There were 6,350 reported cases of sexual assault in the military last year, according to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey. While that number may sound staggering, it’s just a fraction of the predicted number of sexual assaults that went unreported.
Yesterday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commandant of the Coast Guard released a letter with new instructions for how to deal with sexual assault among troops, outlining the seriousness of the problem. The letter follows a promise from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that the military would change its reporting structure and handling of sexual assault cases.
In the newly-released instructions, titled, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program (SAPR), stress the importance of reducing the number of cases of rape and sexual abuse. They establish five new “Lines of Effort” in dealing with assault: “Prevention, Investigation, Accountability, Advocacy and Assessment,” and establish how members of the military can play a role in each of these lines of effort.
The instructions also offer up a new definition of sexual assault, striking the usual sterile military language of “military sexual trauma,” which puts the onus on the victim, not the perpetrator. The instructions clarify the new definition:
In 2007, Congress amended the UCMJ to address a wide range of sexual assault offenses under a single article, Article 120, which has since been amended again and will take effect on June 28, 2012. These amendments reorganize, revise and simplify the Article into four distinct offenses: Rape, Sexual Assault, Aggravated Sexual Contact and Abusive Sexual Contact. These four distinct offenses, when coupled with Forcible Sodomy (Article 125, UCMJ) and Attempts to commit these offenses (Article 80, UCMJ), constitutes the category of sexual assault crimes within DoD?s SAPR Program.
The American Civil Liberties Union has requested more information through the Freedom of Information Act on the number of incidents that don’t make it into official reports. A judge has ruled that the military must hand over that information by May 15.
?Look at every place where a women is in control,? said Peterson. ?You see nothing but confusion. There?s no good in it at all, none.?
Peterson’s sermon began with comments about Sandra Fluke, doubling down on Rush Limbaugh?s slut remarks. But halfway through his speech, he kicked the hate into another gear:
PETERSON: ?I think that one of the greatest mistakes that America made was to allow women the opportunity to vote. We should have never turned that over to women.?
?It was a big mistake?these women are voting in the wrong people. They?re voting in people who are evil, who agree with them?Men in the good old days understood the nature of the women, they were not afraid to deal with them.?
?Wherever women are taking over, evil reigns.?
Amazingly, just last week, Sean Hannity, who sits on the board of Peterson?s group BOND: Brotherhood Organization for a New Destiny, invited him to sit on his Great American Panel once again to discuss the president?s comments on the one-year anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden.
But the conversation never quite made it that far. Fellow panelist Kirsten Powers, a Fox News columnist and political analyst, abandoned the segment to hit back against Peterson and his anti-women views, over the objections of Hannity who wanted to spend his time attacking President Obama.
For two minutes, Powers and Peterson exchanged barbs while Hannity and the third panelist, Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R), sat quietly on the sidelines. Powers told Hannity that she had no idea Peterson would be a guest on the show alongside her, and invited him to repudiate Peterson?s remarks (he declined).
Peterson has made appearances on Fox News for years, fielding frequent invites from Hannity in particular despite Lee?s history of hateful comments. And it’s not like Hannity had no warning. Peterson has previously said he “thank[s] God for slavery, because had it not, the blacks that are here would have been stuck in Africa.” He also called the victims of Hurricane Katrina “welfare-pampered,” “lazy,” and “immoral.”
And while Powers was rightfully outraged at Fox News? decision to offer Lee a national platform, Hannity was unapologetic, quickly shutting down the spat and pivoting to his usual agenda of attacking the president.
This post originally misidentified Jesse Lee Patterson as a Fox News “contributor.” A spokeswoman for the network informed ThinkProgress: “Peterson is not an FNC contributor nor has he ever been, but rather a guest only.” We apologize for the error.
Yesterday the Silver State North Solar Project on the California border near Primm, Nevada began generating electricity. It is the first-ever solar project sited on public lands to be completed and produce power.
The 50-megawatt project, which was developed by First Solar and owned by Enbridge, will power approximately 9,000 homes. It employed 380 workers at peak construction, just a portion of Nevada?s 17,254 jobs in green goods and services.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar described the significance of the project in a dedication ceremony:
? a landmark for America, a landmark for the solar industry and a landmark for how we use public lands.
The Silver State project is also notable because the company worked with stakeholders to avoid places unfit for industrial energy development. It is close to existing transmission lines and the size of the project?s footprint was reduced in order to minimize impacts on wildlife and the landscape. As the Nevada Wilderness Project wrote on its blog:
In the case of Silver State North, we dubbed this 600-acre project 40 miles southwest of Las Vegas ?smart? because the developer was willing to gather environmental input early on to avoid complications during the formal review process. From where we sat at the review table, that was a good sign.
Currently there are a handful of wind and geothermal project sited on public lands that are operational. But until today, there were no solar energy projects producing power. The Interior Department has permitted 15 other solar energy projects that are in various states of construction, financing and permitting.
The Obama administration has permitted more renewable energy projects on public lands than all other administrations combined. It is also in the process of finalizing a landmark set of guidelines that guide solar energy development into specially-designated zones, a new and improved model for energy development on public lands.
Jessica Goad is Manager of Research and Outreach for the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress.
In the summer of 2004, George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry were locked in battle, seeking votes for the upcoming Presidential election. Another major event was making the headlines that summer as well: Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) was preparing to launch the most . . . → Read More: What is Facebook Really Worth?
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Right-wing media claimed that Warren Buffett "blast[ed]" the Buffett rule and that he "isn't totally in favor" of it, citing a CNBC interview in which Buffett said the rule is a "small improvement" that "doesn't cure all revenue problems." But during that interview, Buffett said that he's "fine" with the rule as introduced by Senate Democrats and that it "encompasses the principles that I believe in."
Buffett On CNBC: "I'm Fine With" The Buffett Rule; "It Encompasses The Principles That I Believe In." From the May 7 edition of CNBC's Squawk Box:
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN (co-host): You know, Warren, to me, one of the most interesting answers that came out of the meeting was about the Buffett rule, and in particular, sounded to me like you were indicating that what the White House has done with the Buffett rule is different than what you would've done. And I think you used the quote that it's been butchered a bit. Could you elaborate on that?
BUFFETT: No, no. No, I said some of the commentary about it has been butchered or - but no, I would not say the rule at all has been butchered. Obviously, if I were writing a bill myself, there would be - there'd be a little difference. For one thing, there would probably be a different break point - maybe at $10 million or something of the sort. But, it's interesting - you mention the term "White House" because it's Senator Whitehouse who introduced the bill - Senator Whitehouse of Rhode Island. And I wrote him a letter after he introduced the bill and said I'm fine with it. I mean, everybody would do something a little bit differently, but it encompasses the principles that I believe in.
Buffett then responded to co-host Becky Quick's comment that "some of the criticism [of the Buffett rule] that's come out, though, has been that it's really a Band-Aid on a really bad tax system":
BUFFETT: Oh, it doesn't -- it is a small improvement in a very bad tax system. It doesn't cure all, it doesn't cure all revenue problems remotely. In my original article, I said, you know, we've got major problems on the expenditure side. And, no -- but it -- no, all it does is it says that when you've got 131 of the 400 largest incomes in the country that are averaging 270 million, you have a hundred -- a third of them paying at rates less than 15 percent, counting payroll taxes. That is something that should be corrected. [CNBC, Squawk Box, 5/7/12, relevant portion begins around 3:30]
Big Government: "Buffett Rips The Buffett Rule." A May 7 Big Government post headlined, "Buffett Rips The Buffett Rule," highlighted a portion of Buffett's comments on CNBC and claimed that Buffett "came out today and criticized" the Buffett rule. From Big Government:
Warren Buffett came out today and criticized the Obama Administration's new "Buffett Rule" which would apply a minimum tax rate of 30 percent on individuals making more than a million dollars a year. Buffett thinks more should be done, and said that the Rule was:
a small improvement in a very bad tax system. It doesn't cure all, it doesn't cure all revenue problems remotely. In my original article I said we've got major problems on the expenditure side. All it does is say that when you've got 131 of the 400 largest incomes in the country that are averaging 170 million, you have a third paying taxes at less than 15% counting payroll taxes; that is something that should be corrected.
It would be nice to see GDP galloping at 4 or 5 %. But we've had a complete resuscitation of the banking system, in all cases but residential construction we've had the economy come back in a very significant way, and month by month it gets better. [Big Government, 5/7/12]
Fox Nation: "Buffett Rips The Buffett Rule." On May 7, Fox Nation linked to the Big Government post with the headline: "Buffett Rips The Buffett Rule":
[Fox Nation, 5/7/12]
Fox's Carlson: "Chances Are The President Never Expected [Buffett] To Blast The So-Called Buffett Rule." During the May 8 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson said: "Chances are the president never expected this guy to blast the so-called Buffett rule. Warren Buffett himself, the billionaire, now saying it won't do much to help our ailing economy." She later stated, "It's a little problematic when the guy you name it after isn't totally in favor of it." From Fox & Friends:
CARLSON: Chances are the president never expected this guy to blast the so-called Buffett rule. Warren Buffett himself, the billionaire, now saying it won't do much to help our ailing economy. Remember, President Obama named his tax-hike proposal after Buffett, who supports increased tax revenues on America's top earners. But during a recent Buffett announcement, he criticized the president's proposal as a small improvement to a very bad tax system that couldn't even remotely cure our revenue problems. And those are your headlines. It's a little problematic when the guy you name it after maybe isn't totally in favor of it.
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Oops.
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): They could've checked with him.
During the segment, on-screen text read, "Buffett vs. Buffett; Billionaire blasts rule that bears his name":
[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/8/12]
In September 2011, Right-Wing Media Twisted Buffett's Comments To Claim He Repudiated The Buffett Rule. After a September 2011 CNBC interview, right-wing media falsely claimed that Buffett would not "endorse" the Buffett rule, and that he "repudiates" it. [Media Matters, 9/30/11]
The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power
by Robert A. Caro, Knopf, 736 pages, $35.00
?Hey, hey, LBJ! How many kids did you kill today?? became a standard refrain at rallies against ?Lyndon Johnson?s war? in Vietnam. The term ?credibility gap,? if not the dissembling that led to it, originated with Johnson?s presidency. The Democratic Party seemed bound for permanent majority status after a landslide victory in 1964, but the polarization that stained Johnson?s last year in office spilled over into riots at its 1968 convention. Yet early in his sudden presidency, as he comforted a grieving nation and orchestrated the passage of historic measures to extend civil rights and battle poverty, Johnson appeared a good bet to have his likeness carved on Mount Rushmore.
How would the fourth volume of Robert Caro?s monumental yet famously unforgiving biography of the 36th president account for Johnson?s high phase of triumph and inspiration? The charged anticipation of The Passage of Power has much to do with the figure striding from the West Texas Hill Country to Washington, D.C., single-minded in recasting the landscape of American politics in the mid-20th century. This figure, of course, is Caro, the former investigative reporter who has been on Johnson?s trail for more than 35 years, conducting interviews in the thousands, burrowing into archives at the presidential library in Austin, even moving for a time to rural West Texas, where young Lyndon?haunted in Caro?s telling by the humiliating failure of his straight-arrow father?first dreamed of becoming president.
Caro?s first two volumes present an unsettling epic, astonishingly detailed and dramatic. He uncovered a wealth of evidence to sustain his depiction of Johnson as infinitely manipulative, obsequious toward prospective patrons, and abusive to almost everyone else. But at times Caro allowed his muckraking fervor to force a complex personality into a preset mold. He followed a familiar line in narrowly emphasizing Johnson?s genius at the unscrupulous game of politics, while tending to downplay and dismiss the evidence in his own books that Johnson was also a man of empathy, vision, charisma, intellect?a genius, plain and simple, who happened to go into politics.
Johnson won election to the House of Representatives in 1937, a man with ?a seemingly bottomless capacity for deceit? who in Caro?s view had an unproductive tenure and did not appear to stand for much of anything?this even though Caro described with his signature intensity of detail Johnson?s operational brilliance as Texas director of the National Youth Administration and later as a champion of electricity for his poor home district. Elected to the Senate in 1948, and rising to majority leader in 1955, Johnson accomplished much more. Finding levers other than the traditional rule of seniority by which to run things, he made the Democrats a more cohesive force and the Senate as a whole a far more effective institution.
At last, late in Master of the Senate, the third volume, Caro found a deed worth admiring at length: Johnson?s key role in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Though a weak bill, it was a precedent to build on and proof that the Southern segregationist bloc was not invulnerable; Johnson did not just find common ground where none had seemed to exist between Northern civil-rights advocates and Southern opponents?he created it. Even so, readers finished the book with Caro?s stern reminders echoing from earlier volumes that Johnson had pursued power ?unencumbered by philosophy or ideology,? and so fiercely that ?even in the generous terms of political morality, it amounted to amorality.?
The Passage of Power begins as a tale of purgatory, marked by Johnson?s descent into near irrelevance during the five years ?from late 1958, when [he] began campaigning for the presidency, to November 22, 1963?before that flight from Dallas to Washington.? Normally surefooted, Johnson had committed to the 1960 campaign too late and too timidly to halt the Kennedy juggernaut. Despite helping carry the South as Kennedy?s running mate?stumping with self-conscious swagger, tossing his Stetson into the crowds?once elected, Johnson endured a thousand days of frustration as Camelot?s fool, dubbed ?Rufus Cornpone? by Kennedy courtiers.
On the cusp of the vice presidency, Johnson tried to extend the office?s power, bidding to preside over the Senate Democratic caucus as though he were still the majority leader, then submitting an executive order for Kennedy?s signature to expand his staff and his supervision of national-security matters. Failing each time, he settled in for a gloomy tenure. Worse still, his corrupt business dealings and influence peddling were starting to become public knowledge. Whatever his potential legal troubles, Johnson feared the issue would provide a pretext for the Kennedys to drop him from the 1964 ticket without alienating the South.
Yet Caro?s book turns suddenly, in the wrenching moment of Kennedy?s assassination, into a tale of redemption. In its immediate wake, the trauma was compounded by rumors of involvement by the Soviet Union and Cuba, nations that only a year earlier had confronted Kennedy with the threat of nuclear ruin. Johnson, his withered ego restored by sudden command, quieted public fears by persuading a reluctant Chief Justice Earl Warren, whom he regarded as ?the personification of justice and fairness,? to chair an investigating committee. The Warren Commission may not have stopped conspiracy theories from festering in the long term, but it contained what could have become national hysteria.
The new president also pledged to bring Kennedy?s civil-rights and tax-cut bills to fruition. ?Everything I had ever learned in the history books taught me that martyrs have to die for causes,? Johnson confided to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. ?But [Kennedy?s] ?cause? was not really clear. That was my job. I had to take the dead man?s program and turn it into a martyr?s cause.?
Johnson did more than stay on course; he dredged Kennedy?s foundering legislative ship. The civil-rights bill had become mired in congressional subcommittees. Johnson worked behind the scenes on a petition to remove it from the control of Howard Smith, the 81-year-old Virginia Democrat who chaired the House Rules Committee and was planning to bottle the bill indefinitely. Once enough signatures from liberal Democrats and Northern Republicans were secured to threaten humiliation, Smith agreed to bring the bill to the floor. Here was the special Johnson combination of savvy and dynamism that Kennedy may not have even considered deploying. A few months later, the bill seemed unlikely to survive a filibuster led by Senator Richard Russell of Georgia, Johnson?s mentor and patron from his early days in the Senate, known as the South?s greatest general since Robert E. Lee. Johnson?s expertise in arcane Senate rules and maneuvers proved as deft as his teacher?s, helping to secure a four-vote margin for cloture after 57 days.
Then there were the new president?s public speeches, beginning on November 27. There could be no more fitting memorial to Kennedy, Johnson said, than to enact his civil-rights bill. Johnson had never been known for eloquence in large gatherings, but here he was, moving the nation. Offstage, he was mobilizing and prodding labor and civil-rights groups, discreetly coordinating a giant national lobbying effort for racial justice.
Caro mostly focuses on the seven weeks of transition. The civil-rights bill did not become law until July 1964. Johnson declared the War on Poverty in January but the troops did not land at Normandy, so to speak, until August, with the passage of the Economic Opportunity Act?past the main chronological focus of this book. The twilight struggle in Vietnam, more than a year before Johnson committed American combat units, is treated in passing here, with Caro portending a resurgence of Johnson?s ?secrecy and deceit.?
Each of the first three volumes in Caro?s The Years of Lyndon Johnson features a mentor or rival whose sense of honor casts in sharp relief Johnson?s alleged political amorality: Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn in The Path to Power (?There are no degrees in honorableness,? Rayburn summed up his creed; ?you are or you aren?t?), the popular former governor of Texas, Coke Stevenson, in Means of Ascent, lionized by Caro (despite his right-wing racist bent) as ?a true cowboy? whose ?extreme idealism? contrasted with Johnson?s ballot-stuffing to steal a U.S. Senate seat in 1948; and Richard Russell in Master of the Senate, lonely and sadly tethered to the South?s lost cause of Jim Crow but an exemplar of ?integrity and independence? for whom ?the personal paled before the patriotic.?
The closest to such a foil in The Passage of Power is President Kennedy?s brother and the U.S. attorney general, Robert, a man of vulnerable compassion and glowering hatred of labor racketeers, the Mafia, communists, and Lyndon Johnson (who reciprocated in full). In 1960, to mollify liberals angrily complaining about Johnson?s presence on the Democratic ticket, Robert Kennedy had pressed Johnson to decline the vice-presidential nomination. Caro believes Kennedy did this on his own initiative, thinking it was what his brother wanted. Johnson never forgave him. ?Bobby,? in turn, recoiled from Johnson?s false bonhomie and his capacity for deceit. Their visceral loathing led author Jeff Shesol, chronicling the ?feud that defined a decade,? to call his account Mutual Contempt. Caro refines Shesol?s argument, highlighting their off-the-record awe and grudging mutual respect. Bobby confided to Richard Goodwin, a speechwriter for both men, that Johnson ?is the most formidable human being I?ve ever met,? and Goodwin found Johnson filled with ?more than hatred? for Bobby. ?It was fear.? Still, when Johnson was expertly managing the transition, crafting bills of unexampled scope and moving them through Congress, Bobby muted his resentments, seeing in the president?s program his brother?s legacy.
Caro, as ever, leavens his narrative with vivid mini-biographies of the personalities that Johnson encounters (congressmen, it turns out, are not just ciphers) and gives even the history and layout of the White House Oval Office an absorbing tour. The book would have benefited from tighter editing where he coils languorously around a point: Johnson showed ?a particular talent, a talent for winning the passage of legislation ? that was more than talent, that was a gift, and a very rare one.?
More of a problem is the formatting of notes, which resists readers? efforts to check the book?s documentation. Unnumbered endnotes, often with multiple sources, follow boldface words from the text?presumably indicating key words, but thoughtful readers may differ on which words in an extended quotation or vignette are key. Further, when you add Caro?s superhuman effort to chase down living witnesses to his diligent work in the archives, you suspect somewhere there must be a cost. In examining the missile crisis, Caro relies a good deal on Robert Kennedy?s posthumously published memoir, Thirteen Days. For a long time, this account seemed the last word on the episode. But over the years, scholars have realized that the Bible may not have been literally true. The memoir had an editor; the ultimate insider did not necessarily disclose all the inside information. Caro does not seem versed in all of these shadings. There are limits to what even the most tenacious researcher can do.
Caro presents a magisterial case for Johnson?s crisis management in making the aftermath of Kennedy?s death ?not only a dramatic and sorrowful but a pivotal moment in the history of the United States.? Scholars have obscured this achievement, he contends (though Robert Dallek and others have been similarly laudatory), by viewing it mainly as a testament to the resiliency of the nation?s political system.
The notion of Caro defending Lyndon Johnson against his critics may surprise readers of his previous volumes. The protagonist in The Passage of Power is hardly without flaws?besides shady business dealings, Caro homes in on Johnson?s extortion of support from Texas newspaper editors?but they pale beside Caro?s earlier Shermanesque scorching of Johnson?s scramble for power. To free Johnson from the old view without recanting his past judgments, Caro argues here that ?power reveals.? Once Johnson had attained the presidency, he could act on beliefs long suppressed in the service of his ambition. The gambit is ingenious. But it overlooks the truth that maintaining power is as hard as winning it and that incumbents and insurgents alike routinely tack with political pressures. The president who risked shattering consensus by refusing substantive compromise on black rights was made of sterner convictions.
The arc of Caro?s biography is building toward a Greek tragedy: A man of outsize talents restrains his arrogance for a time and flourishes, but ultimately will be brought low by flaws in his character. Yet it will be no simple matter for Caro to show that Johnson?s inner demons were fundamental causes of the growing turmoil at home and abroad. In his memoir The Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson, historian Eric F. Goldman writes that Johnson divided politicians into the ?lucky? and ?unlucky?: ?Take the Vietnam War itself, LBJ would remark. Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy had skidded by it and it was dumped on him at a stage where drastic action had to be taken.? However self-serving and self-pitying, Johnson?s point has yet to be refuted. Could any president have calmed the racial hatred and violence, the youth revolt, the rising?and souring?expectations of government, and the demands to contain communism in every land and at any cost?
Whatever his final verdict, Caro?s view of power as liberating for the president has also freed Caro from the zealous crusading to strike down Johnson that marred the first two volumes. He acknowledges a key to Johnson?s early triumphs in office: In meeting a supreme test of leadership and national purpose, Johnson reined in his excesses; he ?had, in a way, conquered himself.? This ?heroic? effort marked his ?finest moment,? transcending the base rhythms that had governed ?all of his previous life.? ?If he had held in check these forces within him ? he wasn?t going to be able to do it for very long. But he had done it long enough.?
This comment by Mitt Romney flew under the radar during his town hall yesterday in Euclid, Ohio, but it's substantively important:
Now, I'm not going to cut a trillion dollars in the first year. And I heard a question. Why not? And the answer is: taking a trillion dollars out of a $15 trillion economy would cause our economy to shrink and would put a lot of people out of work.As shocking as it is to hear Mitt Romney make the case against austerity, this is not entirely new from him. During the primary he said cutting federal spending would "slow down the economy." And as any decent economist (including Nobel prize winning ones) can tell you, Romney is of course right: Cutting spending when the economy is vulnerable is a recipe for economic trouble.
But here's my question: If Romney says spending cuts hurt the economy, why are spending cuts at the heart of his fiscal policy?
Romney might not be proposing a trillion dollar cut in year one, but he's endorsed Cut, Cap and Balance which would have established spending caps that would have cut spending by $637 billion had they been in effect for FY2011. Because the caps would have been phased in over five years, the FY2011 cut would have been "just" $111 billion, but the long-term policy would have led to massive spending cuts?the exact sorts of spending cuts that Romney says would hurt the economy.
Actually, given his spending proposals, maybe the real question is ask is this: Why does Mitt Romney want to destroy jobs?
Jon Rauch has an imaginary dialogued with the late Ted Kennedy in which he argues that a Supreme Court decision striking down the Affordable Care Act (a k a the PPACA) might actually be good for liberals. "If the Supreme Court guts another important law and conservatives cheer even louder," Rauch argues, "their credibility as advocates of [judicial] restraint will be shot.? And, in addition, striking down the PPACA would put us on the path to national health insurance. Perhaps, then, striking down the PPACA is something that progressives should secretly wish for?
Racuh's argument is a little bit different than contrarian arguments based on the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, but I don't find them any more convincing. First, Rauch's argument is a variant of the argument that judicial decisions produce a unique amount of backlash, which means an inevitable reference to Roe v. Wade:
You bet. Remember Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that made abortion a constitutional right? At the time, it looked like a liberal win, but it was a poisoned chalice. It set off an anti-judicial, anti-liberal backlash that the right has been riding ever since.
The problem is that none of this is true. The "anti-liberal" backlash was well under way before 1973; the public legitimacy of the courts was not discernibly undermined; Roe itself was popular with the public; and abortion policy is almost certainly more liberal than it would have been without the Supreme Court's intervention. Since I don't believe in the unique backlash effect with respect to Roe, I don't believe it would apply to a decision striking down the PPACA either.
Second, with respect to Rauch's argument that the decision would be beneficial because it would undermine conservative complaints that they believe in "judicial restraint," this is also wishful thinking. If Bush v. Gore didn't do it, nothing will. The idea that conservatives believe in "judicial restraint" has never been true in any non-tautological sense, and indeed over the course of American history, judicial activism has been much more likely to be conservative than liberal. It's not clear that one more example will make a difference in undermining this myth, especially since the PPACA isn't terribly popular.
Finally, I also think Rauch is wrong to think that striking down the PPACA would necessarily lead to a system that is better from a progressive standpoint than the PPACA. As I've argued before, "the much more likely outcome is a less progressive version of the ACA, with the ranks of the uninsured made higher by spiraling insurance costs in the meantime." Striking down the PPACA won't diminish the influence that vested interests have over the many veto points new health care legislation needs to pass.
Rauch's contrarianism is an argument I'd like to think was right, but it isn't. Heightening the contradictions is something that rarely ends well, and I don't think a Supreme Court decision striking down the PPACA would be an exception.
Sen. Mitch McConnell: the face of the filibuster.
Senate Republicans voted unanimously to block the Democratic bill to extend a lowered interest rate on student loans, 52-45, with one voting "present." (Sen. Reid voted no so that he can bring the vote back up at a later date.)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had made a very generous offer to Senate Republicans on extending the low interest rate on student loans: if they agreed to drop their filibuster of the Democratic bill, he'd give them a vote on the Republican plan. Straight up or down votes for the Senate to decide which approach it approved.
"If Republicans would stop filibustering our legislation ? if they want some other way to pay for it, let's take look at it," Reid said. "Let them offer that. The stakes in this debate are too high to let partisanship get in the way."Republicans didn't take him up on that offer, refusing to go on the record on the House bill. They say they support an extension of the 3.4 percent interest rate on federally subsidized student loans. But they don't like the Democrats' plan to close the corporate tax loophole to pay for the extension. (And, yes, it has to be paid for while Republicans still say that tax cuts for the wealthy don't have to be paid for.) In case you missed it, de facto Republican leader in the House, Paul Ryan, has a simple answer to whether he would consider closing this loophole to help students: "Nope."
The most recent polling shows clear support for the Democrats' position of ending this loophole for the wealthy to help students: "Fully half of respondents said they favor Democrats' plans to pay for these student loans, while only 34 percent favored the GOP?s approach."
But, of course, what the majority of Americans want doesn't matter to Republicans. For the umpteenth time, they did what the very wealthy demanded.
In an unexpected development, Benjamin Netanyahu has canceled early elections in Israel, instead forming a unity government with Kadima, the center-right rival recently taken over by Shaul Mofaz. The elections, which would have taken place in September,[...]
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