As House Republicans threaten another government shutdown if they don't get some steep cuts in return for disaster relief and as Democrats look like they're finally standing up to the hostage taking, what do we get from David Gergen, Gloria Borger and host Anderson Cooper on CNN? More false equivalencies and the "both sides" are playing politics game.
September 23, 2011

As House Republicans threaten another government shutdown if they don't get some steep cuts in return for disaster relief and as Democrats look like they're finally standing up to the hostage taking, what do we get from David Gergen, Gloria Borger and host Anderson Cooper on CNN? More false equivalencies and the "both sides" are playing politics game.

For a more honest assessment of what's going on, here's more from TPM -- CRUNCH TIME: House GOP Jams Senate With Government Funding Bill, Partisan Budget Cuts For Disaster Aid:

House Republicans closed ranks just after midnight on Friday morning, and passed legislation to avert a government shutdown at the end of the month. The vote tally was 219-203.

But the bill received almost no Democratic support and faces an uncertain future in the U.S. Senate because Republicans have used the funding bill as a vehicle for disaster relief money, and insisted it be paid for by slashing funds for jobs programs Democrats support. Dems say the GOP legislation provides insufficient aid, and sets a dangerous precedent by requiring those funds to be offset with partisan budget cuts.

"The bill the House will vote on tonight is not an honest effort at compromise," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in a statement anticipating its passage. "It fails to provide the relief that our fellow Americans need as they struggle to rebuild their lives in the wake of floods, wildfires and hurricanes, and it will be rejected by the Senate."

A livid Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) told reporters Thursday night "We're fed up with this...we're sick of it, we're tired of it."

Democrats are pushing Republicans to strip the disaster aid provisions from the bill entirely and pass a clean funding bill, and separate, emergency, Senate-passed legislation to provide relief to disaster-stricken regions across the country. At her weekly press conference Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pointed to a potential compromise. Read on...

UPDATE: It appears that we had some bipartisan objection to the House's hostage taking in the Senate -- Cram It! Senate Dems And Republicans Reject Holding Disaster Aid Hostage.

Gergen and Borger's hackery from CNN last night below the fold.

COOPER: More breaking news tonight, and "Keeping Them Honest."

Here we go again on the brink of a possible government shutdown. All that talk of compromise. Well, maybe just that. Talk. The do- nothing Congress could be living up to the nickname tonight once again.

We're waiting for a crucial vote in the House on a bill to fund the government beyond September 30, and even if it passes, it would only fund the government for seven more weeks. And that's a big if. The vote on the GOP measure failed in the House last night, 230 to 195, 48 Republicans defected, voted against their party's own measure, and only six Democrats sided with Republicans. Now the failed vote, some say, has proved to why Congress has just 12 percent approval rating in the latest poll conducted by CBS and the "New York Times."

Conservative Republicans voted against the C.R., Continuing Resolution, because they said there weren't enough spending cuts to offset the $3. 6 billion in disaster relief money. Now you can decide for yourself if you think funds for disaster relief for agencies like FEMA should only be available if they're offset by spending cuts elsewhere.

This country is in some pretty tough strait for sure, but this is the first time ever, ever, that funding for people affected by things like tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, fires, you name it, have been used as a political edge.

And right now, that aid is in limbo until this bill gets passed.

"Keeping Them Honest," just last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said he wouldn't hold up disaster relief. We found this on



REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: No one is holding any money hostage. I also think we can do so responsibly.


COOPER: He says no one is holding any money hostage. But they are tonight, even though Cantor pointed out his district needs the aid. His district in Virginia was hit by Hurricane Irene and an earthquake last month.

House Speaker Boehner seemed caught off guard by last night's vote. He desperately tried to get his party on board and failed but today at a news conference he dismissed there was any chaos in the ranks and insisted they're going to reach a deal.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The founders gave us a committee which is now 535 individuals. And trying to get 535 people to come to agreement on anything around here is difficult.

But that's -- we've known that going in. We'll work our way through this. I have always been confident that we'll be able to come to an agreement and we will.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: That's Speaker Boehner earlier today. At this hour, again, we're waiting for a new vote on the measure. It's expected any moment. We'll see if Republicans did in fact reach an agreement as Mr. Boehner said they would.

Republican sources tell us that House GOP leaders have in fact unveiled a new proposal to offset the cash wanted for disaster relief by cutting roughly $100 million from a government loan program that granted a $535 million loan guarantee to the now bankrupt and highly controversial Solyndra solar company.

The question tonight, will this get the bill pass and avoid a government shutdown. Let's talk about it with CNN political analysts David Gergen and Gloria Borger.

David, what do you make of this? When you hear Congressman Cantor and other Republicans say that they're not playing politics with disaster relief funding, especially as the possibility of a government shutdown looms, do you buy that?

GERGEN: Anderson, I think both sides are going to try to make points. Democrats are going to try to do that over in the Senate, Gloria has been reporting on some of that, to the make points off the FEMA thing.

But I have to tell you. I do think they're going to get something passed. I don't think there's going to be a government shutdown. The amount of money at issue here is actually modest.

But what this has done, it was one of the things, it was a backdrop to the markets going down so much today. The investors looking, and saying, my god, those people in Washington, they haven't made peace, they can't even agree on this little tiny -- little bit of business.

And it is -- it is fueling the sense that they're not going to be able to get a real bargain on -- big bargain on the deficits.


GERGEN: They may not be able to live up to the agreement they cut on the debt ceiling back in August.

BORGER: Well, you know, Anderson, that's the whole problem. When they cut this deal on the debt ceiling, they said, when we pass a bill to keep the government running, known as a Continuing Resolution, it's going to be clean. Then you had these disasters, as you pointed out, and the Republicans in the House say we need to pay for those disasters.

And I just got off the phone with the Senate Democratic leadership aide who said to me that if the House bill passes tonight, with more offsets, spending cuts for disaster relief, the Senate will reject it. That Senate Democrats will reject it.

And what they eventually will do is pass a clean Continuing Resolution to fund the government with FEMA funding separately and deal with that -- don't forget the FEMA money for these -- for disaster relief expires early next week. So we will move from one crisis to another crisis.

COOPER: Is this the way business is just going to be done now, David? I mean especially between now and the election? Can anything major get done between now and this presidential election?

GERGEN: Anderson, one held out hope for that, I think, a few months ago, that they could actually make some real progress, get some more breakthroughs before the election. I think that hope has diminished sharply in the last few weeks.

Everybody here has now gotten into campaign mode. And by the way, this is something President Obama foresaw some months ago. He -- this is the very reason he wanted to get a bigger deal in August because he thought, as we got closer in, it was going to be hard.

But now the White House has gotten into politics, too. I mean everybody is playing the game. And I think that there's a growing feeling that big breakthroughs are going to have to wait the next administration, the next president, this president, whoever it is.

BORGER: And here's --

GERGEN: And the next Congress. BORGER: And here's what complicates all of this. What really complicates it, you have a Republican primary going on. Don't forget, those Republican presidential candidates were all out there, most of them, saying, you cannot even pass an extension of the debt ceiling.

You have congressional leaders who may -- Republicans -- who may feel they want to get something done as I think John Boehner felt early on in this process. But they have to try and be on the same page with their presidential candidates.

The presidential candidates are appealing to a Republican primary electorate, which is very, very conservative. And so I think gridlock is in the offing because Republicans' hands are tied by this primary.

COOPER: But even -- I mean what's so frustrating about that is that -- I mean we're seeing today the markets reacting in part to this gridlock.

BORGER: Of course.

COOPER: I mean this is costing people -- this is costing people their 401(k)s, this is costing people money.

GERGEN: Exactly.

BORGER: And it could cost people their disaster relief, by the way, Anderson.

COOPER: Right.

BORGER: If that doesn't go through.

GERGEN: That's exactly right, Anderson. A lot of people's 401(k)s are -- you can measure that through the S&P 500. That's where a lot of the mutual funds are, for example. S&P 500 is down 7 percent over the last two days. And you know so people are losing, not only their housing value but their -- now their 401(k) again taking hits.

And that's what's so frustrating about this. But I have to say, it's not just that the Republican candidates are tying their people up and asking for loyalty. Look at Norm Dicks, a Democrat, who was going to vote for this Continuing Resolution. He said he publicly was going to vote for it.

Very independent, fine congressman, he came under pressure from his caucus on the Democratic side to vote against this Continuing Resolution, to stop things, because, you know, they're playing their political game, too.

BORGER: Absolutely. I mean they're playing it on both sides.

GERGEN: Right.

BORGER: Why do you think the Democrats want to separate out the money for FEMA?

GERGEN: Right.

BORGER: Because then they can say that the Republicans don't want to fund disaster relief.

COOPER: Right. It's just games, I mean, back and forth.

BORGER: Terrible.

GERGEN: Just games.


COOPER: Yes. David Gergen and Gloria Borger, appreciate it. Thank you.

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