We reported yesterday on a lawsuit brought against test-prep giant Kaplan by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, who accused the company of discriminating against African-American job applicants by using credit histories in their hiring processes. As it turns out, Kaplan is hardly the only company to do so. According to Takeaway listener Christina Tobin, her bankruptcy filing report has overshadowed her new accounting degree in her job hunt.
When families get together for the holidays, there's bound to be tons of food, drink and cheer. But a slice of political debate often comes along with the green beans. Talking politics may be a no-go for a cocktail party, but for lots of families it's a holiday staple. Tax cuts, health care, the Tea Party: Which topics will be the hot potatoes of this year's festivities?
Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is one of several politicians spearheading a proposal for re-balancing state and federal power, through what's being called the "repeal amendment." The amendment to the Constitution would, with a vote of 33 states' legislatures, give states the ability to repeal any federal law passed in Congress. Virginia has a long history of states' rights activism — in response to the federally-mandated desegregation of schools in the 1950s, state leaders responded with "massive resistance," choosing to privatize some school districts to prevent integration. As the South commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Confederacy, is this new emphasis on states' rights a step towards secessionism?
District courts across the country are passing judgement on the Obama administration's health care reform legislation. Yesterday Judge Henry E. Hudson ruled the "individual mandate," that requires everyone to purchase health insurance, was unconstitutional. He says the government overstretched its powers under the Constitution's "Commerce Clause," which allows Congress to regulate individual conduct that affects the economy. Judge Hudson's ruling opens up the debate further, but how will it play in higher courts?
President Obama is reaching out to Republican lawmakers this week in an attempt to foster bipartisanship. However, a growing number of state Democrats are turning their backs on the party and joining Republicans. So far 13 politicians in five states have switched parties. Is the move a reaction to anti-Washington sentiment, an expression of personal political ideology or a reflection of a changing constituency?
On Tuesday, the Pentagon's top leaders said the 17-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" law, which prohibits gay and lesbian armed forces members from openly admitting their sexuality, would not pose a problem if scrapped. A survey conducted among troops showed that over 70 percent wouldn't have a problem serving alongside gay troops. The poll results put new pressure on Republican opponents to repeal the law; President Barack Obama is urging the Senate to do so before adjourning in the next few weeks.
This week, Congress has two extensions on the table. While it looks likely that lawmakers will extend the Bush-era tax cuts for both the wealthy and the middle class, it seems unlikely that they will renew the extension on unemployment payments. What will the fallout be?
Prosecutors with the Security and Exchance Commission say they received information sufficient to subpeona and raid a number of hedge funds last week from conversations recorded over wiretaps. According to a report in The New York Times, investigators enlisted the help of seven Wall Street insiders to tape over 500 people using tidbits of informal information to strike deals on the stock market. Is this "mosaic theory," as the expert network firms call it, or "insider trading"?
NYT's David Sanger discusses the 250,000 leaked diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks and analysed by the New York Times.
New "current cruisers," the first mass-marketed plug-in electric cars, will hit the market next month. For utility companies, their arrival is cause for both excitement and anxiety. Plugged into a socket, the Nissan Leafs and Chevrolet Volts can draw as much energy from the grid as a small house. Will the early adopters – and their neighborhoods – wind up in the dark?
A new version of the venerable START arms control agreement (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), which was signed by President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in April of this year, is the grandchild of the bilateral nuclear arms reduction treaty that ended the Cold War. But while the fighting between the superpowers may be on hold, a war of words is on between Democrats and Republicans. The Obama administration is pushing the lame-duck Congress to ratify the new bilateral treaty. But the lead Republican negotiator, Sen. John Kyl of Arizona, has declared that there is not enough time to reach an agreement this year on his preferred treaty component: a nuclear modernization program for which the Obama Administration has committed $84 billion.
The co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility have come up with a list of proposals of possible cuts in order to help offset the looming national deficit. Balancing the budget by 2015 will require finding ways to save $200 billion. So far, no decisions have been made on what programs should be cut, and lawmakers have to agree on where to begin.
So, we're doing the job for them - at least hypothetically. All this week, we're picking one program a day to cut and looking at what the ripple effect would be of doing so.
Demonstrators in Haiti have been protesting an outbreak of cholera, which has killed more than 1,000 people and has hospitalized more than 16,000 in the past month. The riots began on Monday in northern and central Haiti, over suspicions that U.N. peacekeepers had brought the epidemic to the country from Nepal. But protesters have also used the issue to make a political statement, burning campaign posters of Jude Celestin, the candidate of President Rene Preval's Unity Party – just ahead of national elections coming up on November 28th, 2010.
When lawmakers are looking at ways to balance the budget, the gargantuan amount of military and defense spending would seem an obvious choice. The Fiscal Commission has found nearly $100 billion in potential cutbacks within the military apparatus by 2015, which include reducing the size of the Navy, rethinking health care benefits for veterans and pulling troops out of bases in Europe and South Korea.
Another bipartisan group, the Debt Reduction Task Force, has gone even further. They released a report on Wednesday calling for a freeze of all military spending, and reducing the number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq to 30,000 by the year 2013. If Congress approved all of these proposed defense cuts, what effect would it have on America and its ability to defend itself in the future?
In this economy, people know that every little bit counts when it comes to saving money. It is no different for the federal commission trying to reduce a $200 billion budget shortfall. They could save $14 billion dollars by 2015 if they cut the direct payments farmers receive under the 2008 Farm Bill — and if they eliminate the subsidy promises, in the event that prices for wheat, corn, soy and other commodities fall in the next few years. What effects would farmers and food shoppers see if these subsidies were to go away?
The government is trying to find a way to balance a $200 billion shortfall in the federal budget, and they're looking at both big and small steps. One of the suggestions from the co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform includes cutting the foreign aid budget in half by 2015. That would save around $17 billion — but what would be the ripple effects here at home?
Forget the new backpack, homecoming bonfires and locker room hazing: Being a "freshman" in Congress is more like setting up a small business, in a city you have never lived in and within a bureaucratic system that dictates your every move. The huge group of "Washington outsiders" arriving on Capitol Hill this week will have to get a team together, set up their offices and make contacts — all while trying to avoid the political quagmire against which many of them campaigned. Can the freshmen survive?
The Bush-era tax cuts will be high on the agenda when the lame duck Congress reconvenes today. The cuts are scheduled to expire next year, but Republicans are pushing for the extension of both the "middle class" breaks, as well as those for couples earning more than $250,000 a year. They cite the huge budget deficit and a shaky economy as reasons to keep the cuts. Similar arguments led to prior historic tax cuts, from two politicians of different eras, parties and temperaments: John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
Freshmen senators, insider fighting, and a need to publicly shape the next moves for the party after the midterm election: the Republican party has spent the past week regrouping. In the middle of it all, the candidates elected with Tea Party enthusiasm have begun to flex their new political muscles with mixed results. Minnesota GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, one of the initiators of the Tea Party movement, has dropped her bid for a leadership role in the Republican House Conference. Delaware's Senator Jim DeMint, the undeclared leader of the group, is pushing for an unpopular ban on earmarking — in an attempt, perhaps, to show how much power he can wield. And new arrivals, like Florida's freshman Senator-elect, Marco Rubio, are finding themselves caught between Tea Party ideals and Washington's realities. How is the party tackling its goals, voter expectations and new majority?
After two years of laying low, former President George W. Bush came out with a bang this week, with the release of his memoir, "Decision Points." While the world has been focusing on Bush's take on the Iraq war, weapons of mass destruction, the use of waterboarding and Hurricane Katrina, today we want to discuss what the memoir means in the context of the Republican surge in the past election. Is the book about the past Bush administration, or is it laying the ground for another Bush generation to take back the White House in the future?