The Presidential Policy Series: Disability Rights

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The Presidential Policy Series covers where the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, respectively, stand on healthcare policy issues.

Although it seems like our country’s two main political parties are as polarized as can possibly be, there actually has been a few health issues that both Republicans and Democrats have historically agreed on. Disability rights have traditionally been one such example.

Going back to 1990, the monumental Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was authored by Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, passed by an overwhelming margin in the Senate and the House. President George H.W. Bush, a Republican, signed the act into law and applauded the bipartisan effort of Republicans and Democrats. Eighteen years later, President George W. Bush, also a Republican, followed in his father’s footsteps when he signed expansions of the ADA into law after receiving approval a Democrat-controlled Congress.

However, this long-standing trend of bipartisanship support has been questioned of late. In 2012, Senate Republicans blocked the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities treaty, despite a broad, bipartisan coalition. Republicans were split, and the Senate was unable to obtain the necessary two-thirds of votes to ratify the treaty. On top of that, this presidential campaign has only added to the uncertainty. Hillary Clinton has made disability rights a focus of her campaign, promoting her policy agenda in speeches and commercials. Whereas Mr. Trump has been criticized for making insensitive remarks and actions of those with disabilities, calling for less “political correctness.”

While disability rights are taking center stage with the two main candidates presenting different views, future bipartisanship still remains a likely outcome based on previously recorded party positions.

Republicans call for policy that supports the inherent rights of individuals with disabilities. The G.O.P. platform vows to support those rights by guaranteeing access to the necessary tools and education to “compete in the mainstream of society.” Republicans support increased access to education and competitive employment, and vehemently oppose non-consensual withholding of care or treatment of those with disabilities.

Democrats’ position on disability does not differ all that much from Republicans. They support “equal access, equal rights, and equal opportunities to make a life for themselves and to contribute to their communities.” Democrats support Secretary Clinton’s agenda, which vows to fulfill the promise of the ADA and continues to expand the opportunities for individuals with disabilities, especially improving access to meaningful and gainful employment, as well as housing in integrated community settings.

For the benefit of the more than 50 million Americans with disabilities, let’s hope we follow in history’s path with policy that both parties can agree on.

Disability Law, Policy and Civil Rights Movement

Gun Control from a Buddhist Perspective

by Stephanie Cianfriglia, BSW

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It’s true. I am an avid supporter of gun control. But not for the reasons you might expect. I am liberal… to some, that means I am a mindless pawn of an evil government that wants to snatch up every last thing every “patriot” owns just because I can. I am also a social worker, and indeed, as one I have an interest in looking up the stats on what rabid gun-lust is doing to our country, and they are disheartening and disturbing. But, the real reason I support gun control is because I agree with it on a spiritual level.

Now, I am by no means a devout Buddhist. My meditation practice leaves much to be desired: I am occasionally materialistic; I have trouble sometimes with living in the now and instead dwell on the past or worry for the future; I am an anger junkie; I am sometimes very lazy; and I need to remember that dharma is not the same as telling people what to do.

I’m young, I’m learning, what can I say?

However, I have long since been a nonviolent person. Enjoyment of horror movies aside, I often have looked at the culture I live in with a feeling of mild, and sometimes not so mild, abhorrence at the ways we think. “This maniac shot 10 people, let’s give him the death penalty!” I say, “no,” and people look at me as if something were wrong with me. But that’s just how far entrenched the average American is in its pro-violence culture. When people were throwing parties about the killing of Osama BinLaden, I was sitting off to the side shaking my head going, “Ugh, all right, he’s dead, let’s move on. Even someone as evil as he was deserves better than a kongaline over his grave.”

Like many, many people, Newtown ignited a fierce fury and a call to action inside of me towards gun control. It also induced a lot of passion on the other side of the coin. I am not about taking people’s stuff away from them as I support the president and my state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, as I support gun control. I am not saying nobody should own a gun, But I believe that of all the things we feel entitled to own, why a weapon? Why must we want weapons so badly? Why do we crave them like sugar?

When I lived for a brief time in a bad neighborhood, and when I walked home at 7pm in the dark, I didn’t want a weapon. I wanted to get myself home as quickly as possible!

And when I watch horror movies, I don’t imagine how “cool” it would be if I had a knife-glove ala Freddy Kreuger and what it might feel like to jam one of those puppies into somebody’s stomach.

And when I played HALO in the past, I didn’t play it for the “thrill” of shooting people.

Violence isn’t caused by video games, in my opinion. I have never wanted to hurt anyone after watching  a horror movie or playing a shooting-style game.

Violence is caused by a culture that has a love-hate relationship with it. If only we could all hate violence! I know I risk sounding like a hypocrite saying that, me who never misses an episode of “The Walking Dead,” but I don’t watch the show because I like it’s splatters but because of how its characters struggle to preserve their humanity in a world that’s fallen into the darkness of Darwinistic thinking.

President Obama and Governor Cuomo are a lot like a character that died in the second season, Dale, who when his friends were debating over whether or not to kill a hostage, cried, “What’s there to debate? Let him go, let him live!” Tragically, Dale died, but he died as a symbol. These two leaders are speaking out in much the same way, and attempting to use laws to change the world in a dharmic fashion by siding with compassion and empathy in a world that often ignores the human nature of them.

So when I see people cry out in rage and accusation that the Democrats and the president are coming to take their guns away, I only pity them, and pray that they wake up someday. I can’t even fathom their emotions after so many little lives have been lost. The same vein of people argue that all abortions must be banned because its “killing babies,” which seems to defy logic. Killing babies? Babies are dying in much more horrid and unneeded ways than a woman choosing to abort a pregnancy. If children are valued so much, why are they dying by gunfire? Why are they being kidnapped? A woman just walked into a school and walked out with a 5 year old, no questions asked. These issues may all seem unrelated, but they’re not. They all stem from the same rot that lies at the most rudimentary level of our country, its culture. Children are not being valued. Weapons are being valued.

I don’t see our cultural disease being cured at any time soon, if the answer is “more guns.” It seems as if we are caught in a vicious cycle, which is, according to Buddhism, this existence on Earth exactly is. It is known as “samsara,” an endless cycle of suffering that all sentient beings are trapped in forever… UNLESS compassion is spread round the world. Another Buddhist belief is that once a human rebirth is the equivalent of a sea turtle rising up to the surface through a life preserver, an occurrence so rare that it almost never happens–meaning that we should be valuing our human lives in this lifetime as much as we possibly can, devoting every possible instant towards loving each other.

Borrowing a commonly used theme from the science fiction stories I also love, I have to wonder how long the human race can last at the rate it’s going. Yet I remain hopeful that enough of us may become enlightened to save the rest of us.

Especially our tiniest souls.

Editor’s note: This article was previously published in 2013.

Getting Social Workers Involved in Social Justice: Who Will Take the Lead

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If you’re not sitting at the table, you’re on the menu. This pithy bit of wisdom was offered as a reminder by University of Illinois Springfield social work professor David Stoesz in a discussion thread on a social work policy listserv about the profession’s paltry participation in policy and politics. Social workers on that listserv are concerned about our level of effort on social justice issues in order to bring about societal change as our code of ethics mandates. Helping people cope with policies that have disproportionately favored the wealthy over the past several decades is not enough.

However, we must do more to change those policies and create a more egalitarian society. Two interesting articles caught my attention last week. One that was posted on Social Work Helper’s Facebook page had appeared in the Guardian. The article featured young social workers in the United Kingdom who expressed concern about their futures and the future of the profession of social work. One young man, Justin, who became a social worker after serving in the British military in Afghanistan, worried about the absence of a strong voice to represent the interests of social workers.

The other article was published in Al Jazeera by Sean McElwee, a young Demos research associate, titled: “Inequality is a disease, voting turnout is the cure.” This is an idea I have been preaching recently. He provides research to support this hypothesis. The questions are: Can social work can be the x-factor that helps propel a movement leading to full voter participation? And who will be the leader(s) of that effort?

What McElwee is stating is quite simple. The 2016 election will not turn so much on who votes but on who stays home. Non-voters are more likely to be low income and lean significantly towards Democrats. Registering these potential voters and getting them to the polls could have significant effects on the outcomes of elections at all levels of government.

Unions traditionally mobilize voters and got them to the polls. However we have seen the number of members and the power of union decline in recent decades.

Will social workers help fill that gap? I believe we can. Social workers can help would-be voters break through barriers such as voter identification. Republican strategist Chris Ladd says it’s time Democrats stop whining about voter ID laws and begin to help people get the documentation they need. Sounds like good advice.

Mildred “Mit” Joyner proposed this idea several years ago when she was president of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). She believes this is something social workers at every level can participate in. Direct service workers can assist clients in understanding the particulars of voting regulations and ensure they have proper documentation when they go to vote. Administrators of agencies can make it a matter of policy to inform clients about exercising their right to vote.

However, according to WRAL News in North Carolina,

Local social service agencies are not giving poor residents adequate opportunities to file and update voter registrations as required by federal law, a letter sent by a group of voting rights advocates warned the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Department of Health and Human Services. Read more 

On the macro level, social workers can work with churches, tenant organizations, and other community-based groups to organize and implement voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives. Joyner suggests social workers engage the League of Women Voters for information and support. Agencies can learn more from organizations like Nonprofit Vote. Social work students can work with Rock the Vote to encourage young people to vote.

At the same time social workers can continue efforts to overturn misguided laws that restrict voting. We can continue to press Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act. Social workers have a responsibility to work for a more just society that permits and promotes the self-actualization of everyone.

Policies, laws and systems that restrict one’s ability to be all that one can be should be the object of intervention on the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. While social workers must pay attention to licensing, research, and building reputation as a fully scientific profession, we also have a mandate to pursue social justice.

Richard Nixon galvanized a large swath of voters who he saw as being neglected and appealed to them as the silent majority. There is a new silent majority today—voters who have been demoralized by the vast sums of money that are gaming the political system. They see the rich getting richer and not much being done to expand opportunity and prosperity for the vast majority of Americans. They are turned off by the negative campaigning and believe voting is an exercise in futility.

Social workers should be participants in the effort to restore hope to these voters—to help them understand that staying away from the polls is exactly what those protecting the status quo wants you to do. Social workers need to be involved politically and be at the policy table. If you’re not sitting at the table, you’re on the menu.

Will Social Workers Embrace Hillary Clinton

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waves before she delivers her "official launch speech" at a campaign kick off rally in Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island in New York City, June 13, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid - RTX1GCOG
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waves before she delivers her “official launch speech” at a campaign kick off rally in Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island in New York City, June 13, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid –

Saturday’s rally in Freedom Park on New York City’s Roosevelt Island provided Hillary Clinton with an opportunity to present ideas about what she will do to boost opportunity for prosperity for the poor and middle class. She spoke of four fights she will wage as President—getting the economy working for everyone, strengthening families, defending the country, and restoring integrity to the democratic process.

She vowed to support a constitutional amendment to undo the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that allows unlimited money in the electoral process. She defined herself as a fighter who has been knocked down but not knocked out. She received criticism early in her public career beginning with the 1993 healthcare fiasco early in her husband’s presidency and the wasteful Whitewater investigation led by Ken Starr that cost taxpayers nearly $60 million. She is now embroiled in an investigation of her handling of email while Secretary of State.

The relentless attacks on Hillary Clinton’s character have taken its toll. There are many who literally despise her. She has admittedly made mistakes but has not been found guilty of any criminal wrongdoing. The voices that are loudest and heard the most are the haters. They wish she would go away. Take the money and run.

At 67 years old, why would she want to take on a Republican-led Congress? What is there to gain? She’s had the White House experience. She says she is seeking the Presidency because of her lifelong commitment to children and those less fortunate. There are millions of Americans who believe in Hillary Clinton and look to her for leadership and she will not abandon them.

Secretary Clinton is taking heat because of the millions she and Bill Clinton have amassed through their Clinton Global Foundation. There is nothing wrong with becoming rich in America as long as most people have a reasonable chance at success and you are not trying to destroy those chances by undermining unions and depressing wages.

Yet, both she and Bill missed opportunities to be magnanimous with their largesse instead of piling up huge sums of money for their personal use. Allegedly charging nonprofits huge fees for speeches seems a bit over the top. She needs to address this issue because it will not go away and while it may not prevent her from reaching the White House it puts a damper on her public support.

Should she be elected President—and the odds are truly in her favor because of the demographic makeup of the electorate during Presidential elections—she will have no magic wand that will bring about the sweeping changes she is proposing with her policy agenda. She will need an active and vibrant citizenry working with her and the Democratic Party to rebalance our political and economic systems to expand opportunities for prosperity.

She will need every supporter she can muster. Social workers should not just be part of the effort social workers should be leaders in the pursuit of a more egalitarian society. That means helping to register new voters, empowering individuals and communities to become more involved, getting people to vote, and running for elected office. Changing the system often requires changing people in the system.

Democrats have a nine point advantage over Republicans among Americans who identify with either party, 48 percent to 39 percent. Yet Republicans were able to win control over the Senate and control 31 state governorships. They are also in control of the State Senate in 35 states and the State House in 33 states. Republicans won 52 percent of the votes for the House of Representatives in 2014 but gained 57 percent of the seats. Hillary Clinton has pledged to rebuild state Democratic parties that were largely abandoned during the Obama presidency.

The next President of the United States may be in the position to nominate four Supreme Court justices over the course of two terms. That alone should motivate progressives not to sit idly on the sidelines but to be actively organizing and working to get more like-minded people to register and vote. It would be wonderful if Secretary Clinton was flawless but it’s enough for me to know that she wants to improve circumstances for the poor and middle class. I have no reason not to believe her other than the words of those who would like to see her fail.

Democrats Are In a Policy Funk

After losing the House in 2010 and now the Senate four years later, Democrats seem bereft of ideas about how to reconnect with the electorate. Democrats seem to have a grip on the White House and Hillary Clinton appears to be the odds on favorite going into 2016. Yet, with Republican policies blatantly favoring the rich, you have to wonder why so many middle class voters are casting votes for the GOP.

Republicans now hold majorities in both chambers of the legislatures in 29 states—their most since 1920—compared to just 11 states for the Democrats. In 23 states, Republicans control both chambers of the state legislatures and the governorship, compared to just six Democratically-controlled states. Republicans are now governors in 31 states including the very blues states of Maryland and Massachusetts, and President Obama’s home state of Illinois.

Quotes About Moving Forward 0001 (5)Republicans gained nine seats in the Senate in the 2014 midterms for a total of 54 seats, They picked up another 14 seats in the House to increase their majority to 247 to 188 over Democrats—their largest majority since 1928. Much of the Republicans hold on the House is due to gerrymandering.

However, only a strong appeal to the middle class can challenge their advantage, but questions remain on whether this recent surge is truly a swing to Republicans or a warning to the Democratic Party that it needs to get its act together. A recent essay in the New York Times by Thomas Edsall raised the question of whether the Democratic Party has failed working class whites.

Democratic support for affirmative action and comprehensive immigration reform turned off many working class white voters. Edsall argues that white working class voters see these policies as limiting their own prospects. Even though blacks had long been denied minimal opportunities because of Jim Crow laws and other state-sponsored constraints, whites viewed the gains of blacks as coming at their expense. For them, the economic pie is a zero-sum game.

Having fought successfully for New Deal policies, civil rights for African Americans, equal rights for women and gays, Democrats have spent recent years defending their achievements against the backlash of a Republican Party that grew in numbers as conservatives—particularly those in the south—fled the Democratic Party. In recent years Democrats have largely been seen as defenders of the social safety net—social security, Medicaid and Medicare, food stamps, unemployment insurance—all programs erroneously perceived to be benefiting more blacks than whites. While a larger percentage of blacks rely on the social safety net, far more whites are the recipients of these benefits, many of them in red states.

The Republican Party has branded itself as the party of low taxes and small government while enacting supply-side tax cuts that disproportionately benefits the wealth, policies that have only worsened income and wealth inequality. Economists differ on whether inequality slows economic growth. However, the preponderance of economic gains has gone to the wealthiest Americans while wages continue to stagnate, leaving the middle class with diminishing purchasing power. Democrats have offered few ideas for improving economic outcomes for middle class families outside of raising the federal minimum wage. They offer no broad vision of policies that would tilt more economic gains from the very top to the middle and the bottom quintiles. Americans want a social safety net, but only as a last resort. Nobody wants to depend upon it for their existence.

Though not by design, President Barack Obama’s presidency was the best thing that could have happened for the nation’s most wealthy. Republicans are able to place the blame on his administration for the economic malaise of the middle class while blocking his policies in the House and Senate. When the President or other Democrats try to remind Americans that the policies responsible for the nation’s economic woes preceded his time in office, he is chided as trying to avoid taking responsibility while blaming his predecessor. That Republicans were able to raise campaign contribution limits and weaken provisions in the Dodd-Frank bill during this last budget negotiation demonstrates how much they believe that they have the upper hand in the public relations war.

Future elections like most elections will be about what have you done for me lately and what will you do for me going forward. It is not just about getting people to the polls. The 2014 election should have taught Democrats that they must give voters a reason to vote for them. It is not just about keeping Republicans out of office, it is about electing Democrats with ideas and policies that will restore hope in the American dream for many who believe it’s nothing more than a myth.

Should Republicans Gain Control of the US Senate

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Should Republicans take control of the United States Senate there will be many political pundits faulting Democrats for their inability to get black voters to go the polls. Why won’t black voters go to the polls in large numbers? Well, it’s a non-presidential election which typically leads to low voter turnout by the party in the White House.

However, this year there is another subplot—black voters are disappointed with President Obama because they have been overlooked during his first six years. Former Harvard University professor Cornell West continues to be an ardent critic and excoriates the President’s record on black issues in his new book.

Dr. West and others point to efforts made by President Obama on behalf of other voting blocs. They rail about what he’s done for gays and lesbians because of his support for gay marriage and the significant legal battles won in recent years. However, the President’s support for same sex marriage was rather tepid during his first term in office. Some say he’s done more for Latinos with his commitment to immigration reform and his executive actions on behalf of Dreamers.

Yet, he passed on any further executive action and the numbers of immigrant deportees remain significantly high. It’s difficult to make the case that President Obama has completely ignored the concerns of black Americans with the aggressive actions taken on their behalf by Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department on the issues of voting rights and criminal justice reform. Did not the President recently launch “My Brother’s Keeper”, an initiative for boys and men of color?

In contemplating these “what have you done for me lately” propositions, it occurred to me that social workers might have some concerns as well. How are social workers feeling about the President? What should social workers expect from President Obama? It is well documented that African Americans and Latinos voted for President Obama in large numbers in both the 2008 and 2012 elections. In 2012, he received 71 percent of the Latino vote and 93 percent of the African American vote.

I have not found any data on the percentage of social workers who voted for President Obama, but I would believe that most social workers are progressive and that he received the majority of our votes. But we are not a large constituency, so why would Democrats care? At about three quarters of a million strong, social workers are not a voting bloc to be feared. However, with our skills at organizing and persuasion, we could easily be a force to reckon with. But right now, that’s potential.

Gay and lesbian voters have a clear agenda—equal rights, freedom to marry, and freedom from discrimination. Latinos have an agenda that is less clear but generally focused on finding a path to documentation if not citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. They have more social and economic concerns, but providing some peace of minds for millions in this country illegally is a high priority.

Likewise, the are many social and economic problems plaguing African Americans, from high unemployment, to disproportionate criminal justice involvement, to low performing schools. However, it is unclear where the President should begin. What are the priorities? What are the policy prescriptions? Someone should have been working on these before President Obama was elected.

There are many social and economic challenges awaiting the next President who just might be Hillary Clinton. Now is the time to set priorities and identify potential policy remedies. What do social workers want from the President? Which issues are most important? But understand, while the President might be willing to support our initiatives, he or she will not do all the work for us.

We must be willing to provide policy ideas, the political strategy and be willing to take the lead on getting things done. That is what lobbyists do. Of course some lobbyists are able to reinforce their agendas by spreading around money, but nothing prevents social workers from helping to draft bills and nothing stops us from working to get more sponsors.

Lessons Learned from Eric Cantor’s Defeat

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Washington’s political classes woke up to stunning news Wednesday morning. Congressman Eric Cantor, the majority leader of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives had suffered a resounding defeat in the primary at the hands of an unknown challenger—David Brat, an economics professor and political neophyte. This was obviously more a vote against Cantor than one supporting the policies of Brat which still remain to be understood. His initial foray into the media spotlight was unrevealing as he tap-danced around a question from NBC’s Chuck Todd about his views on the minimum wage saying a minimum wage of $100 was too high for workers in sub-Sahara Africa.

As improbable as it was Cantor would lose the primary—no sitting majority leader had ever loss a primary since the post was created in 1899—what would be the betting odds that two professors from the tiny and obscure Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia would face off in the general election to replace Cantor? Jack Trammell, an associate professor in the sociology department was selected by a Democratic committee to be the sacrificial lamb in an anticipated race against Cantor in November. Trammell’s only chance of scoring an upset against Brat is if Cantor’s ego leads him to enter the race as a write-in candidate. Republicans will never let that happen.

There were losers Tuesday night other than the majority leader. Millions of undocumented immigrants—in limbo for years waiting on Congress to pass some form of immigration legislation—saw a tepid supporter replaced by at a staunch anti-immigrant Tea Party enthusiast. Cantor’s defeat also hurts the Obama Administration and Democrats generally going into the midterm elections. The biggest losers are residents in the 7th Congressional District who go from being represented by the number two guy in the House to a freshman congressman with little or no clout.

This is one of those rare incidents where truly no one saw this coming. Cantor’s internal poll had him up by 34 percentage points. In trying to explain the surprising outcome, his pollster, veteran Republican vote counter John McLaughlin, pointed to the high turnout, small sample of likely voters (400), and the fact that it was an open primary and some Democrats may have voted for Brat to make the race tighter. The race was not close with Brat winning by 11 percentage points 55.5 to 44.5 percent, garnering 36,110 votes to Cantor’s 28,898.

The numbers that got my attention: Brat raised $206,663 and spent $122,793 while Cantor raised $5,447,290 and spent $5,026,626. Brat managed to get an 11 percent victory margin despite being out spent by 25 to 1. The line being bounced around by the punditry was that Cantor had spent almost as much at steakhouses as Brat had on his entire campaign. At one time late in the campaign he had. Brat told his supporters: “Dollars don’t vote, you do.” Ah, one can only wish this could be the ruling paradigm. Yet, the idea that votes can trump money is reason enough to get social workers more involved in politics.

Another lesson is about power. Be careful not to be consumed by power. Learn how to use power to the benefit of those without it. I learned a long time ago that you can get more done if you are willing to give up the credit. The culture among the staff in various House offices run from those who are overly cautious (nothing gets done because everyone is fearful of making a mistake) to those who are obnoxious (your chances of making mistakes are greater because everyone is hoping you will fall on your face). Staffers usually follow the boss’s lead. There were people on both sides of the aisle who were happy to see the arrogant Cantor exit the political stage.

It seems Democrats weren’t the only ones celebrating the cataclysmic fall of Eric Cantor. If you’ve been watching House of Cards, then you’d understand this was Cantor having the ultimate Frank Underwood moment—when the fictional majority leader abandoned crucial negotiations over an education bill he promised the President in order to go back to his district to resolve a dispute over the peach water tower. Rule number one: all politics is local. Back in the 7th CD in Virginia, too many residents believed Cantor had fallen in love with the national stage and was not paying enough attention to his district. He was angling to become speaker of the House but forgot he first had to be a congressman.

Government Shutdown Is Over But What Does It Mean

After 16 days of a government shutdown, the House finally allowed a vote which resulted in the passage of bi-partisan bill to reopen the government and avoid default. The 285 votes that decided to reopen the government was comprised of a unified democratic block and several moderate Republicans. However, the 144 votes to keep the government closed and not raise the debt limit were all cast by Tea party Republicans.

Since the government shutdown begin, Democrats and Senate Republicans have openly advocated for the suspension the Haster Rule which requires the “majority of the majority support” before a bill can be brought to the floor for an up or down vote. However, Speaker Boehner has refused to suspend the rule for 16 days stating there were not enough votes to pass a clean continuing resolutions to reopen the government and raise the debt limit. What was the purpose of keeping the government shutdown for 16 days, furloughed workers, and denying needed services to vulnerable populations? What did House Republicans get from shutting down the government other than an opportunity to do it again in another 90 days?  Not only could Speaker Boehner have ended this crisis weeks ago, he could have possibly prevented a government shutdown all together by allowing a vote on a clean resolution or on a budget that has already been passed by the Senate.

According to statement released by Speaker Boehner on Wednesday hours before the default deadline, he stated:

“Blocking the bipartisan agreement reached today by the members of the Senate will not be a tactic for us. In addition to the risk of default, doing so would open the door for the Democratic majority in Washington to raise taxes again on the American people and undo the spending caps in the 2011 Budget Control Act without replacing them with better spending cuts,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in statement Wednesday afternoon. “Our drive to stop the train wreck that is the president’s health care law will continue. We will rely on aggressive oversight that highlights the law’s massive flaws and smart, targeted strikes that split the legislative coalition the president has relied upon to force his health care law on the American people.”  Read Full

In the deal to reopen the government, the agreed upon terms will fund the government until January 15th 2014 and extend the debt ceiling until February 7, 2014. Republicans also added a provision to be instituted into Obamacare which would require income verification prior to receiving a federally subsidized health care plan. President Obama gave a speech to address reopening the government as well as reestablishing the trust of the American People. Prior to leaving the briefing room, a reporter shouted a question at President Obama asking if we will be back at another government shutdown in 90 days. His answer was simply, “No”.

View the President Speech below:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAnRik_DTzA[/youtube]

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