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• Shutdown greets ObamaCare launch
• The mother of all fiscal cliffs
• Cruz to appear with Cuccinelli
• Deliciously non-essential
• Stay Puft tweets the shutdown
SHUTDOWN GREETS OBAMACARE LAUNCH - The next phase of President Obama’s health law begins today as middle-class Americans are now able to sign up for taxpayer-funded health insurance through the federal government. But there won’t be a confetti cannon. The Department of Health and Human Services can’t even afford a professional Twitter tweeter to extol the new entitlement program because the government is partially closed… because of a dispute over the law. This was supposed to be a moment of celebration for Democrats, enshrining universal, government-backed insurance after more than 70 years of trying. Instead, Democrats will spend most of the big day denouncing Republicans for demanding changes to the unpopular law in exchange for continuing to fund full federal operations.
[Public not impressed - A Quinnipiac poll finds 72 percent opposed to shutting down the government over ObamaCare. Seventy-four percent disapprove of the job Republicans are doing in Congress, compared to 60 percent for Democrats.]
Going retro - This is the 18th time the federal government has been partially shut down due to a fiscal impasse since Congress adopted current budget rules in 1976. President Jimmy Carter endured five of them, including for more than two weeks just before midterm elections in 1978. President Ronald Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill presided over eight shutdowns, but never for more than a few days. The longest lasted three weeks, as President Bill Clinton and Speaker Newt Gingrich jousted at the end of 1995 and the start of 1996. President George W. Bush escaped without any shutdowns, despite Democratic threats to block some of his seven requests to raise the national debt limit.
[From park closures to federal workers’ pay, WaPo provides a roundup in Government shutdown: A consumer guide]
Now what? - The shutdown clock hit zero as Senate Democrats were flatly refusing anything other than continuing current government funding. Democrats even voted (much to the delight of Republican Senate challengers) not to delay the law’s mandatory insurance requirement for individuals to match a delay granted to big businesses by the White House. Senate Democrats also voted down a House-passed proposal that would have ended an ObamaCare exemption for lawmakers and their staffs. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed no negotiations with Republicans. But can that last? Not likely.
[Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius compared the glitches in ObamaCare to those in Apple iPhones. “Everyone just assumes, There’s a problem, they’ll fix it, let’s move on,’” she told reporters. “Hopefully, they’ll give us the same slack as they give Apple.”]
Conference call - Congress has a provision for what to do when the two chambers can’t agree. It’s called a “conference,” in which leaders in each house appoints members to go into a closed-door negotiating session and hash out some compromise that heads back to both chambers to final approval. In the budget fight of 2011, that function fell to the inaptly named “super committee” that subsequently failed, leading to the current budget caps called “sequestration.” Speaker John Boehner is looking not for anything so grandiose this time, just a regular, old conference committee. Reid last night refused to appoint negotiators, saying Democrats would not come to the table until the House capitulates.
[Officials tell Fox News the National Park Police in Washington have begun barricading all monuments. In the case of open-air monuments, such as the World War II Memorial, police have to go to extra effort and expense to keep the public out.]
The mother of all fiscal cliffs - After 33 consecutive months of fiscal cliff diving, starting with the scheduled expiration of tax rates in December 2010, the federal government has been jumping from crisis to crisis. But it’s about to get really real. The government’s ability to borrow the more than $3 billion a day it needs to fund full operations will be exhausted in 15 days. A partial shutdown is one thing. A partial shutdown plus a debt-limit debacle would be another. Aside from bringing nearly all government functions to a halt, consumers and businesses would likely see interest rates skyrocket and the economy nosedive. With that looming, how long will Senate Democrats and Obama be able to maintain a “no negotiations” stance? How long will House conservatives be able to refuse calls for compromise on ObamaCare? Probably not very long.
FAQ: How do I avoid your product? - The Weekly Standard points out that as of Monday, the three most common questions on the federal ObamaCare Web site relate to exemptions from the law.
CONGRESS, STAFF GET TAX FUNDS FOR ABORTION COVERAGE - Washington Times : “…members of Congress and their staffs will be able to buy health care plans that pay for abortions, even though the premiums are funded largely by taxpayer money.”
NETANYAHU TO URGE CAUTION ON IRAN AT UN - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to offer an impassioned plea to not buy the charm offensive offered by Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani when he addresses the U.N. General Assembly today.
Macho, macho man - President Obama credited strong sanctions against Iran for spurring negotiations over its nuclear program. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, following an Oval Office meeting with the president Monday, thanked Obama for remaining committed to preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Iran’s Foreign Minister Javid Zarif took umbrage on Twitter saying, “Pres. Obama’s presumption that Iran is negotiating because of his illegal threats and sanctions is disrespectful of a nation, macho and wrong.”
[Watch Fox: Danny Danon, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister, previews Prime Minister Netanyhu’s speech before the U.N. General Assembly in the noon ET hour]
HOUSE INVESTIGATES EPA ‘SECRET AGENT MAN’ - The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee holds a hearing today investigating John Beale, a former high-level official at the Environmental Protection Agency, who has admitted to stealing nearly $900,000 from the government by telling his bosses he was doing top-secret work for the CIA’s directorate of operations.
[Washington Examiner considers how the shutdown could make revoking security clearances harder]
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...Author Eric Schlosser’s new book, “Command and Control,” focuses on the near misses and potential dangers involving the U.S. nuclear arsenal – accidentally bombing North Carolina, the wrench socket that almost blew up a warhead in Arkansas, etc. Schlosser talked with the Atlantic Wire about his book and the risks. One concern he highlights: low morale among America’s nuclear warriors.
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POLL CHECK - Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.1 percent//Disapprove – 51.0 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 27.3 percent//Wrong Track – 64.0 percent
CRUZ TO APPEAR WITH CUCCINELLI SATURDAY - Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, will appear with Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli Saturday at an event for the conservative Family Foundation in Richmond, according to an announcement from the group. This, as Democrat Terry McAuliffe is trying to link Cuccinelli to conservative Republicans in Congress he claims are responsible for the government shutdown.
Gee, thanks boss - Gov. Bob McDonnell, R-Va., offered a scolding for Republicans to reporters on Monday saying, “…it is absolutely wrong to shut down the government and to threaten to shut down the government over [ObamaCare].” McDonnell’s ethics lapses have badly damaged the chances of Ken Cuccinelli, the commonwealth’s attorney general, in the race. The Daily Press of Newport News has more.
NETWORKS NIX HILLARY MINI-SERIES - Fox News: NBC announced its plans yesterday to scrap a mini-series on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, hours after CNN announced it would forgo plans for its own biopic, after director Charles Ferguson revealed he was pressured strongly by Clinton aides.
[Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus in a Breitbart OpEd: “This is an important win for conservatives in exposing media bias and holding networks accountable.”]
DELICIOUSLY NON-ESSENTIAL - It’s no fun to be declared “non-essential,” especially when it means being sent home without pay. But how about a cupcake? Federal workers furloughed due to the government shutdown will be able to enjoy some perks today. D.C. restaurants will be offering free cupcakes, burgers, and even mini-corndogs to furloughed employees. Roll Call has the complete list.
[Ed. note: You know, workers furloughed in all previous shutdowns of any consequence have received back pay, making their leaves retroactive paid vacations.]
THANKS FOR THE HEADS UP - In one of their final tweets before the government shut down, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Near Earth Object Office said they will not be able to tweet out warnings about potential hazards, including asteroids and comets, approaching the planet.
STAY PUFT TWEETS THE SHUTDOWN - The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man of “Ghostbusters” fame (or one claiming to be him on Twitter) won the Internet with his coverage of the shutdown antics. “Dear Washington. If the government shuts down in 90 minutes, don't be surprised if a giant marshmallow starts walking down the street.” Later tweeting this picture adding, “There is no government. ONLY ZUUL.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…“These are people [the leaders of Iran’s Islamist government] that have such contempt for the U.S. and the West that they actually savor their strategies: Spin the West and spin the uranium.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here