Democrats and Republicans agree that the federal deficit is a serious problem for the stability of American economy. But over the past few weeks, both parties have fought major battles on how to address this problem. The Democrats won the first round when last week, when President Obama signed a six-month extension of emergency unemployment benefits, surmounting Republican objections that the $34 billion measure would add too much to the deficit. The conflict this week is over the extension of the Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire December 31. As expected, Republicans are fighting for extension of the entire package while many Democrats, including President Obama, vowed to keep them for families making less than $250,000 a year. It is estimated that keeping the tax cuts for households that make more than $250 thousand a year will cost about $40 billion a year. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner argued that tax increases on the richest Americans are necessary "to make some progress bringing down our long-term deficits." $34 billion and $40 billion are surely not trivial sums. But if Congress and the Administration are sincere about tackling the deficit, it should confront the biggest expense of federal funds: military spending.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson questions BP's widespread application of oil dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico, as does everyone else. According to Jackson, the government is "uncharted waters" with the use of dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico. "The amount of dispersant being used at the surface is unprecedented," Jackson says. BP is also applying the chemicals in the sub-sea environment. In addition, dispersant is stopping oil from collecting on water surface, where it can be more easily controlled.
BP's Web site gives the impression that dispersants "clean and control" ocean oil spills by putting the oil in a state where "it becomes a feast for the naturally-occurring microbes that inhabit the ocean." But dispersants do not clean the water, nor do they remove oil at all, but rather re-arrange where it exists, and change where it goes.
CMD Executive Director Lisa Graves, and Mary Bottari of CMD's BanksterUSA project will both be speaking this year at the Netroots Nation 2010 gathering in Las Vegas, Nevada. Formerly known as the YearlyKos Convention, Netroots Nation magnifies progressive voices by providing a venue for exchanging ideas and learning how to more effectively use technology to influence public debate. It is an incubator for progressive ideas that challenge the status quo. Lisa will be speaking on fighting against expanded corporate rights in the wake of the Citizens United decision and Mary will be speaking about reforming Wall Street. The event will be July 22-25 at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. You can see the Netroots Nation agenda here.
Last year the federal government approved a 582-page, regional spill plan for the Gulf of Mexico. Sounds comprehensive, right?
From video of Gaza flotilla (Reuters)President Obama came to power promising to end the foreign policy of the Bush era and institute a commitment to international cooperation and diplomacy, especially with the Muslim world. The controversy surrounding Israel's recent raid on a Turkish aid flotilla has made it difficult for the Obama administration to fulfill that promise. The administration does not want to alienate Turkey, a large Muslim nation with aspirations of joining the European Union, nor does Obama want to anger Israel, which has strong historical ties to America. Trying to pacify both nations, the Obama administration has taken an ambivalent and ambiguous position on how to resolve the conflict, which does not include a definitive statement on an international investigation into the causes and culpability of the confrontation. While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared last Tuesday that the United States "supports the Security Council's call for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation" and "an Israeli investigation that meets those criteria," the administration is merely "open" to the possibility of international participation.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has asked the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate two people appointed to serve on the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, which evaluates tobacco product-related safety and health issues and provides advice, information and recommendations to the Commissioner of the
As soon as I heard that Elena Kagan was President Obama's choice for the Supreme Court's latest open seat, I knew the first criticism of opponents would be that she "lacked judicial experience." That does not make her unqualified for this role, given her exceptionally distinguished career as a lawyer and policymaker. It does, however, reveal the deeply disingenuous games Republicans are playing with the U.S. judicial system. I want to tell you how that is so, based on my prior experience as the lead attorney on the Justice Department Working Group on Judicial Nominations and as the former Chief Counsel for Nominations for the Senate Judiciary Committee.