Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the United Nations headquarters in New York City Saturday, calling for the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. They were optimistic about Egypt's future, though many complained that it was time for the United States government to start supporting the Egyptian people and not their dictator.
All of them have one common denominator, which is injustice, social injustice. All of those regimes had privileged certain groups in society and amassed wealth through illegal means like corruption...The people needed to be the rulers, not the other way around. If Tunisia did it, why shouldn't we do it?
— Walid Al-Saqaf, founder and administrator of Yemen Portal, speaking about protest in Yemen and the rest of the Arab world on The Brian Lehrer Show
By all measures, President Obama began his 2012 campaign on Tuesday night. He used big numbers—not just ones with dollar signs attached, but ones that exist only in imaginations: 2035. 2020. 2015. The thinking was grand, the planning long-term, the rhetoric Sputnik-ed.
And yet, one of the president’s proposals in his State of the Union address was all about the fine print: closing tax loopholes. Absent from the speech was a broad-stroke promise to raise or lower taxes. The closest Obama came to doing so was a thinly-veiled threat to eventually let the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans, this after agreeing to extend them only last month.
Regardless of what happens to the top tax bracket, focusing on tax loopholes is a shrewd move politically, particularly with the president’s 2012 reelection campaign now in view. It realigns the tax debate on the minutiae of the federal code, getting away from the same old tax-versus-spend back and forth.
On Saturday, political newcomer and Tea Party activist Jack Kimball was elected chairman of the New Hampshire GOP, adding new complexity to the 2012 presidential race—the first contest for the presidency with Tea in the mix—since all eyes will be on New Hampshire and its first-in-the-nation primary next January.
If the cap is going to be a vehicle to attempt to have property tax relief, it has to be done in conjunction with or preceded by mandate relief items that we're talking about. The numbers don't add up otherwise, and there will be devastation in communities in terms of the services provided, the employment within municipalities is already way down, it would be decimated even further.
—Peter Baynes, executive director of the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM), on The Brian Lehrer Show
I think Olbermann peaked in a way during the Bush administration because he was able to play offense, and he really touched a nerve with liberal viewers who felt the media had rolled over for President Bush on the Iraq invasion. Particularly in this Obama year, as he got angrier, people at MSNBC feel like his his anger kind of consumed him. I think he became more predictable, more strident, more partisan, and even some liberals got tired of him.
Next Tuesday sees the release of "O: A Presidential Novel," which tells the story of an incumbent president named 'O' seeking reelection in 2012. It's an anonymous author's (yes, anonymous) attempt to imagine what's going on in the political landscape—and the president's head—at the end of his first term.
Take a look, then play the game and tell us: What is 'O' thinking?
I was with my family two weeks ago in Tunisia for the holidays, and we were surprised. It was a country that was waiting to explode. People, they start talking, they are not scared anymore.
—Sophia, a caller originally from Tunisia, on The Brian Lehrer Show
The House of Representatives today voted to pass H.R.2, dubbed “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” by a vote of 245-189, with only four Democrats joining the Republican bloc in voting for repeal. Members of the House of Representatives spent the past two days on the floor arguing over the bill's merits.
The debate was marked by a now-familiar back-and-forth between Democrats and Republicans, with each trotting out almost as many numbers and anecdotes as there are dollars in the national debt. Given that the bill was certain to pass, but almost certainly has no future beyond the House, this week's proceedings were closer in character to a production of Waiting for Godot than meaningful debate.
The US attorney's office stepped into a hornet's nest they weren't expecting here. Not only Mayor Bloomberg, but advocates for the disabled as well have come out and said, "Gee, we want people to stay at home; that's the optimal thing and in general it's less expensive." Their answer of course is, we're not taking sides on policy, this is just out-and-out fraud.
—Anemona Hartocollis, New York Times reporter, on The Brian Lehrer Show
With the arrival of Chinese President Hu Jintao in Washington this week, it's time to catch up with the world's most ascendant superpower. By "catch up," we don't mean economically—although that's a huge cause for concern in America. For now, we'd do well to refresh ourselves, looking at the reasons our relationship with China is tense, how the country has navigated the global economic crisis (and continued to grow), and what's at stake if the two biggest kids in the sandbox can't get along.
There are very few things the government forces you to do. Participate in the draft, fill out a census form, participate in a jury...but the argument in favor of this is, whether you think it's unprecedented or not, the problems people believe we are confronting with health care are unprecedented, they are certainly commercial in effect, and are therefore squarely within Congress's ability to regulate interstate commerce to force people to participate.
—Nathaniel Persily, Charles Keller Beekman Professor of Law and Political Science at Columbia Law School, on The Brian Lehrer Show
We are basically seeing that the very tough debate is being presaged in the public sector union that we're having nationally about the social contract that existed and was implied in Social Security. Those were drafted in another time when people didn't live so long, and all the actual presumptions were based on that. Now people are living longer and we have to renegotiate those contracts. That said, what the unions are concerned about is that Christie is leaving out the super wealthy who have been doing really well throughout this whole period.
—Bob Hennelly, WNYC reporter, on The Brian Lehrer Show
The House of Representatives begins debate today on a bill called “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.” (Speaker John Boehner's office dialed back the language on the legislation in a Sunday blog post, calling it "job-crushing" instead of "job-killing," but the bill's name remains the same.)
To make their case for repeal, House Republicans are honing in on the massive health care overhaul's effect on employment, at a time when that’s the most sensitive issue on American minds.
How does the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which aims to expand health insurance coverage and reduce costs, kill jobs? The Republican majority offers this report, Obamacare: A Budget-Busting, Job-Killing Health Care Law.
—Michael Honey, former Southern civil rights organizer and professor of labor and ethnic history at the University of Washington-Tacoma, on The Brian Lehrer Show.
—Peter Bergen, author of The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda, on The Brian Leher Show.
On Tuesday afternoon, beginning his second year in office, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave his first State of the State address. The speech laid out his plans to reform the state's budget, pension system, and educational institutions, including promises not to raise taxes, and a proposal for merit-based pay for teachers.