Thursday, February 21, 2013

Republicans the Loser on Sequestration

The very idea that Republicans are refusing to even hear of raising revenue by closing tax loopholes on the wealthy says all you need to know about this Republican Party - bought and paid for by wealthy donors!

Update, 2:35 pm, 2/21/2013:

Republicans whine the President never reaches out which is not true but in this instance when he reaches out to McConnell and Boehner, they bite off his hand with remarks.  Those two among others on the GOP side are classless human beings with zero integrity.  Sorry I cannot say what I would really like to say.  Here is the story from the Hill:

President Obama on Thursday phoned Republican leaders in Congress to discuss the impasse surrounding $85 billion in automatic spending cuts set to hit the government on March 1. 
Obama made phone calls to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) eight days before the cuts are implemented and one day after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned they would lead to the furloughing of 600,000 civilian defense workers.  
White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to give details of the call, while Republicans picked at Obama for not calling Democrats, a criticism that suggested they saw the calls as a political stunt. 
"He placed calls earlier today to Senator McConnell and Speaker Boehner, had good conversations, but I have no further readout of those calls for you," Carney told reporters at his daily press briefing. 
The calls appear aimed at demonstrating Obama is engaged in trying to avert the sequester — which the president has described as a "meat cleaver" approach to budget cutting — and to answer GOP criticisms he hasn't reached out to them on major policy disputes. 
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) suggested Obama should instead focus his efforts on Senate Democrats, noting that while the House had passed a pair of sequester replacement bills, the upper chamber had not.  
"If he wants to avert the sequester, shouldn’t the President be focused on the House of Congress that HASN’T acted, and where his own political party holds the majority?," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel in an email.  
The House Speaker has insisted repeatedly that the House will not act again to turn off the automatic cuts until a plan passes through the Senate. But the odds of a deal in the Senate seem slim, with McConnell saying that he is "not interested in an 11th-hour negotiation."  

Read More at The Hill
There is no better reason to vote out Republicans in the House then their abdication of anything to do with sequestration to the Senate.  Bunch of worthless Republican Congressman who are getting paid $174,000 a year and leadership even more to be obstructionists and not do their job.  How anyone can support this group of Republicans except wealthy donors is beyond me!
Speaker Boehner getting mad at Obama while on his vacation was a joke.  If he cared about the American people instead of big donors. the House would be in DC working on a solution not on vacation.  It is a vacation which they want the voters to think is a recess.  How many of you have seen or heard of your member of Congress having Town Halls during their vacation?  We do know McCain held a Town Hall on Immigration that got out of hand. Then McCain got mad at a reporter so everything is back to normal. Most of the ones that did hold a Town Hall it was for one day.  That's a vacation in my book.

Senator Rubio (R-FL) went to Jordan and Israel on his boondoggle. Rubio wrote on his website that he was coming to the Middle East on an official trip in his role as a member of the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees. With sequestration looming, Rubio spends our tax dollars to go to Jordan and Israel in a very transparent move to run in 2016.  Maybe the #1 cut should be travel of members of Congress overseas unless it is absolutely necessary and is approved by a bi-partisan group in order to spend taxpayer money on a boondoggle.

Then there is the little matter of Boehner blaming Obama for sequestration when slides were uncovered with Boehner telling his GOP Caucus that they got 98% of what they wanted out of Obama.  Yet they say Obama doesn't bargain in good faith. Always keep in mind that many Republicans/conservatives accuse others of what they are doing.  Seems to be a trait among the hard right that now runs the Republican Party so members of Congress are marching to their drums.

John Avlon of The Daily Beast Uncovered the July 2011 Power Point:
The PowerPoint That Proves It’s Not Obama’s Sequester After All
Republicans have taken to calling the deep cuts that could reverse our hard-won economic recovery ‘Obama’s Sequester.’ But a July 2011 PowerPoint obtained by John Avlon shows the opposite may be true. 
With deep sequestration cuts just days away, Congress is on vacation. But they’ve still got plenty of time to play the blame game. 
The latest semantic spin is to call the looming $1.2 trillion in cuts, which could throw the whole economy back into recession, “Obama’s Sequester.” House Speaker John Boehner indulged this approach half a dozen times in a floor speech before he went on break, establishing its place in the talking-points firmament. 
There are a couple problems with this tactic, as my colleague Michael Tomasky pointed out Tuesday. Congress passed sequestration before the president signed it, and the whole self-defeating exercise was carried out in response to Tea Party Republicans’ insistence that we play chicken with the debt ceiling, which ultimately cost America its AAA credit rating.
But here’s the thing. I happened to come across an old email that throws cold water on House Republicans’ attempts to call this “Obama’s Sequester.” 
It’s a PowerPoint presentation that Boehner’s office developed with the Republican Policy Committee and sent out to the Capitol Hill GOP on July 31, 2011. Intended to explain the outline of the proposed debt deal, the presentation is titled: “Two Step Approach to Hold President Obama Accountable.” 
It’s essentially an internal sales document from the old dealmaker Boehner to his unruly and often unreasonable Tea Party cohort. But it’s clear as day in the presentation that “sequestration” was considered a cudgel to guarantee a reduction in federal spending—the conservatives’ necessary condition for not having America default on its obligations.
The presentation lays out the deal in clear terms, describing the spending backstop as “automatic across-the-board cuts (‘sequestration’). Same mechanism used in 1997 Balanced Budget Agreement.”
 Read More at The Daily Beast 
Boehner deserves a liar, liar pants on fire designation for his comments this week.  When he put Rep Cathy McMorris Rogers out to speak using his talking point papers, all she did was grin.  This is serious business and the woman he showcases only knows how to grin as she talks.

Guess which woman is Rogers?
One thing that makes me glad after Boehner speaks, is to realize we are not as dumb as he thinks we are with his condescending remarks and his unfounded attacks on the President.  We recognize him as someone who has trouble with the truth.  If Boehner and GOP in Congress would quit attacking the President and take up his offer of working together, they might accomplish something.  Chances of that happening are slim to none since in 2011 when they come up with this dumb idea of sequestration that Democrats in the House all voted against, Boehner said he got 98% of what the GOP wanted out of Obama.  How is that deal working out for the GOP now as they are on the hook with taking a one-week vacation and their obstructionists agenda to stall the economy.

Will we be seeing immediate results from the sequestration or will they be phased in over time?  Retirees of the federal government and social security along with medicare recipients will keep receiving their checks and benefits.  Our military will not lose any pay as they shift money to make sure they get their pay and benefits.

In the federal government, the furloughs will be one day a week until September 30th in order to keep the Government working so I imagine a certain amount of people will be off each day.  Looks like Government workers even though losing money will fair better then their counter parts outside the Government who will be on furlough until further notice if this lasts past 1 April.  Private sector will be required to notify their employees of an upcoming furlough in advance so from most accounts 1 April is when the sequestration goes into full affect.

The Reuters article posted on Huffington Post gives one of the best synopsis I have seen on Sequestration:
Senior administration officials said Republicans would be blamed for cuts that did come into force. 
If allowed to run their course, the austerity measures could cost 750,000 jobs and keep weak economic growth stunted for the rest of 2013, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office warns.
These spending cuts, decided in 2011 amid a fever in Congress for deficit reduction, were meant to be so painful that they would goad Republicans and Democrats into reaching an alternative agreement on where to cut back. The cuts "will visit hardship on a whole lot of people," President Barack Obama warned on Tuesday. 
And they are only the first installment in a decade's worth of required cuts totaling $1.2 trillion.
While some furlough notices will be issued to government workers, there will be few outward signs on March 1 that the cuts have been launched.
Under the law, retirees are shielded and so their Social Security checks will arrive on schedule at the beginning of March and every month thereafter. Similarly, the elderly and the disabled will not see their federally backed Medicare healthcare curtailed at all over the seven months.
Every U.S. soldier will get paid and the Defense Department will be allowed to shift funds to ensure that combat operations and "critical military readiness capabilities" are not degraded, according to the Obama administration. 
And so on March 1 and in the days immediately after, while no dramatic shakeup is anticipated, there will be some early tremors.
* Government agencies are likely to issue 30-day warnings of impending furloughs of government workers. They could be told that starting on April 1 they will have to stay home for a maximum of 22 days between March 1 and Sept. 30.
* New government contracts could slow in anticipation of no deal being reached to replace the sequestration. This would hit defense contractors and road and bridge builders alike.
* Members of Congress, who are not exempt from the spending cuts, will be advised to begin preparing their staffs for either salary cuts or layoffs if they have to shave funds from their approximately $4 billion in annual appropriations.
* Medical research labs at universities that rely heavily on federal funds will begin deciding which projects to abandon or curtail, if they haven't already.
* Every federal agency will have to finalize their plans on how to execute the across-the-board spending cuts. 
At this stage, most planned furloughs are being held to 22 days per federal employee. Anything longer is considered a formal layoff and requires more complex legal hurdles, some involving seniority, to be met. 
In some cases, furlough notices won't go out until terms are negotiated with employee unions after March 1. Not all union-government contracts cover such actions, said Carl Goldman, executive director of AFSCME Council 26, which represents 8,500 federal workers from building engineers to librarians. 
"The biggest thing we can do is to negotiate over the scheduling of furloughs, how much choice employees will have in selecting days furloughed," Goldman said.
Over the seven-month period, a 22-day furlough would roughly equal about one day per week, reducing workers' income by about one-fifth.

LAID-BACK CONGRESS (aka Do Nothing Congress)
Congress, showing little sense of urgency, is now on a week-long "Presidents Day" recess. 
When members of the Senate and House of Representatives return next week, they will begin feeling each other out for a remedy by March 27, when another budget deadline hits: the need to replenish federal funds for all government agencies. 
That is a separate fight in Congress but it might become mixed in with the sequestration battle as fiscal issues come to a head. 
Last week, Senate Democrats unveiled their plan to replace the sequestration with a combination of agriculture subsidy cuts and higher taxes on the richest Americans.
Senate Republicans, warning that they will reject any new tax increases, have not yet settled on a plan. But several are circulating, including replacing the sequestration with different spending cuts, giving federal agencies more flexibility in how they would carry out the existing $85 billion in cuts, or reducing the federal workforce by 10 percent through attrition. 
Before going forward with any plan, Republicans might have to quell an uprising within their party that has some conservatives hoping that the meat-ax approach stays, thus ensuring some serious deficit reduction this year.
Read More at Huffington Post

The American people who are honest with themselves now know the Republicans in Congress are to blame.  Boehner and GOP members of Congress are putting wealthy tax loopholes which they refuse to close for their big donors over the American people and national security.  Boehner even admitted that national security would be harmed with sequestration but why let that stand in the way? Boehner went on to call Obama "gutless" on sequestration.  Now that takes nerve, but it shows how low this Republican Party and its members of Congress have sunk.  When you think Republicans cannot get any lower in gutter, they manage to do just that.

The American people are taking note including a lot of Republicans who don't want to see this group back in Congress after December 2014.  We want a Congress that actually works for We The People not just the wealthy donors.  The Republicans were not kidding when they met the night of the President's first inauguration to plot out how to obstruct President Obama as they are still doing the same obstruction.  When the news of that meeting surfaced last April, that was the beginning of the end for me supporting Republicans in 2012 and joined Republicans for Obama.  Now I will never support Republicans again as long as they remain hard right and the Party of "NO!"  IMHO it is too late for a common sense, rational Republican Party.

Please contact your Republican Representative and/or members of the Senate to tell them to quit obstructing and work with the President on Sequestration.  Information you need for calling:
Senate Contact InformationHouse Contact Information
United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 will also connect you to your Representative or Senator
If you are represented by Democrats, use the same contact information above to call and ask them to stand firm against Republicans wanting to protect wealthy donor loopholes and put the cuts on the backs of the middle class and poor.  Also thank them for doing a good job and tell them you will be supporting them in 2014.  Remember that House Members are up for election every two years and Senators every six years.

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