Joe Lieberman isn’t just a surge fan, he’s a Mark Steyn reader as well. Sweet, sweet centrism — now featuring the far right!
Former Bush CPA adviser Larry Diamond: “Congress should not wait. It should hold hearings…[aimed] toward passage of a law preventing the expenditure of any funds for a military attack on Iran unless Congress has either declared war with that country or has otherwise authorized military action under the War Powers Act. The law should be attached to an appropriations bill, making it difficult for the president to veto. If he simply claims that he is not bound by the restriction even if he signs it into law, and then orders an attack on Iran without congressional authorization for it, Congress should file a lawsuit and begin impeachment proceedings.”
More on Iran in today’s Progress Report.
I think there’s probably a simple answer to Kevin Drum’s question about why Republican members of congress have become even more skeptical that global warming is due to human activity — when the GOP lost big in November, the losers came disproportionately from less-conservative districts which means the losers were disproportionately moderate in their views. This is one of several rather perverse consequences of our rather unfortunate constitutional system.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no apologist for “moderate” Republicans, but it’s still the case that there is and was some difference between even the fauxist of faux-moderates and the true right wing hard core. It’s the hard core the voters were trying to reject. But, in practice, it’s almost impossible to knock the true believers out of their safe seats unless they get into ethical hot water on the side. So instead you go after the more vulnerable, more moderate members for failing to moderate the GOP agenda in any meaningful way. And fair enough — don’t cry for them. But the upshot is still that most of the worst of the worst get to hang around.
On Jan. 31, President Bush headed to Wall Street and acknowledged for the first time that income inequality exists in America: “The fact is that income inequality is real. It has been rising for more than 25 years.”
But apparently, he’s not quite ready to do anything about it. Bush’s 2008 budget cuts crucial aid for America’s middle class:
– “$77 billion in funding cuts for Medicare and Medicaid over the next five years, and $280 billion over the next 10.”
– $223 million in funding cuts (4 percent decrease from this year’s levels) to the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
– “$4.9 billion, or 8 percent, cut in education, training, employment and social services” grants.
– $100 million cut for Head Start, which provides child development services to economically disadvantaged children and families.
– “$2.4 billion cut in community and regional development grants — which often provide funding for low- and middle-income communities — to $16.5 billion from $18.9 billion.
– $400 million — 18 percent — cut in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, “which provides $2.2 billion to help people pay heating bills this year.”
– $172 million — nearly 25 percent — cut in funding for housing for low-income seniors.
While Bush forgot about the middle class in the new budget, he made sure to look out for the wealthy. As the Tax Policy Center notes, “People with incomes of more than $1 million would get tax cuts averaging $162,000 a year (in 2012 dollars) in perpetuity.”
UPDATE: Gristmill has details on Bush’s energy and environmental spending.
On February 1, the Washington Times published a story titled “Speaker pursues military flights,” which claimed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had been “pressing the Bush administration for routine access to military aircraft for domestic flights, such as trips back to her San Francisco district.” Former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) also used military aircraft to travel to his district. However, the Times reported, Pelosi is “demanding permanent access to a large military jet for herself, her staff, other Members and supporters.”
The story was disseminated widely through right-wing talk radio and blogs, spurring posts like, “First Class Pelosi,” “Air Force Becomes Pelosi Air,” “Nancy Pelosi is Drunk With Power,” “The Imperial Speakership,” “Pelosi: Fly Me Awayyyyy,” “Pelosi wants military airlift,” and “Nancy Pelosi’s Private Military Plane.”
In fact, the central claims of the Washington Times piece are both false.
1) The House Sergeant at Arms, not Pelosi, initiated inquiries into the use of military aircraft. House Sergeant at Arms Wilson Livingood, who has served in his position since 1995, released a statement today clarifying the facts. He writes, “In December 2006, I advised Speaker Pelosi that the US Air Force had made an airplane available to Speaker Hastert for security and communications purposes following September 11, 2001.” Additionally, Livingood writes, “I offered to call the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense to seek clarification of the guidelines [which governed Speaker Hastert's use of a plane].”
2) A larger plane was requested because Hastert’s plane required refueling to travel cross-country. The Washington Times says a larger plane was requested to accomodate Pelosi, “her staff, other Members and supporters.” That’s not true. In fact, the plane used by Speaker Hastert was too small for Pelosi since it “needs to refuel every 2,000 miles and could not make the nonstop haul to California. ‘The Air Force determined that [Pelosi's] safety would be best ensured by using a plane that has the fuel capacity to go coast-to-coast,’” a Pelosi spokesperson said.
Read the full Sergeant at Arms statement: Read more
ClimateProgress’s very own Kari Manlove has a terrific article in Campus Progress. You can read it here!
The Senate vote “sidetracked a nonbinding measure expressing disagreement with Bush’s plan to deploy an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq. The vote was 49-47, or 11 short of the 60 needed to go ahead with debate, and left the fate of the measure uncertain.”
UPDATE: The vote was along party lines, except for Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who voted for the filibuster, and Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Norm Coleman (R-MN) who voted against it. Four senators, including John McCain (R-AZ), did not vote.
President Bush has recently highlighted the fight against obesity as a focus of his administration’s agenda. From a Feb. 1 meeting at the White House:
Childhood obesity is a costly problem for the country. We believe it is necessary to come up with a coherent strategy to help folks all throughout our country cope with the issue.
But as the New York Times notes, Bush is all talk on the fight against obesity:
To fight childhood obesity, Mr. Bush asks Congress to set aside $17 million for a new program to promote ‘healthy behavior’ among adolescents. But at the same time, he asks Congress to eliminate the preventive health services block grant, which provides $99 million a year to help states prevent obesity and other chronic conditions.
Via Alex Tabarrok it looks like Utah may get a fairly comprehensive statewide voucher program. I won’t pretend to note the state of educational play in Utah in any detail, but my strong suspicion is that this is very, very unlikely to lead to any noteworthy improvements in student achievement. It’s a low population density state where the prospects for meaningful educational competition are not so hot. But more to the point, Utah features a very, very high proportion of the population belonging to a single hierarchical religion.
It seems to me that given a sufficiently generous voucher program (as Tabarrok notes, this one isn’t quite there) education in Utah will evolve toward a system where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the de facto education provider throughout the bulk of the state, the LDS church gets a lot of taxpayer money, and people living in Salt Lake City and maybe a couple of other towns may have some secular alternative options available to them.