Before it adjourned for its Memorial Day recess, the House of Representatives passed a scaled down tax extenders bill, that didn’t include extensions of COBRA health insurance subsidies for unemployed workers, or an extension of FMAP funding to help states meet their Medicaid responsibilities. The bill also only extended unemployment benefits through November, instead of December as had been originally planned.
Despite 9.7 percent unemployment, and long-term unemployment at record highs, the bill was cut down because of concerns regarding its effect on the deficit, as only part of it was offset by revenue raisers. A group of Blue Dogs and freshman Democrats, as well as lockstep Republican opposition, helped to produce legislation with significantly less impact.
Today, ThinkProgress posed a couple of questions regarding such deficit hysteria to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who appeared at the America’s Future Now conference to advocate more robust job creation measures from Congress. Trumka said that those more concerned with the deficit than the fact that 15 million Americans are currently out of work have “been reading too much fiction or they have their head in the sand”:
We do not have a short-term deficit crisis, we have a short-term jobs crisis in this country. And anyone that doesn’t believe that has either, I think, been reading too much fiction or they have their head in the sand. Every economist I know says we have a jobs crisis, and yet the people on [Capitol] Hill say we can’t really fix the crisis, we have to worry about deficit reduction.
Later on, when ThinkProgress asked why Washington is so focused on deficits when the country is much more concerned with unemployment, Trumka blamed “timid leadership. Timid leadership gets any kind of pushback, they say we’ll stop. What they need to do is stand up and explain that if you really want to cure deficits, put people back to work.”
It’s true that short-term concern over the deficit and favoring deficit reduction over job creation is counterproductive. As CAP’s Michael Ettlinger and Michael Linden wrote, in the face of the Great Recession, short-term deficits “are both inevitable and highly appropriate at a time when the economy is weak.”
It should also be noted that, according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll, Americans do not prioritize deficit reduction over job creation. Only 5 percent of respondents to the poll cited it as their top concern, while 35 percent said job creation is the most important policy priority of theirs.
Cross-posted on The Wonk Room.
For those of you who may be concerned that the Senators assigned to the conference committee to sort out the House and Senate financial reform bills may not be up to snuff, we have a McClatchy profile of Senator Judd Gregg (R. N.H.), one of the[...]
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With nothing else to hang their political hats on, the House GOP is still on their repeal kick [sub req].
In continuing their campaign against the new health care law, 28 Republican Representatives, including top GOP House leadership, Tuesday signed on to an amicus brief filed in support of Virginia’s constitutional challenge to the law....
Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio), Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) and Conference Vice Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) all signed on to the brief contending that the law’s individual mandate to buy health insurance is unconstitutional.
About that law suit.... Ian Millihiser at Think Progress evaluates it, and to say that it might be somewhat wanting is a bit of an understatement.
Normally, lawyers presenting arguments to a court focus on facts, legal sources, and legal precedent. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli prefers a different tactic. In an often-incoherent brief attacking the Affordable Care Act, Cuccinelli argues that a 236 year-old colonial boycott of British products somehow renders the new health care law unconstitutional:
[A]ll of the taxes except those on tea were repealed leading to the Boston Tea Party, the Intolerable Acts, and the First Continental Congress. Throughout the period from the Stamp Act forward, Americans responded with non-importation and non-consumption agreements. … In light of this experience, the founding generation would have regarded as preposterous any suggestion that Great Britain could have solved its colonial problems by commanding Americans to purchase tea under the generally conceded power of parliament to regulate commerce.
This argument is hardly a model of clarity, but Cuccinelli appears to be arguing that, because American colonists protested British taxes by boycotting British products, it somehow follows that the Founders would not allow Congress to pass a law which would prevent modern-day Americans from boycotting health insurance. Cuccinelli, however, needs a history lesson. The Founders did not boycott British products because believed in boycotts for their own sake; they did so because they were protesting “taxation without representation.
Commerce clause, taxation without representation, whatever. The colonists were pissed. About tea, or something. The teabaggers are pissed. Not about tea, but they want to be like the colonists, so the Boston Tea Party must be somehow applicable to the new health insurance law. Hell, it works for Boehner and Cantor, et al.
I don't what's scarier: that Cuccinelli is the chief legal officer for Virginia or that the Republican House leadership are actually in a position to make federal law.
Jim Nickles, Executive Director for AFSCME Council 38 in Arkansas, just had a brief conference call with bloggers for an update on how run-off day is going. Despite Lincoln's ongoing vilification of the labor effort against her as "out of state" special interests, Nickels talked about just how home-grown the effort has been. Arkansas laborers have made as many as 30,000 phone calls, have dropped at least 60,000 pieces of lit--door-to-door and mail.
Local people have staffed the phonebanks for Halter, have gone door-to-door. Nickels says it's the first time for most of these Arkansans to participate in this kind of effort, and it's been a learning experience for them--one that they'd take into the general election for Halter, if he triumphs in today's run-off.
But the message for right now is GOTV. They're going to be making calls up until 7:28 tonight, because anyone still in line at 7:30 will get to vote. Of real concern is Garland County, where there are long lines of folks waiting in the Arkansas heat to vote. Miller County is another problem county, one that went strong for Halter in the primary, and has just half the polling places open as for the primary. So motivating the folks in those counties to stay committed to voting for Halter, even if it means standing in line, is one of the keys today.
If you have any time available this afternoon, and can lend a hand in GOTV, please do so.
Right-wing media figures have responded to President Obama's remarks about finding out "whose ass to kick" in regard to the Gulf oil spill by saying that Obama has gone "street" and gone "a little gangsta" and by comparing him to fictional characters Steve Urkel and Carlton Banks.
Lauer:"I never thought I'd say this to a president." In a June 7 interview that aired onthe June 8 edition of NBC's Today, Lauer 6/8/10]
Davis: Obama's comment is "like Urkel channelingJay-Z." Laterin the Limbaugh show, Daviscomplained that Obama's comments were "galvanizingly off-putting" because theywere "so contrived and so orchestrated." He added that the comments were "like 6/8/10]
Crowley: Obama "is CarltonBanks, not Suge Knight." In a blog post headlined "Gulf Oil Leak: Carlton Banks to the Rescue!"Fox News political analyst and radio host Monica Crowley likened Obama to fictional character CarltonBanks, writing that "Obama trying toshow he's an angry avenger when he's essentially an automaton isn't going towork either. He is Carlton Banks, not Suge Knight. He's a navel-gazing,community organizing law professor, not a put-a-cap-in-your-ass gangbanger."[BigGovernment.com, 6/8/10]
The most dramatic Birther stand of the Obama era is set to begin in earnest Friday when the military kicks off a preliminary hearing in the court martial of Birther Army Doctor Terrence Lakin. The process is likely to last several months and may well end with Lt. Col Lakin dismissed from the Army or even in jail, two military lawyers tell TPMmuckraker,
Lakin refused orders to deploy to Afghanistan earlier this year. He believes -- and said as much in a widely viewed YouTube video in March -- that Obama is not legitimately president, and that therefore all military orders are invalid. He faces charges of missing movement and not obeying orders.
In advance of Friday's preliminary hearing at Walter Reed Medical Center, where Lakin is based, here's a look at how the process will unfold, and how it differs from the civilian system.
At Friday's Article 32 hearing, Lakin and his attorneys will be present as will an attorney for the government and an official known as the investigating officer. Evidence will be laid out and witnesses examined and cross-examined.
The government does not have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but merely show that "reasonable grounds" exist to believe a crime has been committed and that the accused is the person who committed it, Michelle Lindo McCluer, executive director of the National Institute of Military Justice at the American University Washington College of Law, tells TPMmuckraker.
There is no judge present at an Article 32 hearing. Rather, the investigating officer gets a look at the evidence in the case in order to prepare a report with recommendations on how to proceed for a commander of Lakin's known as the "convening authority." The commander has the power to convene a court martial.
The investigating officer in Lakin's case is Lt. Col. Daniel Driscoll, who recently shot down the defense's plans to adjudicate the question of President Obama's eligibility to be president at the hearing Friday.
Driscoll will make a recommendation to the convening authority in a report that includes summaries of the evidence and testimony at the hearing. The convening authority -- it's not clear who it is at this point -- gets the report and then has sole discretion to decide how to proceed, according to Lindo McCluer.
"Based on what I've seen so far, it is almost certain that the convening authority will find there is probable cause to go forward on the charges," says Phil Cave, a retired Navy JAG now in private practice in Alexandria, VA. Cave says that because Lakin is an officer, the case will likely go to a general court martial -- the most serious type of court martial.
If Lakin's case goes to a general court martial, the proceedings will look a lot like a trial in federal district court; the rules of practice, procedure, and evidence are largely the same, says Cave. One key difference is that the jury is known as a panel, and is made up of at least 5 officers who outrank Lakin. A verdict is established by a two-thirds vote. The panel also decides on sentencing, and there are no guidelines as there are in the civilian system.
Lakin will have at least two attorneys at the hearing on Friday: one is Paul Rolf Jensen, a civilian lawyer who has been involved in myriad right-wing causes; the other, who was appointed by the military, is Maj. Matthew Kemkes.
How long will all this take? According to Cave and Lindo McCluer, the investigating officer typically has about a week to prepare his report for the convening authority. The convening authority could then take two to four weeks to decide on whether the case will go to a court martial. Because of other cases in front of the line, it could then be a few months before the court martial itself gets underway.
"No way this will go beyond Christmas," says Cave.
Beach Dems Breakfast Friday, June 11th, 8am Akels Restaurant Myrtle Beach Speaker Mary Ellen Greene Candidate for School Board, District 2 $7.00 Breakfast Buffet no reservations required for more information, contact Sally P. Howard 843-449-1936 email@example.com
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Let's hear some predictions on what happens tonight.Halter v. Lincoln? Does Angle really take this thing in Nevada and make Harry Reid's decade? Does California become a TechCEOcracy? Let's discuss. Harry Reid - Nevada - California - United States -[...]
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I did not know anything about this until last night. But today's election in California could end up changing the state's congressional politics in a big way. On the ballot is a referendum which would scrap partisan primaries in the state and replace[...]
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I'm still not entirely convinced this presidentially-appointed BP oil spill commission won't be a whitewash designed to enable future drilling in any case. But subpoena power sure would help.[...]
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