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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

STATEMENT: Cotton’s Shutdown Plans Go into Effect, Harming Arkansas Families

Cotton explicitly endorsed a government shutdown

LITTLE ROCK — At midnight last night, Rep. Tom Cotton got his way as the federal government shut down for the first time since 1996, negatively impacting the lives of tens of thousands of Arkansans. Sen. Mark Pryor’s campaign released the following statement:

“There’s no denying that from his very first month in Washington, Congressman Cotton has been a cheerleader for shutting down the government, and now Arkansas families are living with his irresponsible priorities,” said Jeff Weaver, Pryor for Senate campaign manager. “Just like most Arkansans, Mark Pryor is tired of the political drama, and he’ll continue working with reasonable members of both parties to find commonsense solutions that cut spending responsibly while protecting Social Security and Medicare, keep student loans affordable and give certainty to our farmers and rural families.”

In a January radio interview, Cotton explicitly said that he is prepared to shut down the federal government during late 2013 negotiations over federal fiscal matters. Since then, Arkansas Republicans like Sen. John Boozman and Rep. Steve Womack have strongly condemned the tactic as bad politics and irresponsible policy — a sentiment shared by Sen. Pryor as he works across the aisle to cut spending responsibly while continuing to fund crucial services for Arkansans.

Recent polls show that a majority of Americans would blame lawmakers like Cotton — who POLITICO describes as part of the House’s “‘Hell No’ Caucus” — for the consequences of a shutdown, just as they did in 1995-1996 when voters balked at congressional Republicans’ willingness to shutter the government rather than compromise with President Bill Clinton on deficit reduction and other priorities.

BACKGROUND:

Cotton Told Radio Host Andrea Tantaros That He Was Prepared To Shut Down The Government. “So, if Republicans don’t get what they want, and we have a president digging in his heels, are you prepared to shut down the government?” host Andrea Tantaros asked. “I think we have to be,” Rep. Cotton replied. “We have to be willing to draw the line and say that we have a debt crisis in this country that’s caused by two simple facts: We spend too much, and we have too little growth. We have to adopt pro-growth policies and we have to reduce the explosive deficit spending under the Obama administration to get the economy growing again to confront this debt crisis.” [Andrea Tantaros Show with Jason Mattera, 1/8/13]

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN WOULD WORSEN BACKLOG AT SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, THREATENING ARKANSAS’ ECONOMIC SECURITY

657,754 Seniors In Arkansas Rely On Social Security. [SSA, 12/12]

Social Security Lifts Over 40% Of Arkansas Seniors Out Of Poverty. “In 2009, more than one-third (35%) of the nation’s older population would be living in poverty if they were not receiving Social Security. In Arkansas, the rate is even higher: 41% of the state’s 65+ population would have incomes below the poverty line if they did not receive Social Security.” [Social Security: Arkansas Quick Facts, AARP, 2012]

1 In 5 Arkansas Residents Benefited From Social Security In 2012. According to a report by Social Security Works, “Social Security provided benefits to 657,754 Arkansans in 2012, 1 in 5 (22.3 percent) residents.” [Social Security Works for Arkansas, August 2013]

Arkansans Received Over $8.4 Billion In Benefits In 2012, Equivalent to 8.3% of State’s Total Personal Income. According to a study by Social Security Works, “Arkansans received Social Security benefits totaling $8.5 billion in 2012, an amount equivalent to 8.3 percent of the state’s total personal income.” [Social Security Works for Arkansas, August 2013]

Social Security Lifted 304,000 Arkansans Out of Poverty in 2011. According to a study by Social Security Works, “Social Security lifted 304,000 Arkansans out of poverty in 2011.” [Social Security Works for Arkansas, August 2013]

Boozman Said A 2013 Government Shutdown Would Be Worse Than 1995 Because The Economy Was More Fragile. According to the Arkansas News Bureau, “A government shutdown would be more severe and complete in 2013 than it was in 1995, would hit a much more fragile economy and would not stop federal health care reform, U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark. said Tuesday.” [Arkansas News Bureau,8/20/13]

Boozman Said 2013 Government Shutdown Would Be Worse Than 1995 Because It Would Affect A Larger Portion Of The Government. According to the Arkansas News Bureau, “Because of the ongoing budget conflict, all prior authorizations for spending have run out, Boozman said. The 1995 government funding shutdown affected only part of federal spending because some spending was authorized under previously passed bills. A similar move by House Republicans in 2013 would result in a faster, more complete shutoff of money. ‘There would not be federal food inspectors in our processing centers, shutting them down, and single moms would go home without getting paid,’ Boozman said during his address to the Rogers Noon Rotary Club, adding that Federal spending that would continue would include mandatory spending such as Social Security payments — and federal health care spending, including health care reform.” [Arkansas News Bureau, 8/20/13]

IN SHUTDOWN LASTING JUST FOUR DAYS:

The Social Security Administration Was Not Able to Process About 112,000 Claims For Retirement And Disability Benefits. According to the Social Security Administration’s website, “The four-day furlough severely impacted SSA’s ability to provide the quality service that the American people expect. The following activities are examples of basic services that were curtailed or denied during the November shut down: About 112,000 claims for retirement and disability benefits were not taken (about 28,000 per day); About 212,000 applications for Social Security numbers were not taken (about 53,000 per day); About 800,000 callers were denied service on SSA’s 800 number (about 200,000 per day); and, About 5,000 previously scheduled hearings were canceled and decisions related to another 7,000 hearings that had already taken place were not written.” [Social Security Administration, History 1993-2000, accessed9/16/13]

The Social Security Administration Could Not Process About 212,000 Applications For Social Security. According to the Social Security Administration’s website, “The four-day furlough severely impacted SSA’s ability to provide the quality service that the American people expect. The following activities are examples of basic services that were curtailed or denied during the November shut down: About 112,000 claims for retirement and disability benefits were not taken (about 28,000 per day); About 212,000 applications for Social Security numbers were not taken (about 53,000 per day); About 800,000 callers were denied service on SSA’s 800 number (about 200,000 per day); and, About 5,000 previously scheduled hearings were canceled and decisions related to another 7,000 hearings that had already taken place were not written.” [Social Security Administration, History 1993-2000, accessed 9/16/13]

About 800,000 Callers Were Denied Service On SSA’s 800 Number. According to the Social Security Administration’s website, “The four-day furlough severely impacted SSA’s ability to provide the quality service that the American people expect. The following activities are examples of basic services that were curtailed or denied during the November shut down: About 112,000 claims for retirement and disability benefits were not taken (about 28,000 per day); About 212,000 applications for Social Security numbers were not taken (about 53,000 per day); About 800,000 callers were denied service on SSA’s 800 number (about 200,000 per day); and, About 5,000 previously scheduled hearings were canceled and decisions related to another 7,000 hearings that had already taken place were not written.” [Social Security Administration, History 1993-2000, accessed 9/16/13]

About 5,000 Previously Schedule Hearings Were Canceled And Decisions Related To Another 7,000 Hearing That Had Already Taken Place Were Not Written.According to the Social Security Administration’s website, “The four-day furlough severely impacted SSA’s ability to provide the quality service that the American people expect. The following activities are examples of basic services that were curtailed or denied during the November shut down: About 112,000 claims for retirement and disability benefits were not taken (about 28,000 per day); About 212,000 applications for Social Security numbers were not taken (about 53,000 per day); About 800,000 callers were denied service on SSA’s 800 number (about 200,000 per day); and, About 5,000 previously scheduled hearings were canceled and decisions related to another 7,000 hearings that had already taken place were not written.” [Social Security Administration, History 1993-2000, accessed [9/16/13]

PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN HAD “DEVASTATING EFFECT” ON SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

SSA: 1996 Shutdown “Had A Devastating Effect” On The Social Security Administration. According to the Social Security Administration’s website, “On April 26, 1996, President Clinton signed legislation providing appropriations for the remainder of FY 1996 for agencies and departments not having regular appropriations bills enacted. The Commissioner advised employees of this action and thanked them for their patience during the FY 1996 budget crisis. The shutdown had a devastating effect on the Agency and, in particular, the 11,000 employees who were deemed non-essential. During the shutdown, the work piled up in the offices, and when employees returned to work, they felt pressure to reduce the backlogs.” [Social Security Administration, History 1993-2000, accessed 9/16/13]

Social Security Administration On 1995 Shutdown: “Social Security Serves Millions Of Customers Each Year, And Each Day Of The Shutdown Meant That Thousands Of Americans Could Not Visit Its Offices To Conduct Their Business.”According to the Social Security Administration’s website, “While there was a view by some that Government wasn’t important, and that Americans barely noticed the impact that Government has in their lives, it became clear immediately that this was not the case. The American people who could not visit the national parks or museums, who could not update their passports, and who could not conduct business with Social Security are just a few examples of Americans who certainly felt the impact of the Government shutdown. Social Security serves millions of customers each year, and each day of the shutdown meant that thousands of Americans could not visit its offices to conduct their business.” [Social Security Administration, History 1993-2000, accessed 9/16/13]

SSA On 1995 Shutdown: “Social Security And Its Customers Immediately Felt The Impact Of The Shutdown.” According to the Social Security Administration’s website, “Social Security and its customers immediately felt the impact of the shutdown. From the very first day, the Agency received telephone calls from customers needing a Social Security card to work or who needed to change the address where their check should be mailed for the following month. It was evident to Agency executives after a couple of days that the shutdown was not acceptable, and that it was affecting some of its most vulnerable people, namely its elderly, disabled, and low-income recipients. It became very clear that it was important that SSA reopen its offices to conduct business, even during the shutdown. There was tremendous concern internally, as well as within the White House that SSA not providing service would cause harm to too many Americans.” [Social Security Administration, History 1993-2000, accessed9/16/13]

1996: Social Security Administration “Had To Delay Processing And Payment Of New Entitlement Claims.” In February 2011, ABC News reported: “In 1996, the Social Security Administration, unable to keep employees because of lack of funding, had to delay processing and payment of new entitlement claims. There was no one to answer phones at Social Security offices and the agency had to eventually request money to bring back some of the furloughed employees.” [ABC News, 2/28/11]

Republican Representative: “During Past Government Shutdowns, The Social Security Administration Had To Delay Processing And Payment For New Claims And Those Who Filed A Change Of Address Form.” In April 2011, Christian Science Monitor reported: ‘Seniors will continue to get their Medicare and Social Security checks,’ Rep. Randy Forbes (R) of Virginia says in a shutdown-related statement on his website. But he suggests that ‘seniors could see delays in receiving their checks due to under-staffed offices. Additionally, during past government shutdowns, the Social Security Administration had to delay processing and payment for new claims and those who filed a change of address form.’” [Christian Science Monitor, 4/8/11]

Boozman Said Government Shutdown Was Not A “Winnable Strategy,” Would Hurt The Economy.According to the Arkansas News Bureau, “But Boozman said Tuesday that defunding the health care initiative was not ‘a winnable strategy…’ ‘There would not be federal food inspectors in our processing centers, shutting them down, and single moms would go home without getting paid,’ Boozman said during his address to the Rogers Noon Rotary Club, adding that Federal spending that would continue would include mandatory spending such as Social Security payments” and federal health care spending, including health care reform.” [Arkansas News Bureau,8/20/13]

Womack Opposed Government Shutdown Because “You Really Ought Not To Take The Hostage If You’re Not Willing To Shoot Him”, Called It Political Suicide For Republicans. According to the Northwest edition of the Democrat-Gazette, “Shutting down the federal government would amount to “political suicide” by Republicans that could give Democrats control of both Houses of Congress, 3rd District Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, told a crowd of at least 170 people in Bentonville on Monday. ‘You really ought not to take the hostage if you’re not willing to shoot him,’ Womack said of threats to shut down government spending unless taxpayer money is stripped from the Affordable Care Act. He made his remarks at a town hall meeting he hosted at the Bentonville Public Library. Several crowd members bore ‘Defund Obamacare’ signs, while others applauded his remarks.” [Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,8/13/13]

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