done?  They see absolutely nothing critical on the agenda — so they’re just gonna head home, put their feet up on the foot rest and swill down a few mint juleps during Marti Gras season.

These guys designed the sequester’s series of sudden, deep cuts in military and domestic spending to be so destabilizing and unthinkable that it would force Washington to work together on an alternative budget.  That clearly has NOT been the case.  And, the GOP’s disregard for the seriousness of our economic predicament is astounding.

Sequestration can only be avoided if Congress passes legislation that undoes the legal requirement in the Budget Control Act (BCA) and President Obama signs that legislation before March 1, 2013. So, what are they doing?  They’re headed out on RECESS like a bunch of 6 year olds in grade school.

Based on the across-the-board draconian cuts they designed into the sequester,  the American economy is poised to lose, at a minimum, 750,000 jobs, and that’s just this year alone.  $44B in cuts to federal outlays are set to start on March 1.  In simple terms, that’s an 8% cut for defense-spending and a 6% cut for non-entitlement, non-defense spending.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that, if no legislation originating from the deficit reduction committee was enacted, the automatic enforcement process (sequestration) specified in the BCA would mandate the following spending cuts between 2013 and 2021:

  • Reductions ranging from 10.0 percent (in 2013) to 8.5 percent (in 2021) in the caps on new discretionary appropriations for defense programs, yielding total outlay savings of $454 billion.
  • Reductions ranging from 7.8 percent (in 2013) to 5.5 percent (in 2021) in the caps on new discretionary appropriations for non-defense programs, resulting in outlay savings of $294 billion.
  • Reductions ranging from 10.0 percent (in 2013) to 8.5 percent (in 2021) in mandatory budgetary resources for nonexempt defense programs, generating savings of about $0.1 billion.
  • Reductions of 2.0 percent each year in most Medicare spending because of the application of a special rule that applies to that program, producing savings of $123 billion, and reductions ranging from 7.8 percent (in 2013) to 5.5 percent (in 2021) in mandatory budgetary resources for other nonexempt non-defense programs and activities, yielding savings of $47 billion. Thus, savings in non-defense mandatory spending would total $170 billion.
  • About $31 billion in outlays stemming from the reductions in premiums for Part B of Medicare and other changes in spending that would result from the sequestration actions.
  • An estimated reduction of $169 billion in debt-service costs.

Those deep spending cuts come at the expense of something.  They’ll come at the expense of public employee jobs, jobs of those with whom our government has contracted to provide services, and those who make goods sold for those government contractors to consume in providing goods/services directly to the government.  Thus, job losses will be incurred both directly and indirectly, as well publicly and privately, throughout our economy.  And, because those cuts are going to affect both Defense and Non-Defense spending, that also means that folks like teachers, fire-fighters, healthcare workers, et.al., all across our nation, are going to be impacted as well.

Have you figured out where I’m going yet?  You know how the GOP has been saying how they’re all about JOBS, JOBS, JOBS?  Well, most Americans thought the GOP meant they were all about “job creation.”  Surprise!  Not so!  Through their actions (and in-actions), it should now be ever more clear, the GOP is NOT about “job creation” … but they are seriously into job destruction and elimination.

Based on the sequestration cuts, the Congressional Research Services (CRS) looked at the overall economy and says we can expect much larger reductions in employment.  Considering both direct and indirect losses throughout the U.S. economy, they expect the losses on the order of 2.1 million jobs in FY2013:

  • 746,000 were direct jobs (277,000 federal civilian jobs and 469,000 prime contractor jobs),
  • 433,000 indirect jobs at suppliers and other firms that depend on prime contractors for business, and
  • 959,000 will be related to “induced jobs” (i.e., jobs throughout the economy supported by workers in direct and indirect jobs spending a portion of their paychecks).

Already, the Air Force, Army, and Navy have implemented immediate hiring freezes on civilian employees. The Pentagon not only has begun to lay off many of its 46,000 temporary employees and contractors, but also is expected submit a request to Congress to authorize furloughing its 800,000 civilian employees.

So where is all this leading?  Since 2.1 million people will no longer be “working” — those 2.1 million workers will not be paying taxes.  Hence, revenues necessary to fund government and our insatiable need to wage war throughout the world will be insufficient to cover the costs.  That means the GOP will once again mount their soapbox and rail as loudly as they can, how we need to make even deeper cuts!  It will be come an ever deeply spiraling circle bringing about our nation’s demise.

So, here’s my question.  While your Congressman/woman is home on recess (vacation), have you made your plans yet to bend his or her ear and try to convince them of the errs of their ways?  Or, are you content to just let everything go on as usual and let them destroy our nation?

References and related posts:

Everything You Need to Know About The GOP’s Opposition To Protecting Native American Women From Abuse

— by Guest Blogger on Dec 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Our guest blogger is Erik Stegman, Manager of the Half in Ten campaign for the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

As the last window of opportunity to pass a fully-inclusive Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization comes close to shutting in the final days of the 112th Congress, many are wondering why Republican House leadership, particularly Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), are so opposed to the provisions protecting Native American women on tribal reservations. Other Republican leaders — including Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA), John Kline (R-MN), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Tom Cole (R-OK), and Patrick McHenry (R-NC) — have proposed a reasonable compromise that protects Native women, but it puts them at odds with the Majority Leader.

With the Issa compromise on the table and backed by several House Committee chairs, what are Republicans like Cantor still so concerned about that they’re willing to hold up the landmark law that funds services, strengthens law enforcement for domestic violence, and increases accountability for offenders?

Here’s everything you need to know about the GOP’s opposition to new protections for Native women on tribal lands:

1) Non-Native men will continue to receive a jurisdictional free pass for abusing Native women:

In response to the epidemic rates of domestic violence against Native women on reservations, the Department of Justice issued a legislative proposal that would restore Tribes’ ability to prosecute misdemeanor crimes of domestic and dating violence committed by non-Natives against Native women. This proposal also requires that the non-Native offender either live or work on the reservation and be in an existing relationship with the victim. DOJ statisticsshow that 3 out of 5 Native women had been assaulted by their intimate partners and 56 percent of American Indian women have non-Indian husbands.

Today on Indian reservations, the local governments don’t have the ability to respond to domestic violence crimes in their community if the perpetrator isn’t Native. Without this ability, non-Native offenders often go unpunished on tribal land because the only ones who can bring them to justice are federal prosecutors who are often hundreds of miles away and lack local resources to properly investigate and prosecute these crimes. The result, according to a recent National Institute of Justice (NIJ)-funded report, the offenders become emboldened, and the violence escalates to rape and in some cases homicide. On some Indian reservations, the homicide rate of Native women is 10 times the national average.

2) Republicans are more concerned with Non- Native perpetrators than Native victims:

So why do some Republicans like Cantor still have issues with a well-reasoned, narrowly-scoped DOJ proposal to reduce violence against Native women on reservations? An unbalanced concern for the rights non-Native men accused of these crimes. Even though the current Senate version of VAWA includes a full set of constitutional protections for suspects of abuse, including due-process rights and a right to counsel, Cantor and other Republicans continue to stall the VAWA Reauthorization because of baseless constitutional concerns for those accused of abusing Native women.

In the spirit of compromise within their own caucus, Issa and his colleagues proposed a powerful extra protection for defendants in their bill last week: a new right to remove the case to a federal court if the defendant’s rights are violated by a local tribal court. Although advocates for Native women would prefer to see the Senate version passed, this compromise is a reasonable way to get a deal done and improve the system of justice on reservations. It will clarify that all persons who commit a crime of domestic or dating violence on an Indian reservation will be arrested and held accountable, regardless of their race.

3) Local tribal law enforcement is more responsive to Native women:

The Senate version of VAWA would end jurisdictional black holes that give non-Native men a free pass to abuse Native women and evade justice. It would provide local tribal law enforcement with the much-needed ability to investigate and prosecute crimes against Native women in their own communities, just as other state and local authorities do for other victims in the country. Prosecuting these crimes requires sensitive and time-consuming work with family and community members. Tribal prosecutors are down the street on the reservation and work closely with the tribal police who respond to these crimes. Restoring local control will provide the victim, the family, and the community the ability to seek responsive justice locally. There’s no reason that their ability to fully prosecute these crimes should rest on the skin color of the accused abuser.


This material [“Everything You Need to Know About The GOP’s Opposition To Protecting Native American Women From Abuse”] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

Looking to the Week Ahead in the Congress

Looking Ahead: In the House

Congress will return on July 9th, so mark your calendars!

The House is poised to consider up to three spending bills for 2013 next week:

The Department of Defense Appropriations Act (HR 5856)
This bill spends $519 billion on the Defense Department, an increase over 2012. It cuts spending on war operations in Afghanistan and Iraq by about $27 billion.

The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 5973)
This bill cuts spending at the Department of Agriculture and related agencies by $365 million. Democrats are expected to oppose some cuts in the bill, including a $250 million cut to the Food for Peace program, which uses U.S. commodities to help alleviate hunger overseas.

The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act (HR 6020)
This bill spends $21.5 billion on the Department of Treasury and related agencies. The bill includes language that would specifically prohibit the Department of Health and Human Services from moving money to the Internal Revenue Service to implement the 2010 healthcare law.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has scheduled a vote to repeal ObamaCare on July 11th.

Related Health Care Reform Repeal Bills

The Healthcare Tax Relief and Mandate Repeal Act (HR 6048)
Amends the tax code to repeal the individual and employer health insurance mandates.

The NObamacare Act (HR 6053)
Repeals the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the health-related provisions of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 not declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The NObamacare Funds Act (HR 6054)
Prohibits funding to implement any provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or of the health-related provisions of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.

Looking Ahead: In the Senate

The Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act (S 2237)
Provides a temporary income tax credit for increased payroll and extend bonus depreciation for an additional year. (Senate begins consideration on July 11th)

Under the Reading Lamp — 4/16/2012

Big Victory For Strawberry Lovers

earthjustice.org: Do you like to eat strawberries grown without cancer-causing fumigants? You do! Well then, have I got some news for you! Last night, Arysta LifeScience, the producer of the toxic fumigant methyl iodide (sold under the sunny corporate nomenclature “Midas”) announced it is pulling its product—designed for use primarily in strawberry fields—off the U.S. market. The announcement comes as the California Superior Court was about to issue its decision in an Earthjustice lawsuit aimed at stopping the use of the dangerous chemical.

Cantor Proposal for 20 Percent Business Tax Deduction Would Provide Windfall for Wealthy, Not Create Jobs

CBO Rated Similar Approach One of Least Effective Ways to Create Jobs

Chuck Marr | Center on Budget & Policy Priorities:  Though billed as a measure to create jobs by aiding small businesses, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) proposal for a 20% tax deduction in 2012 for businesses with fewer than 500 employees would benefit many high-income taxpayers — including many affluent doctors, lawyers, and stockbrokers — while failing to generate the promised economic benefits. The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center estimates that nearly half — 49% — of the $46 billion tax cut that the measure would provide would go to people with incomes over $1 million a year.

Why a Fair Economy is Not Incompatible with Growth but Essential to It

Robert Reich, Op-Ed: “Taxes were far higher on top incomes in the three decades after World War II than they’ve been since. And the distribution of income was far more equal. Yet the American economy grew faster in those years than it’s grown since tax rates on the top were slashed in 1981.”

 

What the Laws of War Allow

Chase Madar |Op-Ed: Watch, if you can bear it, as the helicopter crew blows people away, killing at least a dozen of them, and taking good care to wipe out the wounded as they try to crawl to safety. (You can also hear the helicopter crew making wisecracks throughout.) When a van comes on the scene to tend to the survivors, the Apache gunship opens fire on it too, killing a few more and wounding two small children.

Activists To Launch “We Can’t Wait” Campaign Challenging White House On Anti-Discrimination Order

Igor Volsky, News Report: The White House insists that it’s putting the executive order on hold in order to build legislative support for the Employment Nondiscrimination Act or ENDA, which would prohibit all employers from discriminating against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees. But the measure stands little chance of passing in a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and some LGBT advocates were left with the impression that the administration punted on the order because it is “wary of imposing additional requirements on businesses ahead of the election.

CNN Includes Gay Adoption Advocate in ‘Heros’ Series

Video Report: CNN has named David Wing-Kovarik, who founded Families Like Ours to help gay and lesbian people adopt children from the foster system, as one of its Heroes of 2012. “I’m fighting for the right of that child to have that family,” Wing Kovarik says. “It’s why I keep doing it every single day.” Watch a short segment about his work.

 

The World’s Richest Failed State: Fairness and Freedom in Contemporary America

Tom Magstadt, Op-Ed: We live in a country where the super rich pay a far smaller share of the income they get than the average middle class taxpayer, where the Buffet Rule is etched into tax laws that heavily favor “capital gains” (the kind Mitt Romney and the Koch brothers rake in) over “earned income” (wages and salaries of store clerks, mechanics, and assembly line workers.

Former Bush EPA Chief Sounds Alarm on Chemical Security

Jim Morris, News Analysis: “In the months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, then-EPA administrator Whitman ‘seriously considered’ using the Clean Air Act to shore up chemical security, she wrote Jackson. ‘After careful consideration, I decided that our best alternative was to pursue legislative action to achieve this goal.’ The Bush White House chose not to back such legislation.”

Proposals Raising the Normal Retirement Age for Social Security Would Lead to Increase in Inequality

Alan Barber, News Report: The report, “The Impact on Inequality of Raising the Social Security Retirement Age,” projects the impact of a gradual increase of the normal retirement age on various demographic groups, looking at each quintile of the wealth distribution, as well as the richest 1 percent. The paper also contains separate projections for homeowners and non-homeowners, single individuals and couples in several age cohorts. These projections demonstrate that Social Security wealth is a much larger share of wealth for the bottom four of the five groups.

Climate on Steroids: More Mainstream Media Coverage of Extreme Weather and Climate Change

Stephen Lacey, News Analysis: The Weather Channel has also picked up on the story, featuring a number of stories about the influence of human activity on extreme weather. One of the best segments featured meteorologist Stu Ostro, who explained why “data and science, not politics” changed him from a skeptic to someone very concerned about the problem. Add a new piece from the Weather Channel to the mix of growing coverage.

Just One of Monsanto’s Crimes, or Why We Can’t Trust the EPA

Alexis Baden-Mayer, News Report: The EPA knew the truth about Monsanto’s dioxin crimes, but it decided to hide it. Why? It would have affected us all. EPA’s brief criminal investigation of Monsanto included evidence that Monsanto knowingly contaminated Lysol with dioxin, even as the product was being marketed for cleaning babies’ toys. Here are the details of this jaw-dropping and heart-breaking case of corporate criminality and EPA collusion.

Hey Etch-A-Sketch-Conservatives, Time to Resurrect Some Honesty

Leo Gerard, Op-Ed: Honorable journalists abide by an ethics code forbidding lying to secure a story. For them, the end does not justify the means. By contrast, for O’Keefe and today’s Etch A Sketch conservatives, the end they want vindicates any scheme to secure it. Deliberate lying, cynical deceit, cut-and-paste deception – all of that is rationalized by conservatives to get their way. It’s a lovely escape clause they’ve written for themselves from that annoying Judeo-Christian thou-shalt-not-lie commandment.

Behind Closed Doors, Broadcasters Battle Online Disclosure of Political Ad Buys

Justin Elliott, News Report: Right now we only know the broad thrust the proposed FCC rule: That broadcasters would have to electronically send the commission updates to its political file — in other words, information about what political ads are being purchased, by whom, and for how much money — instead of merely maintaining paper files at the stations, the current practice. The information would be made public on an FCC website.

The Latest SEC/Goldman Sachs Sweetheart Deal is the Worst One Yet

Richard (RJ) Eskow, Op-Ed: It’s not just the fact that the SEC continues to ignore the public’s outrage by letting bankers off scott-free. And it’s not just that this kind of irresponsible behavior ensures that the law breaking will continue. Its not just that crooked bank executives are allowed to “neither admit nor deny wrongdoing.” It’s not even the fact that this time around the SEC has worded its announcement in a clumsy attempt to obscure the criminal behavior of Goldman’s employees – although that’s one of this agreement’s worst features.