# US Government Shut Down - new elections for senate and house of rep.?

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The US government has shut down, because the only two political parties both could not back down enough to reach a compromise. As a result, nearly a million people are not going to work today. The 'shut down' may last a while. The previous one in 1995-1996 lasted 28 days.

The Republicans (and Democrats?) publicly included the healthcare reform in the discussion about the budget, whereas to me it seems these are two separate discussions. I know that politicians try to reach all kinds of compromises, and that negotiations mean that one party gets its way on one issue, and the other party gets its way on another issue. Or, sometimes, a compromise can be reached. But to attach the biggest and most important political issue (Obamacare) to this negotiation? As an item, for both parties it is 'too big to fail', so they will rather risk international embarrassment, and a shut down of nearly a million jobs.

To me, that is just insane. It was a guarantee that this negotiation would fail from the beginning, and I think that whoever put the healthcare reforms on the same agenda as the budget for the government is responsible for this shut down. On this forum, such behavior might be considered a thread-hijack, and would lead to suspension and eventually a ban.

From where I am sitting, in the Netherlands, this whole situation sounds like the US political system has some inherent design flaws. Our government negotiates over changes in the budget. If my government fails to reach a compromise, nothing changes (and nothing will be shut down). And this failure to reach a compromise would nearly always result in new elections for parliament, and therefore in a new government. Why can't democracy do its job in the USA? Allow the people to vote for new members of the house of representatives and the senate, and see if they can reach a conclusion in whatever new composition they will be in after elections.

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Just thinking out loud here.....   If people like soldiers and policeman can be legally charged with 'Dereliction Of Duty' for not performing the required responsibilities of their job then why can'

Wish you guys would quit playing the game. Bush only had a surplus because Clinton stripped Social Security while he was in office. Man you ideologues are atrocious. I am glad I am not part of this ci

I never suggesed you were evil. I simply pointed out that as a matter of recent and easily remembered historical fact you and your fellow registered Republicans bear full and undiluted responsibility

The US government has shut down, because the only two political parties both could not back down enough to reach a compromise.

No, this is patently false. The government shut down because one party demanded concessions to keep the government running. Concessions for things it could not get by winning elections.

This is like saying that a patron will pay his restaurant check only if the waiter washes his car, too, and when he tells you to shove off, blame him for not compromising. That's not a lack of compromising by the waiter, it is thuggery and extortion by the patron.

The "share the blame" framing that is being perpetuated by some media reports is simply a lie.

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Just thinking out loud here.....

If people like soldiers and policeman can be legally charged with 'Dereliction Of Duty' for not performing the required responsibilities of their job then why can't congressmen? There should be more accountability for not doing their job than simply facing the possibility of not getting reelected. They are derelict of duty and they should be held legally accountable for that.

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Just thinking out loud here.....

If people like soldiers and policeman can be legally charged with 'Dereliction Of Duty' for not performing the required responsibilities of their job then why can't congressmen? There should be more accountability for not doing their job than simply facing the possibility of not getting reelected. They are derelict of duty and they should be held legally accountable for that.

I agree. They HAVE to find an agreement.

The no-agreement and shut down should not be an option.

It is like 2 men arguing in the street, hitting in the face all the people around, without even trying to hit each other.

Today, Senators will get paid, Congressmen also. That is not fair.

No, this is patently false. The government shut down because one party demanded concessions to keep the government running. Concessions for things it could not get by winning elections.

This is like saying that a patron will pay his restaurant check only if the waiter washes his car, too, and when he tells you to shove off, blame him for not compromising. That's not a lack of compromising by the waiter, it is thuggery and extortion by the patron.

The "share the blame" framing that is being perpetuated by some media reports is simply a lie.

I don't understand your argument. Besides it does not matter the subject: The 2 parties involved are supposed to work for the Nation. At this moment they harm the Nation.

Edited by michel123456
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From where I am sitting, in the Netherlands, this whole situation sounds like the US political system has some inherent design flaws. Our government negotiates over changes in the budget. If my government fails to reach a compromise, nothing changes (and nothing will be shut down). And this failure to reach a compromise would nearly always result in new elections for parliament, and therefore in a new government. Why can't democracy do its job in the USA? Allow the people to vote for new members of the house of representatives and the senate, and see if they can reach a conclusion in whatever new composition they will be in after elections.

The flaw is the assumption that government officials(and their voters) would actually be interested in making government work, not giggle in glee as it is shutdown.

The congress made a budget and the senate made a budget. The dems in the house and senate tried to get the repubs to meet in conference to resolve the differences since April, but the answer was NO. Since no budget was negotiated, we need these temporary continuing resolutions. Many, possibly a majority of the Republicans in Congress, along with democrats would approve it.

Boehner won't allow democracy to work - the majority of congress would vote for the senate bill. But it would probably mean his job. So to me, its Boehner's shutdown. One man's job is causing all this and will flow over into the debt ceiling.

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I don't understand your argument. Besides it does not matter the subject: The 2 parties involved are supposed to work for the Nation. At this moment they harm the Nation.

The argument is that the Affordable Care Act was passed into law three years ago. Extreme factions of the Republican party have tried 42 times now to overturn the law, and have failed each time.

Threatening government shutdown by tying the ACA to a spending bill is NOT part of our democratic process, nor should it be. Many (sane) Republicans are admitting that shutting down the government is the ultimate admission of defeat for a politician. The extremists have not been able to use the system we have in place and are trying to circumvent the People's representative functions using blackmail.

Yes, politicians are supposed to work together and we're currently seeing that the US has a big problem with that. But negotiations can't be done at this level when you have hostages being threatened with beheading. Meeting the demands of terrorists politicians willing to use such tactics MUST be deemed unacceptable or it's just going to keep happening.

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It is honestly more of a cyclic event. Much the same as our wars have been lately.

The major stuff keeps getting funded and they never let it go on for long. Grand scheme of things it is not as bad as the media makes it out to be.

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The 2013 United States general elections will be held on Tuesday, November 5, 2013. This off-year election will feature special elections to the United States Congress, gubernatorial and state legislative elections in a few states, as well as numerous citizen initiatives, mayoral races, and a variety of other local offices on the ballot.

Not much of interest in the 2013 elections. Obama may have to give in to the Republicans in the House. This shutdown shows the public that the republicans are against his health care program. Next year, the stakes are higher because the entire House will run in the elections and 33 of the 100 senators.

Federal employes are well paid compared to most state, local and privately employes; thus, I'm not too concerned about them having an unpaid holiday (a furlough). I doubt it will last very long. The hardest hit will be poor people who may get a retirement check late, and maybe some other scenarios. Although, how it works out is yet to be decided by congress. This is political theater to get the attention of the public. It will be interesting to see who makes what points.

The 2014 United States elections will be held on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. During this midterm election year, all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate will be contested in this election along with 38 state and territorial governorships, 46 state legislatures (except Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia),[1] four territorial legislatures and numerous state and local races.

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I don't understand your argument. Besides it does not matter the subject: The 2 parties involved are supposed to work for the Nation. At this moment they harm the Nation.

And the democrats will vote for a "clean" continuing resolution and raising of the debt ceiling, not tied to any additional conditions. By adding concessions, the GOP indicates that a shutdown is something thy wanted, and that they want the government to default on its debt. That's the only scenario where this is an issue of compromise.

IOW, compromise is not you giving me what I want, and you get nothing in return. That's bullying.

Federal employes are well paid compared to most state, local and privately employes

No, that's not true if you account for the job they do. e.g. a government lawyer is well-paid compared to a private sector fast food worker, but that's not a fair comparison. A government lawyer is not well-paid compared to private sector lawyers.

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The flaw is the assumption that government officials(and their voters) would actually be interested in making government work, not giggle in glee as it is shutdown.

I read an interesting piece on (gasp!) Fox News about who stands to gain in a shutdown. This might actually help Boehner rid himself at least partially from his Tea Party extreme faction.

The media loves this stuff too (advertising rates go up during disasters), and since the media is owned by the corporations who helped put the pols in office, it's not hard to see that connection. Well, not hard for me, but Fox missed it.

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Suggestion: if the 800000 people involved go to work tomorrow, unpaid, Obama wins.

The Republicans have given a chance to a very few percentage of the U.S. population to decide for itself.

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No, that's not true if you account for the job they do. e.g. a government lawyer is well-paid compared to a private sector fast food worker, but that's not a fair comparison. A government lawyer is not well-paid compared to private sector lawyers.

Lets talk about the lower paid ranks, that make up the majority of government employees, even if salaries are exactly the same as private, state and local employees, federal health and retirement benefits are much better than the others, with rare exceptions. Lawyers are at the top of the pay scale, and that is picking an unrepresentative data point.

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And the democrats will vote for a "clean" continuing resolution and raising of the debt ceiling, not tied to any additional conditions. By adding concessions, the GOP indicates that a shutdown is something thy wanted, and that they want the government to default on its debt. That's the only scenario where this is an issue of compromise.

IOW, compromise is not you giving me what I want, and you get nothing in return. That's bullying.

I liked this illustration from Steve Benen that was shared in an article by Bill Moyers:

The "share the blame" framing that is being perpetuated by some media reports is simply a lie.

Indeed. From my above referenced article:

Beltway reporters who see their professed neutrality as a higher ground bear an enormous amount of responsibility for encouraging this perversion of democratic governance. With a few notable exceptions, the media have framed what Jonathan Chait called a kind of quasi-impeachment in typical he said-she said fashion, obscuring the fact that the basic norms that govern Congress have been thrown out the window by a small cabal of tea party-endorsed legislators from overwhelmingly Republican districts. The media treat unprecedented legislative extortion as typical partisan negotiations, and in doing so they normalize it.

Also, here:

As the government shutdown was approaching, many Americans did what comes naturally in matters regarding Washington: They ignored it, and assumed that the squabbling politicians would work things out at the last minute.

Now that the shutdown has gone into effect, many people are inclined toward a second default position: Blame everyone.

Both positions fit the dismally low view that Americans have for government in general, and Congress in particular.

In this case, however, the "they're all bums" reaction is off-base. This shutdown is not the result of the two parties acting equally irresponsibly. It is the product of an increasingly radicalized Republican Party, controlled by a deeply disaffected base that demands legislative hostage-taking in an effort to get what it has not been able to attain through the electoral process or the judiciary.

Republicans in the House are making demands that are both preposterous and largely unrelated to budgetary matters. In return for keeping government running (and, even more ominously, for paying its bills), they want President Obama to undermine the health care law that he ran on in 2008 and 2012, and now considers his signature domestic accomplishment.

No president of either party could accept that kind of badgering. No president should, as it would set a terrible precedent.

I generally tend to prefer my news from places like NPR and BBC, but there was a segment last night on MSNBC that I saw online. It shows how a shutdown was the goal from the start, and was a promise many of these republican congresspeople made while campaigning... They wanted this, not a compromise:

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And the democrats will vote for a "clean" continuing resolution and raising of the debt ceiling, not tied to any additional conditions. By adding concessions, the GOP indicates that a shutdown is something thy wanted, and that they want the government to default on its debt. That's the only scenario where this is an issue of compromise.

The GOP does want to repeal the ACA, but I don't think the GOP wanted a shutdown. The Tea Party wants that and they will go over the cliff on the debt ceiling as well. They are not bluffing. They are ready to take it down. They really are that stupid/evil.

I hope Obama will try to lift the debt ceiling himself. Its a threat to national security as real as a natural disaster or attack.

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The GOP does want to repeal the ACA, but I don't think the GOP wanted a shutdown. The Tea Party wants that and they will go over the cliff on the debt ceiling as well. They are not bluffing. They are ready to take it down. They really are that stupid/evil.

I hope Obama will try to lift the debt ceiling himself. Its a threat to national security as real as a natural disaster or attack.

Perhaps they will be throttled by their political backers, the business men who do not want the economy to tank. I agree that the Tea Party is stupid/evil, and Republicans are seeking their vote. However, politicians often play the game without being stupid, and will bow to the will of business men, after they score Tea Party points.

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I read that NASA has shut down. Does that mean that the national labs that do basic and applied research have also shut down? Science research is too important to be held hostage to political squabbles in Washington.

Edited by Bill Angel
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Federal programs that are deemed essential will continue, this will include staff that keep expensive machinery running, from what I heard. Most labs are likely to have reserve funds to pay people internally. However, researchers working on federal programs are likely to be furloughed.

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Lets talk about the lower paid ranks, that make up the majority of government employees, even if salaries are exactly the same as private, state and local employees, federal health and retirement benefits are much better than the others, with rare exceptions. Lawyers are at the top of the pay scale, and that is picking an unrepresentative data point.

How about we don't move the goal posts. Your statement is wrong. Modify it if you wish, but don't try and sell the idea that I make more now than I could in the private sector. I have a colleague who took a pay cut to come work for the government.

If you want to talk about the "lower pay grades" then tell me what pay grades we're talking about. About 45% of government employees are GS-12 or above. There's been a push over the years to outsource the jobs of the lower pay grades.

The government demographics aren't the same as the private sector.

In 2005, according to the CPS, 44 percent of federal workers were in management, professional, and related occupations, compared with 32 percent of private-sector workers. In the same year, the average age for federal workers was 45 in the CPS data, and the average age for private-sector employees was 40. Among management, professional, and related occu- pations, the average ages of federal and private-sector workers were 46 and 42, respectively. Among all fed- eral workers, 43 percent held bachelor’s degrees com- pared with 28 percent for all private-sector workers,

and 46 percent of federal workers versus 42 per- cent of private-sector workers in management, pro- fessional, and related occupations were college graduates.

IOW the government is top-heavy with college graduates. Looking at the lower-paid ranks skews the discussion away from the truth. The government also has a higher percentage of men than the average population, which skews private-sector salaries down, because the unfortunate truth is that women are generally paid less than men.

If you look at table A-2 you will see how the fraction of government workers with college degrees has been rising over the years. The percentage with graduate degrees has more than doubled since 1975.

It's true that one advantage federal employees often have is health care. Which, of course, is what the GOP is trying to stop the private-sector workers from getting.

The GOP does want to repeal the ACA, but I don't think the GOP wanted a shutdown. The Tea Party wants that and they will go over the cliff on the debt ceiling as well. They are not bluffing. They are ready to take it down. They really are that stupid/evil.

There are only 49 members of the tea party caucus in the house. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_Party_Caucus

If avoiding a shutdown was a GOP priority, they could have avoided a shutdown by a huge majority.

I read that NASA has shut down. Does that mean that the national labs that do basic and applied research have also shut down? Science research is too important to be held hostage to political squabbles in Washington.

Pretty much, AFAIK. There are caretakers for some critical things (e.g. feeding the lab rats at NIH). But my whole lab has been sent home. There is a skeleton crew of operations people running the things that can't be allowed to be shut down.

Suggestion: if the 800000 people involved go to work tomorrow, unpaid, Obama wins.

The Republicans have given a chance to a very few percentage of the U.S. population to decide for itself.

The furloughed workers are not legally permitted to go to work tomorrow.

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(...)

The furloughed workers are not legally permitted to go to work tomorrow.

What law says that?

If they want to provide their service for free, they can't? They will be arrested and sentenced for servicing the Nation for free? What a strange country...

If I understand clearly, the issue is that they won't be paid. The closing of the service is a consequence.

In most private enterprises here a lot of people are not paid for months. They continue to work though. Till when, it depends.

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OK, the Federal Government has changed the distribution of its employees, and hires more professional, administrative and technical people. And, I'll grant you that comparing pay for jobs in those categories may not be greater for Federal Employees than other sectors. And, the pay differential for working east and west coast doesn't appear to offset the cost of living.

In the Midwest, where I live a Wall-mart employee often cannot get a full time job, because the company does not want to pay for benefits, and they pay only a bit above minimum wage, about $8,50. Just about all federal employees are better paid. A school teacher here, who has a masters degree, makes about$40,000, which is a more than a federal clerk makes, about the same as a Federal technical employee, but quite a bit less than administrative and professional workers.

Thus, it depends on where the private, state, or local job is located whether Federal employees are paid higher or lower than their counterparts. But, the minimum wage employees are paid less, especially ones that cannot get full time jobs. Any category Federal employee is more able to take a few days unpaid vacation than any minimum wage worker.

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What law says that?

If they want to provide their service for free, they can't? They will be arrested and sentenced for servicing the Nation for free? What a strange country...

If I understand clearly, the issue is that they won't be paid. The closing of the service is a consequence.

In most private enterprises here a lot of people are not paid for months. They continue to work though. Till when, it depends.

There are numerous issues with that with one being liability. If you get injured on the job you are generally taken care of. But if you are not actually on the job, but it happens in the facility, well that is going to cause problems. Another one is security. If you are not on the job your access to certain areas will be automatically revoked for the time. Again, it would be a liability issue when someone has access to dangerous, classified or similar material while technically not being on the job.

Tangential to federal wages: I vaguely remember a CBO report indicating that below a masters the federal compensation (wages+benefits) are on average higher than in the private sector. At masters and above the trend reverses. One of the reasons I presume is that federal agencies are not able to squeeze untrained labor that well (i.e. there probably regulations to limit use of part-time or temp worker that go without benefits). Instead they have to outsource to companies that do that.

Still, missing paychecks on the lower bracket will hurt, no matter what.

Edited by CharonY
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What law says that?

If they want to provide their service for free, they can't? They will be arrested and sentenced for servicing the Nation for free? What a strange country...

I don't know the name or number of it, but it has been made very clear in all of the information given to us. The converse of this is management can't "encourage" you to provide any unpaid work, such as unpaid overtime, which is something that happens in the private sector.

If I understand clearly, the issue is that they won't be paid. The closing of the service is a consequence.

In most private enterprises here a lot of people are not paid for months. They continue to work though. Till when, it depends.

Not being paid for work here is a matter that tends to land the "employer" in court.

Tangential to federal wages: I vaguely remember a CBO report indicating that below a masters the federal compensation (wages+benefits) are on average higher than in the private sector. At masters and above the trend reverses. One of the reasons I presume is that federal agencies are not able to squeeze untrained labor that well (i.e. there probably regulations to limit use of part-time or temp worker that go without benefits). Instead they have to outsource to companies that do that.

I think you're right about the squeezing. If you look at the system as a whole, it's clear that strong union influences were at play when it was set up, all those decades ago. So there are good benefits, that have been stripped from the blue collar private sector in more recent times. Upper-level private sector jobs tend to still have these benefits.

There's another angle to this. People complain bitterly about government incompetence, but if you can't offer better compensation then you aren't going to get the best and the brightest people. It's not like there isn't private sector incompetence, either — lots of people wonder if Dilbert is a documentary about where they work.

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Guys, the discussion is not about the wages of government workers, is it? I don't think that the wages of anyone is relevant to why and how the shut down happened?

I am still very much stuck in a total misunderstanding of how the USA works. In my opinion, this shut down is a very huge event. But the American media seem to be far more worried about the political implications than about the very practical every-day implications. And it also surprises me that I read very little anger with the politicians who caused it. The anger is similar to any other political debate - just some general disagreements.

So, the US are able to send 800,000 government workers home, which means that 800,000 people will somehow have to catch up with the work they were supposed to do these days, and bills may not get paid, services are unavailable... And it even may cause commercial parties to have problems too... The effects of the shut down must be felt everywhere. (Right?)

And yet the media seem more worried about whether Boehner and the Tea Party will be friends or not... whereas I think that the discussion should be whether you want these idiots as your government in the first place?

So, why are Americans not more outraged? Why are elections not an option? Is it because the effects are much smaller than I think? Or because Americans just don't see any feasible alternatives to this government?

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One thing that may be confusing is that the US systems is heavily based on agreements. This quite the contrary to the parliamentary system in, the Netherlands or Germany where you have a ruling party and an opposition, where you basically expect that the opposition is, well, opposed to almost anything the ruling parties decide.

So for many US citizens it mostly looks like that their two big parties are not able to agree on something, which is also somewhat perpetuated by the media due to their desire to appear neutral on that matter.

Re-election is legally probably not an option and even if it was, there is a good chance that it would change little. Those opposing ACA are probably elected because of their stance. Hence for them this is probably a good way to show their constituents (remember, congressmen are not elected by popular vote across the nation) that they fight for them and is standing up to the evil government (or something on that line).

But the key point is really that the power struggle has a completely different structure than in Europe and is often within, rather between party lines.

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... this failure to reach a compromise would nearly always result in new elections for parliament, and therefore in a new government.

Ditto, just like the Italian government collapsing. We've had enough of these boneheads. They were elected to cooperate together, not compete against. All the representatives and senators should be fired, their privileges and pensions revoked, and new elections held. Almost guaranteed that we'd never see a government shutdown again.

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