THE WASHINGTON POST – OPINION
The economy is growing much more quickly than expected. Inflation is basically nonexistent. The federal budget deficit has been slashed dramatically. The stock market is reaching all-time highs. One of our long-running wars is over, and the other is winding down. The status of the United States as the world’s preeminent economic and military power is unchallenged.
The sour public attitude toward elected officials in general — and the Republican Party in particular — is understandable. Indeed, the wonder is that pollsters can findanyone beyond paid staffers who will express approval of Congress. And as for the White House, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act does not scream competence and efficiency.
By Meredith Clark
The leaders of the Congressional intelligence committees said Sunday they oppose any possibility of clemency for Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who released thousands of documents shedding light on the agency’s constant global surveillance.
Nearly five months after the first reports based on the documents were published, Snowden – who is living in Russian under temporary asylum – requested clemency through a German member of parliament. Snowden also suggested he would be willing to testify before Congress about NSA abuses and help German authorities investigate allegations of U.S. spying on their country.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) have been forceful defenders of the intrusive and secretive surveillance programs, many of which collect private information from US citizens and companies without their knowledge.
The revelations, which have appeared chiefly in The Washington Post and the Guardian, have stoked public outrage and harmed U.S. diplomatic relations with many key allies.
By Dan Froomkin
U.S. news reports are largely blaming the government shutdown on the inability of both political parties to come to terms. It is supposedly the result of a “bitterly divided” Congress that “failed to reach agreement” (Washington Post) or “a bitter budget standoff” left unresolved by “rapid-fire back and forth legislative maneuvers” (New York Times). This sort of false equivalence is not just a failure of journalism. It is also a failure of democracy.
When the political leadership of this country is incapable of even keeping the government open, a political course correction is in order. But how can democracy self-correct if the public does not understand where the problem lies? And where will the pressure for change come from if journalists do not hold the responsible parties accountable?
The truth of what happened Monday night, as almost all political reporters know full well, is that “Republicans staged a series of last-ditch efforts to use a once-routine budget procedure to force Democrats to abandon their efforts to extend U.S. health insurance.” (Thank you, Guardian.)
And holding the entire government hostage while demanding the de facto repeal of a president’s signature legislation and not even bothering to negotiate is by any reasonable standard an extreme political act. It is an attempt to make an end run around the normal legislative process. There is no historical precedent for it. The last shutdowns, in 1995 and 1996, were not the product of unilateral demands to scrap existing law; they took place during a period of give-and-take budget negotiations.