Benghazi / Rice Issue Not Closed | UN Disabilities Treaty | Fiscal Cliff & Entitlement Editorials
|Warning: UN Disabilities Treaty|
in Senate for Ratification
The Senate reconvened and are working on an agreement on amendments to the Disabilities Treaty, Treaty #112-7. The Senate could take up S. 3254, the Defense authorization bill, this afternoon. Yesterday, the Senate voted 61-36 to proceed to Treaty #112-7, the United Nations Disabilities Treaty. Again America is being suckered by POTUS and the Senate ratifying or even considering another UN Treaty. As Americans citizens we do not need this UN treaty!
The House reconvened at noon and proceeded to address bills naming and designating names for government buildings / properties. Whoopee! It is questionable whether they will take up today HR 3563 — A bill to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 which was on the schedule for yesterday but was not addressed or voted on. However there is room on Thursday and Friday as only one bill was originally identified to be addressed. It is HR 6429 — STEM Job Act of 2012.
Yesterday, the House passed the following bills:
H.R. 6025 (by Voice Vote) — Mandatory Operational Control Reporting and Performance Measures Act of 2012 - Which requires mandatory annual reports on the status of operational control of the international land and maritime borders of the United States and unlawful entries.
H.R. 5913 (by voice vote) — DHS Accountability Act of 2012 - Creating an independent advisory panel to comprehensively assess the management structure and capabilities related to the Department of Homeland Security and make recommendations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the management of the Department.
H.R. 6328 (by voice vote) — Clothe a Homeless Hero Act - Directing the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security (Transportation Security Administration) to transfer unclaimed clothing recovered at airport security checkpoints to local veterans organizations and other local charitable organizations
H.R. 5997 (Vote: 397 - 1) — Medical Preparedness Allowable Use Act - Amending the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to codify authority under existing grant guidance authorizing use of Urban Area Security Initiative and State Homeland Security Grant Program funding for enhancing medical preparedness, medical surge capacity, and mass prophylaxis capabilities.
H.R. 915 (Vote: 397 - 4) — Jaime Zapata Border Enforcement Security Task Force Act which was previously passed and referred by by the Senate with changes.
Key Editorials Address Entitlement Reform
While Democrats talk endlessly of tax increases, two key editorials today remind President Obama and Democrats that entitlement reform is critical to solving the nation’s fiscal crisis.
The Washington Post editors write today, “Democrats . . . are sounding more and more maximalist in resisting spending cuts. Many insist that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and education — pretty much everything except the Pentagon — are untouchable. Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (Ill.) . . . said Tuesday that, while he favors reform of entitlement programs, it shouldn’t be part of the negotiations on the fiscal cliff. The Post’s Greg Sargent reported that union leaders and other liberals came away from a White House meeting encouraged that administration officials agree. ‘They expect taxes to go up on the wealthy and to protect Medicare and Medicaid benefits,’ one attendee said. ‘They feel confident that they don’t have to compromise.’ Don’t have to compromise?”
They point out, “Since 60 percent of the federal budget goes to entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, there’s no way to achieve balance without slowing the rate of increase of those programs. This could be accomplished in a progressive manner, shielding the poorest beneficiaries from cuts. But that seems less likely to be achieved if progressives boycott serious negotiations by pretending that Social Security and Medicare are sustainable with no reform at all. Mr. Obama has understood this since at least 2009, when he told The Post’s editorial board that he would tackle entitlement reform.”
“Four years later,” The Post editors write, “has the moment arrived? Since his reelection, Mr. Obama has fueled a campaign-style effort to pressure Republicans to give ground on taxes. . . . . At some point, he has to prepare the American people — and his own supporters most of all — for the ‘hard decisions’ required to put the country on a sound financial footing. That means spending cuts, it means entitlement reform, it means compromise . . . . Only one person is in a position to make it happen.”
Meanwhile, USA Today editorializes, “Do Democrats really believe Social Security doesn't contribute to federal deficits and the national debt? They're certainly saying it a lot: ‘Social Security does not add one penny to our debt, not a penny,’ Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, insisted Sunday on ABC's This Week. During Monday's briefing at the White House, press secretary Jay Carney repeated the theme: ‘We should address the drivers of the deficit, and Social Security is not currently a driver of the deficit — that's an economic fact.’ Well, saying it's a fact doesn't make it so.
“Durbin, Carney and others making that claim should take a look at the president's own budget to see what's really going on. On page 465 of the budget's ‘Analytical Perspectives,’ they'll find a chart showing that Social Security ran a deficit of $48 billion last year. This year, Social Security will come up $50.7 billion short. In 2015, as more Baby Boomers retire, the gap between cash in and cash out is expected to reach $86.6 billion. Need a second source? In a report released last month, the Congressional Budget Office said Social Security benefits began exceeding payroll tax revenue in 2010, and without changes, the program will never get back into balance. Denying this harsh reality requires playing accounting shell games and believing (or pretending to believe) that Social Security can be bailed out by its trust fund. And if you believe that, we have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.”
USA Today concludes, “Social Security represents more than one-fifth of federal spending, much too big to ignore. The likeliest fixes are well known. These include raising the cap on income subject to the payroll tax, tying cost-of-living adjustments more closely to actual inflation, and bumping up the retirement age for able-bodied future retirees. The sooner these changes are made, the less painful they will be. But shoring up the program starts with politicians telling the truth about how Social Security works. That's something the White House and congressional Democrats apparently think the public can't handle.”
And yet according to Politico today, “Congressional Democrats are starting to draw a much tougher line on entitlements in the increasingly messy fiscal cliff talks, warning Republicans to keep their hands off Social Security and Medicare benefits. Democrats also say they’ll refuse to look at GOP calls to dramatically slash Medicaid. . . . On Tuesday, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) went even further with a fresh push for negotiators to keep all entitlement discussions out of the fiscal cliff talks, and instead keep the focus solely on taxes and automatic spending cuts.”
This morning, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell responded, “Democrats like to pretend as though they’re the great protectors of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. They make solemn pledges all the time about how they won’t even entertain a discussion about reform. What they don’t say is that ignoring these programs is the surest way to guarantee their collapse. . . . [A]lready, Medicare and Social Security are both paying out more in benefits than they take in from taxes. . . . Yet Democrats are telling those on the hard-Left not to worry about it. They won’t do anything to reform and protect these programs. And for some reason these groups all applaud. As if this is some kind of an achievement, allowing entitlements to crumble. That’s the kind of leadership vacuum we’ve had on this issue from Democrats in Washington for years.”
Benghazi Deaths Not A Closed Issue:
The Washington Times reported this morning that Republican senators said Tuesday that they have even more questions about the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, after meeting with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan E. Rice, who has become a lightning rod for criticism of the Obama administration’s handling of the attack. Rice is to meet with Republican Senators today.
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