It’s not at all clear if Republicans, especially those knee-jerking and red-necking in the House, have assessed that a government shutdown is having a massive impact on American foreign policy. The nation has been brought to an unnecessary and crumbling cliff—mostly because a small contingent of mostly rural, outhouse lawmakers want to make a point. But, beyond the domestic impact and future Constitutional crisis this will soon raise are the rather dangerous ramifications abroad.
Which is strange considering Republicans are quick to brand themselves as more hawkish and pro-defense than Democrats.
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Infused with a new burst of political capital as the country shakes its head and laughs at the fanatical, obstructionist wing of the Republican Party, Democrats have successfully shifted the dialogue away from Obamcare and have begun trying to leverage the ill-conceived brinkmanship to avoid spending cuts scheduled for the forthcoming sequester.
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1. Insufficient FDA inspections: The government shutdown has been tied to the increase in the “continuing” salmonella outbreak that has now hospitalized nearly 300 people and spread across 18 states. Due to the forced furlough of about 60% of its staff, the FDA is unable to perform routine inspections necessary to prevent food-borne illness. This has prompted one website to make a list of the top 10 foods to not eat during the government shutdown.
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As if Washington didn’t have enough to worry about right now, with a government shutdown more than a week old, a debt ceiling confrontation looming and no solution in sight for either, there’s suddenly another complication: A group of angry truck drivers is threatening to shut down the city.
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The public knows very little about Miriam Carey, the woman who Capitol Police identified as the person who rammed her black Infiniti into a White House barricade last Thursday.
We know little about Carey thanks in part to a distracted District press corps, who’ve obliged readers with terse, routine reporting about her death so that they can get back to crafting their shallow insights into the government shutdown instead.
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Tea Party favorite Michelle Bachmann promised that none of the House Republicans would blink in their efforts to defund Obamacare, even if it means closing down the government for weeks.
A short time later, 20 House Republicans started blinking furiously enough to create an autumn breeze: Seven of the early blinkers are from Southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey. Democrats in Congress only need 17 Republicans to join them for a majority vote.
The Philadelphia area mass defection started a flurry of emails and blog posts with the accusation of “RINO.” Wikipedia defines RINO this way:
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The great thing about government shutdowns it that they bring people together. If you go to Independence Mall today—or any day for the foreseeable future—you’ll notice large groups of people standing around on the grass, talking to one another. How nice. These are people who came for the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, or the Independence Hall Visitor Center–all of which are closed. In fact, if you want to play a sadistic parlor game, go linger by the entrances of any one of these places, wait for unsuspecting tourists to pull fruitlessly at the doors, and then–preferably leaning against a wall, with a toothpick in your mouth–say, ‘Closed, pal.’
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Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor supports providing students with alternatives to public schools, and he wants you to know about it. So, naturally, he’s in Philly today—in the middle of a massive budget deficit—to talk private school and policy change.
His speech at the Freire Charter School started this morning around 10 a.m., with Cantor calling for policy that “places less emphasis on federal budget math and more on education.”
Sounds nice, but local education advocate Helen Gym is calling foul:
“Cantor supports a false notion of choice,” she wrote on her Twitter page. “To defund public schools and give parents “choice” among an erratic range of charters.”
Gym, along with activists from the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools protested Cantor’s arrival, arguing that public education would see a massive bout of defunding should the Congressman get his way.
The group that protested Cantor’s arrival in 2011 for a similar event, Occupy Wall Street, of course, is no longer around. Too bad we didn’t listen to them then. [NBC]
Red light cameras: not just for the city anymore. We all have Abington Township , the first municipality outside of Philly to install the cameras, in Montco to thank for that. The township could see up to three cameras go up before the year’s close.
PennDOT approval is still pending, but the township has already signed a deal with a Massachusetts-based company to install the lights at several high-traffic points around town:
If PennDOT gives the final green light to the project, cameras could be functioning by year’s end at Old York Road and Susquehanna Road, Old York Road and Old Welsh Road, and Moreland Road and Fitzwatertown Road.
Philly is the only municipality in Pennsylvania with red light cameras currently, but nationally, more than 500 communities across 24 states utilize the technology. The possibility for cameras in the ‘burbs only opened up last year, when legislation passed to allow their installation. [CBS]
Tom Corbett has a plan to provide insurance for 500,000 uninsured Pennsylvanians as part of his proposed Medicaid changes—all you’ve got to do is get a job.
In an announcement today, Corbett will discuss his Medicaid plans, including a scheme to provide insurance for the poor uninsured by using public money for commercial insurance policies. This is the latest in a series of steps Corbett has taken to expand the state’s Medicaid coverage, all without increasing the role of Medicaid itself. The solution, naturally, is private providers.
The state, however, won’t support applicants here unless they pass a work-search requirement, which forces those applying to look for work before they can receive healthcare. That health care, by the way, bases co-pay on income and caps them at $25 a month. Pennsylvania is the only state in the country to follow that framework.
Low-income resident advocates have since taken issue with Corbett’s projected plan:
“What’s bad about it is that under the guise of reaching out to cover people with health insurance, they are going to take benefits away from an awful lot of people,” said Richard Weishaupt, senior attorney at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia. “Welfare provides a mom and a kid $316 a month, and they get Medicaid. How in the world are they going to come up with $25 for health insurance?”
Presumably from the $316 monthly welfare check, which that hypothetical mother can only then receive if she’s looking for work already. Choosing between being healthy and eating is nothing new for the lower class. Right, Tom? [Philly.com]