?I think the Constitution is clear and I think this idea that the Congress gets to vote twice on whether to pay for [expenditures] it has appropriated is crazy,? Clinton said in an interview with journalist Joe Conason published by The National Memo.
Clinton said he would turn to the Constitution ?if it came to that,? but doesn?t think that Obama will need to. ?It looks to me like they?re going to make an agreement, and that?s smart,? he said.
A Nevada man has filed a lawsuit against his state?s Department of Motor Vehicles, claiming his rights were violated when the agency repeatedly denied his requests for a personalized license plate that supports Sarah Palin.
James Linlor states in a July 15 complaint that he requested a license plate of "GOPALIN" in 2009 and 2010 and was denied both times. Linlor claims he tried again in 2010, requesting "PALIN," "PALIN12" or "PALIN16" on a license plate and was again rejected by the DMV, which deemed the requests too political and, because of it, violated departmental policy.
A year to the day after Shirley Sherrod was ousted from the Agriculture Department, the former government employee is still seeking vindication.
On July 19, 2010, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack ordered Sherrod's resignation from her job as a Georgia rural development official after learning about a video of Sherrod making supposedly racist remarks. On Tuesday, the U.S. District Court will hold the first hearing in Sherrod's defamation case against the conservative blogger who posted the video. [...]
Sherrod is now suing Breitbart, his employee Larry O'Connor and an unnamed "John Doe" defendant for "defamation, false light and intentional infliction of emotional distress." Sherrod's lawyers say the unnamed defendant is the person who they believe passed the video on to Breitbart.
Democratic and Republican senators are rallying behind a $3.7 trillion deficit-reduction plan announced Tuesday morning by the five remaining members of the Gang of Six.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who pulled out of the Gang of Six in May, has rejoined the group and praised the plan as something that could win the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate.[...]
Coburn said the plan would reduce the deficit by $3.7 trillion over the next 10 years and increase tax revenues by $1 trillion by closing a variety of special tax breaks and havens.
He also noted, however, that the Congressional Budget Office would score the plan as a $1.5 trillion tax cut because it would eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax. It would generate a significant amount of revenue out of tax reform and reduction of tax rates, which authors believe would spur economic growth.
That revenue picture, of course, could doom it with House Republicans. The package would thus have to enough protections for programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and enough real revenue to gain significant support from House Democrats. That will still be a tough pull, based on this executive summary.
The plan is based on the Simpson-Bowles discussion, the deficit commission plan that was never official. It would include an "immediate" $500 billion in cuts. It would be two bills, one that implements an immediate $500 billion in cuts and would raise the debt ceiling, and a second that would implement larger reforms. While the executive summary goes to great lengths to say that Social Security should be dealt with on a separate track, it does keep Social Security in the mix with a strange proposal that would hold the larger deficit plan until a Social Security fix is found, but if that fix does not get the 60 votes required, the rest of the deficit plan is voided. That would hold both Social Security and further deficit reduction hostage. Guess which would lose.
But, there's more. Social Security is on the immediate chopping block, because included in the immediate cuts is shifting to the chained CPI for calculating Social Security cost of living adjustments.
Shift to the chained-CPI (a more accurate measure of inflation) government-wide starting in 2012, along with the following specifications for Social Security: (1) exempt SSI from the shift for five years, and then phase in the shift over the next five years; and (2) provide a minimum benefit equal to 125% of the poverty line for five years. (According to CBO, the shift to chained-CPI would result in the annual adjustment growing, on average, about 0.25 percentage points per year slower than the current CPI.) [page 3]
This is a cut in Social Security benefits, no matter what policy makers call it. The summary doesn't identify such specific Medicare or Medicaid cuts, but says that the Congress would be required to find savings:
Finance would permanently reform or replace the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rateformula ($298 billion) and fully offset the cost with health savings, would find an additional $202 billion/$85 billion in health savings, and would maintain the essential health care services that the poor and elderly rely upon. [page 3]
That could come from the proposals we know have been on the negotiating table from the beginning, like the proposal to shift Medicaid to a "blended rate" federal reimbursement system that would result in less money going to states for the program, or the recently proposed means-testing for Medicare. So the hurdle for both Senate and House Democrats who are committed to protecting these programs isn't a given.
But what's significant here, and puts even more pressure on House Speaker John Boehner, is that there are a bunch of Senate Republicans agreeing to including taxes. That might even include tea partyer and Club for Growth guy Sen. Pat Toomey. Once Grover Norquist hears about this, though, expect to see some of that Republican support vanish.
You can join with Daily Kos and Sen. Bernie Sanders to oppose cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits. Sign our petition here.
Though the substance of the Parliamentary hearings over the News Of The World phone hacking scandal threatened to be overshadowed by Rupert Murdoch's plate of shaving cream to the face, the upshot of the almost three-hour session was the Murdochs' repeated assertions that they had no idea that many of the most egregious instances of phone hacking were occurring.
The hearing began with profuse apologies over the hackings, with James Murdoch saying that "these actions do not live up to the standards that our company aspires to," and News Corporation chief Rupert Murdoch calling Tuesday "the most humble day of my life."
But most of the hearings were characterized by the odd dynamic between James Murdoch's convoluted claims to "no direct knowledge" of the phone hackings, and his father's claims to "no direct knowledge" of essentially anything he was asked. James Murdoch repeatedly interrupted his father to give carefully worded answers about the sprawling allegations, while Rupert Murdoch's answers were characterized by long pauses and curt responses that he was never informed about the details.
When at one point James Murdoch tried to say that it'd be "more helpful" if he could answer about the particular details of what the company knew, one Committee member replied: "It's revealing in itself what he doesn't know and what executives chose not to tell him."
James Murdoch did say that it was impossible to know whether the top brass at News Corporation should have known what was going on, though he phrased it in a more Rumsfeldian way than that:
And I'm not saying that somebody should have told me. To my knowledge certain things were not known. And when new information came to light, with respect to my knowledge of these events, when the new information came to light, the company acted on it, and the company acted on it in a right and proper way as best the company could. But it's difficult to say that the company should have been told something if it's not known that a thing was a known fact to be told.
James Murdoch also said that the company did not consider that the hacking scandal stretched beyond then-royal editor Clive Goodman after he was convicted in 2007, because after the police investigation "it was not clear that there was a reason to believe that those matters were anything other than settled matters."
He added that there is "no evidence of impropriety" by former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks and former Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton, despite their recent resignations.
About the closing of News Of The World, Rupert Murdoch said the decision came because they felt they "had broken our trust with our readers." James Murdoch later agreed: "We believed that the News Of The World, the actions of some reporters and people some years ago, have fundamentally tarnished the trust that the News Of The World had with its readers." He claimed that NOTW's closure was not related to Rebekah Brooks' resignation.
One Committee member asked Rupert Murdoch if he felt responsible for the breaches within NOTW, to which he replied "no." He added that he blamed "the people I trusted to run it and the people they trusted," and argued that "News Of The World is less than 1% of our company. I employ more than 53,000 people around the world," and therefore he cannot necessarily know everything that is going on.
Rupert Murdoch said he "very seldom" speaks to the editors of his papers. "I'm not really in touch with them. If there's an editor I spend most time with its the editor of the Wall Street Journal." He added: "News Of The World perhaps I lost sight of, maybe because it was so small in the general frame of our company."
"I may have been lax in not asking more, but it was such a tiny part of our business," he said later, noting that "anything that's seen as a crisis comes to me."
Regarding the allegations related to phone hackings of 9/11 victims, Rupert Murduch said: "We have seen no evidence of that at all and as far as we know the FBI haven't either. If they do we will treat it exactly the same way as we do here." He added that he would "absolutely" commission an investigation if the allegations turn out to be true.
James Murdoch also said that he was "very surprised" to learn that the company had "made certain contributions to legal fees" for Clive Goodman, the reporter convicted in the initial phone hacking trial, and Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator also implicated. "I was surprised. I was very surprised," he said. When asked who signed off on the payments, James Murdoch said he didn't know, nor did he know whether the payments were still being made. Rupert Murdoch interjected that it would not have been the managing editors who approved the payments, but someone above them in the company. "It could have been" then-News International chief executive Les Hinton, Murdoch said.
Rupert Murdoch said he has not considered resigning because "I think that frankly I'm the best person to clean this up.
Background on the scandal is here.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has raided several homes and made arrests as part of their investigation into the 'hackivist' group Anonymous.
An official told TPM that around 14 arrests were expected in the Anonymous raid. CNN reported that 12 arrests have already been made and that 15 were expected.
About 40 warrants were executed nationwide and an announcement was expected from the Justice Department before the end of the day, the source told TPM. The FBI's New York office searched homes in Brooklyn and two other homes in Long Island, Reuters reported.
The 'Anonymous' group has claimed responsibility for hacks of organizations that have gone up against WikiLeaks. They have claimed responsibility for attacks on Apple, MasterCard and Visa. The raids were first reported by Fox News.
Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has never been one to shy away from controversy. Whether she understands the subject or not, she will belt out anything that crosses her mind if she thinks it will build her street cred with the Tea Party faithful. She is, after all, a Constitutional expert dontchaknow. Monday was no exception. After touring flood damaged areas of Iowa with fellow Republican Steve King, she used the occasion to inject race into the mix:
Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann pointed to one program in particular Monday when talking about wasteful government spending: a multibillion dollar settlement paid to black farmers, who claim the federal government discriminated against them for decades in awarding loans and other aid.
The issue came up after Bachmann and Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa toured flooded areas along the Missouri River. During a news conference, they fielded a question about whether farmers affected by the flooding also should be worried by proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture cuts.
Bachmann seconded King's criticism, saying, "When money is diverted to inefficient projects, like the Pigford project, where there seems to be proof-positive of fraud, we can't afford $2 billion in potentially fraudulent claims when that money can be used to benefit the people along the Mississippi River and the Missouri River."
Inefficient projects? Of course neither King nor Bachmann can cite any actual fraud, they just throw it out there to see what sticks to the wall. When asked by the AP for his thoughts on Bachmann's statements, John Boyd, head of the National Black Farmers Association had this to say:
"Why continue to take from those people who haven't taken part in federal programs equally and give to another group of farmers who have taken part in federal programs?" Boyd asked. "I think taking resources from a group of people who have been historically denied any relief at the Department of Agriculture is a bad idea. For the flood victims that deserve redress ... they should provide those people with relief, too."
Later in the article Boyd was quoted as saying "If Ms. Bachmann wants to be president of the United States, she should treat all people fairly." Mr. Boyd, I applaud your statement, but unfortunately, in Michele Bachmann's America, only wealthy, white Christians are worthy.
You get the sense that over the last 24 hours there's been a decisive shift in the debt ceiling negotiations away from a House-dominated process that was going nowhere to a Senate dominated-process that may find a way out of these deadlocked[...]
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I was one of the 2700 people who pledged to go to the office of their member of congress and let them know that if they support cuts to Social Security or Medicare, we won't support them in the next election. And moreover, that "supporting cuts" meant[...]
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Details here. I'm still trying to get my head around it. The actual plan is here.
A few immediate questions that need to be answered - how much of a hit will our economy take, in terms of increased unemployment and decreased (or slowed) GDP growth as a result of the "immediate" budget cuts in the plan?
And what exactly doe this mean?
? Prevent Congress from exceeding the caps by requiring a stand-alone resolution subject toWhat happens if the economy tanks again and we need to increase spending in the face of decreasing revenues? We need 67 votes in the Senate or we all die?
a 67-vote threshold, in order to isolate that vote to increase the deficit from any other policy
Today, the so-called Gang of Six — with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) back in the fold — released a deficit reduction plan that the members involved say would reduce deficits by $3.7 trillion over the next 10 years. During a statement today, President Obama called the plan “broadly consistent” with his vision for deficit reduction. Watch it:
The Gang of Six’s plan is quite vague on the details, laying out desired savings in different departments, but not cuts to specific programs (though it does lay out some specific savings, such as changing the way in which inflation is measured for the purpose of calculating Social Security benefits). It also calls for tax reform that would raise $1 trillion in revenue. Read the plan here.
“America’s Mayor” Rudy Guiliani spoke at a College Republican-sponsored event at Dartmouth last week and weighed in on the debt ceiling debate, saying that if it does get raised, the U.S. could potentially have “one of the weaker economies in the world.” (Actually dire economic consequences will result if the debt ceiling isn’t raised.) Then, Giuliani — who is reportedly considering another run for president — said that whatever happens, military spending should be left alone because it’s apparently not a big part of the federal budget anyway:
?I think we use our foreign aid budget pretty efficiently,? he said. ?There are much more important things to cut.
He also said that defense spending is ?not a major part? of the federal government?s budget, only constituting ?about four or five percent? of the total.
Military spending actually is a major part of the federal government’s budget. Not only does the Pentagon’s budget make up 20 percent of total spending — not “4 or 5 percent” as Giuliani claimed — but the defense budget represents 50 percent of discretionary spending.
The United States is now spending more on defense than at any time since World War II. Moreover, the Senate Appropriations Committee recently found that the military’s budget increased more as a percentage than all other government expenditures since 2001. Indeed, the Pentagon’s baseline budget has nearly doubled in the last 10 years.
To his credit, Giuliani did tell Dartmouth students that he “would try to get control of defense spending.” But it seems like the first step would be for the former mayor to get the facts on how much the U.S. actually spends.