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From my INBOX – 5-18-2015:


















10 things you need to know today: April 29, 2015

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

The Week

1.Police and soldiers swarm Baltimore to prevent further rioting
Thousands of police and National Guard troops patrolled Baltimore to enforce an overnight curfew to prevent further rioting over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a fatal injury in police custody. Police arrested 10 people, but said the curfew was working. On Monday, 20 officers were injured, and more than 250 people were arrested. President Obama said there was “no excuse” for the violence and looting, which he said distracted from the message of peaceful protesters.

Source: Reuters, ABC News

2.Justices split sharply over gay marriage
The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard oral arguments on whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to get married. Liberal and conservative justices appeared sharply divided — Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. asked whether groups of four people should have the right to marry, and Justice Stephen Breyer said marriage was a fundamental freedom for all couples. Justice Anthony Kennedy asked lawyers on both sides tough questions. A ruling is expected in late June or early July.

Source: The New York Times, Detroit Free Press

3.Bali Nine executed in Indonesia despite clemency pleas
Australia withdrew its ambassador in protest after Indonesia executed eight convicted drug traffickers from several countries early Wednesdaydespite calls for clemency from around the world. Two Australians identified as leaders of the so-called Bali Nine — Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan — were among the inmates shot dead by firing squad, punishment Indonesia justifies as crucial to its drug war. The execution of Mary Jane Veloso, a Philippine woman caught in 2010 carrying heroin in her suitcase, was delayed.

Source: Reuters, Voice of America

4.Man pulled from rubble in Nepal after 80 hours
Rescuers pulled a 28-year-old man out of a collapsed apartment building in the Nepalese capital of Katmandu on Tuesday, after he spent 80 hours trapped in the rubble after Saturday’s 7.9-magnitude earthquake. “It seems he survived by sheer willpower,” said Akhilesh Shrestha, a doctor who treated him. The death toll has risen past 5,000 in Nepal — with about 100 more dead in India and China — but storms are hampering search and rescue crews. Nepalese government officials have said the death toll could reach 10,000.

Source: Daily Mail, CNN

5.Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders reportedly plans run for president as Democrat
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) plans to run for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, according to multiple reports. The news was first reported by Vermont Public Radio. Sanders, 73, is technically an independent, but caucuses with the Democrats. He had previously hinted at a presidential run and is expected to make a formal announcementThursday. If he does, he will become the second official Democratic candidate in the 2016 race, after Hillary Clinton.

Source: NBC News, Vermont Public Radio

6.Missing schoolgirls not among girls rescued from Boko Haram camp
The Nigerian army rescued about 200 girls and 93 women from Boko Haram militants on Tuesday, but said none of the more than 200 girls abducted in April 2014 from a school in Chibok were among them. The rescue took place at a Boko Haram camp in the Sambisa Forest, a stronghold of the Islamist extremist group in northeastern Nigeria not far from Chibok. The plight of the Chibok schoolgirls has attracted worldwide attention. Dozens escaped but 219 are still missing.

Source: CNN, The Associated Press

7.NFL drops its tax-exempt status
The NFL is dropping its tax-exempt status, which critics in Congress had said was depriving the government of millions in annual taxes. Houston Texans owner Robert McNair, chair of the league’s finance committee, said in a Tuesday statement that the league’s 32 football teams have always paid taxes, and the league office’s status had become a “distraction.” One result of paying taxes is that the NFL will no longer have to reveal Commissioner Roger Goodell’s compensation, which has exceeded $30 million in recent years.

Source: USA Today

8.Gov. Jerry Brown pushes $10,000 fine for California’s worst water wasters
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said Tuesday that he wants to hike the maximum penalty for the most egregious cases of wasting water from $500 to $10,000 as the state tries to conserve water in a historic drought. The recommendation is part of a proposal to expand enforcement of water restrictions aiming to slash water consumption by as much as 36 percent. “We’ve done a lot. We have a long way to go,” Brown said after a meeting with mayors from 14 cities.

Source: Los Angeles Times

9. Jack Ely, Kingsmen lead singer who made Louie, Louie famous, dies at 71
Jack Ely, who sang the iconic 1963 hit Louie, Louie, died Tuesday at his home in Oregon. He was 71. Ely was just 20 years old when, as lead singer of The Kingsmen, he crowded into a Portland recording studio with his bandmates and shouted the unintelligible lyrics of the Richard Barry song, which would make such a mark that bands from the Beach Boys to Nirvana would record their own versions. The FBI investigated complaints of lewd words in Ely’s version, but concluded it was “unintelligible at any speed.”

Source: The Associated Press

10.An American in Paris and Fun Home lead Tony nominations
An American in Paris and Fun Home led this year’s Tony Award nominations, which were released Tuesday. An American in Paris is a dance-driven adaptation of the 1951 Oscar-winning movie; Fun Home is a chamber musical based on Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical novel. Both got 12 Tony nods. Something Rotten, a satire about the world’s first musical, set in Elizabethan England, was not far behind with 11 nominations. All three are in the running for the coveted award for best new musical, the prize with the biggest impact on box office sales.

Source: The Washington Post, The New York Times

10 things you need to know today: March 20, 2015

(AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

The Week

1.ISIS claims responsibility for Tunisian museum massacre
The Islamic State on Thursday claimed responsibility for a Wednesday attack on a Tunisian museum that left 20 foreign tourists and three Tunisians dead. ISIS called the attack “the first drop of rain” in the northern African nation, although there was no proof of its involvement. Tunisia said it had arrested nine people in connection with the attack, and that it would deploy soldiers to major cities to ramp up security against terrorists. The foreign victims came from Japan, Italy, Spain, and the U.K.

Source: Reuters

2.Obama uses video greeting to urge Iranians to support nuclear deal
President Obama made a direct appeal to young Iranians to pressure their leaders into accepting a proposed agreement to curtail the country’s controversial nuclear program. “A nuclear deal now can open the door to a brighter future for you, the Iranian people,” Obama said. The message was included in Obama’s greeting to Iranians for Nowruz, the Persian New Year celebration. The message came two weeks after Senate Republicans sent a letter to Iranian leaders warning that any deal with Obama could be unraveled after his term ends.

Source: The New York Times

3.Netanyahu backs down after ruling out Palestinian state
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, fresh off a parliamentary electionupset victory, backed away Thursday from a late campaign promise to block the establishment of a Palestinian state as long as he remained in office. He saidThursday that he still supported creating a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes Israel, but that circumstances would have to change for a two-state solution to work. In a sign of how far relations between the two leaders had deteriorated, U.S. President Barack Obama reportedly told Netanyahu directly that his campaign comments had forced the United States to “re-assess” its options on the two-state solution.

Source: MSNBC, Haaretz

4.Arctic sea ice levels reach record winter lows
Arctic sea ice reached record lows for winter this year, scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center announced Thursday. The levels fluctuate from year to year — summer ice levels hit record lows in 2012, then rebounded some in the next two years. Another recent study, however, found Arctic sea ice had thinned dramatically in recent decades as global temperatures have risen, thinning ice in the Arctic by 65 percent between 1975 and 2012.

Source: BBC News, Vox

5.Congressional Republicans advance budget plans
The Republican-controlled House Budget Committee on Thursday signed off on a budget proposal calling for cutting Medicaid and other social programs, and repealing ObamaCare. The plan promises $5 trillion in deficit reduction over a decade, largely due to those cuts. The proposal advanced on a 22-13 party-line vote. Senate Republicans are trying to advance their version, which Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said gave the rich tax breaks while cutting programs for “some of the most vulnerable” Americans.

Source: The Associated Press

6.Judge blocks release of grand jury testimony in Eric Garner chokehold death
A New York judge refused Thursday to release testimony heard by the grand jury in the case of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died after a white police officer put him in a chokehold. The grand jury decision not to indict the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, sparked protests. Civil rights groups tried to make the evidence from the hearing public, but District Attorney Daniel Donovan argued that would “damage the credibility of prosecutors” guaranteeing witnesses and jurors confidentiality.

Source: The Associated Press

7.Police investigate hanging death of black man found in Mississippi
A black man was found dead, hanging by a bed sheet from a tree in Mississippion Thursday. The man was believed to be 54-year-old Otis Byrd, who had not been seen since March 2 and was reported missing March 8. The tree was just over a quarter mile from a house belonging to Byrd’s family. It is too early to say “what happened out there, if it is a suicide, a homicide,” said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jason Pack. The man’s arms were not bound.

Source: CNN

8.Google announces development of smartwatch
Google announced Thursday that it was entering the smartwatch war. The internet search giant is teaming up with Intel and watchmaker TAG Heuer to create a luxury smartwatch using Intel hardware and Google’s Android Wear operating system. The announcement suggested Apple’s newly unveiled Apple Watch, which goes on sale April 24 for $349, could be in for stiff competition. Google did not provide details on the pricing or features of its device.

Source: Bloomberg

9. Nigeria makes gains against Boko Haram ahead of election
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who is up for reelection next week, said in an interview aired Friday that soldiers could retake all of the towns seized by the ISIS-linked group Boko Haram within a month. At the start of the year, Boko Haram controlled an area the size of Belgium, with 20 local government districts. Now it has just three, thanks to a regional offensive by Chad, Niger, Cameroon, and Nigeria, the Nigerian army says.

Source: The Guardian (Nigeria), Reuters

10.March Madness kicks off with two upsets
Two No. 3 seeds fell in the first full day of the NCCA men’s basketball tournament on Thursday. First, No. 14 seed U.A.B. beat Iowa State, a No. 3 seed ranked the ninth best team in the country, by a score of 60-59; then, No. 14 Georgia State upset Baylor, 87-86, on a late 3-point shot. Another of the four No. 3 seeds, Notre Dame, held off a surprisingly strong challenge, beating No. 14 seed Northeastern, 69-65.

Source: The Associated Press, The Plain Dealer

10 things you need to know today: June 11, 2014

A stunning defeat. 

A stunning defeat. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The Week

Eric Cantor suffers a stunning primary defeat, insurgents take over Iraq’s No. 2 city, and more

1. Tea Party-backed challenger upsets Eric Cantor in GOP primary
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) suffered a stunning primary defeat Tuesday at the hands of David Brat, a Tea Party-backed economics professor. Brat defeated the No. 2 House Republican soundly after criticizing him for not being conservative enough. Brat also called Cantor soft on immigration. The upset was one of the biggest yet in the battle for control of the Republican Party. [The New York Times]


2. Iraq’s second largest city falls to insurgents
Al Qaeda-linked insurgents took over Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, on Tuesday, marking a major setback two years after U.S. troops left the country. A half million people fled the city after a five-day outbreak of violence in oil-rich northern Iraq increased fears that the military was caving to the insurgents. White House spokesman Josh Earnest condemned the violence, calling the situation “extremely serious.” [Fox News]


3. Student dies in Oregon school shooting
A teen with a rifle entered Reynolds High school in suburban Portland, Oregon, on Tuesday and opened fire, killing a student — Emilio Hoffman, 14 — and injuring a teacher. The gunman was killed, too, police said. It appeared that he shot himself, although police did not confirm it. The group Everytown for Gun Safety said the shooting was the 74th incident involving guns since the deadly 2012 Newtown, Conn., rampage. [Los Angeles TimesThe Oregonian]


4. Obama calls for “soul-searching” over gun violence
President Obama on Tuesday said that Americans “should be ashamed” that even the mildest restrictions on guns can’t pass Congress despite the nation’s “off the charts” gun violence. The comments came after a flurry of high-profile shootings, including the murder of two Las Vegas police officers and a civilian on Monday, and a Portland school shooting on Tuesday. “The country has to do some soul-searching about this,” Obama said. [BBC News]


5. California court throws out rules on public school teacher tenure
A Los Angeles County judge on Tuesday struck down California rules on tenure for teachers. The plaintiffs argued that the rules made it too hard to fire ineffective public school teachers. Judge Rolf Treu concluded that tenure did have a negative effect on the education of children, primarily black and Latino students, saying it violated “students’ fundamental right to equality of education” under the state’s constitution. [The Christian Science Monitor]


6. VA scandal sparks rare bipartisanship in Congress
The scandal surrounding Veterans Affairs health-care waiting lists appears to have brought bitterly divided Republicans and Democrats together. After an audit released this week revealed that the problem was worse than previously believed, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and left-leaning-independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) quickly found common ground on a proposal to give rural veterans vouchers to see private doctors if VA physicians can’t see them promptly. [Arizona Republic]


7. FAA approves first commercial drone flights over land
The Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday that it had granted permission for the first commercial drone flights over U.S. soil. The FAA authorized oil giant BP and drone-maker AeroVironment to use a hand-launched Puma drone to survey pipelines and other facilities in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay. The first flight was Sunday. The approval marked the FAA’s latest attempt to loosen restrictions on unmanned aircraft. [The Washington Post]


8. Ireland launches investigation of mass grave at home for unwed mothers
Ireland’s government announced on Tuesday that it would investigate high mortality rates and evidence of abuse at homes for unmarried mothers decades ago. Researcher Catherine Corless concluded recently that 796 children, most of them infants, had died of malnutrition, pneumonia, and other causes at a home run by a Catholic religious order between 1925 and 1962. The babies were buried in an unused septic tank. [The Associated Press]


9. Ted Cruz formally ditches Canadian citizenship
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has received notice from Canada, the country of his birth, that hisrenunciation of his Canadian citizenship has officially taken effect. Cruz’s American mother and Cuban father, who later gained U.S. citizenship, lived in Alberta when he was born, giving him dual citizenship. Cruz is a potential 2016 presidential candidate, and the move could preempt questions about his eligibility. [The Dallas Morning News]


10. Women’s moles might hint at breast cancer risk
The number of moles a woman has on her skin might be an indicator of breast cancer risk, according to two new studies. American and French scientists have found that women with more moles are at higher risk — 35 percent higher than women with no moles, one study found, if they have 15 or more moles on a single arm. Still, researchers say more research is necessary to explain the link. [CBS News]


Michele Bachmann vs. Bernie Sanders CNN Debate Goes Completely Off the Rails


It was the type of shout-fest debate that would not have been out of place in the original Crossfire. But instead of taking place on the reboot of that show, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Sen.Bernie Sanders (I-VT) went head-to-head on CNN’s The Situation Room Monday afternoon. Once they got going, all host Wolf Blitzer had to do was get out of the way as these two ideologically-opposed lawmakers went at each other’s throats for nearly fifteen minutes straight.

The presumed topic was income inequality, which is expected to be a major focus of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address tomorrow night. But over the course of the segment, the conversation coverage a large variety of related topics from early childhood education to Wall Street regulations and everything in between.

For much of the debate it appeared the Bachmann and Sanders were talking simultaneously, while a seemingly helpless Blitzer sat on the sidelines choosing not to moderate in the traditional sense.

When Sanders said Republicans want to cut Social Security, Bachmann shot back with, “That is absolutely a lie. It’s brought up all the time and it’s a lie. Let’s face it, Senator Sanders. you shouldn’t be lying about what our position is.” When he asked her directly if she supports “chained CPI” and raising the minimum wage, Bachmann would not answer, choosing instead to direct the points she was trying to make straight towards Blitzer. Meanwhile, Bachmann had to pause several times throughout the conversation to tell Sanders to “calm down.”

Somehow, Bachmann and Sanders emerged from the segment without causing each other any physical harm, but the emotional damage was done. “This was an excellent discussion,” Blitzer said when the whole thing was over.

Watch the full segment in all its glory below, via CNN:

Bernie Sanders Exposes Ted Cruz and Explains Why He is a Koch Fueled Threat to Democracy


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) connected the dots and explained that by blocking Tom Wheeler’s FCC nomination, Ted Cruz revealed himself to be a Koch fueled threat to democracy.


Ed Schultz asked Sen. Sanders about Ted Cruz blocking the nomination of Tom Wheeler to be the chairman of the FCC.

Sanders answered,

What Sen. Cruz is talking about is an issue of huge huge consequence. At the end of the day, these guys have gotten Citizens United, and that means that the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, and all of these guys can spend hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars on political campaigns often without any disclosure. They want to go further. What they want to do is they want to make sure that individuals will be able to spend as much money as they want on campaigns, giving money to individuals without any disclosure whatsoever.

So ultimately what they are about is creating a campaign finance system where billionaires can spend unlimited sums of money on campaigns and candidates electing the people that they want. That is not in my view a democracy. That is called oligarchy, where the nation is run by a handful of billionaires, and the democratic foundations of this country are totally subverted.

Now what Sen. Cruz is here talking about, he is really outraged by the fact that the FCC is supporting a rule, which says that if you are putting ads on television in the 50 largest media markets in this country that they’re going to put that information on their website, so that the American people know who is in fact, funding these ads. In my view we should see that, not only in 50 largest markets, but all over this country. Not only on television, but on radio.

The bottom line here is that what Sen. Cruz and his friends want is a campaign system where a few billionaires can spend unlimited sums of money without any disclosure at all. That is what they want, and have we’ve got not only to defeat that, but we need the alternative, which is overturning Citizens United, and which is moving forward toward the public funding of elections.

Sanders explained that the same people who are trying to create an oligarchy also want to cut entitlements. Sen. Sanders pointed out that Ted Cruz would be easy to defeat at the ballot box, but he and his right wing billionaire funded friends are having some success with dragging Democrats to the right on Social Security and Medicare.

It’s all connected. If you want to keep Social Security and Medicare, you need to demand the overturn of Citizens United. If you want a federal government that represents the many instead of the wealthy few, the country needs to move to publicly funded elections.

Ted Cruz is the most dangerous of the Republican Koch puppets because he is attacking the very heart of our representative democracy. Cruz has been a godsend for Democratic fundraising, but he is no joke. The Senator from Texas isn’t Sarah Palin, and by blocking the Wheeler nomination, Cruz demonstrated that he is more than willing to deliver control of the United States government over to a few conservative billionaires.

Dismissing Cruz would be a mistake. Sen. Sanders has it right. The American people must stand up and fight.


Obama doesn’t have a ‘juice’ problem. He has a Republican problem

Running low on juice?

Running low on juice?

I saw the POTUS’  press conference earlier this week.  When the reporter asked him if he had still had “juice” with Republicans I immediately thought of the slang term: juice– respect, power.

The author’s  definition seems somewhat skewered.  However, his analysis of President Obama’s hopefulness in getting Republican leaders to see things his way and the futility of that effort seems to be spot on.

The Week

The big question in Washington this week comes from ABC’s Jonathan Karl, who asked President Obama at a press conference: “Do you still have the juice?”

Juice, in this context, means the energy and wherewithal to have your way, to get the job done. (Karl’s “still have” presumes Obama had the juice to begin with, which is increasingly debatable.)

Karl also asked about the president’s failure to end the sequester or get a gun bill through the Senate (it would have died in the House anyway), and implied that these episodes showed how powerless and ineffective Obama is just 100 days into his new term.

Obama knew he was outgunned by the NRA and its Congressional cronies from the beginning, but he stuck his neck out anyway. That he lost the gun-control fight says not so much about his power (or lack thereof) as it does about ongoing, implacable Republican resistance to his wishes. Karl didn’t ask about that. His question implied that Obama’s weakness was solely to blame for these legislative failures. That’s simply not the case.

What of this GOP stubbornness? If anything, it’s greater than ever today.

Why? Because Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — whose most fervent hope was that Obama would be a one-term president — now knows with absolute certainty that Obama will be gone in three-and-a-half years.

In fact, the Kentucky senator has less incentive to deal now then ever before, because there’s a good chance that Republicans will win the Senate next year. The Senate is 54-45 in favor of Democrats now (one independent, Bernie Sanders, caucuses with Democrats). But of the 35 Senate seats up for grabs in November 2014, 21 are held by Democrats, including several long-timers who are retiring. No sitting president’s party has ever gained seats in the midterm of a second term, and if the GOP wins the Senate, and hangs onto the House (a good bet), the president would be completely shut out on Capitol Hill — and the lamest of ducks.

This whole Obama/juice flare-up is, of course, part of a broader meme that’s popular inside the Beltway: that Obama is aloof, insular. If only he was more of a people person, a back-slapper type, the meme goes, things would be different. Much more of his agenda would be getting through.

I don’t buy it. Obama drinks. He plays golf. He watches sports. He eats out a lot. He’s done all of these guy things with Republicans, and it hasn’t made a lick of difference. They simply don’t want to cross the aisle.

The problem is not that Obama lacks “juice.” What he lacks, here in his fifth year in office, is an understanding that he’s never going to get anywhere with Republicans.  At a California fundraiser last month, he said he’s going to keep trying — even though he acknowledged that it’s irritating his base — because the country needs it. He thinks that eventually, Republicans will do, as he puts it, “the right thing.” Who is he to say what’s right? Obama got 51 percent of the vote in November — not exactly a mandate. Republicans, as they see it, are doing the right thing. And unlike Obama, they’re not irritating their base. They’re playing to it.

The president still thinks he can change Washington.  He can’t. This isn’t a failure. The forces against him — deeply entrenched, heavily financed, well-organized — were here long before he came to town all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. They’ll still be around when he leaves 45 months from now.

So what can Obama do? He can stop defining his opponents in terms of who he thinks they are — stubborn men who will eventually see the brilliance of his ways — and start defining them as who they really are: implacable foes, enemies who are out to trip him, defeat him, destroy him. He can campaign against them, raise money for their opponents, unleash the grassroots database he used to destroy Mitt Romney on them. He can stop playing nice, stop hoping for the best, and start toughening up. That’s the Chicago way.

Monday Blog Roundup – 4-15-2013

Can a gun bill pass in House?
As the Senate opened debate on gun control measures for the first time in nearly 20 y..

When cynicism rules the day
Congressional Republicans pushed President Obama as hard as they could to put chaine..

Prime Suspect in Texas DA Murders
This looks like a pretty big break in those Texas DA murders. Eric Williams, a forme..

Here’s What You Need to Bust the NRA
To bust them as blood-gargling psychopaths. In recent years 38% of the 16,000,000 an..

Bernie Sanders on frontline for veterans
As an antiwar activist who never served in the military and the first self-proclaime..

Hispanics, Well … Turn Out to Be Democrats
Everybody is focused on the centrality of immigration reform as a driver of Hispanic..

Video: Kim Jong Un says Japan is first in the crosshairs
Japan says its armed and ready in case North Korea acts on threats, and U.S. Secretar..

John Kerry Visits South Korea Amid Missile Test Fears
SEOUL, South Korea — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in South Korea..

Gun-rights group endorses Manchin-Toomey compromise
A gun-rights group on Sunday endorsed a bipartisan compromise in the Senate to expand..

Girl commits suicide after rape photos circulate…
Audrie Pott Let’s do everything we can to make sure this doesn’t become a trend, oka..

Liberals fuming over Social Security cuts in Obama’s budget proposal

Barack Obama, pictured here on February 15, 2013, will become the first serving US president to receive Israel's presidential medal (AFP)

Barack Obama, pictured here on February 15, 2013, will become the first serving US president to receive Israel’s presidential medal (AFP)

Regarding President Obama’s Budget Proposal:  It’s been said that President Obama is an excellent chess player.  In my opinion, there’s a method to his madness when dealing with this extremely dysfunctional Congress.  Sometimes it’s worth looking at this situation through a more pragmatic lens.  I believe that the POTUS knows they will not accept his offer because he is asking for revenue (raising taxes on the wealthy) in exchange for these cuts.  However, whatever his next step is, he can truthfully say he offered the social cuts they had been asking for.

It would be great if Progressives were not so damned reactionary and simply analyzed the situation…but hey, that’s just my opinion.

The Raw Story

President Barack Obama will make key concessions to Republican foes next week when he unveils his US budget that proposes cuts to cherished entitlement programs, the White House said Friday.

Obama’s fiscal blueprint slashes the deficit by $1.8 trillion over 10 years, in what a senior administration official described as a “compromise offer” that cuts federal spending, finds savings in Social Security and raises tax revenue from the wealthy.

Republicans led by House Speaker John Boehner are opposed to new tax hikes, after the president secured $600 billion in increased tax revenue in a year-end deal.

Boehner’s party controls the House of Representatives, and passage of the president’s budget is unlikely if it contains new tax revenue provisions.

But Obama’s concession to conservatives in the form of reduced cost-of-living payouts for Social Security benefits could revive consideration of a deficit-reducing “grand bargain” that has proved elusive in recent years.

Such cuts to public pension programs and public health insurance for the elderly — seen as sacred cows for Obama’s Democrats — have been longstanding demands of Republicans.

“While this is not the president’s ideal deficit reduction plan, and there are particular proposals in this plan like the CPI (consumer price index) change that were key Republican requests and not the president’s preferred approach, this is a compromise proposal built on common ground,” the official said.

Obama is willing to “do tough things to reduce the deficit,” but only in the context of a package that includes new revenues from the wealthy, the official added.

Liberals immediately fumed that Obama appeared to be caving in to Republicans, with the group Democracy for America worried about the “profoundly disturbing” proposal for Social Security cuts.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats, warned the move would slash $120 billion from Social Security benefits over 10 years, and pledged to “do everything in my power to block” Obama’s so-called “chained CPI” proposal.

Even moderate Congressman Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, told MSNBC television that he has “serious concerns” about its impact on seniors.

The White House insisted that the Social Security cut was part of a recognition of the need to make some painful changes in federal programs in order to reduce spending.

“This isn’t about political horse trading; it’s about reducing the deficit in a balanced way that economists say is best for the economy and job creation,” the administration official said.

Obama’s new revenues will draw in part from capping retirement savings plans for millionaires, and closing some loopholes that benefit the rich.

The annual budget deficit is projected at 5.5 percent of gross domestic product for the fiscal year ending in September. Under the Obama budget, that would decline to 1.7 percent of GDP by 2023.

Combined with the $2.5 trillion in savings already achieved since negotiations in 2010, the Obama budget would bring total deficit reduction to $4.3 trillion over 10 years, slightly higher than the overall goal agreed to by both parties for stabilizing the national debt.

But Boehner warned that Obama had “moved in the wrong direction” by making skimpier entitlement cuts than he had offered in negotiations with Republicans last year.

And “if the president believes these modest entitlement savings are needed to help shore up these programs, there’s no reason they should be held hostage for more tax hikes. That’s no way to lead and move the country forward,” Boehner said.

Obama May Do Social Security Reform During Lame Duck Session, Senate Democrats Worry

Obama Social Security Reform

Many people realize that President Obama has had to cave in to Republicans on a few issues; for instance in order to get an emergency bill passed for unemployed workers or the  9/11 First Responders Health Care Bill.

However, this time if the POTUS does a quid pro quo with a promise to reform Social Security, the backlash will be loud and clear…

Huffington Post – Sam Stein

Concern is mounting among some Senate Democrats that President Barack Obama will make a deal with Senate Republicans during the lame-duck session that would result in changes to the benefit structure of Social Security.

One of the most progressive voices in the caucus, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), said he was heartened to hear Obama tell the AARP last week that he’d be open to raising the cap on income that’s taxed for purposes of paying into the Social Security trust fund. Sanders also applauded the president for taking off of the table any reform language that resulted in the “slashing” of benefits (several Social Security advocates, disagreeing with Sanders, said they were worried such language was counterproductive, as it opens the door for cuts that could be deemed minor).

But the Vermont Independent worried that all of this could be posturing for the lame-duck session immediately after the election, when lawmakers are expected to rush to find another “grand bargain” on tax and entitlement reform to stave off the so-called fiscal cliff.

“That’s exactly what’s going to happen,” Sanders said of Social Security being on the proverbial table, “Unless someone of us stops it — and a number of us are working very hard on this — that’s exactly what will happen. Everything being equal, unless we stop it, what will happen is there will be a quote-unquote grand bargain after the election in which the White House, some Democrats will sit down with Republicans, they will move to a chained CPI.”

Continue reading here…