Brookfield, WI – Brookfield Square Mall will be opening its…
The extreme Right know who they are: bulls. Their pathway to public recognition comes by defying the Republican Party leadership, the actions they took doing this gave them major media attention. The media attention they got helped these extremists advance their minority-supported goals of privileges for the few at the expense of the many.
Progressive Left activists, on the other hand, talk, talk, talk and talk. They talk til they’re blue in the face, and when they stop talking, they generally turn to their tired often out-of-touch Party leaders for leadership, ignoring the fact that these same tired out-of-touch party leaders rely on the same commercial interests for money as the extreme right.
Relying on the same commercial interests money is one reason the Progressive left is unable to move their political agenda swiftly and effectively.
Where is the progressive Left’s political energy in Congress behind raising the federal minimum wage? Thirty million workers are making less today than workers made in 1968, adjusted for inflation. Had the minimum wage kept pace with inflation over these forty-five years, it would be $10.56 per hour instead of the current federal minimum wage of $7.25. A few members of Congress have put their modest bills in the hopper, but not on the Table.
They can’t move this agenda more swiftly because many Progressives rely on the same commercial interests tied to forces that are working too stop the minimum wage movement.
Meanwhile, the far Right can focus their energies on their agenda, unworried that the progressive-Left activists are even going to seriously organize themselves on what should be a signature issue for them, because the far right knows many of these Progressives are not willing to give up the goodies given to them by the commercial special interests groups they are friends with.
It stands to reason that while over 70 percent of the American people support minimum wage increase, the Progressives seem to stall on the issue because of their ties to the money that is opposed to the increase in minimum wage.
The comfortable Democrats, with their secure Congressional seats, to aggressively champion the cause of thousands of workers picketing fast food chains, Walmart and federal contractors who pay low wages, while many of their CEOs make millions of dollars a year, is being undermined by these same democrats who work hard to sustain a comfort level in Congress which will secure for them a retirement package designed to keep them comfortable once they leave Congress.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, non-profit advocacy groups and social service associations for the poor, whose members lean heavily Democratic, want an increase in the minimum wage to meet the necessities of life, but find they’re cause floating on a boat without a stern or paddle.
The progressive Democrats actually outnumber the Tea Partiers in the Congress, but seldom use those numbers to achieve a progressive victory for fear of losing the goodies they are pocketing.
Great issues such as cracking down on corporate crime, ending tax havens for corporations and the rich, creating public works programs with good paying jobs, pulling back on the Empire abroad, and rejecting corporate welfare and bailouts cannot seem to arouse the Left in Congress because the Left in Congress likes being invited to martini parties on Wall Street.
And being at Wall Street parties is about fun, and no one has fun if your shunned by the majority of those rich CEOs at those parties because your leading an anti-CEO campaign.
There is a growing frustration among Left groups that their allies on Capitol Hill are continually defeatist and unwilling to shake the place up as the Tea Partiers have been doing. They fear such shake up will cause their financiers in the big business community to drop them like a hot potato.
Progressive words must never mask the absence of progressive action in Congress. The people deserve better than progressive sinecurists in Congress who are so smug that they increasingly do not return calls from civic leaders who press them to move out of their comfort zones and from words to deeds.
State Representative, JoCasta Zamarripa is no longer the only Latina in the Wisconsin Assembly. For the first time the State of Wisconsin will have two Latinas on the Assembly floor–a first in state history.
Jesse Rodriquez won the Assembly seat in the special elections of the 21st district this week.
The win for Rodriquez will force Zamarripa to change her tired sounding reminder to us all of her being the only Latina in the Wisconsin Assembly.
Actually, I see Jesse Rodriquez’s victory as a refreshing win because we get a chance to see what an independent-minded conservative Hispanic woman will bring to the public table. Rodriquez represents for our state a contrast to Zamarripa.
Rodriquez will without question expose the people of Wisconsin to the notion that Hispanics are a diverse people with different ideas and political philosophy, and are not the homogenous population as the none-Latino left and their puppet Highspanic allies try to portray our community to be.
Alderman Donovan For Mayor?
This past week the Southside was hit with the sad news that a grandmother was murdered, becoming the 93rd homicide in Milwaukee.
One public official came out condemning the murder and demanding justice while at the same time, blasting Mayor Barrett with putting more priority on putting more street cars on the road rather than putting resources towards making our city streets safer.
In a press release Donovan said violence and disorder by a small group of individuals is unacceptable.
“It is not acceptable to me, and it should never be acceptable to anyone. If this activity was taking place in Brookfield, the National Guard would be called in, and the governor would be there personally to make sure the disorder was eliminated,” Donovan’s statement said.
Donovan continues to speak his mind by saying that the Police Department needs additional manpower and blaming city leaders for having “no plan, no strategy for addressing the deadly violence and disorder.”
The mayor’s office responded by saying what is Donovan complaining about! They point out that Donovan supported the mayor when he voted to approve the mayor’s budget that called for adding 120 new officers.
“Bob believes that people are naive enough to think that he is the only one in town that cares about this stuff,” Patrick Curley, Barrett’s chief of staff, is reported to have said in an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Is Alderman Donovan thinking about running for mayor?
If he does, you can bet your life savings that the Milwaukee Southside will without question mobilize big-time, to put a law and order firebrand like Donovan in office. And that you can take to the bank.
I can see it now. First city ordinance to be pushed by a Mayor Donovan–no sagging pants within city limits.
Secretary of State John Kerry says: Latin
America no longer ours
Secretary of State John Kerry has declared that a nearly 200-year-old policy which had governed Washington’s relations with Latin America was finally dead.
Known as the Monroe Doctrine after it was adopted in 1823 by former President James Monroe, the policy had stated that any efforts by European countries to colonize land in North or South America would be viewed as aggressive acts and could require U.S. intervention.
Where once the United States enacted policy where it can manipulate politically and economically Latin American countries, Kerry says that those ideas are a thing of the past.
“The doctrine that bears [Monroe's] name asserted our authority to step in and oppose the influence of European powers in Latin America,” Kerry told an audience at the Organization of American States. “And throughout our nation’s history, successive presidents have reinforced that doctrine and made a similar choice.”
“Today, however, we have made a different choice. The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over,” he insisted to applause.
“The relationship that we seek and that we have worked hard to foster is not about a United States declaration about how and when it will intervene in the affairs of other American states,” Kerry said. “It’s about all of our countries viewing one another as equals, sharing responsibilities, cooperating on security issues and adhering not to doctrine but to the decisions that we make as partners to advance the values and the interests that we share.”
Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who blew the lid of off the National Security Agency (NSA), is ready to assist a German probe into U.S. spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel.
In doing so, Snowden is about to reveal to the German government–the world really–the internal workings and operation of the NSA, the world’s most powerful national security organization.
But Snowden not only will talk to the German government, it seems that he is ready to talk directly to the U.S. Congress, a German lawmaker, who met Snowden, said.
Snowden met German Green party lawmaker Hans-Christian Stroebele at an undisclosed location in Moscow to discuss his revelations that Washington for years monitored Merkel’s mobile phone, which has caused an uproar in Europe.
On his return to Germany, Stroebele published a letter from Snowden and said the American was ready to testify to Congress to shed light on “possibly serious offenses.”
Snowden began work at an undisclosed Russian Internet firm and was granted asylum in Russia in August to the fury of the United States, where he faces trial on charges under the Espionage Act for exposing NSA operations spying and eavesdropping on millions of Americans phone conversation.
In the letter, Snowden said he was prepared to provide details of U.S. spying to Germany and he was “heartened” by the global response to his leaks despite the unrelenting U.S. pressure.
“I hope that when the difficulties of this humanitarian situation have been resolved, I will be able to cooperate in the responsible finding of fact regarding reports in the media, particularly in regard to the truth and authenticity of documents,” Snowdon wrote. “I look forward to speaking with you in your country when the situation is resolved.”
Speaking to reporters in Berlin after his return from Moscow, Stroebele said Snowden also wanted to testify before the United States Congress regarding his NSA experience.
“He said first up he would prefer to lay the facts on the table in front of the U.S. Congress. Snowden didn’t appear to me as anti-American or an enemy of America or some such, but quite the opposite,” said Stroebele.
The letter was addressed to the German government, the Bundestag lower house of parliament, and the federal public prosecutor.
Snowden’s Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said his client would not be able to travel to Germany for security reasons but was willing to help with the probe.
“Snowden will not go to Germany. This is not possible because he has no right to cross Russian borders,” Kucherena told the popular Echo Moscow radio. “If he does that, he can lose temporary asylum.”
But the Kremlin-friendly lawyer added: “Within the framework of international agreements Snowden can give testimony in Russia but this should be decided by the German authorities.”
Media reports based on Snowden’s disclosures of mass U.S. surveillance — including eavesdropping on nearly three dozen foreign leaders — have strained Washington’s ties with key allies.
German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said the government would like to speak to Snowden. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on Snowden’s contacts with the Germans. Snowden spent more than a month in the transit zone of a Moscow airport before receiving a year-long temporary asylum in August after exposing the massive surveillance by the NSA.
President Vladimir Putin has said Snowden was welcome to stay in Russia as long as he did not harm U.S. interests. Security expert Pavel Felgenhauer suggested Russian security services were likely to control Snowden’s access to foreign officials. “Security services and the Kremlin will decide what he can and cannot say publicly,” he said.
Also Friday, Snowden began providing IT support for an unnamed Russian Internet company, Kucherena. “It’s a security issue.”
Kucherena added that Snowden had had many job offers. “He is hugely popular in our country.” One of those offers came from the country’s top social network VKontakte (In Touch), after Snowden won asylum in Russia. But the company refused to say whether Snowden was now working for them. “We do not comment on this information,” VKontakte spokesman Georgy Lobushkin.
Clearly the United States is going to be embarrassed by what Snowden is going to say to the German government, but the story behind this story is the actions that world governments affected will take against the United States.
The Wisconsin Democratic establishment is going all out to endorse and push Mary Burke to run against Gov. Scott Walker. Strategically, doing this now is a crazy move. The primaries aren’t until August 2014 and already the Dems are putting all their effort behind the Burke candidacy.
Not only have the Dem establishment blocked out other potential Dems from running, they’ve given the GOP an example of what democracy does not look like.
Nevertheless, it appears that Madison School Board member Mary Burke has locked down key Democratic Party support to challenge Gov. Scott Walker next fall, but she has yet to win over many pro-labor, rank-and-file Dem activists.
Still, the Democratic Governors Association, which doesn’t typically endorse in primaries, is already backing Burke. The state Democratic Party leadership is backing Burke’s campaign. And U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, the state’s top-ranked elected Democrat promoted Burke’s three-minute campaign announcement video among her supporters.
But Democrats in the rank and file are not jumping on the Burke campaign, especially after the Democratic establishment seems to have met behind closed doors to handpick a candidate to run against the Governor in 2014, bypassing the democracy process most Democrats argue has been hijacked by the GOP at the state Capitol.
This gives the GOP a great example of hypocrisy, pointing out that the Democratic base was tossed under the bus by DPW party bosses intent on deciding for the base who the candidate will be, without input from the rank-and-file membership. This is what democracy does NOT look like.
Capital Times Columnist John Nichols even described the Dem 2014 strategy as “a terrible strategy.”
It seems that the reason so many Dems in the rank and file are voicing their displeasure about Burke and the Dem establishment strategy of joining forces behind Burke this early is because many rank and file in the Dem party believe the establishment has no interest in their input.
As one rank and file Democrat stated on a Facebook page: “Who should be the next Wisconsin Governor” regarding the selection process, “…It is based on status within the party, money available, and willingness to participate in the party agenda, which revolves around the people who fund the party financially.”
I could have not said it any better.
The Senate announced a last-minute deal on to avert a historic lapse in the government’s borrowing ability and a potentially damaging debt default — along with reopening the government after a two-week shutdown.
But even if the House and Senate manage to overcome procedural hurdles to seal the deal before Thursday, when the Treasury says it will exhaust its borrowing authority, it will only be a temporary solution that sets up the prospect of another showdown early next year.
The Senate deal would:
1. Keep the government open until Jan. 15;
2. Increase the debt ceiling through Feb. 7;
3. Appoint negotiators to hammer out a long-term budget deal;
4. Require income verification for those signing up for Obamacare subsidies.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican leader Mitch McConnell announced the agreement on the Senate floor, where it was expected to win swift approval after a main Republican critic of the deal, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, said he would not use procedural moves to delay a vote.
Still, Cruz railed against the deal because it doesn’t address Obamacare, President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare reform law. Cruz and other Republicans backed by the conservative, small-government tea party movement want to repeal or delay the healthcare law.
“Unfortunately, once again it appears the Washington establishment is refusing to listen to the American people,” he said during a brief press conference. “The deal that has been cut provides no relief to millions of Americans who are hurting because of Obamacare. The deal that has been cut provides no relief to the young people coming out of school who cannot find a job because of Obamacare.
“It provides no relief to all the single parents who have been forced into part-time work struggling to feed their kids on 29 hours per week. It provides no relief to all the hard-working families who are facing skyrocketing health insurance premiums, and it provides no relief to all the seniors, while those with disabilities who are right now, getting in the mail, notifications from the health insurance companies that they are losing their health insurance because of Obamacare.”
Cruz commended members of the House for having “taken a bold stance listening to the American people.” And he criticized the Senate for staying “with the traditional approach of the Washington establishment of maintaining the status quo and doing nothing to respond through sufferings Obamacare is causing millions of Americans.”
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio will face one of the most important decisions of his tenure: whether to allow the Senate agreement to come to the House floor unimpeded, or try to amend it.
For procedural reasons, if the House goes first, the bill could reach Obama’s desk faster. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, told Bloomberg that Boehner will allow the vote.
“The speaker will bring that agreement to the House floor in a very timely manner,” Brady said on Bloomberg Television. He said he thinks the measure would pass.
House leaders haven’t decided whether they will vote before the Senate, said a Republican aide who spoke on conditions of anonymity. And a Boehner spokesman told CNN that no decision has been made on a House vote.
But Rep. Charles Dent, a Pennsylvania Republican, said Tuesday night on CNN that a Senate accord will probably be presented for a House vote by Boehner and likely win passage with a majority of Democrats and a minority of Republicans.
And multiple news agencies on Twitter are reporting that Boehner will allow the vote.
Reid, a Nevada Democrat, and McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, temporarily suspended talks yesterday while Boehner tried and failed to marshal House Republicans behind a plan that was significantly scaled down from demands for health-law changes that led to the U.S. government shutdown Oct. 1.
The partial shutdown has closed national parks, slowed clinical drug trials, and led to the furloughs of thousands of federal workers.
Obama urged Congress on Wednesday to move swiftly to approve a deal to reopen the U.S. government and remove the threat of a potentially devastating default.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama was grateful to the leaders of the Senate for working together to find a deal and said the president wanted Congress now to ensure “the government reopens and the threat of default is removed.”
Lawmakers are racing against time. While analysts and U.S. officials say the government will still have roughly $30 billion in cash to pay many obligations for at least a few days after Oct. 17, the financial sector may begin to seize up if the deal is not finalized in both chambers.
“Today is definitely not the day to be conducting any serious business as traders across the globe will be hypnotized by their TVs/terminals and anxiously waiting for something to hit the news wires,” Jonathan Sudaria, a trader at Capital Spreads in London, wrote in a client note.
Fitch Ratings on Tuesday put the U.S. AAA credit grade on ratings watch negative, citing the government’s inability to raise the debt ceiling in a timely manner, according to a statement after the markets in New York closed.
U.S. one-month bill rates rose to the highest level since 2008 as investors prepared to bid for $68 billion of short-term debt Wednesday after three- and six-month auctions Tuesday drew the weakest demand in four years.
Rates on bills maturing on Oct. 24 climbed to the highest since they were issued in April on concern the Treasury Department will have to delay repaying some of its maturing securities as lawmakers battle over raising the federal borrowing limit. One-month rates were 0.37 percent at 10:14 a.m. London time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg — the most since October 2008. The benchmark 10-year yield was little changed at 2.73 percent, according to Bloomberg Bond Trader data.
Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures expiring in December rose 0.4 percent to 1,699.5 at 10:27 a.m. Wednesday in London. The benchmark gauge slid 0.7 percent Tuesday after rallying 3.3 percent over the previous four days. Contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 64 points, or 0.4 percent, to 15,159.
“If the market truly believed the U.S. will default on its obligations, we would see a more dramatic reaction from equity and bond markets,” Henk Potts, who helps oversee about $310 billion as a strategist at Barclays Wealth & Investment Management in London, said by phone Wednesday. “The great expectation is the deal will be done. If the deal is not done, however minuscule that chance that may be, it would have a devastating impact on sentiment.”
Under the Senate agreement, House Republicans would get almost none of their priorities. They tried to defund or delay the healthcare law, settling last month on trying to delay the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance.
Obama has described those requests as unacceptable ransom demands and insisted that Republicans relent.
Republicans persisted after the partial government shutdown started two weeks ago, and saw their approval ratings drop in polls. Hardliners resisted plans that didn’t make major changes to the Affordable Care Act. Others, such as Rep. Peter King of New York, stuck with Boehner while complaining about the strategy.
“And the long teachable moment ends: Stove is hot,” Rep. Tim Griffin, an Arkansas Republican, said on Twitter last night after Boehner scrapped the latest plan.
The emerging Senate agreement trades the pressing and already-missed deadlines for new ones over the next four months. The Treasury Department would be allowed to use so-called extraordinary measures to delay default for about another month beyond Feb. 7, said a Senate Democratic aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan.
The Senate agreement may include a Republican-backed provision to tighten income verification requirements for people receiving health-insurance subsidies. That provision is linked to a proposal backed by Democrats and labor unions that would delay a reinsurance fee on group health plans.
Both of those healthcare provisions will either be in the agreement or be out of the agreement.
Senate passage of a bill could be delayed into late next week if a single senator objects, the aide said. Then that bill would have to go to the House. Procedurally, the Senate would have been able to act by Oct. 18 if the House had passed a bill Tuesday night.
Cruz, who led a Republican bid to defund Obamacare, spoke for more than 21 hours in a budget debate last month. On Oct. 14, he wouldn’t rule out stalling maneuvers, saying he wants to see the plan’s details. He made no public comments yesterday.
Unless Congress acts, the United States will be operating only on about $30 billion of cash reserves and incoming revenue starting tomorrow. It will begin missing promised payments between Oct. 22 and Oct. 31, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Boehner has tried several times over the past month to construct a debt-limit bill that House Republicans could support, and he hasn’t brought any proposals to a vote. Republicans didn’t have enough votes for the measure yesterday, said a leadership aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss vote counting.
“We’re going to be prepared tomorrow to make some decisions,” Rep. Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican, told reporters in the Capitol last night.
Unlike previous stopgap spending measures, the House bill wouldn’t have made big changes to the 2010 healthcare law, and it contains no cuts to entitlement programs that Republicans sought to add to a debt-limit increase or spending bill.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who is close to Boehner and spoke to him earlier yesterday, said he was concerned that the speaker could become a “victim” of a failed Republican strategy to use a government shutdown as leverage to try to force changes to the healthcare law.
Graham also said he is “getting to the point of disgust” with Democrats, including Reid, for refusing to help Republicans extricate themselves from an impossible negotiating position.
“Instead of trying to help us find a way out of a bad spot — we won’t be the last political party to overplay our hand, it may happen one day on the Democratic watch,” he said.
“And if it did, would Republicans, for the good of the country, kind of give a little?” Graham said, adding that Republicans went “too far” and “screwed up.”
New York City police continue to hunt for as many as 40 motorcyclists who forced a driver on a harrowing high-speed chase through Upper Manhattan and then beat him in front of his wife and 2-year-old daughter. Charges have been upgraded against one of the motorcycle riders who happens to be an active duty undercover detective with the New York police department.
The six-minute pursuit was captured on video and posted on YouTube.
The video shows the motorcycle riders converged on the 33-year-old man’s vehicle on the West Side Highway in Harlem, after he apparently clipped a bike that cut closely in front of him.
The motorcycle rider hit by the SUV suffered a broken leg.
The video, shot with a helmet-mounted camera, shows the driver then took off, knocking down more bikes as others tore up the highway after him after other bikers in the group dismounted from their bikes to attack the SUV driver.
After a 50-block chase, the bikers managed to trap the Range Rover and one of them was filmed yanking off his helmet and using it to smash in the SUV window.
Police said the SUV driver suffered black eyes and other injuries in the subsequent beating.
Police have made some arrests since the incident. One of those arrested is an undercover detective with the New York police department.
Wojciech Braszczok faces criminal mischief charges, New York Police said.
Braszczok is a 10-year detective veteran of the police force. Police investigators are reported to have discovered video evidence showing him punching an already damaged back window, then twice kicking the side of the SUV before leaving the scene.
NYPD internal affairs investigators are looking into the undercover detective’s conduct.
A police officer to be part of this tragic and pathetic event, not only hurts the image of law enforcement, but it continues to serve the notion that no one is above the law.
Justice should be served here. Only time will tell.
Miss New York Nina Davuluri has been crowned the new Miss America. Davuluri is Indian-American, which inspired racists and morons (and racist morons) to register their complaints on Twitter. Some felt she isn’t American (despite being born in Syracuse), other cracked wise about 7-Eleven, while the most astute of the bunch saw a win for al Qaeda.
We have to wonder, what sort of nonsense might spew forth if an American Indian won Miss America? Maybe instead of “not American enough” the Tweeters would protest that she is too American.
BuzzFeed collected these samples of racism. Sharing them with you to show we have not archived a color blind society.
@MeredithRoanell “This is Miss America… not Miss Foreign Country”
@kathrynryan50 “shes like not even american and she won miss america”
@EJRBuckeye “Well they just picked a Muslim for Miss America. That must’ve made Obama happy. Maybe he had a vote”
@Granvil_Colt “And the Arab wins Miss America. Classic.”
@Not_MissAmerica “More like Miss Terrorist #MissAmerica”
@jakeamick5 “How the fuck does a foreigner win miss America? She is a Arab! #idiots”
@sarawhitton “this is America. not India”
@savannah_dale97 “Miss New York is an Indian.. With all do respect, this is America”
@wnfraser “@ABC2020 nice slap in the face to the people of 9-11 how pathetic #missamerica”
@SHANN___Wow “Miss America right now or miss Al Qaeda?”
@JPLman95 “Miss America? You mean Miss 7-11.”
@kalebistoocute “Man our president nor our new Miss America isn’t even American I’m sorry but Miss Kansas I salute you your the real American #MissAmerica”
@JTomes84 “Miss America is brought to by their sponsors PF Changs and 7-11.”
@_AudreyAnn “Miss America is a terrorist. Whatever. It’s fine.”
@Blayne_MkItRain “Congratulations Al-Qaeda. Our Miss America is one of you.”
@anthonytkr “#MissAmerica ummm wtf?! Have we forgotten 9/11?”
@LukeBrasili “9/11 was 4 days ago and she gets miss America?”
@ColtonSEvans “Egypt dancing? This is America. #MissAmerica”
@NateBerard “Asian or indian are you kiddin this is america omg”
@JAyres15 “I swear I’m not racist but this is America.”
Yes! A long way from being a color blind society.
Congressional GOP leaders announced that they will move quickly to raise the government’s borrowing cap by attaching a wish list of GOP priorities like blocking “Obamacare.”
“That fight will continue as we negotiate the debt limit with the president and the Senate,” said House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, R-Va.
Obama said again that he won’t knuckle under to the GOP’s demands.
The GOP strategy appears to assume that the Senate will strip out the “defund ‘Obamacare’” provision and send it back. The House would then face a choice: pass the measure without the health care provision or continue the battle and risk a partial government shutdown when the new budget year begins Oct. 1.
Speaking to CEOs of the Business Roundtable, Obama called on the corporate leaders to use their influence to avoid a potentially damaging showdown over the debt ceiling. He reiterated his promise to not negotiate over the need to raise the nation’s borrowing limit.
He blamed “a faction” of the Republican Party for budget brinkmanship designed to undo his three-year-old health care law.
“You have never seen in the history of the United States the debt ceiling or the threat of not raising the debt ceiling being used to extort a president or a governing party and trying to force issues that have nothing to do with the budget and have nothing to do with the debt,” Obama said.
“So I’m happy to negotiate with them around the budget, just as I’ve done in the past,” he added. “What I will not do is to create a habit, a pattern, whereby the full faith and credit of the United States ends up being a bargaining chip to set policy. It’s irresponsible. The last time we did this, in 2011, we had negative growth at a time when the recovery was just trying to take off.”
The Senate has two bills to ensure that the Democratic-controlled chamber would be able to ship the spending measure straight to the White House and more easily avert a government shutdown after the Sept. 30 end of the budget year.
There’s some risk, however, that if the Senate were to send the measure back, angry GOP conservatives might be looking for a fight and could withhold their votes rather than surrender to the Senate and its top Democrat, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
The latest move attempts to shift the battle to must-pass legislation to raise the government’s $16.7 trillion borrowing cap on their own terms by pairing it with a roster of conservative priorities, including a renewed assault on the health care law and a mandate to build the Keystone XL pipeline.
“In the coming week, we will unveil a plan to extend our nation’s ability to borrow while delaying Obamacare,” Cantor said. “Those discussions will also focus on a path forward on tax reform and the Keystone pipeline.”
Conservatives want to take a must-pass bill hostage and add the assault on the Affordable Care Act in an attempt to force Obama and congressional Democrats to make concessions. GOP leaders have viewed the effort with skepticism since Democrats would never go along.
The idea of defunding Obama’s health care law has been a goal of tea party conservatives such as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and outside groups like the Heritage Foundation.
Meanwhile, a large group of House conservatives intends to unveil legislation providing an expanded tax break for consumers who purchase their own health coverage and increasing the government funding for high-risk pools, according to lawmakers who said the plan marked the Republicans’ first comprehensive alternative to Obama’s health care overhaul.
Conservatives are frustrated that Republicans control only one chamber of Congress and have little chance to enact their agenda over the opposition of Obama and Senate Democrats.
Also, White House budget office director Sylvia Burwell sent agencies a memo to guide them in their planning in the event of a lapse in funding authority on Oct. 1. As in prior shutdowns, many agency programs would continue.
A shutdown impasse would leave the government without funding authority to pay its workers, including the military, or enter into new contracts until a bill is passed. But essential programs like the military, air traffic control, food inspection, disaster relief and firefighting would continue to function since they’re related to protecting life and property. So-called mandatory programs like Social Security and Medicare, which are funded as if on autopilot, would also continue.
National parks would mostly close, most passport applications could not be processed and the space program would largely be put on hold, among other results.
If Obama endorses the straightforward funding measure, House Democrats likely could be counted upon to provide the votes. The question is whether GOP leaders would want to pass the measure with help from Democrats, which Boehner did on several occasions earlier this year to the consternation of conservative
Many Americans do not know the misery war can cause—both on the battlefield and at home. Those who’ve had their homes caught in the middle of war go through sleepless nights worrying about their loved ones caught in the middle of the battles.
I’ve been thinking about the wisdom of our president during the debate over bombing Syria.
What has been happening in Syria is truly a human tragedy. The nation has been torn apart by civil war. It is without a doubt that Assad is not a friend of ours.
It has also been made clear that those who oppose him have direct ties to al-Qaeda. Whoever wins this war will not be friendly toward the United States.
What, then, is our interest in the Syrian fight? In other words, what is the objective of any American mission? On Sunday, Secretary Kerry explained the president’s reasoning: Assad used chemical weapons against his own people, breaking international treaties that only the United States can enforce.
What he did not say, however, is why we should stray from the precedent Ronald Reagan set. In the 1980s, when chemical weapons were used in the Iran-Iraq war, the president did not intervene because it did not involve our national security. Instead, Secretary Kerry said ambiguously, “This is a matter of national security. It’s a matter of the credibility of the United States of America.”
I think the Secretary of State is confusing national honor with the president’s ego. A few months ago, The New York Times reported that President Barack Obama drew a “red line” in the case of a chemical attack in Syria in an “off-the-cuff” statement that “defined his policy in a way some advisers wish they could take back.” This was recently buoyed by the fact that a member of the president’s military counsel leaked that the White House only wants the attack to be “just muscular enough to not be mocked.” Embarrassment, not justice, seems to be the motivating factor for an attack.
I do not agree with military action in the Middle East. The president has failed to make a case that the Syrian civil war threatens our country or our allies.
The Founding Fathers gave Congress control over authorizing war for situations exactly like the one we’re facing now. They understood that an overzealous executive could talk us into military confrontations and wanted a way to stop the nation from engaging in battles for superficial reasons. They knew that if a war was to be fought, and even attacks on other nations that are just above mockery count as war, the consent of the people needed to come from their representatives.
The president is not showing magnanimity by coming to Congress for authorization to strike a country that is not posing a threat to us. The Constitution demands it. The military belongs to the people, not the White House.
I understand that the terrible violence in Syria has caused anguish for the people living there. News sources have reported that nearly two million have become refugees, fleeing the ravages of war as brutality has engulfed their native land. But rather than spending money to cause more suffering, I urge Obama to focus on ways to provide humanitarian aid to the victims. We show the best that the United States has to offer by helping others, not by bombing those who do not threaten us.
You may have recently seen news coverage about Esperanza Unida. I wanted to take a moment to share with you the exciting developments that are already occurring here and the ambitious plans we have for the future.
In recent years, Esperanza Unida has faced a number of challenges like many non-profit organizations in our community. We are working hard to address these challenges and are pleased to report that in just a few short months, we have made great progress. For example, in the last four months we have:
• Restarted our job training programs, providing training for 68 individuals to become licensed forklift drives and training several welders. We look forward to continuing to expand this program to reach more in our community.
• Strongly advanced much needed infrastructure improvements at the 611 Building and are ready to continue forklift and welding training at the 1329 West National Building. The City of Milwaukee has issued a temporary occupancy permit for the 1329 West National Building.
• Developed and implemented new accounting systems to provide better support and oversight for the organization going forward.
• Launched a quarterly Legislative Speaker Series to feature speakers from across the political spectrum to address issues of importance to our community. We hosted the first successful event in July, featuring Senator Ron Johnson.
• Demonstrated that great entertainment can occur safely at the old “Babalu Club” now renamed “Sabroso.”
Our Vision for the Future
We have much work ahead of us, but we are making great strides towards restructuring our organization and laying a solid foundation for an economic and workforce development model that is already generating measurable results. Our vision is to support outcome-based targeted training, skills development and entrepreneurship that helps people to become self-sufficient workers and support private sector employers. This model simultaneously helps the unemployed and workers, local businesses, and the broader community. By helping individuals increase their earning potential, they can take control of their lives, support the growth of local businesses via increased labor productivity and safety, and support the local economy through increased earnings. This model is replicable to many other communities. We know the approach works because this is the same approach that under Governor Scott Walker’s directive and leadership, I advanced at the Department of Workforce Development in 2011 in collaboration with the state’s workforce and economic development system.
In the coming months, we are focused on addressing theadditional infrastructure repairs that are necessary at both the 611 West National Building and the 1329 West National Building. This will enable us to continue to expand our job training programs this year and in the years to come.
Addressing Community Concerns
I was brought on to help address the challenges facing Esperanza Unida. These challenges are not new and they have been widely known and understood in our community.
Recently, a number of individuals calling themselves, “Friends of Esperanza Unida” have made certain claims about the organization. We have engaged Attorney Steve Biscupic to review these claims and provide any relevant recommendations to the board. We are committed to maintaining continuous improvement in all areas, including governance, compliance, and auditability. We have been open and transparent about our vision for the organization, the challenges we must overcome and our path forward. We will continue to maintain that openness going forward.
In addition, on August 20, 2013, Milwaukee Court Commissioner Nancy Schurm dismissed the allegations raised against me by Mrs. Irene Correa. As I indicated before the court hearing, these claims were false and I was confident that they would be found to be without merit.
Moving Forward, United, Together
As we aggressively continue the restructuring process, let’s now – united and in a collaborative manner –renew and strengthen our efforts to bring prosperity and economic and workforce development to Milwaukee’s South Side. Let’s build an example from our local community that can help support Milwaukee and Wisconsin.
In the next weeks, I will be calling on all CEOs in our region to help support and accelerate the goal of bringing prosperity to Milwaukee’s South Side. I will also be calling on all the workers who have graduated from Esperanza Unida in the past; as we are in this together. Working together – workers, private businesses and the local community – we will all benefit as we build on the workforce development model we are advancing at Esperanza Unida.
Most Republicans in Congress want to end Obamacare. How to get rid of the health care law, however, is a bit more complicated.
The GOP is split between those who believe the sole way to combat The Affordable Care Act is by opposing fall spending bills that contain funding for the law—resulting in a government shutdown.
Leading the government shutdown movement is Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), arguing. In Lee’s world, Republicans who do not believe closing the government is the appropriate measure to combat the Affordable Care Act are automatic backers of the law.
Lee’s plan involves the GOP-controlled House passing a bill funding the government, which would contain friendly wording from Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) that would defund the Affordable Care Act — and leaving the ultimate decision to shut down the government to Senate Democrats.
“Would they choose to shut down government? Or do the right thing?” Lee asked of Senate Democrats.
This is a plan that Republican political consultant Karl Rove quickly rejected. According to Politico, Rove “concluded Lee’s effort would backfire and be a replay of 1995, a government shutdown often blamed on the GOP.”
Still, Lee and other Tea Party lawmakers, including Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), believe a government shutdown is the only option. Lee referred to any strategy besides his as an example of Republicans “caving.”
Rove warned, “This is the one strategy, the one tactic that might be able to guarantee that the Democrats pick up seats in the Congress in 2014.”
Rove’s comment echoed a similar thought from Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), who called the effort “self-defeating.” Other Republican leaders have termed it “silly” and “stupid.”
According to the Washington Post, several GOP leaders have realized that Rove’s approach may not be an effective way to prevent the government shutdown. Publicly condemning the strategy can easily backfire; tackling it openly, as Rove did, has already resulted in those in favor of the shutdown painting its opponents as scared and weak Obamacare backers, not willing to “defeat Obama tyranny.”
The Rove-Lee debate on Sean Hannity’s radio show proved that even with Rove pointing out just how ineffective, counterproductive and unnecessary a government shutdown would be, Lee’s position won’t change; instead, it grows more steadfast. Rove’s words serve as Lee’s evidence that the Republican Party is too “weak-kneed” to make a move against the president, and the only way to prove to Rove and other GOP leaders that they are actually impeding the Republican Party, rather than strengthening it, is, perhaps, to call for a government shutdown.
As long as Republican leaders fight publicly, they provide those in favor of the shutdown their greatest argument: Republican leadership is weak, and it’s time to take a stronger and more combative stance against Obamacare, even if it means closing down the government. Suddenly, a shutdown is seen as the ultimate measure of GOP loyalty and leadership.
The government shutdown has become more than just a position on Obamacare; it is a symbol of defiance between GOP lawmakers.
If Rove — or any Republican, for that matter — keeps publicly calling out the strategy’s obvious idiocy, he is just pushing his more conservative counterparts in Congress to go through with the effort.
Because of this, several GOP leaders have begun to lobby House Republicans privately, rather than openly bash their strategy.
National Review’s Robert Costa reported that, “House insiders say Boehner and Cantor had talked much of their conference away from the edge,” and Republicans are “now confident that House Republicans will not tread into a shutdown battle with the Obama White House.”
Just a week ago, Rubio argued that the government shutdown was “no longer an ideological thing,” and he’s right. Now it is a deeper split in the already divided GOP.
La burbuja inmobiliaria y la crisis subsiguientes son un ejemplo perfecto de la miopía de quienes buscan ganancias con impunidad. Mientras aumentaban los precios de la vivienda, los grandes bancos e instituciones financieras se abocan a apresurar las hipotecas, las empaquetan, las venden a inversionistas y a veces hasta apuestan contra los derivados incluidos que vendieron.
Analista de fraude financiero, William K. Black, escribe que “Durante la burbuja inmobiliaria de los Estados Unidos, se los dijo a los originadores de hipotecas hacer lo que fuera para conseguir créditos aprobados, incluso si eso significaba alterar deliberadamente los datos sobre ingresos del prestatario y patrimonio neto.” Además, el valor de las viviendas fue exagerado por tasaciones intencionalmente inexactas, mientras tasadores honestos estaban en la lista negra por los prestamistas. No sólo era alterar los datos de empujar a través de una hipoteca común práctica pero los bancos no revelaron a las firmas financieras que muchas de las hipotecas que estaban vendiendo tenían segundo gravámenes sobre ellos, que los hizo más probable que por defecto.
Estas prácticas creadas se conocen como “préstamos del mentiroso.” La mitad de todos los préstamos de alto riesgo y 40 por ciento de todos los préstamos de bienes inmuebles nuevos en 2006 eran “préstamos de mentiroso,” y el número de préstamos fraudulentos que se vendían a los inversores aumentó mientras la burbuja expandía.
Un caso reciente de la corte contra J.P. Morgan reveló que la empresa de inversión sabía que estaba participando en conductas fraudulentas y riesgosas. Los correos electrónicos internos documentan que no se siguieron los controles de calidad y problemas estaban ocultos. Por ejemplo, las hipotecas de alto riesgo fueron “liadas en títulos complejos, que aparecieron más saludables, haciendo las ofertas más atractivas para los inversores.” Y, J. P. Morgan no fue la única institución implicada en esta práctica.
Black escribe que la crisis de la vivienda es lo que llevó a la crisis financiera entera: “Dado el enorme número de préstamos del mentiroso y el extraordinario crecimiento de los préstamos del mentiroso (aproximadamente 500% desde el 2000-2006), está claro que eran los ‘préstamos marginales’ que causaron en los mercados de vivienda a hyper-infle y crearon las pérdidas catastróficas (en forma de préstamos, MBS y CDO) que condujeron a la crisis financiera.”
Los bancos están haciendo tan duro como sea posible investigar sus prácticas. Este mes de abril, personal de la Reserva Federal sostuvo que los documentos relativos a violaciones legales generalizadas son “secretos” de empresas de servicio de hipoteca. El personal de la oficina del contralor de la moneda argumentó que estos documentos deben ser retenidos de los miembros del congreso porque producirlos podrían interpretarse como una renuncia a su autoridad para impedir la divulgación al público de información confidencial de la supervisión bancaria. Las prácticas de fraude hipotecario son secretos comerciales-¿esto tiene sentido?
Fieles a su naturaleza, los grandes bancos continúan en fraude y firmas de inversión están encontrando maneras de beneficiarse del estallido de la burbuja. Otro caso reciente de la corte reveló que los empleados de Bank of America se les dijo a mentir a los clientes que solicitaron asistencia de hipoteca y regularmente negaron peticiones masivamente en una práctica conocida como un “blitz.” Los empleados fueron recompensados con bonificaciones en efectivo y tarjetas de regalo para excluir a diez o más propiedades en un mes. Los bancos también están aferrándose a unas estimadas propiedades 7 millones para crear escasez y mantener estables los precios de la vivienda.
Este enfoque está demostrando para ser lucrativo. Las empresas de inversión grandes están ávidamente engullendo propiedades embargadas para alquilarlos durante unos años hasta que las propiedades se pueden vender en un beneficio. Por ejemplo, en Las Vegas, la mayoría de los hogares está siendo comprada por grupos como Blackstone Group LP, Colony Capital y American Homes 4 Rent, y 60 por ciento de las compras se hacen en efectivo. A nivel nacional, propiedad de la vivienda está en su nivel más bajo en 18 años y los compradores primerizos son una parte muy pequeña del mercado actual. Compradores individuales no pueden competir con grandes finanzas, incluso si son aprobados para un nuevo préstamo.
Esto significa que la recuperación de las llamadas viviendas es engañosa. Otra vez está basada en la especulación en lugar de la compra de casas en un lugar para vivir a largo plazo. Las empresas de inversión son propensas a abandonar los bienes raíces y poner su dinero en otra parte a la primera señal de menor rentabilidad, como el economista que Dean Baker advierte. Puede haber otro estallido burbuja inmobiliaria en el futuro de los Estados Unidos como resultado de esta economía falsa.
Wall Street está relativamente protegido de la crisis de la vivienda. Debido a la globalización, Wall Street puede mover su dinero e invertir donde los retornos parecen el más alto. Pero el resto de nosotros está lastimado por la crisis de la vivienda aunque no experimentamos una ejecución hipotecaria, como lo hace uno de cada cinco familias estadounidenses.
Dean Baker escribe que la reducción del consumo relacionado con la crisis de la vivienda resultó en una pérdida de $400 billones, o 2.5 por ciento del PIB, a la economía en general en los Estados Unidos. Pero la mayor parte del daño se ha hecho a nivel de la comunidad y el individuo.
Las ejecuciones hipotecarias bajan el valor de casas por aproximadamente uno por ciento. Como el valor de las viviendas cae, gasto y nueva construcción también declinan y esto crea un ciclo negativo de un mayor desempleo y más ejecuciones hipotecarias en la comunidad.
Un informe de Responsible Lending demuestra que la exclusión tiene un efecto significativo sobre la salud. Las personas que sufren exclusión tienen menos probabilidades de acudir a citas médicas y casi la mitad no llena las recetas. Experimentan tasas más altas de intentos de depresión y suicidio. Y el informe encontró que en las comunidades con mayores tasas de ejecuciones hipotecarias, también hubo tasas más altas de hospitalización para condiciones relacionadas con la diabetes y la hipertensión arterial.
Las ejecuciones hipotecarias crean una mayor carga financiera para los gobiernos locales a través de los ingresos fiscales perdidos, una necesidad creciente de servicios sociales públicos y los costos directos para mantener propiedades embargadas. Un informe de la Institución Brookings encontró que la pobreza aumentó en los suburbios en un 67 por ciento de 2000 a 2011 y que esto estira organismos sociales en aquellas áreas que no estaban preparados para manejar las necesidades crecientes.
Y no es de extrañar que los efectos de la crisis inmobiliaria pesan más pesadamente en comunidades de color. Otro informe de Responsible Lending documenta que “casi el 8% de los afroamericanos y latinos han perdido sus hogares a las ejecuciones hipotecarias, en comparación con el 4,5% de los blancos. Las disparidades raciales y étnicas en estas tasas de ejecuciones hipotecarias estimadas sostienen incluso después de controlar por diferencias en los patrones de ingresos entre grupos demográficos.”
Al final, los ricos se hacen más ricos y los pobres siguen recibiendo estafados.
The housing bubble and its subsequent crises are a perfect example of the near-sightedness of those who seek profit with impunity. While housing prices were rising, the large banking and financial institutions were tripping over themselves to rush through mortgages, bundle them, sell them to investors and sometimes even go on to bet against the bundled derivatives that they sold.
Financial fraud analyst, William K. Black, writes that “During America’s housing bubble, mortgage originators were told to do whatever it took to get loans approved, even if that meant deliberately altering data about borrower income and net worth.” In addition, the value of homes was exaggerated by intentionally inaccurate appraisals, while honest appraisers were blacklisted by lenders. Not only was altering data to push through a mortgage common practice, but banks did not disclose to financial firms that many of the mortgages they were selling had second liens on them, which made them more likely to default.
These practices created are known as “liar’s loans.” Half of all subprime loans and 40 percent of all new real estate loans in 2006 were “liar’s loans,” and the number of fraudulent loans that were sold to investors increased as the bubble expanded.
A recent court case against J.P. Morgan revealed that the investment firm knew it was engaging in fraudulent and risky behavior. Internal emails document that quality controls were not followed and problems were hidden. For example, high risk mortgages were “bundled into complex securities, [which] appeared healthier, making the deals more appealing to investors.” And, J. P. Morgan was not the only institution involved in this practice.
Black writes that the housing crisis is what drove the entire financial crisis: “Given the massive number of liar’s loans and the extraordinary growth of liar’s loans (roughly 500% from 2000-2006), it is clear that that they were the ‘marginal loans’ that caused the housing markets to hyper-inflate and created the catastrophic losses (in the form of loans, MBS, and CDOs) that drove the financial crisis.”
The banks are making it as hard as possible to investigate their practices. This April, Federal Reserve staff argued that documents relating to widespread legal violations are “trade secrets” of mortgage servicing companies. The staff from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency argued that these documents should be withheld from members of Congress because producing them could be interpreted as a waiver of their authority to prevent disclosure to the public of confidential supervisory bank information. Mortgage fraud practices are trade secrets – does this make any sense?
True to their nature, big banks continue to engage in fraud and investment firms are finding ways to profit from the bursting of the housing bubble. Another recent court case revealed that Bank of America employees were told to lie to customers who applied for mortgage assistance and regularly denied requests en masse in a practice known as a “blitz.” Employees were rewarded with cash bonuses and gift cards for foreclosing on ten or more properties in a month. Banks are also holding on to an estimated 7 million properties in order to create scarcity and keep housing prices stable.
This approach is proving to be lucrative. Large investment firms are greedily gobbling up foreclosed properties in order to rent them for a few years until the properties can be sold at a profit. For example, in Las Vegas, most of the homes are being bought by groups like Blackstone Group LP, Colony Capital and American Homes 4 Rent, and 60 percent of purchases are being made in cash. Nationally, home ownership is at its lowest level in 18 years and first-time home buyers are a very small part of the current market. Individual homebuyers cannot compete with big finance even if they are approved for a new home loan.
This means that the so-called housing recovery is misleading. It is based again on speculation rather than on the purchase of homes for a place to live long-term. Investment firms are likely to bail out of real estate and put their money elsewhere at the first sign of reduced profitability, as economist Dean Baker warns. There may be another bursting housing bubble in America’s future as a result of this false economy.
Wall Street is relatively protected from the housing crisis. Due to globalization, Wall Street can move its money and invest wherever the returns seem the highest. But the rest of us are hurt by the housing crisis even if we do not experience foreclosure, as one in five American families does.
Dean Baker writes that reduced consumption related to the housing crisis resulted in a loss of $400 billion, or 2.5 percent of GDP, to the overall economy in the US. But most of the damage has been done at the level of the individual and community.
Foreclosures lower the value of surrounding homes by an estimated one percent. As home values fall, spending and new construction also decline and this creates a negative cycle of higher unemployment and more foreclosures in the community.
A report by Responsible Lending shows that foreclosure has a significant effect on health. People who are experiencing foreclosure are less likely to keep medical appointments and nearly half do not fill prescriptions. They experience higher rates of depression and suicide attempts. And the report found that in communities with higher rates of foreclosures, there were also higher rates of hospitalization for conditions related to diabetes and high blood pressure.
Foreclosures create a greater financial burden for local governments through lost tax revenue, an increased need for public social services and direct costs to maintain foreclosed properties. A report by the Brookings Institution found that poverty rose in the suburbs by 67 percent from 2000 to 2011 and that this is straining social agencies in those areas that were unprepared to handle the increased needs.
The Republican Party knows it has a Rep. Steve King (R-IA) problem.
Not only is the congressman known for saying vile things about immigrants, his policy proposals — like deporting young people who would be eligible for the DREAM ACT — embraced by his fellow House Republicans is an embarrassment to American compassion.
Last weekend, he refused to apologize for comparing immigrants to dogs.
While the Hispanic media noticed, this wasn’t enough to catch the mainstream press’ attention. But now King may have been caught saying the sort of thing that could turn immigration reform into a nightmare for Republicans in the coming elections.
“Some of them are valedictorians, and their parents brought them in,” King told Newsmax last week. “It wasn’t their fault. It’s true in some cases, but they aren’t all valedictorians. They weren’t all brought in by their parents.”
“For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” he said. “Those people would be legalized with the same act.”
Wow. That’s specific. Calves the size of cantaloupes.
Really, Iowa! This man represents you?
Wow…this is a state in need of serious education.
House Republicans represent districts that have low populations of Latinos; most of them can get away with not passing reform because they mostly do not depend on Latinos for re-election.
However, the next president of the United States will need this population of voters and if the GOP wants a chance of ever winning the White House again, having buffoons like Rep. King speaking as a Republican makes it a slim chance.
In the Congressional House of Representatives, there are legislators positioning themselves to not only resist but also undermine immigration reform. If this is the case, Speaker John Boehner will make good on his promise that he will not bring any immigration bill to the floor unless a majority of House Republicans support it.
Immigration reform has been on hold for over a decade, leaving millions of people in a legal limbo. Many people are strongly urging representatives in Washington to work on sensible and humane policy solutions that will resolve the plight of these people living in the shadows all across this nation.
Legislators who want to usher a bipartisan reform effort do so by venturing into a minefield of backwards amendments. But I remind these legislators that an election year looms on the horizon.
They should recall that in 2006, immigrants and allies rallied across the country in massive demonstrations. The slogan then was “Today we march, tomorrow we vote.”
It was not an empty promise.
The anti-immigrant attacks at the time had grown so hostile that it drove outraged voters to the polls. They helped cast a Democrat in the White House. This trend continued as Republicans moved to be more inclusive in 2012 but failed to offer a real immigration reform. The political implications for those who choose to go to the negotiation table in bad faith are clear.
But more importantly than the political consequences, Congress has a moral obligation to children who should not be separated from their parents. It must bring out of the shadows people who stand ready for full integration and to contribute to our nation’s economy as baby boomers age out.
In these weeks, the issue of border security has been allowed to dominate the discourse around reform. Many understand that controls at the border are needed. However, the conversation around immigration reform doesn’t begin and end at the border. And this two-step process that many Republicans are obsessed with – that legalization must be conditioned on a military border complex- is the same delay tactic they have been using for years.
Undocumented persons are willing to pay penalties and meet a host of requirements. But to condemn them to some purgatory in an attempt to seal off the United States from Mexico is a political game because Republicans keep moving the line on what border security means.
On the other hand, there are those also aware that Democrats – from President Obama down-promised to deliver comprehensive immigration reform, with a path to legalization and citizenship. This does not translate into an indefinite parking lot for undocumented families until Republicans have all of their items checked off. That’s not compromise – it’s capitulation.
Some expect both parties to show leadership for a workable policy solution that sets up immigrants, and in turn, our nation, for success. In the meantime, I stand ready to bring great attention to those who lead, and who work against this process.
Starting next year federal subsidized student loan rates will double because Congress failed to pass a permanent solution to relieve our debt-stricken students. There are very few policy issues more deserving of our representatives’ attention.
The middle-class and working people desperately want Congress to address the cost of higher education. Students who can afford the high and rising costs of board, tuition, and fees — which now average $22,261 at public schools and $43,289 at private schools — do not need to worry about student loan interest rates doubling. This is only about those families who cannot afford to pay for the rising cost of higher education.
Look folks, it’s about protecting the middle class, giving them the ability to pay for law school tuition. State colleges and universities should function as a kind of equalizer for those who are not wealthy.
The average all-in cost of private colleges in the U.S. is almost equal to the median household income (which hovers around $50,000). But it was not always this way. The Economic Policy Institute notes that while median household income increased 10.9 percent from 1983 to 2013, the average cost of public school tuition rose 130 percent — leaving many families in the dust, and very much reliant on student loans.
Add to this the ongoing economic stagnation for middle class and working Americans, and we are looking at a crisis that could be crippling. We all know that young people face diminished job prospects out of school. But this crisis is not limited to 20-somethings. It also hits those in their 30s and 40s — who pay their student loans from stagnant or diminishing incomes — and those in their 50s and 60s who struggle to pay mortgages, save for retirement, and put their children through school.
Recently, a serious report conducted in Orlando, Florida and Columbus, Ohio by the Economic Media Project points out that what some people say during a focus group meeting. Statements like:
“People coming out of college are getting off on the wrong foot. My husband has $58,000 worth of student loans and isn’t making even close to what he needs to be making to pay it off. They’re saying that you need all this education to get these jobs to make more money but yet you come out of college with all this debt and you can’t ever catch up.”
“I have plenty of student loans that I’m paying. I have a degree. I’m working as a bartender not by choice; not saying I love it but I make more money doing that than any position I could get with my degree so I pay my student loans as a bartender.”
“I can’t go to school because my credit is bad because of my previous school loans but I can’t afford to pay them. There’s not really anything I can do to better my education because I can’t afford it and I can’t get a loan.”
“It’s important to have an education but the cost …I wonder is it worth it?”
“When you come out of school you’re $50,000 or $100,000 in debt. You’re lucky if you’re making, you know, $30,000 or $40,000 a year. That’s paying your bills. That’s paying your rent. You’re not paying off your debt so you’re never getting ahead.”
“It’s more for the financial reasons where, you know, we have a student loan crisis basically where you’re getting into so much debt to get that degree, to get that better job, that that is becoming cyclical where you are working just to pay off your student loans so it’s almost, it’s a double-edged sword.”
Will Congress care? Of course not.
Las mujeres tienen fuerzas y capacidades que asombran a los hombres.
Ellas… se encargan de los niños, pueden sobrellevar penas y situaciones muy «pesadas», sin embargo tienen espacio para la felicidad… el amor y la alegría.
Ellas sonríen cuando quieren gritar, cantan cuando quieren llorar, lloran cuando están contentas y ríen cuando están nerviosas. Pero al mismo tiempo que tienen toda esa fortaleza interior, son capaces de esperar impacientes una llamada de teléfono de su esposo o de sus hijos, sólo para oír sus voces y saber que llegaron sanos.
Las mujeres tienen cualidades especiales, por eso siempre se ofrecen para buenas causas.
Son voluntarias en hospitales, llevan comida a los necesitados trabajan como niñeras amas de casa, abogadas y solucionan problemas entre niños y vecinos. Además se adaptan a lo que sea necesario por eso usan trajes, vaqueros, uniformes y minifaldas.
Las mujeres recorren largos caminos para conseguir la mejor escuela para sus hijos y la mejor atención para la salud de su familia.
Ellas no aceptan un «no» como respuesta cuando están convencidas de que hay una solución. Saben perdonar.
Son extremadamente sensibles e intuitivas y los hombres no acaban de entender por qué ríen o lloran ante un nacimiento o un matrimonio. Sin embargo hay más, esa sensibilidad e intuición también les permite saber que un abrazo, un beso y decir te amo en el momento oportuno, puede sanar un corazón dolido.
Una mujer puede lograr que una mañana, una tarde o una noche romántica sean inolvidables.
Las mujeres vienen en todos los tamaños, colores y formas; viven en casas, palacios o cabañas. Ellas corren, caminan, pueden usar un automóvil tanto como una computadora.
Las mujeres tienen mucho qué decir y mucho para dar. El corazón de las mujeres hace girar el mundo. Y a cambio, todo lo que ellas esperan es un abrazo, un beso o una caricia.
El amor que ella entrega apasionada e inocentemente al hombre a quien ama, es el mismo que le impulsa a cuidar a su amado cuando está enfermo o simplemente prepararle una taza de té en las frías noches de invierno.
La belleza de una mujer no está en la ropa que lleva, en su figura o en la forma en que se peina.
Si quieres descubrirla, tendrás que mirarla a los ojos, que es la puerta de su corazón, donde reside la esencia de su alma.
«Tienen que aprender a reconocer a una verdadera mujer cuando toque a sus puertas para que, así, no la dejen ir»
President Obama expressed “disappointment” in the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling which all but eviscerated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and called upon Congress “to pass legislation to ensure every American has equal access to the polls.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling is a game changer for ongoing efforts to counter voter suppression.
“Within many of our lifetimes, brave men and women literally died for the right to vote, in the face of terror and intimidation from the Ku Klux Klan and others. Astonishingly, the court today effectively sided with the KKK, making it far easier to deny the vote to people of color, the poor, and anyone else who officials don’t want voting,” said Michelle Romero from the Greenlining Institute.
“Make no mistake: Though the court technically didn’t throw out the pre-approval provision, its decision today has the same effect, unless Congress acts,” she contended. “This is a deeply shameful decision, every bit as shameful as the Dred Scott case or Plessy v. Ferguson.”
The “pre-approval provision” of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires nine selected states and other jurisdictions located mostly in the South (and chosen due to their historic patterns of discrimination against ethnic minority voters) to submit any changes to state voting laws and procedures to either the Department of Justice (DOJ) or the U.S. District Court for approval, before they can go into effect.
Though the Supreme Court’s decision left Section 5 intact, Chief Justice John Roberts barred the use of Section 4, the data-gathering formula that provides the statistical underpinning for DOJ or the District Court to make their determinations.
In essence, because there have been instances of minority voters successfully electing candidates of their choice since the passage of the Voting Rights Act, Roberts argued that the past is no longer prologue to America’s current realities. He wrote: “There is no denying… that the conditions that originally justified these measures no longer characterize voting in the covered jurisdictions.”
In a statement released after the decision, Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, sharply disagreed: “Ample evidence shows that [the] prior Section 4 formula – which enabled Section 5 to block more than 1,500 discriminatory voting laws from going into effect since its inception, including five last year – is still a critical necessity, and that the formula for those covered states was clearly appropriate.”
“The Supreme Court today struck a major blow to our democracy. By stripping Section 5 of its powers, jurisdictions no longer have to justify any change in their voting laws,” said Tram Nguyen, associate director at Virginia New Majority.
“Discrimination at the ballot box isn’t a thing of the past. Many states, including Virginia, have adopted Voter ID laws aimed at reducing turnout among minorities and low-income voters.”
Clearly, the Supreme Court’s decision is at odds with recent history. The Voting Rights Act was vital in 2012, not just 1965. For nearly five decades, it has been the nation’s most effective tool to eradicate racial discrimination in voting. And it is still critical today.
Congress now has the duty to upgrade this key protection and ensure our elections remain free, fair, and accessible for all Americans.
According to data compiled by The Advancement Project: In 2013, voter ID restrictions were introduced in 24 states; proof of citizenship laws in eight; restrictions to early voting in nine; restricting same day voter registration in six; restrictions on voting registration drives in eight; list maintenance and voter purges in six; restrictions on felon rights restoration in two; and penalties for student registration in two. These come on the heels of a number of other restrictive state voting laws that were passed before the 2012 presidential election.
Most observers, however, are not convinced that the current Congress, already deeply divided along party lines on a host of issues, has the political will to design a new formula that will appease both parties.
Recent polling shows an America nearly equally split on whether the Voting Rights Act should remain in effect. Given that, authorizing a new formula would be a calculated risk for incumbents whose constituents may, ironically, exercise their unencumbered access to the polls to remove those in Congress who dare to challenge the Court’s decision on Section 4.