Feb 28, 2013, 1:55 pm EDT
Everyone ready for Sequester Friday?
It looks almost certain that Congress will fail to cut a deal that would prevent government-wide spending cuts. If no last-minute agreement is reached, more than $85 billion of spending will be trimmed from the federal budget in 2013 alone.
That’s a pretty big number. Read
Feb 28, 2013, 9:45 am EDT
In a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, a great many of the largest firms have signed off on their support for same-sex marriage rights.
In the brief, 278 companies say that the Defense of Marriage Act — which is being argued before the court as to its constitutionality — increases their costs and is bad for business, Wired reports.
Each of the companies signing the brief are located in states where same-sex marriage is already recognized or legal. With the state laws conflicting with the DOMA, the companies need to maintain two separate sets of policies for their personnel and that forces up administrative costs. Read
Feb 27, 2013, 10:01 pm EDT
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s first day in office was relatively low-key, but given all the histrionics and posturing that came before his confirmation, he probably needed a quiet day.
Hagel was sworn in as the new Secretary of Defense today, one day after a bruising Senate confirmation battle ended yesterday with a 58-41 vote in favor of him. Prior to that vote, though, stood all sorts of obstacles.
He had his past words used against him in the lead up to his confirmation hearing, took heavy criticism from his former allies in the Republican party during his Senate hearing, and faced unusual opposition to his appointment. His confirmation was filibustered and held up from Feb.14 until yesterday, when the Senate voted 71-27 to end debate. Read
Feb 26, 2013, 7:09 pm EDT
Immigration and Customs Enforcement aren’t waiting until Friday to see how the sequester shakes out. In preparation for those possible budget cuts, they have released several hundred immigrants from deportation centers in order to cut costs.
Officials stated the only immigrants released were low-risk and “noncriminal.” They will remain under supervision, and continue to face deportation. Electronic and telephone monitoring will be used to keep track of them.
The move has pundits on both sides of the immigration reform debate either cheering or decrying the move. Immigration reform supporters welcomed the release, saying too many immigrants had been imprisoned and deported under President Barack Obama’s administration. Some Republicans criticized the move as a political ploy to drum up support for avoiding sequestration, and that it also put the public in danger. Read
Feb 26, 2013, 11:31 am EDT
With Democrats and Republicans still trading verbal jabs, but no actual budget negotiations on the horizon, the White House has released a state-by-state breakdown of budget cuts that will be imposed under the upcoming “sequester.”
The sequester consists of mandatory, across-the-board cuts to the federal budget that kick in if Congress and President Barack Obama can’t reach a deal to reduce spending by the end of this week. The sequester was part of a 2011 deal to raise the national debt limit.
President Obama has touted the impending cuts as the results of Republican intransigence and their unwillingness to raise taxes on the wealthy. GOP leaders have hit back by noting that the sequester was originally proposed by the White House. Some Republicans, including U.S. Representative Paul Ryan, have said the GOP would prefer sequester-imposed cuts to more tax increases. Read
Feb 25, 2013, 8:04 pm EDT
President Barack Obama’s press secretary has denied reports that donating $500,000 to his political group guarantees a donor access to the president.
The president’s group, Organizing for Action, is looking to raise $50 million to achieve its goals of converting the successful 2012 Obama re-election campaign into a national advocacy network. Much of their advocacy appears aimed at supporting Obama’s second-term policies, including gun control, climate change, and immigration.
Big-money donors are seen as an important part of this group’s future. According to a New York Times article, giving or raising $500,000 puts donors on a national advisory board for the group and allows them the privilege of attending quarterly meetings with the president and other meetings at the White House. Read