Monday, January 5, 2015

Last Call For Dusting Off The Shutdown Clock

Guess what the new GOP Congress plans to do later this month, America?

On immigration, House Republican officials say they expect to approve a Department of Homeland Security spending measure before the end of January that would deny money to carry out Mr. Obama’s action to ease the threat of deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants. 
Because the House has been in Republican hands since 2011, the real test comes in the Senate, where the new majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, is armed with a 54-46 majority. He will still have to find a way to make legislation passed by the House attractive to enough Democrats to assemble the 60 votes needed to overcome procedural obstacles and send them to the president’s desk. 
“The Senate will be ground zero,” said one House Republican leadership aide, who was not authorized to talk publicly about party strategy.

So yes, the Republicans are planning to shut down the Department of Homeland Security in order to deport millions.  They believe this will be a winning strategy.  And among Republicans, it will be. For everyone else, well if the GOP wanted to signal to the country that they have no desire to govern, but only to destroy, there you go.

Hey, you voted for them, America.

Billions Of Reasons To Be Worried

Time to check in with the latest scorecard of the elite rich in 2014, and even with tumbling oil prices the world gained several new billionaires last year and the 400 richest people on earth made serious bank.

The world's 400 richest people added some $92 billion to their collective wealth in 2014, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. As of Dec. 29, they were all worth a combined $4.1 trillion.

According to Bloomberg, 2014's biggest earner was Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba, China's largest e-commerce company, who added $25.1 billion to his fortune after Alibaba's initial public offering in September. Microsoft's Bill Gates remains the world's richest man, adding some $9 billion to his net worth, which is valued at $87.6 billion.

In a year of geopolitical instability, not all the mega-rich were so lucky. A clutch of influential Russian billionaires suffered as a result of sliding oil prices and Western sanctions on Moscow. Alisher Usmanov, who entered 2014 as Russia’s richest man, lost a third of his wealth.

In any event, these eye-popping figures should not be a surprise. Global inequality is deepening, with millions of poorer people around the world affected by rising rates of joblessness and decreasing incomes.

Just how bad is global inequality in 2015?  It's pretty amazing.

Some 85% of the world's entire wealth, is held by less than 9% of earth's population.  If you account for just the 35 million millionaires and up, that's 44% of the world's wealth: $116 trillion bucks.  So yes, if you own a home worth more than $100k or so, you're worth something.  But the world's millionaires and especially the world's 2400 or so billionaires run the show.

This kind of inequality can't sustain itself much longer.

Or can it?

Here's a bit of perspective on the ever-rising cost of elections, and the big-money donors who finance them: Three of the country's wealthiest political contributors each saw their net worth grow in 2014 by more than $3.7 billion, the entire cost of the midterm elections
And as the 2016 presidential election approaches, almost all of those donors have even more cash to burn.

At least here it can, and it will.

Gohmert For Broke

It wouldn't be a year in American politics without Texas GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert doing something amazingly stupid, and this year it's gunning for Orange Juliuis's job as Speaker of the House.

According to Gohmert, the voters made it clear in 2014 that they want leadership changes.

"There have been numerous examples of problematic Republican leadership, but we were hopeful our leaders got the voters’ message," he said. "However, after our speaker forced through the CRomnibus by passing it with Democratic votes and without time to read it, it seemed clear that we needed new leadership. There had been much discussion."

Later on Sunday, Gohmert issued a statement announcing his intention to run for speaker and explaining that he was inspired to run when his colleague Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) decided to run for speaker.

Gohmert assured that a crowded GOP field for speaker would not hurt the Republican party.

"There is false information being floated that any Republican candidates in addition to the current Speaker will split the vote and give the Speaker's gavel to Congresswoman Pelosi. This is nothing but a scare tactic to keep the current regime in power," he said in the statement. "As long as Republicans vote for an adult American citizen for Speaker, no Democrat can win."

"At this point, the Speaker’s election is not about a particular candidate. It is about whether we keep the status quo or make the change the country demands. I am putting forward my name for consideration as Speaker and hope that with a new Speaker, be that me or someone else, we can fight for the ideals and principles that the voters wanted when they elected us in November," Gohmert concluded.

Anybody But Boehner, it seems.  But can Ted Yoho or Louie Gohmert or anyone else get enough votes to beat Boehner?  I seriously doubt it.

But it'll be fun to watch. Even my own member of Congress, Rand Paul Jr. Tom Massie, is in the Anybody But Boehner camp.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) announced on Saturday that he would not be voting for John Boehner (R-Ohio) to return as House speaker once the new Congress convenes.

“For years I watched Washington from afar and suspected that something was broken,” he said in a press release. ”During my first two years as a congressman I discovered a significant source of the dysfunction. I watched the House Leadership.”

He's right about that, actually.  Should be a fun January.


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