The government shutdown is over. And we avoided defaulting on the national debt Or so they say. So who won and who lost? Well, at this point in time it looks like the Democrats lost less than the Republicans. But it is the American people who lost. For they are stuck with Obamacare for the time being. And President Obama can raise the national debt to a new record high. But it gets worse. This morning the president gave a petulant, God-awful speech scolding the Republicans, the Tea Party, talk radio, the blogosphere and pretty much anyone else who dares to oppose Obamaism (see Transcript of Obama Remarks on End of Standoff posted 10/17/2013 on The Wall Street Journal).
Good morning, everybody. Please have a seat.
Well, last night, I signed legislation to reopen our government and pay America’s bills. Because Democrats and responsible Republicans came together, the first government shutdown in 17 years is now over. The first default in more than 200 years will not happen. These twin threats to our economy have now been lifted. And I want to thank those Democrats and Republicans for getting together and ultimately getting this job done.
There was never a risk of default. With $2.45 trillion in annual revenue coming into the treasury from the taxpayers there was never a risk of the $415.7 billion annual interest payment on the debt going unpaid. Lying about it just helped a petulant child get his way. Waaa.
Now, there’s been a lot of discussion lately of the politics of this shutdown. But let’s be clear: There are no winners here. These last few weeks have inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy. We don’t know yet the full scope of the damage, but every analyst out there believes it slowed our growth.
What growth? Since coming to office the president’s policies have lost approximately 9,966,000 jobs through the September jobs report. That’s just shy of 10 million jobs he’s lost. So what recovery? Or is he just setting the stage to blame the worst economic recovery since that following the Great Depression on this 16 day shutdown? And not the lost economic activity from those 10 million or so lost jobs? Of course he is. Because what are 10 million jobs when he can stick it to the Republicans?
We know that families have gone without paychecks or services they depend on. We know that potential homebuyers have gotten fewer mortgages, and small business loans have been put on hold. We know that consumers have cut back on spending, and that half of all CEOs say that the shutdown and the threat of shutdown set back their plans to hire over the next six months. We know that just the threat of default — of America not paying all the bills that we owe on time — increased our borrowing costs, which adds to our deficit.
Yes, pity the government bureaucrats who had to go 16 days without reporting to work. Even though they will be paid for those 16 days they missed. Yes, pity the government bureaucrats. And not the 10 million who have disappeared from the labor force since President Obama assumed office. I mean, what are 5 years without a paycheck compared to missing 16 days of work? Which the taxpayers will still pay them for?
Businesses cut back on spending and hiring because of the great uncertainty of a 16-day shutdown? Are you sure it wasn’t the regulatory requirements of Obamacare that is forcing employers with close to 30 ‘full time’ employees (30 hours or more per week) to not hire any more workers? Even pushing full-time workers to part time? Are you sure this isn’t the reason why they’re not hiring? Especially with the cost of health insurance going through the roof now that it must cover everything under the sun (such as pediatric care for a couple whose children are now grown adults) as well as pre-existing conditions? Where someone can walk in off the street who was just diagnosed with cancer and buy an insurance policy for the first time in their life? Are you absolutely sure it’s the 16-day shutdown and not Obamacare? If so someone needs to attend a high school economics class to learn the first thing about economics.
And, of course, we know that the American people’s frustration with what goes on in this town has never been higher. That’s not a surprise that the American people are completely fed up with Washington. At a moment when our economic recovery demands more jobs, more momentum, we’ve got yet another self-inflicted crisis that set our economy back. And for what?
Again, are you sure it was the 16-day shutdown and not the 4 years or so of Obamacare?
There was no economic rationale for all of this. Over the past four years, our economy has been growing, our businesses have been creating jobs, and our deficits have been cut in half. We hear some members who pushed for the shutdown say they were doing it to save the American economy — but nothing has done more to undermine our economy these past three years than the kind of tactics that create these manufactured crises.
The last fiscal year ending deficit while George W. Bush was president was $498.37 billion (adjusted for inflation). At the end of the first fiscal year with President Obama in office the deficit soared to $1.539.22 trillion. An increase of 208.9%. It is this deficit number that he cut in half. The one he exploded with his near trillion dollar stimulus that did not stimulate anything but unions and the president’s cronies on Wall Street and in Big Business. Especially Big Green Business.
And the president had something else preventing him from spending as much as he did during his first term. Sequestration. Which the Democrats hate with a passion and want to get rid of. So they can turn on the spending spigot once again. Like they did during his first term.
And you don’t have to take my word for it. The agency that put America’s credit rating on watch the other day explicitly cited all of this, saying that our economy “remains more dynamic and resilient” than other advanced economies, and that the only thing putting us at risk is — and I’m quoting here — “repeated brinksmanship.” That’s what the credit rating agency said. That wasn’t a political statement; that was an analysis of what’s hurting our economy by people whose job it is to analyze these things.
Really? Brinkmanship? You don’t think adding $6.2 trillion to the national debt during your presidency had anything to do with the credit rating agency’s concern about our debt paying ability? A high school economics student can understand that the greater your debt is the greater your debt-paying problem. Funny how you don’t, Mr. President.
That also happens to be the view of our diplomats who’ve been hearing from their counterparts internationally. Some of the same folks who pushed for the shutdown and threatened default claim their actions were needed to get America back on the right track, to make sure we’re strong. But probably nothing has done more damage to America’s credibility in the world, our standing with other countries, than the spectacle that we’ve seen these past several weeks. It’s encouraged our enemies. It’s emboldened our competitors. And it’s depressed our friends who look to us for steady leadership.
I thought it would have been your bad foreign policy that did all those things. Starting with the Green Revolution in Iran. An uprising of the people against the Islamist and oppressive government of Iran. The precursor to the Arab Spring. Where you did nothing. Leaving the good Iranian people with that oppressive Islamist government. Which is currently working to produce a nuclear bomb. Then there was the Arab Spring and you telling our friend and ally and anchor to peace and stability in the Middle East, Hosni Mubarak, that he had to go. Turning Egypt over to the anti-Western Muslim Brotherhood. And then there was Libya. Another ally in the War on Terror, Muammar Gaddafi (who joined the fight against terrorism after our invasion of Iraq), that he had to go. Turning Libya over to radical Islamists. Who killed four Americans in Benghazi. Then there was the red line fiasco with Syria. If you cross that red line I will hem and haw and stammer. Then I might say something else. Then Vladimir Putin steps in and saves the day for their Syrian ally. Russia. Who suspended all adoptions to Americans to spite America. Who are also helping the Iranians with their nuclear program. All the while laughing at President Obama who they see as weak. Who couldn’t get one nation to join him for military strikes against Syria. If you want to talk about our prestige on the world stage you gave that up long ago. For today no one fears the wrath of the United States these days. With some nations seeing the United States becoming irrelevant in the world. Especially Russia and China. As well as radical Islam.
Now, the good news is we’ll bounce back from this. We always do. America is the bedrock of the global economy for a reason. We are the indispensable nation that the rest of the world looks to as the safest and most reliable place to invest — something that’s made it easier for generations of Americans to invest in their own futures. We have earned that responsibility over more than two centuries because of the dynamism of our economy and our entrepreneurs, the productivity of our workers, but also because we keep our word and we meet our obligations. That’s what full faith and credit means — you can count on us.
And today, I want our people and our businesses and the rest of the world to know that the full faith and credit of the United States remains unquestioned.
There is a difference between economic investment and buying our bonds. Any money that buys government bonds is money pulled out of the economy. Investing in government bonds doesn’t create economic activity. It actually destroys economic activity. And the only worry the rest of the world had was what you were going to do, Mr. President. Would you not pay the interest on the national debt out of spite to attack the Republicans? That’s what they were worried about. For even they knew we had the money to pay our debt without new borrowing. They just don’t trust you.
But to all my friends in Congress, understand that how business is done in this town has to change. Because we’ve all got a lot of work to do on behalf of the American people — and that includes the hard work of regaining their trust. Our system of self-government doesn’t function without it. And now that the government is reopened, and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do, and that’s grow this economy; create good jobs; strengthen the middle class; educate our kids; lay the foundation for broad-based prosperity and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul. That’s why we’re here. That should be our focus.
Strong words coming from a professional activist. For he was a community organizer. And taught activism. Funny how there are two types of activism. The good kind in his world. When it advances a liberal agenda. And the bad kind in his world. The kind based in conservatism. The president hates conservative activism, otherwise known as a government of the people, by the people and for the people, and believes it should be silenced and replaced with one-party rule.
Now, that won’t be easy. We all know that we have divided government right now. There’s a lot of noise out there, and the pressure from the extremes affect how a lot of members of Congress see the day-to-day work that’s supposed to be done here. And let’s face it, the American people don’t see every issue the same way. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make progress. And when we disagree, we don’t have to suggest that the other side doesn’t love this country or believe in free enterprise, or all the other rhetoric that seems to get worse every single year. If we disagree on something, we can move on and focus on the things we agree on, and get some stuff done.
And the Democrats calling the political opposition terrorists, arsonists, hostage takers, the Taliban, etc., how is that coming together to focus on the things we agree on? To get some stuff done? Well, Mr. President, it is obvious you believe compromise is the Republicans caving and becoming your bitch. This is not a government of the people, by the people and for the people. This is a government of, by and for you.
Let me be specific about three places where I believe we can make progress right now. First, in the coming days and weeks, we should sit down and pursue a balanced approach to a responsible budget, a budget that grows our economy faster and shrinks our long-term deficits further.
At the beginning of this year, that’s what both Democrats and Republicans committed to doing. The Senate passed a budget; House passed a budget; they were supposed to come together and negotiate. And had one side not decided to pursue a strategy of brinksmanship, each side could have gotten together and figured out, how do we shape a budget that provides certainty to businesses and people who rely on government, provides certainty to investors in our economy, and we’d be growing faster right now.
The last time we did this little dance it was the same. You want to raise taxes and cut no spending. That’s your idea of a balanced approach. Oh, you’ll promise spending cuts after we raise some taxes. But those spending cuts will never come. Democrats just don’t cut spending. Unless they get themselves stuck in a sequester. And that’s not even real spending cuts. It’s only smaller increases in future spending.
Now, the good news is the legislation I signed yesterday now requires Congress to do exactly that — what it could have been doing all along.
And we shouldn’t approach this process of creating a budget as an ideological exercise — just cutting for the sake of cutting. The issue is not growth versus fiscal responsibility — we need both. We need a budget that deals with the issues that most Americans are focused on: creating more good jobs that pay better wages.
Can the nation afford anymore of your job creation? After losing some 10 million jobs we should just cut our losses. And refuse anymore of your ‘help’ with the economy.
Cutting for the sake of cutting? What, we don’t have a debt crisis that requires our debt ceiling to be raised again and again? We’re spending too much. Hence the need to keep raising our debt ceiling. And Obamacare only makes this worse. A lot worse. Hence that 16-day government shutdown. Or did he miss that?
And remember, the deficit is getting smaller, not bigger. It’s going down faster than it has in the last 50 years. The challenges we have right now are not short-term deficits; it’s the long-term obligations that we have around things like Medicare and Social Security. We want to make sure those are there for future generations.
Oh, you are devious, Mr. President. The deficit is going down faster than in the last 50 years only because you raised it to record highs in your first year in office. Your smallest deficit is still larger than George W. Bush’s last deficit.
Medicare? You cut Medicare spending so you can spend that money on Obamacare. And Social Security? The Social Security Trust Fund has no cash in it. It’s stuffed with government IOUs. Because the government is spending so much money that they have to raid the Social Security Trust Fund to pay for it. And even that’s not enough to prevent deficit spending. So they’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. This out of control spending is why Medicare and Social Security may not be there for future generations.
So the key now is a budget that cuts out the things that we don’t need, closes corporate tax loopholes that don’t help create jobs, and frees up resources for the things that do help us grow — like education and infrastructure and research. And these things historically have not been partisan. And this shouldn’t be as difficult as it’s been in past years because we already spend less than we did a few years ago. Our deficits are half of what they were a few years ago. The debt problems we have now are long term, and we can address them without shortchanging our kids, or shortchanging our grandkids, or weakening the security that current generations have earned from their hard work.
More on education? That’s to shore up the teachers’ underfunded pensions. Infrastructure? That’s just pork-barrel spending. Building airports where no one wants to fly. Or high-speed rail that requires constant government subsidies. Money that buys votes in Congress to pass huge spending bills. Like Obamacare. Which passed only by buying off Democrats with the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, the Florida Flim Flam, etc.
So that’s number one. Number two, we should finish fixing the job of — let me say that again. Number two, we should finish the job of fixing our broken immigration system.
There’s already a broad coalition across America that’s behind this effort of comprehensive immigration reform — from business leaders to faith leaders to law enforcement. In fact, the Senate has already passed a bill with strong bipartisan support that would make the biggest commitment to border security in our history; would modernize our legal immigration system; make sure everyone plays by the same rules, makes sure that folks who came here illegally have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, meet their responsibilities. That bill has already passed the Senate. And economists estimate that if that bill becomes law, our economy would be 5 percent larger two decades from now. That’s $1.4 trillion in new economic growth.
There’s a reason why people hire illegal aliens. So they can pay them less than legal citizens. So once these illegals become legal they’re not going to work for illegal wages anymore. So it will raise labor costs. Forcing businesses to lay off some workers. Creating no net economic benefit. But the Democrats don’t care. Because it’s not about the economy. It’s about all those new Democrat voters. To turn the nation, like they turned California, Democrat.
The majority of Americans think this is the right thing to do. And it’s sitting there waiting for the House to pass it. Now, if the House has ideas on how to improve the Senate bill, let’s hear them. Let’s start the negotiations. But let’s not leave this problem to keep festering for another year, or two years, or three years. This can and should get done by the end of this year.
Really? A majority of people want immigration reform? And because of that we should pass it? Well, the majority of people want to repeal Obamacare. So perhaps this is a negotiation the Republicans and Democrats can agree on. To please the majority of people. Exchange immigration reform for the repealing of Obamacare.
Number three, we should pass a farm bill, one that American farmers and ranchers can depend on; one that protects vulnerable children and adults in times of need; one that gives rural communities opportunities to grow and the long-term certainty that they deserve.
You know, it was a farm bill that helped precipitate the Great Depression. Price parity. Increasing the price of farm goods so they were closer to the price of nonfarm goods. In response to their increased productivity due to the mechanization of the farm that produced bumper crops. Increasing supply beyond demand. Causing the price of farm goods to fall. So Hoover passed legislation raising the price of food. Making it harder to put food on the table for the average American. An example of the unintended consequences of government intervention. Such as requiring gasoline to include a portion of the corn crop. Thus raising the price of corn. And everything in the food chain downstream from corn. Like beef, chicken, milk, eggs, etc. No, the last thing consumers need who are trying to put food on the table is another farm bill.
Again, the Senate has already passed a solid bipartisan bill. It’s got support from Democrats and Republicans. It’s sitting in the House waiting for passage. If House Republicans have ideas that they think would improve the farm bill, let’s see them. Let’s negotiate. What are we waiting for? Let’s get this done.
So, passing a budget; immigration reform; farm bill. Those are three specific things that would make a huge difference in our economy right now. And we could get them done by the end of the year if our focus is on what’s good for the American people. And that’s just the big stuff. There are all kinds of other things that we could be doing that don’t get as much attention.
I understand we will not suddenly agree on everything now that the cloud of crisis has passed. Democrats and Republicans are far apart on a lot of issues. And I recognize there are folks on the other side who think that my policies are misguided — that’s putting it mildly. That’s okay. That’s democracy. That’s how it works. We can debate those differences vigorously, passionately, in good faith, through the normal democratic process.
And sometimes, we’ll be just too far apart to forge an agreement. But that should not hold back our efforts in areas where we do agree. We shouldn’t fail to act on areas that we do agree or could agree just because we don’t think it’s good politics; just because the extremes in our party don’t like the word “compromise.”
When the Republicans wanted to add tax breaks for small business in the stimulus bill President Obama refused to listen. Because he won the election. And elections have consequences, he said. And to the winner goes the spoils. When the Democrats had the House, Senate and the White House they had no interest in compromise. And didn’t. But when they don’t have all the power they expect the other side to compromise. And give them what they want. That’s their idea of compromise. Unconditional surrender.
I will look for willing partners wherever I can to get important work done. And there’s no good reason why we can’t govern responsibly, despite our differences, without lurching from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis. In fact, one of the things that I hope all of us have learned these past few weeks is that it turns out smart, effective government is important. It matters. I think the American people during this shutdown had a chance to get some idea of all the things, large and small, that government does that make a difference in people’s lives.
We hear all the time about how government is the problem. Well, it turns out we rely on it in a whole lot of ways. Not only does it keep us strong through our military and our law enforcement, it plays a vital role in caring for our seniors and our veterans, educating our kids, making sure our workers are trained for the jobs that are being created, arming our businesses with the best science and technology so they can compete with companies from other countries. It plays a key role in keeping our food and our toys and our workplaces safe. It helps folks rebuild after a storm. It conserves our natural resources. It finances startups. It helps to sell our products overseas. It provides security to our diplomats abroad.
Really? You want to go there? Security of our diplomats? The administration that let 4 Americans die in Benghazi on its watch? Despite ample warnings? Warnings so serious that the British pulled out of Benghazi? Before our four diplomats were killed? But there was an election, wasn’t there? And we just couldn’t have trouble with terrorists during an election, could we? Not for the president that won the War on Terror with the killing of Osama bin Laden.
So let’s work together to make government work better, instead of treating it like an enemy or purposely making it work worse. That’s not what the founders of this nation envisioned when they gave us the gift of self-government. You don’t like a particular policy or a particular president, then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election. Push to change it. But don’t break it. Don’t break what our predecessors spent over two centuries building. That’s not being faithful to what this country is about.
The Founding Fathers created LIMITED government. What we have today is far from limited. The progressives/liberals have destroyed what the Founding Fathers gave us. Today we have a big, fat, bloated bureaucracy. And the Republicans would like to change it by winning elections. Which isn’t that easy when the Obama administration suppresses the vote by turning the IRS loose on the Tea Party. Limiting their fundraising ability. Causing their turnout to be less than it was in the 2010 midterm election. When the Tea Party stirred the people to vote the House of Representatives back to the Republicans. Which they weren’t going to let happen in 2012. Hence using the IRS to suppress the Republican vote.
And that brings me to one last point. I’ve got a simple message for all the dedicated and patriotic federal workers who’ve either worked without pay or been forced off the job without pay these past few weeks, including most of my own staff: Thank you. Thanks for your service. Welcome back. What you do is important. It matters.
You defend our country overseas. You deliver benefits to our troops who’ve earned them when they come home. You guard our borders. You protect our civil rights. You help businesses grow and gain footholds in overseas markets. You protect the air we breathe and the water our children drink. And you push the boundaries of science and space, and you guide hundreds of thousands of people each day through the glories of this country. Thank you. What you do is important. And don’t let anybody else tell you different. Especially the young people who come to this city to serve — believe that it matters. Well, you know what, you’re right. It does.
And those of us who have the privilege to serve this country have an obligation to do our job as best we can. We come from different parties, but we are Americans first. And that’s why disagreement cannot mean dysfunction. It can’t degenerate into hatred. The American people’s hopes and dreams are what matters, not ours. Our obligations are to them. Our regard for them compels us all, Democrats and Republicans, to cooperate, and compromise, and act in the best interests of our nation –- one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
Thanks very much.
The majority of people want to repeal Obamacare. But the president doesn’t care about these American people. Because they don’t share his vision of expanding government power in our lives. People who would prefer to keep the health insurance they have. And the doctors they have. As well as not paying more for their health insurance. But what they want isn’t as important to President Obama as what he wants. So there is no compromise. No cooperation. Or acting in the best interest of the United States. For this may be one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. Where all Americans are equal. Only some are more equal than others. Like those who share President Obama’s vision.