Government Shutdown 2013: Republicans ‘Can’t Afford To,’ Says AFL-CIO

 @LauraMatt
on August 31 2013 11:46 AM
Boehner Obama July 2011 2
House Speak John Boehner (left) with President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Reuters

With budget battles set to heat up in the fall and time running out for lawmakers to hash out a debt and deficit solution, some in the labor sector aren’t breaking a sweat over recent failed talks between the White House and Republicans -- some of whom have threatened a government shutdown should they not get their own way.

Republicans’ talk of a government shutdown is essentially hogwash. That’s the view expressed by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in an interview on Bloomberg TV’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” to air this weekend.

“There is no crisis here, and I don’t think the Republicans are going to shut down the government,” Trumka said in a transcript. “They can’t afford to. Some of their best political people, their best donors are going to get hurt in the process. It hurts the economy. And I don’t think they’re going to do it.”

That’s not to say Trumka doesn’t expect the Republicans to play games before cooler heads prevail.

“I’m just saying they’re not going to shut down the government over either one of those,” he said on the program. “They’ll talk through things, and [John] Boehner’s already offered a short-term extension, and we’ll see what happens.”

After talks broke down this week, President Barack Obama and Republicans are at yet another budget impasse because they cannot see eye-to-eye on spending cuts and tax increases. The meetings between the administration and eight Republican senators have been suspended at this time with no continuation date set.

Obama’s playbook is quite simple: He is refusing to negotiate on raising the debt ceiling, and he has offered up a new “grand bargain” to overhaul the corporate tax code in exchange for revenue that would be used for job creation projects.

Republicans said no deal to the offer because the so-called “grand bargain” doesn’t include small businesses and American families. Instead, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is preparing for what he expects to be a “whale of a fight” over raising the debt ceiling. For him, raising the debt ceiling is leverage for the GOP to demand spending cuts and reforms to a tune that is greater than the increase in the borrowing limit.

The speaker, according to the Idaho Statesman, on Monday said that in order for the GOP-controlled House to raise the debt limit there must be a bipartisan deal to make changes to entitlement programs. The government will brush up against its $16.7 trillion borrowing limit around mid-October, according to the Treasury Department. Other experts believe the deadline will come around November because of improvement in the government receipts.

“Now, it’s time to deal with the mandatory side,” Boehner said. “I’ve made it clear that we’re not going to increase the debt limit without cuts and reforms that are greater than the increase in the debt limit.

“The president doesn’t think this is fair, thinks I’m being difficult to deal with,” he added. “But I’ll say this: It may be unfair, but what I’m trying to do here is to leverage the political process to produce more change than what it would produce if left to its own devices. We’re going to have a whale of a fight.”

The last time such hard lines were drawn and the two sides couldn’t broker a compromise over the debt ceiling was in 2011 and that resulted in a downgrade of the U.S. credit rating.

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