The temporary boost in food stamps that arose out of stimulus spending to combat the recession has officially ended. $5 million has been cut nationwide from the program, and more cuts may be coming.
Fresh off the government shutdown,Republicans in the Senate are giving us …another shutdown. This time it’s in miniature: They’re threatening to filibuster one of President Obama’s nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals—and Democrats are contemplating action to end the filibuster, for judicial nominees.
To which I say: Please, please, please. It’s time to end the filibuster. Let’s kill the damned thing.
It got close-ish at the end there, but was there ever any doubt? Booker won 55%-44% in an election featuring one of the lowest-ever statewide turnouts in New Jersey, with under 25% of the voting population participating. (Hmm, wonder why?) Here’s Senator-elect Booker’s characteristically enthusiastic, hoarse-throated, victory speech. For what it’s worth, Booker began by praising his predecessor Frank Lautenberg, who wasn’t exactly fond of him.
One of conservatism’s really great beliefs (I’m serious about this) is about the unknowability of the future: That well-intentioned actions can have big unintended consequences; once those butterfly’s wings start flappin’, there’s no telling where the hurricane might pop up. For such folks, limiting government is just a way of trying to limit the damage that government can do.
The problem with modern American conservatism is that it so rarely applies its own best insights at the moment of truth.
Fox 29 reports that the F.B.I. has issued a subpoena requesting U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah’s tax records, focused specifically on property that the congressman owns. More intriguingly, Fattah and his lawyer said he’s actually been under investigation since 2007. The subpoena is thought to have been issued as part of a grand jury investigation.
Capitol Hill was briefly locked down today after reports of shots fired on Capitol Hill at around 2:30 p.m. One woman–reportedly the suspect–is suspected dead. Despite the government shutdown, lawmakers and journalists were present. As of just before 3 p.m., the lockdown was lifted.
So, America, are you ready for a dictator yet?
That seems like a crazy question to ask, doesn’t it? After all, we Americans practically invented democratic self-governance. We spend a day every year celebrating democracy’s virtues, and let’s be honest—that’s just the day we set off fireworks. We’re pretty proud and evangelistic (in multiple meanings of the term) about the way we govern ourselves. Surely we’re not ready to simply let government of the people, by the people, for the people to simply perish from this land, are we?
Maybe. Maybe not.
The New York Times reports that the government is shutting down for the first time in nearly 20 years: “The impasse meant that 800,000 federal workers were to be furloughed and more than a million others would be asked to work without pay. The Office of Management and Budget issued orders shortly before the midnight deadline that ‘agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations’ because Congress had failed to act to keep the federal government financed.”
The shutdown comes, of course, because President Obama and Senate Democrats refused a move by House Republicans to delay today’s implementation of ObamaCare’s health care exchanges. If you’re going to start shopping for insurance today, you should check out PhillyMag’s Ultimate Guide to ObamaCare.
So that part of government will be working. If we’re in a shutdown, what exactly is shutting down? AP has an overview of what’s being shut down—national parks, as everybody has pointed out—and says the ultimate ramification could be a slowdown in the economy. Which: Isn’t the economy already slow?
Anyway, AP says: “A shutdown that lasts two weeks or more would probably start to slow an already sluggish economy, analysts say. Closures of national parks would hurt hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses. And federal workers who lost pay would spend less, thereby curbing economic growth. A three-week shutdown would slow the economy’s annual growth rate in the October-December quarter by up to 0.9 of a percentage point, Goldman Sachs has estimated.”
So there’s that. And then there’s this:
— Ed O’Keefe (@edatpost) October 1, 2013
UPDATE: The federal government is shutting down, as the House, Senate and White House were unable to resolve a budget standoff over the president’s healthcare law. From the New York Times:
The impasse meant that 800,000 federal workers were to be furloughed and more than a million others would be asked to work without pay. The Office of Management and Budget issued orders shortly before the midnight deadline that “agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations” because Congress had failed to act to keep the federal government financed.
So, you may be wondering, what does the coming government shutdown mean for Philadelphia? Well, a wide swath of federal workers will be furloughed beginning at midnight tonight, and Philly’s got quite a few of them, from Social Security Administration workers to Department of Justice employees working at the 2nd District courthouse. But while it’s unclear exactly how the shutdown will affect all those employees, there is one thing we do know for sure: All 401 U.S. National Parks will be shut down tomorrow, including Independence National Historic Park, which employs around 200 people. I.e, The freaking Liberty Bell will be closed. As will freaking Independence Hall. (Also: Valley Forge National Park.) Tourists, get ready to get your kicks by staring thoughtfully at the facade of the Second Bank of the United States.