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 April 27, 2015 17:31 GMT

PORT LABOR-TRUCKERS

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Truck drivers who haul goods from the nation's busiest port complex in Southern California have walked off the job in a dispute over their wages and employee status.

Today's strike at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach comes after a weekend vote from the Teamsters, who say "several hundred" drivers from four companies are striking.

Some 16,000 truckers haul cargo, and the strike isn't expected to shut down all business at the ports.

The drivers are contractors for the trucking companies, but they're fighting to become company employees, saying it would mean better wages and workplace protections.

FEDERAL RESERVE

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Most economists say a still-subpar economy and low inflation will keep interest rates at record lows at least until September.

On Wednesday, the Fed could clarify its plans after ending its latest policy meeting. But analysts caution against expecting any specific guidance on the Fed's timetable for a rate hike.

Too many uncertainties still surround the U.S. economy and Fed's policymakers may want to leave themselves maneuvering room until their view of the economy's health becomes clearer.

For 6 1/2 years, the Federal Reserve has held its key interest rate near zero.

JAPAN-RATINGS DOWNGRADE

Fitch downgrades Japan citing economic concerns

(UNDATED) -- Fitch Ratings is lowering Japan's credit rating as the country wrestles with staggering debt.

Fitch says the government did not include sufficient measures in its budget to replace a deferred tax increase this fiscal year, which ends next March.

Japan's debt is the largest among developed nations and more than twice the size of the economy.

The ratings agency downgraded Japan's long-term foreign and local currency issuer default ratings to "A" from "A+." It also lowered its senior unsecured foreign and local currency bonds ratings to "A" from "A+."

Fitch says that though Japan cut corporate tax rates in the current fiscal year, it wants to cut them again in the next year. It says those factors increased the ratings agency's uncertainty over Japan's political commitment to consolidation.

CHIPOTLE-GMO

NEW YORK (AP) -- Chipotle says it has completed phasing out genetically modified ingredients from its food.

The Denver-based chain had already been using mostly non-GMO ingredients, but said in late 2013 it was working on transitioning to a tortilla that did not use them.

Most of the country's corn and soybean crop is genetically modified to have certain traits like resistance to plant diseases.

The head of the Food and Drug Administration's food safety center has said the agency found no basis that GMOs pose any different safety concerns than foods developed by traditional plant breeding.

Chipotle Co-CEO Steve Ells has said the company felt it was best not to use GMOs given the "lack of consensus" about their effects.

EARNS-SUN BANCORP

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) -- Sun Bancorp Inc. (SNBC) is reporting first-quarter net income of $2.8 million, after reporting a loss in the same period a year earlier.

The Mount Laurel, New Jersey-based bank said today it had earnings of 15 cents per share.

The holding company for Sun National Bank posted revenue of $28.3 million in the period.

Sun Bancorp shares have climbed 3.5 percent since the beginning of the year.

RESTAURANT BRANDS-RESULTS

NEW YORK (AP) -- Restaurant Brands International Inc. is reporting adjusted earnings that beat analysts' expectations for the first-quarter as sales at its Burger King and Tim Hortons operations showed healthy growth. The Canadian company reports a loss of $8.1 million, or 4 cents per share. But it had earnings of 18 cents per share after adjusting for certain costs.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected profit of 15 cents per share.

Revenue rose slightly to $932 million. Analysts polled by FactSet expected $944.7 million.

DISCOVER-APPLE PAY

NEW YORK (AP) -- Discover credit cardholders in the U.S. are getting their Apple Pay.

After months of complaints from customers, Discover Financial Services announced today that it has reached an agreement with Apple Inc. that will let its cardholders make payments in participating stores through Apple Pay by using an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus or Apple Watch.

With Apple Pay, credit card numbers are not stored on the device or on Apple servers. A unique device account number is assigned and each transaction is authorized with a one-time unique security code.

Discover customers will also be able to use Apple Pay with iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 when paying for goods and services within apps starting in the fall.

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