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Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Republicans Must Respond to Urgency of Lifting the Stupid Budget Sequester and Preventable Government Shutdown

President Obama must call House Speaker Boehner to Action!  

American must be lifted out of this preventable economic madness and a simple majority vote of the Republican controlled House will do it.

"...imagine if a Democratic Congress threatened to crash the global economy unless a Republican president agreed to gun background checks or immigration reform. I think it's fair to say that Republicans would not think that was appropriate." (President Obama)

Dear President Obama, 

Although you're standing your ground for the middle class who voted for you during these horribly daunting budget debates, it's clear that your eloquent speeches aren't convincing enough. 

Although your pleas for sanity set a non-threatening tone, you're not driving the urgency to action that Americans need, especially from the politically paralyzed Speaker John Boehner.  

You lay out sensible information, but Americans want to see results. We want to see your American Jobs Act passed; we want to see the #stupid_sequester lifted and we want to have our government open for business.  At this point in our paralyzed government, Americans need your forceful leadership to accomplish all of the above.

This is what President Obama said today in Tuesday's Oct. 8 Press Conference:

"This morning I had a chance to speak with Speaker Boehner. And I told him what I've been saying publicly, that I am happy to talk with him and other Republicans about anything -- not just issues I think are important but also issues that they think are important. But I also told him that having such a conversation, talks, negotiations shouldn't require hanging the threats of a government shutdown or economic chaos over the heads of the American people.
Think about it this way, the American people do not get to demand a ransom for doing their jobs. You don't get a chance to call your bank and say I'm not going to pay my mortgage this month unless you throw in a new car and an Xbox. If you're in negotiations around buying somebody's house, you don't get to say, well, let's talk about the price I'm going to pay, and if you don't give the price then I'm going to burn down your house. That's not how negotiations work. That's not how it happens in business. That's not how it happens in private life.
In the same way, members of Congress, and the House Republicans in particular, don't get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their jobs. And two of their very basic jobs are passing a budget and making sure that America's paying its bills. They don't also get to say, you know, unless you give me what the voters rejected in the last election, I'm going to cause a recession.
That's not how it works. No American president would deal with a foreign leader like this. Most of you would not deal with either co- workers or business associates in this fashion. And we shouldn't be dealing this way here in Washington.
And you know, I've heard Republicans suggest that, well, no, this is reasonable, that this is entirely appropriate. But as I've said before, imagine if a Democratic Congress threatened to crash the global economy unless a Republican president agreed to gun background checks or immigration reform. I think it's fair to say that Republicans would not think that was appropriate.
So let's lift these threats from our families and our businesses, and let's get down to work. It's not like this is a new position that I'm taking here. I had Speaker Boehner and the other leaders in just last week. Either my chief of staff or I have had serious conversations on the budget with Republicans more than 20 times since March.

So we've been talking all kinds of business. What we haven't been able to get are serious positions from the Republicans that would allow us to actually resolve some core differences. And (Republicans) have decided to run out the clock until there's a government shutdown or the possibility of default, thinking that it would give them more leverage. That's not my characterization. They've said it themselves. That was their strategy from the start. And that is not how our government is supposed to run.

It's not just me, by the way, who has taken the position that we're willing to have conversations about anything. Senate Democrats have asked to sit down with House Republicans and hash out a budget but have been rejected by the House Republicans 19 times.

At the beginning of this year Speaker Boehner said, what we want is regular order and a serious budget process. So, the Senate should pass a bill and the House should pass a bill, and then a committee comes together and they hash out their differences and they send the bill to the president. Well, that's exactly what Democrats did.

Except somewhere along the way, House Republicans decided they wouldn't appoint people to the committee to try to negotiate, and 19 times they've rejected that. So even after all that, the Democrats in the Senate still passed a budget that effectively reflects Republican priorities at Republican budget levels just to keep the government open, and the House Republicans couldn't do that either.
The point is, I think, not only the White House but also Democrats in the Senate and Democrats in the House have shown more than ample willingness to talk about any issues that the Republicans are concerned about. But we can't do it if the entire basis of the Republican strategy is, we're going to shut down the government or cause economic chaos if we don't get a hundred percent of what we want. SO my suggestion to the speaker has been and will continue to be, let's stop the excuses, let's take a vote in the House, let's end this shutdown right now, let's put people back to work. 
There are enough reasonable Republicans and Democrats in the House who are willing to vote yes on a budget that the Senate has already passed. That vote could take place today. The shutdown would be over. Then serious negotiations could proceed around every item in the budget.
Now, as soon as Congress votes to reopen the government, it's also got to vote to meet our country's commitments, pay our bills, raise the debt ceiling, because as reckless as a government shutdown is, the economic shutdown caused by America defaulting would be dramatically worse.
And I want to talk about this for a minute because even though people can see and feel the effects of a government shutdown -- they're already experiencing it right now -- there are still some people out there who don't believe that default is a real thing. And we've been hearing that from some Republicans in Congress: that default would not be a big deal.
So let me explain this. If Congress refuses to raise what's called the debt ceiling, America would not be able to meet all of our financial obligations for the first time in 225 years.
And because it's called raising the debt ceiling, I think a lot of Americans think it's raising our debt. It is not raising our debt. This does not add a dime to our debt. It simply says you pay for what Congress has already authorized America to purchase, whether that's the greatest military in the world or veterans' benefits or Social Security. Whatever it is that Congress has already authorized, what this does is make sure that we can pay those bills.
Now the last time that the tea party Republicans flirted with the idea of default, two years ago, markets plunged, business and consumer confidence plunged, America's credit rating was downgraded for the first time, and a decision to actually go through with it, to actually permit default, according to many CEOs and economists, would be -- and I'm quoting here -- "insane, catastrophic, chaos" -- these are some of the more polite words.
Warren Buffett likened default to a nuclear bomb, a weapon too horrible to use. It would disrupt markets, it would undermine the world's confidence in America as the bedrock of the global economy, and it might permanently increase our borrowing costs which, of course, ironically would mean that it would be more expensive for us to service what debt we do have and it would add to our deficits and our debt, not decrease them. There's nothing fiscally responsible about that. Preventing this should be simple. As I said, raising the debt ceiling is a lousy name, which is why members of Congress in both parties don't like to vote on it, because it makes you vulnerable in political campaigns. But it does not increase our debt. It does not grow our deficit, it does not allow for a single dime of increased spending. All it does is allow the Treasury Department to pay for what Congress has already spent.
But as I said, it's always a tough vote. 
People don't like doing it, although it has been done 45 times since Ronald Reagan took office. Nobody in the past has ever seriously threatened to breach the debt ceiling until the last two years. And this is the creditworthiness of the United States that we're talking about. This is our word, this is our good name.
This is real. In a government shutdown, millions of Americans face inconvenience or outright hardship. In an economic shutdown, every American could see their 401(k)s and home values fall, borrowing cost for mortgages and student loans rise, and there would be a significant risk of a very deep recession at a time when we're still climbing our way out of the worst recession in our lifetimes.
You know, the American people have already fought too hard and too long to come back from one crisis, only to see a handful of more extreme Republicans in the House of Representatives precipitate another one.
Now, the good news is, over the past 3 1/2 years, our businesses have created 7 1/2 million new jobs. Our housing market is healing; we've cut the deficit in half. Since I took office, the deficit is coming down faster than any time in the last 50 years. America is poised to become the number-one energy producer in the world this year. This year, for the first time in a very long time, we're producing more oil than we're importing.
So we got a lot of good things going for us, but the uncertainty caused by just one week of this nonsense so far has caused businesses to reconsider spending and hiring, you've seen consumer confidence plunge to the lowest level since 2008, you've seen mortgages held up by thousands of home buyers who aren't sure about the economic situation out there. And all this adds to our deficit, so it doesn't subtract from it.

So we can't afford these manufactured crises every few months. And as I said, this one isn't even about deficits or spending or budgets. Our deficits are falling at the fastest pace in 60 years. The budget that the Senate passed is at Republican spending levels. It's their budget that Democrats were willing to put votes on just to make sure the government was open while negotiations took place for a longer-term budget. And what's happened -- the way we got to this point was one thing and one thing only, and that was Republican obsession with dismantling the Affordable Care Act and denying health care to millions of people. That law ironically is moving forward.

So most Americans, Democrats and Republicans, agree that health care should not have anything to do with keeping our government open or paying our bills on time, which is why I will sit down and work with anyone of any party, not only to talk about the budget; I'll talk about ways to improve the health care system.

I'll talk about ways that we can shrink our long-term deficits. I'll also want to talk about how we're going to help the middle class strengthen early childhood education and improve our infrastructure and research and development. There are a whole bunch of things I want to talk about in terms of how we're going to make sure that everybody's getting a fair shake in this society and that our economy's growing in a broad-based way and building our middle class.
And by the way, if anybody doubts my sincerity about that, I've put forward proposals in my budget to reform entitlement programs for the long haul and reform our tax code in a way that would close loopholes for the wealthiest and lower rates for corporations and help us invest in new jobs and reduce our deficits. And some of these were originally Republican proposals, because I don't believe any party has a monopoly on good ideas. So I've shown myself willing to go more than halfway in these conversations, and if reasonable Republicans want to talk about these things again, I'm ready to head up to the Hill and try. I'll even spring for dinner again.
But I'm not going to do it until the more extreme parts of the Republican Party stop forcing John Boehner to issue threats about our economy. We can't make extortion routine as part of our democracy. Democracy doesn't function this way. And this is not just for me; it's also for my successors in office. Whatever party they're from, they shouldn't have to pay a ransom either for Congress doing its basic job. We've got to put a stop to it.
Last point I'll make. Already this week I had to miss critical meetings in Asia to promote American jobs and businesses. And although as long as we get this fixed that's not long-term damage, whenever we do these things, it hurts our credibility around the world. It makes it look like we don't have our act together. And that's not something we should welcome. The greatest nation on earth shouldn't have to get permission from a few irresponsible members of Congress every couple months just to keep our government open or to prevent an economic catastrophe.
So let's pass a budget. Let's end this government shutdown. Let's pay our bills. Let's avert an economic shutdown. Let's drop the gimmicks, put aside what's good for any particular party and let's focus on what's good for the American people because they know we've got a lot of work to do.

(Dear President Obama, the above eloquence is not working. You must move the Republicans to action.  Please save our nation from the impending preventable economic disaster.)

Republicans must respond to "We the People". It's a Constitutional mantra so aptly quoted, but Republicans must learn what those three words mean.  We the people, including Republicans, must stop this madness and get back to work.

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