NRA to push for guns in schools; Speaker Boehner puts one foot over the fiscal Cliff; Scott Peters to serve on Armed Services Committee
“Hey Gang!” (salute to Jerry Coleman) While Doug is on vacation, I’m going to do my best to fill in at least a little bit with my best simulation of “The Starting Line.” It’s become a regular routine to read what Doug has done over the past 6 months or so, and to see this publication go without it for two weeks while our esteemed Doug Porter takes a well earned, well deserved break……that just won’t do. I’ll try not to screw it up too badly. So with that in mind…….
The gun nuts come out full force
So this is what the NRA meant by “offering meaningful contributions to ensure this never happens again?” They probably should have stayed silent like they did for the first five days after the Newtown, CT, school shooting. After going completely radio silent, shutting down their Facebook page and Twitter account, earlier this week the National Rifle Association released a statement promising to be a constructive partner in the debate over what to do in the wake of the latest, and most horrifying mass murder at the hands of a deranged gunman. After their statement released on Tuesday, Dec. 18, it was hoped that the NRA might come to its senses and support a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban that was enacted in 1994, but allowed to expire under Republican rule in 2004.
No such luck.
In the much anticipated press conference held this morning, NRA chief Wayne LaPierre declared that now was the time to not prevent guns from entering the schools where our children go to learn every day, but rather now is the time to make sure there are more guns in the schools where our children go to learn every day.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said LaPierre in a very brief statement before the media, after which he refused to take questions. (How ‘bout making sure that bad guy doesn’t have a gun in the first place? Just a thought…..)
LaPierre announced that Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-Arkansas) would lead the effort to develop a model security plan that calls for placing armed volunteers in every school.
Guns don’t kill people, stupid people with guns kill people, and this has “disaster” written all over it. So your plan to curb gun violence is to put more overzealous whack jobs like George Zimmerman into our schools so that more of our kids can end up dead? That’s your answer? This cannot end well.
The NRA would have been better off staying radio silent.
It seems as though the NRA won’t be happy until we’re back to the Wild West days with people settling their disputes in the middle of the streets with guns blazing. Only that’s what happens in many gang infested neighborhoods, and having more guns there doesn’t seem to be doing anything to solve the problem. The only thing to come out of it is that more and more innocent bystanders die, including young kids like the ones who were slaughtered a week ago today in Connecticut. But more guns, not fewer, is the apparently answer.
This makes me so sad for our society.
Over the Fiscal Cliff we go
John Boehner and Barack Obama have spent the last several weeks meeting one on one to figure out a way to strike a deal on the fiscal cliff (or curb, as many analysts have likened it to) that the nation is close to bounding over. The sticking point between the two men is how much in tax increases Republicans are willing accept, and how much in spending cuts Democrats are willing to accept.
The thing here is that Democrats already agreed in Dec. 2011 to an enormous amount of spending cuts, while extending all of the Bush tax cuts for another year at the same time. Obama is insisting that those spending cuts from a year ago count toward the current negotiations. Boehner, of course, is pretending that he doesn’t know what Obama is talking about. Those cuts never happened.
Boehner knows that he will never be able to get his caucus, in its current form, to agree to accept any tax increases as a part of the fiscal cliff/curb/whatever you want to call it deal. His party is infested with TEA Party radicals for whom the definition of compromise is the same as Richard Mourdock’s definition of compromise: In Mourdock’s opinion, compromise means Democrats coming over to Republicans’ point of view.
Boehner’s apparent answer to the negotiations? Sabotage any deal at all. After his last meeting with Obama, Boehner decided that he couldn’t accept Obama’s latest proposal—a deal that raised the threshold for tax increases to $400k instead of $250k, and proposed to use what’s called Chained CPI to determine how much Social Security beneficiaries receive in cost of living adjustments, which will save the government $225 billion over the next decade. The caveat: It also slightly cuts benefits. Liberals, to say the least, were not at all pleased with this development, although Dem leaders signaled that they could possibly swallow their pride on this one.
Instead of accepting a deal that was so clearly a massive stink bomb for Democrats, Boehner decided that his ‘Plan B’ (no contraception jokes, please) was the only way to go. ‘Plan B’ raised the tax increase threshold to $1 million, but it would also wipe out earned income tax credits for lower income families and a tax break for families with kids in college. Republicans are also looking for ways to cut Medicare (eliminate it altogether?), further decimate Medicaid, and Social Security. This despite their criticisms of the disdained ‘Obamacare,’ and their insistence on the restoration of the $716 billion Obamacare already saves in Medicare. But I digress…..Republicans are completely incoherent when it comes to things that involve math.
This ‘Plan B’ was obviously a non-starter for Dems. It would never pass through the Senate, and Obama had vowed to veto it if it did. Turns out Boehner couldn’t even get it that far. Last night it became crystal clear to Boehner that he couldn’t even get his own caucus to accept ‘Plan B,’ so he scrapped it. “The House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass,” Boehner said shortly after dismissing the House for the Christmas break.
“The House has already passed legislation to stop all of the January 1 tax rate increases and replace the sequester with responsible spending cuts that will begin to address our nation’s crippling debt. The Senate must now act,” Boehner said, throwing the responsibility to avoid the fiscal cliff/curb/whatever you want to call it back to President Obama and Harry Reid’s Senate. On the surface, it looks like Boehner is sending the message that the only way to make a deal is to permanently extend all of the Bush tax cuts, and to completely decimate programs for the poor, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security in order to reduce the deficit. On the surface, that is.
Boehner knows that he will never be able to get House Republicans to accept any tax increases, and the only bills he’s willing to bring to the House floor are bills that will earn overwhelming Republican support, even if they have zero Dem support. It is widely speculated, though, that Boehner genuinely wants to strike a deal, and is willing to be reasonable, even if the Republican Party is not.
His only remaining option, then, is to send the country over the cliff. Once that happens, Republicans will have no choice but to negotiate in good faith, because failing to do so means tax increases on everybody, not just those making over $250k, and massive cuts to military spending, among other things. It means bringing the hurt to middle class families who are just now starting to climb their way out of the morass that Republicans left in the wake of the Bush Administration. The nation will put the entirety of the blame on Republicans for crashing the economy once again. Obama will have all of the leverage, and Republicans will have no choice but to accept a deal that cuts taxes for the middle/poorer classes only. The Republican brand will almost surely be permanently destroyed.
Perhaps Steve LaTourette (R-OH) put it best: “It’s the continuing dumbing down of the Republican Party, and we’re going to be seen, more and more, as a bunch of extremists that can’t even get the majority of our own people to support the policies we’re putting forward. If you’re not a governing majority, you’re not going to be a majority for very long.”
Congressman-elect Scott Peters, it was announced, will be assigned to serve on the House Armed Services Committee in the 113th Congress. This is good news for San Diego.
“Our military and defense industry is a large and critical part of our regional economy that employs hundreds of thousands of San Diegans,” Peters said in a statement released by his transition office. “As the Representative for the new 52nd District, which is home to seven military bases, serving on Armed Services is an important assignment and an honor.”
During his campaign against Republican Brian Bilbray, Peters often brought up the seriousness of what the fiscal cliff would mean for San Diego. The cuts to the military budget included in the sequestration deal agreed to in Dec. 2011 (the fiscal cliff/curb/whatever you want to call it) could ultimately cost the San Diego region up to 30,000 jobs, he said.
There will most certainly be some cuts to military spending in the upcoming budget deal, if/whenever that comes. The Pentagon has repeatedly told Congress that they are eager to cut spending in certain areas and reduce their budget. Peters projects, however, that San Diego will begin to play an even more critical role in military affairs in the years to come.
“As the San Diego Military Affairs Council (SDMAC) has detailed, the Navy intends to increase its focus on the Far East and will continue to emphasize technological innovation. San Diego will play an important role in both efforts,” Peters said in his statement.