Looking at the government shutdown

Updated: Thursday, October 3, 2013
Looking at the government shutdown story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The government shutdown is wrapping up its third day, and there is still no whisper of a way out of the situation.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says it's amazing that our Congress, which is failing to get the job done, keeps getting paid.


Let me see if I can get this straight.

The people we elect to make important decisions on our behalf have allowed the government to shut down because its locked up on health care for the country, while they get their own special brand of healthcare, paid for by you and me.

The people we elect have forced the layoff of nearly a million so-called non-essential people—sorry about that—while their own paychecks are guaranteed.

No change in lifestyle for them. If they were living in the real world their job performance would be grounds for dismissal. All of them.

A Republican senator smugly says on FOX News that the shutdown will make people realize they can live with less government than they thought they needed. Tell that to the actuaries who say the shutdown is costing government at least $300 million a day. Tell that to the 9-million low-income women with infants and children with WIC cards who see signs on grocery store doors that they are no longer welcome during the shutdown. So what if they can't feed their families?

And the shutdown is caused by 80 right-wing Congressmen. They are considered members of the tea party, who have somehow hijacked the moderates of the Republican Party into challenging the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," at any cost.

Obamacare is not just an idea. It's a law—a law that was passed by Congress three years ago. It survived a challenge last year in the Supreme Court of the United States and became effective two days ago.

The concept of a national health care policy has been pursued by every President over the past one hundred years. So its not a new concept. It finally happened.

With Congress so off course, it follows that Speaker John Boehner, the man with the tan from Ohio, has quite simply lost control over his party.

Moderate Republicans who do a lot of grumbling about people like tea party leader Senator Ted Cruz have lost their voice. Or maybe they've given up their voice.

Could it be that they're afraid of the tea party and the NRA and their seemingly endless supplies of money?

Rest assured they all know what happened to those two Republican State Senators from Colorado who had the temerity to vote their consciences and say yes to universal background checks on firearm sales.

They won't even get a chance to face voters again. They're gone. Recalled. Thanks to a $400 thousand campaign financed by the NRA.

Even more troubling, the polls are  pretty clear. The vast majority of Americans didn't want this shutdown in any way.

They wanted their leaders to work things out—to do what we pay them to do.

Congress's approval rating hovers at about ten percent. The shutdown isn't exactly  making them more popular. But they don't seem to care. They come from gerrymandered districts where their reelection is virtually guaranteed.

But unless people start speaking up, and start demanding that:

  • If the country suffers, Congress does too
  • That if the government shuts down, Congress—those 535 elected employees of ours—they don't get paid. Not one penny.
  • That moderates in both parties dig down and show some courage and find a way to talk to one another and do their damn jobs,
  • That contrary to what they grow to believe, they are not royalty. They are hired by the people. They are employees of the people. They are beholden to the people, and a majority of the people have a right to expect far, far better than what they're getting.

If that doesn't happen, our democracy, where for the time being the majority no longer rules, is in peril.

I think I have it right.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on October 13, 2015 07:30 GMT


SEATTLE (AP) -- Nearly seven years after Bernie Madoff's investment empire was revealed to be a $17.5 billion fraud, the battle by investors to recover their losses ramps up with jury selection that began Monday in a case in Seattle.

A Washington state investment company is seeking to pin about $100 million of its losses from Madoff's crimes on auditor Ernst & Young.

FutureSelect Portfolio Management of Redmond and some related firms, headed by hedge fund manager Ronald Ward, lost a total of about $129 million in the pyramid scheme. In court papers, the company alleges that Ernst & Young would have uncovered the scheme if it had taken even the most basic steps to verify Madoff's assets -- something the auditing firm denies it had any obligation to do.

The case was initially dismissed, then revived by an appeals court. Washington state's Supreme Court denied a bid by the defendants to have the case transferred to New York or to apply New York law, which would not have allowed the lawsuit. Ernst & Young is the only defendant so far heading to trial; most of the others have reached confidential settlement agreements.


BEIJING (AP) -- China's imports fell by an unexpectedly wide margin in September in a new sign of weakness in the world's second-largest economy.

New customs data shows imports plunged 20.4 percent from a year earlier to $145.2 billion, worse than August's 5.5 percent decline and analysts' expectations of a decline of about 15 percent. Exports shrank 3.7 percent, though that was an improvement from the previous month's 13.8 percent decline.

Weakness in trade has fueled doubts Beijing can hit its economic growth target this year of about 7 percent.

Much of China's slowdown over the past five years was self-imposed as the ruling Communist Party tries to steer the economy to more self-sustaining growth based on domestic consumption. But the past year's unexpectedly deep decline has raised fears of politically dangerous job losses.

The government has cut interest rates five times since November and pumped money into the economy through spending on public works construction. Economic growth held steady in the quarter ending in July at 7 percent. But that was the lowest rate since the 2008 global crisis.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Traders will be focusing on corporate earnings this week as they try to assess the impact that slowing global growth is having on company profits.

Johnson & Johnson gets things going this morning, reporting its quarterly financial results before the market opens. CSX and JP Morgan Chase issue their results after the market closes.

Overall, earnings are forecast to slide by 5.3 percent, compared with the same period last year, as overseas demand weakened. But much of that decline is due to a big slump in energy company profits. S&P Capital IQ forecasts earnings in the energy sector slid by 66 percent.

Still, some analysts are confident that the outlook for companies will improve next year, as demand revives overseas and improving consumer confidence boosts the U.S. economy. Scott Wren at the Wells Fargo Investment Institute, says this earnings season will be a "confirmation process," showing inflation is low and the economy is growing moderately, but "fairly dependably."

Also on the schedule, for this afternoon, Treasury releases federal budget data for fiscal year 2015.


NEW YORK (AP) -- Transit experts say a planned $29 billion infusion into New York City's transportation network will help but not completely overhaul the massive system.

A deal was brokered over the weekend that includes $2.5 billion from the city and $8.3 billion from the state.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's five-year modernization plan funds 1,000 new subway cars, more real-time countdown clocks and track repairs.

But many transportation experts argue that the capital-spending program is mostly a maintenance plan rather than a blueprint for a robust transportation system for a 21st-century global city.

Local officials have said more ambitious plans aren't possible without significantly more federal funding.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (KWOH'-moh) and Mayor Bill de Blasio (dih BLAH'-zee-oh praised it Monday as improving straphangers' commutes.


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Abbott Vascular's dissolving heart stent has passed its first major test.

In a large, one-year study published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, doctors found the Absorb stent performed as well as a conventional stent.

Stents are tiny mesh cages that keep blood vessels from reclogging after artery-opening procedures. They are used on about 850,000 people each year in the United States alone.

The stents available now in the U.S. are permanent metal implants. Abbott's Absorb stent, which is already sold in Europe, works like dissolving stitches. It's made of a material that degrades over several years. It performed as well as but not better than a conventional stent for preventing reclogging in the one-year study.


MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A jury in Wisconsin is weighing whether the owners of a gun shop should be held financially responsible for a crime committed with a weapon purchased at their store.

Two Milwaukee police officers are suing the shop for several million dollars after they were shot by a suspect using a gun purchased at Badger Guns by a straw buyer. Lawyers for the officers told jurors there were several tipoffs that should have been sufficient to cancel the sale, including improperly marked forms and the behavior of the buyer and the eventual recipient, who was too young to buy the weapon.

Attorneys defending the owner and operators of Badger Guns and its predecessor, Badger Outdoors, said in closing arguments Monday that their clients were not negligent but were duped by the straw buyer.

Authorities have said more than 500 firearms recovered from crime scenes had been traced back to Badger Guns and Badger Outdoors, making it the "No. 1 crime gun dealer in America."

Washington Times