Archives for News

Medicare hike may hurt the middle class

Retired as a city worker, Sheila Pugach lives in a modest home on a quiet street in Albuquerque, N.M., and drives an 18-year-old Subaru. Pugach doesn’t see herself as upper-income by any stretch, but President Barack Obama’s budget would raise her Medicare premiums and those of other comfortably retired seniors, adding to a surcharge that already costs some 2 million beneficiaries hundreds of dollars a year each. More importantly, due to the creeping effects of inflation, 20 million Medicare beneficiaries would end up paying higher “income related” premiums for their outpatient and prescription coverage over time. Administration officials say Obama’s
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A mother’s plea for real gun control

The mother of a 6-year-old boy killed in the Connecticut school shooting used the opportunity to fill in for President Barack Obama during the weekly radio and Internet address to make a personal plea from the White House for action to combat gun violence. “Thousands of other families across the United States are also drowning in our grief,” said Francine Wheeler, choking back tears in the address broadcast Saturday. “Please help us do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy.” Ben Wheeler was among the 20 first-graders and six adults killed in the Dec. 14 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary
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Republicans subpoena emails of Obama’s Labor nominee

GOP lawmakers have subpoenaed the private emails of Labor secretary-nominee Thomas Perez, a possible sticking point ahead of his Senate confirmation hearing next week. The subpoena, issued Wednesday by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrel Issa, R-Calif., to the Justice Department, seeks the emails as part of an investigation into an agreement Perez brokered last year in his capacity as the nation’s top civil rights enforcer. In the deal, Perez persuaded the city of St. Paul, Minn., to withdraw a lending discrimination lawsuit before it could be heard by the Supreme Court. In exchange, the Justice Department declined to join two
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Immigration bill could exclude many from citizenship

A bipartisan immigration bill soon to be introduced in the Senate could exclude hundreds of thousands of immigrants here illegally from ever becoming U.S. citizens, according to a Senate aide with knowledge of the proposals. The bill would bar anyone who arrived in the U.S. after Dec. 31, 2011, from applying for legal status and ultimately citizenship, according to the aide, who spoke on condition because the proposals have not been made public. It also would require applicants to document that they were in the country before Dec. 31, 2011, have a clean criminal record and show enough employment or
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Senate debate on gun background checks starts next week

The first hurdle cleared with deceptive ease, the Senate turns to the heart of the battle over curbing gun violence next week when it considers a proposal to expand required federal background checks to gun shows and online firearms sales. In a bipartisan 68-31 vote Thursday, senators rejected an effort by conservatives to block debate on Democrats’ gun control legislation, a measure backed by President Barack Obama. Senators then formally opened debate on the bill, lawmakers’ response to the mass shooting in December at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., and the most ambitious effort to limit gun violence in
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Second white supremacist arrested as result of Colorado prison chief’s death probe

Both of the white supremacist prison gang members whose names surfaced during an investigation into the slaying of Colorado’s prisons chief are now behind bars. Colorado Springs authorities arrested Thomas Guolee, 31, around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, according to El Paso County sheriff’s officials. They didn’t immediately release circumstances or details of his arrest. He was being held without bond for a parole violation, sheriff’s officials said. Last week, fellow 211 Crew member James Lohr was arrested in Colorado Springs after a short chase. Lohr, 47, is now being held on charges including vehicular eluding. His bond has been set at
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Rick Warren says son killed himself with illegal gun purchased over the ‘Net

Pastor Rick Warren said his son killed himself with an unregistered gun he purchased through the Internet. Warren sent a tweet Thursday saying he forgives whoever sold the weapon to his 27-year-old son Matthew, who committed suicide last Friday. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department is trying to find the seller but it won’t be easy. The gun’s serial number was scratched off, making it impossible to trace, spokesman Jim Amormino said. “We can’t tell if it’s registered or not because the serial number is scratched off,” he said. “At one point in time, it may have been, but it’s going
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Background check compromise gives new life to gun control in Senate

The Senate is ready to launch an emotion-charged debate on new gun restrictions, four months after the carnage at a Connecticut elementary school spurred President Barack Obama and Congress to address firearms violence. In an opening showdown Thursday, senators were scheduled to vote on an attempt by conservatives to scuttle the Democratic bill before debate even started. There were no real doubts the conservatives would be defeated and lawmakers would turn to the legislation, which would expand background checks to more gun buyers, toughen penalties against illicit firearms sales and offer slightly more money for school security. The roll call
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How does Obamacare affect federal budget? Good question

Next year is the year President Barack Obama’s signature health care law goes into high gear, covering millions of uninsured Americans by a mix of private plans and government programs infused with tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer money. You’d think there’d be a chapter in the new 2014 budget that lays it all out. Wrong. Well, maybe a table? Wrong again. A box? Nope. It turns out that the costs of the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare to its unyielding Republican foes— are sprinkled here and there through hundreds of pages of budget books. It’s partly due to
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Loud minorities often prevail in gun debate

At first glance, it seems Republicans are verging on a blunder. With about 90 percent of Americans favoring universal background checks for gun buyers, GOP lawmakers’ strong resistance might appear foolhardy. But these Republicans are making a calculated and probably safe choice, for several reasons. Their districts’ all-important GOP primaries are dominated by hard-right activists. The gun lobby is far more organized and fierce than any opposing groups. And Americans’ voting habits often reward those who refuse to compromise. “A small, passionate group of people, no matter how radical or extreme, can be more successful than a reasonable but less
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