Beltway Insider:Shutdown Enters Week Three; September Job Numbers; Federal Reserve Nomination; Malala Visits President

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President Obama, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), and Senate Democrats in the effort to find common ground, as the United States government approaches two full weeks of shutdown, have largely come up empty.

According to Gallup, President Obama’s job approval, over the past week, dropped two percentage points to 41% of those polled approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President rose four percentage points, and for the first time rose past the midway mark, to 53%.

Government Shutdown Lingers  

President Obama met this week with leading House Republicans and Senate Democrats in the effort to find common ground to build on in the ongoing battle of the budget as government agencies begin to feel the sting of shutdown.

Emerging from the muddled game of superiority both House Republicans and Senate Democrats agree that default is not an option. There also seems to be a consensus that partial default, defined in governmental terms, as the payment of some debt but not others is also not an option.

The President has made his position perfectly clear, according to Jay Carney White House Press Secretary who stated, “House Republicans should raise the debt ceiling without drama or delay.”

No bill has been introduced throughout the week by House Republicans that meet the criteria of both Senate Democrats and the president.

President Obama, who has called the process of House Republicans “ransom” according to Carney, “strongly prefers a longer-term resolution so that we can get away from this periodic brinksmanship.”  

The president also stated that he has not and will not attach additional demands to any proposed legislation that would raise the debt ceiling and maintaining current spending levels through 2014.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) has stated through multiple media sources that he expects this debt crisis to end with a fully funded government, albeit for six months, which would include raising the debt ceiling to sequester levels and include a delay in the medical tax associated with the Affordable Health Care Act.

House Republicans would prefer to find a way to initiate some deferment of the Affordable Health Care Act believing this may be the final attempt to delay the full implementation without any further changes.

While the stall has effectively closed some governmental agencies the debt crunch has become a war of words with Democrat and Republicans making the Sunday morning politico show circuit to further their agenda with the American people.

Additionally, House Republicans and Senate Democrats are facing tough times with constituents and both are using the stall to destroy the other.

Both parties see the stall as a possible way to drive home a particular strategy. The Republicans would prefer the president stop the strong arm tactics and Democrats want Republicans to stop attempting to sabotage Obamacare.

The current government shut down mandates furlough for non-essential employees which according a memo from M. Patricia Smith, Solicitor of Labor, of the 16,304 “on board” or full-time staff employees, 13,350 have been affected and are currently waiting out party politics.

As staff reduction and non-essential services have been cut there has been little business conducted.

One important piece of bi-partisan supported legislation was signed by President Obama continuing survivor benefits, including housing, for military service dependents for the fiscal year 2014. Additionally payment or reimbursement, for the dignified transfer of remains, funeral and burial benefits for active military personnel killed in the line of duty.

President Obama has been very generous with his authority signing into law 730 pieces of legislation since August 2009. The White House has no record of legislation signed into law prior to August 2009.

Conversely, according to White House records, he has vetoed only two pieces of legislation sent to him since December 2009.

September Job Numbers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, prior to the government shut down ten days ago, announced no September employment information would be released formally nor would the information be updated electronically to reflect the current changes in the labor force.

Critical information relevant to September Labor Statistics have leaked through various sources reflecting small gains as the economy added 166,000 jobs for the month.

While this gain reflects a continued uptick in the market, it is shy of the 188,000 jobs the White House had expected.

No further statistical information is available confirming the current and overall unemployment numbers, trending sectors, gains or drops in long term unemployment.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, a non-essential government agency, has reduced it 2409 person staff to three and has effectively been shut down.

Obama Nominates Federal Reserve Replacement

President Obama, this week, nominated Vice Chairman Dr. Janet Yellen for Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, replacing the current chair Ben Bernanke.

Obama, in his remarks, praised Bernanke for his service to America during the “worst recession since the great depression.” Bernanke the voice of economic reason during the season of clear and uncertain financial times amidst a backdrop of a global economic meltdown remained clear headed throughout.

“He has displayed tremendous courage and creativity.  He took bold action that was needed to avert another Depression -- helping us stop the free fall, stabilize financial markets, shore up our banks, get credit flowing again,” Obama stated during his nominating remarks. 

Dr. Janet Yellon, an economist and has already served over a decade at the Federal Reserve, most currently as Vice chair, and is uniquely qualified for this position. “Janet is committed to both sides of the Fed’s dual mandate, and she understands the necessity of a stable financial system where we move ahead with the reforms that we've begun -- to protect consumers, to ensure that no institution is too big to fail, and to make sure that taxpayers are never again left holding the bag because of the mistakes of the reckless few,” according to the President.

“And at the same time,” he added.  “She’s committed to increasing employment, and she understands the human costs when Americans can’t find a job.  She has said before, “These are not just statistics to me.  The toll is simply terrible on the mental and physical health of workers, on their marriages, on their children.”

The position of Chair of the Federal Reserve is not only seen as the nation’s top economist, it is also a position that is globally watched, it is also responsible for creating sound financial policy, keeping inflation under control, as well as creating jobs and increasing employment.  

Like her predecessor, who served under President George W. Bush, she, if confirmed, has the opportunity to lead the nation through what could be a turbulent 2016 election season maintaining the fiscal advancements and hard fought victories over the Great Recession that crippled Americans over the past six years.

Malala Visits White House

President Obama welcomed to the White House Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban in October 2012 for attending school, to meet with him, First Lady Michele Obama and their daughter, Malia.

Malala, who had been considered a top contender for the Nobel Peace prize, was recently awarded the National Youth Peace Prize, the Sakharov Prize and the Simone de Beauvoir Prize. South African activist Desmond Tutu nominated the Pakistani advocate for the International Children Peace Prize.

Meeting in the Oval office, the President has not released a statement on his talks with the 16 year old global crusader for women’s rights and girls education.

After being left for dead, one year ago, Malala, this year, 2013, celebrated her 16th Birthday at the United Nations addressing the General Assembly along with a delegation of youth from every member nation.

During that speech she stated, “The terrorists thought that they would change my aims and stop my ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this; weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. My dreams are the same.”

Malala, at age 11, had been the target of the Taliban assassination plot for her outspoken views on education and the restraint of women and girls under Muslim rule. Using a pseudonym she was a frequent contributor with the BBC. In 2010, a New York Times documentary was filmed about her life and she gained international attention.  

In October 2012, the school bus she and her friends were riding was boarded by the Taliban. Three shots were fired into her head, face and neck, at point blank range.

After being left for dead, she eventually stabilized and was transferred to England for treatment and recovery. She now lives in London.

Nobel Prize Winners

The 2013 Nobel Prize winners were announced in Oslo, Norway with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) receiving the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.

President Obama in his congratulatory remarks stated, “Today’s award recognizes that commitment, and reinforces the trust and confidence the world has placed in the OPCW, Director-General Ahmed Uzumcu, and the courageous OPCW experts and inspectors taking on the unprecedented challenge of eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons program.  The United States strongly supports the OPCW, including its joint work with the United Nations, to ensure that Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles are placed under international control and ultimately destroyed.”

Thorbjørn Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, speaking with the press, concluded Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was a natural choice as the effort to rid the world of chemical weapons continues.

The Nobel committee stated, ”In 1992-93 a convention was drawn up prohibiting also the production and storage of such weapons. It came into force in 1997. Since then the OPCW has, through inspections, destruction and by other means, sought the implementation of the convention. 189 states have acceded to the convention to date.”

The 1997 Prize was similar in that it also went to an organization leading the fight to eradicate the use of chemical weapons, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, championed by the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

The 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded jointly to Martin Karplus, Universite de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France and Harvard University, Michel Levitt, Stanford University School of Medicine, and Arieh Warshel, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, “for the development of multi-scale models for complex chemical systems.”

The 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded jointly to Francois Englert, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium and Peter W. Higgs University of Edinburgh, UK, for “for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.”

The 2013 Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded, jointly, to James E. Rothman, Yale University, Randy W. Schekman, University of California Berkeley and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Thomas C. Südhof, Stanford University, Stanford, Ca and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, "for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells."

Alice Munro was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature. The Canadian writer, the committee remarked, was a “master of the contemporary short story.”

The Nobel Prizes are named after Alfred Nobel, who left the bulk of his estate to fund the prizes with honors being bestowed upon those who, annually, have shown exemplary contributions in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Literature, Medicine, Economic Science and the Peace Prize which is determined through exhibited effort for the human condition assisting all peoples. 

All awards are conferred by the Nobel Prize committee which is governed by the Norwegian Parliament.

For more information on President Obama: www.whitehouse.gov 

 

Sources: Gallup, Wikipedia, Whitehouse.gov, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nobelprize.org

 

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