The United States is by far the world leader in a dubious category: incarceration of its citizens. As the result of a dramatic rise since 1980, over 1% of the adult population is now behind bars, and the federal “war on drugs” is at least partially to blame. This week, we examine an aggressive proposal by Reps. Barney Frank and Ron Paul that allows states to set their own marijuana policies by ending federal prohibition of the drug.
The debt limit is a largely symbolic check on excessive borrowing which in the past has been frequently raised with little to no controversy. Such periodic increases are necessary to keep the government running and paying its bills, regardless of ideology.
However, Congressional Republicans are now demanding that certain conditions must be met in order to win their approval of a debt ceiling increase. They have termed their list of demands Cut, Cap and Balance, and claim it is a necessary measure in order to keep the government debt from spiraling out of control, and thus keep the country functioning.
Yet the Cut, Cap and Balance Act scheduled to reach the House floor this week is anything but necessary to keep the country functioning in its . Rather, it is the crown jewel, the final step of conservatives’ long-pursued “Starve the Beast” strategy to downsize government. It would radically limit the flexibility of the federal government to provide a social safety net, buttress the economy in tough times and respond to great national challenges, now and into the future.
But don’t take my word for it. Check out this week’s 90 Second Summary and decide for yourself:
This week, we take a look at a proposal to end Social Security “as we know it.” H.R. 2109, the Savings Account for Every American Act of 2011 would establish a path for individuals to opt out of Social Security in exchange for a “defined contribution” system.
This week, we take advantage of the House’s absence by releasing an interview with Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA10) in lieu of a new summary. Rep. Garamendi is the sponsor of H.R. 613, the Airports, Highways, High-Speed Rail, Trains, and Transit: Make it in America Act, one of the centerpieces of the House Democrats’ Make it in America agenda.
In our interview, Mr. Garamendi offers an impassioned defense of his legislation, highlights the need for government action to create jobs, and scathingly critiques both the wisdom and motives of those who oppose Buy American requirements. Check it out:
Back in April, we put together an episode to go over the different attacks being levied against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Elizabeth Warren. And last week, during a House Oversight subcommittee hearing that we covered extensively, the animosity harnessed in the legislation we summarized was clearly on display.
The treatment of Ms. Warren is crucial to understanding the motivations behind the attempts to strip the CFPB of power before any of its authority goes into effect. We knew this issue was going to heat up as we drew nearer to July, when much of the CFPB’s authority becomes active.
To account for recent developments, we are re-releasing Episode 10, entitled “Stopping CFPB”. Along with it is an up-to-date one page summary that accounts for recent developments.
This week, we look at an interesting proposal to help victims of the foreclosure crisis. H.R. 1548, the Right to Rent Act sponsored by Congressman Raul Grijalva essentially gives homeowners facing foreclosure the opportunity to continue living in their home as a renter. The idea behind this being that companies would want to avoid becoming landlords, and would thus work harder with homeowners to find a reasonable agreement.
With Republicans in the House failing to produce any jobs bills, Democrats in the minority have decided to propose their own initiatives. This week’s episode, season 2 episode 12, focuses on one of those proposals, H.R. 613, the Airports, Highways, High-Speed Rail, Trains, and Transit: Make it in America Act, sponsored by Representative John Garamendi.
What this proposal does, is ensure that projects being funded by tax dollars are purchasing materials made in the US. After their passage of H.R. 3, Republicans in the House are going to have to explain why they find it morally acceptable to spend tax dollars on foreign-made products while so many Americans are out of work and our manufacturing jobs are steadily moving overseas.
Congress returns to Washington, DC this week, and with it returns the debate over the FY2012 budget. Frustrated with the focus on downsizing government and seeing a void of budget proposals that reflect their vision for the country, progressive members of Congress crafted the subject of this week’s 90 Second Summary: The People’s Budget.
With new episodes each Monday, 90 Second Summaries provides simple, concise explanations of bills in front of Congress. This week’s episode focuses upon an alternative to both President Barack Obama’s and Congressman Paul Ryan’s budgets. However, as seems to be the case with any “adult conversation” these days, the Beltway press assumes that progressives will be seated at the kids table.
If nothing else, the People’s Budget represents something radically different from the “austerity” measures proposed by the President and Congressman Ryan. It shatters the conventional wisdom that the only option to fix the deficit is to mangle the social safety net. Yet its exclusion from the greater debate means many Americans will never hear what the proposal is.
While folks online are watching this summary, we will be personally delivering it to targeted offices on Capitol Hill. The People’s Budget was never intended to pass on its own, but rather to influence the debate. Our goal is to make a splash today and increase understanding of the People’s Budget.
Please help us spread word about this week’s episode: The People’s Budget.
Much of the authority of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is schedule to go into effect in July, which means that between now and then, attempts by House Republicans to limit that authority are going to intensify. This week’s episode of 90 Second Summaries examines some of those attempts.
Though these bills are unlikely to see real action on their own, look for a measure of this sort to be included as a rider on some must-pass piece of legislation.
A couple weeks ago, we looked at new regulations on greenhouse gases (GHG’s) being imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This week’s episode focuses on a bill proposed as a response to these new regulations by House Republicans who oppose the EPA’s efforts. Contrary to what the title of the bill would suggest, this proposal has absolutely nothing to do with taxes. In fact, aside from the title, the word “tax” does not appear once in the text of the bill. The actual language of the bill shows that the real intent is to strip the EPA of power in the area of GHG’s and leave any decision making to Congress.
It should be noted that the EPA has been regulating air pollutants for over 40 years (just missed the 40th anniversary last December). Though regulating GHG’s is new, thanks to a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that declared GHG’s to be air pollutants, this type of EPA authority has been the status quo for a long time.
We gave you a sneak preview of this episode on Thursday. This week we examine the details of the no-fly zone over Libya established on March 17th. Though there has been wide speculation about what is not allowed under this resolution, the truth is that the only thing expressly forbidden is an occupation. After that, any action that the Security Council deems necessary to protect civilians or benefit the Libyan people could be approved.
This week, we explore how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to regulate the emissions of greenhouse gasses (GHG’s) after a 2007 Supreme Court ruling declared that GHG’s meet the standard of an air pollutant. These new regulations take effect over three phases, the first of which is currently taking place.