The government of Vermont continues to chug along with their multi-year plan to establish a universal health care system modeled on single payer. The most recent step is that the two chambers of the legislature have approved a new bill creating the[...]
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With voting only two weeks away, Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) is now speaking out against North Carolina’s Amendment One, which would ban same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships. In a new video released today, Hagan points out that if the discriminatory measure passes, businesses will be less inclined to bring new jobs to the state and thousands of families will be negatively impacted. She added, “In North Carolina, we say our state is where the weak grow strong, and the strong grow great. Amendment One harms our state’s resolve to make all people and all families great.” Watch it:
Mitt Romney spent over $76 million to win the GOP presidential primary, more than the combined spending of all three of his main opponents. That breaks down to $18.50 per vote, and $126,000 per Republican convention delegate through the end of March, according to an analysis by CNN Money. If one includes the spending from super PACs supporting Romney, the total jumps to $122 million and breaks down to nearly $30 per vote and more than $200,000 per delegate.
Our guest blogger is Melissa Boteach, director of Half In Ten at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
House Republicans recently proposed cuts to nutrition assistance that will kick 280,000 low-income children off automatic enrollment in the Free School Lunch and Breakfast Program. Those same kids and 1.5 million other people will also lose their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamp benefits) that help them afford food at home.
Ten years? worth of these nutrition cuts could be prevented for the price of one year of tax cuts on 3,340 multimillion dollar estates that House Republicans are protecting in their budget.
On April 18 the House Agriculture Committee passed a bill cutting over $33 billion from SNAP over the next decade. About one-third of these cuts ($11.5 billion) comes from putting restrictions on ?categorical eligibility,? a provision that enables states to better coordinate between programs and improves access to assistance for low-income families.
By restricting this provision, the bill would kick an average of 1.8 million low-income people a year off of food aid and end automatic enrollment in free school meals for 280,000 children in struggling families.
The Republican budget sells this bill as an effort to ?reduce lower?priority spending? to avert military cuts that will otherwise take place in January 2013 due to the debt deal agreed to last summer. But when it comes to reducing the deficit, it?s clear the House would rather ask low-income kids and families struggling against hunger to foot the bill than asking multimillion-dollar estates to pay their fair share.
Case in point: As part of the 2010 tax-cut compromise, House Republicans insisted on including a tax cut on multimillion dollar estates, adding an estimated $11.5 billion to the deficit this year alone. That?s the same amount they?re now claiming is necessary to cut from low-income families through these restrictions.
By making it more difficult for low-income schoolchildren to access school breakfast and lunch, this bill will likely increase child hunger, which is associated with worse educational outcomes and higher long-term health costs. Both of these trends affect our economy and our deficits over the long run.
We should reconsider reduced spending on ?lower priority? items ? a.k.a breakfast, lunch, and dinner for low-income children ? and instead adopt a deficit-reduction approach that asks everyone to pay their fair share?including multimillion-dollar estates.
I’ve just returned from the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in the SB 1070 case. The quick analysis is that, while the justices are likely to strike down many of the provisions that were before them, the so-called “show me your papers” provision requiring police to determine the immigration status many people they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe is in the country illegally is likely to survive. More analysis will follow shortly.
Last night, Rep. Jason Altmire lost his Democratic primary battle against fellow congressman Mark Critz. Altmire, who currently represents the state’s 4th District, was forced into a primary challenge against Critz after redistricting. Critz represented the original 12th District.
Altmire was considered the early favorite, but soon Critz was boosted by the support of several unions — including the SEIU and the United Steelworkers — who were upset that Altmire voted against the Affordable Care Act. Critz took office after it had already passed; he has said he opposes the bill but will not vote to repeal it.
In the race for the Democratic nomination in the 17th District, progressive attorney Matt Cartwright defeated Rep. Tim Holden. Cartwright had frequently attacked Holden for his vote against Obamacare, at one point claiming Holden was ?voting with the insurance companies and against health care reform.?
In an interview with Rolling Stone, President Obama signaled that he won’t allow presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney pivot back towards the center after veering far to the right during the GOP primary, something he’s already started doing. Obama suggested that he’ll make Romney own the hard-right positions he took during the primary, saying, “I don’t think that their nominee is going to be able to suddenly say, ‘Everything I’ve said for the last six months, I didn’t mean.’” “I’m assuming that he meant it. When you’re running for president, people are paying attention to what you’re saying,” Obama added.
In a Rolling Stone interview published today, President Obama broke out of his self-imposed silence on climate change. He made some remarkable statements, including his belief that the millions of dollars pouring into the anti-science disinformation campaign will drive climate change into the presidential campaign.
Earlier this year the President omitted any discussion of climate change from his State of the Union address. And he (or the White House communications team) edited it out of his Earth Day proclamation.
But in this interview, Obama was actually the first to bring up climate change, noting it was one of many big issues he’s had to deal with and then slamming the GOP for moving so far to the right on the issue.
The big news was that the President expects climate change to be a campaign issue:
Part of the challenge over these past three years has been that people’s number-one priority is finding a job and paying the mortgage and dealing with high gas prices. In that environment, it’s been easy for the other side to pour millions of dollars into a campaign to debunk climate-change science. I suspect that over the next six months, this is going to be a debate that will become part of the campaign, and I will be very clear in voicing my belief that we’re going to have to take further steps to deal with climate change in a serious way. That there’s a way to do it that is entirely compatible with strong economic growth and job creation ? that taking steps, for example, to retrofit buildings all across America with existing technologies will reduce our power usage by 15 or 20 percent. That’s an achievable goal, and we should be getting started now.
I’ll believe it when I see it.
Yes, Romney etch-a-sketched himself to the far right on this issue in late October:
My view is that we don?t know what?s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.
But I doubt Romney will want to talk about climate change since that statement is a major flip-flop aimed at the Tea Party extremists who now help decide GOP primaries. Also Romney’s team presumably knows what team Obama doesn’t: Every poll makes clear that in the general election, climate change, clean energy, and cutting pollution are some of the defining wedge issues of our time (see Democrats Taking ?Green? Positions on Climate Change ?Won Much More Often? Than Those Remaining Silent and links below).
The media also seems unlikely to bring up the issue given that they have generally ignored it as a topic for debate questions, and regular news coverage of it has collapsed.
That means if it is going to be a campaign issue, the President and his team would have to introduce it and be willing to press the case, something they have shown no inclination to do so far.
The President made two other very interesting statement on climate. First, in response to a question on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, he basically said that the reason the issue flared up is because of his inability to achieve “sufficient movement to deal with the problem”:
James Hansen, NASA’s leading climate scientist, has said this about the Keystone pipeline: that if the pipeline goes through and we burn tar sands in Canada, it’s “game over” for the planet. What’s your reaction to that statement?
James Hansen is a scientist who has done an enormous amount not only to understand climate change, but also to help publicize the issue. I have the utmost respect for scientists. But it’s important to understand that Canada is going to be moving forward with tar sands, regardless of what we do. That’s their national policy, they’re pursuing it. With respect to Keystone, my goal has been to have an honest process, and I have adamantly objected to Congress trying to circumvent a process that was well-established not just under Democratic administrations, but also under Republican administrations.
The reason that Keystone got so much attention is not because that particular pipeline is a make-or-break issue for climate change, but because those who have looked at the science of climate change are scared and concerned about a general lack of sufficient movement to deal with the problem. Frankly, I’m deeply concerned that internationally, we have not made as much progress as we need to make. Within the constraints of this Congress, we’ve tried to do a whole range of things, administratively, that are making a difference ? doubling fuel-efficiency standards on cars is going to take a whole lot of carbon out of our atmosphere. We’re going to continue to push on energy efficiency, and renewable energy standards, and the promotion of green energy. But there is no doubt that we have a lot more work to do.
Obama’s statement above about climate becoming a campaign issue is the last part of his answer here.
I’d say that Obama is half right in his answer. It is certainly true that if, say, Obama had been able to pass a climate bill, then Keystone would never have emerged as such a make-or-break issue. But for those of us trying to keep warming below 4°F, it always would have been a big issue.
Obama is also being a bit coy here by suggesting that lack of international progress was a key reason Keystone got so much attention. A major reason there has been little international progress is that the world’s richest country — which has by far the largest cumulative emissions — can’t even guarantee it will meet Obama’s modest 17% reduction pledge by 2020. American action is certainly a sine qua non for a global deal.
Yes, Obama has done some valuable things, and he certainly has been thwarted at every turn by the disinformers and their allies in Congress. They, not Obama, deserve most of the blame for inaction, as I’ve said many times (see “The failed presidency of Barack Obama, Part 2“). But Obama still failed to push this most important of issues anywhere near as hard as it merits.
And it’s odd for him to complain about the disinformation campaign when Obama has done nothing to debunk it. Indeed, I’ve been told by folks in the White House that it was the White House communications team that muzzled a response to that disinformation.
Finally, Obama has some interesting framing on the opponents of action:
I think it’s important to distinguish between Republican politicians and people around the country who consider themselves Republicans. I don’t think there’s been a huge change in the country. If you talk to a lot of Republicans … they don’t think we should be getting rid of every regulation on the books….
But what’s happened, I think, in the Republican caucus in Congress, and what clearly happened with respect to Republican candidates, was a shift to an agenda that is far out of the mainstream ? and, in fact, is contrary to a lot of Republican precepts…. You’ve got a Republican Congress whose centerpiece, when it comes to economic development, is getting rid of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Doesn’t all of that kind of talk and behavior during the primaries define the party and what they stand for?
I think it’s fair to say that this has become the way that the Republican political class and activists define themselves. Think about John McCain, who obviously I have profound differences with. Here’s a guy who not only believed in climate change, but co-sponsored a cap-and-trade bill that got 43 votes in the Senate just a few years ago, somebody who thought banning torture was the right thing to do, somebody who co-sponsored immigration reform with Ted Kennedy. That’s the most recent Republican candidate, and that gives you some sense of how profoundly that party has shifted.
So Obama is drawing a distinction between “the Republican political class and activists” on the one hand and “people around the country who consider themselves Republicans.” I think that is a reasonable distinction to draw, but then it will be important for the president to carry this distinction to its logical conclusion on the key issues. He is basically acknowledging that climate action and clean energy and cutting pollution are wedge issues — issues that separate GOP politicians and activists (and their pollutocrat backers) from a segment of their own supporter and an even larger proportion of independents.
Again, that’s what all the polling shows, but it is most certainly not how the President and his team have been treating the issue, which they have repeatedly downplayed. Let’s hope that this interview signals a change in thinking by the President — a change that he can actually get the rest of the White House, including the communications team, to go along with. That would be change we can believe in.
The British Catholic Education Service is encouraging all 359 of its Catholic state secondary schools in the UK to draw attention to a letter by senior archbishops opposing the government’s proposal for marriage equality. In at least one south London school, students age 11-18 were encouraged to sign the Coalition for Marriage’s petition against the change, even though the petition is only open to those who are at least 16 years old. One student recounted that she and her classmates were told that same-sex marriage and civil partnerships are “unnatural,” which motivated some of them to protest. A recently implemented Public Sector Equality Act requires schools not to promote discrimination based on sexual orientation.
A long, long time ago, on a blog much like this one, an occasional feature would appear under the headline "Their Reality has Lapped our Satire." Though that feature and its author have long since slipped the surly bonds of MLW, the Republicans have not stopped their all-out assault on irony.
My in-box this morning contained a plea: "Tell Governor Scott: Don't cut funding for survivors of sexual assault." The first paragraph of the email reads:
Governor Rick Scott just vetoed $1.5 million in funding for rape crisis centers across Florida. Ironically, he did this during sexual assault awareness month.
Seriously? During sexual assault awareness month? The Republican legislature passed the increase in funding to rape crisis centers, but Governor Rick Scott, in his infinite wisdom, has chosen to veto the bill. Could this guy be more oblivious or tone-deaf if he tried? I'm not so sure.
Executive director of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, Jennifer Dritt, said "We gave them information about the number of new survivors we have and we showed them that these rape crisis centers have waiting lists. Survivors are having to wait weeks, sometimes six weeks, in some programs three months to be seen.
I can't imagine why anyone would think the Republicans are just a teeny bit misogynistic.
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