Congress still hasn't reached a deal on a continuing resolution to fund the government through September, so we're less than 48 hours away from a government shutdown. Departments and agencies are exhausting most of their time now in panic and preparation. The administration has put out a figure for total furloughed employees: 800,000. Here are more letters from individual federal employees and contractors about how a shutdown would affect them, and what they're hearing. Do you have something to share? Share your greatest fears with email@example.com.
No one can be sure until the last minute, but the odds of a government shutdown in three days have never been higher after a day of collapsed talks. Congressional parties and the White House are hunkering down for cover to ensure they don't get blamed. But it's important to remember, as we watch this parlor game, that a government shutdown affects "real lives" quite directly.
Funding for the federal government will only last three more days, and leaders of both parties say they have no interest in working out a stop-gap measure for another week or two. "Secret negotiations led by Joe Biden" — which in the late '70s, at least, was Capitol Police code for late night swingers' parties in the Congressional Gym — haven't proven to be very successful. Will these dumpheads ever agree on a compromise to their $30-$60 billion in harsh social services cuts that won't have any significant effect on budgets during a time with massive unemployment and suffering and death everywhere?
If anything will make it easier for House conservatives to back off on shutting down the government this week, it's the prospect of a different, and much larger fight over the federally funded social safety net. House Republicans are preparing to introduce a 10-year budget Tuesday that will eliminate Medicare and replace it with a private insurance system that closely resembles the new health care law, and end Medicaid as an entitlement program all together.
National Tea Party groups had planned to make a statement to lawmakers today with a well-publicized rally on Capitol Hill. Hordes of attendees were going to demand that wavering Republican members of Congress not compromise halfway with Democrats on a budget deal. A compromise for $33 billion in cuts instead of the Republicans' maximalist proposal of $61 billion, Tea Party folks believe, would be a betrayal of promises made during the 2010 election. So the Tea Party held its big important rally this afternoon as planned — but it only drew "perhaps a couple hundred" attendees. C'mon, Tea Party! Get your act together, or go extinct.
Oh, those House Republican freshmen. They're furious at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Democratic caucus for not passing the full $61 billion in budget cuts that they want. Why can't Senate Dems just listen to the American people, they ask, and eliminate funding for every program Democrats like? Because until this happens, 30 House Republican freshmen promise to stand on the Senate steps everyday, just straight-up making a ruckus.
Poor Detroit. People leave bombs there, and no one wants to live there any more or, apparently, even travel there. That's why suspected underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab picked a Detroit flight for his failed 2009 Christmas flaming underwear bomb attempt over other American cities, the AP has discovered:
Maybe you news junkies have been paying so much attention to the actual major news events in Japan, North Africa, the Middle East and various state governments that you forgot about the incompetent dumpheads in Washington, who haven't been able to accomplish anything beyond funding the government every couple of weeks after days of serial posturing about nothing. So let's get this update out of the way and then return to the news: The federal government will probably get funded for another three weeks. Thank your members of Congress!
You hear Tea Party folks and Republicans in Congress complain about the White House's collection of "czars" — appointees with actual departmental jobs who coordinate policy in certain sectors. Supposedly the czar system is an undemocratic way of rewarding cronies and bypassing congressional checks on power. But if that's a problem, and maybe it is, then new Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's bill for appointing "emergency financial managers" to reorganize the state's failing localities should be met with about 100 times more revulsion.
Congress, after taking all of last week off, now finds itself with only four days left to fund the federal government before everything shuts down. And, of course, the House Republicans and Senate Democrats are nowhere near reaching a final agreement. So what's the plan? Oh, you know this: Pass a bill that stalls for another two weeks!
This is not surprising, and yet: The House has passed an amendment to the continuing budget resolution it's finalizing that would block all federal aid to Planned Parenthood. Even though providing abortions is a small part of what Planned Parenthood does—and is isolated from federal funds within the organization's structure, by law—the amendment passed 240-185. So does this mean abortion is over forever?
The White House released its big budget proposal today for fiscal year 2012, which begins in October. There's been talk about major cuts the administration would be making, and this proposal would supposedly cut $1.1 trillion in deficits over the next ten years. It mostly accomplishes that through a five-year spending cap on non-defense discretionary funding, an area that only accounts for 12% of the budget anyway and isn't related to America's long-term debt problems. But it may make President Obama seem tough to Washington Post columnists, so it must be done!
Governors across America are finally acknowledging that deep, painful budget cuts are unavoidable. But there's no one-size-fits-all prescription for state budget cuts. That's so stupid! For patriotism, we've composed this highly specific listicle noting exactly what each state in the union can cut back on. Is your state included? (Yes.)