17th May 2012

Photo reblogged from The Tale of Cigarella with 11 notes

cigarella:

Pure amazingness.

cigarella:

Pure amazingness.

17th May 2012

Post

Obama tries to sandwich Republicans on jobs plan, at a Washington deli

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/election-2012/post/obama-tries-to-sandwich-republicans-on-jobs-plan-at-a-washington-deli/2012/05/16/gIQAX8xrTU_blog.html

At the deli, Obama tried out the pitch he plans to make at lunch Wednesday with House Speaker John Boehner and other Capitol Hill leaders at the White House.

“My message to Congress . . .is let’s go ahead and act to help build and sustain momentum for our economy,” Obama told reporters before ordering his sandwiches. “There will be more than enough time for us to campaign and politic, but let’s not lose steam at a time when folks like these feel optimistic and ready to go.”

At the deli, Obama held a roundtable with Small Business Administrator Karen Mills and the owners of three small businesses: Casey Patten and David Mazza of Taylor Gourmet, Brian J. Smith, founding principal of the Francis Lee Contracting construction firm, and Kathy Rachels, president of Yes! Organic Markets.

The president highlighted one of the proposals on his to-do list: offering a 10 percent income tax credit to firms that create new jobs or increase wages in 2012.

“That gives them an incentive, as they’re expanding, to say, ‘Maybe we hire an extra two people, maybe we hire an extra three people, maybe we hire an extra 10 people’,” Obama said. “That way, they will have additional resources to continue to grow and expand. That’s something that in the past has been an idea that has garnered support from Democrats and Republicans, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t act on that right now.”

But Boehner said the president is focused on the wrong priorities at a time when Republicans are calling for deep spending cuts to tame a mounting federal debt burden.

“Where’s the president’s plans to tackle our looming debt crisis?” Boehner asked. “Where’s the president’s plan to tackle the largest tax increase in American history that will occur on Jan. 1? Where’s the president’s plan to replace the indiscriminate cuts to our military which will devastate their ability to keep America secure? It’s time to deal with the big issues that are affecting our country and our society. We’ve spent enough time playing small ball.”

According to the press pool report, Obama ordered a 12-inch Spruce Street hoagie, which has roast turkey, prosciutto, roasted red peppers and sharp provolone. It remained unclear what he picked up for his Congressional lunch mates, but the tab totaled $62.79.

17th May 2012

Post

Herman Cain formally endorses Mitt Romney

chapter 16, sec 3

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/election-2012/post/herman-cain-to-formally-endorse-mitt-romney/2012/05/16/gIQAemx5TU_blog.html

ve marks Cain’s third endorsement since suspending his own White House run last Decemberamid multiple allegations of sexual harassment and a 13-year affair.

Cain’s announcement followed a meeting of tea party supporters that was titled “The More Perfect Union Panel.”

“One way to achieve this goal of a more perfect union is by getting Barack Obama out of the White House,” Cain said. “Throwing our support and energy behind Mitt Romney is a big step in accomplishing this mission.”

Cain in mid-January announced that he was endorsing “the people.” Then, three days before the Florida GOP primary, he threw his support behind former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), like Cain a candidate with strong appeal among tea-party backers.

Wednesday’s event also marks the third time that Cain has offered an endorsement of sorts for Romney.

Even before Gingrich formally announced last month that he was leaving the GOP race, Cain had indicated that he was backing the presumptive GOP nominee.

“When John McCain was our candidate three and a half years ago, 6 million conservative Republicans stayed home,” Cain said early last month at a gathering of about 200 tea party supporters in Gilbert, Ariz.

“If your favorite nominee does not get the nomination, get over it. Focus on the mission. My favorite person isn’t in there either – me. … So when you hear people say, ‘Well, I don’t like Romney, so I’m not going to do anything,’ you tell them that’s a vote for Barack Obama.”

Then, in an interview with Fox News Channel a week later, Cain reiterated that he believed the party should unite behind Romney.

“The numbers are on Mitt Romney’s side, and yes, I am always saying, I will support whoever the nominee is, and it looks like Mitt Romney’s going to be that nominee, and we do need to get behind him,” he said.

Cain’s influence on the race will likely be minimal, although he retains an enthusiastic base of support among tea party backers, many of whom – like the onetime candidate himself – argue that the allegations against him were the product of a “coordinated character attack.”

In his Arizona address, Cain devoted much of his remarks to blasting the “mainstream, lamestream, lapdog media,” which he contended had conspired against him during the campaign.

He then reminded a reporter in an interview after the event to attend his April 16 anti-tax rally in Washington, D.C.

17th May 2012

Post

Romney’s Mormonism could help him in the polls, study finds

chapter 16, section 3

new study released by the Brookings Institution suggests that it will — but not in the way one might expect.

Brookings fellow Matthew M. Chingos and University of Mississippi assistant professor Michael Henderson argue that contrary to conventional wisdom, “information about the LDS church and Mr. Romney’s affiliation with it poses little threat to his electoral prospects, even among evangelical Christians” and that “in fact, messages about Romney’s religion may even boost his support among conservatives.”

The authors point to decades of polling showing that as many as one in four voters say they would have reservations about voting for a Mormon presidential nominee.

But they argue that the results of an online survey that they conducted among 2,084 respondents — 16 percent of whom were white evangelical Christians — show that information about Romney’s religion actually had little effect among white evangelicals, and could actually give Romney something of a boost among conservatives more broadly.

Chingos and Henderson caution that their study is not definitive and was “not based on a nationally representative sample.” And the fact that it was conducted through an online survey as opposed to traditional polling methods suggests that the results should be taken with a large grain of salt.

Still, the study is an interesting counterpoint to the argument that Romney’s religion will be a hindrance and not a help come Election Day.new study released by the Brookings Institution suggests that it will — but not in the way one might expect.

Brookings fellow Matthew M. Chingos and University of Mississippi assistant professor Michael Henderson argue that contrary to conventional wisdom, “information about the LDS church and Mr. Romney’s affiliation with it poses little threat to his electoral prospects, even among evangelical Christians” and that “in fact, messages about Romney’s religion may even boost his support among conservatives.”

The authors point to decades of polling showing that as many as one in four voters say they would have reservations about voting for a Mormon presidential nominee.

But they argue that the results of an online survey that they conducted among 2,084 respondents — 16 percent of whom were white evangelical Christians — show that information about Romney’s religion actually had little effect among white evangelicals, and could actually give Romney something of a boost among conservatives more broadly.

Chingos and Henderson caution that their study is not definitive and was “not based on a nationally representative sample.” And the fact that it was conducted through an online survey as opposed to traditional polling methods suggests that the results should be taken with a large grain of salt.

Still, the study is an interesting counterpoint to the argument that Romney’s religion will be a hindrance and not a help come Election Day.a new study released by the Brookings Institution suggests that it will — but not in the way one might expect.

Brookings fellow Matthew M. Chingos and University of Mississippi assistant professor Michael Henderson argue that contrary to conventional wisdom, “information about the LDS church and Mr. Romney’s affiliation with it poses little threat to his electoral prospects, even among evangelical Christians” and that “in fact, messages about Romney’s religion may even boost his support among conservatives.”

The authors point to decades of polling showing that as many as one in four voters say they would have reservations about voting for a Mormon presidential nominee.

But they argue that the results of an online survey that they conducted among 2,084 respondents — 16 percent of whom were white evangelical Christians — show that information about Romney’s religion actually had little effect among white evangelicals, and could actually give Romney something of a boost among conservatives more broadly.

Chingos and Henderson caution that their study is not definitive and was “not based on a nationally representative sample.” And the fact that it was conducted through an online survey as opposed to traditional polling methods suggests that the results should be taken with a large grain of salt.

Still, the study is an interesting counterpoint to the argument that Romney’s religion will be a hindrance and not a help come Election Day.

10th April 2012

Post

Bush: ‘I wish they weren’t called the Bush tax cuts’

Government book: chapter 20 sec. One

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/bush-i-wish-they-werent-called-the-bush-tax-cuts/2012/04/10/gIQAX3WR8S_blog.html?hpid=z3


“People ask, ‘Do you miss the presidency?’ I really don’t,” Bush said at an economic forum hosted by his George W. Bush Institute at the New York Historical Society. “I enjoyed it; it was an unbelievably interesting experience. It was inconvenient to have to stop at some stop signs — stop lights coming over here, but I guess I miss that.”

Bush also offered some revealing comments about one of his most enduring pieces of legislation, the so-called Bush tax cats.

Bush said that the tax cuts would have a better chance of surviving if his name hadn’t been attached to them. In recent years, Democrats have resisted renewing the cuts, which they say favor the wealthy too much.

“I wish they weren’t called the ‘Bush tax cuts,’” he said.

Bush also seemed to suggest that, as the country climbs out of a recession, the focus on the budget deficit should take a back seat to the focus on growing the economy.

“Most of the political debate — and I guess rightly so — is about our balance sheet,” Bush said. “But we believe that, in order to solve the balance sheet, first and foremost, you’ve got to grow the private sector. And therefore, the focus ought to be on private-sector growth.”

Those comments seem to fly in the face of the new tea party-influenced Republican Party, which has been pushing the debate more towards spending cuts.

But Bush said a bigger economy would eventually eclipse the exploding national debt.

“The pie grows, the debt relative to the pie shrinks, and with fiscal discipline, you can better solve your current account deficits and your entitlements,” Bush said.

The speech was notable for the light-hearted tone from the former president, who has shied from the public eye and made a point not to weigh in on President Obama’s performance.

Bush repeatedly poked fun at himself, noting the caricature of his presidency as one of an unsophisticated half-wit.

Talking about a book put out by his foundation, Bush joked that people would be surprised that he is producing yet more literature — in addition to the memoir he released after his presidency.

“It’s got to be a staggering thing for some of the cynics up here; I publish a book, and now the Bush Institute’s publishing a book,” Bush said. “They didn’t think I could read, much less write a book.”

28th March 2012

Link reblogged from Tartan Tambourine with 13 notes

Support for Afghan War Falls in U.S., Poll Finds - NYTimes.com →

Government book: War Poerrs; debate over: 157,163,249

The [latest New York Times/CBS News] survey found that more than two-thirds of those polled — 69 percent — thought that the United States should not be at war in Afghanistan. Just four months ago, 53 percent said that Americans should no longer be fighting in the conflict, more than a decade old. The increased disillusionment was even more pronounced when respondents were asked their impressions of how the war was going. The poll found that 68 percent thought the fighting was going “somewhat badly” or “very badly,” compared with 42 percent who had those impressions in November.

28th March 2012

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Frank to GOP: Boost taxes if you want more defense spending

Government book: Taxes, pages: 558-559, 556,557, 657
http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20120327/CONGRESS01/203270301/1001

Rep. Barney Frank is asking Republicans how they plan to simultaneously increase military activity and reduce the deficit without raising taxes.

If you want to intervene in Syria or conduct other military actions around the world, then raise taxes, Frank said, speaking Tuesday at the Center for National Policy in Washington.

Over the last decade, the U.S. government reduced taxes beyond what was prudent, given it was conducting two wars, he said.

Rather than raise taxes, Republicans would like to reduce “entitlement” or mandatory spending programs, which include Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Frank, D-Mass., said he’d like to make medical care in the U.S. more efficient, but said he did not approve of reducing medical care, especially for poor people. Instead, Frank said he’d like to see steeper cuts to defense spending. Today’s defense budget is still designed to counter an existential threat like that posed by the Soviet Union, he said, despite the fact that one no longer exists.

Frank, who announced in November that he is not running for re-election, serves as the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee. He said the country could reduce defense spending by 25 percent and still maintain its position as the strongest military power in the world.

"Terrorists are not the functional equivalent of the threat posed by fascism or the Soviet Union," he said, because they cannot defeat the U.S. militarily. "You can’t beat terrorists with nuclear submarines, although I wish you could, because we have them."

Frank said the United States no longer needs to maintain three different ways of delivering nuclear weapons, what is known as the nuclear triad. The U.S. has bomber aircraft, intercontinental ballistic missiles and ballistic missile submarines.

The Obama administration’s 2013 budget request protects all three legs of the nuclear triad but delays the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine replacement by two years.

"During the Cold War, we had three ways of dropping nuclear weapons on the Soviet Union; we still have three ways to drop nuclear weapons, even though there is no longer a Soviet Union," Frank said. "I’d like to tell the Pentagon: pick two."

Frank was also critical of NATO, saying it currently serves as a vehicle to subsidize European defense. He would also remove forces from Okinawa and end operations in Afghanistan.

Frank said with these reductions, the United States could still maintain a strong military presence. He said he wanted the Navy’s 5th Fleet to remain in the Middle East and for the U.S. to be able to protect Taiwan.

Despite his call for further reductions to defense spending, Frank said the automatic spending cuts that would take place under sequestration are not the right method for shrinking the Defense Department’s budget.

Currently, the Pentagon plans to cut an estimated $487 billion over the next decade to meet discretionary spending caps imposed by the Budget Control Act. If Congress fails to enact an additional $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, sequestration, which imposes automatic spending cuts across the government, would start in January 2013, including an additional $500 billion cut automatically from DoD.

While Frank said the amount of defense spending to be cut under sequestration was not excessive, he opposed the method.

The Pentagon should have the ability to pick and choose what should and shouldn’t be cut, rather than sustaining the across-the-board cuts that would come with sequestration, he said.

Congress is headed for two train crashes: sequestration and the expiration of the tax cuts that were first signed into law by President George W. Bush, Frank said. The tax cuts are set to expire Jan. 1, the same day that sequestration goes into effect.

Frank predicted it would be the most powerful lame duck session in history, with the results of the November elections shaping everything.

28th March 2012

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Analyst: Obama’s FY13 budget would mean 8 percent dip in contract spending

Government book: Budget, balanced, page 77 
http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20120327/ACQUISITION03/203270303/1001#pluckcomments

Federal agencies plan to reduce contract spending by $60 billion next year, according to an analysis of President Obama’s 2013 budget plan by the market research firm Deltek.

Agencies included more than $700 billion in their 2013 budget requests for products and services that contractors will likely provide, which is about 8 percent below the $768 billion in contract spending that agencies budgeted for this year, Ray Bjorklund, Deltek’s chief knowledge officer, said at the firm’s annual budget outlook event Tuesday.

The biggest hit to contract spending is expected in aerospace and defense programs, where agencies cut about $40 billion — or 21 percent — for a contract spending projection of $148 billion in 2013, according to Bjorklund. The Army’s budget will be hit the hardest: Contract spending is projected to drop by $14 billion, or 38 percent, from this year’s level.

Contract spending in architecture and engineering services and construction also is projected to drop about 16 percent governmentwide, from $32 billion in 2012 to $27 billion in 2013, the analysis showed. Funds for investment products, such as machinery, furniture and information technology hardware and software, were also reduced by 14 percent, from $34 billion in 2012 to $29 billion in 2013.

Agencies are likely to redirect some of that money toward services to maintain existing infrastructure, Bjorklund said.

Despite these cuts, there are pockets of anticipated growth in contracting, Bjorklund said. NASA has requested $4 billion for research and development contracts, a 10 percent increase over 2012, and the Commerce Department has asked for $870 million in support services and equipment for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an 18 percent increase over 2012, Bjorklund said.

Agencies requested $127 billion for other white-collar services, such as management and administrative support. The request reflects a 10 percent increase over what agencies received in 2012. The Army’s budget request of $20 billion for white-collar services shows the greatest growth compared with 2012 as the service prepares to train Afghan security forces, Bjorklund said.

Spending on medical services contracts is also expected to grow by about $5 billion to $75 billion in 2013, an increase of 7 percent over 2012. Most of the growth in medical services will come from the Office of Personnel Management, which is driven partly by health insurance programs for government employees, Bjorklund said.

26th March 2012

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How health care case will unfold before the court

Government book: chapter 8 pg. 647. Supreme court

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments on Monday over President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, derisively labeled “Obamacare” by its opponents. A look at how the case will unfold before the court in question-and-answer form:
Q: What’s this all about?
A: The Supreme Court is hearing a challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is Obama’s signature domestic achievement. Passed by Congress in 2010, its aim is to provide health insurance to more than 30 million previously uninsured Americans, while trying to restrain costs and prevent disruptions to the majority already with coverage. Opponents say the law is unconstitutional; their chief argument is that Congress does not have the power to force unwilling Americans to buy health insurance or pay a fine.
Q: When will the court get started?
A: Justices will begin hearing arguments shortly after 10 a.m. EDT Monday, March 26. They will hear six hours of arguments on several different issues on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Q: Which issues on which days?
A: Monday’s 90-minute argument is about whether court action is premature because no one yet has paid a fine for not having health insurance. Tuesday’s two-hour argument will cover the central issue of whether Congress overstepped its authority by requiring Americans to purchase health insurance starting in 2014 or pay a penalty. Wednesday’s arguments will be split into two parts: Justices will hear 90 minutes of debate in the morning over whether the rest of the law can take effect even if the health insurance mandate is unconstitutional and another hour Wednesday afternoon over whether the law goes too far in coercing states to expand the federal-state Medicaid program for low-income people by threatening to cut off federal aid to states that don’t comply.
Q: When will the justices rule?
A: The court could decide any time, but complex cases argued in the spring normally produce decisions near the end of the court’s session, scheduled for late June.
Q: Is it possible that the justices won’t decide whether the law is constitutional or not?
A: It is possible. The first issue the court is discussing is whether an obscure tax law makes it too early for the Supreme Court to get involved. If they decide that the issue is premature, then the case will be dismissed without a binding ruling from the justices.
Q: What did lower federal courts say?
A: The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled that Congress overstepped its authority when lawmakers passed the insurance mandate, the only appeals court to come to that conclusion. The 6th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld the entire law, as did the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington, D.C. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., ruled that the question was premature and the law can’t be challenged in court until after 2015, when the first penalties for not having insurance would be paid.
Q: Who are the justices on the Supreme Court?
A: The chief justice is John Roberts, who joined the court in 2005 after being nominated by President George W. Bush. In order of seniority, the other justices are Antonin Scalia (confirmed in 1986 after being nominated by President Ronald Reagan), Anthony Kennedy (1988 by Reagan), Clarence Thomas (1991 by President George H.W. Bush), Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1993 by President Bill Clinton), Stephen Breyer (1994 by Clinton), Samuel Alito (2006 by President George W. Bush), Sonia Sotomayor (2009 by Obama) and Elena Kagan (2010 by Obama.)
Q: Who will be arguing for the law?
A: Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. will argue for the government on Monday and Tuesday. Deputy Solicitor General Edwin S. Kneedler will present part of the government’s case on Wednesday, and Verrilli will do the rest. Information about Verrilli and the solicitor general’s office can be found here: http://www.justice.gov/osg/index.html . A court-appointed lawyer, H. Bartow Farr III, will also argue that if government cannot require people to buy health insurance, all other provisions of the law can go into effect. Another court-appointed lawyer, Robert Long, will also argue that the lawsuits challenging the insurance purchase requirement are premature because the penalty has yet to be imposed.
Q: Who will be arguing against the law?
A: Representing Florida on Monday will be Washington appellate lawyer Gregory G. Katsas. Former Solicitor General Paul Clement, now in private practice, will represent Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday. Former Justice Department attorney Michael A. Carvin will represent the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
Q: Can I go watch the arguments, and if I can’t make it to Washington, can I watch on television or online?
A: The Supreme Court does not allow live television or radio broadcasts from inside its building, so the only way Americans can actually see or hear the arguments live is to be inside the courtroom while lawyers and justices debate. There are seats reserved inside the courtroom for members of the public on a first-come, first-served basis, with some people allowed to stay for the entire argument while others have to leave the courtroom and give their seats to the next people in line after 3-5 minutes. The Supreme Court will also make the audio recording of the arguments available later the same day on its website: http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_audio.aspx.
Q: What type of health care do the justices get, and will they be affected by their ruling?
A: The justices participate in the same health care plan as members of Congress and other federal workers. As participants in an employee-sponsored health care plan, it is unlikely that whatever decision the Supreme Court makes will substantially affect their personal health care insurance.
Q: I’ve heard people say that Justices Elena Kagan and Clarence Thomas should take no part in this case? What’s that about?
A: Opponents of the law wanted Kagan to disqualify herself because she served as solicitor general under Obama when the health care overhaul law was conceived and passed. She has said she did not participate in crafting a legal defense for the law, but her detractors doubt her statement. Thomas’ detractors insist that he should have disqualified himself because his wife, Ginni, worked with groups that opposed the new law.
Decisions to stay out of a case are the responsibility of each individual justice, and neither Kagan nor Thomas justice stepped aside.
Roberts said in his 2011 year-end report that he has “complete confidence in the capability of my colleagues to determine when recusal is warranted. They are jurists of exceptional integrity and experience whose character and fitness have been examined through a rigorous appointment and confirmation process. I know that they each give careful consideration to any recusal questions that arise in the course of their judicial duties.”


http://news.yahoo.com/health-care-case-unfold-court-111208650.html

21st February 2012

Photo reblogged from Wonklife with 82 notes