Saturday, November 21, 2009

A filibuster!!!

If you want to see the beginnings of what a filibuster looks like, turn on C-SPAN 2 right now! Three senators asking each other questions they already know the answer to. Awesome! Cloture vote schedule for 7:00 p.m. our time tonight. It might start even earlier so tune in at 5:00. Listen for how the following vote: Blanche Lincoln, Mary Landrieu, Nelson, and Lieberman. At this point everyone but Lincoln has said he or she will vote for cloture.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

At Carroll University, 100 N. East Ave., Waukesha, WI 53186

“Changing Times: The Life of Barack Obama”
· Glen Jeansonne (Co-author of this book and UWM professor) and David Luhrssen (Co-author of this book and Editor/film critic at Milwaukee’s Shepherd Express)
· Monday, November 30—6pm
· Stackner Ballroom (Campus Center)
· FREE and open to the community

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Opinion: Does it matter that only 1 Republican voted for the healthcare bill in the House?

Hours after President Obama exhorted Democratic lawmakers to "answer the call of history," the House hit an unprecedented milestone on the path to health-care reform, approving a trillion-dollar package late Saturday that seeks to overhaul private insurance practices and guarantee comprehensive and affordable coverage to almost every American.

How they voted:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Analysis: What do you think the final outcome will be this year regarding the health care debate?

Reform Bill Will Address GOP Fears
But Affordability Questions Remain

By Lori Montgomery and Shailagh MurrayWashington Post Staff Writers Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said Monday that he will propose an overhaul of the nation's health-care system that addresses a host of GOP concerns, including blocking illegal immigrants from gaining access to subsidized insurance, urging limits on medical malpractice lawsuits and banning federal subsidies for abortion.

But even after Max Baucus (D-Mont.) spoke optimistically of gaining bipartisan backing, lawmakers continued to haggle over a question at the heart of the debate: How can the government force people to buy insurance without imposing a huge new financial burden on millions of middle-class Americans?

Even within his own party, Baucus confronted a fresh wave of concern about affordability. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) declared himself dissatisfied with the chairman's plan, which, like other congressional reform proposals, would require every American to buy health insurance by 2013.
"Additional steps are going to have to be taken to make coverage more affordable," Wyden said, "and my sense is that will be a concern to members on both sides of the aisle."

Under the Baucus plan, described in a "framework" he released last week, as many as 4 million of the 46 million people who are currently uninsured would be required to buy coverage on their own, without government help, by some estimates. Millions more would qualify for federal tax credits, but could still end up paying as much as 13 percent of their income for insurance premiums -- far more than most Americans now pay for coverage.

People further down the income scale would receive much bigger tax credits, effectively limiting their premiums at 3 percent of their earnings. But experts on affordability say even those families could find it difficult to meet the new mandate without straining their wallets.

"We're talking about the equivalent of a middle-class tax increase," said Michael D. Tanner, a health-care expert at the libertarian Cato Institute. "Yes, they're paying it to an insurance company instead of to the government. But, suddenly, these people are paying more money to somebody."

A plan drafted by House Democratic leaders would offer more generous tax credits, but it would cost more than $1 trillion over the next decade.

Baucus's team of three Democrats and three Republicans from the Finance Committee has labored for months to cut that cost as it crafts a reform plan that could win support from both parties. By squeezing the size and scope of the subsidies, the negotiators have lowered the cost to a more politically palatable $880 billion -- within the range President Obama specified last week in a speech to Congress.

But a smaller bill would mean less help for people -- particularly those who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to easily slip the equivalent of a second rent payment into their budgets.

According to the latest Census data, about three-quarters of the uninsured earn less than 300 percent of the poverty level, or about $32,500 for an individual and $66,150 for a family of four. Nearly half are childless adults. In surveys, many say that they are not offered coverage by their employers or that they simply cannot afford it.

The centerpiece of the Baucus proposal is a series of "exchanges" where people without access to affordable coverage through their employers could apply for government subsidies and choose among a range of private insurance options. The plan would not, as liberals have demanded, create a government-run insurance option to compete with private firms, but would finance the creation of state or regional cooperatives run by consumers -- a concession aimed at winning over Republican lawmakers.

Baucus and his colleagues wrangled Monday in the hopes of persuading Republican Sens. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa) and Mike Enzi (Wyo.) to support the measure. The two conservatives have stayed at the bargaining table all summer, despite GOP leaders' strong opposition to the reform effort.

Baucus said the strategy is working. "Senators on and off the committee, their comfort level is starting to come up a bit," he told reporters. "I believe, in the end, we'll have some significant bipartisan support." But the chairman said Monday night that he will move forward Wednesday with or without Grassley, Enzi and Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (Maine), the most moderate Republican involved in the negotiations. He said the bipartisan group, known as the Gang of Six, would continue to negotiate until the full committee begins work on the bill next week.

Baucus said he will comply with Republican demands that illegal immigrants would receive "no benefits" through the new insurance exchanges. Meanwhile, negotiators are crafting a provision that would authorize states to start pilot projects to try to lower health-care costs by reducing the number of malpractice lawsuits, an approach similar to the one Obama outlined in his speech. "States would be given resources to help them experiment with what works best," said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), another participant in the talks.

Also unresolved Monday was the question of how to pay for an expansion of Medicaid to cover every U.S. citizen whose income falls below 133 percent of the federal poverty level, about $14,500 for an individual or $29,500 for a family of four. Governors in both parties strongly oppose an expansion that is not fully financed by the federal government. The Senate negotiators are scheduled to brief governors by conference call Tuesday afternoon, and Baucus predicted they would be "pleasantly surprised."

"The Medicaid costs," he said, "are not going to cost states near as much as feared."

Under the Baucus plan, subsidies would be offered to people who earn up to 400 percent of the poverty level ($43,000 for an individual or $88,000 for a family of four) in the form of tax credits that would be paid directly to the insurance company of the person's choice. The credit would be calibrated on a sliding scale to ensure that people at the bottom of the income range paid no more than 3 percent of their earnings for premiums while those at the top would be liable for as much as 13 percent.

That would amount to more than $700 a month for a family of four making $66,000 a year -- significantly more than most people at the same income level now pay, according to research conducted by Linda Blumberg, a senior fellow in the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute. Families earning less than 300 percent of the poverty level also would be eligible for assistance with deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses, but families who earn more would be on their own.

"That group does spend in the neighborhood of 12 percent of their income. But it's not just the premium. It includes out-of-pocket spending," Blumberg said, adding that the Baucus plan "is going to be somewhat of a wakeup call."

Families that do not purchase insurance would face penalties on their annual tax returns of up to $1,500 a year if they make less than 300 percent of the poverty level, or $3,800 a year if they make more.

But Senate Finance Committee negotiators are quick to point out that a hardship waiver would be available.

"We're doing our very best to make the insurance requirement as affordable as we possibly can," Baucus said, without driving up the overall cost of the bill.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

What are your thoughts on the Sotomayor confirmation hearings?

(...did you notice that today is 07...08...09?)

Sotomayor critics step up rhetoric before hearing

By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS The Associated Press Wednesday, July 8, 2009; 12:34 AM
WASHINGTON -- Conservatives stepped up their criticism of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday, but it was unclear how far Senate Republicans were willing to go to create bumps in what appears to be a smooth road to confirmation for President Barack Obama's first high-court choice.

Even as the Senate's top Republican suggested that Sotomayor let racial bias cloud her rulings, he and other GOP senators refused to say whether they would accede to conservative activists' demands to try to delay a final vote to confirm her until September. At the same time, the National Rifle Association raised what it called "very serious concerns" about Sotomayor based on her stance on weapons rights, yet it stopped short of opposing her, citing its "respect for the confirmation process."

The fresh critiques of Sotomayor came as the American Bar Association, a national lawyers' group, rated her "well-qualified" to be a justice after its members conducted scores of confidential interviews with her colleagues and pored through her record and writings to assess her integrity, qualifications and temperament.

Democrats and civil rights leaders rushed to defend Sotomayor against charges that she's an activist who would allow racial bias to interfere with her decisions.

The White House gave senators a lengthy briefing book on Sotomayor that highlights key rulings in areas including criminal law, freedom of speech and religion, women's issues, gun and property rights, and immigration.

The 129-page document describes the judge in glowing terms, repeating often that she shows judicial restraint and is a moderate. It says she has a "record of judicial excellence and, for each case that comes before her, has narrowly applied the law to the facts of the case."

The Senate Judiciary Committee is to open hearings Monday on Sotomayor's nomination to replace Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court. If confirmed, she would be the first Hispanic to serve there.
(this article continues at the link above)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Culture War. Conventional Political Participation. Public Opinion. Interest Groups. Bully Pulpit. COMMENTS?

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama ventures to America's foremost Roman Catholic university, where the country's deep divisions over abortion and stem-cell research have moved to the forefront in a time of war and recession.

A storm blew up immediately after the University of Notre Dame invited Obama to address Sunday's commencement exercises. It still rages, with anti-abortion activists promising to disrupt the president's appearance at South Bend, Ind., where he was also to receive an honorary degree.

Students opposed to abortion rights attended an all-night prayer vigil to protest Obama's visit, and 200 people prayed at a packed Alumni Hall Chapel.

More than 100 protesters gathered and 23 marched onto the campus Saturday. Police say they arrested 19 for trespassing and four were also charged with resisting law enforcement.
In Washington on Sunday, the head of the Republican Party said Obama should be denied the honorary degree.

Obama supports abortion rights but says the procedure should be rare. The Catholic Church and many other Christian denominations hold that abortion and the use of embryos for stem cell research amount to the destruction of human life and are morally wrong and should be banned by law.

The contrary argument holds that women have the right to terminate a pregnancy and that unused embryos created outside the womb for couples who cannot otherwise conceive should be available for stem cell research. Such research holds the promise of finding treatments for debilitating ailments.

Within weeks of taking office in January, Obama eased an executive order by President George W. Bush that limited research to a small number of stem-cell strains.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

This makes sense...maybe he should call Kevin Bacon to fix it for him!

FINDLAY, Ohio – A student at a fundamentalist Baptist school that forbids dancing, rock music, hand-holding and kissing will be suspended if he takes his girlfriend to her public high school prom, his principal said.

Despite the warning, 17-year-old Tyler Frost, who has never been to a dance before, said he plans to attend Findlay High School's prom Saturday.

Frost, a senior at Heritage Christian School in northwest Ohio, agreed to the school's rules when he signed a statement of cooperation at the beginning of the year, principal Tim England said.

The teen, who is scheduled to receive his diploma May 24, would be suspended from classes and receive an "incomplete" on remaining assignments, England said. Frost also would not be permitted to attend graduation but would get a diploma once he completes final exams. If Frost is involved with alcohol or sex at the prom, he will be expelled, England said.

Frost's stepfather Stephan Johnson said the school's rules should not apply outside the classroom.

"He deserves to wear that cap and gown," Johnson said.

Frost said he thought he had handled the situation properly. Findlay requires students from other schools attending the prom to get a signature from their principal, which Frost did.

"I expected a short lecture about making the right decisions and not doing something stupid," Frost said. "I thought I would get his signature and that would be the end."

England acknowledged signing the form but warned Frost there would be consequences if he attended the dance. England then took the issue to a school committee made up of church members, who decided to threaten Frost with suspension.

"In life, we constantly make decisions whether we are going to please self or please God. (Frost) chose one path, and the school committee chose the other," England said.

The handbook for the 84-student Christian school says rock music "is part of the counterculture which seeks to implant seeds of rebellion in young people's hearts and minds."

England said Frost's family should not be surprised by the school's position.

"For the parents to claim any injustice regarding this issue is at best forgetful and at worst disingenuous," he said. "It is our hope that the student and his parents will abide by the policies they have already agreed to."

The principal at Findlay High School, whose graduates include Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, said he respects, but does not agree with, Heritage Christian School's view of prom.

"I don't see (dancing and rock music) as immoral acts," Craig Kupferberg said.
Information from: The Courier,

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Great Last Minute Video Reviews, Explanations and Discussions of Terms (and look closely for the Romney signs!)

In no particular order. See my notes if you can only watch or listen to a few. Bring several number 2 pencils and a watch to keep track of time.

Federalism Video (6:37):

Government and Media (6:40): A MUST SEE!

Campaign Money and Lobbying (6:02) This is an important one.

Candidate Handlers (7:21) Good terms here.

The Concept of Suffrage (7:31)

The Big Tent Concept (Political Parties in the U.S.) (7:54) A MUST SEE!

The Rule of Law (6:55) A MUST REVIEW!

The Power of the Presidency (7:45)

A Breakdown of Congress (9:12)

The Mechanics of the Exam (7:36) Some inside information. Know the format!

Friday, April 10, 2009

5-4-09 !!!!!

Hi. Please check Infinite Campus to see what the time periods are when you are required to post to this blog. You'll notice that there is a large time-frame closest to the AP Exam (5-4-09). This is so that you can focus on Studying, Preparing, and Reviewing.

For those in 6th hour, here is a link to Bruce Babbitt 'standing up' at the Democratic debate (he does it about 1 minute and 5 seconds into the media piece). And yes, that's Al Franken in the Saturday Night Live skit!

See ya' soon!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Analysis: Assuming 1 point for each task, how many points are possible for the following Free Response Question and for which tasks?

In emphasizing the importance of congressional committees, Woodrow Wilson once said, "Congress in session is Congress on display. Congress in committee is Congress at work." Perform the following tasks regarding congressional committees.
a. Identify a basic function of congressional standing committees.
b. List an example of a congressional standing committee.
c. Describe how congressional standing committees are influenced by each of the following:
Interest groups
Political parties
The bureaucracy

(p.s. this essay will be due at the beginning of the hour Tuesday)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Analysis: Didn't candidate Obama attack candidate McCain for saying the fundamentals of the economy are strong? Perhaps this is a CHANGE in thinking?

“But if we are keeping focused on all the fundamentally sound aspects of our economy,” he added, “all the outstanding companies, workers, all the innovation and dynamism in this economy, then we’re going to get through this. And I’m very confident about that.”

JOHN MCCAIN 9-15-08:
"Our economy, I think, is still -- the fundamentals of our economy are strong, but these are very, very difficult times,'' McCain said.

In the wake of a big stock-market downdraft, Hoover on Thursday, Oct. 24, 1929, proclaimed, "The fundamental business of the country, that is, production and distribution of commodities, is on a sound and prosperous basis."

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Analysis: Constitutional or Unconstitutional? (or does the whole thing just suck "Lemons"!)

Archive for Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Obama calls for more federal faith-based funding to assist poor
In Ohio, the Democratic candidate focuses on religion during a week in which he is discussing values issues. In Indiana, McCain promises to veto ‘every bill with earmarks.’

By Michael Muskal and Robin AbcarianJuly 02, 2008
Zanesville, Ohio – Stepping into the thorny territory of church-state relations, Democrat Barack Obama today called for more federal dollars devoted to faith-based organizations that work with the poor.

Obama, a former community organizer, toured the Eastside Community Ministry, an arm of Central Presbyterian Church, which operates a food bank and provides other services for the poor.

“As I’ve said many times, I believe that change comes not from the top down, but from the bottom up, and few are closer to the people than our churches, synagogues, temples and mosques,” the likely Democratic presidential nominee said.

“The challenges we face today – from saving our planet to ending poverty – are simply too big for government to solve alone,” he said. “We need all hands on deck.”

On Monday, Obama began a week of focusing on values by speaking about patriotism. Today, he explored his relationship to religion, an area that created problems during the primary after his former pastor made disparaging comments about the United States.

“I didn’t grow up in a particularly religious household,” Obama said. “But my experience in Chicago showed me how faith and values could be an anchor in my life.

“And in time, I came to see my faith as being both a personal commitment to Christ and a commitment to my community; that while I could sit in church and pray all I want, I wouldn’t be fulfilling God’s will unless I went out and did the Lord’s work,” he said

Obama’s outlined proposals including a new Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and $500 million a year to fund summer teaching programs. In his speech, Obama cited past efforts by both Democrats and conservative Republicans to combine faith and federal funding.

“Leaders in both parties have recognized the value of a partnership between the White House and faith-based groups,” Obama said. “President Clinton signed legislation that opened the door for faith-based groups to play a role in a number of areas, including helping people move from welfare to work. Al Gore proposed a partnership between Washington and faith-based groups to provide more support for the least of these.

“And President Bush came into office with a promise to ‘rally the armies of compassion,’ establishing a new Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives,” Obama said.

Obama’s proposals would also allow religious charities that receive federal funding to consider religion in employment decisions, and that could create some problems for liberals who support a sharper divide between church and state. The Illinois senator said he was aware of the issues but insisted his plans would satisfy both ends of the political spectrum.

“Make no mistake, as someone who used to teach constitutional law, I believe deeply in the separation of church and state, but I don’t believe this partnership will endanger that idea – so long as we follow a few basic principles,” Obama said.

“First, if you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques can only be used on secular programs. And we’ll also ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work.”

The Obama campaign also distributed a statement from John DiIulio, who in 2001 was director of President Bush’s White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, backing Obama’s proposals.

“His plan reminds me of much that was best in both then-Vice President Al Gore’s and then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush’s respective first speeches on the subject in 1999,” DiIulio stated.

“His constitutionally sound and administratively feasible ideas about community-serving partnerships hold special promise for truly disadvantaged children, youth, and families.”
While Obama focused on religion, his likely Republican opponent campaigned on law-and-order issues in Indianapolis before embarking on a trip to Latin America.

John McCain took a tough stand in a speech at the National Sheriffs’ Assn.’s 68th annual conference, where he insisted that his criminal justice policies would also make available resources needed for law enforcement.

“In all of criminal justice policy, we must put the interests of law-abiding citizens first – and above all the rights of victims,” McCain said. “We must give active support to officers of the peace across America, by providing the tools you need to meet new dangers.”

McCain also emphasized the need to appoint judges with “a proven record of excellence in the law, and a proven commitment to judicial restraint. They will be the kind of judges who believe in giving everyone in a criminal court their due: justice for the guilty and the innocent, compassion for the victims, and respect for the men and women of law enforcement.”

McCain also returned to one of his favorite subjects, his crusade against congressional earmarks, calling such appropriations “the broken windows of the federal budget process” – a reference to the theory that small urban problems, unattended, lead to more serious decline.

Lawmakers, he said, too often distribute Justice Department funds “according to their value to the reelection of members of Congress instead of their value to police.”

“And that’s why, as president, I will veto every bill with earmarks,” he said. “It may take a while for Congress to adjust, but sooner or later they’ll figure out that there’s a new sheriff in town.”

McCain also touted his support for legislation to increase penalties for violent felons who commit crimes with guns or on behalf of gangs, improvements to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for firearms purchases, the increase in fines paid by criminals into the Federal Crime Victims fund, and better communications technology for law enforcement agencies.

He has authored a bill, he said, that would add 10 years to the sentence of anyone convicted of using the Internet in the commission of a crime against a child.

He drew loud applause when he said the federal government “has failed to protect our borders … and this serious dereliction of duty must end.” If elected, he vowed, “we will require that the federal government assume more of the costs to deport and detain criminal aliens – because this is a problem of the federal government’s own making.”
Abcarian reported from the McCain campaign in Indiana and staff writer Peter Nicholas contributed from the Obama campaign in Ohio. Muskal reported from Los Angeles.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Opinion: Is the senate's stimulus package positive progress or a step backwards?

Next Big Hurdle for Stimulus: House-Senate Negotiations

A day after striking a deal with moderate Republicans on a massive but pared-back economic stimulus package, Senate Democratic leaders moved toward a Feb. 9 procedural vote, a vote on final passage a day later and difficult negotiations with the House.

With the backing of three Republican moderates — Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania — Democratic leaders have the 60 votes needed to overcome opposition from conservatives who remain opposed to the package.

The exact cost of the compromise remained somewhat in flux as the Senate engaged in three hours of debate Saturday and Democratic leaders put the finishing touches on legislative language. While the revised plan released Friday night carried an estimated cost of about $780 billion, amendments adopted during Senate floor debate are likely to push the total cost past $800 billion. Those additions include a provision sponsored by Johnny Isakson , R-Ga., that would create a $15,000 tax credit for homebuyers.

Majority Leader Harry Reid , D-Nev., was expected to file a motion to limit debate on the package before the Senate adjourned for the day on Saturday, setting the stage for Monday’s pivotal vote.

Democratic leaders want to quickly conclude a House-Senate conference this week and clear the bill before the Presidents Day recess begins next weekend. But meeting that goal will require a heavy lift both procedurally and to sort out substantive differences between the House and Senate packages.

The Senate will vote at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 9 on a motion to limit debate, or invoke cloture, on an amendment containing the compromise version of the stimulus. Assuming the motion is adopted, the Senate will consider the amendment itself at noon the following day. Republicans are expected to raise a budgetary point of order against the amendment, but Democrats will have the 60 votes needed to override the objection. Then, the Senate will move to a final vote on the amendment.

At the behest of moderates, the Friday night compromise shaved about $108 billion from the original Senate proposal. Appropriators cut $83 billion in discretionary spending from the Senate plan, including funding for school construction and other programs favored by Democrats in the House and Senate. The Finance Committee pared back health care spending provisions by $7 billion, and scaled back the tax cut package by $18 billion.

Democrats appeared to be united behind the latest plan assembled by a group of moderates, despite some grumbling about the changes needed to attract a handful of GOP votes.
“It’s not a perfect bill from my perspective, and I don’t agree with everything that’s in it and everything that came out, but literally we can’t afford to wait any longer to get something passed,” Amy Klobuchar , D-Minn., said on the Senate floor Saturday.

The tradeoffs needed to get enough votes for the plan in the Senate presaged tough bargaining with the House before a final bill is delivered to President Obama, who, according to one lawmaker, signed off on the Senate deal. Top House Democrats were already complaining about the Senate moves before the agreement was formally announced.

The single biggest spending cut to the original Senate plan comes out of a $79 billion state fiscal stabilization allocation that would help states avoid tax increases and cutbacks in education and other high priority services. The compromise trims that funding to $39 billion and sets up a conflict with the House-passed bill that allocates $79 billion.

Another major difference between the House and Senate bills involves school construction. The House allocated $14 billion to renovate, repair and build public schools. The Senate zeroed out the $16 billion its original bill set aside for that purpose.

The compromise also eliminates $3.5 billion for higher education facility modernization and purchase of instructional equipment. The House voted to provide $6 billion for higher education.
The compromise would cut additional funding for Head Start and Early Head Start, programs to prepare children to succeed in school, from $2.1 billion to 1.05 billion. That’s half of the $2.1 billion in the House bill.

The Senate substitute eliminates $5.8 billion in the original measure that would have been spent on grants and contracts to prevent illness through health screenings, education, immunization, nutrition counseling, media campaigns and other activities. The House has set aside $3 billion for prevention and wellness.

Funds to expand the use of electronic record keeping in health care are cut from $5 billion to $3 billion in the substitute, still more than the $2 billion in the House plan. Under the new Senate plan, a national coordinator would distribute the money to pay for technology, planning and training.

The compromise eliminates funding for pandemic flu preparedness, a prominent target of critics who said figuring out how to increase the supply of vaccine would not create jobs. The House bill includes $900 million for flu, and the original Senate proposal had $870 million.

The Senate substitute zeroes out $2.25 billion in funding for a neighborhood stabilization program, which would have provided funds to states, local units of government and organizations to purchase and rehabilitate abandoned and foreclosed upon homes. The House allocated $4.19 billion for the program.

In the compromise, funding to increase broadband access in rural areas and other underserved parts of the country is reduced by $2 billion, from $9 billion to $7 billion. That’s still more than twice as much as the $3.175 billion in the House bill.

The Senate proposal also trims additions to the Byrne justice assistance grant program, which provides formula funding to state and local police. The compromise would cut $450 million from the Byrne grants, reducing funding from $1.5 billion to $1.05 billion, according to information provided by Ben Nelson , D-Neb., an author of the compromise. The House allocated $3 billion for Byrne grants.

Other differences that will have to be resolved in conference include the additional funding for a federal program that provides home weatherization services to increase energy efficiency for low-income families. The Senate allocates $2.9 billion for the program, while the House bill has $6.2 billion.

The Senate bill includes $2 billion for FutureGen, a near-zero emissions, coal-fired plant that backers want to build in Mattoon, Ill. The project has been a priority for Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin , D-Ill., and for Obama when he was an Illinois senator. The House bill does not include the project.

Unlike the House bill, the Senate version does not include additional funds for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps low-income families pay utility bills. The House bill has another $1 billion for the program.

Kathleen Hunter, Lydia Gensheimer, Bart Jansen, Catharine Richert and Edward Epstein contributed to this story.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Opinion: Who should the new GOP Chair be and what should his focus be?

GOP insiders say Friday’s contest to elect the next chairman of the Republican National Committee will be a long and drawn-out affair, with multiple ballots necessary to determine the winner.

In part, it’s a reflection of a party that, even after a nearly three month-long chairman’s race, remains deeply uncertain of which candidate can best lead the GOP back to power.

Linda Ackerman, the Republican committeewoman for California, said Wednesday that she was waiting to see the candidates interact with each other at the RNC meeting at Washington Capital Hilton hotel before making up her mind.

“They’re all saying pretty much the same thing. They’re all saying what we want to do for the party. They all have a little different twist, but they all know what we want,” Ackerman said. “Other than that, I just want to get a sense, a personal sense, of who would be the best one to lead.”

The RNC’s voting rules require a candidate to collect a simple majority of 85 votes in order to claim victory. In the absence of a consensus choice among the field of five candidates, though, the election appears destined for numerous ballots, involving many hours of deliberations punctuated by intense lobbying and political horse-trading between votes.

Public estimates of the five candidates’ support have tended to place incumbent RNC Chairman Mike Duncan at the head of the pack, followed by former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson, with Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell behind them.

This story continues at:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Analysis: What does the new president need to say to the American people in his inaugural address? (not a prediction, but what he should say)

'I Was Summoned by My Country'
Nobody knows, yet, but maybe there's a clue in the inaugural addresses of the past. The headline of this post comes from George Washington's first:

Among the vicissitudes incident to life no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the present month.

On the one hand, I was summoned by my Country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years -- a retreat which was rendered every day more necessary as well as more dear to me by the addition of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed on it by time.

On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence one who (inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration) ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies.

(Yes, those are some seriously long sentences.)

You can read every inaugural address ever made at a web site set up by Yale Law School.
By David Marino-Nachison November 19, 2008; 3:09 PM ET Category: Inaugural History