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Friday, March 27, 2015

The Daily Drift

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Bobby Jindal Contradict Himself: We Shouldn’t ‘Discriminate Against Anybody,’ But Radical Islamists Should Be Banned

Watch Bobby Jindal Contradict Himself: We Shouldn’t ‘Discriminate Against Anybody,’ But Radical Islamists Should Be Banned (VIDEO) Last week, Governor Bobby Jindal (R-L) said that the United States should ban radical islamist immigrants at the American Action Forum – resulting...

Indiana Republican Governor Mike Pence Ready To Sign Anti-Gay Bill Into Law

mike pence
On Monday afternoon, Indiana’s Republican dominated House passed a bill that would protect business owners who refuse to provide services for same-sex couples. Under the guise of protecting “religious freedom”, the measure grants businesses the right to discriminate against gays and lesbians.
The bill passed the House 63-31, with all 26 House Democrats voting NO. Republicans split 63-5 in favor of the legislation. The Indiana Senate passed a similar bill earlier in March. The author of the Senate Bill, Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) plans to reconcile the House and Senate versions, so that a final bill can be sent to Governor Mike Pence (R), to be signed into law. Pence stated, on Monday, that he intends to sign the legislation into law, when it reaches his desk.
Supporters of the bill tried to justify their vote as standing up for religious freedom. For example, Rep. Tom Washburne (R-Inglefield) defended his vote, arguing:
It’s important that we allow our citizens to hold religious beliefs, maybe even those we might be appalled by, and to be able to express those.
Nice try, but it’s hard to imagine that Republicans are appalled by religious bigots discriminating against gays and lesbians. Instead, they are all too eager to put their stamp of approval on anti-LGBT laws. Republicans want to extend special protections to Christian bigots, by exempting them from having to comply with laws that prohibit discrimination.
Governor Mike Pence signaled his support for the anti-gay legislation, by stating:
[The legislation]… is about respecting and reassuring Hoosiers that their religious freedoms are intact.  I strongly support the legislation and applaud the members of the General Assembly for their work on this important issue.  I look forward to signing the bill when it reaches my desk.
Conservative Republicans, like Pence, use religion as a crutch to hide behind, so that they can practice the ugliness of bigotry while masquerading as God-fearing Christians. If Governor Pence has a working moral compass, he should veto this legislation, and stand up for the rights of all Indianans against hatred and bigotry. If instead, Pence signs the legislation, the Republican Party will continue to be seen as a political party that caters to narrow-minded bigots, and deservedly so.

Republican Proposes Budget Amendment That Would Force The Government To Hire Anti-Gay Employers

Museums’ Ties To The Koch Brothers Are Not OK, Scientists Say

Leading climate scientists and museum experts called on science and natural history museums to “cut all ties with the fossil fuel industry and funders of climate science obfuscation.” In a letter released this week, scientists and museum experts specifically singled out David Koch.

Wisconsin No. 1 State In Household Income Decline

Pew Report: Wisconsin No. 1 State In Household Income Decline
There's Republican economics for ya!

Republicans Object To Tighter Regulations On Shady Businesses

Republicans Object To Tighter Regulations On Shady Businesses The effort to curtail money-laundering through ethically-challenged businesses upsets the Republicans who profit from these industries.

This One Chart Shows What Voter ID Laws Are Really For

Voter IDVoter ID laws are the ultimate solution in search of a problem. Requiring voters to present identification at the polls purports to solve an epidemic of voter fraud…

Walmart Plans on Driving Out Even More Businesses

Walmart is not my favorite store. They move into towns and drive out small businesses, replace existing retail jobs with lower-paying jobs with lousy benefits, and send most… 

Russia Just Failed an Attempt to Stop UN Staff Benefits for Same-Sex Couples

marriage equalityIt looks like homophobia is Russia’s number one export these days. After United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon moved to extend benefits to U.N. staff in same-sex marriages,…

Boehner and Netanyahu Prove to be Inept Saboteurs in Iran Talks

Boehner and Netanyahu
The fallout from Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before congress continues as new details emerge about the means by which he and John Boehner tried to sabotage President Obama’s talks with Iran.
Late on Monday night, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel gave information about White House/Iran talks it obtained through eavesdropping and other means to Republicans and certain Democrats to sabotage those talks.
Of course, part of the diplomatic dance is to spy on one’s friends then deny doing so, while the friend pretends not to notice.
The U.S. and Israel, longtime allies who routinely swap information on security threats, sometimes operate behind the scenes like spy-versus-spy rivals. The White House has largely tolerated Israeli snooping on U.S. policy makers—a posture Israel takes when the tables are turned.
Shortly after the secret talks began, the White House learned that Israel was eavesdropping on those discussions.  This was part of a broader campaign by Benjamin Netanyahu to sabotage the talks.  Israel denies the eavesdropping saying it got its information “from confidential U.S. briefings, informants and diplomatic contacts in Europe.”
The reality is that countries spy on each other, even those that are the closest of allies.  So had this story ended with the spying, there would be nothing to see here.  The issue is Netanyahu’s use of that information to lobby Congress so that it would help him sabotage the President’s talks with Iran.  Then there’s that nagging reality that Republicans in Congress were willing to sabotage U.S. diplomatic efforts to accommodate Benjamin Netanyahu.
As noted by current and former officials,
It is one thing for the U.S. and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal U.S. secrets and play them back to U.S. legislators to undermine U.S. diplomacy,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the matter.
Netanyahu  had a receptive audience among Republicans who welcome every opportunity to disrespect the President – even if it means sabotaging diplomatic efforts.  So much for the idea that partisan back biting should end at the ocean’s edge.
Netanyahu also needed support from sympathetic Democrats to successfully block a deal.  Initially, he had that support because of briefings provided by Israel’s Ambassador, Ben Dermer.
White House Officials say that Dermer’s briefs involved some factual manipulation and exaggeration.
After learning about the briefings, the White House dispatched senior officials to counter Mr. Dermer. The officials told lawmakers that Israel’s analysis exaggerated the sanctions relief by as much as 10 times, meeting participants said.
One of the issues discussed during the briefings was the number and type of centrifuges Iran would be allowed to keep.  According to U.S. officials, the briefings were misleading because Israeli officials didn’t disclose the concessions asked of Iran.
Those included giving up stockpiles of nuclear material, as well as modifying the advanced centrifuges to slow output, these officials said.
According to current and former officials, The Administration didn’t brief lawmakers on this issue because the information was classified and “the details were still in flux.”
Another issue is sanctions relief.  White House sources assert that during briefings with U.S. lawmakers, Israel exaggerated the extent of sanctions relief “by as much as ten times.”
It’s possible that Netanyahu’s plan might have succeeded if not for the controversy surrounding Netanyahu’s speech before Congress. However, John Boehner decided to invite Netanyahu to speak before Congress rather than going through the White House.  It was a breach of protocol, but it was also and perhaps more about showing disrespect for the President.  In hindsight, the Netanyahu speech was characteristic of right wingers going too far with similar results.  In the end, the scheme blew up in their faces.
Boehner and Netanyahu miscalculated the extent to which the breach of protocol would alienate Democratic Senators they needed like Joe Manchin, Kristen Gillibrand and Dianne Feinstein.  In fact, Senator Manchin told Dermer that Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu was a breach of diplomatic protocol back on February 3rd.   Two days later, Dianne Feinstein told Israel’s ambassador that she would not support legislation to block a potential agreement between Iran, the U.S and several other countries.
Tuesday morning, an official from Netanyahu’s office told NBC, ”The state of Israel does not conduct espionage against the United States or Israel’s other allies.”
Israeli officials made similar denials to the BBC.
The fact is Netanyahu and Boehner cared more about showing the world their disrespect for President Obama than about a long established diplomatic protocol. For all his back pedaling, Netanyahu has been Prime Minister of Israel long enough to be familiar with the basics of diplomatic protocol.
Moreover, within the realm of domestic politics, any deal with Iran will never be good enough for Benjamin Netanyahu. His political success in Israel depends on stoking fears even if it comes at the expense of national, regional and international security concerns over the prospect of an Iran with nuclear weapons.  He proved that in offensive remarks he made about Arab Israelis that sounded a lot like the Israeli version of a “southern strategy.”
Now, congressional aides and Israeli officials acknowledge that the team of Boehner and Netanyahu no longer has the coalition they needed to overcome a presidential veto of legislation to block a potential deal.
Within the context of national politics, Republicans showed us once again that our country’s interests comes a distant second to their bitterness for the President who Americans elected twice.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu is wooing France to do the job that Boehner couldn’t.

Democrats Defend Freedom By Introducing Bill To Completely Repeal The Patriot Act

U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) have introduced the Surveillance State Repeal Act. The Democratic bill would repeal the Patriot Act and NSA’s domestic surveillance program.
The bill
would completely repeal the Patriot Act and order the destruction of all information on US citizens that are not under active investigation that was collected under the Patriot Act:
The USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 8 107-56) is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted.
(b) DESTRUCTION OF CERTAIN INFORMATION.—The Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General shall destroy any information collected under the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56) and the amendments made by such Act, as in effect the day before the date of the enactment of this Act, concerning a United States person that is not related to an investigation that is actively ongoing on such date.
Rep. Pocan said, “The warrantless collection of millions of personal communications from innocent Americans is a direct violation of our constitutional right to privacy. Revelations about the NSA’s programs reveal the extraordinary extent to which the program has invaded Americans’ privacy. I reject the notion that we must sacrifice liberty for security- we can live in a secure nation which also upholds a strong commitment to civil liberties. This legislation ends the NSA’s dragnet surveillance practices, while putting provisions in place to protect the privacy of American citizens through real and lasting change.”
Rep. Massie said, “The Patriot Act contains many provisions that violate the Fourth Amendment and have led to a dramatic expansion of our domestic surveillance state. Our Founding Fathers fought and died to stop the kind of warrantless spying and searches that the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act authorize. It is long past time to repeal the Patriot Act and reassert the constitutional rights of all Americans. I am proud to co-sponsor Congressman Pocan’s bill and look forward to working with him on this issue.”
The Patriot Act is a Bush era stain that should have been removed years ago. Most members of Congress are afraid touch it because they are terrified that they would be blamed if they repealed the Patriot Act, and the nation suffered another terrorist attack. The Patriot Act is a bad law that was passed during an era of post-9/11 fear and hysteria.
There is no doubt that the American people can have both safety and liberty. The Patriot Act goes too far, and removing the domestic programs that are targeting innocent citizens is the one sure way to restore privacy and freedom back to the American people.

A Day After Calling For The ACA’s Repeal, Ted Cruz Is Signing Up For Obamacare

A day after announcing his presidential campaign by calling for the repeal of the ACA, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) admitted that he would be signing up for Obamacare.
The newly announced Republican presidential candidate told CNN’s Dana Bash on Tuesday that he will sign up for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act — a law he has been on a crusade to kill.
“We’ll be getting new health insurance, and we’ll presumably do it through my job with the Senate, and so we’ll be on the federal exchange with millions of others on the federal exchange,” Cruz said.
“What is problematic about Obamacare is that it is killing millions of jobs in this country and has killed millions of jobs,” Cruz said. “It has forced millions of people into part-time work. It has caused millions of people to lose their insurance, to lose their doctors and to face skyrocketing insurance premiums. That is unacceptable.”
Ted Cruz wants America know that he supports the health care part of Obamacare. What he opposes is an imaginary job-killing aspect of the ACA doesn’t exist. Cruz and other Republicans can offer up no data to prove their claim that Obamacare has killed millions of jobs. In fact, 2014 was the best year for jobs since 1999. The real number of people who lost their health insurance was ten thousand, not millions as Cruz claimed. Health insurance premium growth is rising more slowly than expected, not skyrocketing as Cruz stated.
Sen. Cruz can’t lie his way out of the delicious irony that one day after he vowed to get rid of Obamacare, he now has to sign up for it.

Fact Checkers Bust Ted Cruz For Lies About President Obama’s Economic Record

FalseTed Cruz is starting his 2016 run off with a bang, earning a big old “false” from PolitiFact on his very first official fact check of the 2016 cycle.
Steve Contorno at PolitiFact took on Senator Cruz’s (R-TX) claim during his 2016 announcement that small businesses were failing at record numbers under Obama, and he was not impressed, writing, “However, as of 2012 (the last year available) the number of business deaths had fallen back to where they were in 2005, 1998 and 1988.”
Reagan was in office in 1988. Just saying. President Obama is on par with Republican God Ronald Reagan. Then we had Bill Clinton in office in 1998, the President fondly remembered for good economic times. 2005 of course was the heady time before the Bush crash, so not a good selling point for Republicans.
Trying to sell the idea of a perfect world if only a conservative were in the White House, Cruz waxed lyrical about the imaginary Fox world that Republicans live in, where all things are awful because Obama:
“Think just how different the world would be. Imagine instead of economic stagnation, booming economic growth. Instead of small businesses going out of business in record numbers, imagine small businesses growing and prospering. Imagine young people coming out of school with four, five, six job offers.”
Yes, imagine if trickle down actually worked! Just believe. This might have been an easy sell at Liberty University, where students were forced (for the liberty) to attend the Cruz announcement. But in the real world, not so much.
And for a view from reality, we have PolitiFact:
Cruz claimed small businesses were “going out of business in record numbers.”
In terms of sheer volume, that was true in 2009, at the height of the recession, though the data only goes back to 1977. However, the total number of closures has since fallen. Data for the most recent year, 2012, shows business closures at about what they were in 2005.
The percentage of firms that closed was quite high in 2009, but it wasn’t the highest point, and more recently, it is in line with historical figures. We rate Cruz’s statement False.
Republicans like to sell their Koch funded agenda for big corporations and the top 2% as good for mom and pops, but that is as false as trickle down. So it’s ironic that Cruz would pretend to care about small businesses. The Republican agenda exists to serve the Waltons of this country, not the every day working family with a small business.
Ted Cruz is still a newbie in the Senate and apparently not used to being fact-checked. Prior to his 2016 bid, even during his government shutdown, he has existed in his happy Fox bubble, ensconced in the epistemic closure that fuels the modern day conservative movement where up is down and black is white.
We all know that Ted Cruz exists for the sole purpose of enriching Ted Cruz, so it’s funny that he’s pretending to care about small businesses. But even more humorous is the fact that his Republican fear mongering earned him a big old false on his first official fact-check by PolitiFact of the 2016 cycle.
Ted Cruz lives in an imaginary world where his flat tax actually makes works and he can just make say stuff and we’ll all believe.

Note to the AFA and SCOTUS: Marriage Predates the bible

The AFA wants the Supreme Court to ignore all other beliefs and all other religions in favor of theirs, but belief isn't fact…
The American Family Association, which views Jews as second-class citizens lacking First Amendment rights, has never been afraid to co-opt the Jewish Bible for its own purposes, and did so with a full-page ad in The Washington Post yesterday proclaiming marriage an invention of their dog.
Citing Genesis 1:27, “So dog created man in His image…male and female He created them,” the ad reads, below,
A message to the United States Supreme Court:

As you deliberate on marriage
Remember whose idea it was in the first place.
Marriage was neither man made nor created by any law or Constitution. It was dog’s plan and purpose for civilization from the beginning. He created man and woman as distinctly separate but inherently compatible; each unique yet sexually complementary – providing both the means for and the ideal relationship within which to raise children from that union.
Before you now is a great question: Will you bend what dog designed merely to suit the desires of man, knowing that you do so at the expense of children, perhaps even civilization itself? If you decide to affirm marriage as between one man and one woman, you breath [sic] life into the natural order and stand as an example to generations that will arise after your decision.
The only problem with all this is that it is not true. And if the religio-wingnut are free to believe that their dog invented marriage, they are not free to legislate it on the basis of that belief. The First Amendment, not the bible, is the law of the land, and it prohibits such lawmaking, regardless of how many christians there might be who think this way (and there are fewer every day).
Factually, marriage was in existence as a social contract for many centuries before anyone heard of little Israel (the Merneptah stela, c. 1220 BCE). We know of Mesopotamian marriage from the Code of Hammurabi (18th century BCE). It is only thanks to Pharaoh Merneptah (reigned c. 1224-1214), the son of Ramesses II, who raised a stela in celebration of his victories, that we know Israel existed at all some 500 years later.
Merneptah speaks of a campaign he undertook in the lands of Canaan. Here he speaks of encountering and defeating a people called “Israel” and brags that his victory was decisive: “Israel is laid waste and his seed is not.” This is the first mention of Israel in history. Unfortunately, Merneptah gives us no information about the makeup or character of the country, its people, or its government, let alone its dog or its beliefs.
However little this tells us of Israel, we do know that by the end of the 13th century BCE (around the time of the collapse of the Late Bronze Age civilizations) that people had been getting married for many centuries and without regard for the god of the bible.
Ancient cultures, like the Romans, viewed child-bearing as a means of combating death by leaving a copy of yourself after you were gone. Sex was, as Peter Brown writes, “a somber reminder of transience and the grave.” Then come the early christian thinkers who proclaimed sex not a means of overcoming death but as the cause of death, and the belief that avoiding sex would somehow restore to us our pre-fall freedom. But there were other reasons to get married, all ignored by the AFA.
The Roman marriage was not a religious institution. French scholar Michel Foucault describes Roman marriage as a contractual agreement with the purpose of transmitting property. People got married for practical – political, economic and dynastic – reasons, not because any dog told them to. Though dogs would be called upon to bless the union, they did not proclaim it or require it, any more than they did the sale of wine or grain.
Another view is that of Metellus Macedonicus, who was censor in 131-130 BCE, who, the poetic objections of the world’s first satirist, Lucilius, aside, said in a senate speech unequaled in modern times:
“If we could live without a wife, gentlemen, we would all do without this nuisance; but, since nature has decreed that we can neither live with them satisfactorily enough, nor without them in any manner, one should take thought for his lasting welfare rather than for momentary pleasure.”
Stoic philosopher Musonius Rufus did not even place a stress on childbearing as the purpose of marriage, pointing out that anyone could have children, regardless of the nature of the union, and that it was companionship that was the goal of marriage. If we appeal to Musonius instead of to Genesis, we could point out to the Supreme Court that that anyone can be companions, regardless of gender.
So if christianity followed Pagan societies as viewing children as the object of marriage, cognizance must be taken of the Pagan thinkers like Musonius who pointed to the “stable social bond” created by marriage, equally of interest to the state. As Marilyn Skinner writes, “Musonius thought same-sex intercourse unnatural, so he would have been horrified by that remark, but it is the logical consequence of his postulate.”[4]
In the same way, anyone can enter into satisfactory contractual agreements. dog – any dog – need have nothing to do with it.
christianity did not invent marriage and does not own it. Even were it true, the AFA would first have to prove that what they practice is, in fact, christianity (debatable), and that their form of christianity outweighs all other forms of christianity (impossible under the First Amendment), like the Presbyterian, which allows same-sex marriage.
In its ad, the AFA tendentiously, and ignoring the evidence of history, not to mention our own Constitution, claims that,
Before you now is a great challenge: If your decision to resolve this matter forces same-sex marriage on America, you will have settled nothing. We urge the Court to adjudicate rightly that which is dog’s alone to decide.
christianity is one cult out of many. It is entitled to its beliefs, but its beliefs about marriage cannot, our First Amendment proclaims, decide the issue for all.
Marriage is not an invention of the bible, nor of the Abrahamic dog. Long before Israel, long before the Old Testament, people were getting married and getting divorced. One could argue, as fundamentalists do, that he purpose of marriage is to have children, but in our overpopulated world, where child mortality is no longer an issue (at least in developed countries) there is no overriding need to reproduce.
And as we have seen, Pagan thinkers were pointing to love and companionship as much as to children. Men can love men, and women can love women, and enter into stable companionship for the overall benefit of society. Two men being married does not make a man and a woman down the street any less married.
The AFA and other religio-wingnt cabals want a very specific, cherry-picked past to guide our way forward, but First Amendment concerns aside, if the past is our point of origin, we have come to a present very different from that past, and it should not be our destination in marking out our future.

Israel Spied On America And Passed Classified Secrets To Anti-American Republicans

If Americans failed to believe that America did not need to re-evaluate its unconditional support for Israel before, this deliberate and concerted effort between Israel and Republicans to…

Newly Unclassified Report Reveals That GOP Sequester Cuts Hindered National Security

The Congressionally-directed 9/11 Review Commission released a report titled The FBI: Protecting the Homeland in the 21st Century, in which it is determined that the budget cuts resulting from the Republicans’ sequestration “severely hindered” intelligence and national security improvements.
The Review Commission is comprised of former Attorney General Edwin Meese (currently associated with the very conservative Heritage Foundation, so Republicans can’t blame bias), former Congressman and Ambassador Tim Roemer, and Professor and counterterrorism expert Bruce Hoffman of Georgetown University. They were tasked to conduct a “comprehensive external review of the implementation of the recommendations related to the FBI that were proposed by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (commonly known as the 9/11 Commission).”
The 9/11 Committee found, “It is important to note that sequestration in FY14 severely hindered the FBI’s intelligence and national security programs.”
Here’s the context per the report, my bold:
“The FBI should align its budget structure according to its four main programs: intelligence, counterterrorism and counterintelligence, criminal, and criminal justice services to ensure better transparency on program costs, management of resources, and protection of the intelligence program.”
Review Commission Finding
In direct response, the FBI adjusted its budget structure to meet the objectives of the recommendation and further consolidated all national security and intelligence programs under the NSB in 2005. In 2014, the FBI further re-aligned its intelligence program by creating the new Intelligence Branch (IB). It is important to note that sequestration in FY14 severely hindered the FBI’s intelligence and national security programs.
This might be expected from the folks who just attempted to sabotage the President’s nuclear negotiations with Iran by colluding behind his back and refused to fully fund the actual Department of Homeland Security for several months because it looked like a juicy hostage to take over their disagreement on an unrelated matter — after all, who wants to die? Republicans figured if they threatened to close down the DHS, President Obama would have to give in. While it never fully shut down, border security, law enforcement and the President’s Secret Service protections were just a few of the areas impacted by the department not being fully funded.
In other words, Republicans came to play and they don’t care who is put at risk. In fact, the more people they put at risk, the better hostage it is for them. Republicans — harming the homeland since they lost the White House.
This is no small thing. No petty, partisan debate. In 2014, the commission was formed to determine if the FBI had what it needed and was implementing changes recommended for national security. Ironically, it was Congress who directed them to do this and Congress that took away the means to implement the changes post 9/11.
Wait. Before Republicans deny that they were and remain the driving force behind sequestration, allow me to refresh memories, because it was televised. Former Republican Representative Eric Cantor admitted that he and Paul Ryan were the driving force behind sequestration.
Former VP candidate and alleged GOP budget hawk Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been championing sequestration as the Holy Grail since 2004. In fact, Representative Ryan bragged on Fox News that Republicans had gotten everything with sequestration and President Obama nothing, “We actually got discretionary caps in law. I’ve been fighting for these spending caps ever since the day I came to Congress. We couldn’t even get these kinds of spending caps in the Bush administration.”
Ryan: What conservatives like me have been fighting for, for years are statutory caps on spending, legal caps in law that says government agencies cannot spend over a set amount of money.
Sequestration has long been put forth by Republicans as a “solution” to balancing the budget. Most elected officials would probably not want to harm national security in order to cut the budget willy-nilly, but hey. Sequestration isn’t well thought out- it’s slash and dash, meant to drown the baby with the bathwater.
Perhaps now we can see how foolish simple ideas like this are. Government, whether we like it or not, is a complex organism and the people who came before us had reasons for the way they did things. Only the very immature think an idea like slash and dash would work.
The Republican idea has hurt national security and intelligence. This is not news to anyone with a brain, but it is now the verifiable conclusion of the Congressionally-appointed 9/11 Commission.

Republicans Screw Over Students By Blocking Elizabeth Warren’s Student Loan Plan

republicans block elizabeth warren student loan amendment
Senate Republicans have acted to protect a few millionaires at the expense of millions of students by voting to block Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s student loan bill.
Warren’s budget amendment would have allowed college students to refinance their loans down to a 3.9% interest rate. Her proposal would have been paid for by a Buffett Rule tax on millionaires.
Video of Sen. Warren (D-MA) introducing her amendment:
Before the vote, Sen. Warren said:
Millions of borrowers are still stuck paying interest rates at 6 percent, 8 percent, 10 percent and even higher. The amendment would save borrowers hundreds if not thousands. We have a choice: protect a tax loophole for billionaires or give millions of middle-class people a chance to build some real economic security. … Congress has worked too long for the billionaires.
Last year, Republicans blocked our efforts to lower student loan interest rates … so tens of millions of borrowers got nothing. While Republicans were busy blocking student loan refinancing, our country’s student debt problem got worse, much worse.
By a vote of 46-53, Senate Republicans chose to protect the millionaires and billionaires.
A college degree is supposed to be a pathway to economic opportunity, but for millions of borrowers, students loans have become a fast lane to crippling debt. Affordable higher education options have been replaced with a system where students and parents must choose between expensive, very expensive, and unaffordable.
By not dealing with rising costs, Republicans are making higher education an option for the wealthy only. Blocking a bill that would help millions, and boost the economy, in order to protect millionaires and billionaires is the type of backwards thinking that caused the Great Recession.
Senate Republicans may have blocked Sen. Warren today, but she and her fellow Democrats will continue to fight on for students and the middle-class.

Obama Drops The Hammer On Republicans By Reminding Them Obamacare Was Their Idea

obama on the 5th anniversary of Obamacare
President Obama let loose on Republicans today by explaining that the GOP will never be able to come up with their own healthcare plan because Obamacare was based on their ideas.
The president said:
But the bottom line is this for the American people: The Affordable Care Act, this law, is saving money for families and for businesses. This law is also saving lives — lives that touch all of us. It’s working despite countless attempts to repeal, undermine, defund, and defame this law.

It’s not the “job-killer” that critics have warned about for five years. When this law was passed, our businesses began the longest streak of private-sector job growth on record: 60 straight months, five straight years, 12 million new jobs.

It’s not the fiscal disaster critics warned about for five years. Health care prices are rising at the slowest rate in nearly 50 years, which has helped cut our deficit by two-thirds since I took office. Before the ACA, health care was the single biggest driver driving up our projected deficits. Today, health care is the single biggest factor driving those projections down.
I mean, we have been promised a lot of things these past five years that didn’t turn out to be the case: death panels, doom. A serious alternative from Republicans in Congress.
The budget they introduced last week would literally double the number of the uninsured in America. And in their defense, there are two reasons why coming up with their own alternative has proven to be difficult.
First, it’s because the Affordable Care Act pretty much was their plan before I adopted it — based on conservative, market-based principles developed by the Heritage Foundation and supported by Republicans in Congress, and deployed by a guy named Mitt Romney in Massachusetts to great effect. If they want to take credit for this law, they can. I’m happy to share it.

And second, it’s because health reform is really hard and the people here who are in the trenches know that. Good people from both parties have tried and failed to get it done for 100 years, because every public policy has some trade-offs, especially when it affects one-sixth of the American economy and applies to the very personal needs of every individual American.
Republicans will never be able to come up with their own health care plan because the ACA was their healthcare plan. Considering how Republicans have opposed the ACA, it is a bit mind boggling to remember that the Affordable Care Act was their idea.
President Obama demonstrated just how much of a loser running on repealing Obamacare will be for Republicans in 2016. Bashing the ACA works when Republicans are running in regionalized and gerrymandered elections, but just like Mitt Romney in 2012, Republicans stumble every time they are confronted with the fact that the ACA was based on their ideas.
Obama has spent the week of the fifth anniversary of the ACA relentlessly hammering Republicans, but the most damning indictment against the GOP is the fact that they refuse to take credit for a successful Obama accomplishment that was based on their ideas.

5 Facts on Obamacare’s 5th Birthday That’ll Make Republicans Sick

obamacareObamacare is working, whether Republicans like Ted Cruz want to admit it or not. And 8.2 million people could lose their insurance coverage if Republicans finally succeed (after…