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Bohner to GOP: Get ready for government shutdown

By ANDY SULLIVAN
April 5, 2011

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio pauses during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, April 1, 2011, to discuss GOP efforts to create jobs and cut spending. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Monday told fellow Republicans to prepare for a government shutdown, undercutting optimism that progress is being made on a deal that would keep the government running.

Boehner and other congressional leaders are due to meet with President Barack Obama on Tuesday to try to make headway on the plan, which would slice roughly $33 billion from this year’s budget and ensure that the government will keep running beyond midnight on Friday, when current funding expires.

Boehner instructed his fellow Republicans in an evening meeting to draw up plans on how the House would operate if the government were to shut down, although he said he would continue to negotiate, an aide said.

Despite the bluster, aides said they thought a shutdown was unlikely. A spending bill must be worked out by Tuesday night in order to give Congress enough time to act before Friday but lawmakers have several procedural tricks to push that deadline back.

“In the end there will be a deal because a shutdown doesn’t do anyone any good,” a senior Republican aide said.

Late in the evening, Republicans released a plan that would push the deadline back by a week and carve out an additional $12 billion in cuts. It also would take an important bargaining chip off the table by funding the Pentagon for the rest of the fiscal year.

Democrats may be reluctant to agree to those terms.

Congress is struggling to complete a long-overdue budget for the fiscal year that ends on September 30 in a dispute that could set a precedent for larger budget battles to come.

Staffers made progress over the weekend on the rough outlines of the plan, but the two sides remain at loggerheads over where the cuts would fall.

Democrats sought to ease the impact of what could be the biggest domestic spending cut in U.S. history by directing it away from priorities like scientific research and education.

Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, aim to boost defense spending and have outlined deep cuts to most domestic programs.

The White House meeting will take place at 10:15 a.m. EDT.

Republicans also aim to choke off funding for a range of Democratic priorities, from environmental protection to Obama’s healthcare reform. Taking those off the table would require deeper cuts elsewhere, they say.

Boehner must ensure that any deal is acceptable to newly elected members of his own party, who have shown little appetite for compromise after winning office on a promise to scale back the size of government. He also faces pressure from grassroots Tea Party activists who want steep cuts.

“We take it for granted that because of the intense political pressure being applied by the Tea Party, the Speaker needs to play an outside game as well as an inside game,” Democratic Senator Charles Schumer said in a statement.

KEY DISPUTE, LOOMING FIGHT

On Monday, the key dispute appeared to be over two types of spending: the discretionary programs whose funding levels are set by Congress each year and benefit programs, which essentially operate on automatic pilot.

Democrats hope most of the cuts will come from these benefit programs, such as a fund for crime victims, in order to protect other priorities. They’ve identified $8 billion worth of cuts to these programs that have been included in both Republican and Democratic plans.

Republicans want to concentrate the cuts on discretionary programs in order to establish a lower spending baseline for years to come.

Meanwhile, other budget fights loom. House Republicans are expected to unveil a proposal for the coming fiscal year, which begins October 1, that would overhaul health programs and call for steep cuts to spending and tax rates. It would cut nearly $6 trillion over the coming decade, an aide said.

That proposal is expected to gain little traction in the Democratic-controlled Senate, but could serve to push the budget fight well into the 2012 campaign season.

Congress also faces a vote in coming weeks over whether to increase the government’s $14.3 trillion borrowing authority. Failure to do so could risk a default and roil bond markets, but Republicans are expected to press for further concessions in return for their support.

A spending cut of $33 billion in the current fiscal year could mean cutbacks at government agencies, but would do little to plug a U.S. deficit projected at $1.4 trillion this year.

The developments show how the fiscal debate has changed in Washington since 2009, when the government mobilized trillions of dollars to fight the deepest recession since the 1930s. The recession, and the efforts to fight it, have pushed budget deficits to around 10 percent of gross domestic product, their highest levels relative to the economy since World War Two.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

 

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7 Responses to Bohner to GOP: Get ready for government shutdown

  1. bmclellan

    April 5, 2011 at 7:30 am

    The end of the wilderness is nigh,
    as donkeys and elephant assess on high,
    pluck the light of prosperity from the sky.
    G.E. ,Wall street, Exxon they cry, exempt from all blame let them bleed us dry. They must profit on the backs of the many,
    to ensure the few are the only to get any.

    Meanwhile back on Oak st. just off Main another household is washed to the drain. As the rubble piles higher heard in sad refrain, the graveyard is complete , leave the human remains.

    It is absurd to believe the Justice dept. / I.R.S. can’t find a few Trillion in ill gotten gains to confiscate and return to the taxpayers purse to alleviate at least part of this problem.
    Then of course there are the wars..hack

  2. Keith

    April 5, 2011 at 7:39 am

    This is absolute madness!

    These clowns couldn’t work their way out of a paper bag. Nearly HALF of the fiscal year that began on 1 October 2010 is nearly over and these idiots STILL can’t come up with a funding bill for THIS year.

    Too much pork and too much time spent campaigning to be re-elected.

    Some people say we get the government we deserve. I say we get the government we allow.

    • Almandine

      April 5, 2011 at 12:00 pm

      potato… potahto…

  3. KerriK

    April 5, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Republicans are out of their minds by cutting funds to programs that affect the less advantaged in our society = head start programs, heating oil assistance, pell grants, ets. withouth even looking at raising taxes on the wealthiest in our country, who would not even feel a pinch. To claim that these are the people who create jobs is absurd because while corporate profits are increasing, employment is stagnant. Corporations realize that they can make more money by having people take on more responsibilty and not adding employees.

    This will come back to haunt republicans in the next election.

    • sharonsj

      April 5, 2011 at 5:51 pm

      Republicans were out of their minds before being elected, but most people paid no attention. But now that they are claiming a mandate to lower the deficit, they can again try to privatize Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. All that does is make their rich masters richer and promise them well-paid jobs as lobbyists when they “retire.”

      I’m still waiting for these clowns to do something about their own cushy retirement and to cut the military budget first. Or maybe the idea is to attack old folks first because It’s too hard for us to get out and protest. All those rolling walkers are traffic hazards.

    • Keith

      April 6, 2011 at 8:47 am

      The truth is that “taxing the wealthiest in our country” won’t put a dent in the deficit.

      That’s because it’s the huge middle class in or country that “pull the revenue wagon”. And right now, there’s simply not enough of THOSE people to pay for the long “laundry list” of programs you mention.

      Certainly, it’s nice to provide heating oil assistance, head start and pell grants to people who are in need.

      But, the sad truth is that these programs, when combined with a whole lot of others of their kind, have been forcing the US Government to keep printing (or borrowing) money to pay for them.

      And just like with our own family budgets, something eventually has to give or the whole thing collapses under its own weight of debt. Right now, if the Chinese and others who are buying the massive amount of US Treasury Bills that are floating our ballooning debt suddenly decided to STOP buying them, we, as a nation, would be absolutely SCREWED.

      At that point, all these wonderful “do good” programs will all come to a screeching, grinding halt anyway because the country will be broke and our currency will be nigh on worthless.

      I find it interesting that, years ago, we had none of this government-funded, “do good” nonsense. Families looked after families and it was the duty of younger members of the family to care for the elderly. This is how it STILL is in many other nations of the world.

      But, somehow, along the way, we as a nation have completely forgotten that it is the US Government’s job to simply keep us alive and free. It is NOT the US Government’s job to also, feed, clothe, house, educate and entertain all of us. Nor is it the US Government’s job to pay our heating and electricity bills from the cradle to the grave.

      While all these “other” things are nice to have, the truth is that we simply can no longer afford to pay for all of them…not if we want our nation to remain fiscally solvent…and therefore a sovereign nation….going forward.

  4. bmclellan

    April 6, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Good points Keith but the fact remains the government is supposed to protect it’s citizens from scam artists, bunko men, and thieves, not become one of them as ours has…