Inside and outside of Oakland

Blame game continues after partial federal government shutdown

  Fresh off the 16-day partial federal government shutdown, Michigan U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, a Royal Oak Democrat, offers his own perspective in the October newsletter of the Oakland County Democratic Party.
  Not surprisingly, Republicans get the blame for it from the long serving congressman, who criticizes the GOP's motivation, facts and bravery.
  Here's what he had to say:

  Special Note from... 
Congressman Sander Levin
After experiencing the government shutdown for 16 days and our nation brought to the brink of default, I needed to write you personally about what I saw. I know it is easy to blame Washington.  To conclude, “A pox on both your houses.”  To wonder, “Why can’t they just work out their differences for the good of our country?” In my 30 years as a Member of Congress I have never seen a time that so fully defies this sentiment that both sides are to blame. 
It is a pretty clear statement of fact that the Republican Party shut down the government to defund the Affordable Care Act.  And, that even on the precipice of default, only 38% of the Republicans in the House would ultimately vote to re-open the government and avoid default.Let me share with you why I believe what we saw these last three weeks is so dangerous.Motivation:  What motivates this Republican Party is not the conventions of smaller government, supply-side economics or individual freedoms.  No, we are seeing a growing number of Republicans cast their motivation in a belief that their country is being taken away from them, that their image of America is at risk of “slipping into oblivion,” and that they will be the first generation to be asked, “What was it like when America was great?”  One might be tempted to write these apocalyptic statements off as rhetoric, but please don’t.  They have become far too fundamental for us to dismiss.  The ugliness of the confederate flag appearing at a rally outside of the White House emerges from this motivation.
Facts:  I have never seen such a complete rejection of accepted facts.  Believe what you will about health care reform and government spending, but the growing chorus of “default deniers” was indeed shocking.  With everyone from economists, business leaders, the international community, and credit rating agencies lining up to say that risking the full faith and credit of the United States by default would be catastrophic, there was a growing chorus of Republican Members who said that the “President was lying…there would be no default,” or that “it would bring stability to the world markets.”
Cowardice:  What worried me, at times the most, about the last three weeks was the complete unwillingness among the throng of House Republicans to speak out and stand up in opposition to these destructive forces. While 20 or so House Republicans said publicly that they would vote to re-open government or extend the debt ceiling, few of these – and strikingly none of those holding key positions like chairmanships – stood up or did anything to force the issue. While "Tea Party" forces have taken the lead to bring an extreme, reckless ideology to the forefront, there was a silent majority in the majority House Republican caucus acquiescing day after day, by appeasing these extreme forces by abetting them on other issues.  I have to state again that at the end of the day only 38% of the Republicans in the House voted with 100% of us Democrats to reopen government and avoid default. 
This was a disturbing manufactured crisis – that cost our country $24 billion – and shined a bright light on what has been brewing beneath the surface, and that is what I said early on is a radicalization of the Republican Party. It must be a clarion call for us to understand this new reality and to equip ourselves to deal with it in the weeks and months ahead.
I hope you will help answer this call.
In the next two weeks try these themes out with your family, friends and colleagues and let me know what they say.
Obamacare – The Affordable Care Act (ACA) ended insurance company abuses for pre-existing conditions, caps on coverage and lifetime limits.  It improved prevention, provided coverage for kids up to 26 on their parents insurance, and lowered prescription drug costs for seniors.  As we get the glitches in the computer system smoothed out, let’s keep in mind that ACA is providing affordable insurance for the first time in some people’s lives.  Republicans never offer a solution, but seek only to destroy the law, and take away these benefits from people.
Budget negotiations – ByDecember 15th the Budget Conference is to complete its work.  Democrats have been calling for this conference for six months and the President made it clear in the last weeks that he is willing to discuss any issue.  This is made very difficult by the Republican insistence that revenue – including close tax loopholes - is off the table.  Make sure that everyone knows that of the $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction since 2008 two-thirds has come from the spending side of the ledger.  In the face of the harm of this year’s across the board sequester cuts, this formula cannot continue.
The harm of where we find ourselves is also seen in what is not being accomplished in Congress.  The House has shown no interest in taking up the comprehensive Senate bill on immigration reform, and they have done nothing to address other pressing issues our nation faces. I know this letter is discouraging, but I am not discouraged.  I feel better letting you know the reality of what I saw these last weeks – a reality not always accurately portrayed in the 24 hour news cycle. Please be assured that I will continue to do everything that I can to represent our views and values during these difficult times.  I know you will do the same.
With every good wish.
Sander Levin

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