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.

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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 September 22, 2014 07:26 GMT

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Investors will gain some insight into the housing market during the first half of the week.

Today, the National Association of Realtors will release existing home sales for August.

On Wednesday, the Commerce Department will report on new home sales for August.

SIEMENS-DRESSER-RAND

HOUSTON (AP) -- German engineering company Siemens AG has reached a deal to acquire oilfield equipment maker Dresser-Rand for $7.6 billion.

Under the deal announced early Monday in Germany, Siemens will pay $83 per common share of Dresser-Rand Group Inc., $3.09 more than the company's closing share price Friday. The deal includes assumption of debt.

Dresser-Rand's board of directors unanimously recommended the offer to shareholders, and Siemens expects to close the deal by summer, according to a statement from the company.

Dresser-Rand, based in Houston and Paris, has annual revenue of around $3 billion. It said in a statement Siemens will operate the company as its oil and gas business under the Dresser-Rand brand and retain its executive team. It said the oil and gas business will be based in Houston.

GAS PRICES

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) -- A national survey says the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline has dropped another 9 cents over the last two weeks, to $3.37, bringing the decline to 34 cents over the last 13 weeks.

Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday that falling crude oil prices drove the declines, but the drop was also heavily impacted by a crash in prices of ethanol and the fact that winter-grade gasoline costs less to produce. If crude prices don't rise, the average prices at the pump may drop a few more cents.

Jackson, Mississippi, had the lowest price among cities surveyed in the Lower 48 states, with $3.03 a gallon. San Francisco had the highest at $3.79 a gallon.

The average price for a gallon in California is $3.67, down 8 cents from two weeks ago, with Fresno the low average in the state at $3.56.

The average price for a gallon of midgrade gasoline was $3.59 a gallon, and premium was $3.74.

GENERAL MOTORS-RECALL

DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors is recalling 221,558 Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala sedans because the brake pads can stay partially engaged even when they're not needed, increasing the risk of a fire.

The recall involves Cadillacs from the 2013-2015 model years and Impalas from the 2014 and 2015 model years. There are 205,309 vehicles affected in the U.S.; the rest of the vehicles are in Canada and elsewhere.

GM says the electronic parking brake arm that applies pressure to the back of the brake pads may not fully retract after use. If the brake pads stay partially engaged with the rotor, excessive brake heat may result in a fire.

GM says it knows of no accidents or injuries related to the defect.

GM will notify owners and repair the vehicles for free.

CHRYSLER RECALL

DETROIT (AP) -- Chrysler is recalling nearly 189,000 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos in the U.S. to fix a fuel pump problem that can cause the SUVs to stall.

The recall covers some 2011 models with 3.6-liter V6 or 5.7-liter V8 engines. Chrysler says a relay can fail, increasing the risk of a crash.

Chrysler traced the problem to a spring that can deform because of heat.

The vehicles also might not start, and the fuel pump could keep working even when the engine is shut off. The company says that as of Aug. 25 it's not aware of any crashes or injuries from the problem.

Dealers will replace the fuel pump relay for free starting Oct. 24.

CHINA-SUSPECT MEAT

BEIJING (AP) -- A U.S. meat supplier is laying off most of the workforce of a Chinese subsidiary accused of selling expired meat to KFC, McDonald's and other customers.

OSI Group said Monday it will lay off 340 employees of Shanghai Husi Food Co., which has been under investigation since a Shanghai TV station reported in July it supplied expired meat.

Six employees were arrested in August on suspicion of producing substandard products.

OSI Group said a small number of employees would be kept on in Shanghai while the investigation is underway. It said production was unlikely to resume in the near future. It said the company suffered "significant financial and customer losses."

CLIMATE EMISSIONS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Scientists estimate that the world spewed far more carbon pollution into the air last year than ever before.

That was mostly because of increases from the three biggest polluters -- China, the United States and India.

The reports released Sunday come as world leaders gather at the United Nations to talk about how to reduce heat-trapping gases.

According to the calculations, the world pumped more than 39 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air last year by burning coal, oil and gas. That was 2.3 percent more than the previous year.

The International Global Carbon Project team published their reports in the scientific journals Nature Geoscience and Nature Climate Change.

CLEAN AIR VEHICLES LAWS

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law several bills designed to boost use of clean-air vehicles in his state.

One bill signed Sunday allows 15,000 additional electric and partial zero-emissions vehicles, or 70,000 total vehicles, to get green stickers that allow driving in carpool lanes even when solo.

Another requires freeway high-occupancy toll lane operators to allow clean air vehicles to drive for free or reduced rates. Such roads exist in Orange and Riverside counties, and the San Francisco area.

Another bill requires a property owner, rather than the person leasing it, to install an electric vehicle charging station and its infrastructure in most cases.

California makes up 40 percent of the nation's electric vehicle sales and the governor's press office says it surpassed more than 100,000 sold earlier this month.

G20-FINANCE MINISTERS

SYDNEY (AP) -- Finance chiefs from the 20 largest economies say they are close to reaching their goal of boosting world GDP by more than $2 trillion over the next five years.

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey is the host of the Group of 20 meeting in the northern Australian city of Cairns. He said on Sunday that the G-20 finance ministers and central bankers had agreed to more than 900 policy initiatives to meet the goal they set earlier this year.

The G-20 said an analysis of those initiatives show they should boost the combined gross domestic product of member countries by 1.8 percent above levels expected for the next five years. That's just short of the group's target of 2 percent.

LEAR PLANT-STRIKE

HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) -- Workers at a Lear Corp. plant in northwestern Indiana that makes automotive seats have approved an agreement that will end a two-tiered pay system.

The United Auto Workers said Sunday evening that members of Local 2335 had "overwhelmingly" approved the four-year contract. It did not give a specific vote count.

Workers at the Hammond plant make seats for the Explorer and Taurus models produced at Ford's Chicago Assembly Plant. The workers went on strike Sept. 13, but returned to work the next day after the tentative deal was reached.

The contract will end a system that locked newer workers into lower wages, and raise the top wage to $21.58 an hour.

Local 2335 President Jaime Luna says the deal could help thousands of autoworkers across the country.

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