Wonkbook: Wisconsin heats up; Boehner risks shutdown; health care defunding begins
By Dylan Matthews
Matthews is writing Wonkbook while Ezra is traveling.
Matthews is writing Wonkbook while Ezra is traveling.
Obama is siding with state workers in Wisconsin's state budget brawl, report Brady Dennis and Peter Wallsten: "President Obama thrust himself and his political operation this week into Wisconsin's broiling budget battle, mobilizing opposition Thursday to a Republican bill that would curb public-worker benefits while planning similar action in other state capitals. Obama accused Scott Walker, the state's new Republican governor, of unleashing an 'assault' on unions in pushing emergency legislation that would nullify collective-bargaining agreements that affect most public employees, including teachers... By the end of the day, Democratic Party officials were working to organize additional demonstrations in Ohio and Indiana, where an effort is underway to trim benefits for public workers."
John Boehner is threatening a government shutdown in the absence of immediate budget cuts, report Paul Kane and Shailagh Murray: "As the House continued its marathon debate Thursday over a bill to fund the federal government, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) acknowledged that Congress might not reach agreement over spending cuts before the government runs out of money next month. But Boehner ruled out passing a temporary funding resolution to keep the government operating unless it contained at least some spending cuts. Democratic leaders in the Senate said that position increased the risk of a federal shutdown. The government is currently operating under a temporary funding measure, which expires March 4."
House Republicans have begun in earnest the effort to defund health care reform, reports N.C. Aizenman: "Republicans launched this week the first of what they vow will be a series of attempts to use their control of the House of Representatives to defund the health-care overhaul law. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) offered an amendment to the pending bill to fund the final seven months of this year's budget...that would prohibit administration officials from using any of the money to implement the health-care law. The proposal appears likely to make it into the final version of the budget bill that the House is about to vote on. But the defunding effort faces two major obstacles: Democrats control the Senate and the White House, and nearly all funds the federal government will need to implement the law were appropriated in the law itself."
Late-night hip hop interlude: Odd Future play "Sandwitches" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Still to come: The House's budget cuts are getting deeper by the day; the Justice Department wants an anti-health care reform judge's help in moving implementation forward; the House voted to block net neutrality rules; a judge is forcing the administration to settle on an offshore drilling policy; and an all-too-literal cat burglar.
The amendment process in the House is making cuts deeper and deeper, reports David Rogers: "With tensions rising, House Republicans pushed through a third long night, hoping to win passage late Friday of more than $60 billion in immediate spending cuts that would severely affect agencies in the second half of this fiscal year. The leadership put the brakes on deep additional cuts, but a school reform program important to President Barack Obama would be decimated by a $336 million reallocation of funds approved by 249-179. The National Endowment of the Arts narrowly lost an additional $22.5 million. And in a blow to the president, Democrats failed to restore $131 million for the Securities and Exchange Commission, facing new responsibilities under Wall Street reforms enacted in the last Congress."
A "Gang of Six" is behind the bipartisan debt reduction effort: http://wapo.st/gzPVZM
Financial regulators told Congress yesterday that budget cuts are hurting their work, reports Brady Dennis: "The Securities and Exchange Commission, led by Mary Schapiro, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, headed by Gary Gensler, are wrestling with how best to bring transparency and oversight to the vast 'over-the-counter' financial derivatives and swaps markets. Schapiro and Gensler told the panel that budget pressures are hampering their efforts. Schapiro said the SEC has had to restrict hiring, cut travel and put technology updates on hold. 'And that's having an impact on our ability...to achieve our core mission as effectively as we could,' she said. Gensler said the trading commission needs to expand to be able to manage its mission."
Elizabeth Warren has hired three people from the financial sector as deputies at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: http://on.wsj.com/eA4x8r
The administration is skeptical of plans for a corporate tax holiday, reports John McKinnon: "Amid a growing corporate push for a tax holiday, the Treasury Department's top tax official reiterated concerns about letting U.S. multinationals bring home hundreds of billions of dollars in overseas profits at low tax rates. For decades, U.S. tax policy has allowed multinational corporations to defer taxation of much of their overseas earnings until the money is brought home--or repatriated--to the U.S. By now, more than $1 trillion of U.S. corporate earnings is parked offshore, according to estimates. But companies have been reluctant to bring it back to the U.S., because of the relatively high U.S. tax rates they face."
Obama needs to lead on the deficit in public, not negotiate in private, writes David Brooks: http://nyti.ms/fJH87O
It'll take a liberal president to make progress on the deficit, writes GOP Senator Tom Coburn: "For the president, dealing with our debt threat could be his "Nixon goes to China" moment. Only a liberal Democratic president may be able to reform entitlements. Fortunately for the president, those of us who backed his own debt commission's plan have already gone to China. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) committed the heresy of backing some entitlement reform. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and I backed tax reform that would lower rates dramatically, stimulate economic growth and generate revenue by doing away with dysfunctional subsidies such as that for ethanol...If the president decides to go to China, he'll find plenty of company. We're all waiting for him."
Adorable animals robbing people interlude: San Mateo's all too literal cat burglar.
The Justice Department wants a judge who declared health care reform unconstitutional to okay its implementation, reports Jennifer Haberkorn: "The Justice Department on Thursday asked the Florida judge who struck down the health care overhaul to declare that the law must still be obeyed...Vinson last month struck down the entire health care reform law as unconstitutional, which has caused confusion for the states and federal government about whether they have to proceed with implementation. Some legal scholars and opponents of the law, including the governors of Alaska and Florida, believe the ruling has the effect of an injunction against the law, though Vinson declined to issue one."
House budget chair Paul Ryan's budget proposal will include major Medicare and Medicaid reforms: http://politi.co/eKBNen
We need more health care reform, not "entitlement" reform, writes Paul Krugman: "What would a serious approach to our fiscal problems involve? I can summarize it in seven words: health care, health care, health care, revenue. Notice that I said 'health care,' not 'entitlements.' People in Washington often talk as if there were a program called Socialsecuritymedicareandmedicaid, then focus on things like raising the retirement age. But that’s more anti-Willie Suttonism. Long-run projections suggest that spending on the major entitlement programs will rise sharply over the decades ahead, but the great bulk of that rise will come from the health insurance programs, not Social Security."
No one man should have all the power health care reform gives the HHS secretary, writes former Secretary Michael Leavitt: http://wapo.st/h0eB9G
The House voted to end funding for enforcing net neutrality rules, reports Cecilia Kang: "House Republicans voted Thursday to prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from using funds to carry out net neutrality regulations created last December. The vote was on an amendment to the continuing resolution introduced earlier this week by Communications and Technology subcommittee chairman Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.). Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and John Ensign (R-Nev.) on Wednesday introduced a similar amendment aimed to knock down the FCC's rules that prohibit Internet service providers from blocking or arbitrarily slowing traffic on their networks. Ultimately, the amendment needs to pass both chambers and not be vetoed by President Obama."
Obama traveled to Silicon Valley to court the support of Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, and others: http://politi.co/hA5KDp
Education secretary Arne Duncan has voiced support for Wisconsin's teachers, reports Jennifer Epstein: "Education Secretary Arne Duncan is voicing support for the teachers pushing back against governors in Wisconsin and elsewhere across the country who are directly taking on teachers’ unions...'Governors across the country are facing, you know, tough budget issues - as the president is here - but we have to support our hardworking teachers and make sure that we do everything we can to help them do the critically important work they do every single day in the classroom,' Duncan said...Nonetheless, Duncan said he thinks there’s room for everyone to compromise."
The Senate has passed an aviation "jobs bill": http://politi.co/ebQ7Ow
Sen. Pat Leahy's bill to fight Internet piracy goes too far, writes Brad Plumer: "Leahy’s bill...gave the Attorney General the power to order websites accused of pirating to cease their activities, and, what’s more, it required the supporting companies a website needs to thrive--the financial transaction providers, the search engines, the advertisers, and the ISPs--to stop doing business with the offending site...Trouble is, identifying genuine infringers isn’t always so straightforward--and there’s always the prospect that overly broad powers could be abused by the government. After all, it’s one thing to go after a site that allows you to stream pirated movies. But what about a blog that merely links to said site--or an online discussion forum where members talk about the best places to downward bootleg films? "
'80s flashback interlude: The music video / trailer for Take Me Home Tonight.
The Obama administration has to decide on its drilling policy within the next month, report Stephen Power and Russell Gold: "A federal judge ordered the Obama administration to decide within 30 days whether to grant a set of five permits for deep-water drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico, saying the administration's inaction on the requests is 'increasingly inexcusable.' The order, by Judge Martin Feldman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, ratcheted up the pressure on the administration, which last fall lifted a months-long moratorium on deepwater drilling but has yet to grant any permits to drill new oil or natural-gas wells at depths greater than 500 feet."
A majority of voters in both parties oppose stripping the EPA of its ability to regulate climate change: http://bit.ly/fjs97z
Dylan Matthews is a student at Harvard and a researcher at The Washington Post.
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