21 July 2011

McConnell-Reid Debt Ceiling Fail Safe Option Hanging By A Thread

WASHINGTON -- The fail-safe debt ceiling plan crafted by the Senate's top two leaders, Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) – is close to being put on political life support, those familiar with negotiations tell The Huffington Post, as lawmakers coalesce around a major deal instead.
Sources on the Hill Thursday morning expressed a newfound -- at times defeatist -- sense of worry about the political prospects of the proposal, which would cut roughly $1.5 trillion over ten years while granting authority to the president to suggest (but not sign off on) future spending cuts as a condition of raising the debt ceiling now. House Republicans have told leadership that they are sour on the idea, with more than 90 members pledging to oppose it. Another factor contributing toward its demise, however, has been the Obama administration's decision to continue to push for a bigger deficit-reduction package, which has led many lawmakers to consider the McConnell-Reid option both insufficient and potentially unnecessary.
"I think it is certainly an uphill battle now," a Hill Democrat said of the McConnell-Reid plan.
"We did not leave the [White House] meeting yesterday feeling like there was a clear path moving forward," said another Democratic congressional aide. "People are being drawn towards other solutions at the moment. But they are mirages."
Or perhaps not. On Thursday afternoon, a report surfaced that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)'s office and the Obama administration were close to a major deal to resolve the debt ceiling standoff.
On Wednesday evening, the president and his team had separate meetings with congressional Democratic and Republican leadership to chart out a way forward on the debt ceiling deal. The administration pressed, as it has in the past, for lawmakers to coalesce around as big a deficit reduction package as politically possible. There are conflicting reports as to what was discussed. But according to multiple sources from both parties, the administration signaled a willingness to tackle a bigger plan than even that proposed by the bipartisan Gang of Six.
What such a deal would look like is difficult to pin down in detail, as much of the Gang of Six proposal requires congressional committees to write in the specific cuts to programs under their purview. But it would involve steep reductions in health care spending -- both in Medicare and Medicaid. In previous debt ceiling negotiations, the administration has supported further means-testing elements of Medicare as well as raising the eligibility age of the program. Cuts to Medicare suppliers would also be part of a larger package, as would adjusting the payment structure of Social Security so that a lower level of benefits was paid out over time.

Adam Sarvana
Communications Director
U. S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva  (AZ-07)
(202) 225-2435 office
(202) 573-2562 cell

19 July 2011

House "Gang of 70-Plus" to Senate "Gang of Six": We Outnumber Your Plan to Slash Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security

Unknownname


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2011
Press Contact: Adam Sarvana (202) 225-2435
                                                 (202) 573-2562 cell

House "Gang of 70-Plus" to Senate "Gang of Six": We Outnumber Your Plan to Slash Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security

Washington, D.C. – Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) co-chair Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today released the following statement on the Senate “Gang of Six” budget proposal:

“This terrible plan could cut Medicare and Medicaid to unsustainably low levels and put seniors’ well-being at risk. Anyone who wants to pass it through Congress should remember that more than 70 House Democrats have already pledged their opposition, and more are signing on every day. The letter we sent to Leader Pelosi July 8 vowing to oppose any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid as part of these budget negotiations has become a growing wave of House resolve to protect these programs. We’re keeping it open for more signatures, and our Gang of 70-plus has the ‘Gang of Six’ completely outnumbered. Newly minted Rep. Janice Hahn signed on as one of her first official acts as a Congresswoman – that’s how quickly it’s picking up momentum.

Republicans have already said they won’t vote for any package, period, because of their opposition to a functional economy. House Democrats hold the key to whatever plan can pass Congress. That’s why the Senate ‘Gang of Six’ proposal is dead on arrival. Instead of toying with ways to slash vital programs in just such a way as to make different budget numbers align on paper, Congress and the White House should follow the path of our People’s Budget: creating jobs, protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, ending corporate subsidies and millionaire tax giveaways, and ensuring our economy works for everyone rather than a greedy few.”

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13 July 2011

Peacelike mongoose

The Peacelike Mongoose

by James Thurber

In cobra country a mongoose was born one day who didn't want to fight cobras or anything else. The word spread from mongoose to mongoose that there was a mongoose who didn't want to fight cobras. If he didn't want to fight anything else, it was his own business, but it was the duty of every mongoose to kill cobras or be killed by cobras.
"Why?" asked the peacelike mongoose, and the word went around that the strange new mongoose was not only pro-cobra and anti-mongoose but intellectually curious and against the ideals and traditions of mongooism.
"He is crazy," cried the young mongoose's father.
"He is sick," said his mother.
"He is a coward," shouted his brothers.
"He is a mongoosexual," whispered his sisters.
Strangers who had never laid eyes on the peacelike mongoose remembered that they had seen him crawling on his stomach, or trying on cobra hoods, or plotting the violent overthrow of Mongoosia.
"I am trying to use reason and intelligence," said the strange new mongoose.
"Reason is six-sevenths of treason," said one of his neighbors.
"Intelligence is what the enemy uses," said another.
Finally, the rumor spread that the mongoose had venom in his sting, like a cobra, and he was tried, convicted by a show of paws, and condemned to banishment.

Moral: Ashes to ashes, and clay to clay, if the enemy doesn't get you your own folks may.

Amazing that I cannot recall ever hearing this fable. It is truly appropriate!

Posted via email from TweetingDonal's Temporary Insanities

01 July 2011

Texas farmers to get disaster relief | Lubbock Online | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

It's just another random event, like the last one we told you about, be sure that you don't associate it with the deadliest April on record for tornado deaths, or any of the weather disaster records being set this year across the entire continent... well, actually across the entire planet. Clearly it's not connected to anything. 

This message brought to you via the Heartland Institute and by your local Koch Industries and Exxon Mobile Representatives.

AVALANCHE-JOURNAL

The Lubbock area's farmers realized conditions had reached critical proportions before Tuesday's declaration by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack naming all of Texas as eligible to apply for Farm Service Agency assistance.

Mike Swain, who farms south of Brownfield and also is a Terry County commissioner, said he has logged 35/100ths of an inch of rain since Oct. 21.

"I will be real honest, I don't need a loan - I need rain," Swain said.

Vilsack's disaster designation for 213 counties, along with their contiguous counties, means farm operators in all 254 counties may turn to the FSA because of the conditions of "drought, excessive heat, high winds and wildfires."

The designation makes emergency loan assistance available for eight months.

"FSA will consider each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses, security available, and repayment ability," the announcement states.

Farmers also may file applications in 2012 for 2011 crop losses under the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program.

Tyson Knight, who farms in Lubbock and Hale counties, said, "I've never seen it as dry as this year has been. We've had some dry years, but we've always had some wintertime moisture."

About 60 percent of his farming operation is on irrigated land, with the other 40 percent dryland.

Knight predicts the irrigated crops will make money this year, but the dryland, where cotton never came up, will zero out.

Steve Verett, executive vice president of Plains Cotton Growers, said, "It is good that the USDA has recognized the serious nature of the drought in Texas. Agriculture needs to have available all programs that could be helpful in trying to make it through these unprecedented conditions."

According to U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer of Lubbock, the USDA has taken the correct action to help farmers and ranchers mitigate damage caused by wildfires and drought.

"I hope that FEMA will quickly follow suit and declare a major disaster declaration for affected Texas counties," he said.

Cattle farmers hurt, too.

"A lot of people have lost their livestock, their homes, their fencing. Fencing costs anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 a mile, depending on how you do it," said Swain.

"I have neighbors down here who say if it doesn't rain by the Fourth of July, they're going to have to sell their cow herd. And they've been years building it up.

"Beef may become a real luxury, instead of 'Hey, what's for dinner?' "

Swain farms 4,000 acres, mostly devoted to cotton. He has irrigation wells, but in the extremes of the current drought, the wells can't keep up with the need.

"I am pulling two pumps to get back to where I can water ... and to what end? There's no way I can stay with it without some help from Mother Nature," Swain said.

He thinks of the disastrous conditions in a context that is becoming national in scope. People all over have suffered from too much water or not enough, and the nation's bread basket seems to have suffered the most, Swain said.

"Nothing destroys like water and fire. The good Lord used water the first time, and they say he's going to use fire the second time. Those must be the two best - he would know.

"They totally and utterly destroy."

And the drought extends below the surface, Swain said.

"We dug a sceptic tank the other day - the lateral lines go down 7 feet - and there was absolutely no moisture. They were pulling out clods half the size of the hood of a car.

"It's scary."

To comment on this story:

ray.westbrook@lubbockonline.com • 766-8711

leesha.faulkner@lubbockonline.com • 766-8706

Pay no attention to that little man at the controls behind that oil drum.

Posted via email from TweetingDonal's Temporary Insanities