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Shutdown: Day Four

Restless House Republicans look to Speaker Boehner for direction. The Hill: “House Republicans are gathering Friday to debate what their ask will be in the merging fights over the government shutdown and the debt ceiling. … They also admit they are forging ahead without a clear endgame in mind. “Everybody’s tried to envision one, but nobody has it yet,” said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), an ally of Boehner. “Honestly, I don’t know what we’re going to do.”

Locked-Out Government Workers and Working Families to Rally at Capitol on Friday. “Locked-out federal employees will rally in front of the Capitol with members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and supporters in various unions to stand up against the irresponsible House Republican shutdown of the country. The message of the rally is clear: We will not sit by while you hold the American people and our economy hostage. … Follow the action on Twitter using the hashtag: #standup2shutdown.”

Poor Families Taking a Hit From Government Shutdown. Time reports: “Though many of the programs that provide assistance to needy families and individuals like food stamps, Medicaid, and Medicare will continue running during the shutdown, the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is barely holding on. … Fifty-three percent of all infants born in the U.S. rely on WIC, according to the National WIC Association and participants in some states have already faced the reality of going without the services.

Tales from the shutdown. NBC News: “From the tragic to the trivial, people are finding that a partially unfunded government is impacting them in ways they would never have expected.”

Pork sellers find they need government after all. “Brian Duncan, a 49-year-old hog farmer in Polo, Illinois, … relies on U.S. Department of Agriculture commodity data to price his hogs. That information flow has been cut off with the partial shutdown of the federal government. … “Everyone in the food chain relies on the government to be an unbiased source of prices,” said Duncan, who sells 50,000 pigs a year to meat packers, including Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN), Smithfield Foods Inc. and Cargill Inc. “We have no clue what the price of hogs is or the price of the pork.””

Here’s one way to end the stalemate. Bruce Ackerman and Ian Ayres write in a Los Angles Times op-ed: “House rules give the majority a way to take this decision out of Speaker John Boehner’s hands. By signing a “discharge petition,” 218 members can force a bill onto the floor for a decisive vote. The critical date is Oct. 14, because discharge petitions can be presented only on the second and fourth Mondays in a month. That’s three days before the government runs up against the debt limit.”

Defending the role of government as Republicans fan the shutdown flames. Michael Merrill, The Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies, writes on EconoMonitor: “According to the conventional wisdom, government is a burden that ought to be avoided rather than an advantage that ought to be embraced. … The theory of modern money puts all this in a different light. Government, it helps us to see, does not just incur costs that are properly minimized. It also confers benefits that [are] properly maximized. In other words, while government can be a problem, it can also be the solution. … To put the point differently, government is not a wealth taker. It is a wealth maker. What’s more, the wealth it makes is not just its own. Generally speaking, people create much more wealth with the aid of government than they do without it. We don’t first become rich and then decide to form a government. First we form governments. Then and only then can we become rich.”

Health Care Reform Continues, Unstopped

Paul Krugman: “Reform Turns Real”: “It’s long been clear that the great fear of the Republican Party was not that health reform would fail, but that it would succeed. And developments since Tuesday, when the exchanges on which individuals will buy health insurance opened for business, strongly suggest that their worst fears will indeed be realized: This thing is going to work.”

People Are Calling This Obamacare Insurance Exchange in Tears. Bloomberg Businessweek interviews Kevin Walsh at a Nevada health care exchange. “Walsh said that in the first few hours “it was just raw emotion calling in.” People eager for insurance, at times in tears, wanted to get coverage that they didn’t have before. “They were calling up saying, ‘Can I get my coverage today so I can see my doctor this afternoon?’” he says.”

The Cruelty of Republican States in One Chart: Paul Waldman in The American Prospect: “When all those Southern states decided to refuse the Medicaid expansion in order to shake their fist at Barack Obama, they screwed over their own poor citizens. So millions of people will be caught in the middle: not poor enough to get Medicaid, but too poor to get subsidies on the exchanges. But when we say “not poor enough,” what we’re talking about is people who are, in fact, extremely poor. And you’ll be shocked to learn that in those states, the poor are disproportionately black. Could that have anything to do with it? Heavens, no!”

Stories of five people who have signed up for Affordable Care act coverage. Think Progress: “Despite the initial frustrations with the exchange websites, however, some Americans are getting through. Here are five people who have successfully signed up for Obamacare online.”

No Jobs Report, But…

Bill McBride at Calculated Risk gives a prognosis. “Although the employment report will be delayed, [a summary of recent data] suggest around 155,000 jobs added in September, somewhat below the consensus forecast.”

Washington impasse will delay Fed taper, predicts FT. “This week’s data on car sales and ADP’s private employment figures for September have done little to suggest the economy is ready to start motoring. An economy growing at an annualised rate of 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent for the third quarter appears likely, hardly an assuring backdrop for an extended bout of political grandstanding in Washington. … It means the likelihood of the Fed tapering this year is dimming and with a change in central bank leadership next January, the central bank may remain the major buyer of Treasuries well into 2014.”

In terms of “gross national happiness,” we’re in a depression. Bloomberg Businessweek chart: “The World Happiness Report, published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, ranks 156 nations based on their citizens’ sense of well-being, taking into account perceptions of wealth, freedom, corruption, and other metrics.”

Breakfast Sides

Mortgage Settlement Monitor Lets Servicers Steal From Customers for Two Years Before Stepping In With Toothless Metrics. David Dayen at Naked Capitalism: “Joseph Smith, the National Mortgage Settlement Oversight Monitor, created four additional servicing metrics on Wednesday, in what has to be seen as an admission of what we’ve known for a good while – that the servicers are violating the spirit, if not the specific terms, of the settlement. … Being on the payroll and all, Smith isn’t going to come out and say it, but he’s acknowledging failure. If servicers aren’t offering a single point of contact (I know Yves questioned whether they ever can), aren’t ending dual tracking, aren’t posting accurate billing statements (!) and aren’t giving loan modifications in a timely and efficient manner, then they basically haven’t skipped a beat since the misconduct that was part of the impetus for the settlement in the first place.”

Left and right united against Common Core education standards. NBC News: “In Tennessee and elsewhere, the anti-Core movement also has spawned some unexpected bedfellows. Critics include not just members of the conservative Tea Party, who cast it as an instance of the federal government trampling on state rights, but also the progressive Badass Teacher Association, which gripes that teachers will be micro-managed and blamed for inevitable failures in a system that hinges on high-stakes testing.”

Hypocrisy Watch: Tesla aided by the kind of tax subsidies that CEO Elon Musk denounces. On Grist: “Musk is also emblematic of a curious strain of denial that seems to infect Silicon Valley as a whole. His breakaway success is a powerful reminder of how the public sector can turbocharge innovation. It brings to mind the government-backed $500,000 investment in a young startup known as Apple — and the federal grants that funded the prototype for Google. But rather than becoming poster boys for public-private partnership, Musk and other Valley entrepreneurs have gone out of their way to distance themselves from their patron.”

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