'Perverted intentions': McCarthy allies rage against 'arsonists' in their own party over government shutdown

Allies of Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) this week raged against hard-line Republicans in their own party as leadership in the House of Representatives works to stave off a looming government shutdown, The Hill reports.

Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) told reporters. “I think people’s perverted intentions have really caused problems this year.”

“The arsonists are out there, number one, whining that their house is on fire; number two, are going to want credit that they put the fire out; and then number three, are gonna set up a GoFundMe site to get paid for it,” Graves added

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Graves later said the fault of a government shutdown would lie squarely with those who engaged in “disingenuous” behavior.
“I think that if we get into a shutdown, it’s because there was a failure in strategy that was absolutely manipulated or distorted by disingenuous behavior, intentions and probably ignorance,” he said.

As The Hill reports, House “leadership does not have the votes to advance a short-term funding bill to keep the lights on past Sept. 30, with a handful of hard-line Republicans handing [McCarthy] setback after setback. They are also not yet taking the step of working with Democrats on a compromise, a move that would further inflame the rebels and potentially threaten McCarthy’s Speakership.”

“They like to stop everything and then they turn around and say it’s your fault, you’re not getting anything done,” McCarthy said.

“I don’t understand, if a few people here want to hold it out why do the border agents have to pay? Why do the Coast Guard have to pay? Why do they not have to be paid because somebody wants to throw some fit here?” McCarthy added. “That’s not right.”

READ MORE:Revealed: Trump’s Project 2025 agenda aims for 'total control' of the federal government

Read the full report at The Hill.

Economist Paul Krugman slams 'weak leader' Kevin McCarthy’s 'desperate efforts' to appease right-wingers

Economist Paul Krugman, in an op-ed published Thursday by the New York Times, slammed Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for his inability to head off Republican “dysfunction" as a government shutdown looms.

“The speaker’s job isn’t defined, but surely it includes passing legislation that keeps the federal government running,” Krugman wrote. “But Kevin McCarthy, the current speaker, isn’t doing that job.”

Comparing McCarthy to his “formidable predecessor” Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Krugman called McCarthy “a weak leader.”

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“But even a superb leader would probably be unable to transcend the dynamics of a party that has been extremist for a generation but has now gone beyond extremism to nihilism,” Krugman said.

To be clear, according to Krugman, “this is a Republican problem.”

“Any talk about dysfunction in ‘Congress,’ or ‘partisanship,’ simply misinforms the public,” Krugman explained.

Krugman noted the shutdown fight “didn’t happen under Pelosi, even though she also had a very narrow majority,” and compared McCarthy’s effort to the 1995-95 shutdowns during former Speaker New Gingrich’s tenure.

READ MORE:Republicans in disarray as government shutdown fight looms: report

“McCarthy, in his desperate efforts to appease his party’s hard-liners, has acted as if [the GOP] refusal to approve federal funding is a Gingrich-like demand for reduced federal spending,” Krugman said.

Describing the right-wing intensity of some of the GOP members, Krugman wrote:

I liked what one representative told Politico: “Some of these folks would vote against the Bible because there’s not enough Jesus in it.” The point is that the party’s right wing isn’t actually interested in governing; it’s all about posturing, and the budget fight is a temper tantrum rather than a policy dispute.

“If the GOP were anything like a normal party, McCarthy would give up on the right-wingers, gather up the saner Republican representatives and make a deal with Democrats.” Krugman added. “But that would almost surely cost him the speakership, and in general more or less the whole GOP is terrified of the hard-liners, so the party’s positions end up being dictated by its most extreme faction."

READ MORE: 'A sign of weakness': WSJ editorial board slams Trump for declining second GOP debate

Krugman noted if a shutdown does happen, history suggests “the public would blame Republicans." But, he wondered, “how does this end” if the GOP fails to “make a deal that reopens the government.”

“It’s not clear that McCarthy, or whoever replaces him if he’s overthrown, would be willing or even able to” reopen it, Krugman warned.

Read the full op-ed at the New York Times.

Progressives eye next potential unionization target: Tesla

As members of the United Auto Workers union strike for better pay and benefits at General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis plants, labor advocates and progressive politicians this week took aim at what could be the next big unionization target: Elon Musk's Tesla.

"There is a group of Tesla workers who are actively talking about forming a union and creating the best representation they can for themselves and their co-workers through collective bargaining," Mike Miller, director of UAW Region 6—which is made up of California and Nevada, where Tesla makes vehicles and batteries—toldThe New York Times on Thursday.

While Tesla—which is owned by the notoriously anti-union Elon Musk, the world's wealthiest person—may enjoy short-term advantages over the Big Three as production lines are idle in the Midwest, some observers say that the UAW strike could prove an inspiration and catalyst for Tesla workers seeking to unionize.

"This strike could be a bellwether," Villanova University professor Rick Eckstein told the Times. "It's a hot time in the labor movement."

In 2018, the UAW tried, and failed, to organize workers at Tesla's Fremont, California plant, which was previously a unionized GM-Toyota facility. Despite Musk's assertion on Twitter—which he later bought and renamed X—that there was "nothing stopping" workers at the plant from voting to unionize, UAW officials alleged the company was engaging in illegal union-busting activities, and the National Labor Relations Board agreed. The NLRB ordered Tesla to rehire a worker illegally fired for disparaging a non-union colleague and compelled Musk to delete his tweet. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently affirmed the NLRB's decision.

In February, Tesla terminated dozens of workers at its Buffalo, New York plant in what critics called an act of "retaliation" for their effort to unionize. The fired workers' case is currently before the NLRB.

"Such tactics are fully in line with the attitude of Musk himself, who has routinely made anti-union statements and publicly threatened to take away employees' stock options if they unionized," labor writer Hamilton Nolan wrote in an opinion piece published Thursday by The Guardian.

"Despite having a net worth of $270 billion, Musk does not believe that the workers who make his products should be able to get together and negotiate a fair contract for themselves," Nolan added. "He's greedy. He's ignorant. He's a crumb."

Some observers say autoworkers are paying close attention to the strikers' demands—and whether they win them.

New York Times auto industry reporter Jack Ewing wrote Thursday that "as representatives of the national union demand 40% wage increases from the Detroit automakers, along with significant gains in benefits, they are certainly thinking about the signal that any deal would send to nonunion workers at Tesla."

As Nolan put it: "The UAW knows damn well that Tesla workers need a union. But organizing an $800 billion company run by a union-buster with infinite money is not easy."

But, he asserted, "not even Musk can hide from the labor movement forever."

"It's been around a lot longer than he has," Nolan noted, adding wryly that "if he can't bear to have a free union election in his plant, I'm sure that we could arrange a cage match for him with an auto worker to settle this issue once and for all."

House Republicans pile on 'dead dog' Kevin McCarthy as shutdown draws closer

With a federal government shutdown looming, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) has been frantically trying to work out some type of funding agreement with members of his caucus. But talks with far-right House Freedom Caucus Republicans haven't been going well, and it is looking more and more like a shutdown will not be avoided.

In an article published by Politico on September 20, journalist Matt Berg describes the chaotic environment within McCarthy's caucus — including ongoing attacks on the speaker from fellow House Republicans.

Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Indiana), for example, attacked McCarthy in a September 20 statement, saying, "It is a shame that our weak speaker cannot even commit to having a commission to discuss our looming fiscal catastrophe. Our founding fathers would be rolling over in their graves to see how this institution is betraying our Republic for personal political ambitions and our children will be ashamed of another worthless Congress."

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Tensions between McCarthy and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), Berg notes, aren't letting up. And Gaetz has accused McCarthy of "lying like a dead dog."

Berg also points out that Rep. Nancy Mace (R-South Carolina) has criticized McCarthy for not holding individual votes on spending bills.

READ MORE:Republicans in disarray as government shutdown fight looms: report

Read Politico's full article at this link.

'Republicans don’t care about balancing the budget': Morning Joe lifts the veil on GOP grandstanding

The frustration of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) is evident as he continues to negotiate with members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus in the hope of avoiding a federal government shutdown. But Freedom Caucus members are being stubborn, and a shutdown appears likely.

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough lambasted those far-right Republicans during the September 21 broadcast of "Morning Joe." The former GOP congressman and Never Trump conservative accused far-right House Republicans of empty grandstanding that they hope will fire up their fundraising.

Scarborough told "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski, "This is not about balancing the budget. Republicans don't care about balancing the budget, and they haven't for the last 20 years.....But now, it's about making money so they can raise hell..... It's all gesture."

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The Never Trumper stressed that voters will blame Republicans — not Democrats — if a shutdown occurs and predicted that House Republicans in swing districts will be the ones who suffer politically.

Scarborough argued, "(Moderate Republicans) are the ones who are going to lose in 2024......This is what happens, Democrats will say, when you put Republicans in charge."

READ MORE:Republicans in disarray as government shutdown fight looms: report

Watch the video below or at this link.


A ‘disaster’ nears: Millions of federal workers’ paychecks would be on hold in a shutdown

WASHINGTON — More than 3.5 million federal employees and military personnel — many in the Washington, D.C., area but also scattered across the states and around the globe — are bracing for another partial government shutdown, as U.S. House Republicans struggle to produce a short-term plan to fund the government past the end of the month.

Most of the workers will be furloughed and go without paychecks in a shutdown. Some will have to work without pay because of the nature of their jobs, like members of the military, law enforcement officers, air traffic controllers and TSA officers. Congress has in the past voted to provide back pay to furloughed workers once a shutdown is over, though there is no requirement to do so, it’s not a given and the timing is uncertain.

Lawmakers would not be personally affected — members of Congress would continue to get paid, as well as President Joe Biden and federal judges, though the judicial branch could see its funding run low.

In the D.C. area, Virginia is home to an estimated 140,000 civilian federal workers, who for some unknown period would go without pay and would be forced to draw on savings or other assistance, according to a federal employee database. Maryland has an estimated 139,000 civilian employees.

The economic impact could be broad, because the funding lapse this year would hit much harder than the 35-day partial government shutdown that took place during the Trump administration and reduced GDP by billions of dollars. This time, a partial shutdown would affect more than 1.4 million uniformed members of the military and 1 million additional civilian federal employees at the Pentagon, Department of Health and Human Services and several other agencies, as well as congressional staff.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, has repeatedly warned his own members against forcing a funding lapse, saying it won’t help the party to achieve its goals.

But that hasn’t stopped especially conservative Republicans from halting work on full-year spending measures and opposing the short-term stopgap bill that’s needed to give lawmakers more time to work out a deal.

American Federation of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley said in a written statement that a “government shutdown would be a disaster for the American people and the federal employees who keep our government running.”

“Shutdowns hurt local communities across the country, deny Americans access to government services, and do significant damage to the overall economy,” Kelley said.

Congress, Kelley said, “needs to do its job and pass a continuing resolution to keep the government funded at current levels while continuing to negotiate a final budget. Nothing less is acceptable.”

AFGE represents more than 750,000 federal and D.C. government employees.

Here’s a look at why the federal government might shut down by Oct. 1, what agencies are impacted and what isn’t affected.

Why would the government have to shut down?

Congress is supposed to pass 12 government funding bills each year before the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1, but lawmakers haven’t completed all of their bills on time since 1996.

Instead, every year the House and Senate pass at least one stopgap spending bill, or continuing resolution. This keeps funding levels and policy mostly flat for a few weeks or a couple of months, giving the Appropriations committees more time to work out bipartisan bills and for leaders to hold floor votes.

Congress sometimes has to pass several short-term funding bills lasting for months, or even the entire fiscal year, if agreements on new, full-year spending bills can’t be negotiated.

If Congress doesn’t approve all dozen full-year government funding bills, or pass a short-term stopgap bill, by midnight on Sept. 30, then a funding lapse begins and government departments begin implementing a partial shutdown.

What happens during a shutdown?

Federal civilian employees are broadly categorized as either “excepted” or “non-excepted.” During a partial government shutdown, excepted federal workers continue to work without pay while everyone else is furloughed — which means they are on an enforced vacation and their pay is on hold until the government resumes operations.

Employees that deal with “the safety of human life or the protection of property” often work without pay until Congress approves some sort of spending measure.

What federal departments and agencies are involved?

Any federal department or agency without a full-year appropriations bill would need to implement its shutdown plans if Congress doesn’t approve a spending bill before Oct. 1.

Congress has yet to pass any of its dozen annual funding bills for fiscal 2024, so all of the departments and agencies funded through the annual appropriations process would be impacted.

That includes the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury and Veterans Affairs.

Smaller federal agencies would also be affected, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, NASA and the Smithsonian Institution, among dozens of others.

The entire legislative branch, including the U.S. House, U.S. Senate, the Capitol Police, the Congressional Budget Office, Government Accountability Office and the Library of Congress, among others, would be partially shut down.

Each department and agency has its own guidance for implementing a partial government shutdown, which is posted on the Office of Management and Budget’s website.

What federal operations escape?

Spending on mandatory programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security does not go through the annual appropriations process, so those three programs are mostly exempt from the impact.

How many federal employees would be furloughed?

The federal government employed just under 2.2 million civilian employees earlier this year, according to its database. There are another 1.4 million members of the U.S. military, according to numbers from the Office of Management and Budget. The Legislative Branch employs more than 31,000 employees and the judicial branch has about 33,000 employees.

About 745,000 of the civilian employees work for the Department of Defense, with another 449,000 at the Veterans Affairs Department. The Department of Homeland Security — which houses Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency — employs more than 216,000 federal employees.

A state-by-state breakdown of where civilian federal employees work shows that the nation’s capital has the most federal employees, with 161,000 working in the District of Columbia.

California has the second-highest population of civilian federal employees with 142,000. Texas holds nearly 123,000.

More than 636,000 federal employees are veterans.

Federal employees tend to get back pay after the shutdown ends, though that hasn’t extended to federal contractors.

Does anyone get paid during a partial government shutdown?

Yes. The president, members of Congress and judges.

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “forbids the salary of the President to be reduced while he or she is in office, thus effectively guaranteeing the President of compensation regardless of any shutdown action,” according to the Congressional Research Service.

Members of Congress would receive pay for several reasons, including that they have a permanent appropriation for their salaries, a section of the Constitution addressing lawmakers’ pay and the 27th Amendment, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution says that U.S. lawmakers “shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States.”

And the 27th Amendment notes that “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”

Judges and the judiciary would “likely be able to continue to operate for a limited time using funds derived from court filings and other fees and from no-year appropriations,” according to a report from CRS.

How many funding lapses have there been?

Congress has failed to fund the government three times since 2000.

In 2013, there was a 16-day shutdown amid calls from several hardline Republicans, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, to defund the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

While none of the 12 full-year government funding bills were law when that shutdown began, it didn’t fully impact the Pentagon.

Just before the funding lapse began, Congress passed a bill to provide pay for troops, Defense Department civilian employees and certain contractors working for either the Defense Department or the Homeland Security Department, according to the Congressional Research Service.

There were two funding lapses during the Trump administration, one of which was relatively short and one that lasted for 35 days.

The 35-day partial government shutdown began after five of the dozen annual spending bills became law, reducing the number of federal employees and operations impacted.

The Departments of Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Labor and Veterans Affairs weren’t affected. Congress also wasn’t impacted, having passed its own funding bill.

What is the economic impact of a partial government shutdown?

Federal employees were furloughed for a total of 6.6 million days during the 2013 partial government shutdown, bringing the total “lost productivity” to about $2 billion, according to an analysis from the White House budget office.

The 2019 partial government shutdown reduced real gross domestic product by $3 billion during the fourth quarter of 2018 and by $8 billion during the first quarter of 2019, according to analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

That shutdown, CBO said in its report, “dampened economic activity mainly because of the loss of furloughed federal workers’ contribution to GDP, the delay in federal spending on goods and services, and the reduction in aggregate demand (which thereby dampened private-sector activity).”

What’s the Biden administration saying?

The White House released a memo Wednesday rebuking House Republicans for approaching the end of the fiscal year without a bipartisan plan to fund the government.

The administration said it’s clear that “if extreme House Republicans fail to ram through their radical agenda, they plan to take their frustration out on the American people by forcing a government shutdown that would undermine our economy and national security, create needless uncertainty for families and businesses, and have damaging consequences across the country.”

The memo says a funding lapse could affect dozens of federal programs, including eliminating some spaces in Head Start, slowing down new loans at the Small Business Administration and forcing the FDA to “delay food safety inspections for a wide variety of products all across the country.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, could have to reduce the number of inspections, “denying workers a key protection against safety risk, and Americans who are owed back pay for their hard work would face delays due to the majority of Department of Labor investigations being suspended.”

Air travel could also be impacted since TSA employees and air traffic controllers would be working without pay, the White House memo says.

“These consequences are real and avoidable — but only if House Republicans stop playing political games with peoples’ lives and catering to the ideological demands of their most extreme, far-right members,” the White House memo says. “It’s time for House Republicans to abide by the bipartisan budget agreement that a majority of them voted for, keep the government open, and address other urgent needs for the American people.”



West Virginia Watch is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. West Virginia Watch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Leann Ray for questions: Follow West Virginia Watch on Facebook and Twitter.

Bruising shutdown battle shows House Republicans’ willingness to eat each other alive: report

Earlier this year, the U.S. economy dodged a major bullet when President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) reached a debt ceiling agreement and the country avoided defaulting on its debt obligations.

But the U.S. is now facing another economic battle as McCarthy struggles to work out a funding agreement with members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus. A government shutdown appears likely.

In a biting report published on September 20, The New Republic's Grace Segers stresses that talks between McCarthy and far-right House Republicans have hardly been a friendly debate. And they show, according to Segers, how quick the GOP's extremists are to turn on more "mainstream" or "pragmatic" conservatives.

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The New Republic interviewed some of the Republicans Segers describes as "pragmatists," and they are clearly frustrated with the "hardliners."

Rep. Steve Womack (R-Arkansas) told The New Republic, "This is beginning to appear to be more than just a fight about doing 12 appropriations bills, or what the top-line number is. It's more about angling for a fight with the speaker — and nobody wins."

GOP consultant Liam Donovan told The New Republic that for far-right House Republicans, "All hell breaking loose is their happy place."

Similarly, Rep. Don Bacon (R-Nebraska) told The New Republic, "I just don't think it serves the conference well to do the same things that they're doing. We want to be team players and sit at the table and make the best deal."

READ MORE:Republicans in disarray as government shutdown fight looms: report

The New Republic's full report is available at this link.

Revealed: Freedom Caucus holding shutdown talks in townhouse owned by a 'convicted tax cheat'

Unless House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) and members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus can work out a funding agreement, the United States will likely suffer a federal government shutdown in less than two weeks.

On Tuesday night, September 19, Freedom Caucus members held budget talks. And the location, according to Daily Beast reporters Roger Sollenberger and Zachary Petrizzo, was a Washington, D.C. townhouse that is within walking distance of the U.S. Capitol Building — and is "owned by a convicted tax cheat."

The Freedom Caucus members, Sollenberger and Petrizzo report, "appear to" be using that townhouse as "an off-campus headquarters to stage their government shutdown meetings."

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According to the Beast reporters, these Freedom Caucus meetings "on a sleepy corner of a Capitol Hill block aren't just rattling Speaker Kevin McCarthy's cage."

"The group has also disrupted its new neighbors, many of them elderly, who often cross paths with politicians and powerbrokers living blocks away from Congress," Sollenberger and Petrizzo explain. "Some of the residents have complained to District of Columbia housing officials that the setup has caused a nuisance and is in violation of residential rules, arguing that the building — zoned as a home — functions exclusively as an office for business meetings and lobbying activity."

READ MORE:Progressives condemn House GOP 'hostage-taking' as shutdown nears

Read the Daily Beast's full report at this link (subscription required).

House GOP unveils budget with trillions in cuts to medicaid, food benefits and more

House Republicans unveiled a budget blueprint on Tuesday that proposes trillions of dollars in federal spending reductions over the next decade, specifically targeting Medicaid and federal nutrition assistance for steep cuts.

House Budget Committee Republicans' new resolution also calls for the establishment of a "bipartisan debt commission" to examine and propose changes to "the drivers of U.S. debt... such as Social Security and Medicare." (Social Security does not, in fact, contribute to long-term federal deficits.)

"MAGA Republicans are driving our nation towards a costly government shutdown because they want to make cruel cuts to everything from healthcare to education, and this MAGA Budget doubles down on their extreme cuts," Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said in response to the new proposal.

"Make no mistake: America is barreling towards a government shutdown because Republicans reneged on the bipartisan budget agreement in their thirst for cruel budget cuts—cuts which will raise the cost of living when it's already too high," Boyle added.

The Republican proposal, which has no chance of becoming law given Democratic control of the Senate, would cut federal discretionary spending by nearly $5 trillion over the next decade, Roll Call reported Tuesday. The plan would cut mandatory spending—a category that includes Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—by nearly $9 trillion over a 10-year period.

The proposal would gash federal Medicaid spending by close to $2 trillion and SNAP by $800 billion. The resolution also calls for punitive new work requirements for the two programs.

"While it is critical families have access to food," the GOP resolution states, "it is equally critical work-capable households are encouraged to make more responsible choices."

The budget blueprint comes a day after House Republicans put forth a short-term government funding plan that would impose steep cuts to nondefense discretionary spending. With a government shutdown less than two weeks away, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) "punted plans to tee up a vote" on the widely criticized government funding proposal, Politico reported Tuesday.

As for the new budget blueprint, it is largely in line with past Republican proposals.

In an analysis on Monday, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) noted that GOP budget plans over the past decade have "proposed large and damaging program cuts across a broad swath of nondefense areas."

"The proposed cuts disproportionately fell in programs for households with low and moderate incomes," CBPP observed, "but they were also broad-based and included deep cuts in the part of the budget that funds public services whose funding is provided annually, such as education, medical research, environmental protection, and the administration of the Social Security Administration."

'Grow a spine': Kevin McCarthy urged to stand up to 'extremists in the House'

Earlier this year, the United States avoided defaulting on its debt obligations when President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy worked out a bipartisan debt ceiling agreement. But the U.S. is now in danger of a government shutdown, and McCarthy is facing intense pressure from members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus.

Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro didn't mince words when discussing the budget battle during a Tuesday, September 19 appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." And he urged McCarthy to stand up to the far-right members of his caucus.

Shapiro told hosts Joe Scarborough (a former GOP congressman and Never Trump conservative) and Mika Brzezinski, "I'm hoping Kevin McCarthy will maybe grow a spine at some point and be able to lead that House forward..... The extremists in the House need to moderate."

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The Pennsylvania governor warned that no good will come of a shutdown.

"If they fail to meet their obligation to the states," Shapiro told Scarbrough and Brzezinski, "it will be really devastating for us. It'll mean folks who rely on the federal government for all kinds of services —f rom mental health to, you know, children who need extra support to public safety. Those things won't be funded. It's going to put an incredible burden on the states."

READ MORE:Republicans in disarray as government shutdown fight looms: report

Watch the video below or at this link.

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McCarthy faces 'losing his position' over 'behaving irresponsibly' as shutdown odds grow: analysis

The latest potential government shutdown looming over Washington could outlast its predecessors unless congressional lawmakers quickly figure out how to transcend their ideological schisms. But as Ed Kilgore writes in New York Magazine's Intelligencer on Monday, United States House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) managing to successfully resolve the impasse is a longshot.

"Twelve days before fiscal year 2023 ends," Kilgore explains, "the odds of a shutdown are very high, and this one could last a while (of the ten government shutdowns since 1980, six lasted no more than three days). Divided party control of Washington is only one factor. The bigger problem is confined to the narrowly Republican-controlled House, where Speaker Kevin McCarthy is perpetually being held hostage by hard-core conservatives who have the power to take away his gavel via a motion-to-vacate-the-chair maneuver (a device McCarthy was forced to sanction in order to win his initial election as Speaker). With both alleged 'runway spending' and alleged McCarthy/RINO coziness with Democrats being huge causes célèbres on the far right, the Speaker's four-vote majority dooms him to a perpetual choice between losing his position and behaving irresponsibly."

Kilgore says that "the situation is more dire than ever because House rebels are making both substantive and procedural demands, not only insisting on deep domestic spending cuts and draconian immigration legislation as part of any deal but also opposing the 'omnibus' packaging of appropriations that makes it possible to keep the government open (1996 marked the last time Congress was able to complete individual appropriations bills in their entirety, in no small part because of policy battles over individual bills conservatives regularly launch). With time running out, McCarthy is struggling to come up with a stopgap spending formula that unites his conference while giving it a bit of leverage for negotiations with Senate Democrats and the White House. It’s not looking good."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Kilgore also assesses that partisan bickering is one of many factors in play.

"It's not just a matter of time running out before September 30th, either," Kilgore states. "It's unclear what will change in October or November to make a deal more likely, as both parties hunker down for a highly contentions 2024 election year. Yes, some Republicans fear inviting blame for a government shutdown. But in an atmosphere where the GOP's presidential candidates are casually batting around proposals to permanently close multiple federal agencies and gut the 'deep state,' it could take a while for public unhappiness with a shutdown to have any effect. Certainly Kevin McCarthy's not going to throw away his gavel in an act of patriotic self-sacrifice when waiting out an extended shutdown might present more promising opportunities."

Kilgore concludes that the American public should "get ready for images of a darkened Capitol and locked gates at parks and other federal facilities, along with furloughs of federal employees and speculation as to when or whether they will be made whole."

READ MORE: 'Powerless' Kevin McCarthy held hostage by 'far-right bomb throwers' as shutdown looms

Kilgore's full column continues at this link.

'Even Henry Ford understood' that underpaid workers 'don’t have money' to buy things: ex-labor secretary

Former United States Secretary of Labor and Carmel P. Friesen Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley Robert Reich told MSNBC host Ali Velshi on Sunday that "even Henry Ford understood" that businesses cannot be profitable if employees are so underpaid that they have no disposable income.

Reich's remarks come on the third day of the United Auto Workers Union strike. Big Three employees are demanding higher wages and better workplace conditions as manufacturers rake in massive profits.

"It's shocking when you look at 1969 — 1969, the average weekly non-supervisory wage — that's the wage for people who are not managers and not supervisors, was higher adjusted for inflation than it is today," Reich said. "And so you have an economy that over the last forty to forty-five years, fifty years, has done wonderfully well overall, has exploded. It's about two and a half times what it was then. But the typical worker, the non-supervisory worker, the worker on the frontline is actually worse off, in terms of real purchasing power, in terms of, you know, non-inflationary, adjusted for inflation."

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Reich continued, "Well, this is ridiculous. We used to have an economy that worked for everybody. Now we have an economy that works for people at the top — the big investors and the CEOs and the top executives. That's not only unfair — it doesn't even sustain itself because where are all of the consumers going to come from if people don't have money in their pockets? Even Henry Ford understood this, you know, at the start of the last century. That's why he gave everybody in Ford a raise. Because he understood that, 'Where are the people gonna come from to buy the new Model T Fords if they don't have money in their pockets?'"

Reich added, "I think that we have gone totally off course. We now have a two-tiered structure of the economy. And this is not only unfair, it's bad for the economy overall."

Watch below or at this link.

MSNBC 09 17 2023 11 47

READ MORE: Auto worker strike 'likely' due to 'insulting' offers from Big Three car companies: ex-labor secretary

Progressives condemn House GOP 'hostage-taking' as shutdown nears

A coalition of nearly 90 progressive groups and labor organizations condemned U.S. House Republicans on Friday for threatening a destructive government shutdown as they push for steep and unpopular cuts to education, healthcare, food aid, and environmental protection programs.

"We urge Congress to quickly pass appropriations bills—at least at the spending levels agreed upon in the bipartisan Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023—and to refuse to entertain legislation that guts critical programs so many Americans rely on," the ProsperUS coalition wrote in a letter to Republican and Democratic congressional leaders.

The Fiscal Responsibility Act was the product of weeks of negotiations between the Biden White House and House Republicans, who threatened to force the U.S. government to default on its debt and send the economy into a tailspin if the administration and congressional Democrats didn't agree to massive spending cuts.

The two sides ultimately reached a deal that included two years of caps on nonmilitary federal spending—which are effectively cuts, as spending won't keep up with inflation—as well as new work requirements for older food aid recipients.

But Republicans quickly reneged on the deal by putting forth appropriations bills that would set federal spending well below the agreed-upon levels—heightening the risk of a government shutdown come September 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

The Center for American Progress—a member of the ProsperUS coalition—estimated in an analysis released last week that the House GOP's 12 appropriations bills would "provide $58 billion less for ongoing nondefense programs than the levels agreed to in the debt limit deal," leaving the programs with their lowest funding levels since at least 1962. The House has only passed one of the dozen appropriations bills.

In its letter on Friday, ProsperUS warned that House Republicans' proposals "would hurt workers, families, and communities, particularly low-income people of color, by slashing investments in K-12 education, healthcare, lead poisoning prevention, safe drinking water, cancer research, and more."

"They would also empower the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations by slashing the resources that the Internal Revenue Service needs to go after wealthy tax cheats and recoup billions of dollars in unpaid taxes," the letter continues. "These cuts fly in the face of what the vast majority of people across the country want."

The coalition cites new survey data from Navigator Research showing that U.S. voters overwhelmingly oppose cuts to clean water programs, education, the Social Security Administration, and other areas that Republicans have targeted in recent weeks.

"We urge the House to abandon the dangerous, partisan path it has chosen so far and instead follow the example set by the Senate and pass appropriations bills that, at minimum, adhere to the contours of the recent bipartisan budget deal, invest appropriately in critical national priorities, and can earn bipartisan support," the coalition wrote. "Simply put, there is absolutely no reason for deal-breaking and hostage-taking to be rewarded and encouraged by caving to the demands of a small, reckless group of radical members in the House."

The letter comes a day after House GOP leaders were forced to postpone a procedural vote on the chamber's military appropriations bill. As Reutersreported, the move "may be a sign that Republicans, who hold a narrow 222-212 majority, are not confident they have the votes to pass the measure, as party hardliners push back against Speaker Kevin McCarthy."

A day earlier, McCarthy (R-Calif.) was accused of caving to the most far-right members of his caucus by announcing an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

McCarthy is also facing pressure from members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus to pursue even larger cuts to federal spending than what's already been proposed, further increasing the likelihood of a shutdown that would risk damage to critical nutrition assistance programs and other services.

"We're gonna have a shutdown," Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), a Freedom Caucus member, said earlier this week. "It's just a matter of how long."

Bilal Baydoun, director of policy and research at the Groundwork Collaborative—which is part of the ProsperUS coalition—said Friday that "the choice by House Republicans to deprive the American public of food aid, clean water funding, or lifesaving cancer research is not about red ink or 'funding levels.'"

"It's a moral verdict that the majority of communities and vulnerable Americans do not deserve public support," said Baydoun. "We cannot allow a handful of extremists in the House to force a government shutdown over cruel and unnecessary cuts to essential programs that workers and families rely on."

'This is our defining moment': UAW launches historic strikes against Big Three automakers

The United Auto Workers union kicked off historic strikes against the Big Three U.S. car manufacturers early Friday morning after the companies failed to meet workers' demands for adequate pay increases and benefit improvements.

The initial wave of strikes hit select Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis facilities, with the union deploying a tactic it has described as a " stand-up strike."

UAW members at General Motors' Wentzville Assembly in Missouri, Ford's Michigan Assembly, and Stellantis' Toledo Assembly in Ohio were the first to walk off the job on Friday, and additional locals will be called on to strike in the coming days as negotiations continue.

Those who remain on the job will be working under an expired collective bargaining agreement, though they still have status quo protections.

The labor actions mark the first time the UAW has ever gone on strike against all three major automakers simultaneously.

"We've been working hard, trying to reach a deal for economic and social justice for our members," UAW president Shawn Fain said in a speech late Thursday, just ahead of the midnight strike deadline. "We have been firm. We are committed to winning an agreement with the Big Three that reflects the incredible sacrifice and contributions UAW members have made to these companies."

"The money is there, the cause is righteous, the world is watching, and the UAW is ready to stand up," Fain added. "This is our defining moment."

The companies' latest publicized offers to the UAW included raises of up to 20% over the course of a four-year contract, but the proposals thus far have fallen well short of the union's demands on wages, cost-of-living adjustments, retiree benefits, and other key issues.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, who brought in nearly $21 million in total compensation last year, told CNN that the UAW's push for a near-40% wage increase would "put us out of business," a claim that Fain dismissed as a "joke."

"The cost of labor for a vehicle is 5% of the vehicle," Fain said from the picket line outside Ford's Michigan Assembly plant. "They could double our wages and not raise the prices of vehicles, and they would still make billions of dollars. It's a lie like everything else that comes out of their mouths."

Between 2013 and 2022, according to an Economic Policy Institute analysis released this week, the Big Three automakers saw roughly $250 billion in total profits—an increase of 92%—and the companies' CEOs received a 40% pay increase. The automakers also rewarded shareholders with $66 billion in dividend payouts and stock buybacks.

Workers' wages, meanwhile, have declined by over 19% since the car industry's 2008 crisis, during which workers gave up cost-of-living adjustments and other benefits to help keep the major automakers afloat.

"As a single parent, I'm working paycheck to paycheck," Adelisa LeBron, a striking Ford worker, toldThe Washington Post. "I love the way Shawn is fighting for us, how he's not going to settle."

In his address late Thursday, Fain urged locals that are not currently on strike to "keep organizing" to "show the companies you are ready to join the stand-up strike at a moment's notice."

"This strategy will keep the companies guessing," he said. "It will give our national negotiators maximum leverage and flexibility in bargaining. And if we need to go all out, we will. Everything is on the table."

On Friday evening, the UAW is planning to hold what Fain dubbed a "mass rally" outside of a Ford building in downtown Detroit, where U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is expected to appear.

"We must show the world that our fight is a righteous fight," said Fain.

Sanders praises auto workers striking against 'disgusting' corporate 'greed and arrogance'

United States Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) told MSNBC host Chris Hayes on Thursday's edition of All In that working-class Americans are "sick and tired" of the extreme wealth disparity between themselves and corporate titans as auto workers are poised to strike against the Big Three car manufacturers.

Hayes and Sanders also commended United Auto Workers Union President Shawn Fain for standing in solidarity with industry employees who are demanding higher pay as their companies rake in massive profits and their bosses earn gigantic salaries.

"Do you have a kind of rooting interest here of the outcome you want to see?" Hayes asked Sanders.

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"Yeah, the outcome I want to see is that the UAW workers get the kind of contract they deserve," Sanders responded. "You know, the corporate media hasn't covered this very well, but the reality is over the last twenty years, real wages for automobile workers has gone down by thirty percent when you account for inflation. So what the workers are saying is at a time when the CEOs of Ford — he makes $21 million, the guy who's head of Stellantis, he makes $25 million a year, the woman who's head of General Motors, $29 million — their salaries have gone up by forty percent over the last four years. They have billions of dollars for dividends and stock buybacks. And what the workers are saying is, 'Hey, we made you those profits. We gave you those salaries. Pay attention to our needs.' We don't want to see a situation where workers at the low end make it all of $17 an hour. And I'll tell you something, Chris. You mentioned that all over this country we're seeing strikes, and you're right. And I think what's happening is working people all across this country are sick and tired of the corporate greed they are seeing every day. They see it when they go to the grocery store. Food prices, incredibly high. Gas prices, incredibly high. Companies making money hands over fist. And I really applaud the courage of Shawn Fain and the workers at the UAW for standing up and saying, 'You know what? Enough is enough. We need an economy that works for everybody, not just the people on top.'"

Hayes continued, "I want to just show some of the demands: UAW, thirty-six percent wage increase over four years. One of the things I want to do — this is actually a key one and there's a little in the weeds, but it's important for people to recognize. There are sort of these tiers that have emerged in successive rounds of organizing where newer workers aren't working at the same tier as others. It's a way of kind of breaking up the solidarity of the union. It's something that Shawn Fain has been opposed to and the folks that elected him. So we'll see how that goes. I want to ask you this question on that context. We have seen all of this union activity at Starbucks and Amazon, the Teamsters, you know, and UPS, this, this. What — you said workers are waking up. But it strikes me that part of the issue here is that you've got tight labor markets and employees have more choice now than they did during that long period after the Great Recession where you had a lot of slack in the labor market, six, seven, eight percent unemployment. People were worried they were replaceable. This, it seems to me this environment has given workers more say and more power in their negotiations with ownership."

Sanders opined, "I think there is truth to that, Chris, but I think it really goes deeper. I think COVID, the pandemic, was a real emotional wake-up for the American people. You know, the rich people, the CEOs could stay at home and work in their fancy offices or in their homes behind their computers. Working people, people at the UAW, bus drivers, people working in warehouses, nurses, doctors, they had to go out to work. And tens and tens of thousands of them died. And meanwhile, during that whole pandemic, we saw an explosion of wealth increases for the people on top. So yeah, the tight labor market is a factor, Chris. But I really think that people are becoming sick and tired of the massive levels of income and wealth inequality that they're seeing today. No one thinks that three people on top should own more wealth than the bottom half of American society, that CEOs are making four hundred times more than their workers. That's not what this country is supposed to be about. That's what the UAW is telling the American people, and I think there's massive support for what they're trying to do."

Hayes added, "I wanna play this clip that got a lot of play. It sort of went viral. It's a sort of random clip because it's just an Australian property developer. But what he's articulating at this conference with other property developers is a view that I think some — a lot of people in management or ownership at least have about exactly this awakening that's happened post-COVID, right? That people have this sort of idea that like, they want to be treated with dignity. They want fairness. This is him saying we need unemployment to rise to knock the arrogance out of these workers. Take a listen."

READ MORE: Auto worker strike 'likely' due to 'insulting' offers from Big Three car companies: ex-labor secretary

Hayes rolled footage of Gurner Group Chief Executive Officer Tim Gurner stating that "we need to see unemployment rise. Unemployment has to jump forty, fifty percent in my view. We need to see pain in the economy. We need to remind people that they work for the employer, not the other way around."

Repeating Gurner's remarks, Hayes queried, "We need to remind people they work for the employer, not the other way around. What do you think of that?"

Sanders was characteristically blunt.

"I think it's disgusting," Sanders replied. "And it's, you know, hard to believe that you have that kind of mentality among the ruling class in the year 2023. You know, this is the richest country in the history of the world and yet we still have sixty percent — sixty percent of our people living paycheck to paycheck. People can't afford housing. People can't afford health care. They can't afford child care, can't afford to send their kids to college. And what these guys are saying, 'Hey, this is all great working classes and disarray. Let's have more unemployment. We can get richer and richer. Make them more and more desperate.' That is the kind of greed and arrogance that the UAW and unions all over this country are standing up to. I applaud them and I would hope that all of us as Americans stand with the UAW in their struggle."

Watch the full segment below or at this link.

MSNBC 09 14 2023 20 54

READ MORE: UAW president: Union is ready to strike selected plants at all Detroit automakers

Auto worker strike 'likely' due to 'insulting' offers from Big Three car companies: ex-labor secretary

Former United States Labor Secretary Robert Reich predicted on Thursday that "it seems likely that the United Auto Workers will go on strike against the Big Three automakers" as the midnight deadline rapidly approaches.

"Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis (Chrysler and Jeep) have presented their latest offers, including a 9 or 10 percent raise for most workers, more paid time off, and increased benefits. The union has called both offers 'insulting,'" writes Reich.

Tom Krisher and David Koenig of the Associated Press note that "the UAW is demanding a 36% boost in pay over four years, and the automakers, General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler, have countered with offers that are roughly half of that increase. The chasm between the two sides threatens to ignite the first simultaneous strike by the United Auto Workers against all three Detroit companies in the union's 88-year history, a potential shock to a U.S. economy already under strain from elevated inflation. It's also a test of President Joe Biden’s treasured assertion that he’s the most pro-union president in US history."

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Krisher and Koenig recall that "the UAW started out demanding 40% raises over the life of a four-year contract, or 46% when compounded annually. Initial offers from the companies fell far short of those figures. The union later lowered its demand to around 36%. The UAW also is seeking restoration of cost-of-living pay raises, an end to varying tiers of wages for factory jobs, a 32-hour week with 40 hours of pay, the restoration of traditional defined-benefit pensions for new hires who now receive only 401(k)-style retirement plans, pension increases for retirees and other items."

Asking, "Why is the United Auto Workers taking such a hard line in its negotiations with America's Big Three automakers?" Reich, a long-established champion of labor rights, cites "five big reasons" for the impasse.

Reich highlights that "outsized profits" and "out of sight" executive compensation have not been shared with workers, whose "wages have risen only six percent" in nearly half a decade.

Reich further points out that there is a "two-tier system" at play — one which "pays new hires substantially less than old ones" and another stemming from the fact that "the Big Three have been quietly siting new plants to supply batteries for electric vehicles in non-union states."

READ MORE: 'The risk is enormous': DC insider issues a warning about voting for third-party candidates

Reich's complete Substack post is available at this link. Krisher's and Koenig's full analysis is here.

Hidden online fees are draining consumers’ wallets — and it's getting worse

Thanks to online shopping, consumers are writing a fraction of the checks they were writing 30 years ago — if they're writing them at all. But as popular as e-commerce is, one thing many consumers resent is online fees.

According to Business Insider's Juliana Kaplan, companies aren't really reducing fees — they are simply finding better ways to hide them.

"Every time we log on to shop, buy a new cable plan, or book that long-awaited vacation," Kaplan explains in a report published on September 14, "companies have been playing psychological tricks to lure us into paying more than anticipated….. While the rise of tacked-on fees has continued unabated for years, growing consumer backlash and President Joe Biden's recent initiative to eliminate hidden junk fees have pushed more companies to shift to transparent, all-in pricing. But this seemingly generous act is anything but."

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Kaplan continues, "Companies are just baking all those fees into the total price — making the hidden fees even more hidden. That $20 booking fee and the $7 handling fee are still there, just shrouded in an extra layer of mystery…. You may be thinking, 'I am a savvy consumer. I always make sure I'm getting the best deal possible.' Unfortunately, research has found that the obfuscation strategy can make it hard to even realize when you've been suckered."

One tactic that companies are using, according to Kaplan, is "drip pricing," which she describes as "charges that will get added to your total" gradually during an online purchase.

"Think of the convenience fees that rack up as you buy a concert ticket, for instance," Kaplan explains. "On the first page, you see the ticket price. On the next one, once you select your ticket, you see the booking fee. Finally, when it's time to whip out your credit card, you see a facility or venue fee. Drip pricing relies on a timed aspect: You invest a certain amount of time in each step of the purchase, with fees slowly revealed throughout that period."

READ MORE:Seeing ‘Red’ after Taylor Swift debacle, lawmakers weigh new policies

Business Insider's full report is available at this link.

UAW president: Union is ready to strike selected plants at all Detroit automakers

DETROIT — United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain on Wednesday gave the clearest signal yet that the union is willing to strike all three Detroit automakers at once, an unprecedented move that appears more likely than ever with less than a day to go before the contract deadline. Invoking his faith and quoting Scripture, Fain delivered an understated yet rousing appeal to autoworkers preparing to strike. He also laid out in the clearest detail yet what the union's strike strategy will be. He confirmed previous reports that the UAW will target specific plants at each of the Detroit automakers, ...

Berkeley landlords ripped as 'tasteless and insensitive' for celebratory eviction parties

In March 2020 — the month the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared COVID-19 a global pandemic — Berkeley, California enacted a moratorium on evictions. The moratorium finally expired three and a half years later on September 1, 2023.

The Berkeley Property Owners Association (BPOA) celebrated the event in a bar near the UC Berkeley campus. And in a part of the country that has a lot of homelessness, they are drawing strong criticism for being tasteless and insensitive.

SF Gate's Gage Lehman reports, "In a move that critics are calling 'one of the most tasteless events I've ever heard of,' Berkeley landlords are celebrating the end of eviction protections in the East Bay city with a cocktail party. The Berkeley Property Owners Association, a trade group for rental property owners in Berkeley, apparently believes regaining the right to throw people out of their homes is cause for celebration — or at least a networking event."

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BPOA President Krista Gulbransen is totally unapologetic about the gathering, telling Berkeleyside, "We are celebrating the end of the tenants who could have paid rent, and chose not to."

But Leah Simon-Weisberg, who heads Berkeley's Rent Stabilization Board, believes that BPOA has failed to prove their claim that an abundance of tenants, during the moratorium, could have afforded to pay rent but simply chose not to.

Simon-Weisberg told SFGate, "While the moratorium is over, COVID-19 continues to spread in our community. Hospitalizations and deaths are on the rise. It seems very insensitive to those who might be rendered homeless to ever celebrate eviction."

READ MORE:COVID-19, influenza and strep throat outbreaks forcing closures and cancellations across the country: report

Read SFGate's full report at this link.

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