Thursday, January 8, 2015

Last Call For Boxing Day

California Dem Sen. Barbara Boxer is "retiring" in 2016, leaving the door open for a number of Dems looking to move up in the ranks in the Golden State.

According to CNN, the long-serving Boxer said that she is stepping down from the Senate, but has no plans to retire. 
“I am never going to retire,” Boxer said. “The work is too important.” 
She intends to channel her energy into her PAC for Change group and to ensure that the White House and her Senate seat stay in Democratic hands in the next election cycle.
Boxer, 74, said that her age has nothing to do with her decision. 
“Some people are old at 40, some people are young at 80. I feel as young as I did when I got elected. I was in my 50s,” Boxer said. 
Boxer closed an interview with CNN with a series of rhymes, saying, “The Senate is the place where I’ve always made my case. For families, for the planet and the human race. More than 20 years in a job I love, thanks to California and the Lord above. So although I wont be working from my senate space and I wont’ be running in that next tough race. As long as there are issues and challenges and strife, I will never retire because that’s the meaning of my life.”

After 24 years, Boxer is moving on.  Who will replace her?

The smart money is on Attorney General Kamala Harris, or Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.  LA Mayor Eric Garcetti has already said that he's not looking to replace Boxer.  Any of the three could take a crack at it I guess but with Gov. Jerry Brown term limited in 2018, that leaves the Governor's Mansion in an open race too. It's also very possible that California's other senator Dianne Feinstein will retire in 2018 as well and not seek a fifth term, meaning if 2016 doesn't work out, 2018 will provide opportunities.

Of course, Scott Brown could show up and lose a Senate race in a third state too.

The Unkindest Cuts Begin

So a GOP Congress means a lot of things for America, and pretty much none of them good.  One of those "not good" things is the return of the Catfood Commission, as House Republicans are going to force a fight on Social Security disability benefits.

Buried in new rules that will govern the House for the next two years is a provision that could force an explosive battle over Social Security's finances on the eve of the 2016 presidential election. 
Social Security's disability program has been swamped by aging baby boomers, and unless Congress acts, the trust fund that supports it is projected to run dry in late 2016. At that point, the program will collect only enough payroll taxes to pay 81 percent of benefits, according to the trustees who oversee Social Security. 
To shore up the disability program, Congress could redirect payroll taxes from Social Security's much larger retirement fund — as it has done in the past. However, the House adopted a rule Tuesday blocking such a move, unless it is part of a larger plan to improve Social Security's finances, by either cutting benefits or raising taxes. 
Long the third rail of American politics, tinkering with Social Security has never been easy. Throw in election-year politics and finding votes in Congress to cut benefits or raise taxes could be especially difficult. 
But if Congress doesn't act, benefits for 11 million disabled workers, spouses and children would be automatically cut by 19 percent. The average monthly payment for a disabled worker is $1,146, or a little less than $14,000 a year.

And yes, disability benefits are different from old age benefits.  Technically, those are two separate funds, and the disability fund is definitely running out of money.  But House Republicans are blocking the usual move to tap old age benefits to fund the disability account (and the old age account is doing just fine, thanks.)

That means the fight over Social Security cuts is now one of the big issues in 2016, and Republicans are going to try to find a way to force President Obama to accept them, then blame Democrats for the cuts in perpetuity.

We'll see how this fight plays out this year and next, but keep an eye on the news.  Republicans have been waiting to gut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for years now, and this is the best chance they've got.  (What, did you think they were going to wait until a Republican president was in the White House to do it?  Can't blame the Democrats then, can they?)

Shifty bastards.

Seeing Stars Late At Night

Well here's what I call smart television: Neil DeGrasse Tyson is bringing his Star Talk radio/podcast show to TV.

On Wednesday, the National Geographic channel announced that Tyson would be hosting the network's first ever late-night talk show, Variety reported. It will be loosely based on Tyson's popular podcast, Star Talk, and feature the cosmologist in the starring role. Few other details have so far been announced, but if it is anything like the podcast, you can expect a slew of comics, celebrities and fellow scientists to join Tyson to discuss "astronomy, physics and everything else about life in the universe." 
"Cosmos allowed us to share the awesome power of the universe with a global audience in ways that we never thought possible," Tyson reportedly said. "To be able to continue to spread wonder and excitement through Star Talk, which is a true passion project for me, is beyond exciting." 
Star Talk will also mark NatGeo's continuing expansion into such original programming (they're also planning an upcoming comedy from the creators of HBO's Silicon Valley). And as an educational channel that actually still has educational programming (unlike some other guys) hopefully they'll make this expansion carefully and deliver something good.

"We continue to bolster our programming with series and event specials that are brand definitional, andStar Talk is the perfect opportunity to offer our audience an edgy, late-night alternative with the credibility and authenticity that are the hallmarks of our network," National Geographic Channels CEO Courteney Monroe reportedly said.

I enjoy watching The Nerdist on BBC America, and SyFy's The Wil Wheaton Project is also a good time, so I know there's room out there in the vast cable spectrum for smart late-night hosts and talk shows. Hell, Craig Ferguson was brilliant on The Late Late Show.

Looking forward to watching this, as the Star Talk podcasts I've listened to have been pretty good. Neil is a natural and here's hoping it's even better.


Related Posts with Thumbnails