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Congress

The Takeaway

Senate Blocks Obama Jobs Bill Again

Friday, October 21, 2011

Democrats were once again unable to overcome a Republican filibuster of President Obama's jobs bill on Thursday. It was the second time in 10 days the Senate refused to take up the bill. This version was scaled down to a $35 billion plan to help states and local governments avoid laying off teachers, police officers, and firefighters. The bill would have been paid for by a 0.5 percent surtax on incomes above $1 million to start in 2013. Todd Zwillich, The Takeaway's Washington correspondent, reports on the latest developments on Capitol Hill.

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It's A Free Blog

Opinion: How I Learned to Love the Filibuster

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

After the Senate last week defeated President Obama's American Jobs Act through filibuster, the Congressional tactic has come under a lot of criticism. Illinois Senator Richard Durbin said Tuesday that he favors a return to earlier (and tougher) rules, which required dissenting lawmakers hold ...

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Transportation Nation

Mica: No More FAA Shutdowns

Monday, October 17, 2011

The 18th Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress Kics off this week in Orlando

(Orlando- WMFE) Central Florida Congressman John Mica wants to pass a four-year aviation re-authorization bill by January.  But to come to an agreement,  he doesn't want another FAA shutdown.

"What's different is we've been there and done it,"  the Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee told a crowd gathered at the 18th World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems being held in Orlando this week.

"No one liked the partial shutdown, it caused a great disruption but it did get me a solution.  We will have in place long term transportation policy definitely for aviation, and I'm going to do my best for surface and highway transportation."

More Money Please

Mica also said he wants to fund transportation and infrastructure projects beyond their current level but didn't provide specifics, "We've got to find a whole new way for funding transportation."  One idea the Congressman adamantly opposed was any consideration of increasing the Federal gas tax, "completely off the table is any raise in the gas tax.  We are looking at funding possibly, the speaker (John Boehner) has said  some other sources, maybe at the wellhead, maybe where we could get a more reliable and steady transportation funding mechanism. Right now the system is broken.  You drive further and you pay less."

Technology Solutions

Some ideas that could save money for drivers and governments are on display at the 18th ITS World Congress.  One of them is the newly commissioned Central Florida National Test Bed for connected vehicles.  The test bed is composed of a 25 mile loop around part of Interstate 4 loaded with short range radio and GPS transmitters.  Those transponders communicate with so called "connected vehicles" which share safety information in real-time.  The idea is supposed to allow drivers to receive safety warnings if there is road hazard or car crash ahead.  Proponents of the technology, including the US Department of Transportation estimate implementing a "connected vehicle system" could reduce traffic congestion and emissions, and lower driving costs.

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Transportation Nation

LaHood: I'm a One-Term Secretary

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ray LaHood speaking earlier this year. Photo: Bossi via flickr

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood won't serve in the post beyond the end of President Obama's current term, the Los Angeles Times is reporting.

LaHood told the paper he will serve only one term in Obama's cabinet and that he won't follow through on speculation that he might run for governor of Illinois. "I'm not running for public office anymore," he's quoted as saying.

The comments came in an interview following a Washington speech in which LaHood, a former Republican congressman, urged GOP lawmakers to compromise with Democrats and pass new infrastructure programs as part of the president's jobs plan.

It's common for cabinet secretaries to serve for only one term. Notable exceptions included Donna Shalala, who served as Health and Human Services Secretary for all 8 years of Bill Clinton's presidency, and Madeline Albright, who served all eight years as Secretary of State under Clinton.

In his remarks at the National Press Club, which came before his interview  the L.A. Times,  LaHood expressed disgust with the partisan gridlock in Washington. "A lot has changed in this town since I arrived more than 35 years ago," he said, "but nothing changed more than the evolution of a culture in which elected officials are rewarded for intransigence." He continued: "For too many, compromise has become a dirty word -- for many, compromise isn't even in their dictionary."

LaHood lamented House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica's comments at a Wednesday  House committee hearing.

"Given what Chairman Mica said about the infrastructure bank yesterday, probably that's not going very far."  [Update:  at a Washington Post forum on Friday, LaHood said: "The President is not going to give up on the infrastructure bank.  Other countries have done it, a lot of states have done it, they've leveraged a lot of private money doing that." ]

He said on Thursday: "I believe that we are going to get an infrastructure program, and I believe it will happen before the end of the calendar year, because I think there's an enormous amount of pressure on Congress. When they go back home, and they go to their churches, and they go to their barbecues, and they go to their political events, the one thing they're hearing is: 'what are you going to do about jobs, and what are you going to do about the economy?' We know how to fix that. They know how to fix it. Reaching that kind of consensus, I think, is possible."

With reporting from Kate Hinds.

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The Takeaway

Congress Passes Free Trade Deals

Thursday, October 13, 2011

In a moment of bipartisanship, Congress passed three trade bills on Wednesday that had been embroiled in a political stalemate for years. The deals will promote foreign trade with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. Consensus on the matter supports the idea that both parties think free trade will help the country's ailing economy. The action comes one day after the Senate defeated President Obama's Jobs Bill.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Washington Responds to Occupy Wall Street

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Takeaway's Washington correspondent, Todd Zwillich talks about economic news from Washington over the weekend, and how politicians from right and left are responding to the Occupy Wall Street protests.

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The Takeaway

This Week's Agenda: Wall Street Protests, Jobs Bill, Ben Bernanke

Monday, October 03, 2011

The New York police department arrested over 700 Occupy Wall Street protesters Saturday, for allegedly walking across the Brooklyn Bridge's roadway, instead of using the pedestrian path. Now in its third week, the movement has spread to other cities around the nation. Meanwhile, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to testify before Congress tomorrow on the economic outlook for the country, and unemployment figures are set to be released Friday, as President Obama continues to push his jobs bill. And Nevada has moved its caucus date back, ahead of Florida's, which will likely affect the race for the Republican nomination.

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It's A Free Blog

Opinion: Congress Embraces Bipartisanship - In Shirking Budget Duty

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Disasters used to be one of the things that weren't used as political footballs, but now almost nothing is sacrosanct. This is much like how the filibuster used to be a weapon of last resort, but is now used on a regular basis in the Senate.

-Solomon Kleinsmith, It's A Free Country blogger.

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WNYC News

House, Senate Stalemate Over Spending Bill Days Before Potential Shutdown

Friday, September 23, 2011

So long as Republicans control the House and Democrats the Senate and White House, a basic dynamic appears to be set. On any must-pass legislation, the House GOP will attach spending cuts Democrats find objectionable and reject in turn. A stalemate happens with both sides staring each other down.Only when a grand mal failure of government is at the threshold, a government shutdown or debt default, will a compromise be reached.

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The Takeaway

Sen. Richard Blumenthal on Google Antitrust Hearings

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Senate panel will open an antitrust inquiry into the business practices of Google today. The search giant's executive chairman Eric Schmidt is expected to testify. Federal authorities are accusing the company of playing favorites with its own businesses in search results. Microsoft endured a similar antitrust case, which took nearly a year to resolve.

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The Takeaway

The Nuts and Bolts of President Obama's Deficit Reduction Plan

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Republican critics like Mitch McConnell are calling it "class warfare" and a "massive tax hike" with "phantom savings." The president calls it simply a matter of shared sacrifice. Is Obama's new deficit reduction plan, which he unveiled in a speech Monday morning, a piece of legislation with a legitimate shot of being voted into law or simply a campaign move ahead of the 2012 election? And does the president's math add up when he says the bill is paid for?

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The Takeaway

GOP Candidate Bob Turner Nabs Weiner's Congressional Seat

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Yesterday, there was a special election for the New York Congressional seat left vacant by disgraced Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner. The largely Democratic district would logically have gone to Democratic Assemblyman David Weprin, but due to myriad political factors Republican businessman Bob Turner won the race.

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The Takeaway

Elizabeth Warren to Run for Senate; House Passes FAA Funding Bill

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren officially announced her candidacy for Senate in Massachusetts on Wednesday. Warren was the driving force behind the creation of the Consumer Protection Agency, and has been a lightening rod for Congressional Republicans. She'll be challenging Senator Scott Brown, who was elected in a special election to fill Ted Kennedy's seat in 2010. (You can watch her official announcement after the jump.)

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The Takeaway

Details of Obama's Jobs Bill

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Congress received President Obama's jobs bill yesterday, giving them an up-close look at the details of it. Some Republicans are skeptical of the plan, but Obama is urging for a speedy passage of the bill, in order to get unemployed Americans back to work as soon as possible.

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The Takeaway

Democrats May Lose New York, Nevada House Seats Today

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Two special elections for Congressional seats scheduled for today could end in losses for Democrats. In New York City, Rep. Anthony Weiner's old seat is up for grabs. Republican Bob Turner, a 70 year old businessman without any government experience, is facing off against State Assemblyman David Weprin. If Turner is elected, he will be the first Republican to represent this part of Queens in the House since 1920. Acorss the country in Nevada, Republican Mark Amodei is comfortable leading Democrat Kate Marshall in the Second Congressional District.

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Transportation Nation

President Sends American Jobs Act Bill to Congress

Monday, September 12, 2011

UPDATED WITH COMPLETE REMARKS (at end of post) Waving a thick blue-and-white document, President Barack Obama formally introduced the American Jobs Act,  the much-touted jobs bill he announced last week at a joint session of Congress.

Surrounded by construction workers, teachers, small business owner, veterans, and others he said would benefit from the bill at a brief Rose Garden ceremony, the President said :

"Well, here it is, this is a bill that will put people back to work all across the country. This is the bill the congress needs to pass, no games, no politics, no delays. I’m sending it to congress today and they ought to pass it immediately."

Citing "highways that are backed up with traffic" and "airports that are clogged," the President said the bill would help construction workers all over the country.

In last week's outline of the bill, the White House said it would include $50 billion in expedited spending on roads, bridges, and other transportation, and $10 bill launch a National Infrastructure Bank to funnel private capital into U.S. transportation construction and to nationalize the decision-making process about what get's built and what doesn't.

Complete remarks follow.  We'll have full analysis later.

 

THE PRESIDENT:  Please, everybody, have a seat, on this beautiful morning.  It's wonderful to see all of you here.

 

On Thursday, I told Congress that I’ll be sending them a bill called the American Jobs Act.  Well, here it is.  (Applause.)  This is a bill that will put people back to work all across the country.  This is the bill that will help our economy in a moment of national crisis.  This is a bill that is based on ideas from both Democrats and Republicans.  And this is the bill that Congress needs to pass.  No games.  No politics.  No delays. I’m sending this bill to Congress today, and they ought to pass it immediately.  (Applause.)

 

Standing with me this morning are men and women who will be helped by the American Jobs Act.  I’m standing with teachers.  All across America, teachers are being laid off in droves -- which is unfair to our kids, it undermines our future, and it is exactly what we shouldn’t be doing if we want our kids to be college-ready and then prepared for the jobs of the 21st century. We've got to get our teachers back to work.  (Applause.)  Let's pass this bill and put them in the classroom where they belong.  (Applause.)

 

I’m standing here with veterans.  We’ve got hundreds of thousands of brave, skilled Americans who fought for this country.  The last thing they should have to do is to fight for a job when they come home.  So let’s pass this bill and put the men and women who served this nation back to work.  (Applause.)

 

We're standing here with cops and firefighters whose jobs are threatened because states and communities are cutting back.  This bill will keep cops on the beat, and firefighters on call.  So let’s pass this bill so that these men and women can continue protecting our neighborhoods like they do every single day.  (Applause.)

 

I’m standing with construction workers.  We've got roads that need work all over the country.  Our highways are backed up with traffic.  Our airports are clogged.  And there are millions of unemployed construction workers who could rebuild them.  So let’s pass this bill so road crews and diggers and pavers and workers  -- they can all head back to the jobsite.  There's plenty of work to do.  This job -- this jobs bill will help them do it.  Let’s put them back to work.  Let's pass this bill rebuilding America. (Applause.)

 

And there are schools throughout the country that desperately need renovating.  (Applause.)  We cannot -- got an "Amen" over there.  (Laughter and applause.)  We can't expect our kids to do their best in places that are literally falling apart. This is America.  Every kid deserves a great school -- and we can give it to them.  Pass this bill and we put construction crews back to work across the country repairing and modernizing at least 35,000 schools.

 

I’m standing here with small business owners.  They know that while corporate profits have come roaring back, a lot of small businesses haven’t.  They're still struggling -- getting the capital they need, getting the support they need in order to grow.  So this bill cuts taxes for small businesses that hire new employees and for small businesses that raise salaries for current employees.  It cuts your payroll tax in half.  And all businesses can write off investments they make this year and next year.  (Applause.)  Instead of just talking about America’s job creators, let’s actually do something for America’s job creators. We can do that by passing this bill.  (Applause.)

 

Now, there are a lot of other ways that this jobs bill, the American Jobs Act, will help this economy.  It’s got a $4,000 tax credit for companies that hire anybody who spent more than six months looking for a job.  We’ve got to do more for folks who've been hitting the pavement every single day looking for work, but haven’t found employment yet.  That’s why we need to extend unemployment insurance and connect people to temporary work to help upgrade their skills.

 

This bill will help hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged young people find summer jobs next year -- jobs that will help set the direction for their entire lives.  And the American Jobs Act would prevent taxes from going up for middle-class families. If Congress does not act, just about every family in America will pay more taxes next year.  And that would be a self-inflicted wound that our economy just can’t afford right now.  So let’s pass this bill and give the typical working family a $1,500 tax cut instead.  (Applause.)

 

And the American Jobs Act is not going to add to the debt -- it’s fully paid for.  I want to repeat that.  It is fully paid for.  (Laughter.)  It’s not going to add a dime to the deficit.  Next week, I’m laying out my plan not only to pay for this jobs bill but also to bring down the deficit further.  It’s a plan that lives by the same rules that families do:  We’ve got to cut out things that we can’t afford to do in order to afford the things that we really need.  It’s a plan that says everybody -- including the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations -- have to pay their fair share.  (Applause.)

 

The bottom line is, when it comes to strengthening the economy and balancing our books, we’ve got to decide what our priorities are.  Do we keep tax loopholes for oil companies -- or do we put teachers back to work?  Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires -- or should we invest in education and technology and infrastructure, all the things that are going to help us out-innovate and out-educate and out-build other countries in the future?

 

We know what’s right.  We know what will help businesses start right here and stay here and hire here.  We know that if we take the steps outlined in this jobs plan, that there's no reason why we can’t be selling more goods all around the world that are stamped with those three words:  “Made in America.”  That’s what we need to do to create jobs right now.  (Applause.)

 

I have to repeat something I said in my speech on Thursday. There are some in Washington who’d rather settle our differences through politics and the elections than try to resolve them now. In fact, Joe and I, as we were walking out here, we were looking at one of the Washington newspapers and it was quoting a Republican aide saying, “I don't know we’d want to cooperate with Obama right now.  It’s not good for our politics.”  That was very explicit.

 

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  It was.

 

THE PRESIDENT:  I mean, that’s the attitude in this town -- "yeah, we’ve been through these things before, but I don't know why we’d be for them right now."  The fact of the matter is the next election is 14 months away.  And the American people don’t have the luxury of waiting 14 months for Congress to take action. (Applause.)  Folks are living week to week, paycheck to paycheck. They need action.  And the notion that there are folks who would say, we’re not going to try to do what’s right for the American people because we don't think it’s convenient for our politics -- we’ve been seeing that too much around here.  And that’s exactly what folks are tired of.

 

And that’s okay, when things are going well, you play politics.  It’s not okay at a time of great urgency and need all across the country.  These aren’t games we’re playing out here.  Folks are out of work.  Businesses are having trouble staying open.  You’ve got a world economy that is full of uncertainty right now -- in Europe, in the Middle East.  Some events may be beyond our control, but this is something we can control.  Whether we not -- whether or not we pass this bill, whether or not we get this done, that’s something that we can control.  That’s in our hands.

 

You hear a lot of folks talking about uncertainty in the economy.  This is a bit of uncertainty that we could avoid by going ahead and taking action to make sure that we’re helping the American people.

 

So if you agree with me, if you want Congress to take action, then I’m going to need everybody here and everybody watching -- you’ve got to make sure that your voices are heard.  Help make the case.  There's no reason not to pass this bill.  Its ideas are bipartisan.  Its ideas are common sense.  It will make a difference.  That’s not just my opinion; independent economists and validators have said this could add a significant amount to our Gross Domestic Product, and could put people back to work all across the country.  (Applause.)  So the only thing that’s stopping it is politics.  (Applause.)  And we can’t afford these same political games.  Not now.

 

So I want you to pick up the phone.  I want you to send an email.  Use one of those airplane skywriters.  (Laughter.)  Dust off the fax machine.  (Laughter.)  Or you can just, like, write a letter.  (Laughter.)  So long as you get the message to Congress: Send me the American Jobs Act so I can sign it into law.  Let’s get something done.  Let’s put this country back to work.

 

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  (Applause.)

 


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It's A Free Blog

Opinion: Obama's Smart Bet on Immediate Job Action Over Rhetoric

Friday, September 09, 2011

The president made one irrefutable point last night. We can stake out sharply contrasting positions and let the electorate decide at the ballot box. But that will only ensure 14 months of no relief for working families and the unemployed.

-Justin Krebs, It's A Free Country blogger.

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The Takeaway

Rep. David Scott Reacts to Obama's Jobs Plan

Friday, September 09, 2011

As national unemployment continues to hover at 9.1 percent, black Americans continue to be the group hit hardest by the recession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics employment figures for August showed an increase in the number of unemployed black Americans to 16.7 percent. Ahead of his address last night before a joint session of Congress, President Obama faced criticism from members of the Congressional Black Caucus who urged the President to be "bold" in his speech. Was the President bold enough?

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It's A Free Country ®

Remarks of President Barack Obama in an Address to a Joint Session of Congress

Thursday, September 08, 2011

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
Remarks of President Barack Obama in an Address to a Joint Session of Congress

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The Takeaway

'Super Committee' Member Xavier Becerra Describes Debt Negotiations

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Six weeks after the Congressional showdown over raising the debt ceiling came to resolution, the 12 member Congressional deficit reduction committee, sometimes referred to as the "super committee" or "super Congress," will have its first meeting today. Federal spending, taxes, and deficit reduction are all on the super committee's agenda as it tries to cut nearly $1.2 trillion from the nation's debt over the next decade. 

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