On Countdown, talking about how Washington is broken:
With all eyes in Washington focused on the debt ceiling debate, little has been made of another costly impasse. Republicans have refused to re-authorize the Federal Aviation Administration without including an anti-union measure in the deal, leaving the FAA in the midst of a costly 10-day shutdown that has forced it to furlough more than 4,000 workers nationwide.
Now, with Congressional leaders seemingly close to ending their fight over the debt ceiling, House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) announced today that the House will begin its August recess after it votes on the debt deal later today. That means the FAA shutdown, which began July 22, will likely last at least another month.
Democrats on the House Transportation Committee are outraged, as Reps. Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Jerry Costello (D-IL) called the recess “irresponsible” and said they planned to write a letter to Cantor calling on him to keep the House in session until the FAA was re-authorized.
Meanwhile, the FAA’s airport inspectors keep doing their jobs, even without pay:
The administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration says airport safety inspectors nationwide are working without pay and shouldering travel expenses themselves, as the agency’s budget crisis enters a second week. [...]
An inspector may travel to five airports in a two-week period, racking up thousands of dollars in hotel and airline tickets. Babbitt says they’re being asked to put those expenses on personal credit cards.
The government is losing more than $200 million a week in revenue generated through ticket taxes during the shutdown, and $2.5 billion in airport infrastructure improvement projects are on hold. The airlines, meanwhile, have used those tax breaks to line their own pockets rather than pass the savings on to customers.The Senate is reportedly staying in session to work on a re-authorization plan.
You know what? Democrats couldn’t be bothered to lock this down when the had complete control. A major economic meltdown, but unemployment benefits terrified them:
WASHINGTON — The long-term unemployed have been left out of a deal between congressional negotiators and the White House to enact massive spending cuts and raise the nation’s debt ceiling before its borrowing limit is reached on Tuesday.
Under the so-called grand bargain President Obama tried to strike with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), federal unemployment benefits would have been extended beyond January 2012, when they are set to expire.
But those negotiations collapsed in July. On Sunday, congressional leaders and the administration crafted a not-so-grand bargain that will cut spending without raising taxes or preserving stimulus programs like federal unemployment insurance.
Asked Sunday night why spending to help the unemployed had been left out of the deal, a White House official said, “because it had to be part of a bigger deal to be part of this.”
In other words, Democrats need significant leverage to get Republicans to agree to additional spending on the unemployed. Federal unemployment insurance programs, which kick in for laid off workers who use up 26 weeks of state benefits, cost a lot of money: Keeping the programs through this year required an estimated $56 billion. In December, Democrats only managed to keep the programs alive for another 13 months by attaching them to a two-year reauthorization of tax cuts.
Hillary Clinton is meaner and tougher and that in some ways seems preferable to Obama’s naïve calls for bipartisanship. Also, you know from the get-go what Hillary is all about. Hence, it’s possible to skip the phases of betrayal and disillusionment and go straight to opposition, which is almost always the best place to be in American politics.
They’ll do what they have to do to stay in power:
Americans for Prosperity is sending absentee ballots to Democrats in at least two Wisconsin state Senate recall districts with instructions to return the paperwork after the election date.
The fliers, obtained by POLITICO, ask solidly Democratic voters to return ballots for the Aug. 9 election to the city clerk “before Aug. 11.”
A Democrat on the ground in Wisconsin said the fliers were discovered to be hitting doors in District 2 and District 10 over the weekend.
“These are people who are our 1’s in the voterfile who we already knew. They ain’t AFP members, that’s for damn sure,” the source said.
One flier was discovered in Hudson, Wisc. where Democrat Shelly Moore is attempting to upend GOP State Sen. Sheila Harsdorf in District 10; the other was found in Milwaukee, where Democrat Nancy Nusbaum is challenging Sen. Robert Cowles in District 2.
“If they’re targeting for Aug. 16, they’re hundreds and hundreds of miles off,” said the Democratic activist who has been on the ground in Madison for months. “This has nothing to do with either Democratic incumbent up on August 16th.”