Senate Democrats are offering an awkward embrace of President Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget, casting it as a “blueprint” for future spending habits, with the knowledge that the administration’s plan is little more than an academic exercise.
The president’s budget hits at a time when there’s almost no chance that Congress will act on it, after lawmakers passed a hard-won two-year spending plan earlier this year that amounts to a political armistice — for now — over fiscal fights.
The Democratic majority is now walking a political tightrope, supportive of the president’s policies but careful to signal that they’re not reopening the budget deal.
“While the American people have a budget in place and the certainty they deserve that there won’t be another budget crisis through the end of 2015, we in Congress owe it to them to work together to build on that bipartisan foundation,” Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray said in a statement.
Republicans were much harder on the plan. “This budget isn’t a serious document,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, who negotiated the budget deal with Murray. “It’s a campaign brochure.”
Murray had said late last week that because of the two-year deal, the Senate would not take up the president’s budget. Instead, Democrats are focusing their agenda on economic issues, pushing for an extension of unemployment insurance, a hike in the minimum wage, and a measure that would require equal pay for equal work by men and women.
Murray praised the president’s proposed expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and applauded the White House for aiming to raise revenue by closing tax loopholes.
“The two-year bipartisan budget deal signed into law in December was a strong step in the right direction, but it shouldn’t be the last step we take,” Murray said.
Speaker John Boehner said the proposal was perhaps Obama’s “most irresponsible budget yet.”
He complained that, even though Obama signed the budget deal, the president now proposes violating that agreement with additional spending. Moreover, Boehner said, Obama proposes raising taxes, not to reduce the deficit but to spend more taxpayer money.
“Spending too much, borrowing too much, and taxing too much — it would hurt our economy and cost jobs,” Boehner said in a statement. “And it offers no solutions to save the safety net and retirement-security programs that are critical to millions of Americans but are also driving our fiscal imbalance.”
The speaker said Republicans will offer their own fiscal 2015 budget in coming weeks.
But Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, applauded the president’s budget. He said it calls for a closing of “special-interest tax breaks” and making investments in education, scientific research, manufacturing, and infrastructure. The proposals, coupled with an increase in the minimum wage, said Van Hollen, “will help put Americans back to work and grow the middle class.”
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”