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No U.S. Government Shutdown This Week 385

Posted by Roblimo
from the hooray-for-the-American-way dept.
A Reader writes "If you were hoping for a government shutdown today, you are going to be disappointed. In a last-hour cliffhanger, Democrats and Republicans managed to agree with each other enough to keep the government funded for the rest of the current fiscal year. Since the budget bill that finally passed was a compromise, no one is happy with it. So it goes. That's how things work in a representative government."
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No U.S. Government Shutdown This Week

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 09, 2011 @09:13AM (#35766844)

    anymore.

    I seriously doubt any of us have much in common with any of them.

    anymore

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      anymore.

      I seriously doubt any of us have much in common with any of them.

      anymore

      Well, given the way earmarks are entered into bills without the representative having to name himself, they certainly have a lot in common with anonymous cowards.

      captcha: cocaine. how appropriate.

      • by cromar (1103585)
        There is anonymity, and there is cowardice. While they sometimes collide, they are very, very different.
    • by farmanb (1566337) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @09:55AM (#35767040)

      Just take a look at the list of 'riders' on the bill and it will become clear who they represent:

      http://www.ombwatch.org/files/budget/OMB_Watch-HR1_Policy_Riders.pdf [ombwatch.org]

      It's pretty clear they're not interested in balancing the budget. The republicans are only interested in gutting those agencies responsible for enforcing pesky regulations like wetland preservation, emissions/dumping of hazardous material, the clean water act, etc., defunding institutions like NOAA and anyone else doing any sort of climate studies and generally gutting a wide range of social services provided to low income and middle class Americans, while simultaneously providing criminally large tax breaks for corporations:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/business/economy/25tax.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1 [nytimes.com],
      http://sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=67562604-8280-4d56-8af4-a27f59d70de5 [senate.gov]

      That isn't to say the democrats are much (if at all) better, but it should be absolutely clear exactly who the republicans represent.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 09, 2011 @10:07AM (#35767124)
        I found this line particularly representative:

        The deal also adds money for one of Boehnerâ(TM)s favored projects, a program that provides low-income District students with money to attend private schools.

        There you have it folks: in a budget that is designed to cut government spending, a person who is supposedly in favour of a smaller government inserts a rider that funds his pet projects with public money. This is at the same time as he's simultaneously removing funding from women's health projects, yet lacks the necessary reproductive organs that should really be a pre-requisite for anyone who should have an opinion about it.

        Oh and by the way, just so we're clear that I'm not trying to simply take a dig at the GOP, I'm absolutely certain that if anyone wanted to dig through the bill they could certainly find many more examples of this sort of two-faced pork barrel politics from politicians on both sides of the fence. In fact, I hope people find lots and lots of such examples and then use them to get rid of these wastes of skin.

        • by arth1 (260657) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @10:21AM (#35767216) Homepage Journal

          Oh and by the way, just so we're clear that I'm not trying to simply take a dig at the GOP, I'm absolutely certain that if anyone wanted to dig through the bill they could certainly find many more examples of this sort of two-faced pork barrel politics from politicians on both sides of the fence.

          Until you realize that they're both on the same side of the fence, with you on the other side, there's little hope of changing this.
          The parties' grandstanding against each other accounts for about 1% of the budget, that's how much they differ. The greens and the right wing liberalists? Bring it up to 3%. They're all so similar it's a parody.

          'Tis of Thee will never see any major changes in my lifetime, because the voters really are fooled, because they really are that ignorant. And proud of it too.
          What this country needs isn't another career politician bought and paid for by corporations. It needs sedition and revolution. Which won't happen when people are comfortable on their fat asses, watching WWE and Housewives of Fargo, while bickering about irrelevant changes and voting for the whitest teeth.

          • by sznupi (719324) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @12:51PM (#35768298) Homepage
            Systems of governance are ultimately a reflection of their society. In this particular case - that of budgetary issues & massive debt - we're talking about a society with masses of people unable to keep balanced personal budgets; generally at the forefront when it comes to rates of living on a debt, consumptionism, etc.

            And revolutions tend to not promote the "best" people, but the most ruthless ones.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by ArcherB (796902)

          I found this line particularly representative:

          The deal also adds money for one of Boehnerâ(TM)s favored projects, a program that provides low-income District students with money to attend private schools.

          There you have it folks: in a budget that is designed to cut government spending, a person who is supposedly in favour of a smaller government inserts a rider that funds his pet projects with public money. This is at the same time as he's simultaneously removing funding from women's health projects, yet lacks the necessary reproductive organs that should really be a pre-requisite for anyone who should have an opinion about it.

          First of all, DC is under the control of congress. If congress wants to fund something in DC, that's just like a state deciding what goes on within its borders.

          Also, the program you mentioned is also called the voucher program. It takes money from underperforming school districts and gives it low income students within those districts so they can attend private schools just like the rich kids, giving them equal opportunity. You seriously have a problem with that?

          As for cutting "women's health"... when yo

          • by dougmc (70836)

            As for cutting "women's health"... when you say women's health, you mean abortion. I do not want my tax dollars going to fund abortions. And even if my tax dollars do not go DIRECTLY toward abortions, if they pay the light bill, they are helping to pay for abortions.

            I'm pretty sure when he says "women's health", he does not mean abortion.

            As you're probably aware, the Hyde Amendment [wikipedia.org] prohibits the government from paying for abortions with federal funds.

            Considering that abortions are such a small part of what Planned Parenthood does and that part is not paid for by federal dollars (and I imagine they even account for a portion of the electric bill (and any other similar expenses, such as rent, payroll, etc.) when they make sure that government funds do not pay for aborti

          • by jjohnson (62583)

            when you say women's health, you mean abortion.

            No, they mean general health services for women like cancer screening, birth control and information on/treatment for STDs. Less than 3% of Planned Parenthood's budget goes to abortion services, which includes counseling sessions about abortion that involve laying out a woman's other choices like adoption. When you attack PP, 97% of your attack is against run-of-the-mill medical care being made available to women who have difficulty getting it otherwise.

      • But mostly abortion. It's the promise they made to appease their base - that they would not only forbid any federal funding for abortions (which was already done, has been for years) but forbid any federal money going to any organisation which provides abortion. The intention being to force hospitals to cease providing abortion in order to continue getting their funding.
    • by lennier1 (264730)

      not sure who they represent

      MAFIAA, defense industry, oil industry, ...

  • Awww ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @09:15AM (#35766860)
    Without a government shutdown how will the media try to frighten the general public with predictions and assumptions? I'll tell you what the 'almost' shutdown did for the economy - it gave a whole lot of 'journalists' and people who blog something to blather about. It's all about ads and page views, people.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Considering Belgium has been doing fine without a government for months [time.com], I'm not seeing a problem with a government shutdown. Probably it's the best thing that could happen. It's caused enough trouble already.

      • Belgium has been without a NEW government following elections. Its old government is still in place even if reduced in this kind of decisions it can make. And its public services are completly uneffected. There is NO shutdown of the Belgium public service.

        In contrast, the US has got a government AND has leaders in charge, who just aren't doing their job of running the fucking country and are threathing to break down basic services in order to get their pork projects signed off.

        Big difference. The bullshit i

  • by DWMorse (1816016) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @09:16AM (#35766868) Homepage
    Cancel the invasion, the government is still fully operational! It's a trap!!
    • Re:Dang. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Almost-Retired (637760) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @09:45AM (#35767000)
      No its not operational folks, its been broken, spending far more than they had for 40+ years now. This 37 billion they brag about cutting is equ to your cutting your weekly grocery budget of $100, by about .025 cents. That's 2.5 hundredths of a cent folks. What is really needed is to cut it by 20 or 30 bucks so there is something left to pay on the principle of our national debt. And even if they do manage that, the next 3 generations of working folks will never see the day where they don't owe 6 months worth of a years income just to pay the interest on this debt. That's pure BS folks, and even my great-grandchildren are old enough they can tell you that.

      But its not going to get fixed without good people running for office, and a revolution in truth telling in the MSM so the sheeple are well enough informed that they will vote the good people into office. That's asking a lot, but its the only way it will get fixed without a lot of bloodshed.

      Every time you catch the MSM in a lie, hold their supporting advertisers feet to the fire, it works, see the current Glenn Beck situation playing out as we watch.

      Cheers, Almost-Retired out.
      • Re:Dang. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by shmlco (594907) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @10:21AM (#35767214) Homepage

        Start with "Defense" spending....

        "According to figures Wheeler compiled for The Pentagon Labyrinth, the military’s base budget of $549 billion in 2011 is just the starting point for calculating military dollars. Adding in war spending ($159 billion), homeland defense ($44 billion), Veterans Affairs ($122 billion), interest on defense-related debt ($48 billion) and other items pushes the total to more than $1 trillion a year. In constant dollars, adjusted for inflation, the regular military budget, not including the add-ons, has doubled from a low of about $360 billion in 1998 to more than $739 billion in 2011. It’s so much money that, as the Bipartisan Policy report points out, by 2009 US spending on military research and development alone, about $80 billion, surpassed China’s entire military budget by more than $10 billion. The budget for the US Special Forces alone is greater than the total military spending of nearly 100 countries; overall, the United States spends about as much on defense as the rest of the world combined."

        • by gtall (79522)

          Just for the record, the entire U.S. budget for 2010 was: $3.55 trillion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_United_States_federal_budget).
          Discretionary: $1.368 trillion

          Mandatory: $2.009 trillion

          Not sure where the slop fits in, but the numbers are close enough.

          Defense: $663.7 billion

          So even accepting your $739 (for 2011), we see that the majority of the spending is on the Mandatory side.

          The U.S. 2010 deficit: $1,294 billion

          So entirely whacking Defense doesn't balance the budget. The social programs (the mand

          • Re:Dang. (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @07:38PM (#35770830) Homepage Journal

            Your military spending numbers don't include all the wars, veterans benefits, military portion of debt interest, or the other expenses that cost over a $TRILLION in 2010. And then there's the "intelligence" expenses, which are secret but probably well over $100B.

            Entirely whacking the military is not anyone's proposal. But cutting it to $300B and intel to $20B would save $780B+. Taxing banks and other corporations that don't pay taxes but consume lots of public expense would raise most of the remaining $520B. And taxing the of the richest people more of their excess income would pay the rest. While reducing much of what the government spends so much on managing with the legal system and various investigations, and too often bailing out.

            The social programs are expensive, but they are mostly investments in a peaceful and productive society. The rest is mostly waste or worse.

  • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Saturday April 09, 2011 @09:19AM (#35766884) Journal
    1. Fire everybody
    2. Sell the buildings
    3. Go home
      1. Fire everybody
      2. Sell the buildings
      3. Go home

      Um, won't all the stuff in the vending machines go bad if no one is there to buy them? Won't somebody thing of the vending machines!

  • That was some fine Kabuki theater, next time I want to see the trial of blood: MUTAI !
  • by garcia (6573) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @09:25AM (#35766908) Homepage

    However, it will be very equally applied. Congress doesn't get paid either--especially being that they're not doing their jobs anyway.

    And when we shut it down, it gets shut down. That means no more bombs dropping in countries that don't need to be receiving our expensive military tech. It means no more funding for anything people depend on.

    You know why this is important? So people revolt and get rid of Obama, all of the Democrats, and all of the Republicans, and all of the rest of the people who sit in Washington and twiddle their thumbs arguing over absolutely ridiculous crap all day.

    It's time for change and since one man, who promised to bring it, couldn't. It's time for 300+ million of us to.

    • by jhigh (657789) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @09:34AM (#35766944)
      Congress has to continue being paid according to the 27th Amendment, which prevents any law that varies the pay of members from taking effect until an election takes place. This is to keep them from engaging in any shenanigans with their own pay. If you allow them to suspend their pay between elections, you can bet that they're going to use that logic to increase their pay at some point in the future.
      • That's awesome. They're crushing Amendments 1-10, but we have to believe in the sanctity of the 27th!

        • That's awesome. They're crushing Amendments 1-10, but we have to believe in the sanctity of the 27th!

          Let's see ... 1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10 = 55, and since 27 is less than 55, well, 27 wins. Amendment math is just like golf - the lower score wins.

      • by GaryOlson (737642)

        No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives...

        Not paying the Legislature does not violate the law. By failing to pay, compensation is not being varied. But, like all other government workers during a government shutdown, compensation is not being delivered . Once a budget bill has been passed, all compensation will be delivered without variance .

        I propose no person in the entire Legislative branch receive compensation after January 15th until a budget bill is passed....let everyone else in government get paid.

  • Unemployment (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chill (34294) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @09:29AM (#35766922) Journal

    I am employed by the Federal Gov't.

    The last e-mail I got on Friday was explaining how and where to file for unemployment.

    That is, the gov't was telling me how to get the gov't to pay me for NOT working because the gov't couldn't afford to pay me FOR working.

    Is this a great country or what!

    • You must realize that shutting down the government is not a money-saving act. It is actually much more expensive to shut down the government than to keep it running.

      • by hedwards (940851) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @11:01AM (#35767512)

        That's sort of the point. From what was being said, it was primarily the GOP trying to abuse the budgeting process that was causing the trouble. Nearly all of the actual budget related negotiations had been completed, it was just ideological amendments which were holding it up. Things like preventing access to Planned Parenthood, cutting funds to regulate banks, cutting funds to enact the healthcare reform and reducing funds to NOAA and the EPA which were sticking points.

        The actual amount of money there was paltry and the only reason why those things were being targeted was because they're politically unpopular with conservatives.

        For all the obsession about balanced budgets you rarely, if ever, hear the GOP pushing plans which would actually do it. It's all about tax cuts for billionaires, increased government spending on programs they like, and cuts to programs that help low and middle class citizens survive.

    • by jank1887 (815982)

      hey, we've all been paying unemployment insurance taxes. Upon becoming effectively unemployed, we're just calling in for the benefit we've payed into. just like car insurance, life insurance, or short term disability insurance. Sure, the money's from the state and not a private actuarially minded firm, but so it goes.

    • by mapkinase (958129)

      What are you working for, Department of Corrections? What a disgusting place to work.

      I am contracting for DHHS, and all we have got is excellent, albeit a little clueless, treatment.

  • Woo progress, not! (Score:5, Informative)

    by CrackedButter (646746) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @09:29AM (#35766924) Homepage Journal
    This image says it all really - http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/2011-spending-trillion-cartoon.jpg [wordpress.com]. As an outsider looking in, it's obvious to me the government really needs to cut military funding. Our UK government has done. Apart from a cool info graphic on the NYT a few months back where you could pretend to make the necessary cuts yourself I've never see this mentioned anywhere else in the US media.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by schwit1 (797399)

      You could eliminate the military and raise income taxes to 100% and still not balance the budget.

      The 800lb gorilla of spending in the room is entitlements: social security, medicare and medicaid. If these programs aren't fixed and soon it will be too late.

      • by MikeURL (890801)
        The rule of 72 is catching up with those programs. They can only double in size so many times before they would be larger than the known universe. Their growth will have to slow, pause, or reverse eventually and I doubt it will be nearly as dramatic as people think it will be.
      • by dachshund (300733)

        The 800lb gorilla of spending in the room is entitlements: social security, medicare and medicaid. If these programs aren't fixed and soon it will be too late.

        Entitlements aren't the problem in 2011. Social Security is even in /surplus/ which means it's taking in more money from its dedicated taxes than it's paying out.

        Entitlements -- specifically Medicare -- /will/ be the problem in a decade or two. If you make assumptions about this (costs keep going up by 10% forever, nobody ever votes to cut spending

      • by shmlco (594907) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @10:57AM (#35767468) Homepage

        No, it's Defense. As I pointed out above....

        "According to figures Wheeler compiled for The Pentagon Labyrinth, the military’s base budget of $549 billion in 2011 is just the starting point for calculating military dollars. Adding in war spending ($159 billion), homeland defense ($44 billion), Veterans Affairs ($122 billion), interest on defense-related debt ($48 billion) and other items pushes the total to more than $1 trillion a year."

        One trillion dollars, 2/3's of the entire deficit in one great big pile. That's more than the 2010 numbers for Medicare AND Medicade combined. That's more than Social Security AND the interest on the federal budget. Add it all up, and the US spends about as much on defense as the rest of the world combined.

        We overpay for super-high-tech planes and ships that are so expensive, they can't even be sent into combat (B2, Virginia, littoral combat vessels). We can not afford this. Defense spending as a percentage of the GNP broke the USSR. It can break us.

        But you got to love it when, instead, people latch onto "entitlements". SS needs work, but is it an "entitlement" to expect to collect some form of social security insurance after you've paid into the program for you entire life? Is it an entitlement to care for our sick and elderly, whom our health insurance compaines refuse to insure because doing so is too expensive? Or is it our responsibility?

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Citation necessary.

      • Bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @11:10AM (#35767570)

        You wouldn't need taxes anywhere near 100% to fully fund all those programs and have plenty left over to pay down the debt. Currently the US pays around 25% of GDP to taxes (of all kinds). So, raise that to 50% and you double the total tax taken, at all levels. Well, last year federal tax income was about $2.16 trillion, and expenditures were about $3.46 trillion. Double $2.16 trillion and you get $4.32 trillion. That means you can fund everything and have $860 billion left over to pay down the debt.

        In actuality, it could even be more because we are talking about doubling total tax liability, which includes non-federal taxes. So less federal funding would need to be given to states since they'd be taking in more.

        This is not impossible, by the way, Sweden pays about 50% in GDP in taxes.

        For that matter, you wouldn't even need to go that far. In 2010 SS and Medicare taxes amounted to about $860 billion. The two programs cost about $1.5 trillion. So, double the SS and Medicare tax and you have $1.7 trillion in income, enough to fund it and extra, you don't even need to mess with income tax or anything else.

        Not saying that this is what should be done, that the programs should be reexamined and modified, but this bullshit of "Oh we can't fund them no matter how much we tax!" is just that: bullshit. It is completely false. It is true they are quite underfunded, but they could be fixed by raising taxes. Right now the combined tax rate is 7.65% to you and to your employer so 15.3% total. Increase that to 15.3% each, 30.6% and both programs are fully funded with money to spare at current levels.

    • BUT BUT BUT WE'RE IN A RECESSION &&& HAVE TO DEFICIT SPEND!!!

  • by fermion (181285) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @09:36AM (#35766954) Homepage Journal
    If this were not about a basic hatred for Obama and all he represents, cutting the deficiet should be simple.

    Medicate Part D was never funded. That is $64B and growing, or probably close to a trillion dollars of deficiet spending over the next 10 years. Repeal it or fund it. Could save $30B in the current budget process.

    The department of education has grown widely since 2000. End NCLB and other unfunded mandates that infringe on the states right to educate it's population. DOE in an advisory roll is fine and history tells us it can be funded without deficit spending. So cut it's budget, maybe $10b in the current budget process.

    Department of homeland security has also always been funded by deficiet spending. Cut it. Return the decision making to the civil servants that actually work. The last thing we need is another administrative layer. If the Tea Party wants small governement, this is the place to start. If we want screeners and the like, put it under the other agencies and shift administrators from other less important projects. Saving in the current budget cycle may $10B.

    That is our $50 in deficit spending. We could do $100B but that would require a cut to the military, which they have already said they can do because they admit they waste massive amounts of money, and a tax increase to cover war operations around the world. Ultimately Obama is going to have to do what Bush I did with Reagan tax cuts, which is to end the Bush II tax cuts. Can't do it untile 2012 budget cycle, but much of the projected deficit comes from them.

    • by jmtpi (17834)

      Not sure about your other points, but the point about eliminating the Bush tax cuts is on the money:
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/how-to-halve-the-deficit-by-doing-nothing/2011/03/25/AFXb0RoB_blog.html [washingtonpost.com]

      • by lennier1 (264730)

        At least until then a lot of the money saved on taxes will go where it's needed, Switzerland, Cayman Islands, ...

    • Re:tax cuts (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TaoPhoenix (980487)

      (Rhetorical)
      Nah, keep the tax cuts. Just pulverize the military. Do the whole Cardassians Left Bajor thing and we can use the pantheon of DS9 to guide us through the mess. (/Rhetorical)

      No? See, that's the deadliest political trap of all, the one the Republicans built their party on - "We'll have fun giving people tax cuts and we'll make the Democrats clean up the mess!" Then the Masses don't understand why things are so tough, and they elect in more Republicans who "ease the burdens of sacrifice" with more

      • No? See, that's the deadliest political trap of all, the one the Republicans built their party on - "We'll have fun giving people tax cuts and we'll make the Democrats clean up the mess!" Then the Masses don't understand why things are so tough, and they elect in more Republicans who "ease the burdens of sacrifice" with more tax cuts.

        And here I thought we should be discussing the Democrats' favorite game: adding new things the government does FOR you without raising taxes to pay for them (or cooking the bo

        • by hedwards (940851)

          You do realize that the GOP's budget strategy of cutting taxes on the rich and spending huge sums of money to make corporations happy left the President in a huge budget hole, even before he took office, right? Clinton was in a relatively similar situation when he took office as well, large GOP driven deficit spending.

    • by Dan667 (564390)
      wow, no cuts to the military? Your assessment is ridiculous. You don't fight wars shooting goat herders in Afghanistan and Iraq when you cannot afford it.
    • by The Snowman (116231) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @10:55AM (#35767454) Homepage

      Department of homeland security has also always been funded by deficiet spending. Cut it. Return the decision making to the civil servants that actually work. The last thing we need is another administrative layer. If the Tea Party wants small governement, this is the place to start. If we want screeners and the like, put it under the other agencies and shift administrators from other less important projects. Saving in the current budget cycle may $10B.

      I still don't understand why we need two departments for Defense and Homeland Security. Isn't that redundant? I mean except for the fact that our Defense is actually Offense. Maybe if we renamed the Department of Defense back to the Department of War and renamed the Department of Homeland Security to the Department of Defense we would have an accurate picture.

  • TERM LIMITS. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Moderator (189749) * on Saturday April 09, 2011 @09:41AM (#35766976)

    If this isn't a strong case for term-limits, I don't know what is. The FY2011 budget took SO LONG to pass because IT WAS AN ELECTION YEAR and Americans were starting to worry about defaulting on their national debt. Are we really so stupid to believe that in a nation of 300 million people, it takes the same small group of elite warmongers to pass our laws year after year? Many congressmen have been there so long, they are rolling in their own shit. With term limits at least, there is the fresh flow of ideas every election cycle. There is also incentive to do well...with a 6x2 cycle for representatives (6 2-year terms, max) and a 2x6 cycle for senators with the requirement that they first served in the House, there is more incentive for aspiring first-time Representatives to appease their constituents (geographic, not party) so that they can "upgrade" to a Senate seat (and later, the presidency).

    It's okay though. Looks like we are going to default on our debt sometime within my lifetime. There's no way out at this point. In the meantime, continue to spend, spend, spend. Let's get that new infrastructure (new bridges, roads, high-speed internet) built for the NEXT government. Maybe then we'll get it right with Term Limits.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      The issue there is that the process of amending the constitution makes that all but impossible. Doing it on a state by state basis just leaves the last few states without term limits with a ridiculous amount of power.

  • [Obama] praised the [budget] deal as a model of bipartisan cooperation.

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/04/09/congress.budget/index.html?iref=NS1 [cnn.com]

    If this whole budget fiasco, in which hundreds of thousands of Americans were put in jeopardy over something that should have been taken care of weeks if not months ago instead literally at the very last minute is a model of how our government wants issues taken care of, then we have a big problem. This is basically confirming that Washington prefers politics to people. Our country can not afford to have our elected representativ

  • by spaceman375 (780812) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @09:49AM (#35767018)
    "That's how things work in a representative government." No, that's how things work in a schizophrenic government. Nowhere in the constitution is power over the government given to political parties. They were invented solely for overcoming slow communications and lack of education during elections. We have significantly improved both. Yet our "representatives" do not represent us at all; they vote according to who they party with rather than in the interests of their constituencies. You've heard the phrase "across the aisle." What it refers to is the fact that senators and representatives do not sit with others from their own state - they sit in two big camps of Democrats vs. Republicans. They should be forced to sit by state and to completely deny any party affiliation once they are elected. Right now most of a politician's time is spent trying to thwart the efforts of half the government. It's a wonder we get anything done at all the way this beast keeps tearing at itself.
    • by 3seas (184403)

      Sept. 10, 2001 Donal Rumsfeld announced 2.3 trillion dollars of pentagon spending was unaccounted for. A very clear act of taxation without representation.
      Representation does not mean having some fool liar claiming they represent you nor does it say you agree with what ever they do once they are in office.
      Representation means accountability to those paying for the public service of the elected.

      The real scope is not the Tea Party political group joke, but the historical event of the conception of this countr

    • by shmlco (594907)

      "Right now most of a politician's time is spent trying to thwart the efforts of half the government."

      Exactly, in fact the current crop of idiot Republicans have made things even worse. (I'm bipartisan, Democrats are idiots too.)

      Where was I? Oh, yeah. It's bad enough when they spend their time hacking at each other when trying to solve problems, but now the Rebuplicans are spending half their time trying to figure out how to "undo" everything done during the previous session when the Dem's had control.

      Which

    • The reps in the US system do not vote the party line anywhere near as much as in a westminster style system and in my own opinion I think the westmisnster system is superior in many ways. For example a grid locked budget would normally trigger an election, not a shutdown.
    • by Kjella (173770) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @11:26AM (#35767684) Homepage

      If you really think 535 individual representatives would be anything other than a complete chaos, you haven't tried it. You would have hundreds of people who'd be voted in on local special interest issues and creating a functional government would be hell. There's a reason most European parliaments have a lower limit of 4-5%, it is because we painfully learned it in the 19th century. Besides, even if you banned formal parties informal cliques of representatives would form anyway.

      Pretty much all political systems have a left-right axis, it's just not the only axis. The problem in the US is that because everyone is either democrat or republican so it gets one-dimensional, it's very hard to have dissent across the isle. To take a recent example from Norway, the EU Data Retention Directive was up for voting. Minor parties from the left, center and right voted against it, the major left and right parties got it through. In the US, this would have been one bipartisan bill passed with little effort. Here in Norway it was a 89-80 vote, with parties from the "Socialist Left" (far left) to "The Progress Party" (far right) voting against it. These are people with radically different political views, yet in this case they were on the same side.

      Try imagine that the Democrats were split in Liberals, Greens and Democrats, the Republicans split in Tea Party, Libertarians and Republicans with proportional representation. Don't you think US politics would be a lot more interesting as people flowed between them in the polls? That it's not just one left-right battle line, but if they act like asses people go to the liberal party or the tea party? Of course you do get coalition governments and all that follow from that, but it seems there's plenty tension and negotiation going on anyway. It doesn't go away just because you call them all democrats and republicans.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Creating a functional government is not what the founders had in mind. The American government is SUPPOSED TO BE BROKEN. It's supposed to have to fight against itself so that it never turns it's guns on the people. That's why we've got checks and balances, seperations of powers. . . I.E. branches of government, so that the government can't work like a well oiled machine. The problems in our country is that it has gotten too efficient, pulling out those roadblocks one by one so that it can work as one organi

  • ...just come to Belgium. We have no government since 300 days and counting, 3 unhappy language communities and a shitload of compromises.
  • by bradley13 (1118935) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @10:08AM (#35767126) Homepage

    Such leadership! Even if they had agreed to slash the budget by 50%, it would only take us back to the level of spending of the Clinton administration [ucsb.edu]. But no, they only managed to agree to $38 billion in spending reductions - about 1% of total outlays.

    With leaders like this, we just as well jump off the cliff ourselves.

    • by hedwards (940851) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @11:21AM (#35767642)

      The issue is that we'd have to slash the defense budget by about $300bn in order to get anywhere near there. And we'd have to raise taxes on the rich as well. There's a lot of fixation on the spending, but the problem hasn't been relegated to just spending, there's also been dumb tax cuts to leeches which have further skewed the figures.

      The GOP is responsible for at least $200bn of debt that they won't cut and won't allow to be taken from the rich to pay for. And that doesn't include the money that's been lost due to tax cuts either.

  • by 3seas (184403) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @10:20AM (#35767194) Journal

    The military industrial complex. As they are still way over funded.
    US spends 47% of all world defense spending. Over 60% if you include allies spending, leaving less than 40% divided among many small and or poor countries. So what do we really need this abusive defense spending really for? Defense against what and who?

    Are the personal domestic economies really such a national threat?
    Or are they just a threat to the military delusions of power elitism?

  • Government (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rogerdugans (902614)

    The US government is based on one idea nowadays:
    Government of the people by the government, for the government.

    They do what they do to stay in power.

    While it is true that ultimately the people DO have the ability to replace the government, in practice this would be hard to achieve- everything is set up to maintain the status quo.
    And most of the Money in the US likes the status quo: they get still more money.
    The largest cooperative groups in the US are the "scary people"- the religious conservatives and corp

  • by MikeURL (890801) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @10:24AM (#35767234) Journal

    So, if we assume that deficit spending is really a problem then what this does is cut 39 billion from a projected deficit of 1.7 trillion. That is 2.3% of the deficit taken care of.

    So they are congratulating themselves for dealing with 2.3% of the problem. And to get this trivial "win" they had to threaten to "shut down the government".

    They will have to forgive me if I taken all of them a bit less than seriously.

  • So it goes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @11:01AM (#35767514) Homepage

    As a Kurt Vonnegut fan, my first question was "Who died?"

    Then I saw what programs were getting cut drastically, and the answer is abundantly clear: poor people and old people.

  • by Greyfox (87712)
    I was going to start a PAC to vote every single one of them out of office in the next election (Well realy only about a third of them) on the tidal wave of voter discontent this would have generated. They're basically just doing everything they can to protect their positions at the top of the heap and as little as possible for anyone else. I do see a few exceptions to this. Anthony Wiener has yet to have his passion to do what's right crushed by the process. I'm sure there are a few others as well, but they
  • by jonwil (467024) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @08:10PM (#35771038)

    For all this talk of "budget savings" no politician has the guts to tackle REAL savings by cutting the stuff that will actually make a difference in the long run.

    How about stopping payments to farmers to grow crops on land that is otherwise un-viable to grow those crops on?
    How about spending less money on buying fancy new scanners for airports that do nothing to make airplanes safer from bad guys?
    How about giving less money to the coal industry?
    How about removing tax cuts and subsidies for the big end of town and making them pay their fair share?
    How about spending less money on IP enforcement on behalf of the big content companies?

    Oh wait, this is America where big corporations and special interests rule the day and where saying bad things about corn can get you sued for everything you own and then some.

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