Archives for News

Sequestration: So much for Obama’s second-term agenda

Just hours after across-the-board spending cuts officially took effect, President Barack Obama pressed Congress on Saturday to work with him on a compromise to halt a fiscal crisis that threatens the economy and his broader domestic policy agenda. The failure by Obama and Republicans to agree to halt the $85 billion ‘sequester’ cuts virtually guaranteed that fiscal issues would remain center stage in Washington for weeks, crowding out Obama’s proposals to reform immigration, tighten gun laws and raise the minimum wage. The economic effects of the spending cuts may take time to kick in, but political blowback has already begun
Read More

Illinois voters to the National Rifle Association: ‘Go to hell’

Before the special election primary in late February to select a Democratic candidate to run for the seat  to replace disgraced Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., few political pundits gave Robin Kelly much of a chance. In a crowded field of candidates, Kelly ran against two high-profile candidates with “A” ratings from the gun-touting National Rifle Association.  Kelly, on the other hand, had a lifetime “F” rating, which she considered a badge honor but others considered the kiss of death. The NRA told its members that it wasn’t wasting any money in the race but secretly poured a lot of money,
Read More

Budget debacle will not slow Obamacare rollout

Airline schedules, food inspections, IRS taxpayer assistance and deployments of Navy ships could all be hampered by the government’s automatic spending cuts. But President Barack Obama’s health care law — a program Republicans have spent the last three years trying to kill — will roll out on time, the administration says. Only a small fraction of the $1.6 trillion the Affordable Care Act spends to cover the uninsured over the next decade is subject to the so-called sequester. The cuts were to go into effect Friday, after Obama and congressional Republicans failed to agree on a mix of spending cuts
Read More

Bernanke says Fed pullback could put economic recovery at risk

Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, said on Friday that pulling back on aggressive policy measures too soon would pose a real risk of damaging a still-fragile recovery. There has been some disagreement within the Fed of whether the U.S. central bank’s bond-buying program, which is designed to push down long-term interest rates, should be phased out. Fed Board Governor Jeremy Stein argued recently there were signs of overheating in certain financial markets and that the central bank should consider using monetary policy to address such risks if they persist. The Fed chief was not convinced, saying that,
Read More

Hagel claims budget cuts puts Pentagon missions in peril

New Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Friday that budget uncertainty, including $46 billion in new defense cuts, jeopardizes the Pentagon‘s ability to effectively fulfill all its missions. Hagel, appearing at his first Pentagon news conference since he was sworn in on Wednesday, said the cuts mean the U.S. Navy would gradually stand down four air wings, the Air Force would immediately cut flying hours and the Army would reduce training. “Let me make it clear that this uncertainty puts at risk our ability to effectively fulfill all of our missions,” Hagel said, adding that while the cuts remain in
Read More

With automatic cuts now in place, time to face next crisis

Severe spending cuts now the law of the land, President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans refused Saturday to concede any culpability for failing to stave off what both parties acknowledged was a foolhardy way to slash $85 billion in federal spending. The still-fragile economy braced itself for the gradual but potentially grave impact of the across-the-board cuts, which took effect Friday night at the stroke of Obama’s pen. Hours earlier, he and congressional leaders emerged from a White House meeting no closer to an agreement. Even as they pledged a renewed effort to retroactively undo the spending cuts, both parties
Read More

Military base schools will feel budget pinch first

Public schools everywhere will be affected by the government’s automatic budget cuts, but few may feel the funding pinch faster than those on and around military bases. School districts with military ties from coast-to-coast are bracing for increased class sizes and delayed building repairs. Others already have axed sports teams and even eliminated teaching positions, but still may have to tap savings just to make it through year’s end. But there’s little hope for softening any future financial blows. “Next year is scarier than this year,” said Sharon Adams, chief financial officer for Muscogee County schools in Georgia. The district
Read More

The last ditch summit on budget problems: A futile effort?

  A fiscal deadline all but blown, President Barack Obama says he once again wants to seek a big fiscal deal that would raise taxes and trim billions from expensive and ever growing entitlement programs. But with automatic federal spending cuts ready to start taking their toll, the path toward that grand bargain Obama campaigned on last year has significantly narrowed. The president has summoned the top bipartisan congressional leadership to the White House, a meeting designed to give all sides a chance to stake out their fiscal positions with a new threat of a government shutdown less than four
Read More

Obama to Supremes: Overturn gay marriage ban

The Obama administration wants the Supreme Court to overturn California’s gay marriage ban, outlining a broad legal argument that could ultimately be applied to other state prohibitions across the country. The administration’s friend-of-the-court brief, filed Thursday evening, unequivocally calls on the justices to strike down California’s Proposition 8 ballot measure, although it stops short of the soaring rhetoric on marriage equality President Barack Obama expressed in his inaugural address in January. Still, it marks the first time a U.S. president has urged the high court to expand the right of gays and lesbians to wed. The brief is not legally
Read More

Congress sents Obama a renewal of Violence Against Women act

The House on Thursday passed and sent to President Barack Obama a far-reaching extension of the Violence Against Women Act. The vote came after House Republican leaders, cognizant of divisions in their own ranks and the need to improve their faltering image among women voters, accepted a bill that cleared the Senate two weeks ago on a strong bipartisan vote. The bill renews a 1994 law that has set the standard for how to protect women, and some men, from domestic abuse and prosecute abusers. Thursday’s 286-138 vote came after House lawmakers rejected a more limited approach offered by Republicans.
Read More