Sequester-ing It Up

Perhaps it is best to think about the political gridlock and massive dysfunction on Capitol Hill as just another storm in a politically turbulent climate (thank you for the brilliant analogy, Rachel Maddow).

If you don’t understand what a “sequester” is, you aren’t alone. There are a few different meanings, but for this instance and in Washington, it is the $85 billion worth of across-the-board cuts to the federal budget.

By 2023, $1 trillion will have been cut thanks to the sequester and that’s on top of the projected $1.5 trillion cuts that were passed in 2011. Overall, projections place total cuts for the next decade at $4 trillion.

A couple of years ago, during the debt-ceiling fiasco that resulted in a downgrade of our national credit rating, Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011. The sequester was a part of the law and was designed to force a deal.

I say “force” because, by its nature, sequestration is something lawmakers actively avoid. It is designed to be so painfully unpleasant that they will do anything to avert it.

These cuts are so devastating that the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that about 750,000 jobs will be lost and that’s just from the current $85 billion in cuts that took effect Friday.

It will also be devastating to the poorest and most vulnerable in our country.

Congress would do anything to prevent the loss of so many jobs in a weak economy, right? They wouldn’t take action that hurt those who are already suffering the most in this economy, would they? A deal – that didn’t happen.

While most economists agree that a mixture of spending cuts and increased revenue (higher taxes on the wealthy) is the best solution, Republicans on the Hill have refused to budge.

The president proposed the mixed approach. Republicans then demanded deep cuts with no tax raises. End of story.

Remember the recent “fiscal cliff?” A deal wasn’t reached on setting new tax rates until the last second, where the Bush-era tax cuts were made permanent for all annual incomes below $400,000 (the best approach would have been extending them for annual incomes below $250,000).

That projected $700 billion in new revenue was narrowly achieved.

Rachel Maddow, host of the MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” first characterized the sequester as part of a storm in a larger, more turbulent political climate on her show Friday.

She described the current stormy political season as the “Crap Storm Calendar,” a timeline that began when Tea Party Republicans took over the House in January 2011.

She chronicled the mess: In 2011 alone, the House threatened to shut the government down twice and its aversion to raising the noncontroversial, self-imposed debt ceiling until the last second resulted in a downgrade of the nation’s credit rating.

In December, there was the fiscal-cliff fiasco. Now it’s the sequester. In March, we’re up for another debt ceiling fight. Hooray.

The Republican National Committee called the cuts “devastating.” Yes, the same party that has called for across-the-board cuts, measuring in the trillions of dollars, is now calling the cuts “devastating” after the president signed the sequester into law.

Never mind the fact that, according to a New York Times report, the House is happy with how things turned out.

The good of the country be damned – the GOP has leverage against the president! This is exactly what the House wanted. Let us all hope that the House is shaken up in 2014. This stormy season is wreaking havoc on America.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner – leader of the Tea Party pack…

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Rachel Maddow Sums It Up Beautifully

After an amazing night, where the country chose to progress forward into the 21st century, I was incredibly happy…and I slept quite well, I might add. I expected the President to win a second term, but I didn’t expect the Republican majority in the House of Representatives to shrink and the Democratic majority in the Senate to grow. I was pleasantly surprised that, for the first time in U.S. history, voters approved of marriage equality in three states and against discrimination in Minnesota. It was an incredible night for the entire country.

I am so proud to be an American. We finally have the chance to have a government that works for the 100 percent. Climate change can finally be seriously addressed. The United States now ensures access to healthcare, and we’re closer to achieving universal healthcare like the rest of the developed world. Marriage equality across the land is even closer to becoming a wonderful reality. The hundreds of millions of dollars spent by dark money groups to ensure the status quo remains ultimately meant nothing. Americans spoke loud and clear. Our democratic republic is alive and well.

Rachel Maddow summed up just what this election meant for the nation:

“We are not going to have a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe v. Wade. There will be no more Antonin Scalias and Samuel Alitos added to this Court. We’re not going to repeal health reform. Nobody is going to kill Medicare and make old people in this generation or any other generation fight it out on the open market to try to get themselves health insurance. We are not going to do that.

“We are not going to give a 20 percent tax cut to millionaires and billionaires and expect programs like food stamps and kid’s health insurance to cover the cost of that tax cut. We’re not going to make you clear it with your boss if you want to get birth control under the insurance plan that you’re on. We are not going to redefine rape. We are not going to amend the United States Constitution to stop gay people from getting married. We’re not going to double Guantanamo. We are not eliminating the Department of Energy or the Department of Education or [the Department of] Housing [and Urban Development] at the federal level. We are not going to spend two trillion dollars on the military that the military does not want. We are not scaling back on student loans because the country’s new plan is that you should borrow money from your parents. We’re not vetoing the Dream Act. We are not self-deporting. We are not letting Detroit go bankrupt. We are not starting a trade war with China on Inauguration Day in January. We are not going to have, as a President, a man who once led a mob of friends to run down a scared gay kid, to hold him down and forcibly cut his hair off with a pair of scissors while that kid cried and screamed for help, and there was no apology, not ever.

“We are not going to have a Secretary of State John Bolton. We are not bringing Dick Cheney back. We are not going to have a foreign policy shop stocked with architects of the Iraq War. We are not going to do it. We had the choice to do that if we wanted to do that as a country, and we said ‘no’ last night, loudly.

….

“Ohio really did go to President Obama last night, and he really did win. And he really was born in Hawaii, and he really is legitimately President of the United States, again, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment rate last month, and the Congressional Research Service really can find no evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy, and the polls were not skewed to over-sample Democrats, and Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad. Nate Silver was doing math, and climate change is real, and rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes, and evolution is a thing, and Benghazi was ‘on’ us, it was not a scandal ‘by’ us, and no one is taking away any one’s guns, and taxes have not gone up, and the deficit is dropping, actually, and Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, and the moon landing was real, and FEMA is not building concentration camps, and UN election observers are not taking over Texas, and moderate reforms of the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services industry in the country are not the same thing as communism…

“…in this country, we have a two-party system in government and the idea is supposed to be that the two sides both come up with ways to confront and fix the real problems facing our country. They both propose possible solutions to our real problems, and we debate between those possible solutions, and by the process of debate, we pick the best idea. That competition between good ideas from both sides about real problems in the real country should result in our country having better choices, better options than if only one side is really working on the hard stuff…if the Republican Party and the Conservative Movement and the conservative media is stuck in a vacuum-sealed, door-locked spin cycle of telling each other what makes them feel good and denying the factual, lived truth of the world, then we are all deprived as a nation of the constructive debate between competing, feasible ideas about real problems…they [GOP] are going to have to pop the factual bubble they have been so happy living inside if they do not want to get shellacked again, and that will be a painful process for them I’m sure, but it will be good for the whole country, left, right and center.

Rachel Maddow On GOP Straw Polls

Rachel Maddow, host of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, had this to say about recent GOP straw polls:

…we can all agree to treat these things as what we all know they are: cooked up, totally non-predictive publicity stunts designed purely to get media attention and to use that media attention as leverage to force the candidates to pander to the most manipulative and cynical activists in the whole political system. Oh, and to raise money for Republican parties and activist groups. We could call them embarrassing, pandering political stunts, or we could call them straw polls. Same difference.

Yep, sounds about right.

Stimulus? What Stimulus?!

It turns out the stimulus worked….I know crazy, right?! Despite slow-but-steady economic growth, many are claiming The Stimulus didn’t work….many who benefitted form the Economic Stimulus and are now claiming credit for it.

On yesterday’s The Rachel Maddow Show, Maddow brilliantly showed her viewers the political hackery of 2012 Presidential Election candidates Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney.

Watch:

 

Paranoia: 2010 Election Theme?

This election cycle keeps taking turns for the unusual. On the October 7th episode of The Rachel Maddow Show, Art Robinson, a Republican running against incumbent Pete DeFazio in Oregon’s 4th congressional district, went from slightly uncomfortable to full-on accusatory and paranoid in a matter of minutes.

After asking Robinson about some of his more unusual statements from the past, including his belief that AIDS is a myth created by the federal government and that distilled radioactive waste should be spread over the ocean, Rachel Maddow could hardly get a word out without him bursting in, claiming she was at the center of a “smear campaign” against him. Every honest question was met with accusations of ulterior motives by Maddow.

After witnessing his  confrontational and unprofessional behavior, I have a hard time believing he still has a following. Maybe his average supporter simply has no access to the Internet to look up what their guy actually believes, considering the fact that he thinks we should reinstate nuclear weapons testing and completely denies man-made global warming.

Art Robinson represents a growing and troubling theme in American politics. The fringe and unhinged have come out of the woodwork and hijacked political debate. As nutty as Robinson is, he’s only one of many. Art Robinson, Michelle Bachmann, Carl Paladino, Christine O’Donnell, Rand Paul, Glenn Beck, Sharron Angle and even Sarah Palin have joined in the game of feeding into and off of growing anti-government sentiment and conspiracy theories.

The 2010 Election is less than four weeks away. Soon, all of the annoying political ads will go away and life will return to a more bearable level of “normal.” However, if people like Robinson are elected to office, their craziness will no  longer be confined to their mouths. We should all be worried at the possibility of them effecting national and international policy.

One can only hope that voters see this.

snapshot of Art Robinson's campaign website

Girl Power That Rocks the World

Forbes has relased their list of “The World’s Most Powerful Women.”

Since I love strong women who challenge common wisdom and push for equality, I was very excited to read the list.

Among the one hundred listed, the following stood out the most to me…

1. Michelle Obama – First Lady of the United States and champion of healthy lifestyles for America’s students (Facebook)

First Lady Michelle Obama

3. Oprah Winfrey – enormously famous talk show host and all-around charitable media mogul (Facebook, Twitter)

Oprah

5. Hillary Rodham Clinton – brilliant Secretary of State and former First Lady

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

7. Lady GaGa – mega superstar, entertainer, artist, activist and trendsetter (who, let’s face it, is trying to outdo the original mega superstar, Madonna) (Facebook, Twitter)

Lady GaGa

10. Ellen Degeneres – talk show host, comedian and compassionate activist (Facebook, Twitter)

Ellen Degeneres

16. Sarah Palin – Former Vice Presidential candidate, Former Alaska governor, activist, Tea Party darling and media sensation (Facebook, Twitter)

Sarah Palin

21. Angelina Jolie – actress, activist and UN Goodwill Ambassador with a heart for the most vulnerable in the world

Angelina Jolie

29. Madonna – Queen of Pop, mega superstar, entertainer, artist, actress, activist, author and just plain amazing 🙂 (Facebook)

Madonna

33. Chelsea Handler – hilarious comedian, Talk show host and author (Facebook, Twitter)

Chelsea Handler

37. Elizabeth Warren – intelligent, Special Advisor to the President for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, attorney and Harvard Law Professor (Facebook)

Presidential Advisor Elizabeth Warren

47. Meg Whitman – Harvard-educated, former CEO of EBay and candidate for California governor 2010 (Facebook, Twitter)

Meg Whitman

50. Rachel Maddow – talk show host and brilliant political commentator (Facebook, Twitter)

Rachel Maddow

51. Carly Fiorina – former HP CEO and candidate for US Senator in California…and breast cancer survivor (Facebook, Twitter)

Carly Fiorina

61. Suze Orman – famous personal finance mentor, talk show host and author (Facebook, Twitter)

Suze Orman

From politics to comedy shows, the women on this list and countless others like them are changing the world and shattering antiquated stereotypes. We should all be thankful for their views, talents, abilities, compassion, power and vision.