Veteran’s Pension Payments and Disability Funding to Dry Up at End of Month
By Doug Porter
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is testified today before a House Committee about the consequences of the current government shutdown and the news was all bad for 3.8 million veterans who will not receive disability compensation come November. An additional 315,000 veterans and 202,000 surviving spouses and dependents will also see pension payments stopped should the logjam not break.
He told the House Committee on Veterans Affairs the short-term effects include disability claims production slowing by an average of about 1,400 per day since the shutdown began Oct. 1, and that has stalled the department’s efforts to reduce the backlog of disability claims pending for longer than 125 days. Over 190,000 accumulated cases had been resolved in recent months.
As former Presidential advisor David Plouffe noted yesterday on Twitter, the percentage of Americans who think Congress is doing a good job has fallen to 5%. He gets that number from a survey conducted during the first week of October by the Associated Press and PR firm GfK.
A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling which, despite its liberal leanings, had the best track record of any survey outfit for 2012 elections gives Congress an approval rating of 8%. Toenail Fungus, Cockroaches and Zombies all have higher approval rates in that survey
Former vice presidential nominee and current chair of the House Budget Committee Paul Ryan seemed to tacitly admit in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that the fight for defunding Obamacare was failing yesterday when he suggested “modest” reforms to entitlement programs and the tax code as terms for negotiating the end of the budget stalemate.
Not once, however, did Ryan mention tying Obamacare – President Barack Obama’s signature health care law – with funding the government. This had other right wingers in a frenzy, with an aide to Senator Ted Cruz Tweeting: “There is one big word missing from the op-ed. It starts with O and ends with BAMACARE.”
Tea Party Congressmen like Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador continue to repeat the falsehood that the shutdown was triggered by Democratic intransigence, telling NPR’s Morning Edition:
“We’re not the ones who wanted to shut down the government, we need to remember that,” he says. “When the shutdown occurred a week ago, it was the Democrats that said the Republicans wanted to shut down the government. There wasn’t a single Republican in the House [who] wanted to shut down the government. We wanted to keep the government open.”
The Tea Party types keep repeating this deceit even after the New York Times on Sunday documented the more than six months of planning going into the shutdown.
The other “big lie” floating around Capital Hill this week is the assertion saying the defaulting is no big deal. If that’s so true why would Republicans expect the president to give them anything?
I realize the whole question of the government defaulting is being complicated by the frequent use of made up talking points on Fox News and elsewhere. Here’s the best explainer I’ve seen that includes all the moving parts of such an event. Did you know the debt ceiling is an antiquated Congressional procedure?
From the Washington Post FAQ on the subject:
What’s even the point of a debt ceiling then? Should we abolish it?
Good question! Back when the debt ceiling was first adopted in 1917, it was arguably a useful device for Congress to prevent the president from spending however much he wanted. But since 1974, Congress has created a formal budget process to control spending levels.
As such, many observers don’t see why there’s a need for Congress to separately authorize borrowing for spending that Congress has already approved — especially when a failure to lift the debt ceiling would be so devastating. Indeed, between 1979 and 1995, the House simply lifted the debt ceiling automatically as soon as it approved a budget (a process known as the “Gephardt rule”).
It’s also worth noting that most modern democracies seem to do just fine without explicit borrowing limits, including Britain, Canada, Germany, Japan, Australia, and France. (The one other exception is Denmark, but its debt ceiling always gets raised without incident.)
For what it’s worth, here’s a long list of experts who think the United States should just abolish its debt ceiling altogether. In a January survey of academic economists by the University of Chicago, 84 percent agreed that having a debt ceiling “creates unneeded uncertainty and can potentially lead to worse financial outcomes.” But no one listened to them, so here we are.
One last point: despite the “fact” that “everybody” loathes Congress, the House of Representatives has a historical re-election rate of over 90%, according to Open Secrets.
Busted for BS at the UT-San Diego
Kudos to Scott Lewis at Voice of San Diego for catching the local daily fishwrap’s change of heart when it comes to maritime uses for the port area adjacent to Barrio Logan.
The local shipbuilding industry is threatening an initiative to overturn the recently enacted community plan. The UT-San Diego is blowing a lot of hot air on the subject, using it to attack mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher, warning that the livelihoods of 46,000 San Diegans at stake.
Except, as Lewis notes, the paper’s editorial board was all for tearing down one the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal just last year to replace it with a football stadium favored by their publisher. They wanted to move everything maritime elsewhere, like maybe, National City. You know, get those peasants, er, good jobs out of the way of another shiny new toy for the local robber barons.
Blowing up 10th Avenue is certainly a lot more hostile to the port’s maritime business than some community plan for a nearby neighborhood.
In 2012, the U-T hammered the idea that the best use of this land was maritime use. No, it was neither what was best for the economy nor for our city’s beauty.
And yet now, a year later, a plan for a piece of land in Barrio Logan, not even on the port, that likely won’t have any effect for decades, if at all, is an intolerable existential threat to jobs in a vital local maritime industry?
The (Qualcomm) Empire Strikes Back
Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs struck back yesterday at the San Diego’s Lincoln Club, a supposedly non-partisan organization, for their sponsorship of an anti-Fletcher mailing. Funding for the glossy piece most likely was connected to recent $50,000 donations from UT-San Diego publisher Doug Manchester and Thomas Sudberry, owner of Sudberry Properties.
Here are their talking points:
- 2011: As a Sacramento politician, Fletcher was the “lead negotiator” to get Qualcomm a multimillion dollar tax break.
- 2012: Qualcomm asked Fletcher to help increase taxes on their competitors by $1 Billion. Fletcher provided the critical vote.
- 2013: Qualcomm gave Fletcher a “$400,000 no-show job.”
- Now: Qualcomm executives are raising big money for Fletcher’s campaign
Here’s Jacobs’ response:
Mr. William D. Lynch, Chairman, The Lincoln Club
I was outraged to learn that the Lincoln Club of San Diego – a supposedly pro-business political group – would fund a political hit piece that unfairly and incorrectly attacks one of San Diego’s largest employers.
I thought the Lincoln Club was interested in reducing taxes on California employers. The “tax break” that they criticize was in fact a policy that did just that while raising revenues on out-of-state employers with large sales in the state. In short, the legislation cut the taxes of companies who locate businesses in our state. I guess the Lincoln Club is now against that.
We worked with Nathan long before the tax incentive issue that the Lincoln Club mentions. For instance, we were strong supporters ofChelsea’s Law, and we have developed technologies that we hope might help locate missing children. Nathan has been working to help develop our business plan for this new technology – one of many initiatives he has worked on since joining us in January.
The allegations about Nathan’s job are completely untrue, from the erroneous salary figure to the outrageous allegation that his is a “no-show” job. While we do not disclose salary information, we have previously indicated that the figure reported is grossly exaggerated. Nathan’s salary is commensurate with other employees at his level. We do not hire “no show” employees. Our employees have always been the hardest working in the industry and our success reflects that culture.
Since joining Qualcomm, Nathan has worked hard and regularly to help promote Qualcomm’s image, its reputation and its continued efforts to use mobile technology to improve people’s lives. He brings tremendous energy, passion and drive to his job. His talent, leadership skills, public speaking skills and network of contacts were instrumental in his immediate contributions to our business.
In addition to his involvement in our efforts to use technology to help find lost or kidnapped children, Nathan has worked on several projects at Qualcomm including immigration reform, leading a coalition comprised of diverse groups like business, labor, faith and law enforcement; our outreach to veterans; and our Wireless Reach initiative to promote the use of mobile technology for societal and economic benefit in underserved communities around the world. And he has been an eloquent spokesman for Qualcomm’s interests.
Qualcomm has always worked with politicians from all parties to help advance policies that build a stronger nation, state and city. Republicans, Democrats, Independents – if people have a good idea we want to work with them. Is the Lincoln Club so desperate and out of constructive ideas that they are resorting to attacks on private employers, forsaking their supposed principles and lying to serve a political agenda? I demand a full apology and a retraction of this slanderous attack on our company and its more than 13,000 local employees.
So much for the nice campaign.
Not Forgetting About Immigration
Eight members of Congress along with nearly 200 labor leaders and immigration activists were arrested for acts of civil disobedience yesterday following a rally in Washington DC aimed at keeping proposals to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws this year alive.
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the civil rights icon known for his speech during the March on Washington a half-century ago was joined by fellow Democratic Reps. Charlie Rangel of New York, Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, Raul Grijalva of Arizona, Joe Crowley of New York, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Al Green of Texas in blocking the streets near the National Mall and were subsequently arrested.
I’ve been arrested a few times, and I don’t mind getting arrested again for something that is right and fair and just,” said Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the civil rights icon known for his speech during the March on Washington a half-century ago…
…The comments came as thousands of activists — from young children wearing white T-shirts that read “Don’t Deport My Dad” to activists cheering and waving signs that proclaimed: “No Human is Illegal” — gathered on the Mall on a cool October afternoon. More than a dozen congressional Democrats and four House Republicans came before the crowd to push for a reform bill in the House.
On This Day: 1930 – Aviator Laura Ingalls landed in Glendale, CA, to complete the first solo transcontinental flight across the U.S. by a woman. 1964 –The Rolling Stones cancelled a planned tour in South Africa because of an anti-apartheid embargo by the British Musicians’ Union. 1994 – The U.S. sent troops and warships to the Persian Gulf in response to Saddam Hussein sending thousands of troops and hundreds of tanks toward the Kuwaiti border.
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