Archive for the ‘Washington’ Category

budget

In a bid to avoid a possible government shutdown, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote today on a budget bill that leaves funding in place for the nation’s new healthcare law.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted on a budget last week that stripped funding from the program, which establishes insurance exchanges that allow individuals to purchase group health plans without going through their employer or union. Those exchanges are set to open Tuesday, the first day of the 2014 Fiscal Year. Individuals will have until March of 2014, to get health insurance either on their own, through their employer or union, or from one of the marketplaces set up by the law — or pay a fine.

The Senate, which is dominated by Democrats, won’t pass a budget without it. And of course, President Barack Obama isn’t going to sign a bill that guts funding for his signature health care law, commonly referred to as “Obamacare.”

Congressional Republicans are bluffing. They’ve taken the economy hostage and they’re threatening to shoot it in the head unless Democrats agree to defund The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — the bulk of which is set to roll out Tuesday, at the start of the new fiscal year.

On the one hand, the Tea Party wing of the GOP wants us to believe that their opposition to “Obamacare” is so strong that they’re willing to pull the trigger — they’ll let the government shutdown for lack of a budget and they’ll wreck the economy further by not raising the debt ceiling, causing the government to default on debts Congress has already racked up. Never mind that neither one of those disastrous decisions would have the desired effect of putting a stop to the new healthcare law.

That’s their stated goal. And they know shutting down the government and defaulting on its debts won’t get them any closer to it.

This week, the futility of Tea Party resistance to Obamacare was symbolized by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) On Tuesday, Cruz took the floor for a sort of filibuster against the law.

He can’t technically claim that title for his opposition — even though it lasted more than 21-hours — because the law passed in 2010 before Cruz was even a Senator and his long-winded speech was ended at noon on Wednesday by Senate rules. But most importantly, Cruz’ diatribe on Duck Dynasty, Dr. Seuss and Darth Vader wasn’t really a filibuster because when it came down to it, he joined all 99 other Senators by voting to move ahead with debate on a bill that left funding for Obamacare intact.

Like all hostage takers, Cruz and his ilk are desperate and craven. Neither he nor his Tea Party bretheren were in Congress when the Affordable Care Act was passed, but that won’t keep them from trying to put the kibosh on it any way they can dream of.

Congress Dome

Members of Congress who would kill Obamacare won’t stop short of gumming up the budget process and causing a government shutdown if a bill doesn’t pass by Monday at midnight. And if that doesn’t do it, they’ll stand in the way of raising the debt ceiling, causing the government to stop paying its bills.

Or so they would have us believe. But like I said, they’re bluffing. And now the White House is calling that bluff. All along, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), has said nobody in his party wants the government to shut down. He’s not willing to to drive the country off the fiscal cliff, he says, but Boehner’s talk doesn’t match up with what members of his party in both houses of Congress are saying and doing. They’ll be in Washington all weekend “negotiating” a budget deal. But so far, President Obama has rejected all of their alternatives, insisting on a “clean budget bill” that leaves funding for Obamacare intact.

Boehner says the House won’t go for that. He floated the idea of a continuing resolution that would delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act and allow the government to continue operations. Obama rejected it. The President has also said that he won’t negotiate on raising the debt ceiling, which needs to be done by mid-October to ensure the government can continue to pay its bills.

CNN Political Ticker

(CNN) — First lady Michelle Obama joins several hip-hop heavyweights to fight childhood obesity with music.

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Young Progressive Voices

Two conservative justices on the Supreme Court have raised questions about laws regarding ethics and conflicts-of-interest when it comes to the cases that the SCOTUS reviews. Unlike all other federal judges, Supreme Court justices are not responsible for following the Code of Conduct for United States judges. Instead, they are given broad latitude and authority to recuse themselves from cases if they feel that is the right thing to do. Unfortunately, in the cases of Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, they have failed to do so, and have faced heat from concerned citizens multiple times for alleged conflicts of interest. With respect to past events, a group of Democrats plan to bring forward legislation to force Supreme Court to adhere to a system of ethics.

Right now, there is no process for citizens to complain or make a complaint about the ethical performance of judges on the Supreme Court:

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CBS DC

WASHINGTON — House Republicans and Democrats are meeting in the grand Statuary Hall of the Capitol to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Wednesday’s ceremony was being led by House Speaker John Boehner, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

The anniversary of the historic march is Aug. 28, but Congress is supposed to be in recess then. The anniversary comes as President Barack Obama is touring the country to promote his agenda including jobs and economic growth.

The 1963 march drew approximately 250,000 people to the National Mall and Lincoln Memorial. Its purpose was to call attention to economic inequality, but is most remembered for Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech.

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Lippitt's Policy and Politics Blog

ABSTRACT: While the use of the filibuster in the US Senate gets more attention, the obstructionism and extremism in the US House is more insidious. And it is no less harmful. One of the tactics in the House is the so-called “Hastert rule.” It stipulates that no piece of legislation will be voted on unless over half the members of the Republican majority support it. Therefore, 27% of the members of the House – barely over one quarter – can stop progress. The bipartisan immigration reform bill that the Senate passed is a current example of legislation that this conservative minority has blocked from consideration. It has meant that bipartisan compromises negotiated by the current Republican House Speaker John Boehner are rejected. Legislation that does pass the House is generally so conservative that it has no chance of becoming law. This is a major contributor to the current gridlock…

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