America is fed up with GOP obstructionism. So undoubtedly, everyone is hopeful that Republicans will allow President Barack Obama's sequestration plans to proceed unhindered. It's only right.The GOP, in fact, should quit while it's ahead. Rather than penning editorials and appearing on Sunday morning talk shows to try to pin the blame on others, leadership would be far better off simply saying: "Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for dreaming up a plan that implements some minimal spending cuts. Thanks for signing it into law. It's not much, but we sure appreciate...
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) believes that President Barack Obama and "most liberal Democrats" really want to repeal the Second Amendment.
On Thursday, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham asked Hatch, "Do you think, if he had his druthers, President Obama would repeal the Second Amendment?"
"I don't think there's any question about it. Most liberal Democrats would," Hatch replied. "I don't know of any liberal Republicans that would, but most liberal Democrats would. They'll mouth that they wouldn't, but look, what are they doing? They want more and more controls."
Hatch has been adamantly against gun-control measures. He opposes bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines as well as increased background checks, a proposal with overwhelming bipartisan support.
"One reason most conservatives are very concerned about universal background checks is that's the beginning of the end of government controlling every aspect of our lives," Hatch told Ingraham.
Obama has never said he's interested in repealing the Second Amendment. During his first term, gun groups frequently warned that the president wanted to take away their firearms, leading to a spike in gun sales and an expansion of the number of gun dealers. Obama never took on gun control during his first term but instead expanded gun rights, supporting a measure that allowed people to carry concealed weapons in national parks.
After the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the president put together a gun-control task force to examine gun-related violence in the United States, but he has not called for an outright ban on firearms.
Taking aim at specific proposals, Hatch said a bill introduced in January by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would ban certain types of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines was an attempt to outlaw "well over 2,000 various weapons" that have "been used peacefully and properly through the years." The Associated Press recently reported that more than 2,200 types of firearms would in fact be protected under Feinstein's bill.
Nonetheless, Hatch maintained his reservations not only about the efficacy of federal gun-control legislation but also about its intent. Attempts by Democrats to offer gun-control proposals are "really all political," Hatch said. "This president never misses a political advantage."
Put aside the woes of the Republican Party: Not all opportunity is lost under the conservative umbrella. What appear to be the two most crushing recent moments for the American right -- the Supreme Court's upholding of most of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the reelection of President Barack Obama -- were in fact gifts from God to his favorite industry: the fundraising, merchandising, and publishing apparatus of the conservative movement.Survival tips: These are now what's for sale, at your conservative movement vendor of choice. I've spent a week holed up...
President Barack Obama’s sequester strategy is all about one word: shame. With the parties at an impasse on stopping across-the-board budget cuts set to hit March 1, the White House is prepping another multimedia, cross-country drive to stoke public outrage against congressional Republicans.
Everybody seems to hate the across-the-board government spending cuts due to kick in March 1. President Barack Obama called the cuts—known in Washington as the "sequester"—a "meat-cleaver approach" to trimming the government's annual deficits, warning that they will visit a host of plagues upon America: Military readiness will suffer. School quality will decline. Hundreds of thousands of people will lose their jobs.Obama didn't mention one other thing the sequester might accomplish: restoring faith in America's creditworthiness.
President Barack Obama's State of the Union address illustrated what a dead letter federalism is among Democrats. Not that further illustration was necessary.Federalism holds that the national government should limit itself to things of truly national scope. Things that are primarily of local concern should be left to state and local governments.Federalism was a big deal to the founders. They wanted an energetic national government, but one that was confined to enumerated national functions. The founders also envisioned a bright line between the federal and state governments, each...
It is doubtful that Congress and the White House will reach a budget agreement in time to avoid the deep mandatory cuts, known as the "sequester", from going into effect at the end of next week. The consequences, according to many economists, could be disastrous for the already anemic American economy.
Conventional wisdom currently is that the sequester deadline will pass and then Washington will come up with some sort of compromise solution. Perhaps just in time for the next self-inflicted crisis, the threat of a federal government shutdown on March 27 if Congress does not approve funding.
At the heart of this crisis is the debate over how to reduce the annual deficits that Washington continues to rack up. The national debt is currently $16.5 trillion, or about $50,000 for each citizen.
On Tuesday, Erskine Bowles and former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson released their new deficit reduction plan, which they say splits the difference between President Barack Obama and House Republicans. Their plan would reduce the deficit by $2.4 trillion dollars over the next decade.
Bowles worked in the Clinton administration, and Simpson was a highly respected Republican Senator. They served as co-chairmen of the White House's 2010 deficit-reduction panel, which put together a bipartisan package of tax and spending changes that was rejected by both the administration and Congressional Republicans.
The Bowles-Simpson plan includes $600 billion in cuts from Medicare and Medicaid, $600 billion in new tax revenue from ending or reducing deductions and breaks, and $1.2 trillion in cuts to discretionary spending, along with cuts in cost-of-living increases for Social Security, the farm program and civilian and defense retirement programs. Bowles-Simpson 2.0, as it is being called, sharply reduced tax revenues from their original plan, perhaps in an effort to win over some Republicans.
In the current deficit debate, the White House favors a $1.5 trillion package that includes smaller cuts in social programs, investments in education, new technologies and infrastructure, and additional revenues achieved by closing tax loopholes. Republicans say they will propose a $4 trillion package of cuts that they claim will result in a balanced budget in 10 years, although they have not provided details. But Republicans have ruled out any further tax revenues.
Meanwhile, some economists question making deep cuts in federal spending at a time when the nation's economic recovery is so weak. They point to failed austerity measures in European countries, like England, which slipped back into another recession.
A compromise like the Bowles-Simpson plan seems appropriate for the country to avoid further calamity. "Our plan is not perfect, but it can serve, we believe, as a mark for a bipartisan deal," Mr. Bowles told reporters Tuesday morning. However, it is unlikely that the plan will receive any traction in Washington.
So, at the end of next week, the sequester is likely to go into effect. It calls for $85 billion in across the board cuts, and gives the government little discretion in how to enact them. The president called it a "meat cleaver" approach, warning that national security and vital services will be reduced, resulting in furloughs for border patrol agents, first responders, teachers and air traffic controllers.
With Congress on a break, no negotiations are underway. Instead, Congressional leaders are pointing fingers and playing the blame game. On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner said, "Words alone won't avert it. Replacing the president's sequester will require a plan to cut spending that will put us on the path to a budget that is balanced in 10 years. To keep these first responders on the job, what other spending is the president willing to cut?"
No wonder a recent Quinnipiac poll showed that 72% of American registered voters disapprove of the way Congressional Republicans are doing their job. And now Republicans are ready to bring the country to its knees rather than compromise on a more balanced budget deal to avert the latest Washington manufactured crisis. This is insanity.
By Corrie MacLaggan
LEANDER, Texas, Feb 19 (Reuters) - First-term Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas on Tuesday staunchly defended his aggressive, in-your-face style that already is raising eyebrows in Washington and has led a Senate Democrat to suggest his tactics reminded her of McCarthyism.
"Washington has a long tradition of trying to hurl insults to silence those who they don't like what they're saying," Cruz told reporters on a visit to a Texas gun manufacturer. "I have to admit I find it amusing that those in Washington are puzzled when someone actually does what they said they would do."
Employees at LaRue Tactical near Austin cheered the senator enthusiastically during his appearance.
Cruz, 42, raised eyebrows in Washington by aggressively criticizing former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama's nominee for defense secretary, during a Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing.
Cruz angered lawmakers in both parties by suggesting, without giving evidence, that Hagel might have taken money from countries such as communist North Korea.
In comments published in the New York Times on Saturday, Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California compared Cruz's accusations about Hagel to those made by former Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s in his hunt for communists.
"It was really reminiscent of a different time and place, when you said, 'I have here in my pocket a speech you made on such and such a date,' and of course, nothing was in the pocket," Boxer said, according to the Times. "It was reminiscent of some bad times."
On Tuesday, Cruz said he worried that his concerns about Hagel - such as what he sees as Hagel's refusal to answer certain questions about financial disclosure - were getting lost in the focus on Cruz's style.
"Washington is a rough-and-tumble place, and I certainly don't mind if some will take shots at me," said Cruz, who has been unusually assertive for a freshman senator. "What I do think is unfortunate is if the coverage of the political game overshadows the substance."
Cruz's appearance at the gun manufacturer came as Obama, a Democrat, pursues gun-control measures following the Dec. 14 massacre of 20 children and six adults by a gunman at a Connecticut elementary school.
At LaRue Tactical, which makes semiautomatic rifles for civilians and also makes guns for the military, marketing director Mark Fingar said Cruz was a "no-nonsense senator."
"He's our type of guy," Fingar said.
In a noisy room at LaRue where machines that make molds were whirring, Cruz said stripping Americans of their right to defend their families would not prevent violent crime and that he wants to see efforts focused on deterring and punishing criminals. He accused Obama and Democrats in Congress of taking advantage of the Connecticut school shooting.
"In Washington, there is no liberty that I think is more in the targets right now than our (U.S. Constitution's) Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms," Cruz said.
Obama is asking lawmakers to approve "common-sense" gun control measures such as expanded background checks and a ban on military-style assault weapons. (Reporting By Corrie MacLaggan; Editing by David Bailey and Eric Beech)
On February 13, during an act of planned civil disobedience, we both were arrested at the White House. Along with 46 other citizens – authors and ranchers, reverends and farmers, union leaders and scientists – we had handcuffed ourselves to the White House fence to deliver a message to President Barack Obama: We cannot save our climate if you allow the United State to make bad choices like building a pipeline to carry Canada's carbon-intensive tar sands oil to the Gulf of Mexico, which could prove catastrophic for our land, water, and climate. It would only feed the...
Indeed, Hagel has spoken about military affairs so rarely--except to suggest the limits of U.S. military power--that it is unclear why he would be interested in the position of Secretary of Defense at all.Â When Hagel does speak about U.S. defense policy, he seems out of his depth. He denounced the "surge" of U.S. troops in Iraq, for instance, and predicted its failure; ultimately, the surge proved critical in defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq and enabling the withdrawal for which President Barack Obama now takes political credit (though even that withdrawal proceeded under an agreement...
Sitting in front of an oversized HD television in the basement of the governor's residence, a relaxed Scott Walker settles in to wait for Barack Obama to begin the first State of the Union address of his second term.The residence is otherwise empty. Walker's wife, Tonette, is back at the family home in Wauwatosa, where he would join her later that evening. Aside from one security officer, there is no staff. Walker fetched plastic-wrapped dinner from the kitchen counter"”roast-beef sandwiches on kaiser rolls, raw veggies, potato salad, and deviled eggs. The...
John Cornyn: Says of a failed cloture vote on nominating Chuck Hagel for defense secretary: "This is not a filibuster."
Some Republicans in the U.S. Senate aren’t very happy that their old colleague, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, has now been nominated to be President Barack Obama’s defense secretary. Some don’t like what he said about the Iraq war. Others think he did a bad job at his confirmation hearings. Still others want to use the nomination to get more information out of the Obama administration about last year’s attacks on American diplomats in Benghazi, Libya. So when majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada brought the Hagel nomination to the floor ...>> More
The longest 27 minutes of Barack Obama's presidency may have come at the National Prayer Breakfast Feb. 7 as he listened to Benjamin Carson's keynote address, thinks John Giokaris of Policymic.com.Without saying a word critical of the president, Dr. Carson eviscerated the core assumptions of the Obama administration. He spoke eloquently about individual responsibility, the consequences of moral decay and soaring debt, the sinfulness of class envy and the pernicious effects of political correctness."From the look on his face, it was obvious Obama was none too pleased," said...
Adding another immigration proposal to the debate in Congress, U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, has introduced a bill that would grant same-sex couples the same opportunities as others to sponsor a foreign-born spouse for a visa.
Honda's Reuniting Families Act is an update to a bill he introduced in the last Congress, but this year it comes as lawmakers are seriously considering major immigration reform.
His bid Thursday to end immigration law bias against same-sex families mirrors a similar, bipartisan bill in the Senate, the United American Families Act, reintroduced Wednesday by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Susan Collins, R-Maine.
Honda's proposal also would lessen other restrictions on family-based immigration. It would reduce the backlog of immigrant spouses and children by exempting them from numerical caps on family immigration. It would also set a 10-year maximum on having to wait for a green card.
"Our family-based immigration system has not been updated in 20 years, separating spouses, children and their parents, who have played by the rules for years," Honda said in a news release.
President Barack Obama has endorsed granting equal immigration benefits to same-sex couples, but Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said last month that injecting social issues into comprehensive immigration reform "is the best way to derail it." ___
PALM CITY, Fla. -- Tiger Woods' former swing coach says he'll play and practice with President Barack Obama on Saturday.
Obama is at the Floridian resort in Palm City, Fla., for a weekend of golf with friends.
Woods' coach, Butch Harmon, tells The Associated Press in a text message that he'll be with Obama on Saturday afternoon, playing nine holes and practicing.
Harmon was Woods' swing coach when Woods turned pro and reached what many believe to be the peak of his game in the early 2000s.
Harmon was Greg Norman's coach when he was No. 1 in the world in the 1990s.
Harmon has instructed a number of top golfers and he annually ranks No. 1 on magazine lists of golf's best teachers.
AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.
It's now pretty much an historical fact that the road to President Barack Obama's re-election ended up running a lot smoother than the hyped-up punditocracy had predicted in advance of Election Day. That is, at least from the perspective of the candidate and his campaign functionaries. Closer to ground-level, Election Day was anything but smooth for large swathes of the electorate, who in many cases encountered long lines, late nights, the usual widespread confusion, or some combination of all three.
That night, in his acceptance speech, Obama acknowledged this in a line that had the feel of an ad lib: "I want to thank every American who participated in this election. Whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time -- by the way, we have to fix that." The pointed acknowledgement of the rigors many voters faced that night birthed new hopes in the hearts of voter reform, that the president would take on the matter, and bring long-needed correctives to the overall voter experience. And this week, ahead of Obama's State Of The Union address, the voter reform set kept those hopes aloft as the rumors flew that their concerns were going to get a mention.
There certainly was a goodly dose of pageantry surrounding the issue when Obama came to Capitol Hill to address both houses of Congress and the nation at large. One of the evening's honored guests was Desiline Victor, a 102-year-old Florida woman whose struggles to vote in Miami were near legendary. That night, Obama honored her commitment to voting thusly:
"When she arrived at her polling place, she was told the wait to vote might be six hours," the president said. "And as time ticked by, her concern was not with her tired body or aching feet, but whether folks like her would get to have their say. Hour after hour, a throng of people stayed in line in support of her. Because Desiline is 102 years old. And they erupted in cheers when she finally put on a sticker that read, 'I Voted.'"
As far as putting a human face on the problems many Americans faced on Election Day, you could do a lot worse than Desiline Victor. For my part, I'll say that any American who was born at the beginning of the 20th century, who went on to live through the shudder-wince-flop that was American political culture from the 1980s to the late-aughts, and still was of the mind that their vote could make a difference in 2012 has a reservoir of optimism that I -- in my basic belief that the current trajectory of institutional decline will bring such daily dollops of fresh hell and idiocracy by the 2030s that I'll be looking to cast my vote for the "Do Not Resuscitate" Party -- cannot even begin to fathom.
Naturally, Victor briefly became the object of mockery for a gaggle of Fox News personalities, who couldn't fathom why any of the hurdles Victor faced should be considered an undue imposition. But as Dave Weigel points out, Victor's experience sat squarely in the center of two of the larger problems on Election Night: "1) voting lines were asymmetrically longer in black and Hispanic precincts than in white precincts, 2) at least 200,000 Floridians gave up on voting last year because the lines were too long."
Of course, one important thing to mention is that the impediments Desiline Victor faced this past year were much the same as the ones that existed when she was a slightly spryer 98-year-old. In 2008, the lines to vote were long and the waits were, for many, epic.
Back when Victor was a youthful 94 years old, the 2004 election included the legendary 10-hour waits for the students in Kenyon College in Ohio. And they were hardly an outlier. As Adam Cohen reported in the New York Times, "there were complaints of long lines in other states, including Colorado, Michigan and Florida, where elderly voters endured waits in blistering heat." And as he related, elsewhere in Ohio, the spread of rumors about a GOP threat to suppress the vote ended up revealing a much more mundane problem:
I was in Ohio on Election Day 2004. The night before the voting, rumors spread that there would be a major effort by Republican operatives to challenge the registrations of voters in majority-black precincts. Those large-scale challenges did not materialize. But tens of thousands of votes were suppressed by something so mundane that no one thought to focus on it: long lines.
In Columbus, as many as 15,000 people left the polls without voting, many because of long lines. At a post-election hearing, a Youngstown pastor estimated that 8,000 black voters there did not cast ballots because of a machine shortage.
And when Victor was 90, her home state of Florida was the host state in the greatest election kerfuffle of all time -- the Florida recount, and all its hanging chads, butterfly ballots, Brooks Brothers riots, and legal entanglements. And while most still bitterly recall that election for its rancor-causing result, again, the larger problem was more mundane -- the lack of uniform voting standards and the systemic vulnerabilities that arise as a result.
All of which is just to say that the need to reform this system, and lessen the burden on those who participate in it, has been a pressing matter for a long while now. And that's where Obama's suggested corrective -- the empaneling of special presidential commission on election reform -- strikes me as a little strange in that it really fails to acknowledge that the problems that Desiline Victor faced in 2012 have been enduring ones. They aren't new. They didn't suddenly just appear out of nowhere. So I wonder: was that "we gotta fix that line," from Obama's Election Night speech, just a lighthearted bit of "Oh, I just noticed this!" charm, or did he literally just notice the problem?
I bring this up because in the eyes of many veteran election reformers, the creation of a new commission to commence the studying of the problem just feels like redundant work. If all you want to do is fix the long lines, well, The Brennan Center for Justice, already has a fully fleshed-out blueprint for that. There is also the Pew Elections Performance Index, which "measures state performance based on 17 indicators, which include the length of lines, the accuracy of voting technology, and the percentage of voters who experienced problems registering or casting an absentee ballot," and sets out standards for best practices.
Voter reform vets have been tangling with these issues for some time, and when they game out what's possible in a bipartisan voter reform deal, they already have solid ideas. Some of the typical recommendations include federal grants to states for developing online voter registration and bringing underserved rural districts the same level of professionalism you find in high-tech urban districts, creating a regime in which you have universal voter registration that extends to Election Day, and universal in-person early voting. Many even recommend that we pre-register voters ahead of time, to smooth and streamline the process, and combine the pre-registering of 16-year-olds with civics education that have young voters fully-clued in to the process years in advance of having to cast their first votes.
At any rate, this new commission can just skip all the discussion and get right to implementing these solutions. Heck, as Ryan J. Reilly points out, the president can simply "reactivate the Election Assistance Commission established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002." As Reilly reports:
Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said repairing the commission may restore its purpose of protecting every eligible voter's right to vote.
“There’s a federal agency that’s actually supposed to be providing administrative support to state elections officials, and funding,” Weiser told The Huffington Post. “That agency is currently languishing without any commissioners, any active commissioners at all. So there need to be nominations, they need to be confirmed.”
That commission has not had actual commissioners since 2011.
The actions that Obama seems prepared to take are already getting widely panned. The League Of Women Voters, for example, were out straightaway with a statement expressing disappointment:
Setting up a commission is not a bold step; it is business as usual. The president could have done much better by pointing to real solutions like that in legislation already introduced on Capitol Hill to require early voting, set limits on waiting times, provide for portable voter registration and set up secure online voter registration.
The league's president, Elizabeth MacNamara, went further in her criticisms in an interview with HuffPost Live (which you can view above):
"He is essentially kicking the can down the road by appointing a commission," MacNamara told HuffPost Live. "Every four years we go through this. Every four years we know that there are going to be long lines. So we are disappointed that rather than taking bold action, the president has decided to appoint a commission instead."
She told HuffPost Live's Jacob Soboroff that the league has put forward four priorities it would like to see the president address: 1) making sure voters have permanent and portable registration within their states; 2) establishing secure online voter registration; 3) setting standards for early voting; and 4) ensuring we have equitable distribution of polling places.
If there's a common thread to the criticisms of veteran reformers, it's that their experience teaches them that true reforms come with an examination of the entire process of voting, and the willingness to improve the system at all points on the timeline. That's the danger of using a Desiline Victor as the face of voter reform, actually. To truly achieve the optimal result for voters, would-be reformers actually have to spend less time fretting about what happens on Election Day, and more time examining the entire process of registering, educating, and empowering voters holistically.
"The earlier a child starts learning, the more likely he is to succeed," Obama said on Friday, rolling out his ambitious plans for universal early childhood education. The same principle applies to voter reform, but there, Obama's not nearly as bold.
Frankly, the whole proposed commission feels more like an exercise in personal branding than an initiative intended to produce robust results. Right now, to advance his second-term agenda, Obama has to illuminate the vulpine intransigence of the GOP opposition, and marshal public support for action and compromise against it. At the same time, he's still essentially required to burnish his reputation as a "Washington tone-changer," because the Beltway media -- whose thirst to report (if not enable) stories of division is only matched by desire to parade around like Pecksniffian scolds at the sight of it -- all but requires Obama to keep trying to make nice. (Not that anyone's ever noticed!)
And so, the new commission's major feature is its kumbayah bipartisanship, combining Obama campaign general counsel Bob Bauer and Romney campaign lawyer Ben Ginsburg in a show of hatchet-burying post-partisan resolve. So they will start from scratch, as reformers who've put their wits to the challenge wait to see if they can shepherd something -- anything! -- that matches their well-founded prescriptives to the president's desk.
That is, if the commission can manage that at all. As Politico's Ben White tweeted -- I assure you, sarcastically -- on the night of the State Of The Union, "Nothing stirs Americans like the announcement of a bipartisan commission." If recent misadventures ("Super" Committee, anyone?) in this governing genre are any guide, there's a good chance that somehow, the Bauer-Ginsburg commission will find a way to make voter lines 16 hours long and the voters standing in them will be constantly attacked by marauding mountain lions.
Hyperbolic, I know, but experience teaches that the biggest omission from every commission is the commitment.
Jacob Soboroff contributed reporting.
[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not?]
WASHINGTON -- The mother of slain Chicago teenager Hadiya Pendleton on Friday released a public service advertisement urging members of Congress to support gun-control legislation.
"When my daughter Hadiya performed at the president’s inauguration, it was the happiest day of her life," Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton says in the ad, her voice narrating video clips of President Barack Obama's inauguration and photos of her daughter. "A week later, she was murdered. Gunned down near her school."
Pendleton, whose daughter was an innocent bystander to gang-related violence, says, "Congress is debating how to fix our gun laws [and] they can start with background checks for all gun sales, [so] no parent has to go through this heartbreak."
The advertisement was produced by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an advocacy group funded largely by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a staunch advocate of gun control.
“There are far too many children in this country being gunned down and there are far too many heartbroken parents like Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton who are left wondering why," Bloomberg said in a statement Friday. "For the sake of our children’s safety, Congress must act now to pass common-sense measures -– like background checks for every gun sale -– that will help save lives.”
Since her death in late January, Pendleton has become a national symbol of the thousands of innocent victims of gun violence in the U.S. every year. First lady Michelle Obama, a Chicago native, attended Pendleton's funeral last weekend, and her parents were guests of the first lady at president's State of the Union address Tuesday night.
The president invoked Pendleton's memory Friday at the beginning and end of an unusually emotional speech he delivered in Chicago, telling an audience of schoolchildren, "what happened to Hadiya is not unique. It's not unique to Chicago, and it's not unique to this country. Too many of our children are being taken away from us."
The advertisement marks a new level of public outreach by Pendleton's parents, Cleopatra, and her husband Nathaniel Pendleton, who last week joined more than 120 survivors of those affected by gun violence for an event in Washington sponsored by Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
The Pendletons and fellow gun violence survivors sought to encourage members of Congress to pass gun-control measures being debated in the Senate. The measures include universal background checks for gun purchases, expanded mental health services at the state and local levels, and bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity gun magazines.
Public service advertising is just one part of Bloomberg's broad strategy to encourage lawmakers and the public to support tougher gun-control laws. Campaign finance reports filed Friday revealed that a super PAC financed by the New York mayor has spent twice as much in the Illinois special election to replace former Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D) than all the other candidates combined.
The group, Independence USA PAC, spent $1.3 million through Feb. 13, all of it used to oppose Democrat Debbie Halvorson, a former congresswoman who received an "A" rating while in office from the National Rifle Association.
It's difficult to understand why Jack Lew, the White House Chief of Staff and President Barack Obama's nominee for Treasury Secretary, is having an easier time navigating the nomination process than Chuck Hagel or John Brennan -- or any nominee in recent memory, actually. But this seems to be the case.Yes, Lew faced some questions from the Senate Finance Committee this week on array of economic troubles -- some of which, incidentally, he had a hand in creating "“ but there were few surprises and most expect the two-time director of the Office of Management and Budget...
State of the Union addresses are traditionally laundry lists of policy proposals. U.S. President Barack Obama's this week started that way, but it ended as the most emotional speech before a joint session of Congress in modern memory.The theatrics of the event also introduced a new approach to framing the public debate that could yield unexpected victories for the president in the next year or two.Obama made liberal use of what in Washington are sometimes called "Skutniks."
During his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama touted the country’s progress in reducing carbon pollution emissions but added that recent advances in fuel efficiency and renewable energy have not done enough to curb climate change. "For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change," Obama said. "Now, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods – all are now more frequent ...>> More
In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama warned those who love Medicare that changes to the program are needed, because rising health care costs for seniors are "the biggest driver of our long-term debt." If changes aren’t made, Obama warned, "our retirement programs will crowd out the investments we need for our children, and jeopardize the promise of a secure retirement for future generations." Obama said he was open to changes such as asking wealthier seniors to pay more, and paying hospitals and doctors to be more efficient. But he ...>> More
In his State of the Union address this week, President Barack Obama proposed an increase to the federal minimum wage, from the current $7.25 an hour to $9. And lest anyone hasten to cast that as a partisan proposal, Obama claimed to have support on the idea from an unlikely source: former presidential rival Mitt Romney. "Working folks shouldn't have to wait year after year for the minimum wage to go up, while CEO pay has never been higher. So here's an idea that Gov. Romney and I actually agreed on last year: ...>> More
President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address that the country’s progress toward energy independence can be measured in miles per gallon. "Today, no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy. After years of talking about it, we're finally poised to control our own energy future," he said. "We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years. We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar, with tens ...>> More
WASHINGTON -- John Boehner is pulling back. After two stressful years as Washington's most powerful Republican and a pair of failed, high-profile rounds of budget talks with President Barack Obama – and disappointment over Obama's re-election – the battle-scarred House speaker has adopted a you-first approach to the Democrat in the White House, his allies who control the Senate and anyone else who wants to work with them.
Upcoming across-the-board spending cuts set to slam the economy in two weeks? Boehner says a solution is up to Obama and Senate Democrats.
New ideas to prevent gun violence? Let's see what the Senate can pass, Boehner says, then we'll take a look.
Immigration reform? Boehner says it's best left to bipartisan working groups in both the House and Senate.
And the litany of new initiatives unveiled by Obama in Tuesday's State of the Union address?
"If he's got such good ideas, his party in the Senate could pass it," Boehner told The Associated Press in an interview in his Capitol office. "Then we'd be happy to take a look at it."
Boehner's almost Zen-like approach is a break from the experience of two years ago. Fortified by dozens of tea party freshmen, he and the GOP House stormed the Washington battlefield with abandon, winning some concessions on spending but seeing many initiatives killed by the Senate and overshadowed by the presidential campaign.
Boehner has taken political heat from Republicans for two failed rounds of budget talks with Obama in which he got ahead of the GOP rank and file in offering Obama new tax revenues. He left both sets of talks, accusing the White House of shifting demands and being unwilling to address major spending programs.
"Frankly, every time I've gotten into one of these high-profile negotiations, you know, it's my rear end that got burnt," Boehner says.
Boehner also suffered in some GOP quarters after a subsequent tactical retreat last month when he scheduled a vote on higher tax rates for top earners rather than allow the full menu of Bush-era tax cuts to expire. A surprising number of tea partyers cast protest votes when he was re-elected as House speaker last month. A Superstorm Sandy relief bill for the Northeast drew strikingly little GOP support from lawmakers outside the region.
Now, as the government lurches toward automatic, across-the-board spending cuts known as a "sequester" that are set to drain $85 billion from the Pentagon and domestic programs, Boehner is acting as though it's not his problem.
"Remember, this is the president's idea. He insisted on this," the speaker says. "And until he puts forward a plan to replace the sequester and his Senate Democratic colleagues pass it, we're going to be stuck with it."
Some of Boehner's reticence to tackle the sequester may be rooted in weakness. He notes that the House has acted twice to block the cuts, which the Pentagon warns will gut the military. But those votes came last year and that legislation died when the new Congress convened in January just days after a sequester replacement effort squeaked through on a 215-209 vote.
More of Boehner's most ardently conservative Republicans are embracing the cuts as the deadline nears, and it's not clear he could muster the votes to try to replace them with an all-GOP approach.
Boehner suffers from the perception that he needs to watch his step to avoid provoking his tea party-laced rank and file into rebellion, and that can mean the House sometimes acts only when a crisis is near. But he's not afraid to maneuver the GOP House to places where it has to go in spite of tea party opposition, like the recent tax vote and bipartisan spending bills that passed with Democratic support.
"I've got to tread carefully," Boehner acknowledges. "But there's nobody that has more guts to take on his own party than I do."
Facing four more years of Obama, he isn't rushing in to grab the limelight on signature initiatives like immigration reform and proposals to reduce gun violence. It's time, he says, to let the rank and file roll up their sleeves and learn how to legislate. The test case is immigration reform.
"I want to encourage this bipartisan cooperation that's under way. I think it's really important, not only for this issue but important for other issues that could come up," Boehner says. "It's good to let these members continue to work. If I weigh in on one side or the other, all it does is make it more difficult."