By Doug Porter
In the wake of two major developments over the last 48 hours, Republican intransigence appears to be weakening in the Battle of the Budget, 2013 Version.
Small, mostly symbolic, steps occurred yesterday towards ending the threat of default triggered by a Tea Party-led refusal to raise the debt ceiling and, possibly, the re-opening the federal government.
Following a White House meeting for Republican representatives, a public willingness to engage in further discussions emerged. Congressman Paul Ryan told the press both sides should “put their guns back in their holsters”, according to Politico.
This motivation to sound reasonable came on the heels of a letter from financiers and Tea Party backers David and Charles Koch responding to claims made by Senate leader Harry Reid implicating them as instigators of the current standoff.
Every word in the letter was true: Koch industries has played little or no role in the current round of nastiness triggered by right wing forces seeking to undo the Affordable Care Act. Koch family money, on the other hand, has been instrumental in funding the groups supporting the current confrontation.
From Think Progress:
At a press conference Thursday, House GOP leadership announced the new strategy, one day after Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham admitted the group will “give the speaker some flex on a short-term debt limit increase,” in order to extend the shutdown over Obamacare. On Wednesday, Koch officials increased the pressure with a letter for inquiring members who “have asked what our position is on this issue” that claims the conservative billionaires never supported withholding government funds over Obamacare. Privately, Koch officials told Congress aU.S. default would be a disaster.
Both groups have been driving forces throughout the debt and shutdown crises and are responsible for putting Tea Party members in Congress in the first place. Even now, it’s not clear if the Tea Party that Heritage and Koch helped to create will accept a deal on these terms, since debt ceiling truthers refuse to recognize that default is an economic threat.
Following a series of bad news polls, the latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll came out and it was clear that the Tea Party and its GOP allies were losing public support.
From the Washington Post:
The American public views the Republican party’s motives in the shutdown as overwhelmingly political. And looking political is the absolute worst thing that can happen to a political party.
A single question in the NBC-WSJ poll captures that sentiment. Seven in 10 people agreed with the statement that Republicans are “putting their own political agenda ahead of what is good for the country” while just 27 percent said that the GOP is “demonstrating strong leadership and standing up for what they believe in.”
The margin of blame for the GOP is now wider than the party received during the poll during the last shutdown in 1995-96. And previously suppressed squabbles with the party are coming into public view, according to the New York Times.
Under attack for the government shutdown, some of the most vocal elements of the conservative wing of the Republican Party are publicly splintering, a sign of growing concerns among even hard-core conservatives that the defeat-health-care-at-any-cost strategy may have backfired.
Bipartisan negotiations are now, in fact, underway on two separate tracks. House Republicans are taking to the White House about a short-term increase of the debt ceiling while the shutdown of the government continues. In other words, the GOP is willing to temporarily release the global economic hostage while it negotiates over the domestic economic hostage.
UPDATE: Associated Press reports House Republicans are now offering to pass legislation to avert a default and end the partial government shutdown as part of a package that includes cuts in benefit programs.
One problem with getting approval of any compromise through the House will be the procedural “poison pill” quietly put in place on the eve of the shutdown, guaranteeing Republicans the ability to keep the government closed even if a bipartisan majority found a way to re-open the government.
According to regular House rules, if there is an impasse on a bill or resolution between the House and Senate, a motion to dispose of any amendment shall be privileged that simply means “any motion from any member should be allowed to proceed to end the gridlock.”
The GOP changed the rule on September 30th by adding that “any motion may be offered only by the Majority Leader or his designee” virtually guaranteeing only Eric Cantor the power to stop the shutdown.
Senate Republicans, meanwhile, are working on legislation both raising the debt ceiling and reopening the federal government.
Still to come are the ripple effects caused by government employees only receiving half their paychecks today; the shutdown started in the middle of a pay period. Not only will there be impacts on consumer spending, it’s logical to expect the emotional toll of the shutdown will hit home for federal workers today.
Reflecting on this most recent set of public polling, Ezra Klein at the Washington Post says it’s not the current crisis the GOP needs to worry about. It’s the structural shortcomings in the GOP that allowed the confrontation over Obamacare to occur in the first place.
Republicans should be very worried about what this episode means for their party in the midterms. But not because the shutdown itself is going to be foremost in voter’s minds 13 months from now. It’s because the shutdown is evidence of a Republican crack-up that is leading the party to pursue doomed, reckless and self-destructive campaigns. And if they keep doing that through the rest of 2013 and much of 2014, that will matter in the elections.
Rolling Out Obamacare in California
While the Congress has been squabbling over “defunding” the health care reform program, it’s been suffering through plenty of glitches. The feds’ web site was originally set up lacking enough servers to handle traffic and requiring people who were merely seeking information to create an account.
Fortunately for Obamacare advocates, those SNAFUs have largely flown under the radar as the nation’s news media busily tried to drum up drama on Capital Hill.
The New York Times has an article posted explaining the game plan for selling the Affordable Care Act in California.
With enthusiastic backing from state officials and an estimated seven million uninsured, California is a crucial testing ground for the success of President Obama’s health care law.
It is building the country’s largest state-run health insurance exchange and has already expanded Medicaid coverage for the poor. Officials hope that the efforts here will eventually attract more than two million people who are currently uninsured.
And as the exchange, known as Covered California, has begun the painstaking effort to enroll potential customers in the subsidized insurance plans or expanded Medicaid, the public outreach effort here can seem akin to a huge political campaign.
San Diegans will begin to feel the impact of these efforts shortly as canvassers working with various community groups will be fanning out into neighborhoods attempting to contact 100,000 uninsured residents with information and access to assistance in signing up. Participating in this effort will be Alliance San Diego, a non profit with a good track record in reaching out to under served neighborhoods. (I have worked with their Get Out The Vote efforts in past election years.)
Salmonella Update: Foster Farms Get a Break
The Los Angeles Times reports today that a USDA threat to close down three Foster Farms processing plants will not be happening.
At least 278 people reportedly have been sickened in 18 states since March by a strain of Salmonella Heidelberg that has shown signs of resistance to antibiotics. That may explain why rates of hospitalization are nearly double that of typical salmonella outbreaks.
That prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture this week to threaten Foster Farms with closure of its two plants in Fresno and another in Livingston, Calif., where the company is headquartered.
That threat was lifted Thursday after Foster Farms met a deadline to show plans to improve conditions in the three problem plants. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service did not mandate a recall of chicken from those facilities. It deemed the company’s poultry safe to eat as long as it’s cooked to a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Initial stories about the outbreaks indicated that the government shutdown left the USDA powerless to do much more than inform the press. Thirty employees have been recalled from furlough (although they’re not being paid),
The chicken in question can be identified via USDA marks of inspection P6137, P6137A or P7632. I visited a Ralph’s grocery store yesterday and Kroger branded chickens were on display where Foster Farms packages are normally kept.
UPDATE: From the OBRag
Public health officials are reporting that 22 San Diegans have fallen ill due to the salmonella outbreak from Foster Farms chicken products.
Consumer groups have demanded a recall of the California-produced chicken, but there haven’t been enough federal food inspectors to deal with the problem due to furloughed employees.
County’s Health & Human Services Agency reported to the press that the average number of salmonella cases in the area for this stage in the year is 324. We now have 354 cases.
10News says that “chickens processed at the three California plants may not say Foster Farms on the packaging. They are sold under a variety of names including Ralphs, Safeway, O Organics, Eating Right and Kirkland, among others.”
About 30 Truckers showed up in DC for a blockade they said would lead to Obama’s resignation. This is what Fox News predicted:
On This Day: 1968 – Apollo 7 was launched by the U.S. The first manned Apollo mission was the first in which live television broadcasts were received from orbit. Wally Schirra, Don Fulton Eisele and R. Walter Cunningham were the astronauts aboard. 1975 – “Saturday Night Live” was broadcast for the first time. George Carlin was the guest host. 1984 – American Kathryn D. Sullivan became the first female astronaut to space walk. She was aboard the space shuttle Challenger.
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