Tuesday’s tepid brew of jobs data, delayed more than two weeks by the government shutdown, wasn’t worth waiting for. It shows an increase in total nonfarm employment by 148,000 in September over August, which is consistent with economic growth crawling along in second gear.
The report’s most notable nugget is the change in part-time work. Over the last month the number of workers in part-time jobs for economic reasons–slack demand, cutbacks in hours–has remained stable. Over the last year, however, it has fallen by 681,000. Those part-timers also constitute a smaller share of all workers–5.5% in September compared to 6% a year earlier.
That puts the lie to the popular conservative meme that Obamacare has transformed America’s workforce into part-timers. The idea is that employers wishing to evade the law’s requirement that they offer health insurance to employees working more than 30 hours a week will cut their hours to 29 or less. The shorthand about this provided by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), that one-stop shop for Obamacare disinformation, was “single parents who have been forced into part-time work.”
In a strong display of unity, leaders of the nation’s major veterans’ groups plan to speak out against the continuing government shutdown at an event on Tuesday at the World War II Memorial, POLITICO has learned.
Among the groups expected are the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and the Military Officers Association of America, according to two sources familiar with the planning.
Veterans’ groups have been unified in their scathing indictment of the government shutdown, arguing it’s making it harder for veterans and their families to receive the government benefits and services that they are entitled to.
The numbers that matter in Washington are not the ones tossed around in discussions of debt ceilings or continuing resolutions.
The numbers that matter are found in the polls of public reaction to the ongoing government shutdown, and to the prospect that a bad circumstance could grow dramatically worse with the undermining of the “full faith and credit” of the federal government.
Those poll numbers explain why there has been at least some movement on the part of House Republicans—who engineered the shutdown as part of a scheme to derail implementation of the Affordable Care Act—to back down from their most hardline positions.
The latest data from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal is devastating for the GOP.
Fifty-three percent of Americans surveyed blame the GOP for the shutdown, while just 31 percent blame President Obama. Overall, approval ratings for the president are far better than those for the Republicans, and approval of the Affordable Care Act has spiked since the standoff began.
WASHINGTON — In their first meeting since a budget impasse shuttered many federal operations, President Obama told Republican leaders on Wednesday that he would negotiate with them only after they agreed to the funding needed to reopen the government and also to an essential increase in the nation’s debt limit, without add-ons.
The president’s position reflected the White House view that the Republicans’ strategy is failing. His meeting with Congressional leaders, just over an hour long, ended without any resolution.
As they left, Republican and Democratic leaders separately reiterated their contrary positions to waiting reporters. The House speaker, John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, said Mr. Obama “will not negotiate,” while the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said Democrats would agree to spending at levels already passed by the House. “My friend John Boehner cannot take ‘yes’ for an answer,” Mr. Reid said.
The meeting was the first time that the president linked the two actions that he and a divided Congress are fighting over this month: a budget for the fiscal year that began on Tuesday and an increase in the debt ceiling by Oct. 17, when the Treasury Department will otherwise breach its authority to borrow the money necessary to cover the nation’s existing obligations to citizens, contractors and creditors.
Only when those actions are taken, Mr. Obama said, will he agree to revive bipartisan talks toward a long-term budget deal addressing the growing costs of Medicare and Medicaid and the inadequacy of federal tax revenues.
This time is different. What is at stake in this government shutdown forced by a radical Tea Party minority is nothing less than the principle upon which our democracy is based: majority rule. President Obama must not give in to this hostage taking — not just because Obamacare is at stake, but because the future of how we govern ourselves is at stake.
What we’re seeing here is how three structural changes that have been building in American politics have now, together, reached a tipping point — creating a world in which a small minority in Congress can not only hold up their own party but the whole government. And this is the really scary part: The lawmakers doing this can do so with high confidence that they personally will not be politically punished, and may, in fact, be rewarded. When extremists feel that insulated from playing by the traditional rules of our system, if we do not defend those rules — namely majority rule and the fact that if you don’t like a policy passed by Congress, signed by the president and affirmed by the Supreme Court then you have to go out and win an election to overturn it; you can’t just put a fiscal gun to the country’s head — then our democracy is imperiled.
This danger was neatly captured by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, when he wrote on Tuesday about the 11th-hour debate in Congress to avert the shutdown. Noting a shameful statement by Speaker John Boehner, Milbank wrote: “Democrats howled about ‘extortion’ and ‘hostage taking,’ which Boehner seemed to confirm when he came to the floor and offered: ‘All the Senate has to do is say ‘yes,’ and the government is funded tomorrow.’ It was the legislative equivalent of saying, ‘Give me the money and nobody gets hurt.’ ”
Politico reported Tuesday evening that Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) administration is in negotiations with the Obama White House to accept about $100 million in federal money to implement an Obamacare Medicaid program to help elderly and disabled Americans.
Perry has been a heated opponent of the health law. He refused to accept $100 billion in federal funding to expand Texas’ Medicaid program under Obamacare, which could have helped 1.5 million poor Texans afford basic health benefits. As recently as April, Perry essentially called the expansion a joke. “Seems to me April Fool’s Day is the perfect day to discuss something as foolish as Medicaid expansion, and to remind everyone that Texas will not be held hostage by the Obama administration’s attempt to force us into the fool’s errand of adding more than a million Texans to a broken system,” said Perry.
Now, Perry is seeking federal dollars for Texas’ Medicaid program anyway.