Like hundreds of thousands of other federal employees, these are men and women whose contributions have been demeaned by the federal shutdown, who are being asked to work without, at least for the moment, being paid — and who are doing their jobs with considerably more dignity than the House of Representatives has mustered.Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post:
“We all owe the Capitol Police a debt of gratitude for their work every day; no finer examples of professionalism & bravery,” tweeted House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). That’s true. But Mr. Boehner owes them, and the rest of the federal workforce, more than a 140-character message of thanks. He owes them a paycheck; he owes them a budget; he owes them an apology.
How did Boehner get himself into this situation? By calculating, based on experience, that when push came to shove, Obama would fold.Ellen Fitzpatrick and Theda Skocpol at CNN:
Recall that the dispute among Republicans was not whether to engage in hostage-taking but when. Boehner favored skipping a fight over funding — after all, Democrats had agreed to the Republicans’ overall number — and using the necessity to raise the debt ceiling as leverage to win concessions. [...]
Senior administration officials say Obama sees a vital principle at stake. Obamacare and the other policies that far-right House members want to change were debated in Congress and ratified by last year’s election. The president believes that it would weaken American democracy if one faction of one party of one house of Congress were allowed to impose its will through extortion..
Apparently the democratic processes by which Americans make choices and govern themselves are not acceptable to extremists in the House of Representatives who seek to halt government or have their way. They would have Americans see their actions as a patriotic and high-minded defense of liberty. As the shutdown loomed, several GOP congressmen and analysts took to the airwaves to trivialize the significance of the House vote. [...]More analysis on the day's top stories below the fold.
In seeking to trump a lawful vote of both houses of Congress, a Supreme Court ruling and a reaffirming national presidential election, they tread on extremist ground. Their hubris is radical and nothing in modern American history provides a fair counterpart.
Paul Krugman at The New York Times:
Political reporting in America, especially but not only on TV, tends to be focused on the play-by-play. Who won today’s news cycle? And, to be fair, this sort of thing may matter during the final days of an election.The New York Times:
But Obamacare isn’t up for a popular referendum, or a revote of any kind. It’s the law, and it’s going into effect. Its future will depend on how it works over the next few years, not the next few weeks.[...]
So the glitches of October won’t matter in the long run. But why are they actually encouraging? Because they appear, for the most part, to be the result of the sheer volume of traffic, which has been much heavier than expected. And this means that one big worry of Obamacare supporters — that not enough people knew about the program, so that many eligible Americans would fail to sign up — is receding fast.
It is outrageous that millions of the poorest people in the country will be denied health insurance because of decisions made mostly by Republican governors and legislators. These people will neither qualify for their state’s Medicaid program for the poor nor for subsidized coverage on new insurance exchanges that are being established in every state by the health care reform law. [...] The Times report, based on an analysis of census data, found that eight million Americans who are impoverished and uninsured will be ineligible for help of either kind. To add to the insanity, people whose incomes initially qualify them for subsidies on the exchanges could — if their income fell because they lost a job — end up with no coverage at all.Meg Urry at CNN:
There are no easy solutions to the difficulties wrought by the Supreme Court decision and the callousness of state officials who seized on that opening to victimize the poor.
States like New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee that are still flirting with the idea of expansion should do the right thing and expand. States that have adamantly refused to expand should relent and take the generous federal funds. And if Congressional Republicans ever give up on their obsession to destroy the health reform law, Congress could surely find ways to make certain that the people most in need of help get it.
Each year thousands of astronomers from around the world compete to decide where Hubble will point -- toward particular stars or planets or galaxies or gravitational lenses. Special science panels spend weeks setting priorities for the most important proposed science investigations. For every 10 hours of observing time astronomers want to use, only 1 hour is eventually approved.Timothy Egan:
That means each week the government is shut down could cost dozens to hundreds of critical astronomical observations.
The James Webb Space Telescope, Hubble's successor, is undergoing critical tests at the Goddard Space Flight Center. This has to be done at extremely cold temperatures, mimicking conditions in space, and the amount of time to cool the system down is one of the drivers of schedule and therefore cost. As long as the government remains shut down, the testing will have to wait. If the shutdown lasts more than a few weeks, the JWST instrument module will have to be warmed up, probably pushing the launch date forward by a few months and raising the cost commensurately (about $1 million per day).
Sarah Palin finally got her death panels — a direct blow from the Republican House. In shutting down the government, leaving 800,000 people without a paycheck and draining the economy of $300 million a day, the Party of Madness also took away last-chance cancer trials for children at the National Institutes of Health.
And now that the pain that was dismissed as a trifle on Monday, a “slimdown” according to the chuckleheads at Fox News, is revealed as tragic by mid-week, the very radicals who caused the havoc are trying to say it’s not their fault.
It’s too late. They flunked hostage-taking. About 30 or so Republicans in the House, bunkered in gerrymandered districts while breathing the oxygen of delusion, are now part of a cast of miscreants who have stood firmly on the wrong side of history. The headline, today and 50 years from now, will be the same: Republicans closed the government to keep millions of their fellow Americans from getting affordable health care.