Thursday, January 3, 2013

Last Call

Joe Biden being Joe Biden at today's swearing in ceremony for the Senate of the new 113th Congress.  Which is also being awesome.


Turtle Talks Tough On Taxes

My senator, Mitch "Turtle Boy" McConnell, takes to Yahoo News today in an op-ed designed to...I think, at least...assure the American people that they're going to suffer nasty spending cuts pretty soon, so they might as well get used to the pain of austerity, declaring another hostage situation on the debt ceiling is imminent.

Yeah, that's what I said when I read it, too.

Predictably, the President is already claiming that his tax hike on the “rich” isn’t enough. I have news for him: the moment that he and virtually every elected Democrat in Washington signed off on the terms of the current arrangement, it was the last word on taxes. That debate is over. Now the conversation turns to cutting spending on the government programs that are the real source of the nation’s fiscal imbalance. And the upcoming debate on the debt limit is the perfect time to have that discussion. 

We simply cannot increase the nation’s borrowing limit without committing to long overdue reforms to spending programs that are the very cause of our debt. 

The only way to achieve the balance the President claims to want is by cutting spending. As he himself has admitted, no amount of tax hikes or revenue could possibly keep up with the amount of money Washington is projected to spend in the coming years. At some point, high taxes become such a drag on the economy that the revenue stalls. 

While most Washington Democrats may want to deny it, the truth is, the only thing we can do to solve the nation’s fiscal problem is to tackle government spending head on — and particularly, spending on health care programs, which appear to take off like a fighter jet on every chart available that details current trends in federal spending

The President may not want to have a fight about government spending over the next few months, but it’s the fight he is going to have, because it’s a debate the country needs. For the sake of our future, the President must show up to this debate early and convince his party to do something that neither he nor they have been willing to do until now. Over the next two months they need to deliver the same kind of bipartisan resolution to the spending problem we have now achieved on revenue — before the 11th hour. 

In other words, Mitch is all but promising massive Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid cuts, and once again is threatening no new revenue.  Should be just about as effective as the last time the GOP tried this, leading directly to the spanking they got at the polls in November.  It's a pretty clear signal that Republicans expect to cut trillions from these programs and get away with it.

They've got another thing coming.

Equality In Illinois

Will the Second City become the next hot spot for same-sex marriage?  Illinois lawmakers in both parties seem to want to go in that direction, after a little pushing from the President.  And yes, that means Illinois Republicans are getting behind something they see passing as inevitable.  Leading that contingent is state GOP chair Pat Brady.

Brady emphasized the calls were being made to express his personal views only. The Illinois Republican Party platform (PDF) still endorses only the “traditional family,” which is “based on the principle of marriage between one man and one woman.”

Brady told the conservative publication Illinois Review that the “true conservative position is in favor” of allowing same sex marriage.

Illinois state Rep. Greg Harris (D) and state Sen. Heather Steans (D) hope to pass the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act during the lame-duck session, which ends next week. The bill would provide married same sex couples with all the protections and benefits granted to married opposite sex couples, while allowing churches to decide whether or not they will perform same sex marriages.

So it looks like Illinois could have a same sex marriage law on the books in a matter of days, joining New York, nearly all of New England (I'm looking at you, Rhode Island), Washington and Iowa.  Change marches on.


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