05-22-2018  12:36 pm      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Mississippi Avenue Giving Tuesday

On Tuesday, May 22, 10 percent of proceeds from participating Mississippi Ave. businesses will go to SEI ...

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Family seeks answers after Oregon student injured on trip

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The family of an Oregon college student is searching for answers after the 22-year-old was found injured and unconscious near railroad tracks in Truckee, California.The Reno Gazette-Journal reports Aaron Salazar remains in the critical care unit at a hospital in Reno,...

Oregon mom raises awareness after baby dies from meningitis

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Summer Poff knew something was wrong with her 7-month-old son, Blaize, early in the morning on May 11.He was fussy, feverish and wouldn't go to sleep. The Salem mom tried to soothe her baby and gave him Tylenol, but at 3 a.m, she knew she needed to take him to the...

Facelift of Seattle's Space Needle nears completion

SEATTLE (AP) — Tourism is booming in Seattle. Just take a look at the Space Needle.The family-owned landmark is set to unveil the biggest renovation in its 56-year history next month, a 0 million investment in a single year of construction that transformed the structure's top viewing...

Lawsuit seeks to change how Army Corps regulates shorelines

SEATTLE (AP) — Three conservation groups are suing the Army Corps of Engineers over how it regulates seawalls, bulkheads or other barriers built along shorelines across Puget Sound.Sound Action, Friends of The San Juans and the Washington Environmental Council want the Corps to better...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Man charged with shooting at black teen waives hearing

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. (AP) — A white suburban Detroit homeowner accused of shooting at a black teenager who came to his door to ask for directions will stand trial.Jeffrey Zeigler was bound over Tuesday to circuit court after waiving his preliminary examination on assault with intent to...

GLAAD study finds LGBTQ representation in film fell in 2017

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Despite high-profile Oscar wins for art house films like "Call Me By Your Name" and "A Fantastic Women," LGBTQ representation in films from the seven biggest Hollywood studios fell significantly in 2017 according to a study released Tuesday by the advocacy organization...

Black man ordered to pay [scripts/homepage/home.php],000 for racist campus graffiti

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — A former Eastern Michigan University student who admitted to painting racist graffiti on campus has been ordered to pay more than [scripts/homepage/home.php],000 in restitution.The Ann Arbor News reports 29-year-old Eddie Curlin learned his punishment Monday after earlier pleading guilty to...

ENTERTAINMENT

Soccer star Brandi Chastain or Gary Busey? Fans pan plaque

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Social media is finding little to like about the likeness on a plaque honoring retired soccer champion Brandi Chastain.The Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in San Francisco unveiled the plaque on Monday night. Chastain said, "It's not the most flattering. But it's nice."On...

Woman accuses R. Kelly of sexual battery, giving her herpes

NEW YORK (AP) — Singer R. Kelly sexually abused a woman, locked her in rooms and vehicles for punishment, and infected her with herpes, the woman said in a lawsuit filed in New York.Faith Rodgers said in the suit filed Monday that she met Kelly about a year ago after a concert in San...

A farewell to the road for Paul Simon

NEW YORK (AP) — Farewell tours don't always mean farewell, but are a ripe time for appreciation and appraisal. Paul Simon's concerts and a new biography offer the opportunity for both.Simon's "Homeward Bound" tour began last week in Vancouver and takes him across North America, to Europe and...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Soccer star Brandi Chastain or Gary Busey? Fans pan plaque

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Social media is finding little to like about the likeness on a plaque honoring retired...

Woman accuses R. Kelly of sexual battery, giving her herpes

NEW YORK (AP) — Singer R. Kelly sexually abused a woman, locked her in rooms and vehicles for punishment,...

APNewsbreak: Pentagon adopts new cellphone restrictions

WASHINGTON (AP) — After months of debate, the Defense Department approved Monday new restrictions for the...

Brazil leader won't seek re-election

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil's President Michel Temer is ending speculation that he might seek re-election...

Rights group: Rohingya insurgents massacred Myanmar Hindus

BANGKOK (AP) — Amnesty International said Wednesday that Myanmar's army was not the only group that has...

Romania court acquits Senate speaker of lying under oath

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A Romanian court has acquitted the Senate speaker of making false statements...

Leigh Ann Caldwell CNN

Obama talks on the economyWASHINGTON (CNN) -- With a series of potential disasters hovering over the nation like a demon storm, the most prominent words of a Washington-based word cloud would be: government shutdown, continuing resolution, debt limit and Obamacare.

Although a potential shutdown and the need to raise the debt limit are different issues, they are interrelated and have one big thing in common: they are both products of a crisis manufactured by Washington. And both are being used for leverage in attempts to undermine Obamacare.

So, what's the difference between them and why should you care?

First up, the shutdown

The federal government's fiscal year starts next week -- October 1. And Congress' one key duty laid out in the Constitution is to pass spending bills that fund the government.

If it doesn't, most of the functions of the government -- from paying the military to funding small business loans to collecting the trash in Washington -- could come to a slow-motion halt.

It shuts down.

This time around, the House of Representatives, led by conservative Republicans, has linked this funding process -- known as a continuing resolution -- to defunding President Barack Obama's signature health insurance law, the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. It passed its bill last Friday and sent it to the Senate.

This week, the Senate is expected to strip out the anti-Obamacare provision and pass its own "clean" version of the bill -- and then the drama begins.

But more on that in a minute.

What's important here is that if Congress doesn't pass the $986 billion continuing resolution, or CR, in the next week, the national parks could close, airport Transportation Security Agents might get furloughed and agents might be unable to process Social Security checks.

Next crisis, the debt limit

Remember that time when you maxed out your credit card? That's what the debt limit is all about. The U.S. is on the verge of maxing out its $16.699 trillion credit card.

A maxed-out credit card doesn't mean you can stop spending. While you have to pay your credit card bill, you also have to continue to buy groceries and pay the electric bill, so you might have to open up a new credit card.

That's similar to what the U.S. government must do. The government can't just stop paying on its previous debt or spending money, even though its credit limit is maxed out, because it has too many obligations to meet. It has to have access to money to pay for the interest on that debt, as well as pay soldiers' paychecks, doctors' Medicare reimbursements, expenses like bridge repairs, and so on. So the president must ask Congress to raise the limit of the country's credit card, or debt limit.

But many think Republicans in Congress may also try to link raising the debt limit to defunding Obamacare. Sound familiar?

Sometime around the middle of October -- unless Congress votes to raise the debt limit -- the U.S. government will be out of options. This past spring it already implemented "extraordinary measures" where accounts were reshuffled to enable the U.S. to continue paying its bills.

But this time, once the debt limit is reached, there are no other tricks Treasury can use. It won't be able to meet 30% of its obligations, according to a report by the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Although the government won't "shut down," many say the consequences would be much, much worse.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew predicted that impacts on the global and local economy would be "catastrophic."

While the U.S. operates at a deficit, the rest of the world purchases U.S. debt. It's considered one of the safest investments around, because it is believed that the U.S. will always pay its bills. But what if it doesn't?

The U.S. will no longer be considered "the most reliable creditor in the world," said Shai Akabas, senior policy analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center. In addition to potential financial panic because the most stable investment will no longer be considered safe, individual investors, hedge fund managers, other countries -- those who own U.S. Treasurys -- could start to turn to other countries for investments, and interest rates on Treasurys would start to increase.

That means the benefits that U.S. consumers enjoy, including low interest rates on home loans, credit cards and business loans, would begin to erode. Fast.

At home, it would also be devastating. That 80-year-old woman who relies on her Social Security check to pay her rent might not get paid. That means her landlord won't get paid.

The doctor who sees Medicare patients won't get reimbursed, so he might not purchase that new flat-screen TV he was planning on buying next month. The government contractor who is owed for providing food at military bases won't get paid, and she will have to lay off line cooks.

Obviously, this could be very, very bad. That's why each side thinks the other will blink on Obamacare to avoid such a calamity.

So what does Obamacare have to do with any of this?

In short: a lot.

While the health care law is not directly tied to funding the government -- the CR -- or paying bills already incurred -- the debt ceiling -- it is being used as a powerful bargaining chip.

A group of Republicans, led by freshman Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, despises the health care law so much that it is willing to risk government shutdown or default.

While 41 previous attempts to repeal, defund or stop the law haven't worked, the group hopes efforts to link it to these two pieces of must-pass legislation will. That's why there's talk of a government shutdown.

The House, which is controlled by Republicans, voted on a measure that would fund the government until December 15 -- but in exchange for keeping the government open, the health care law would be defunded.

But the Democrat-controlled Senate vows that Obamacare defunding will have no part in efforts to keep the government running and is expected to strip that provision out of its version of the CR sometime this week.

Cruz and his supporters aren't backing down. And neither is the president.

"I believe we should stand our ground, and I don't believe (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid or Barack Obama should shut down the federal government," Cruz said on Fox News Sunday. "The House voted last week to fund the federal government. If Harry Reid kills that, Harry Reid is responsible for shutting down the government."

But many within the Republican Party think Cruz's idea is a terrible one. While Republicans have successfully extracted budget cuts from recent battles over government funding and the debt ceiling, most understand that a political poison pill like this is unlikely to succeed. Democrats control the Senate with their 54-seat majority.

"We are not about to shut the government down over the fact that we cannot -- only controlling one house of Congress -- tell the president that we are not going to fund any portion of this, because we can't do that," Sen. Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

If Democrats win the battle over government funding and Obamacare stays intact, Republicans indicated they will make similar demands when the president asks to raise the debt limit.

But Obama has repeated numerous times that he will not negotiate on the debt limit either.

"We will not negotiate whether or not America should keep its word and meet its obligations. We're not going to allow anyone to inflict economic pain on millions of our own people just to make an ideological point," Obama said at the Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner this past weekend.

And even if Cruz and his supporters somehow overcame the Democrat-controlled Senate and successfully sent a bill to the president's desk that defunds Obamacare, would Obama really sign a bill that guts his signature legislative achievement?

And so we have the showdown.

 

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