News & Notes December 19. 2012

If a Democratic President cuts my Social Security I’ll never vote for another Democrat.  They ran on protecting both Social Security and Medicare and six weeks after the election they’ve put them on the table.  The “fiscal cliff” is a manufactured crisis created by Republicans and conservative Democrats.  Social Security doesn’t contribute one red cent to the deficit so why is this “chained CPI” benefit cut on the table and put there by the President?

I left the Democratic Party four years ago.  At this rate I’ll soon register as a Green.

Almost none of the “experts” discussing the deficit talks on television has been an economist.

Gun nuts arguing for arming teachers are insane.  Some are claiming Israeli teachers are armed.  They aren’t.  The few who are in the West Bank also have two years of military training and have to be certified on their arms every three years.

Sen. Bob Casey and Congressman Charlie Dent both issued statements following the Newtown Child Massacre softening their positions on guns.  Neither, however, came out for a ban on assault rifles, mandatory background checks or mandatory reporting of mental health conditions to the national database.

DPW Secretary Gary Alexander continues residing in Rhode Island and drives a state car back and forth each week at taxpayer expense.  If Gov. Gasbag can’t find someone within the Commonwealth to run the Department of Public Welfare then the Secretary should be forced to move.

AFSCME Council 13 has filed suit over the Governor’s desire to privatize the lottery.  Let’s remember what privatizing government programs does:  it transfers tax payer dollars from the public sector to the private for the sake of profit.  Public programs should be prioritized for the public good, not for private profit.

The War On Drugs failed miserably and has cost taxpayers trillions.  Now HSBC has been found guilty of laundering money for the drug cartels.  

What happened to them as a consequence?

Breuer this week signed off on a settlement deal with the British banking giant HSBC that is the ultimate insult to every ordinary person who’s ever had his life altered by a narcotics charge. Despite the fact that HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), Breuer and his Justice Department elected not to pursue criminal prosecutions of the bank, opting instead for a “record” financial settlement of $1.9 billion, which as one analyst noted is about five weeks of income for the bank.

Remember that the next time you see a low level drug dealer busted.

 

Dishonest Republicans Look to Gut Social Security and Medicare

Senate Republicans and Tea Party House members held the nation hostage on a debt ceiling bill.  They demanded severe cuts to social programs and refused to raise taxes on the rich in order to continue paying for the out of control spending they did while in the White House.  $15 trillion of debt was run up by Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and then George W. Bush and then Republicans in Congress who voted for all that debt refused to pay it when the debt ceiling was reached.  Their failed economic policies and refusals to regulate business resulted in a global financial meltdown which has crashed the economies of countries such as Ireland, Greece and Spain.  

Now they enjoy casting the specter of Greece before us and use it to fear monger over the deficit.  A deficit they created.  The difference between America and Greece is that we can afford to pay our debt.  Greece cannot.  It isn’t comparing apples and apples.

The agreement to extend the debt ceiling was reached by setting a fiscal armageddon date:  January 1, 2013 when across the board cuts would usher in an era of austerity.  Austerity has yet to work anywhere and actually depresses economies.  Republicans are ready and willing to throw our recovering economy back into depression in order to gut entitlement programs.  They see this as their opportunity to finally gut your Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  These are programs which are the most successful in our history.  Republicans however, are hell bent, as they’ve been for decades, to end them.

Heaven help us have successful programs for the poor, elderly, disabled and orphans.  Before Social Security half of all senior citizens lived in poverty.  That has been the real success of the program.  Our elderly, disabled citizens and orphans have been able to live with some self sufficiency and dignity due to SS.  It adds not one red cent to the deficit and should have nothing to do with deficit reduction negotiations.  The only reason it is is because Republicans see an opportunity to gut and/or end the program.

We can actually expand Social Security benefits and extend its solvency for 75 years by lifting the income cap upon which payroll taxes are collected.  People who earn millions and billions per year pay FICA taxes on only the first $110,000 of that income.  Therefore you pay a higher tax rate than they do.

Republicans ran this year on the issue of Medicare by scaring senior citizens that they’d protect it against President Obama’s cuts.  While ballots continue being counted from the election Senate Republicans such as Lindsey Graham are already using extortion to gut Medicare and Social Security.  They also used the threat of Democratic cutting in 2010 then voted in the House to replace it with a privatized voucher system.

40% of senior citizens, according to exit polls, voted for the Romney/Ryan ticket dedicated to gutting both Social Security and Medicare.  They did so because the GOP lied about the issue.  This is no excuse for not being an informed voter.  There is no defense against willful brainwashing.  Still, with the electoral college not yet even meeting to be on television demanding cuts to entitlement programs is shameful.

Grover Norquist’s anti-American anti-tax pledge is shameful because it forces Senators and Congress members to violate their oaths of office.  It forces them to put partisan ideology ahead of the country.  John McCain’s “Country First” slogan was a fraud.  Any candidate who signs the Norquist tax pledge is unfit to serve.

Medicare is in financial trouble long term because our private health care system s broken.  Medicare isn’t the problem:  private health insurance is driving costs upwards.  A single payer Medicare for All system fixes everything.  Both programs need expansion, not gutting.

This entire “fiscal cliff” discussion is a failure.  The deficit isn’t the problem, a lack of jobs is what is issue #1.  Putting people back to work will eliminate the deficit by raising income tax collections.  The deficit was caused by three main factors, all Republican failures:  the Bush tax cuts for the rich, two wars which weren’t paid for and the economic collapse.  We can fix things by allowing the tax cuts to expire, ending the wars and following proven economic recovery models.  There is no need to gut entitlement programs.

They aren’t “entitlement” programs anyway.  You’ve paid into both for as long as you’ve worked.  You’re invested in Social Security and Medicare, you’ve worked for them.  The rich aren’t entitled to tax cuts or wars for which the poor fight and die.  They aren’t entitled to an unregulated, chaotic, boom and bust capitalistic economy.  Now those ARE entitlements.

Republicans cannot be trusted with your financial security.  If you voted Republican then perhaps you deserve to lose your Social Security and Medicare.  Even extreme Tea Party members won’t give up their benefits.  I’ve been at their events with a small BBQ grill and signs saying I’d burn their Medicare and Social Security cards and none of them would do so.  Let’s take their benefits away since they’re hell bent on destroying the programs.  One solution is obvious:  if you’re a registered Republican you don’t get Social Security or Medicare.

Romney & Co. Distort Medicare Realities

by Walter Brasch

Several times during the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney claimed President Obama had stolen $716 billion from Medicare to fund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

That claim wasn’t original with Romney. Thousands of Republican candidates have said the same thing. And, thousands of Republican candidates are wrong. Most know the facts. But in their zealous attempt to spin the truth and get senior citizen votes, they still use that $716 billion claim as fact.

Here are the facts.  

Over a 10 year period-that’s 10 years not immediately, as stated-Medicare will lose $716 billion. But, that’s primarily because of two provisions of the new law, found to be constitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States.

First, Obamacare reduces excessive payments to hospitals and other medical providers over that 10 year period. Second, and most important, it reduces payments to hospitals that have an excessive number of readmissions.

This forces hospitals to deal with patient issues before releasing the patients. Over the next year, you will see hospital staffs spending more time with patients, and more time trying to coordinate care to avoid having patients return-some for three or four times-to take care of issues that should have been handled before their first discharge. No money is taken from individuals.

But, this phony argument by Romney wasn’t the only one he made. He claimed a board will determine what treatment patients can receive. This is blatantly wrong. A board does exist, but it exists to review costs by medical providers and, again, to examine high readmission rates and to recommend ways to lower costs. Grandma won’t be denied health care because of some governmental board.

Finally, of the couple of dozen errors and lies Romney made in the debate, many not challenged by the President at the time, Romney claims his own plan-an alternate to Obamacare-allows anyone with a pre-existing condition to be able to receive insurance. That’s only if the person has a gap of insurance coverage of less than 63 days in the previous 18 months. And, that’s not Romney’s plan, that’s already in the law.

The new law, under President Obama, requires insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions. Period. No exceptions. It ends the cherry-picking by insurance companies that accept only low-risk patients. Persons who do not have employer-sponsored insurance coverage or who have been laid off and can’t afford coverage for several months can’t be denied insurance protection.

Here’s some more facts about Obamacare that are either not mentioned or deliberately distorted by the Republican UnTruth Machine and the propagandists of right-wing talk radio.

Obamacare is not a government take-over of health care, primarily because it still places insurance coverage in the hands of private businesses and insurance companies. It does, however, allow more persons to be insured who are below the poverty line.

Currently, about 50 million people do not carry health insurance. Most are unable to afford it. Under Obamacare, they will have insurance coverage.

The new law adds and improves community health centers, allowing low-income persons to be treated in their own micro-communities. Having community health centers in place also increases the probability that those who need medical assistance will receive it. Physicians may still decline to treat persons who are on Medicare, for example, but the impoverished and the low-income elderly won’t be turned away.

The new plan also allows more preventative treatment, something that many insurance companies currently don’t allow. As dozens of studies have shown, preventative medicine reduces not only mortality but costs as well.

About 19 million middle-class families will receive tax credits averaging about $4,800 a year for health coverage, according to the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO). However, some people won’t get that advantage. Those will be persons earning at least $250,000 a year. Those persons will pay a slightly higher tax, still well below the tax rate during every presidential administration since the Eisenhower Administration, with the exception of what was supposed to be a temporary tax cut by the George W. Bush administration. In a side benefit to more than 98 percent of all Americans, they will no longer be paying a higher tax rate than multimillionaires running for the presidency.

Finally, the CBO has said that implementation of Obamacare will reduce the deficit by $100 billion in the first decade, and $1 trillion in the next decade. But you don’t hear any Republicans mention those facts.

In Mr. Romney’s case, and the case presented by the bloviators of the right-wing that has smothered the once-respectable Republican party, truth is just the first casualty in the war of words.

[Dr. Walter Brasch is the author of 17 books, most focusing upon the fusion of history and contemporary social issues. His current book is Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution. His next book, scheduled for release, Nov. 15, is Fracking Pennsylvania, a look at public health, environment, and political corruption issues in the natural gas industry.]

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Walter M. Brasch, Ph.D.

Latest Book: Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution

(www.greeleyandstone.com)

www.walterbrasch.com

www.walterbrasch.blogspot.com

www.facebook.com/walterbrasch

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

Romney/Ryan Puts Medicare Front and Center

Mitt Romney didn’t play it safe and select Tim Pawlenty or Rob Portman as his running mate.  Instead he went all in and chose Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan architect of the infamous Ryan Budget.  That would gut the social safety net in place for decades.  I go back to Mitt’s statement that he wasn’t concerned about the poor because they have a safety net.  Why then would he choose someone whose goal is to shred it?

The Ryan Budget proposed ending Medicare as we know it and giving seniors, disabled people and orphans (36% of those on Social Security are disabled or survivors) vouchers to use to go buy insurance on the private market.  The biggest problem is that the vouchers aren’t enough to buy coverage.  Instead of accessing a highly efficient government program which accepts everyone regardless of health and has a 3% overhead you’d be buying private industry insurance with a 20% overhead.

While not as risky as Sarah Palin four years ago this puts entitlement programs front and center for the fall campaign.  In order to pay for additional tax cuts for the rich Romney/Ryan would raise middle class taxes an average of $2000/year.  This is further class warfare.  Is this the sort of deficit exploding fiscal policy Republicans have spent four years claiming to be destroying the economy?  You can’t declaim budget deficits then turn around and pass more tax cuts and drive it up further.

We know tax cuts for the rich don’t stimulate the economy or create jobs.  George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan both tried it and it has never worked.  Reagan had to turn around and sign one of the largest tax increases in history when trickle down failed.  The only thing that trickles down is misery.

Ryan is known as a smart guy but he has a lot of dumb ideas.

The 17th CD: The Most Important Democratic Congressional Primary in the Country

This is a guest column by Marc Stier who headed efforts here in Pennsylvania to get the Affordable Care Act passed.

by Marc Stier



Voters in the 17th Congressional District in Pennsylvania have an opportunity to do something really important, not just for themselves, but for the entire country: defeat Congressman Tim Holden. who represents the Republican wing of the Democratic party.  

It is obviously important to the 17th District to have a member of Congress who actually support their interests, not those of the corporate rich. And it’s important to the Democratic Party and the country as a whole to rid ourselves of members of Congress who fail to do the minimal in standing up for the ideals of our party. Defeating such members will send a critical message throughout the Democratic Caucus: Democratic members of Congress are accountable to us.

And, as I explain below, defeating Tim Holden will remove from office a whining, gutless, dishonest example of the American politician at his worst.

Let me be clear: I’m not a wild eyed leftist. I’m a slightly left of center Democrat. I’m not naïve about political strategy either. In endorsing Allyson Schwartz, I pointed out that members of Congress sometimes have to stand apart from progressive ideals in order to be reelected. And I said that they have a “moral responsibility” to do that because control of the House is important for the party and the country-so long as they don’t vote the wrong way when progressive legislation is at stake and their vote is absolutely necessary.

But Tim Holden’s opponent, Matt Cartwright, is not only a much more progressive Democrat than Holden, he is someone who can definitely win and hold the 17th Congressional District this year and in years to come.

Moreover, Tim Holden is not just a member of Congress who votes with Republicans now and then in order to preserve his seat. He votes with Republicans much of the time, and what’s worse, and on the issues that are most important to us, without making any attempt to persuade his district, and when his voted is definitely needed. And, on top of that he repeats Republican lies to justify his vote.

I’m talking, of course, about the Affordable Care Act. I met with Congressman Holden a few times, and until they cut us off, talked to his staff many times when I ran Health Care for America Now in our state. In all those conversations, I never once heard Congressman Holden show any serious concern about the tens of thousands of uninsured and underinsured in his district or the even larger group of people whose health insurance were going up far faster than their wages. Instead he whined about how health care reform (and cap and trade) were creating political problems for him.

Even his chief health care staff person was disappointing. She repeated blue dog talking points to me whenever I met with her.

And let me point out that even the old 17th district had a Democratic majority and supported Obama, unlike a lot of other districts held by Democratic members of Congress who voted for the ACA.

When members of Congress like Kathy Dahlkemper and Chris Carney were out in their districts, facing the tea party, and working with citizen and labor activists to defend what became the ACA, Tim Holden was hiding under his desk. He only came out to attend a private event hosted by an insurance company.

And, after the vote and since, Holden defended his stance by repeating the totally false Republican claim that the ACA cuts Medicare and Medicaid benefits. I called him on that two years ago in the Patriot-News. His constituents need to call him on it now.

What kind of Democratic member of Congress not only votes against his party on the most important legislation in his career but undermines the other members of Congress from his own party as well as a Democratic President by repeating Republican lies?

I hope that on Tuesday the answer will be Democratic Congressman who goes down to a well-deserved defeat in a Democratic primary.  

Critz Cries Foul on Altmire Ad

Mark Critz, engaged in a rabid primary race against fellow Democratic Congressman Jason Altmire in the revamped 12th CD, called his opponent out today in a press conference call.  Altmire aired an ad criticizing Critz for voting “present” on the Ryan budget last year.  The plan, up again now, destroyed Medicare as we know it, privatizing the successful government health plan for seniors.  The Democratic strategy on that vote was to have everyone vote present to force Republicans into going on the record for or against Medicare.  Altmire was one of only 16 Democrats who stranded from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s efforts and voted No instead.  Congressman Bob Brady and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky spoke supporting Critz’s explanation of his vote.  Here’s the Altmire ad:

The Critz campaign issued this statement earlier today:

At the time of the April 2011 vote, Politico reported that “Democrats asked all their members to vote ‘present’ on the conservative Republican Study Committee’s budget – an attempt to force it through the House – but failed. And illustrating the unease with which some still view Democratic leadership’s plans, more conservative lawmakers in the minority – like Pennsylvania Rep. Jason Altmire, Georgia’s John Barrow and Oklahoma’s Dan Boren – bucked Pelosi and Hoyer.”

The Democrats planned to allow the ultra-conservative Republican Study Committee’s budget to go through in an attempt to sideline the less absurd (yet still draconian) Ryan Budget, which was more likely to pass. The thinking was that the Senate would never pass the fringe Republican Study Committee’s budget, but might pass Ryan’s, so the Democrats voted “present” to force the Republican Study Committee’s budget through the House in order to gain a tactical advantage and preserve Medicare as we know it.

The ultimate irony of Altmire’s ad is that by not playing along with Democratic leadership, Altmire actually worked to advance the Ryan Budget!

To claim that Democrats in the 12th District should vote against Critz for his procedural vote on the budget obscures the fact that Altmire was actually helping the Republicans pass the Ryan Budget by not voting with Critz and the rest of the Democratic Party.

At the time of the vote, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said he was “disappointed” in Altmire and the small handful of others who did not vote present, saying “I was disappointed that they did not follow what I think was a strategy to highlight the position of the Republican Party.”

“I am very disappointed that Jason Altmire would distort my record on this,” said Mark Critz in a statement. “I stood with my Democratic colleagues on this vote as a way to kill Congressman Ryan’s budget that ended Medicare.”

The most remarkable part of this story, aside from the extreme distortion itself, is that the ad is narrated entirely by Congressman Altmire. I say that this is remarkable because Altmire knows the exact circumstances of the procedural vote, and surely remembers the tactical nature of the Democratic leadership’s decision. Rarely are attack ads with such flagrant falsities narrated by the candidate themselves-these types of wild assertions are usually done by a deep, scary voice from an outside organization.

The Super Committee’s Gridlock

Congress’ self appointed Super Committee announced its failure to come to an agreement on a deficit reduction plan after the markets closed yesterday.  The Dow had already plunged 2% on reports there would be no agreement.  The closed door Politburo was appointed last August as part of the debt ceiling deal to find $1.2 trillion in additional budget cuts and revenue enhancements.  Pending no agreement a clause in that bill kicks in mandating an across the board 10% cut across federal programs.  The Pentagon is having a hissy fit saying they won’t be able to defend the country on a budget which allowed them to do so in 2007.

Pat Toomey tried pushing through an agenda calling for $1.5 trillion because he wasn’t happy just cutting $1.2T.  The cuts done earlier are already impacting the poor and these new ones will result in being dying.  Winter looms with substantial cuts to LIHEAP, food stamps, WIC and other social safety net programs for the poor, unemployed and disadvantaged.  These cuts do real damage to real people.

Republicans refused to budge on tax increases and the closing of special interest loopholes.  They proposed about $3 billion in tax increases compared with $500 billion in budget cuts and, still,t hat wasn’t enough.  Democrats put sharp cuts to both Social Security (which doesn’t add a cent to the deficit) and Medicare on the table but conservatives wouldn’t play ball.  This is the Tea Party, a fringe minority of Americans, pushing its extreme agenda on the rest of us.

Had the Committee proposed serious cuts to these critically important programs while leaving millionaires and billionaires untouched the 99% movement would have been outraged and the people taking to the streets would have been awe inspiring.  Not to mention chaotic.  Fox would have had more to pontificate about than trying to explain that pepper spray is actually a food product and so not dangerous.  In that case I’d like them to line up and allow me the pleasure of emptying a canister in their faces.  Of course perhaps they’d also allow me to serve them some mushroom soup from some food products I collect in the wild.

The real solution is called The People’s Budget:

Our Budget Eliminates the Deficit and Raises a $31 Billion Surplus In Ten Years

Our budget protects Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and responsibly eliminates the deficit by targeting its main drivers: the Bush Tax Cuts, the wars overseas, and the causes and effects of the recent recession.

Our Budget Puts America Back to Work & Restores America’s Competitiveness

• Trains teachers and restores schools; rebuilds roads and bridges and ensures that users help pay for them

• Invests in job creation, clean energy and broadband infrastructure, housing and R&D programs

Our Budget Creates a Fairer Tax System

• Ends the recently passed upper-income tax cuts and lets Bush-era tax cuts expire at the end of 2012

• Extends tax credits for the middle class, families, and students

• Creates new tax brackets that range from 45% starting at $1 million to 49% for $1 billion or more

• Implements a progressive estate tax

• Eliminates corporate welfare for oil, gas, and coal companies; closes loopholes for multinational corporations

• Enacts a financial crisis responsibility fee and a financial speculation tax on derivatives and foreign exchange

Our Budget Protects Health

• Enacts a health care public option and negotiates prescription payments with pharmaceutical companies

• Prevents any cuts to Medicare physician payments for a decade

Our Budget Safeguards Social Security for the Next 75 Years

• Eliminates the individual Social Security payroll cap to make sure upper income earners pay their fair share

• Increases benefits based on higher contributions on the employee side

Our Budget Brings Our Troops Home

• Responsibly ends our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to leave America more secure both home and abroad

• Cuts defense spending by reducing conventional forces, procurement, and costly R&D programs

Our Budget’s Bottom Line

• Deficit reduction of $5.6 trillion

• Spending cuts of $1.7 trillion

• Revenue increase of $3.9 trillion

• Public investment $1.7 trillion

Of course our real crisis and our first deficit problem is one of JOBS.  This budget situation was caused principally by three factors, all created by conservatives:  unpaid for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush tax cuts and the failure of conservative trickle down economics.  The refusal to properly regulate markets, prosecute criminals on Wall Street and raise revenues by taxing the rich created the current deficit.

Conservatives (both Republican and Democrats) created this problem and are focused on it rather than the other one in jobs.  They have nothing to create jobs and, in fact, have made it worse by laying off hundreds of thousands of public sector jobs which support private sector employment.  The ripple effect is strangling growth and preventing a systemic recovery.

Congress needs to repeal the part of the debt ceiling agreement mandating cuts and also repeal the Bush era tax cuts for the rich.  Then they need to pass a significant stimulus designed to build infrastructure.

Pelosi Vows to Protect Medicare & Social Security

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi visited Santa Fe, New Mexico yesterday and told an audience at the Mary Esther Gonzales Senior Center she will not allow the Congressional Super Committee “to be a chopping block for” the programs.  She ridiculed Texas Governor Rick Perry for calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme and said Social Security shouldn’t even be used in the same sentence with deficit reduction.  Social Security has nothing to do with the federal deficit.

The unannounced visit with local Congressman Ben Ray Lujan and others provided a forum for the former Speaker to condemn those who were silent while the deficit was being amassed by former President Bush with tax cuts for the rich and two unfunded wars.  I do recall Speaker Pelosi voting to fund the Iraq War however.  

Social Security was put on the negotiating table by President Obama during negotiations on the debt ceiling even though it is self supporting, is safe until 2037 and can be expanded by lifting the cap on contributions.  In these harsh economic times the program should be expanded instead of cut back and as more and more Americans lose their pensions more of us are dependent on Social Security.  Lifting the cap on incomes subject to taxation would solidify Social Security and allow an expansion of benefits.

Medicare is in trouble because of runaway health care costs.  The President’s bill will do little to rein them in and does nothing to provide a public option for those mandated to buy insurance from for profit, private corporations.  Expanding Medicare by adding benefits and making it a national single payer plan solves those issues, gives access to quality medical care to every person and ends the runaway costs adding to the deficit.

The solutions to both deficit reduction and health care costs adding tot he deficit are real and actual and reasonable.  They can be accomplished by passing The People’s Budget and help Americnas rather than hurting them.  Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Santa Fe was welcome and her words important.

Note:  I am visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Barletta Flip Flops on Recording Town Halls

Congressman Lou Barletta, after stating his town halls and public meetings could not be recorded by any non media attendees has flip flopped amidst lies he hadn’t issued the initial statement.  Unfortunately one of his staffers had already been caught on camera stopping someone at a public event:

I’m not sure what’s worse, violating Pennsylvania law by barring recording, enforcing it, lying about enforcing it or trying to hide behind a disastrous vote to end Medicare…

No word from Tom Marino yet about any reversal of his ban.

News & Notes June 1, 2011

U.S. military intervention in Libya has been illegal now for more than a week because the 60 day War Powers Act authorization expired.  President Obama didn’t even ask Congress for express permission to continue operations in that theater until after the 60 days.  

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is rumored to be considering joing the GOP presidential field because he thinks all the current crop is saddled with serious baggage.  Hmmm, like embracing secessionism?

Congresswoman Hochul was sworn in today to represent New York’s 26th District.

In Wisconsin recall elections will be held against six Tea Party State Senators.  They illegally voted to remove collective bargaining rights from state workers.

In various LGBT news President Obama recognized June as Gay Pride month and the San Francisco Giants released a “It Gets Better” video:

Illinois became the eleventh state to authorize civil unions.

New York’s Attorney General is suing the federal government over shale drilling:

The federal government should conduct a full environmental review that weighs potential damage to the welfare of people in the Delaware River watershed and the drinking water quality for millions of New Yorkers before allowing natural gas drilling in the region, the state’s attorney general said in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.

A domestic terrorist was arrested in Wisconsin for trying to assassinate a Planned parenthood doctor in Madison.

A private citizen running around in a bus has been dangling the media like puppets and they insist on playing along.  I won’t fall for her tricks and give her any publicity.  The moronic former Governor known for her sinister vengeful streak visited Philadelphia and Gettysburg.  She isn’t the first secessionist to leave that town a loser.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie used a $12 million state helicopter to fly to Bergen County (my birthplace) so he could watch five innings of his son’s baseball game.  A limo drove him the 100 yards from the copter to the field.  Is it just me or do others think the exercise might have done him good?

The Obama Administration is getting tough on health insurance executives whose decisions on Medicare and Medicaid patients flouts the law.  They’re going after them personally not just the companies.  

Now, on top of fines paid by a company, senior executives can face criminal charges even if they weren’t involved in the scheme but could have stopped it had they known. Furthermore, they can also be banned from doing business with government health programs, a career-ending consequence.

Rep. Anthony Weiner won’t answer queries about a lewd picture Tweeted to a college student.  He claims someone hacked his account as a prank.  Andrew Breitbart is attempting to slander him by publishing the underwear picture though it is obvious it was a hack job.  The Congressman could end all of the media hype simply by answering the simple questions.  Not doing so makes him appear guilty.

Isn’t it hypocrisy when Tea Party people keep clinging to the constitution then turning around and trashing it?  Sen. Rand Paul complained bitterly, correctly, about the civil liberty infringements authorized by the USA PATRIOT Act then turned around and claimed Americans shouldn’t have their First Amendment right to free assembly and free speech:

PAUL: I’m not for profiling people on the color of their skin, or on their religion, but I would take into account where they’ve been traveling and perhaps, you might have to indirectly take into account whether or not they’ve been going to radical political speeches by religious leaders. It wouldn’t be that they are Islamic. But if someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that’s really an offense that we should be going after – they should be deported or put in prison.

What is it tea baggers, do you support the entire constitution or merely parts?

The Center For American Progress has an excellent list of Pentagon items ripe for elimination.  If we’re going to slash spending everyone has to bear the brunt:

While we must always adequately fund the military and honor our servicemen and women, Congress can save up to $1.4 trillion over the next 12 years by eliminating overbudget and unnecessary defense programs, revamping military health care, and consolidating and capping spending across the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and State. None of these actions will compromise national security.

In a new CNN poll 58% of Americans don’t agree with the Ryan Plan to dismantle Medicare.

“Half of those we questioned say that the country would be worse off under the GOP Medicare proposals and 56 percent think that GOP plan would be bad for the elderly,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Opposition is highest among senior citizens, at 74 percent, suggesting that seniors are most worried about changes to Medicare even if those changes are presented as ones that would not affect existing Medicare recipients.”