As the partial federal government shutdown continues, we check in on negotiations in Congress and what will need to happen in the short and long term to get the government working again.

Thomas Mann, senior fellow, Governance Studies & W. Averell Harriman Chair at the Brookings Institution
Bill Whalen, research fellow at the Hoover Institution
Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Congressional and politics reporter for the Bloomberg News

  • Carter

    The reason why the government has shut down facilities that do not require much maintenance like the World War II memorial in DC and threatened visitors with arrest if they enter, is that our corrupt leaders want to distract the public from something that is not shut down, because whatever it is, if the public learned that it’s still being funded they would be outraged. (Perhaps oil companies are still getting subsidies, or money is going to corrupt despots overseas, or the US military is directing our soldiers to protect poppy fields on behalf of the CIA etc.) They need to give the media something to report on so they’re instructing their minions to be outrageous. And surely they want to use the shutdowns to increase any fear in the public mind of disobeying our oppressive government.


  • Chris OConnell

    I had no clue into well into the shenanigans that the true Republicans motivator is the fear that the Affordable Care Act will be really popular and effective. It will be impossible to repeal once it takes root, even if they win the 2016 Presidential election (god forbid). They are shutting down the Government specifically to stop a program that will greatly help many people – and even allow people FREEDOM to leave their job – because they hate Government in principle. The Government can help people by pooling them in the exchanges to reduce rates, but the Republican priority is to fight against Government no matter what, even if it means preventing it from helping people. It’s kind of bizarre and shocking, but then if you think of the modern day Republican party, not so much.

    • Robert Thomas

      Chris, I think that circumstances have revealed that the long-concealed rump of nakedly John Bircher sentiment (puzzlingly silent during Tom Delay’s vote for Medicare Part D) at the base of the Republican Party, that in earlier decades colluded with the American Medical establishment to demonize nationally distributed health care cost risk have allowed it this strained and vulgar voice we hear now. In the intervening decades since William Buckley’s rebuke of Bircher filth, the AMA has realized that its long-held dream of preserving the guaranty of genteel country-club demi-priesthood of the physician has been consigned forever to the proverbial ash-heap. The difference between the entities is that actually being educable, the medical establishment has latterly taken a more pragmatic course than it once charted.

      • Chemist150

        That’s a slick way to inject slander.

        • Robert Thomas

          Truth is the best defense against a charge of slander. Or one of libel, which is what you mean.

        • Robert Thomas

          On second thought, I’m having trouble deciding whom I’m accused of defaming. Do I defame DeLay for voting for Medicare D? Do I defame the Birchers by associating them with the AMA? Do I defame the AMA by saying they abandoned the Birchers? Do I defame the Birchers to mention Buckley’s rebuke? Do I defame country club members to associate them with priests? Do I defame filth to associate it with the JBS? I am at sea.

    • Chemist150

      While I’m not sure that the ACA will destroy America, I can relay some view as to way ACA is bad.

      First is how much spending is government spending:
      Before ACA, government expenditures account for ~70% of GDP. That leave 30% private spending as GDP. After ACA, who knows? One can make the argument that some of it goes to private companies but at best, I can say that if a company can’t survive without tax dollars, it’s not private. That also goes for the employee. One obvious downfall of the argument is that income tax from someone paid with government dollars is diminishing returns. Taxing a tax is not productive, ever… Government employees “paying tax” is a laughable concept because their income is from a tax. It’s an important distinction and the host of these taxes (the private sector) is being consumed. Other points can easily be made such as the social security surplus was “borrowed” and spent on wars making it a real debt that is not neutral.

      This makes new taxes more burdensome and the argument that we are not a socialist society is hard with these numbers. Yes, infrastructure is necessary.

      Second is debt:
      Low wages are a result of low labor demand since the worker finds it hard to change jobs and that gives the employer the upper hand with no reason to be competitive. This negatively impacts workers and tax revenue. Raising minimum wage does not help the labor demand, it makes it worse.

      Low labor demand is a result of low money supply where there is not enough money circulating to generate revenue which can hire more people that in turn buy products generating revenue creating demand and inflation. That’s one reason why increased money supply is related to inflation and low unemployment accompanies inflation as opposed to stagflation of high inflation and high unemployment which is associated with mismanaged economies.

      Low money supply, at the moment is a result of debt. The US has past the inflection point where borrowing is hurting more than it helps and QE is necessary to keep the money supply up since it’s leaving the country so quickly driving down internal money supply. The fact that the first two QEs resulted in visible inflation in China as Chinese bank leaders pointing it in dismay and the fact how the US struggles to keep inflation up shows how imbalanced our debt issue truly is. Yes, cuts will hurt but not as bad as never resolving the real problem behind the bad economy. We saw in the ‘90s how the proper budget led to the lowest unemployment in decades but now, we have to get back below the inflection point.

      A balanced budget or at least finding a way to reduce the debt to a reasonable level over time and as quickly as possible will be good for the country, economy and tax revenue.

      How can one argue that employing the unemployed is bad? Because that’s what balancing the budget would do… It would in fact help the most destitute by allowing jobs to be created.

      Third is what happened in Mass which I’ll reiterate from another post:
      It may have been Republican idea but it was done in a Republican way and as a state solution.
      The result was an increase of contract to permanent employment status. i.e. people transitioned from having employer healthcare to having to provide for themselves.
      The difference between the state and federal implementation is that people can leave a state easily but they have a harder time leaving a country if the experiment does not work. If it works for a state, then other states can adopt it an if enough do, then it can be implemented federally.
      That is the idea of a Republic and a true democratic way to build consensus. Immediate taking it to the federal level bypasses the reasons for a Republic and undermines the democratic process for evaluation.

      I’ll stop here…. There is more.

      • Robert Thomas

        Chemist150, I thoroughly refuted your assertions about the proportion of U.S. GDP represented by federal, state and local government expenditure in an earlier forum. I offered the statistics anyone can find at the website of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, widely cited by the Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, the Economist and other publications. You disputed the statistics there, which is your prerogative, but utterly failed to support your claims with any evidence at all, much less clear convincing evidence from any acknowledged authority. Is your program to simply continue to make absurd claims and thus sway the gullible? Just askin’.

        • Chemist150

          A simple google search of “govnernment spending by GDP” results in “http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/us_20th_century_chart.html” as the first result.

          On the site is a chart which shows averages of federal 35-40% (wikipedia has 38.9%), local >15-20%, and state ~10%.

          ~40%+~20%+~10% = ~70%

          Perhaps you should stick to slander if you’re not going to bother putting effort into your argument?

          You could have put the numbers you think are real….. Just sayin’….

          • Robert Thomas

            Although repeating oneself can often be fun, anyone who cares can navigate to the KQED Forum thread

            “Did Liberals ‘Body-Snatch’ Abe Lincoln?”

            and relive the drama.

          • Chemist150

            OK, that’s a start. 38.9% was a 2011 number.
            You posted Federal “BUDGET”. “Budget” is not “SPENDING”.

            Federal budget does not include Social Security and Medicare and special appropriation usually for war. For some reason they’re done separately.

            Now add those two items in.

            I’ve gone through this with someone before. In fact, it was you. Are we going to need 3, 4, 5 times? There is even a government site with totals that people often quote and wrongly so because they leave parse out SS and medicare separately and leave them blank and thus add nothing to the reported “total”.

  • Livegreen

    Forget the Tea Party. House Republicans and John Boehner have thrown out representational voting as the method that governs this country. I don’t see blackmail anywhere in the Constitution, but THAT’S their new chosen method of government.

    John Boehner is undermining both Democracy & the Constitution.

    • Bill Recto

      Umm I like to know who really leading the Tea Party, Is it Koch, Aidleson, Glenn Beck, Palin, Cruz, Paul Ryan, Hannity or Bachman?? How about have all the tea party lobbyists/pundits/donors release their mental heath records to wikileaks then we will know some clues on what is really going on. I know last week Krasny said that “Rush Speaks for the RNC” But that was true years ago but today its Hannity, Beck, Palin and Mark Levin Fighting over who gets to be the next propagandist to replace Rush for the Tea Party and RNC.

  • Roy-in-Boise

    If candidates seek office calling themselves Tea Party Candidates first, and Republicans second, then they should be a stand alone political party. Various (state level) Secretary of States around the nation need to look into this. Truth in labeling has a place in elections too!

    • Robert Thomas

      Roy-in-Boise, don’t you think that Secretaries of State around the country, observing the fate of IRS personnel who scrutinized not whether Tea Party groups ought to be afforded non-profit status but merely whether the fact that the word “Party” in their literature might suggest “partisanship” and thus recommend the TYPE of non-profit tax exemption warranted, would shudder at the mention of your suggestion?

  • Chemist150

    Thanks for getting an right wing simpleton devoid of complex views and understanding of macroeconomics to represent the right. It’s a nice balance to those that I often hear on the left.

    • William – SF

      So who do you suggest we listen to, read from to get the right’s complex views and understanding of macroeconomics?

      • Chemist150

        On the right? I don’t know. On the left, I’ve made some suggestions before but they’ve never come to fruition.

    • geraldfnord

      Yes, it’s very annoying to hear people with whom you basically agree be stupid.

      But note that your ‘often’ is subjective, as sometimes (that is to say, ‘nearly always’) another person’s arguments can seem stupider if you disagree with them, usually (I think) because there is supporting evidence the speaker doesn’t understand they’re leaving out—‘Of course ours is still an intensely racist society, how could anyone argue with that?’,’Of course a completely unregulated market (modulo fraud and force) were the acme of liberty and opportunity, all respectable economists and philosophers (that is, those with whom I agree) believe this.’

      Also, since perceiving the other side as ‘stupid’ is gratifying to many, second only perhaps to perceiving them as ‘evil’ and ‘insane’…which I see a good deal of on both sides, though of course I see more of it on the Right (both for the egosyntonic effect mentioned, simple confirmation bias, and because of sample population: I read much more right-wing opinions than the ones with which I tend to agree).

      • Chemist150

        Huh? I’m having trouble extracting a point from your post.

        Personally, I adamantly disagree on key issues with those I more closely align myself with. The reason is that they latch onto one piece of whole picture and run with that. A key element of their belief may be true but logic is lost and warps the other pieces.
        In context of the economy, our politicians have agendas and they typically are classically trained in a profession like law.

        They may or may not take advice from economists but they maintain their agenda. Thus when taking advice from economists, subtleties are most often lost and they grasp onto a piece that supports their agenda. Typically it won’t be by intention because the full concepts of supply and demand are complex and take some time to fully grasp but the politician may not feel that they have the time. Then a whole new fictional economic system is born.

  • geraldfnord

    In their own minds, they are valiant warriors for freedom ignoring the petty traditions of The Entrenched Others, Who Do Not Understand…or at least they believe that an important constituency act as if they so thought.

    Screaming is not an argument, intensity of feeling is not an indicator of truth, and in fact is often the refuge of those whose arguments are tenuous…this held as true for some of the Leftists of the 1960s as it does for these Birchers Redux today.

    They showed their true colours early on, when they coördinated disruption of town-hall meetings by Congress-members at which health insurance reform was to be discussed, shouting so loudly and so vociferously that actual debate were impossible; they invoked the founders whilst completely ignoring the lesson of their great (if sometimes evil, in the case of slavery) compromises. In reality, they are the Mobile Party whose tyranny the founders of this form of government feared as much as the King’s.

  • GiorgioOrwell2nd

    What is not being discussed by the media is that while the tactics of the Tea Party are underhanded/devious they are #1 doing exactly what their constituents voted for them to do (a shutdown is viewed as a victory in the light of their primary wish for smaller government, however it is achieved) #2 They have very valid concerns about the overwhelming amount of debt and future obligations of the US government that have not been legitimately addressed by Obama or the mainstream Republicans in any of their past budget negotiations….and by the way I voted for Obama twice.

    The far left and the far right actually have far more in common with their worries of government overreach than is publicly talked about. If shutting down the government is an incredibly messy way to put these back on the table, so be it. The middle of both parties is clearly incapable of solving the problems we face.

    • Robert Thomas

      Well, aside from the matter of fact that there IS NO “far left” in U.S. discourse, I have sympathy with your point of view. I agree with your point #1. As for #2, no reasonable person capable of reflection denies that such obligations are a real concern. However, there is NOTHING new about the accrual of national debt, the consistent accumulation of which these disgruntled Americans found it possible during previous administrations to ignore. Also, as a concerned person who’s not an economist but with a reasonable sense of prudence, I don’t find it difficult to understand basic Keynesian theory or the overwhelming evidence from modern history that supports its recommendations.

      I’m forced to conclude, by OVERWHELMING evidence, that current opposition to government “intrusion” and “overreach” is less the result of thoughtful concern for economic fundamentals or individual liberty and more a desperate lashing out against real and perceived threats to a political tradition of ethnic and cultural domination of a shrinking and weakening white European demographic.

  • fadista

    Our government is fragmented on the right wing. The “Tea Party” has split off from the Republicans. The equivalent on the Left has no political equivalent. The OWS faction, mostly left wing, is not politically organized. The two party system has long been a problem and adding more parties will not get to the root of the matter. The fact is that government exists to do the people’s business, which has to do with 3 main areas: Equity, economics and environment. We should dump the Republican and Democrat parties. They only politicize the issues of environment and equity to the point where no honest dialogue can be had. I suggest we create 3 parties: A business party, an environmental party and an equity party. People could elect who serves on them but if we assured that equal numbers of each party were represented in both houses of congress, then we could guarantee that issues like enviornment,equity and transnational trade actually be dealt with in a way where voters are actually represented.

    • Robert Thomas

      fadista, in the country in which *I* live, the federal government’s responsibility is explicit: to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence [sic], promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”. The issues you mention are objects of policy, which is the reason they become politicized. Another state constituted along the lines you suggest, would hardly fail to suffer similar politicization, however representation were apportioned. I invite you to give it a try though, somewhere else.

      • fadista

        Yes, I agree that the system I’m contemplating would still “suffer politicization.” I’m not trying to avoid politics. But our two party system politicizes everything to an unnecessary degree, even the environment, whose protection should engender common sense approach based on science.

        The Democrat and Republican parties, an outgrowth of the Jefferson – Hamilton debate about Federalism may still be relevant to a degree, but in terms of defining parties is no longer sufficient. I’d argue our areas of concern are economy, equity and more recently environment. So, it only makes sense that these areas constitute the primary focus of policy. (I don’t think a Defense party is necessary because while obviously important and certainly political, it’s a given that it will always be address, unlike enviornment or equity).

        I’m not suggesting that we tamper with the federal government’s responsibility to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. Nor am I suggesting doing away with the three branches of government), only that we approach these things from a framing more useful than progressive and conservative (these terms promote artificial contrarian type of framing, so, for example, concern for environment becomes a Democrat value that loyal Republicans must oppose).

        I see our two party system this way: The Right wing coalition (represented mostly by the Republican Party), whose interests are mostly that of the business & propertied class (as well as social conservatives including Tea Party types) who mostly support a narrowly defined concept of freedom, based on negative liberties and property rights that is essentially anti-social in that it reflexively condones whatever inequality arises from protecting their interests.

        The Left wing coalition (represented mostly by the Democratic Party), who advocate a more egalitarian society and protecting the environment, I’d argue have a harder row to hoe in that they must sell a concept of freedom that is not as simplistic as the one offered by the Right. Negative liberties are easy to understand and are taken for granted in our society. Positive rights, “freedom to” certain things, such as healthcare, a relatively clean enviornment, education, etc., require a more nuanced understanding of rights and social responsibility. I find this lacking in the Right wing because their solution to almost every problem is one of the market. (While the type of economy we have is obviously of high importance, there is an inherent unfair advantage to those who profit most and thereby control the economy.)

        If we had representatives for equity (as other countries have labor parties) and environment (the Green party notwithstanding) guaranteed a part in the political process, this would offset the imbalance that economic interests play in government policy that serves mostly the wealthy.

        Getting money out of politics as much as possible is the place to start. Until that happens, no honest dialogue that includes all voices will be possible to reform government.

        • Robert Thomas

          fadista, I read your thoughtful post with interest.

          I think my critique centers on a dilemma of causality. You suggest that what’s needed are political factions prearranged along these lines of advocacy. But without re-constituting a republic (as I suggest, in another place) the parties are what they are. As you note, groups such as the Green Party have in the last century had only symbolic impact (unless you count voters for Nader in Florida).

          Your categorization of the two major parties is pretty accurate but I would cast it this way: first, the U.S. has no left-wing party or coalition. Compared to the rest of the developed world of democratic states over the last century, the Democratic party appears as a conventional Social Democrat party of unusually right-leaning slant. There is no analog in the Western developed world of the Republican Party.

          It’s pretty conventional to see the current major parties not as being Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans on the one hand and Hamiltonian Federalists on the other (they’re really not at all) but rather as William Howard Taft feudalists and Franklin Roosevelt pluralists, respectively. Except as an amusing counterfactual exercise, there’s no way to make them something else through fiat of constitutional convention. I say you pose a dilemma of causality because the population forms the parties, not the Constitution. You can’t practically ensconce a party’s creed with a constitutional document, without resorting to totalitarianism.

          As I’ve said, though, a change appears to be on the horizon. The hammer of demographics is preparing to crush the Republican Party of the fifth system. The Republican party has devolved into an amalgam of dyspeptic factions glued together by ethnic insularity, jealously guarded privilege and fear. It’s ripe for a repair in the sense both of reconstitution and temporary retirement from power. There is a natural constituency in the U.S. for a pluralist, fiscally conservative laissez faire small-L libertarian party with center-right social views. That’s not what the Republican Party is now, but I see it as better than even odds that this is what will emerge from its cocoon.

          • fadista

            “It’s pretty conventional to see the current major parties not as being Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans on the one hand and Hamiltonian Federalists on the other (they’re really not at all) but rather as William Howard Taft feudalists and Franklin Roosevelt pluralists, respectively.”

            I don’t know enough about Taft to comment about him. (Your comment is intriguing, I’ll read more about him.) I’m more familiar with Coolidge and would have assumed he or Reagan the more recent progenitors of the Republican party. And, yes, of course you’re right about Roosevelt playing this role for the Democrats. My comment about Jefferson – Hamilton was not meant as a gauge for where the parties are now, but to point out these factions have morphed into something very different, a pro business party and a pro welfare state party. So Dems and Reps become like two sports teams, ever rivals, and in that way, false dichotomies are created and progress of the whole is less likely.

            “The hammer of demographics is preparing to crush the Republican Party of the fifth system.”

            Growing number of minorities may benefit the Democratic party but American youth are less socially conservative and seem to be less comfortable with government as a means to solve social problems. Thus the rise of the libertarian movement (which is ultimately free market oriented but, in the meantime, is states rights oriented, as this is the arena for the competition of cities for business). Pro government Democrats, given the successes of the New Deal, are more focused at the level of federal government (because they understand our most pressing problems, inequality & environment, are best addressed at the federal level, given that large corporations and some wealthy individuals can easier influence local policy than national policy).

            And while it may seem like a wish come true to progressives, the problem with the disintegration of the Republican party will likely be that it’s replaced by something worse (as we see in the Tea party), a more libertarian type party, that has the potential to be populist and, in their efforts toward anarchy, would result in weakening government to the point where it’s completely overrun by a syndicate of the most powerful corporations (which is nearly the case now), which would mean de facto fascist world government.

            To avoid this scenario progressives need to attempt a herculean effort to rally political pressure on government to pass a constitutional amendment to revoke free speech rights to corporations and then to reform campaign finance, lobbying and gerrymandering. Then, after corporate power has been somewhat reduced, reform the corporate charter to its original intention. And if we get this far, then it’s on to create a new bill of rights that puts equity and environment at the fore, and finally, if necessary, re-constitute the structure of government relevant to sustaining life as we know it on this planet.

          • Robert Thomas

            fadista, your program seems a noble, though formidable one. To those bent on the task of narrowing the definition of “natural person”, I recommend the pretty good Wikipedia article “Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company”,
            An unfortunate sentence in the headnote of this unanimous Supreme Court decision of 1886, in a matter brought by officials of my home town (San Jose is the county seat) established the “personhood” of corporate entities. Though it may seem that such an amendment would gather much support, actually passing it would involve reconsideration of a *ginormous* amount of jurisprudence and arguably imply transfer of – at a guess – ten trillion dollars? Fifty trillion? I think that the associated dislocation might seem satisfying to many, but in reality could be utterly ruinous. As for campaign finance, it seems the wind is actually blowing the other direction. Is it desirable to curtail the right to speech beyond Justice Holmes’s limitations?

            I have come to think that vigorous pursuit of real transparency in campaign finance is the better row to hoe. The courts have allowed the legislative branch a lot of latitude there that the parties have dodged clumsily, so far. We have a real opportunity to serve truth and justice in that direction, I think.

            Your description of modern Democrats and Republicans as being progressives and pro-business respectively is of course unassailable. It’s what they are; it’s also accurate to describe them as a party who believes that government has an obligation to do things for the people (Domestic Tranquility; General Welfare; Blessings of Liberty etc.) and a party which believes otherwise.

            However, this categorization leaves out an important aspect: the post WWII abandonment of the Democratic Party (in the face of Truman’s 1948 forays into real civil rights activity), which had been their uneasy home, by southern segregationist supporters of Jim Crow to the shelter of the “Big Tent” of the Republican Party. It took time to complete and was accelerated by the Nixon-Reagan “Southern Strategy” but it had its existential apotheosis when the sociopathic white-supremacist and child rapist Strom Thurmond joined the Republican Party in 1964. I think that that was the beginning of the end of the Republican Party. All success since can be seen as due to careful concentration of shrinking (though still powerful) concentrations of venality, xenophobia and hatred.

            By the way, I’m not a political historian but I understand that the phrase “Party of Taft” has been assigned to the GOP since Theodore Roosevelt abandoned the party to WH Taft in 1912. The “Fourth System” Republican Party of McKinley (Roosevelt had been McKinley’s VP) had become very alarmed with Roosevelt’s trust busting attacks against the titanic moneyed interests of the “robber baron” era (Carnegie, Mellon, Frick, Astor, Rockefeller, Ford et. al.). It wanted a puppet president and Taft filled the bill (Taft was an honorable man; he subsequently made for a near-great Chief Justice) but the party’s split assured the subsequent election of Wilson. After WWI, Republican money bought three puppets in a row: The pathetic criminal Harding, Harding’s honorable (but supremely unequal to his task) VP Calvin Coolidge and Harding’s loathed Commerce Secretary, technocrat Herbert Hoover. Hoover was elected in 1928 but his culpability in the disastrous Great Mississippi Valley flood of 1927 and his craven machinations in covering up the resulting horror (like Katrina but much worse) assured a vigorous opposition after the ’29 crash. The subsequent retreat of the then powerless Republicans until after the Korean War was the genesis of the Republican Party of the Fifth System. That’s the way I understand it.

          • fadista

            As for revoking the status of “personhood” from corporations, a change to the 14th amendment seems necessary. The court in the Santa Clara Co vs SPRC didn’t intend to grant personhood to corporations. This was made possible by the reporter, a former railroad president, who wrote the headnote, with the intention to misconstrue it, thus enabling precedent that should have never been the case. (Organizations such as “move to amend” and “reclaim democracy” are trying to rally support to change the amendment.)

            I don’t what your sources are for believing that revoking corporate personhood status would be nearly impossible as you suggest (of course I realize changing a constitutional amendment is no walk in the park, but if enough people actually backed such a change, it could happen).

            As for the wind blowing against campaign finance reform, I disagree, depending on what constitutes as the “wind.” I also completely disagree that simply requiring politicians to disclose their donors would adequately address the quid pro problem.

            I’m aware of most of the history you refer to from T Roosevelt to FDR. (I’ve done a little reading on Taft since you mentioned him. I was already biased against him due to Taft-Hartley and further reading has left me just as unimpressed.)

            I think a study of the last one hundred years or more of the Republican party is mostly a study of their shilling for corporations. This has really taken a toll on democratic values.

            From 1933 to 1968, except for Eisenhower, who was half way decent — for a Republican — the Democrats held the presidency 28 of these 35 years. Compared to the period preceding it, from McKinley to Hoover, 1897-1932, the Republicans held the presidency for 28 of the 35 years, which, although this period included the “progressive era,” it also included the rise of corporate power (thankfully, somewhat restricted by T Roosevelt and W Wilson) and ultimately the market crash and great depression.

            People can and should draw their own conclusions.

            If what you’re getting at in the “Southern strategy” is a divide and conquer strategy, I would agree. The Republicans successfully pitted the new, mostly “uneducated” blue collar middleclass against the progressive agenda of the Democrats, especially in the South and even elsewhere with the Reagan Democrats, by appealing to their bigotry. That’s where we are now, with the majority of White men identifying as Republicans. Fortunately, these people are dying off and being replaced by a change in demographic that favors — or should — a return to democratic values. Unfortunately, the Republican’s scorched earth tactics, especially since Reagan, have left many Americans distrustful of government and its ability to champion their causes.

          • fadista

            JC Bancroft Davis, was an American lawyer, judge, diplomat, and president of Newburgh and New York Railway Company and also the court reporter for the SCC vs SPRC supreme court case. He is responsible for incorrectly interpreting the case in his headnote: “The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” However, the court never made such a ruling about corporate personhood. This was JCBD’s interpretation. So, there really should be no legal precedent for corporate personhood with the same rights as natural persons and at least two supreme court justices have pointed this out over the years. (The Thom Hartmann article on this case is a good read.)

            Hopefully, at least one of the five reactionaries on the current supreme court will vacate his seat soon (be struck by lightning, die from a television falling on his head, get shot in the face by Dick Cheney, or whatever it takes) so that Obama can get a reasonable justice to replace him and return the court to relative sanity. Then, should another case regarding corporate personhood rights come before the court, it can rectify this error and make the difficult task of changing the 14th amendment unnecessary.

            As for your comments about the near impossibility of changing the 14th amendment, yes, repealing or changing amendments is never easy but it’s not out of the question. Corporate personhood is only favored by Republicans (possibly Tea Party crazies, too, you never know where they’re at on anything but property rights and taxes) but they soon will be in a minority. But whatever it takes to revoke personhood rights from corporations needs to happen. I strongly disagree with you that mere campaign finance disclosure will adequately address the problem of quid pro quo.

            I’m aware of Southern Democrats changing parties after the civil rights era, a phenomenon that also led to the “Reagan Democrats'” support of Republican candidates for the past two or three decades. This is a pretty blatant case of racism and while it lost the Democrats support among white working class males for a few decades, given what was at steak, it was a necessary purge. Boomer white bigots are dying off and their grandchildren (millenials), while perhaps skeptical of government and too eager to flirt with libertarianism, are generally more liberal than previous generations. I’m hoping they’ll ultimately reject libertarianism and realize the liberal goal of a just society can only be achieved through political engagement.

  • Steve

    I read that the Democrats in the House can force a vote on the clean CR
    by using a “discharge petition”, but that it can take some time, 30-60
    days, for that to work. My question is: have the Democrats started that

  • Roistacher

    The Republican strategy of minimizing the number of people eligible for government-sponsored medical care augments their strategy of voter suppression. It will increase the morbidity and mortality rates of poor people who would tend to vote Democratic. A Democrat in the ICU or the cemetery cannot vote.

  • Chemist150

    It may have been Republican idea but it was done in a Republican way and as a state solution.

    The result was an increase of contract to permanent employment status. i.e. people transitioned from having employer healthcare to having to provide for themselves.

    The difference between the state and federal implementation is that people can leave a state easily but they have a harder time leaving a country if the experiment does not work. If it works for a state, then other states can adopt it an if enough do, then it can be implemented federally.

    That is the idea of a Republic and a true democratic way to build consensus.

    • Robert Thomas

      Chemist150, I wouldn’t worry too much about not having a safe alternative. Despite the concrete slabs that now covers the Sugar Ditch, the tar paper shacks that have provided blissful freedom from the oppression of Big Government persist in Tunica, Mississippi as a beacon of liberty to which all like-minded idealists may steer. In my youth, before the Tunica where my relatives once lived in comparative white gentility conceded that open sewers were provisionally an unacceptable amenity, the foul Odor of Individualist Idealism emanating there provided not only those blind to the medusa of socialist gradualism but even the physiologically sightless clear direction.

      Countless counties and parishes across the rural South will doubtless provide you refuge from the impending calamity. Bon Voyage!

      • Chemist150

        As an atheist, I don’t find parishes as refuge.

        Perhaps you’d like to make some relevant points.

        • Robert Thomas

          By “parish”, I thought it was obvious that I referred to the administrative districts of Louisiana. These days those districts and that state are dominated by politicians of vigorously anti-government sentiment.

  • Mrs. Eccentric

    hmm. seems to me we had these same types of budget tantrums by Repubs every year here in California – until we had redistricting. Poof! suddenly sanity. After all, Democrats got, what – 1.5, 1.7 million more votes than Repubs in the House? And wasn’t Mr. Romney running on repealing Obamacare?

    And – please forgive my forwardness – i want to give Mr. Mann a big, fat kiss on the lips. steph

    • Robert Thomas

      I think that what happened in California is only marginally due to redistricting (or to the method of setting districts). It’s due, perversely from the California Republican Party’s point of view, to the enactment of Proposition 13.

      When the Republicans needed a majority in one or the other of the chambers in order to stop revenue increases, they were forced to compete in sufficient districts to ensure a majority (along with a smattering of those from conservative Democrats) opposed to tax increases. Over time after Proposition 13, the Republicans stopped competing in so many districts, instead concentrating their attention and money on securing what amounts to one-third-plus-one votes in one or the other (not both!) of the Assembly or the Senate. This means that while they can limit revenues from new tax increases, they have no power over how existing revenues are spent (the budget).

      As Governor Brown has demonstrated, when the initiative process is successful for increasing taxation, even that power retained by the shrunken one-third minority is rendered impotent.

      Another consequence of the Republican’s concentration on a mere third of districts is concession to their right-most constituents, resulting in candidates for state office too right wing to prevail in state elections.

      Paradoxically (and I admit to being utterly surprised by this), Proposition 13, having outlived its provisional utility of keeping elderly, cash-poor and land-rich Californians from being taxed out of their homes, has turned against the Republicans in every way. It has become the mechanism by which they have abdicated power in the statehouse. Only the zombie effect of its distortion of the commercial real estate market persists.

      • Chemist150

        Do you own?

        I ask that because if you collect 1.5% on a house in the bay area that is worth about $1 million, it takes 5 houses at $200K in the midwest to generate the same revenue.

        So they have 3-5% tax but considering the difference in housing costs overshadow the difference in income.

        Prop 13 helps balance that difference and I’m not sure it goes far enough. But, those other states still manage their money better and keep unemployment lower.

        • Robert Thomas

          Chemist150, I pay property tax in California.

          That said, I don’t quite get your point.

          Whether other states manage their money better or worse is a matter of opinion.

          Proposition 13 was promoted, as I well recall, to alleviate the real burden that a lot of Californians saddled with land that had rapidly increased in assessed evaluation (but who had low and/or fixed cash flow) had begun to encounter as their pre-WWII, agriculture-based cohort were displaced by the post-WWII manufacturing and technology economy. The effect was delayed twenty-five or thirty years because it fell upon retirees, rather than on peak earners. It was a real problem, but the Democratic legislature failed completely to recognize the dislocation and demographic remaking of California caused by WWII. They tried to squeeze elderly land-rich residents and got severely burned for not paying attention to reality.

  • timholton

    What’s driving the shutdown is a truly bellicose hostility among many Americans to the size and insularity of the federal government. I’m a long way from sympathy with the Tea Party, but it disturbs me that there’s been so little acknowledgement of the scope and depth of disaffection with Washington, which is the real cause of the shutdown. We can argue till we’re blue (or red) in the face about Boehner’s failings, gerrymandered districts, the ACA’s public support, but it all misses the bigger problem. We can also blame the opinions of the Tea Party all we want, but here’s the thing: the legitimacy of all just government depends on the consent of the governed — and it’s not just the Tea Party that’s lost confidence in Washington. If that consent isn’t there, at a certain point it doesn’t really matter why. What’s at stake here is the legitimacy of our national government. We should be discussing that much larger problem.

    • Chemist150

      If you want to talk about “gerrymandered”….

      Where I live, I can only vote for democrats for office. Other parties are excluded by only allowing the top two vote getters from the primaries which are known to be low turn out.

      Unable to write in other option and being forced to vote for only one party…… Is this democratic?

      • timholton

        I don’t think you read my comment before replying because I said it largely misses the point to talk about gerrymandering. You do, however, underscore my main point which is that this appears to me to be another stage in the decline of the legitimacy of our national government in the eyes of ordinary citizens.

      • Robert Thomas

        Chemist150, I admit I’m with you here. Though I doubt that district boundaries can ever be determined in a way that’s free from political bias, whatever commission draws them, I’m willing to concede that they’re unlikely to result in much unfair consequence.

        However, I think that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party (and a selection of others) have each earned a place on the ballot in nearly every district and jurisdiction. I am unconvinced that open primaries are a good thing. “Pragmatist” reformers who deny the reality of political parties, claiming they are all the same, are fools.

        • Chemist150

          I want rank voting. We have the technology. It would empower multiple parties and find more cohesion.

          It would be a mess at first but once people got used to it, it would allow better candidates to rise.

          • Robert Thomas

            I belong to a professional association which uses a form of rank voting to select board and committee members and for a number of other things. It works well, but it’s not perfect. On the whole, I think it’s also worked beneficently for some municipalities.

            Anthony Gottlieb’s July 26 2010 review of “Numbers Rule: The Vexing Mathematics of Democracy, from Plato to the Present” (Princeton, 2010), by George Szpiro was illuminating. Though I haven’t read Szpiro’s book, I have read “Venice, a new History” (Viking, 2012) by Thomas Madden and “Magnifico, the Brilliant Life and Violent Times of Lorenzo de’ Medici” (Simon & Shuster, 2008) by Miles J. Unger. The voting systems of the Most Serene Republic and those of the Florentine state are well described in these. You can see from their experience as well as from modern theorists of representative government that selecting features for an optimally just voting system is harder than it seems.

            The Venetian Republic actually overlapped the American Constitution by several years and John Adams both admired it and criticized it in his “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” in 1787. His historical references were a little addled, so Madden says, but his respect for the MSR’s eleven hundred year old system was sincere and appropriate.

    • Chris OConnell

      No, what is driving this is a truly bellicose small faction of House Republicans against the will of the leadership of both parties and a vast majority of the public. Moreover, while it is true that there is broad discontent with Washington, there has also been a 40-year war on the Federal Government waged by corporate and other large-monied interests.

      Yet still, Social Security and Medicare remain broadly popular, and the US Government – its Civil Service, with all of its flaws, is one of the least corrupt in the world.

      • timholton

        “while it is true that there is broad discontent with Washington, there has also been a 40-year war on the Federal Government waged by corporate and other large-monied interests.”
        — You express well the very state of denial I’m talking about. It’s a simplistic and superficial interpretation and ignores the power of corporate lobbies and revolving doors between corporations and the government. While it’s generally true that big businesses oppose regulation — or that which doesn’t serve the particular interests of the particular lobbying company or industry — it works tirelessly for the benefits that only the power of the federal government can secure for it, and so they’ve managed to capture most of the regulating agencies, not least of all those that deal with the financial sector. Corporate money dominates elections. And let’s not overlook the military industrial complex. All this is extremely detrimental to the gov’t’s legitimacy in the eyes of ordinary citizens. Your response is also extremely condescending to those who live far removed from the East Coast political and economic plutocracy and recognize that federal politicians don’t have the slightest clue what their needs and priorities are. Do FoxNews et al fan the flames of discontent? Of course. But to simply write off citizens’ perspectives as the result of media brainwashing is simplistic and lazy analysis, and condescending to the basic realities those folks face.

        Historically, the U.S. is an enormous nation, and the shutdown is the result of a scale problem that makes good government all but impossible to even debate because it can only be discussed in absurdly abstract terms. Thus we’re in a ridiculous pro-government vs anti-government paradigm that we can’t break free from until we start restoring government to more manageable regional, state and local bases. This isn’t a partisan position. It’s an attempt to restore some reality to our politics — a word, lest we forget, rooted in _polis_ or local community.

      • Robert Thomas

        Agree, though I would have said it’s been a ninety-year war on federal government.

  • Vidyut Naware

    What worries me is that this shutdown – caused by one party not being comfortable with certain aspects of an already existing law and using that as a basis to negotiate on the budget and functioning of the government itself- sets a very dangerous precedent which will make such shutdowns occur far more frequently.

    • Robert Thomas

      It worries you and every other adult American capable of reflection.

  • Robert Thomas

    The Republican Party is dying.

    We’re witnessing the end of the Fifth Party System and watching what once happened to the Whig Party in the first half of the nineteenth century recapitulated. The Whigs, comprising abolitionists, anti-Masonics, loathsome nativists and other ideologically disparate blocks blew apart (even after winning two recent national elections), leaving a principally abolitionist core which coalesced into the Republican Party. That party is now heading for a further metamorphosis.

    When a powerful thing is sick and dying, it can lash out and cause violent damage. That’s what’s happening now to this decaying, white-supremacist zombie.

    James Madison understood that any representative system that added checks on the majority in order to preserve the rights of the minority invited the supreme risk of the tyranny of minority faction. His Federalist 10 responds directly to Hamilton about this. Designing a system that would balance these powers was Madison’s great task. He knew that the result was imperfect, and that the people would cast their attention elsewhere at their peril.

  • amyj1276

    That last comment of the show disturbingly reminded me of how government process works in the movie Idiocracy, which clearly was more of a documentary than we knew.

  • Bill

    What can individuals do to guide this to closure ? I feel helpless as I listen to the news.

  • Bill

    How much is California a forecast of the future ? We had similar problems and issues until people got tired of the Republican party.

    • timholton

      This was John Diaz’s point in yesterday’s Chron.

  • flyinghigh

    The closure of the government really impacted the tourist because of the shut down of national parks and monuments.

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