– The White House threatened to veto a military budget proposed by the Republican House that exceeds its request by $8 billion and violates the agreement Republicans made with the administration last year to reduce government spending and debt.
– The House Appropriations subcommittee that handles military procurement budgeted $5.3 billion more for ships, vehicles and weapons than the Pentagon asked for, thereby ordering the military to keep open programs it intended to close down.
– Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered the Air Force to ground F-22 Raptor flights and accelerate the installation of backup oxygen generators in response to pilot complaints of wooziness and fainting spells in the cockpit.
– Pakistan has reportedly agreed to re-open supply lines for NATO forces in Afghanistan but not without a new fee: $1,500 to $1,800 for each truck carrying supplies, a tab that officials familiar with negotiations estimated would run nearly $1 million a day.
– French President Francois Hollande, sworn in just yesterday, backtracked on a campaign promise to pull all French troops out of Afghanistan by the end of this year.
– Through more robust contacts with and evaluations of Syrian rebels, the U.S. provides aid to Gulf Arab sheikdoms arming and supplying the fighters against the embattled Syrian regime.
– Retired General James Cartwright, the former top military officer in charge of the U.S.’s nuclear weapons, proposed in a report that the U.S. reduce its stockpile of nuclear weapons because “the current arsenal carries the baggage of the cold war” that is “beyond our needs” and doesn’t match today’s threats.
Vice President Joe Biden will be touting “Obama economics” during his campaign swing through Ohio over the next two days, emphasizing a populist economic message to draw sharp policy contrasts between the president and Mitt Romney.
A key reason for Deb Fischer’s upset win in yesterday’s Nebraska GOP Senate primary: a huge infusion of Super PAC cash. Conservative outside groups spent more than $2 million on advertising, nearly $1 million of which was for ads attacking presumed front-runner Jon Bruning.
Crossroads GPS will unveil an $8 million TV ad campaign criticizing President Obama on the economy “by using his own words against him.” The ad “shows clips of Obama making pledges that critics say he hasn’t kept on issues like taxes, health care and federal deficits.”
Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) believes Democrats have ?a fighting chance? of taking back the House if they emphasize the party?s health reform law. As Clyburn put it, Democrats ?can?t run from [healthcare reform]. You have to go out and say, ?This is what we did and this is why we did it.? And I think that you win like that.?
A new survey from Mason-Dixon shows that a large majority of Americans believe that federal government should respect medical marijuana laws enacted by states. The Huffington Post reports, “Nearly three-quarters of Americans and more than two-thirds of Republicans believe” that state laws should remain unfettered by federal government.
Catholic bishops are threatening to sue over the contraception mandate. Though the Obama administration came to a compromise on requiring religious employers to provide birth control as part of their health plans, the bishops say they are still unhappy with insurers being forced to provide copay-free contraceptives, and will take legal action if Congress does not rectify the situation.
On average, U.S. law enforcement has 55 interactions with suspected terrorists a day. Officials told Reuters today that very few of those interactions lead to arrest, but that they keep an eye on the huge number of people who are on U.S. watch lists.
JP Morgan’s $2 billion derivatives trading debacle has forced House Republicans to, at least temporarily, delay their efforts to repeal the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee yesterday pushed back votes on a series of bills that would weaken the derivatives portion of Dodd-Frank.
Those bills had already been cleared by the House Financial Services Committee, which has been making a concerted effort to chip away at Dodd-Frank. And overall, according to a report from Public Citizen, nine bills are pending in Congress that would weaken Dodd-Frank’s title on derivatives:
Since the passage of Dodd-Frank, industry has engaged in a concerted effort to weaken it. At least nine bills are pending in Congress that would water down its derivatives reforms. Three additional bills would saddle federal agencies with additional burdens to fulfill requirements to issue concerning financial services, including those involving derivatives.
Among other things, these bills would eliminate a requirement for federally insured banks to spin off their derivatives operations; reduce disclosure requirements for certain derivatives trades; provide a broad exemption from Dodd-Frank?s provisions for swaps involving foreign affiliates of U.S. companies; and exempt purportedly small players, even those with up to $200 billion in the notional value of their derivatives exposure.
These proposals threaten to create large oversight-free zones that could allow risky behaviors to flourish.
All but one of those nine bills is sponsored by a Republican, with Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) the lone Democrat.
In addition to attempting to gut derivatives regulation, House Republicans have also refused to give the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which is charged with enforcing those regulations, the funds needed to do its job. As CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton wrote this week, the CFTC “is shy over $100 million of what is needed and what was requested in the President’s budget. And, the CFTC is a front-line regulator charged with overseeing the exact type of trading that caused the economic collapse and dealt the body blow to JPM.”
by Kate Gordon
A simmering trade dispute between the U.S. and China will likely come to a head tomorrow when the U.S. Department of Commerce issues its determination on alleged trade violations by Chinese solar manufacturers. Surprisingly, the U.S. solar industry is not in agreement on the need to hold the Chinese accountable. It should be.
On one side are those who claim China has been illegally subsidizing and dumping its solar products in the U.S. market, forcing many American manufacturers into bankruptcy. These companies, mostly manufacturers of solar panels and related products, claim Chinese solar companies have benefited from government largesse in the form of free land and facilities, electricity and water, and low- or no-cost loans that keep prices for Chinese-made solar products artificially low. In addition, they claim these Chinese companies are illegally ?dumping? their cheap solar panels into the American market, making it nearly impossible for U.S. manufacturers to compete.
On the other side are those, mostly solar installers, who have benefited from the ability to buy low-cost solar panels, which they claim has allowed them to do solar installations at a lower cost and therefore expand the use of solar power in America. This group of U.S. companies argues that U.S. manufacturers can?t compete with the Chinese when it comes to solar panel production, because the Chinese are simply more efficient and can do production at a lower cost. They also worry that pursuing a trade case will incite a ?trade war? with China, which will erode their profit margins, slow U.S. industry growth across the value chain, and make it even harder for solar energy to compete with traditional fossil fuels.
Both sides have compelling arguments. So who?s right?
One way to answer that question is to say that we?ll find out who?s right when the Department of Commerce issues its findings. Commerce has already found that China is unfairly subsidizing its solar industry, and has imposed tariffs on Chinese solar manufacturers as a result. The upcoming decision, on whether China is also illegally dumping those panels into the U.S. market, may bring larger tariffs if China is found to be in violation of our mutually-agreed-upon, and heavily negotiated, trade agreements. The entire point of the trade enforcement regime is to figure out whether a country is in fact breaking the rules, and if so, to issue sanctions. It?s a system based on the rule of law, something we Americans hold dear, and for good reason.
But would a decision against China undermine America?s emerging solar energy industry? There is no question that solar energy faces an uphill battle in the U.S. The combination of century-old subsidies to fossil fuel companies and the lack of any real national commitment to renewable energy makes it difficult for emerging energy technologies to compete here. But that doesn?t mean that the United States needs cheap Chinese solar panels so badly that we should just roll over and let a foreign government break enforceable international trade rules. If Commerce finds that the Chinese government has acted illegally, then the Chinese government and the industry it is subsidizing should pay a price for that behavior.
Our faith in the rule of law is too important for us to abandon our international trade obligations in favor of cheap imported solar panels. So, too, is our need to support the U.S. manufacturing sector by protecting it from unlawful trade practices. Manufacturing is a crucial piece of the U.S. economy. Our ability to stay innovative and competitive in a time of intense global pressures relies on manufacturing companies, which contribute fully 70 percent of all the private research and development spending in America. And these companies are major job creators: a recent report by SEMI found that manufacturing jobs had the highest job multiplier of any segment of the American economy.
That?s why we should be supporting clean energy manufacturers in their efforts to compete with China, through programs like the Clean Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit program that President Obama recently urged Congress to extend, or through Senator Sherrod Brown’s “Security and Energy in Manufacturing Act,” rather than punishing them for trying to compete on a level playing field. Because that?s the crucial point: every American company should be able to compete on a level playing field in the international marketplace. That?s good for solar manufacturers in the current case, but it?s good for all American companies ? and for our economy as a whole ? in the long run.
Kate Gordon is vice president for energy policy at the Center for American Progress.
The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades released a video on Monday that gathers together all of Mitt Romney's anti-union statements during the 2012 campaign. He covers a lot of ground. If elected, he said he would:
Most of these things he says he'd do on "Day One" and would do via executive order, usurping the role of the legislative branch in some of these actions. If anyone is still wondering why unions are lining up behind Barack Obama despite the fact that they've had some disagreements and friction with him, look no further than Mitt Romney's own words as to why.
Barack Obama opposes the Republican version of
the Violence Against Women Act (White House photo)
The Obama administration is making clear that the House version of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization, being voted on today, is unacceptable after House Republicans drafted their own, exclusionary, legislation rather than taking up the bipartisan Senate bill. It has been widely reported that the House bill, as it stands, would omit protections for Native American and LGBT victims of violence, and actually weaken existing protections for immigrants; the administration's statement of opposition points to still other groups that the Senate would protect and the House would not:
H.R. 4970 does not include important improvements to the Clery Act found in the Senate-passed bill that would address the high rates of dating violence and sexual assault experienced by young people in college and other higher education institutions. The bill also weakens critical new provisions in the Senate-passed bill that would improve safety for victims living in subsidized housing.
The Obama administration is calling on the House to embrace bipartisanship and pass the Senate bill rather than moving forward with the Violence Against Straight White Rich Women Act it plans to vote on today. Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to the president, writes that:
Keeping women safe isn't about which political party you support?it's about protecting basic human rights. That's why President Obama applauds the Senators of both parties who came together to preserve and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act?and it is why the President's senior advisors, myself included, have recommended that he veto any bill that puts women in harm's way.Planned Parenthood has also joined the National Organization for Women and other groups in condemning the House bill. Some reports say House Republicans plan amendments to address some of the concerns about their bill?but not all. Gay people would still be excluded, for instance. Whether those inadequate amendments even materialize remains in some question.
Tell your representatives to pass the expanded, bipartisan Senate reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, not the protection for a few but not for all House Republican bill.
(Click to enlarge.)
I was going to make a "bully pulpit" joke in this strip, but then I did a search and realized everyone on the internet had already made it. A cartoonist's life is fraught with peril.
Mitt has done some good in the past, such as the health care plan he now distances himself from. But more and more, it seems like he's a human hurricane leaving a trail of unemployed people, bowel-voiding dogs and traumatized gay teens in his wake.
Order a signed print of this cartoon from the artist.
Ham in a Role [...]
Read The Full Article:
Dear Karl: Haven't you already caused enough pain? (Jim Bourg/Reuters)Karl Rove insists on using cash from wealthy Republicans to inflict more damage upon America:
An independent group favoring Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney is launching a $25 million, monthlong advertising campaign in 10 states against President Barack Obama, further escalating an expensive TV ad war in presidential battlegrounds six months before Election Day.As the AP article points out, Rove's group isn't the only pro-Romney group planning on dumping millions into the presidential campaign: Restore Our Future, the Romney-aligned Super PAC staffed by former Romney aides, has spent $4.3 million in anti-Obama attack ads. The Koch brothers' Americans For Prosperity has spent $5 million. And another group called American Future Fund is spending millions as well. (I've personally seen AFF ads several times over the past couple of days in Columbus, Ohio.) Between those groups, you're looking at something in the neighborhood of $40 million spent nearly a half-year before the election?and that doesn't include anything from the Romney campaign itself. Bottom-line: It's going to be a nasty, brutal election, and President Obama's enemies are going to be coming at him from all sides, with tons of cash.
Crossroads GPS plans to open the effort Thursday by spending $8 million on a TV ad that castigates Obama on the economy by using his own words against him.
"We need solutions, not just promises," says a 60-second commercial that's to run in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
President Obama's reelection campaign manager Jim Messina announces April fundraisingPresident Obama's reelection campaign today announced that it had raised $43.6 million in April, a drop from $56 million one month earlier. The total includes contributions made directly to Obama for America as well as to the Obama Victory Fund, the joint fundraising committee established by OFA and the Democratic National Committee.
Campaign manager Jim Messina did not reveal cash on hand, but said that 98 percent of the contributions made to OFA were less than $250 and that the campaign added 169,500 donors. He said strong fundraising was essential to remain competitive with Mitt Romney and the network of pro-Romney Super PACs.
Overall, the campaign has raised $379 million, though we won't know exactly how much was raised by OFA and how much was raised by OVF until full filings are made later this month. As of the end of March, OFA had raised $191.2 million and OVF had raised $144.9 million.
The campaign is running a $25 million ad campaign this month in swing states. It is also expected to have a very strong fundraising month, with $15 million raised at the George Clooney fundraiser alone.