Former President Clinton steadfastly defended President Obama and Senate Democrats Sunday morning on their position in the debt-ceiling fight and criticized House Republicans for not being interested in real budget negotiations.
“This is the House Republicans and tea party saying, ‘We don’t want to negotiate with Democrats,’ ” Clinton told This Week‘s George Stephanopoulos.”They’re mad because they don’t want to negotiate.”
Clinton defended Obama’s position while calling the House Republican position “almost spiteful.”
“If I were the president, I wouldn’t negotiate over these draconian cuts that are gonna take food off the table of low-income working people, while they leave all the agricultural subsidies in for high-income farmers and everything else,” Clinton said. “I think it’s chilling. It seems almost spiteful.”
Clinton is no stranger to government shutdowns. During his mid-‘90s skirmishes with then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Clinton vetoed a continuing resolution sent to his desk by the GOP-led Congress that would have raised Medicare premiums and lessened environmental regulations. The November 1995 shutdown lasted five days before Clinton brokered an agreement with Gingrich that funded the government at 75 percent while budget negotiations continued for several weeks.
Less than a month later, though, the government closed its doors for another 21 days, as Gingrich and other Republican leaders insisted that the White House pass a seven-year plan that balanced the budget off of Congressional Budget Office projections rather than slightly more optimistic projections outlined by the Office of Management and Budget. Republicans eventually passed legislation to reopen the government, while Clinton relented and submitted a balanced budget plan based on CBO numbers.
Clinton’s approval ratings were subject to some volatility during and after the shutdowns. His numbers fell about 10 percent during the second shutdown, but it ticked up to 53 percent in a Gallup Poll shortly after the dust settled.
Clinton was also quick to say the shutdown negotiations he presided over were very different than the current fights facing Obama.
“The negotiations we had were extremely minor,” Clinton said. “The economy was growing and the deficit was going down. They didn’t ask for the store.”
Clinton dismissed any notion that Obama’s signature health care bill was in any way a realistic bargaining chip for the budget fights.
“You can’t negotiate over that,” Clinton said. “And I think he’s right not to.”
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"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”
The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.
President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.