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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, February 01, 2013

Senate Dems Now Face No Pay If No Budget | Unemployment | Troubled Nominations

Today in Washington, D.C. - Feb 1. 2012 
The White House announced today that Energy Secretary Steven Chu is stepping down. Wonder if those federal loans Chu made for the Obama administration to the failed solar company Solyndra were "to charged up"?

Yesterday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed that the unemployment rate increased for the second month in a row to 7.9 percent as 126,000 more Americans reported that they were unemployed in January than in December. Since the November election, the number of Americans reporting that they are unemployed has increased by more than 330,000 people or roughly the equivalent of the entire population of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Generation Opportunity, a national, non-partisan organization advocating for Millennials ages 18-29, reported that the youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds was 13.1 percent (NSA) and for subset categories: African-Americans 22.1 percent; Hispanics 13.0 percent; and women 11.6 percent. The declining labor participation rate has created an additional 1.7 million young adults that are not counted as "unemployed" by the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not in the labor force, meaning that those young people have given up looking for work due to the lack of jobs.

Terence Grado, Director of National and State Policy at Generation Opportunity said, “President Obama says America should be ‘investing in the generation that will build its future,’ yet four years of his government-driven economic policies have left us with record youth unemployment and an economy that is literally shrinking. My generation is suffering disproportionately. Instead of staying the course and doubling down on failure, we need a new strategy that encourages the private sector to grow, invest, and provide real opportunities for the millions of young people who have great skills, are ready to contribute, and have waited long enough.”

Yesterday, The Washington Times reflected on the initial Senate hearings on former Sen. Chuck Hagel nomination for Secretary of Defense: ">Hagel appears to face an even steeper climb to become the next defense secretary after a rocky confirmation hearing Thursday in which his fellow Republicans blasted him for positions on issues and for what they called his willingness to alter positions "for the sake of political expediency."  Bill Smith, editor of the ARRA News Service, notes, "The tables sure are different on the Hagle nomination.  The Democrats are supporting a RINO (thus a democrat) nominee who is far less qualified that the outgoing Sec of Defense Leon Penetta, a democrat. It is left to Republicans to make the effort to vet and to bring out the major flaws and why Hagel's nomination should not be approved.  Having served under several different Secretary of Defense in my 22 year military career, both Democrats and Republicans, I find it disturbing that Hagel was even nominated.  His is major qualifications seem to be his anti-Zionist sentiments, his pro-Muslim sentiments, his opposition to former military actions, a disrespect for former military operations and  former senior military officers, and finally his connection to and former Chairman and CEO of  American Information Systems, now called Election Systems & Software (ES&S) company in Nebraska.  ES&S is a corporation that provides a majority of electronic voting machines in the United States and there have been numerous questions regarding his involvement and influence with this company in regard to election results.

Congress was not in session today. However, yesterday, the Senate voted 64-34 to pass H.R. 325, the House-passed bill to extend the debt ceiling for three months. Prior to final passage, Democrats voted to table (kill) 3 Republican amendments to the bill designed to provide for a more responsible process concerning the debt limit. Tabled were an amendment from Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), which would have required that any debt limit increase be balanced by equal spending cuts over the next decade, a second amendment from Sen. Portman which would have prevented government shutdowns by providing for automatic continuing resolutions if appropriations bills are not passed before the end of the fiscal year, and an amendment from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) that would have ensured that the U.S. government’s creditors are paid first in the event that a debt limit increase is not passed. Also tabled was an amendment from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to prohibit the sale of F-16s to Egypt. In addition, senators voted to table a motion from Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) to commit the bill to the Finance Committee and have it returned with provisions to cut spending over the next decade.

However, in passing the bill, the Senate democrats who run the Senate have agreed to finally pass a budget after nearly four years of inaction or be faced with no pay. the bill contains a  'No Budget, No Pay' provision which places Members’ salaries in escrow after April 15th until they pass a budget.  this  “No Budget, No Pay,” will force the Senate to do its job and craft a budget for the first time in four years. Since regaining control of the House of Representatives two years ago, House Republicans have passed a budget each year, but because of the Senate’s lack of action, American families have suffered.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)  commented after the passage of H.R. 325 by the Senate: “Every hardworking family and small business in America puts together a budget, and our elected leaders have a responsibility to do the same. It shouldn't have taken legislative action by the House to force the Democratic majority in the Senate to do its job -- but after nearly four years of inaction on a budget by Senate Democrats, that's what it came to. Because of the efforts of House Republicans, Senate Democrats are now required to do their job for the American people and pass a budget, or lose their pay. Now Senate Democrats should take the task seriously and present a plan that balances the budget and responsibly addresses the government's spending problem.

“Our shared goal should be to help grow the economy and expand opportunity. To do that, we need to budget responsibly. House Republicans have consistently passed budgets that promote economic growth and address our debt crisis -- which is the result of out of-control spending by Washington -- and we will do so again this year.”

Speaker Boehner also made a statement Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) bill: Require a PLAN Act. If passed and signed into law by the president (some doubt there). the Act requires President Obama to also submit to Congress a balanced budget: Boehner said, “So long as Washington isn’t balancing its checkbook, it’s going to be harder for families and small business owners to balance theirs. Getting Senate Democrats to finally agree to do a budget was a good start, but we need President Obama to do his job as well. With this measure, we are giving the president a chance to kick his habit of submitting budgets that spend, tax, and borrow too much. That approach clearly isn’t working. By requiring the president to show how he would balance the budget, all we’re doing is holding him to the same standard any family tries to meet. Given that the president’s budget will be late, it may as well be right.”

Another nominee may also face troubles in the confirmation process, The AP reported today, “Senate Republicans say they will oppose President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, unless the office created after the 2008 financial meltdown is significantly changed. Obama has renominated current director Richard Cordray, who had been named in a recess appointment last year.

“Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and 42 other GOP senators sent a letter Friday to Obama saying the consumer office has little accountability to Congress and wields too much regulatory authority. They said they would oppose any nominee, no matter his or her party affiliation. ‘Far too much power is vested in the sole CFPB director without any meaningful checks and balances,’ the letter from the senators said.”

The Hill
adds, “Senate Republicans are renewing their vow to block any nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) unless major changes are made to its structure . . . . The refreshed blockade comes just days after President Obama re-nominated Richard Cordray to serve as CFPB director. The president installed Cordray in the position one year ago, using a controversial recess appointment after running into similar Republican opposition.”

The AP notes, “Cordray's recess appointment is under court challenge. Obama appointed Cordray last year, on the same day he placed three members on the National Labor Relations Board whose appointments were ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court last month. A ruling on Cordray is pending.”

Further, The Hill points out, “Cordray's recess appointment, due to run through the end of 2013, has come under fresh scrutiny, with many believing the move could be ruled unconstitutional. One week ago, a federal appeals court ruled that a trio of recess appointments made the same day to the National Labor Relations Board were unconstitutional, leading many to believe it is only a matter of time under Cordray's appointment faces a similar fate.”

In their letter, the Republican senators write, “As presently organized, the CFPB is insulated from congressional oversight of its actions and its budget. Far too much power is vested in the sole CFPB director without any meaningful checks and balances. We again urge the adoptions of the following reforms: 1. Establish a bipartisan board of directors to oversee the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 2. Subject the Bureau to the annual appropriation process, similar to other federal regulators.”

Leader McConnell noted, “The CFPB as created by the deeply flawed Dodd-Frank Act is one of the least accountable in Washington. Today’s letter reaffirms a commitment by 43 Senators to fix the poorly thought structure of this agency that has unprecedented reach and control over individual consumer decisions—but an unprecedented lack of oversight and accountability.”

Tags: Washington in Review, Obama nominations, unemployment, budgets 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 4:46 PM - Post Link


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