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TAG | congress
Strategy of Shutdown and Economic Catastrophe: Congressman Paulsen and House Republicans Threaten Financial Collapse to Give Insurance Companies Free Rein
Posted by SD48 DFL Communications Team in News
According to a recent news report, Congressman Paulsen’s House Republican leaders are seriously contemplating a shutdown-the-economy strategy this fall that threatens to hold hostage the full faith and credit of the country unless we enact Republicans’ partisan ideology, repeal Obamacare and give health insurance companies free rein.
Reuters reports that the dangerous “idea is gaining traction among Republican leaders” to use “a fall showdown over the country’s borrowing limit as leverage” to eliminate health care protections. Reuters also reported Wednesday that in the brewing standoff, Congressman Paulsen’s Majority Leader Eric Cantor even called a default on government debt a “good leverage point.” But defaulting on the government debt would shut down economic growth, according to economists of all ideological stripes.
The House Republicans’ reckless brinksmanship boils down to absurd choices:
- Give insurance companies free rein – OR – we’ll destroy the country’s credit
- Repeal Obamacare – OR – we’ll crash the economy by refusing to meet our obligations
- Take away consumer protections from the health care law – OR – we’ll raise interest rates by defaulting on the nation’s debt
“Congressman Paulsen and his House Republicans seem to think that the American economy is nothing more than a bargaining chip in their game of politics and political point scoring to put their health insurance company campaign contributors in charge of health care,” said Emily Bittner of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “It’s bad enough that Congressman Paulsen’s House Republicans want to send us back to the days when insurance companies had free rein to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and raise our premiums to pay for executive bonuses, but now he is threatening to ruin the country’s credit and cause economic catastrophe unless his House Republicans’ extreme demands are met. The latest scheme from Congressman Paulsen’s House Republicans could raise interest rates, send our economy into a tailspin, and hurt the middle class families of Minnesota – all to force a 41st vote that repeals health care reform.”
House Republicans “Are Considering Using a Fall Showdown Over the Country’s Borrowing Limit as Leverage to Delay [Health Care Reform’s] Implementation.” “Republican lawmakers, who staunchly oppose President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, are considering using a fall showdown over the country’s borrowing limit as leverage to try to delay the law’s implementation. The idea is gaining traction among Republican leaders in the House of Representatives, aides said on Wednesday. An aide to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the debt limit is a ‘good leverage point’ to try to force some action on the healthcare law known as ‘Obamacare.’” [Reuters, 8/22/13]
Economist: A National Default “Could Trigger Another Recession” That Could Throw “The Financial Markets into Turmoil.” “What would happen if the US government defaulted on its debts? The short answer: You really don’t want to know. While White House and congressional negotiators reconvene today to try to make a deal to raise the federal government’s legal debt limit, economists are warning of possible catastrophic consequences to the economy if an agreement isn’t reached and the nation defaults on its debts next month. ‘It’s the type of thing that could trigger another recession,’ said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Inc., an economics research firm in Lexington. ‘There would be an almost crisis of confidence, throwing the financial markets into turmoil.’” [Boston Globe, 7/10/11]
Credit Rating Agency Threatened to Downgrade U.S. if the U.S. Fails to Raise the Debt Ceiling. “The United States could lose its top credit rating for the second time from a leading agency if there’s a delay in raising the country’s debt ceiling, Fitch Ratings warned Tuesday. Congress has to increase the country’s debt limit, which effectively rules how much debt the U.S. can have, by the end of February or face a potential default, Fitch says.” [Associated Press, 1/15/13]
cd3 · congress · Congressman Paulsen · Erik Paulsen · government shutdown · Obamacare · Third Congressional District
Congressman Paulsen To Go on Vacation Without Solving Any Of Our Nation’s Problems
Posted by SD48 DFL Communications Team in News
In a district where moderate voters cast their ballots for President Obama, Congressman Erik Paulsen is going to skip town on Friday to go on a five-week summer break with no agreement on government spending after September, no agreement on a farm bill, and no progress on bipartisan immigration reform – all because he would rather waste the next three days fighting the same tired ideological fights of the past.
According to today’s Washington Post, “House Republicans will spend much of this week voting on a collection of legislative proposals aimed mostly at embarrassing the Obama administration and scoring some political points.”
“With only two work days remaining before Congressman Erik Paulsen goes on vacation, he is wasting that precious time by focusing on the wrong priorities and the tired partisan battles of the past, instead of working on creating jobs,” said Emily Bittner of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “The people of Minnesota want us to cooperate on real issues, but instead Congressman Paulsen is running out the clock, putting partisanship and obstruction before creating jobs, preserving Medicare and cooperating on a balanced solution to the budget deficit. And then after getting nothing done, Congressman Paulsen is going on a five-week paid vacation.”
Instead of Focusing on Jobs, House Republicans Are Spending The Last Week Before a Five-Week Taxpayer Funded Vacation on Sham Political Bills That Target the President. “With three days left on the calendar before lawmakers leave Washington for a five-week summer break, there is still no agreement on a farm bill, no plan on how to fund the government after September and little progress on immigration reform. But House Republicans will spend much of this week voting on a collection of legislative proposals aimed mostly at embarrassing the Obama administration and scoring some political points.” [Washington Post, 7/31/13]
Boehner: Congress “Ought to be Judged on How Many Laws we Repeal” and not on “How Many Laws we Create.” In 2013, John Boehner said that Congress “ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal,” and not on “how many laws we create.” [Associated Press, 7/21/13]
Despite House Republicans’ Rhetoric About Jobs, Not One of the Bills That the House Has Approved “Have Been Focused on Employment.” “In the six months and four days since the 113th Congress began, it has passed 13 laws. And, despite lawmakers constantly beating the drum on boosting jobs, none of the new measures have been focused on employment.” [National Journal, 6/07/13]
- Headline: Congress Has Passed 13 Laws This Year—None of Them Have to Do With Jobs [National Journal, 6/07/13]
113th Congress “Is The Least Productive Congress Ever.” “So, how does this House stack up against past years when it comes to productivity? Not so well, according to the new Vital Statistics on Congress, which shows that the 112th Congress passed just 561 bills, the lowest number since they began keeping these stats way back in 1947.” [Washington Post, 7/17/13]
- Headline: The least productive Congress ever [Washington Post, 7/17/13]
Gallup: Nearly 80 Percent of Americans Disapprove of Congress. “Americans remain down on Congress, with 15% approving and 78% disapproving of the job it is doing. This approval rating is similar to the low levels seen this year, and is five percentage points above the all-time low of 10%, last recorded in August 2012.” [Gallup, 7/17/13]
- Headline: U.S. Congress Approval Remains Dismal [Gallup, 7/17/13]
congress · Erik Paulsen · news · Paulsen · vacation
Sabotaging Obamacare, Republicans in Congress Failing Their Constituents
Posted by SD48 DFL Communications Team in News
The latest news reports reveal the real agenda of the Republican Congress: sabotage Obamacare and block people from getting the information they need and the benefits that they’re owed. It’s unconscionable enough that Republicans want to repeal the law and put health insurance companies back in charge of health care, but now they’re actively undermining the law and trying to deny their own constituents access to patient protections and benefits.
According to Reuters, “Republicans and their allies are mobilizing a counter-offensive including town hall meetings, protests and media promotions to dissuade uninsured Americans from obtaining health coverage” and they’re going to “undermine” the benefits. American Enterprise Institute’s Norm Ornstein wrote that “what is going on now to sabotage Obamacare is not treasonous—just sharply beneath any reasonable standards of elected officials with the fiduciary responsibility of governing.”
REUTERS: Republicans prepare for ‘Obamacare’ showdown, with eye to 2014 elections
“With the Obama administration poised for a huge public education campaign on healthcare reform, Party officials, political analysts and lobbyists say the coming showdown will mark a new phase in the years-old battle over healthcare reform by shifting the focus from political ideology to specific examples of how ‘Obamacare’ allegedly falls short, just as the administration presses the public on its benefits.
President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy is the first major social program to face a highly organized and well-financed opposition years after enactment. The forces arrayed against it could undermine the aim of extending health coverage to millions of uninsured people at affordable rates, if not enough younger adults sign up to make it economically viable.
A new political playbook for Republicans in the House encourages lawmakers who have voted nearly 40 times to repeal or defund the law to showcase their concerns at town hall meetings and special forums with like-minded young adults, healthcare providers and employers.
‘Make sure the participants will be 100 percent on message,’ the House Republican Conference’s August planning kit advises for events with businesses. ‘While they do not have to be Republicans, they need to be able to discuss the negative effects of Obamacare on their employees.’
FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, a conservative issue group financed by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, known for funding conservative causes, are planning separate media and grassroots campaigns aimed at adults in their 20s and 30s – the very people Obama needs to have sign up for healthcare coverage in new online insurance exchanges if his reforms are to succeed.
“We’re trying to make it socially acceptable to skip the exchange,” said Dean Clancy, vice president for public policy at FreedomWorks, which boasts 6 million supporters. The group is designing a symbolic ‘Obamacare card’ that college students can burn during campus protests.
NATIONAL JOURNAL: The Unprecedented—and Contemptible—Attempts to Sabotage Obamacare
When Mike Lee pledges to try to shut down the government unless President Obama knuckles under and defunds Obamacare entirely, it is not news—it is par for the course for the take-no-prisoners extremist senator from Utah. When the Senate Republicans’ No. 2 and No. 3 leaders, John Cornyn and John Thune, sign on to the blackmail plan, it is news—of the most depressing variety.
It is important to emphasize that this set of moves is simply unprecedented. The clear comparison is the Medicare prescription drug plan. When it passed Congress in 2003, Democrats had many reasons to be furious. The initial partnership between President Bush and Sen. Edward Kennedy had resulted in an admirably bipartisan bill—it passed the Senate with 74 votes. Republicans then pulled a bait and switch, taking out all of the provisions that Kennedy had put in to bring along Senate Democrats, jamming the resulting bill through the House in a three-hour late-night vote marathon that blatantly violated House rules and included something close to outright bribery on the House floor, and then passing the bill through the Senate with just 54 votes—while along the way excluding the duly elected conferees, Tom Daschle (the Democratic leader!) and Jay Rockefeller, from the conference committee deliberations.
The implementation of that bill was a huge challenge, and had many rocky moments. It required educating millions of seniors, most not computer-literate, about the often complicated choices they had to create or change their prescription coverage. Imagine if Democrats had gone all out to block or disrupt the implementation—using filibusters to deny funding, sending threatening letters to companies or outside interests who mobilized to educate Medicare recipients, putting on major campaigns to convince seniors that this was a plot to deny them Medicare, comparing it to the ill-fated Medicare reform plan that passed in 1989 and, after a revolt by seniors, was repealed the next year.
Almost certainly, Democrats could have tarnished one of George W. Bush’s signature achievements, causing Republicans major heartburn in the 2004 presidential and congressional elections—and in the process hurting millions of Medicare recipients and their families. Instead, Democrats worked with Republicans, and with Mark McClellan, the Bush administration official in charge of implementation, to smooth out the process and make it work—and it has been a smashing success.
Contrast that with Obamacare. For three years, Republicans in the Senate refused to confirm anybody to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the post that McClellan had held in 2003-04—in order to damage the possibility of a smooth rollout of the health reform plan. Guerrilla efforts to cut off funding, dozens of votes to repeal, abusive comments by leaders, attempts to discourage states from participating in Medicaid expansion or crafting exchanges, threatening letters to associations that might publicize the availability of insurance on exchanges, and now a new set of threats—to have a government shutdown, or to refuse to raise the debt ceiling, unless the president agrees to stop all funding for implementation of the plan.
What is going on now to sabotage Obamacare is not treasonous—just sharply beneath any reasonable standards of elected officials with the fiduciary responsibility of governing. A good example is the letter Senate Republican Leaders Mitch McConnell and Cornyn sent to the NFL, demanding that it not cooperate with the Obama administration in a public-education campaign to tell their fans about what benefits would be available to them and how the plan would work—a letter that clearly implied deleterious consequences if the league went ahead anyhow. McConnell and Cornyn got their desired result. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell quickly capitulated. (When I came to Washington in 1969-70, one of my great pleasures was meeting and getting to know Charles Goodell, the courageous Republican senator from New York who took on his own president on Vietnam and was quietly courageous on many other controversial issues. Roger Goodell is his son—although you would not know it from this craven action.)
But to do everything possible to undercut and destroy its implementation—which in this case means finding ways to deny coverage to many who lack any health insurance; to keep millions who might be able to get better and cheaper coverage in the dark about their new options; to create disruption for the health providers who are trying to implement the law, including insurers, hospitals, and physicians; to threaten the even greater disruption via a government shutdown or breach of the debt limit in order to blackmail the president into abandoning the law; and to hope to benefit politically from all the resulting turmoil—is simply unacceptable, even contemptible. One might expect this kind of behavior from a few grenade-throwing firebrands. That the effort is spearheaded by the Republican leaders of the House and Senate—even if Speaker John Boehner is motivated by fear of his caucus, and McConnell and Cornyn by fear of Kentucky and Texas Republican activists—takes one’s breath away.
[National Journal, 7/25/13]
POLITICO: House GOPers: Defund Obamacare in CR
More than 60 Republicans have signed a letter urging Speaker John Boehner to defund Obamacare when Congress funds the government in September.
The letter, being circulated by freshman Rep. Mark Meadows’ (R-N.C.) office, doesn’t explicitly say that supporters will vote against a government funding bill if it does not strip funding for Obamacare. But it says that signers of the letter are “urging [Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.)] to defund the implementation and enforcement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in any relevant appropriations bill brought to the House floor in the 113th Congress, including any continuing appropriations bill.”
Atop the letter it reads “supported by Heritage Action and Club for Growth,” in all capital letters, and highlighted in yellow, referring to the conservative outside groups.
This isn’t the first time a letter has circulated urging Boehner and leadership to defund the law. Last Congress, a similar letter got 127 signatories.
One House Republican — Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana — released a statement Thursday afternoon saying that he would “not going to vote for a continuing resolution that funds ObamaCare.”
This letter includes support from Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Republican Study Chairman Steve Scalise (R-La.). Three Georgia GOP Senate candidates — Reps. Jack Kingston, Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun — signed on.
cd3 · congress · Erik Paulsen · Paulsen