Archives for News

Obama to Hill: Make the right choices on budget problems

President Barack Obama, intensifying pressure on congressional Republicans, said Friday that lawmakers still have “the opportunity to make the right decisions” and avert a series of mandatory budget cuts by March 1. Despite little sign of a deal emerging with Republicans, Obama said he does not believe it is inevitable that the $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts will take effect. He said finding a way to avert the cuts should be a “no-brainer” for congressional lawmakers. Speaking in the Oval Office during a meeting with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Obama said that in contrast to earlier Washington
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New governors, new chance to grab the limelight

For governors with national ambitions, this is pad — and promote — your record time. Republicans Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is trying to ditch his state’s income tax while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is working to shift people off his state’s Medicaid rolls and onto private insurance. They are among the Republicans trying to claim an outside-the-Beltway mantle in a GOP lacking a single standard bearer. Their Democratic counterparts, like Martin O’Malley of Maryland and Andrew Cuomo of New York, are putting themselves at the vanguard of Democratic wish lists — from gay marriage and gun control to manufacturing jobs
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NRA, other gun proponents, play down increase in violent crimes by ‘law abiding’ citizens

While gun ownership proponents like the National Rifle Association claim increased availability of firearms does not affect the threats of violence by ‘law-abiding’ gun owners, a study of crime records show an increasing number of such crimes involve those who purchased guns legally and had no previous run-ins with the law. Relaxed gun laws that allow holders of concealed carry permits to carry guns in bars have resulted in upturns of violent acts by gun owners in such establishments. And the NRA is taking steps to ignore or conceal such statistics from the public and press by slanting their own
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GOP threats of cuts lead to voluntary downsizing by governments

Republicans and other fiscal conservatives keep insisting on more federal austerity and a smaller government. Without much fanfare or acknowledgement, they’ve already gotten much of both. Spending by federal, state and local governments on payrolls, equipment, buildings, teachers, emergency workers, defense programs and other core governmental functions has been shrinking steadily since the deep 2007-2009 recession and as the anemic recovery continues. This recent shrinkage has largely been obscured by an increase in spending on benefit payments to individuals under “entitlement” programs, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans benefits. Retiring baby boomers are driving much of this increase. Another
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Oregon gov. will brief other state leaders on health overhaul plan

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber will brief other state leaders this weekend on his plan to lower Medicaid costs, touting an overhaul that President Barack Obama highlighted in his State of the Union address for its potential to lower the deficit even as health care expenses climb. The Oregon Democrat leaves for Washington, D.C., on Friday to pitch his plan that changes the way doctors and hospitals are paid and improves health care coordination for low income residents so that treatable medical problems don’t grow in severity or expense. Kitzhaber says his goal is to win over a handful of other
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Older folks not protected by this year’s flu shots

It turns out this year’s flu shot is doing a startlingly dismal job of protecting older people, the most vulnerable age group. The vaccine is proving only 9 percent effective in those 65 and older against the harsh strain of the flu that is predominant this season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. Health officials are baffled as to why this is so. But the findings help explain why so many older people have been hospitalized with the flu this year. Despite the findings, the CDC stood by its recommendation that everyone over 6 months get flu
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Obama may step up support of gay marriage through Supreme Court

Facing heightened expectations from gay rights supporters, the Obama administration is considering urging the Supreme Court to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage — a move that could have a far-reaching impact on same-sex couples across the country. The administration has one week to file a friend-of-the-court brief with the justices outlining its opinion on the California ban, known as Proposition 8. While an administration brief alone is unlikely to sway the high court, the government’s opinion does carry weight with the justices. Opponents of the Proposition 8 ban believe the president signaled his intention to file a brief when
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Sen. Domenici fathered out-of-wedlock child with another senator’s daughter

For nearly 40 years, Sen. Pete Domenici‘s reputation was that of a well-respected — some might say staid — conservative Republican and honorable family man. But the 80-year-old New Mexico political giant’s persona was shaken Wednesday with the revelation that he had an out-of-wedlock child in the 1970s and became embroiled in what might be described as an inside-the-Beltway soap opera. While his wife Nancy was raising their eight children, Domenici had the affair and secret child with a woman about half his age — and who happened to be the daughter of one of his Senate colleagues. The woman
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Biden to speak at conference on gun violence

Vice President Joe Biden was scheduled to speak Thursday at a gun violence conference a few miles from the scene of last year’s Newtown school shooting massacre. The conference, in Danbury, is to push President Barack Obama’s gun control proposals. It was organized by members of the state’s congressional delegation including U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who said the proximity to Newtown was of “symbolic significance.” “There will be people with enormous expertise speaking but also Connecticut and Newtown residents who have felt the full burden and brunt of this horrific tragedy,” Blumenthal said. Other officials including U.S. Education Secretary Arne
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National Rifle Association padding membership claims while hiding losses

Insiders at the embattled National Rifle Association say the organization is padding its claims of recent increases in membership and say more members are leaving amid criticisms over strident positions taken by controversial leader Wayne LaPierre. “In reality, our membership is probably dropping,” says one embittered NRA staffer, who asked not to be identified.  “It’s hard to say because our membership department is always playing games with the numbers.” Capitol Hill Blue has received several hundred emails from persons who identify themselves as “former NRA members” who have left the organization in protests over the group’s hard-core positions following the
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