Click here to view this media
As Think Progress reported this Monday morning, Senators John McCain and Kelly Ayotte are out there raising fears about the pending cuts to the military budget which are coming as part of the sequestration plan passed by Congress during the debt ceiling debacle, but they had some trouble making a legitimate case on CNN as to just how those cuts would be "devastating."
In their current campaign against automatic military spending cuts, Republican Senators John McCain (AZ), Lindsey Graham (SC) and Kelly Ayotte (NH) claim the reductions will be ?devastating? to the U.S. military. But when asked to provide specifics on that claim on CNN this morning, McCain came up empty: [...]
Panetta does repeatedly say the military spending sequester would be ?devastating? to the U.S. military but he has also failed to explain why. Panetta?s most specific remark on this point has been to say that the U.S. would have to reduce its presence in Latin America and Africa ? i.e. hardly a ?devastating? blow to the military or U.S. security. Moreover, a recent non-partisan Congressional Budget Office report found that the automatic spending cuts would bring the Pentagon?s budget back to what it spent in 2006.
As for McCain?s jobs argument, defense industry CEOs and other experts have said warnings that the military spending cuts will damage the economy and cause massive layoffs are ?overblown.? And if you?re going to argue that federal spending is necessary to create jobs ? a concept Republicans are now embracing in order to protect the nation?s bloated military budget ? it?s probably better to, as one study has found, try to direct those dollars away from the Pentagon toward other domestic priorities.
Neither of them did a good job of explaining why we need a military budget, as O'Brien pointed out, five to eleven times larger than China, Russia or Britain. And McCain just completely brushed off the fact that his party is protecting the wealthy by refusing to raise taxes on the richest among us. And sadly neither of them were really challenged on any of their assertions by O'Brien. Another softball interview where politicians are allowed to spew their talking points unchallenged from CNN. It doesn't do much good to ask the right questions and then refuse to do any follow up when those questions aren't answered or answered with lies.
Transcript via CNN below the fold.
O'BRIEN: Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has warned cuts to defense could be disastrous for the military. Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire are both Romney supporters and both members of the Armed Services Committee.
And they're with me this morning. It's nice to see you both. Thanks for being with me. Senator McCain, let's start with you, if we can. The $500 billion cut over the next 10 years. You've had said that sequestration would be devastating. Give me a list of why?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZONA: Well, first of all, it's on top of another $460 billion that is already being cut. Second of all, it's the view of Secretary Panetta and our uniform leaders who have used words like devastating, impossible to carry out our national security, challenge -- meet those security challenges in the most graphic terms they have used as to the effects of these cuts.
And not to mention the job losses -- the over a million jobs that would be lost and the billions of dollars also in defense industry so it's a very serious situation.
Congress should sit down, Republicans and Democrats and work this out but we also need the president's leadership to call us together and avoid these cuts, which again Secretary Panetta said would be devastating to national dense.
O'BRIEN: When we look at the details of the military budget, $711 billion in 2011, five times the size of China's, almost ten times the size of Russia and 11 times the size of Britain and 11 times the size of France's.
Could you look at those numbers and say, Senator Ayotte, the U.S. is at a line in terms of spending when you compare it to other countries and especially if we're talking about there's going to be no tax increase to help pay for it, you have to cut somewhere and this is what was agreed to?
SENATOR KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: Well, actually, I want to put this in perspective. First of all, what we're spending on defense right now, it's about 4.7 percent of our GDP. It's actually a historical low given the conflicts we've been involved in.
If you look over the history of the nation and also if we took all the defense spending including the war spending, we wouldn't even get barely half of the deficits we've been running over the last several years.
So defense spending can't address all of our debt and it's important for you to think about, Soledad, just in terms of making sure that are country is safe. There still remain very many threats out there and also hollowing out our force.
We have to keep faith with our military, those who have served. These cuts based on what our army chief have said we have to cut the army an additional $100,000.
Our Marine Corps, a assistant commandant in the Marine Corps has said that the Marine Corps would be unable to fully respond to one major contingency. This is very serious in terms of our national security.
O'BRIEN: So then Senator McCain, where would you cut? I mean, let's say this number is a real number and obviously, this is what the debate was all about and everybody kicked the can down a little bit of way.
And now you're paying the piper if I can keep throwing in these phrases, but I think this is fair to say. You have to lose some money from the budget. Where are you going to cut if you don't take it out of defense? What would you recommend goes for $500 billion?
MCCAIN: Well, first of all, when you look at increase in overall spending, obviously we could restrain that. I think as I mentioned, we've already cut $460 billion from the defense budget.
And I would point out that if we sat down together, we could look at loophole closing and spending cuts and look at freezes. We could look at all kinds of things.
This "Super Committee" came close to an agreement, but we have to have everything on the table and yet our first and foremost responsibility and the president's first and foremost responsibility is commander in chief.
So making sure that our nation is secure from a defense national security standpoint is the first priority. I don't think most people would argue with that.
AYOTTE: And Soledad, I want to put it in perspective, we could address both the dense and nondefense savings from sequestration by living within our means for one month in this government.
It's about one month of borrowing. So we can find those savings across the government and do this in a more responsibility way and still address the deficit reduction.
O'BRIEN: Well, but Republicans at the same time don't want to cut taxes on the wealthy. We know that's a debate also heading towards the fiscal cliff.
It seems like everybody wants to get to a number, but no one is willing to cut the thing that is important to them. I think that's fair to say. No one wants to raise taxes on people they feel would support them politically.
I think that's fair to say. It seems like tough choices have to be made. I thought the whole entire Budget Control Act, which Senator Ayotte, you voted against, but Senator McCain, you voted for was to determine this very thing.
Now it's come to the moment of fruition and it seems like you're changing your mind, sir.
MCCAIN: Well, first of all, I disagree with every one of your fundamentals here. The fact is that the president himself said raising taxes in difficult times on anybody is a terrible idea. He said that himself.
If you think obviously you may, but raising taxes on quote, "the wealthy" is the answer then we have a fundamental disagreement. We are glad to look at loophole closings. We'll look at ways for example selling off federal land, which could raise billions of dollars.
But obviously, I do not accept the premise of your statement. I believe when raising taxes on anybody as the president once said would be a terrible idea, particularly when we see that the economy continues to weaken rather than strength.
AYOTTE: And also Soledad, to put it in perspective, here we've already cut nearly a half trillion dollars from the Department of Defense. We're not saying the defense can't take savings, but this is disproportionate.
It's 19 percent of federal spending is taking 50 percent of cuts and it's a fundamental responsibility we have to the American people. Listen, I take Secretary of Defense Panetta at his word that this is going to be devastating. It seems to me we need to act on it.
O'BRIEN: You're going to be hosting town halls to have this kind of conversation. I think some people would say, why not -- maybe the question is, what's the strategy beyond the town halls?
Because really at the end of the day, it's not about the American people coming together to discuss this, right? It really is about Congress sitting down and doing what they were trying to do not so long ago, which is to come to a decision on where cuts can be made jointly in a bipartisan fashion to get something done.
MCCAIN: You're exactly right and hopefully by what we're doing and this program and many others in these states that were so important, for example, 41,000 jobs here in the state of Florida, that that will have -- make people motivate the members of Congress and the president of the United States, the commander in chief to sit down and prevent what every uniformed leader in the secretary of defense said would be devastating to America.
AYOTTE: And also think about it in terms of jobs, 136,000 defense jobs in Virginia. They have to issue layoff notices before the election so members of Congress need to come together on this.
And I think more the American people know about this the more they'll urge their member of Congress to resolve this and the president as commander in chief to lead that effort.
O'BRIEN: We'll see what happens. Senator John McCain and Senator Kelly Ayotte, thanks for talking with me and joining me this morning. I certainly appreciate it.
MCCAIN: Thank you.
AYOTTE: Thank you very much.
The Massachusetts legislature approved a bill today that aims to save $200 billion over the next 15 years by connecting health care cost increases to the state’s economic growth. Gov. Deval Patrick (D) is expected to sign the legislation, which passed the House 132-20 and was unanimous in the Senate. The new measure follows up on the state’s 2006 health care overhaul that then-Gov. Mitt Romney (R) backed. The original law focuses primarily on insurance coverage, so the new bill will address the underlying costs of health care that push up the prices for insurance premiums.
Senate Republicans last week proposed a plan that would raise taxes on more than 20 million Americans, while maintaining the high-end Bush tax cuts. Letting those tax cuts on income in excess of $250,000 expire would affect just two million wealthy taxpayers, by comparison.
Now, House Republicans have adopted the same plan, and the effect is the same: roughly 24 million middle- and lower-class Americans will see their taxes raised so that roughly two million of the richest taxpayers can maintain a tax cut, as this chart from the Center for American Progress’ Seth Hanlon and Sarah Ayres illustrate:
Even worse, more than a third of families with children — a total of 18.6 million households, including 9.2 million single parents — would see a tax increase, according to Hanlon and Ayres’ analysis:
According to the analysis, roughly 11 million American families would lose some or all of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides a tax break on college tuition payments, at an average cost of $1,100 each. About 12 million would lose part or all of the Child Tax Credit, costing them an average of $800, and about 6 million would lose all or part of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which saves each recipient an average of $500.
The Senate GOP plan failed last week, as the Senate instead adopted a Democratic proposal that would extend a tax cut on just the first $250,000 in income.
In a report released today as part of the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s “Romney U,” CAP’s Lawrence Korb looked at the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s defense and military spending numbers and found that they “don’t add up.” Romney’s plan would mean at least $2 trillion in increased spending over the next decade and as of yet, his campaign can’t explain how he plans to pay for it. Korb’s report charts the numbers:
Romney “promotes this approach while simultaneously promising to cut taxes and balance the budget, which is pure intellectual dishonesty,” Korb writes. “By exploding the deficit or gutting domestic programs, Gov. Romney?s plan would compromise our national security.”
I’m still trying to figure out what I think about Bunheads, Amy Sherman-Palladino’s delightfully weird and very, very female show about a dance school in California. But in Willa Paskin’s long and fantastic interview with Sherman-Palladino, she points out something I’ve found utterly baffling about the entertainment industry:
I always find it funny that people take the wrong message from any success. Like ?Bridesmaids? comes out and people go, ?Oh, women are funny, they shit in the street. Let?s make sure now everybody shits in the street!? Not like, ?OK, but it?s a well-constructed script with very good characters and the core of it is actually about female relationships,? nothing about that. They take the one shitting in the street thing and then for months you?re going to have every actress that you love shitting in the street. Until they realize, ?Oh, it doesn?t work that way, I guess, so now women aren?t funny.? No, no, no! It?s not that women aren?t funny, it?s just that all of them don?t have to shit in the street!
I feel the same way with these sitcoms. It felt like dirty girl sitcoms, that?s the way to go, and NBC especially made these giant deals with like Whitney Cummings, and Chelsea Handler, and Sarah Silverman and all these women whose stand-up acts are so filthy they will never translate to television because they can?t! Sarah Silverman cannot do her act on TV, it?s not allowed! I?m not saying that her sitcom won?t be great ? or I don?t know if they picked her up or not ? but it?s like this trend of like ?OK, so that?s how every woman is going to be now.?
I don’t even know that this is a trait that’s specific to women. It’s been fascinating to watch actors like Brandon Routh and James Marsters, who began their careers as pretty faces, score successes by treating their looks as if they’re less important than their acting chops, even by turning their extreme good looks into a joke by playing porn stars and maniacally excited dance show hosts. And I can even see why casting directors would value a surface thing like handsomeness, which is very, very broadly applicable, over a talent for self-parody or silliness, which are narrower skills. But it’s funny to see how an industry can both seize on a single, wildly aberrant scene in a movie instead of its overall themes and tones, or ignore that there’s an intimate connection between a comedian’s filthiness and her impact. Maybe it’s all a matter of wishful thinking, hoping for the thing that’s easiest to replicate, or the possibility of replicating something at all.
Anti-leaks proposals approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of an intelligence authorization bill on July 24 became public yesterday. They supposeedly would prevent "unauthorized disclosures" of "classified information" from people who are[...]
Read The Full Article:
Following up on a previous item, Congressional leaders have indeed agreed to a 6-month stopgap spending bill to avoid a government shutdown at the end of September. It continues current funding. However, the votes won't be help until after the August[...]
Read The Full Article:
U.S. District Court Judge Vanessa Bryant, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled on Tuesday that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in unconstitutional.
DOMA, Bryant ruled "fails to pass constitutional muster under even the most deferential level of judicial scrutiny." From the ruling:
In sum, having considered the purported rational bases proffered by both BLAG and Congress and concluded that such objectives bear no rational relationship to Section 3 of DOMA as a legislative scheme, the Court finds that no conceivable rational basis exists for the provision. The provision therefore violates the equal protection principles incorporated in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The full decision is embedded below.
Attorney General Eric Holder decided that the Justice Department would no longer defend the 1996 law early last year, and Bryant ruled there was "no evidence that the Attorney General's decision was the result of anything but his independent assessment."
House Republicans had hired former Solicitor General Paul Clement to defend DOMA's constitutionality on behalf of the House of Representatives.
As Chris Geidner reports, the Supreme Court is facing several requests to take up a case examining the constitutionality of the law.
The glitz queen is being touted as a "potential Romney VP pick" in this story, so it's no surprise she just has to go up there. Here's what the SCDP Chairman has to say...
Columbia, S.C. ? South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian released the following statement in response to Nikki Haley?s latest national junket:
It?s hard to tell who has the worse judgment: Nikki Haley or Mitt Romney. Nikki Haley, is absent from work again in her ongoing quest to become a National Celebrity, and Mitt Romney is campaigning with someone whose only employment accomplishment is putting all her family and friends on the government payroll. Hopefully, Nikki Haley can learn something while in Michigan because even though Michigan ranks 39th nationally in employment, South Carolina is even worse off at 46th.