“Arenas surges past Carter as All-Star”. Of course, with the chip factor gone he’ll probably average 17 points on 5-23 shooting for the rest of the season, but still it’s nice to see excellence recognized.
“He’s tried this two times — it’s failed twice,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) says of President Bush’s escalation plan. “I asked him at the White House, ‘Mr. President, why do you think this time it’s going to work?’ And he said, ‘Because I told them it had to.‘” Pelosi reportedly then asked, “Why didn’t you tell them that the other two times?“
Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) today said that “the existence of the Congressional Black Caucus and other race-based groups of lawmakers amount to segregation and should be abolished.” He recently received attention for calling Miami “as bad as any ghetto in any Third World country.”
“Vice President Dick Cheney’s spokeswoman testified Thursday she told I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby that a prominent war critic’s wife was a CIA employee earlier than Libby has said he first learned it from a reporter,” the AP reports. “On the third day of Libby’s trial, Cathie Martin became the first member of Cheney’s inner circle to contradict statements by Libby that led to the charges he lied to the FBI and a grand jury investigating who leaked the wife’s identity to reporters in 2003.”
Yesterday, a minority group of conservative senators killed a clean minimum wage bill that would have raised the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. Instead, the Senate will now be voting on a “compromise” bill that will pair a minimum wage increase with tax breaks for small businesses.
Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) justified his opposition to the clean bill by stating, “We’re trying to make sure we don’t put mom-and-pop businesses and their employees out of work.” President Bush has also said that won’t support a wage increase without business tax breaks because he “punish the millions of small businesses that are creating most of the new jobs in our country.”
But their objections to a clean minimum wage increase are based on myths:
MYTH #1 — Raising the minimum wage will hurt businesses. A study by the Center for American Progress found that employment in small businesses, the number of small businesses, and inflation-adjusted small business payroll growth grew more in states with higher minimum wages than federal minimum wage states. Almost 300 large and small business owners across the country have signed on to Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, which is pushing Congress to raise the federal minimum wage. A recent Gallup poll found that “three out of four small businesses said that an increase in the minimum wage would have no effect on their company.”
MYTH #2 — Businesses can’t afford to give workers a wage increase. In the past 10 years, Congress has “showered corporations with $276 billion in tax breaks, plus another $36 billion aimed exclusively at small businesses.” Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post adds that even though the Bush administration has gifted declining tax rates to small businesses over the past several years, “according to the Internal Revenue Service, small-business owners, sole proprietors and the self-employed are, as a group, the biggest tax cheats in America, responsible for $153 billion of the estimated $345 billion tax gap in 2001.”
Today, some conservative senators tried to go even further by completely abolishing the federal minimum wage. Amendments no. 158 by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and no. 116 by Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO) would have allowed the states to set their own minimum wage levels.
Send a message to your senators voicing support for a clean minimum wage increase.
(Bob Geiger has more.)
“Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will pay $33 million in back wages to thousands of employees after turning itself in to the Labor Department for paying too little in overtime, according to an agreement announced Thursday by the U.S. Labor Department.” Wal-Mart Watch has details.
I’m going to have to disagree with Atrios about the desirability of presidential candidates committing to something reasonably specific on health care. The need for specifics comes in not during the politics of the election campaign, but the politics of the legislative process. One of the reasons the Clinton health care initiative was derailable was that Clinton campaigned and won and a promise to devise a plan for universal health care, not on a particular plan (there were other problems, obviously, and the task was intrinsically difficult, etc., but this was one of the flaws of his legislative strategy). The best way to get something done, would be to propose something, be viciously attacked for it throughout a presidential campaign, then emerge victorious and demand action after inauguration.
That said, where I do agree with Atrios is that it’s very early yet in this process. I have no particular desire to see the contenders roll out platforms and agendas at this point. It’s in everyone’s interest for everyone to stay vague and for everything to stay low-key for quite some time now. There’s no particular point in outlining a governing agenda for 2009-10 in early 2007.
Six months ago, Harper’s Ken Silverstein reported that “in spite of pressure from CIA analysts, intelligence czar John Negroponte was blocking a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq.” National Intelligence Estimates present the consensus view of the U.S. intelligence apparatus. Despite pressure from Congress, the administration insisted it could not complete the NIE until January 2007.
Last week, however, an administration intelligence official told senators that the report is still not complete. According to Silverstein, Senate hearing attendees “believe that senior intelligence officials are stalling because an NIE will be bleak enough to present a significant political liability.”
Yesterday, NPR host Diane Rehm may have revealed why the NIE remains so politically sensitive. On her national radio show, Rehm said:
It’s my understanding that the National Intelligence Estimate…is going to suggest that adding troops is the wrong way to go, that it’s not going to improve the situation.
Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and the House and Senate intelligence committee chairmen wrote President Bush “urging prompt completion of a national intelligence estimate (NIE) on Iraq first requested by Congress six months ago.” Read the full letter HERE.
Full transcript: Read more
Social conservatives who have been longtime loyalists of President Bush are speaking out in anger about the president’s silence on divisive right-wing issues. Cultural conservatives who have become accustomed to hearing Bush cater rhetorically to their wishes found “little to cheer” in his speech Tuesday night. Some examples below:
In a video address entitled, “A Lifeless State of the Union,” President Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said, “I believe the president failed to challenge the new majority to advance core family and cultural issues. What will become of the culture of life, the defense of marriage and permanent family-friendly tax policies?” [FRC, 1/24/07]
“I think the president left a lot of conservatives shaking their heads” by avoiding the issues atop their agenda, said Bill Lauderback, executive vice president at the American Conservative Union. [WSJ, 1/25/07]
“We’re disappointed that he didn’t mention cultural issues at all,” said Rich Lowry, editor of National Review magazine and a summit host. “Everyone realizes that this is a product of his diminished circumstances.” [AP, 1/24/07]
The Wall Street Journal reports the administration has now been forced to defend itself against criticism from the right. “Yesterday morning, the weekly meeting of conservatives that is convened by antitax activist Grover Norquist, a White House ally, was marked by ‘tense exchanges‘ with administration press secretary Tony Snow.”