Government Shutdown Averted, But At What Cost?

Congressional leaders and President Barack Obama reached an eleventh hour budget deal on Friday night, to fund the government for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year and avert a government shutdown for the time being.

The deal would cut about $38 billion, Amy Goodman reports for Democracy Now!, including $13 billion in cuts to the Department of Health, Labor, and Human Services.

John Nichols describes the nuts and bolts of the stopgap plan in The Nation:

The arrangement worked out Friday night averted the threatened shutdown with a two-step process. First, the House and Senate passed a one-week spending bill that addressed the immediate threat. That should give Congress and the White House time to finalize a fiscal 2011 spending deal — on which they have agreed in principle — before an April 15 deadline.

The Republicans will not be allowed to zero out Planned Parenthood. Instead they were allowed a separate, largely symbolic vote, which passed the House, but which is expected to die in the Senate.

Planned Parenthood and ACORN

Nick Baumann of Mother Jones argues that the deal is a case study in the priorities of the Democratic Party. At the last minute, congressional Democrats rallied to save Planned Parenthood. The venerable family planning organization was under fire because of an undercover video sting by Lila Rose, a onetime protegee of conservative propagandist James O’Keefe, who himself pulled a similar stunt against the anti-poverty, pro-voter registration group ACORN in 2009.

O’Keefe’s videos created a media firestorm and Congress rushed to de-fund ACORN with little protest from Democrats. Subsequent independent investigations revealed that the tapes had been deceptively edited. Vindication came too late for ACORN, which was forced to close its doors.

Baumann argues that Democrats spared Planned Parenthood and sacrificed ACORN because ACORN didn’t have friends in the right places:

Abortion rights affect everyone. But to put it bluntly, big Dem donors care a lot more about abortion rights than they do about community organizers in inner cities.

Specious “victory”

In the days leading up to the deal, the media created the expectation that the budget was a game that one party would “win.” Paul Waldman of The American Prospect argues that in his eagerness to declare “victory” in the budget showdown, President Obama is undermining his own political agenda.

It would have been nice if when announcing the budget deal, President Obama had set aside the politician’s natural inclination to declare victory and his own preference for casting himself as the adult who settles things between the squabbling children. He could have said something like this: “The deal we just made is preferable to a government shutdown, which would have been truly disastrous. But nobody should mistake it for anything but the tragedy it is. As a result of the cuts Republicans have forced, people who rely on government services will suffer, and the economy will lose jobs. The Republicans held the government hostage, and we had no choice but to pay the ransom.”

By rushing to champion the spending cuts, Obama may be saving face, but he’s also setting a precedent that will make the next round of cuts even easier. The truth is that Democrats conceded under duress, they didn’t volunteer to cut spending because they thought it would help the country.

Indeed, Democrats agreed to far more cuts than the Republicans initially asked for. Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks argues that the Tea Party and the ostensibly more mainstream Republicans set up a very effective good cop/bad cop negotiating strategy in which the Democrats would offer cuts and the mainstream Republicans would say, “I’d like to help you, really I would, but you know my partner isn’t going to like that.”

Corporate taxes

Joshua Holland of AlterNet explains how corporate America has successfully lobbied to shift an ever-increasing share of its tax burden onto the backs of individual citizens:

Well, consider this: in the 1940s, corporations paid 43 percent of all the federal income taxes collected in this country. In the 1950s, they picked up the tab for 39 percent. But by the time the 1990s rolled around, corporations were paying just 18.9 percent of federal income taxes, and they forked over the same figure in the first decade of this century. We — working people — paid the difference.

Something to think about as we prepare to file our income tax returns.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the economy by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. See the original article.


Related Stories:

Budget Details Emerge: What’s Cut, What’s Not, What Got Shifted and What Got Shafted

Budget Deal Done On Poor Women’s Backs

Shake Up At NPR After Another O’Keefe Stunt


photo: courtesy of skibum415 via flickr


Michael S.
Michael S6 years ago

This country is coming to a point that I believe it has never seen in its history and none of it is good! While Obama bends over backwards to his corporate campaign financiers and Boehner, the rest of us are the ones being punished and apparently blamed for this Wall Street manifested disaster. Meanwhile those who deserve to be punished are continually rewarded. What ever happened to the United States of America? In my view it no longer exists!

Michael S.
Michael S6 years ago

Let's not forget that the massive tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, combined with two wars and the largest bureaucratic expenditure in US history under Bush visa vie the department of homeland security, along with the systematic deregulating of Wall Street putting millions of Americans out of work and out of their homes, along with the massive increases in military spending and the bailouts to the crooks who profit under all of the above is what actually created these catastrophic nightmare. But to say this country is broke is an outright lie. It all boils down to priorities and since the 1970's and the advent of the so called free trade agreements these priorities have clearly and steadily been shifted to giving the rich everything at the expense of the rest of us. Even in the so called booming times in the last thirty odd years, while the rich never realized greater profits(as GE does today and is evading taxes and getting a huge tax rebate), the working class settled for stagnated wages and loss of benefits in spite of working harder and longer and producing more. Meanwhile in the same time frame the ever growing poor who came from the ever shrinking middle class continued to lose safety net programs to the point where we are right now, losing our jobs and our homes or working with reduced salaries and benefits if we're "lucky!" And here comes Obama and his "deal" which will take an already battered and nearly broken population further toward the abyss. This country ha

Jerry t.
Jerold t6 years ago

Tis but media vs the sleepy mind.

Jerry t.
Jerold t6 years ago

Tis but media vs the sleepy mind.

Geraldine H.
Gerri Hennessy6 years ago


June Higgins
June Higgins6 years ago

Well, here it is. We the American workers are to support the rich, while the funding for the citizens who need help (especially now), are thrown out in the cold. We are trillions of dollars in debt because of wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and now Libya. At least a trillion dollars of the debt can be contributed to the Bush tax cuts. Then the feds pumped trillions of dollars into its own banks for bailouts. Yet, we, the American taxpayer will suffer the consequences. And Obama is not discussing putting people back to work, or decreasing the war debt, or eliminating the Bush tax cuts, or taxing those corporations that do not pay taxes at all.

Let's face it.....We The People have no representation in the U.S. The Repukes will screw us no matter what, and now we have a bonified bought and paid for President, who as a Democrat should be fighting for the rights of his voters. He is backing the corporate pigs. We are going to have to look elsewhere for a leader. Since there will not be a Democrat running against him in 2012, I guess we are screwed again. I had such high hopes when I voted for him. Now, I don't think things will change without REVOLUTION. We are truly on our own.

He says that he is going to appoint a "deficit reduction commission", and will follow their recommendations. What a crock. Let's face it he is a coward, and we have been duped. I think we have bent over for politicians too long. My as@ is sore!

Tim Nadeau
Past Member 6 years ago

Shut it down.

Hartson Doak
Hartson Doak6 years ago

What happened to the money that was budgeted to run the country. Did someone steal it? Did the people who budget for the government expenses not know what was coming? Did they rely on the Big Banks for an estimate of how much to allow for expenses. Or were the big Banks planning on lending the Government emergency funds at a high interest rate? If the government can't keep the money right, how do they expect us to. They can print all the money they need. If WE do that we get thrown into prison. Maybe they should be.

Lynn C.
Lynn C6 years ago

Just one more variation on the same dirty games.

Patricia S.
Pat S6 years ago

Sending a Green Star is a simple way to say "Thank you".

You cannot currently send a star to Lois because you have done so within the last week