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Blogger/Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Today in Washington D. C. - July 10, 2009

Last night, the Senate passed H.R. 2892, the fiscal year 2010 Homeland Security appropriations bill, by a vote of 84-6. The bill provides $44.3 billion for Homeland Security programs including $16 billion for customs, border protection and immigration and $8.9 billion for the Coast Guard.

Prior to final passage, the Senate rejected amendments from Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) to strip an earmark for an emergency center in Montana, John McCain (R-AZ) to strip an earmark for a training center in West Virginia, and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to increase FEMA firefighter assistance grants. The Senate approved an amendment from Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to require contracts or grants be awarded by competitive bids except for awards to small businesses or those owned by women or minorities.

On Monday, the Senate is expected to take up the fiscal 2010 Defense authorization bill, S. 1390, and hold a cloture vote on the nomination of Robert Gr0ves to be Census director. ARRA News Service previously reported on Groves involvement with ACORN and Groves' refusal "to rule out paying ACORN lieutenants tens of millions of tax dollars to, of all things, count the number of Americans who should receive federally funded hand-outs and be allowed to vote." Also on Monday, the Judiciary Committee will begin hearings on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court at 10 AM.

Obama's Week: It’s been a rough week for President Obama’s signature initiatives, with continuing criticism of the ineffective $787 billion stimulus bill, Democrats unable to get their act together on health care bills, and the climate tax bill stalling. However, he will manage to drop by to visit with Pope at Vatican City today.

Following last week’s dismal job numbers, including an increase of the unemployment rate to 9.5%, the worst in 26 years, Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday claimed that the administration “misread how bad the economy was” when pushing for its staggeringly expensive stimulus package. Of course, that’s not what the administration said at the time, leading to renewed criticism of the stimulus bill.

A report released by the Government Accountability Office in the middle of the week only raised further concerns when it found that states are using stimulus money “for short-term projects and to fill budget gaps rather than spending on long-term improvements,” according to USA Today. In a New York Times analysis piece titled, “Doubts About Obama’s Economic Recovery Plan Rise Along With Unemployment," the NY Times related, “Administration officials had predicted that the stimulus program would save or create 600,000 jobs by summer. But the economy has lost more than two million jobs since Mr. Obama took office, and officials now estimate that the program has saved only about 150,000 jobs.” (Of course, the administration has yet to provide any measurement of just how many jobs the stimulus has supposedly “saved or created.”)

All of this resulted in a week of Democrats bickering with each other and the White House over whether a second stimulus would be necessary, or even a good idea. Appearing on Greta van Susteren’s show, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell summed up the general Republican view of such an idea, saying, “we had a great saying down home in Kentucky that there’s no education in the second kick of a mule.”

Meanwhile, throughout the week, Democrats in the Senate struggled to come up with workable health reform bills and ways to pay for a government-run insurance program. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid waded into the morass in the middle of the week to rule out taxing health benefits, which led Democrats scrambling for other ideas that included income surtaxes and taxes on beer and soda. And as Senate Democrats toiled, rank-and-file House Democrats put the brakes on the unveiling of their health bill today. Politico reports, “House Democrats of every stripe filled the speaker’s mailbox with a torrent of missives to make their case for what they do and don’t want in the legislation – all while tax-writers struggled to agree on ways to pay for it.”

In an attempt to give the impression of momentum, the White House rolled out another deal, this time with hospital groups, to “save” billions of dollars in health care costs over the next decade. But the announcement was swiftly questioned in the same way previous savings deals were, with many wondering whether any of these savings would actually materialize. The administration also spent much of the week arguing with Democrats in Congress, and even President Obama’s own chief of staff, as to the necessity of a government-run insurance plan. Further, it issued a harsh rebuke to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) who questions whether the White House was obligated to abide by any of the health deals it has struck.

On top of all of this, President Obama’s push to regulate carbon emissions ran into roadblocks this week. He was unable to get an agreement at the G-8 summit from China, India, and other developing nations “to commit to specific goals for slashing heat-trapping gases by 2050.” And yesterday, Senate Democrats scrapped a plan to begin working on their version of a burdensome cap-and-trade carbon regulating scheme, pushing committee consideration back into the fall.

Clearly, it’s been a tough week for Obama and Democrats on their key issues. Perhaps they’re looking forward to changing the subject next week when confirmation hearings on Judge Sonia Sotomayor begin.

Tags: Barack Obama, conservative democrats, energy bill, federal spending, increase taxes, nationalized health care, Robert Groves, US Congress, US Senate, Washington D.C. To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 12:15 PM - Post Link


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