Shutdown Day 7: Things you need to know
(CNN) — It’s Day 7 of the government shutdown. You still can’t go to a national park. You still can’t call the IRS for help with your taxes. And Congress still can’t get its act together to come up with a solution.
Here’s a look at the … inaction … making news today.
1. STILL NO TALKS
Round and round: Republicans blaming Democrats? Check. Democrats blaming Republicans? Check. President Barack Obama pleading for something resembling a solution? Check.
That means it’s business as usual in Shutdown City, where the the back-and-forth game of blame tag is about as reliable — and useful — as Yellowstone’s Old Faithful (which you still can’t go see, by the way).
On Monday, Obama traveled to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to complain the standoff was forcing the agency to again furlough some of the workers it had recalled in recent days. “That’s no way of doing business,” he said.
And he said he was ready to negotiate on just about any topic, but said he won’t do it with the threat of the government defaulting on its debt hanging over his head.
Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner said he won’t talk debt deal without an agreement on spending cuts, a shift from earlier Republican demands seeking a delay in the implementation of Obamacare.
“It is time to deal with America’s problems,” he told ABC Sunday in demanding what he repeatedly called a “conversation” with the White House and Democrats. “How can you raise the debt limit and do nothing about the underlying problem?”
2. DEBT CRISIS LOOMS
The magic number is 10: And by magic, we mean big, hairy and scary. That’s when, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says, the government runs out of money to pay its bills. On Monday, the prospect of such a default — to use the technical term — started spooking investors. Stock market indices fell nearly 1% on Monday’s open, recovering some ground by mid-morning but still hovering in negative territory. European and most Asian markets as well.
The government’s been shifting money around since the last debt-ceiling showdown, in May. But those options are running out fast, Lew said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“I’m telling you that on 17th we run out of our ability to borrow, and Congress is playing with fire,” he said.
What if they can’t reach a deal? Lawmakers would have to cut discretionary spending, including defense spending, by a third every month; cut mandatory spending, which includes Social Security, by 16%, or raise taxes by 12% — or some combination of all three. Otherwise, the government would fall about $30 billion short each month, the Congressional Research Service estimates.
With Boehner seeming to dig in on demands for spending cuts in exchange for a debt deal, the White House seemed to soften a bit on the issue Monday.
While White House officials have said they favor a long-term deal to give the economy a bit of certainty, a White House official told CNN Monday that “It is up to Congress to pass a debt limit increase, and up to them for how long and when they want to deal with this again.”
Thin gruel that, but maybe it’s something.
3. SHUTDOWN WATCH, PART 1
Down and up: A Justice Department website that provides information on missing children alerts went back online after press reports of its shutdown-related demise led to apparent confusion among some that the entire alert system had been scrapped.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol even issued a press release Monday comforting residents that the alert system was, indeed, up and running.
It turns out the site maintained Office of Justice Programs site is purely informational, providing information about Amber Alerts and providing a link to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children — which actually displays active Amber Alerts. But replacing the static site with a page saying the site was unavailable “due to the lapse in federal funding” apparently led some to conclude the whole system was down.
“The amber alert system was never interrupted, but to eliminate any confusion, the informational site maintained by the Justice Department has been restored,” Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon told CNN.
That should go over well with Twitter user davido1965:
4. SHUTDOWN WATCH, PART 2
Feeling sick yet? This news out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention probably won’t make you feel any better.
The Atlanta-based agency says it shut down 9 of its 10 Global Disease Detection Centers — set up as an early-warning network for nasty diseases, lab work to test foodborne and other illnesses isn’t being done and the agency’s travel safety program is finding few illnesses at quarantine stations, possibly because fewer people are on the job.
“We’ll have to see if that’s a fluke or not,” CNN spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds said.
5. POLL RELEASE
Who do you blame? Congressional Democrats blame Republicans. Republicans blame Democrats. But who do you blame? We’ll find out this afternoon, when a new CNN/ORC poll is released shedding light on that topic.
While those are the big trends Monday, here are a few other things worth knowing about:
Judge’s order? It’s not the sort of language you’re used to hearing from the bench, but a federal judge has a suggestion for lawmakers behind the shutdown: “It is time to tell Congress to go to hell,” U.S. District Court Judge George R. Kopf wrote on his personal blog. “It’s the right thing to do.”
In the posting Monday, first reported by The Verge, Kopf bemoans the shutdown’s impact on district courts, and mulls over what might happen if chief judge’s simply declare their employees essential.
“Given such an order, Congress would have two choices,” Kopf writes.”It could do nothing in which event Congress loses its ability to destroy the judiciary (by) failing to pass a budget. Or, Congress could go bats**t (asterisks ours), and the judiciary and Congress could have it out.”
Would there be popcorn?
Good vibes: It’s not going to make up for being out of work, but furloughed employees have been collecting a bit of swag since being let go. First, movie giant AMC offered free popcorn to furloughed federal employees. Washington restaurants offered all sorts of deals. Hyundai said it would help out federal employees who couldn’t make their loan or lease payments.
Now, a sex toy company is offering free vibrators to suddenly idle employees. “We know you have some free time, why not try something new?” the company suggests.
The deal appears to be fairly popular. A notice on the company’s website said it had reached its daily limit of 200 by noon.
So check back tomorrow, feds. Looks like you’ll have some more free time, anyway.