By Doug Porter
You have to give this guy credit.
Rep. Darrell Issa never misses a chance to make Congress look silly. I’ve lost track of all his investigations, but I do know one thing; the sum total of their actual impact on government operations (the thing he’s supposed to be overseeing) has been: Zero.
His latest crusade involves getting to the bottom of just why park service Director Jonathan Jarvis closed monuments on the national mall in Washington DC.
Never one to miss the opportunity to facilitate conspiracy mongering involving President Obama, Issa harangued Jarvis following testimony that the White House didn’t dictate how the park service handled the closures, calling for the Directors resignation.
“The monuments and memorials on the National Mall do not take care of themselves,” Jarvis told the lawmakers, according to Politico. “Our rangers are there to prevent vandalism and impact to the monuments and the memorials. All of those rangers have been furloughed.”
All but 12 of the 300 park service employees who usually work on the Mall were furloughed during the 16 day shutdown of the government.
Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon (D) held up a mirror and faced it towards Republican lawmakers at the hearing, saying: “I’ll show you who is responsible, right here,”
“If you want to spend your time here dissecting individual decisions about what monuments are open and which are closed, let me save you some time. The national park system is surprisingly part of our national government, which you shut down.”
Rep. Issa isn’t finished, probably because he thinks there’s more press coverage to be had. Yesterday he issued a subpoena demanding records including “all documents referring or relating to the National Park Service process for handling proposals for budget modifications related to sequestration.”
Issa opportunism was prompted by demonstrations at the World War II Memorial. Staffers for Congressional Tea Party Republicans seized upon a photo op early in the shutdown to roll away barriers erected around the monument as a bus load of vets rolled up. Soon thereafter the Washington Times ran a column quoting an anonymous Park Service Ranger saying that “we’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can.”
Last weekend the memorial was back in the news last weekend, as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin joined a couple hundred of protesters in a rally where demonstrators tore down some of the black metal barricades and stacked them in front of the White House as a young man waving a Confederate posed for the media.
Politico reported Tuesday that veterans coming to the nation’s capital to see the monument were saying they were not encountering any major obstacles in their visits. Many, including the original organizers of last weekend’s visitation complained they are being used for political gain.
Costs and Consequences of the Shutdown
The government shutdown ended last night after 87 House Republicans joined with 198 Democrats to pass a resolution allowing continued funding for existing programs (at the sequestered rate) and lifting the debt ceiling.
Congressman Duncan Hunter was the only local representative to vote against the measure.
Today’s Washington Post Wonkblog scored who got what out of the deal.
1) Republicans got nothing. Typically, the law that passes at the end of these standoffs could never have passed at the beginning. The process exists to get one or both sides comfortable with concessions that, at the beginning, they wouldn’t have accepted.
Not this time. The bill, which cleanly funds the government, suspends the debt ceiling, and creates a bicameral budget committee, passed with mostly Democratic votes. It’s a bill that could have passed both the House and Senate with these same vote counts on September 30th — and that would’ve meant no interruption in government services, no forced vacation for hundreds of thousands of workers, no needless hit to the economy, no tremors in the markets.
But it’s not just that Republicans didn’t win anything. It’s that they lost so much.
2) The GOP’s Obamacare boomerang. The shutdown was meant to stop Obamacare. Instead, it provided crucial aid to the struggling law. If not for the drama in Washington, HealthCare.gov’s disastrous launch would’ve been the top news story in the country. Instead, it was knocked off the front pages. Many assumed, reasonably but wrongly, that the flaws were attributable to the GOP’s shutdown. And Obamacare actually gained in the polls. Rarely has a strategy failed so completely.
3) The Republican Party is horribly unpopular. Multiple polls found that the Republican Party is less popular than it’s been since pollsters began asking the question. Gallup found their favorability at 28 percent. The NBC/Wall Street Journal disagreed: The GOP’s favorability was actually 24 percent, they reported.
4) The Republican Party devalued hostage taking. Republicans took the wrong lesson from 2011. They thought they won major policy concessions because they were willing to take the debt ceiling hostage. In fact, they won major policy concessions because they’d won the 2010 election. The hostage taking was perhaps a necessary strategy to effectuate their mandate, but it wasn’t sufficient without the electoral win.
By unwisely deploying the same strategy this year, after they lost an election, they proved its weakness — and they let Democrats establish a principle that they won’t negotiate policy under these terms. Going forward, Republicans will be more afraid of this kind of brinksmanship and Democrats will be far less afraid of it.
5) They split their party. The shutdown began with a schism. Republican leaders thought Sen. Ted Cruz’s defund-and-shutdown strategy was lunacy. They tried everything they could think of to get out of it. They failed. And so the shutdown began with top Republicans, and perhaps most Republicans, opposed to the strategy. It ended with a wide swath of Republicans furious at their more confrontational brethren for leading them into this disaster. The party is as split as it’s been in memory.
But there’s one silver lining for Republicans: They held their spending number. Even though Democrats won the 2012 election, Republicans have managed to keep sequestration’s spending levels. The CR Democrats agreed to before the shutdown, and the CR they agreed to in order to end the shutdown, both keep spending far below what Democrats think is necessary.
Meanwhile, Outside the Beltway…
The New York Times quoted differing estimates on the economic impact of the standoff for the fourth quarter of the year. On the low end they had St. Louis-based Macroeconomic Advisers projecting a $12 billion loss. On the high end Standard & Poor’s estimated the shutdown will cut about 0.6 percent off inflation-adjusted gross domestic product, equivalent to $24 billion.
And the reverberations of this most recent shutdown will continue. From the Times story:
Containers of goods idling at ports. Reduced sales at sandwich shops in downtown Washington. Canceled vacations to national parks and to destinations abroad. Reduced corporate earnings forecasts. Higher interest payments on short-term debt.
Even with the shutdown of the United States government and the threat of a default coming to an end, the cost of Congress’s gridlock has already run well into the billions, economists estimate. And the total will continue to grow even after the shutdown ends, partly because of uncertainty about whether lawmakers might reach another deadlock early next year.
A complete accounting will take months once the government reopens and the Treasury resumes adding to the country’s debt. But economists said that the intransigence of House Republicans would take a bite out of fourth-quarter growth, which will affect employment, business earnings and borrowing costs. The ripple from Washington will be felt around the globe.
One Final Note on the Costs
The Times article and others like it provide a window into the immediate impacts of the latest round of Republican intransigence. With all the TV drama of the last few days it’s easy to forget that this battle of the budget is actually part of a war. And the long term effects are worth noting.
From The Altantic.com:
According to Macroeconomic Advisers, the total cost of Congress’s assault on the economy going back to 2010—including the budget cuts, including sequestration, and fights
According to the report, discretional spending cuts removed 1.2 million jobs from the economy, while policy uncertainty, graphed below by the New York Times, cost another 900,000. Two-plus million net new workers is 12 typical months of job creation. So, if the recession delivered a loss decade, Congress has delivered a lost year.
The Pot Calling the Kettle Black
The reporting staff at Fox 5 News might want to run a cursory check with Google on the major players in their story next time they decide to delve into the junction of local politics and social media.
They cobbled together a feature this week on (sometimes) abusive parody accounts on Twitter featuring San Diego GOP Boss Man Tony Krvaric talking about how bad the local practitioners were. Many of the examples were blurred because they “couldn’t be shown” on TV.
I’d love to show you the video (complete with blurring), but Fox 5 doesn’t like to share.
What is hilarious about the Fox 5 story is they are apparently unaware of the fact Krvaric had all his accounts suspended by Twitter in 2011.
From Media Bistro’s Fishbowl LA:
San Diego County GOP chairman/apparatchik Tony Krvaric is making noise in the blogosphere today for getting himself booted from Twitter. Krvaric registered the unused names of several of his Democratic opponents on Twitter–and used those accounts to tweet ridiculous things. Included among his targets was his Democratic chairman counterpart Jess Durfee.
Twitter made Krvaric ditch his fake accounts, and erased his personal feed. Krvaric was unapologetic about his actions.
“Basically, they are pissed off that they didn’t register them first,” Krvaric said. “For them not to register their own … It just shows how far behind they are …
“There’s nothing illegal about it and I don’t think I did anything wrong. What sucks is I have to redo my whole account. All my followers and everything. In some way, although I want my full name back, I was following too many people so this will be like a cleansing.”
We hear that Krvaric is contemplating setting up a correspondence school for civil behavior during election campaigns now that Fox 5 has rehabilitated his political image.
On This Day: 1888 – The first issue of “National Geographic Magazine” was released at newsstands. 1968 – Jose Feliciano released his (then) controversial, bluesy rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.” 1973 – The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) began an oil-embargo against several countries including the U.S. and Great Britain. The incident stemmed from Western support of Israel when Egypt and Syria attacked the nation on October 6, 1973. The embargo lasted until March of 1974.
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