Day: November 15, 2010

John McCain: Cindy Agrees With Me On Gays In Military, Despite Video Comments

I feel sorry for Cindy McCain.  John McCain just couldn’t stand that his wife publicly acknowledged that she does not agree with him and his push to keep Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell status quo.

Just when it appeared she had once again found her own voice, Old McCain shuts her up…

Huffington Post

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) insisted on Sunday that there was no rift of opinion between him and his wife over the issue of repealing the military’s ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy. Cindy McCain doesn’t endorse immediate repeal despite recording an ad accusing political leaders of forcing gay servicemen to live a lie, her husband stressed.

“I respect the First Amendment rights of every member of my family,” Senator McCain joked in what was his 59th appearance on Meet The Press.

The Senator was confirming a clarification of position that his wife had made two days prior. Earlier in the week, Cindy McCain appeared in an ad for the NOH8 campaign, an organization that promotes the rights of LGBT youth. But on Friday she said she backed her husband’s position on the controversial policy, which is that another study must be done to see whether the law should or should not be repealed.

Senator McCain has been accused of backtracking on his stance as well. Several years ago, he stressed that he would be open to the idea of repeal if U.S. military leadership approved it. But once several of the top officials started speaking out against the policy, McCain moved the goal posts. He wanted to wait for a Pentagon-commissioned study on the ban.

That study’s findings were reported last week. And the preliminary data showed that service members would have little to no problem with openly gay colleagues. Even then, however, McCain was not sold. The study was leaked, he stressed (arguing that he couldn’t be sure about its veracity) and it didn’t measure the right issues. And even if the right study was conducted, McCain went on, Congress would need time to examine and debate it.

“You and I have not seen that study,” he said of the leaked findings. “And this study was directed on how to implement the repeal not whether the repeal should take place or not.”

“A thorough and complete study of the effects, not how to implement a repeal, but the effects on morale and battle effectiveness, that’s what I want,” he added. “And once we get this study we need to have hearings, and we need to examine it, and we need to look at whether it is the kind of study that we wanted.”

Who had the worst week in Washington? Michele Bachmann

The Washington Post – Chris Cillizza

Republican establishment 1, tea party 0.

That’s the post-midterm score after tea party darling Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) dropped her candidacy for a spot in the House Republican leadership roughly one week after announcing it.

Earlier in the week, Bachmann, who founded the tea party caucus in the House, was making bold proclamations about the power she wielded. She went so far as to tell Politico that she helped to “put that gavel in John Boehner’s hand.”

Her colleagues – at least some of the more influential ones – didn’t seem to agree. While a handful of conservative members backed her, GOP leaders sided almost unanimously with Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Tex.) for the No. 4 leadership role.

Sensing that the tea was – ahem – cooling, Bachmann ended things Wednesday, touting Hensarling as a “strong voice” for the tea party movement. (He has long been an outspoken conservative, an ideological position that had made Bachmann’s challenge to him a bit of a head-scratcher. )

Bachmann’s quick exit from the leadership race signals that while the tea party may have seized control from the GOP establishment outside Washington, the powers that be still have, well, power in the halls of Congress.

And with Hensarling’s victory now assured, there won’t be a single challenge to any member of the Republican leadership team – a sign that tea party might not have changed things within the party as much as people thought it had.

Michele Bachmann, for underestimating the (still) potent power of the party establishment, you had the Worst Week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

10 Political ‘Nonstarters’ From Federal Debt Panel

Now that the 111th Congress is back in session (starting today) in what is traditionally called a lame duck session, it will be interesting to see what gets done, if anything. 

I’m certain Representatives and Senators from both sides of the aisle will address the Debt Commission’s draft and the proposed cuts that the chairman and co-chair of the Debt panel  recommended. 

Listed below are some of the programs that chairmen Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson suggested be cut to save money and or reduce the deficit:

AOL News

The draft report from the chairmen of the bipartisan presidential debt commission to reduce the national deficit through deep spending cuts and tax increases took months to piece together. It took mere minutes for partisans on the left and right to pull it apart.

Amid the many proposals in the 50-page draft proposal, these stand out for their potential as political poison: 

1. Cut Social Security. Younger workers, current retirees and wealthier seniors would, respectively, have to work longer, go without annual cost-of-living increases and see their benefits means-tested. Liberals pounced on this idea, along with …

2. Increasing cost-sharing for Medicare. If seniors were mad about health care reform, wait till they hear about this.

AARP was quickly out of the box with a statement saying that “the last thing we should be considering is targeting the guaranteed, inflation-protected Social Security benefits that millions of Americans count on every day,” adding that it was “deeply concerned” about “shifting health care costs onto seniors.”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called the proposed changes “simply unacceptable.” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was more colorful. He said the chairmen “just told working Americans to ‘drop dead.’ “

3. Pentagon cuts. Defense Secretary Robert Gates launched his offensive to cut spending last May, but his plan calls for reinvesting the savings for new ships, fighter jets and other weapons systems. The commission’s goal to slash $100 billion would mean fewer new toys for the military. Tea party Republicans appear on board with across-the-board cuts that would include defense, but that might mean breaking the GOP’s Pledge to America, which calls for “a robust defense” that includes full funding for missile defense.

4. Three-year military pay freeze. Happy Veterans Day. If cutting weapons systems is tough, freezing military pay in wartime is a political minefield few politicians are likely to traverse. As Army Times put it, this one is “the most eye-opening military-related recommendation in the report.”

5. Limit or eliminate mortgage interest tax deduction. The hugely popular perk is tied to what some consider the American dream of homeownership. Even though it would be coupled with dropping the top tax rate from 35 percent to 23 percent, the housing and construction industry and groups like the Mortgage Bankers Association are unlikely to give this one up without a fight.

6. Eliminate the child tax credit. Both Republicans and Democrats like these credits. After all, what’s more family-friendly than giving a tax break for every kid you have? It’s not exactly like attacking Mom and apple pie, but this one could come close.

7. Hike federal gasoline taxes by 15 percent. Republicans don’t like taxes, so expect them to slam the brakes on this one. The conservative Americans for Tax Reform helpfully estimated the average weekly fill-up for a 15-gallon tank would go up $117 more per year. This one may stay in neutral.

8. Limit charitable deductions. Nonprofit and philanthropic groups worry that reducing the tax benefits of giving will persuade many givers to begin — and end — their charity at home.

9. Cut farm subsidies by $3 billion per year. Barack Obama, an urban guy from Chicago, floated a similar idea soon after taking office. Not surprisingly, it has laid as fallow as a cornfield in winter, thanks to bipartisan pressure from farm state lawmakers and the powerful agribusiness lobby.

10. Eliminate earmarks. A great campaign talking point that perennially collides with political reality. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., whose ability to filibuster legislation has grown with his caucus, opposes ending pork barrel spending. He says it doesn’t add up to even a slice of bacon in the whole hog that’s the federal deficit.

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