Protect IP is legislation that would -- no exaggeration -- destroy the social web as we know it. In short, this proposed law would allow corporate copyright holders the ability to cut off funding and compel the government to shut down websites they deem infringing, without the need of a court order. (See here for more information on this devastating bill.)
This poorly conceived piece of legislation has been rushed through Congress without proper debate, with only Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon standing between it and the president's desk. Pro-censorship forces have spent over $90 million to get this bill passed, we have, well, social media to fight back.
If you value Daily Kos, or Facebook, or Twitter, or any website which invites your participation, please take a moment to contact your senator.
Publisher, Daily Kos
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Senate Dems plan to move $1 trillion omnibus in December
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Monday he plans to move a massive omnibus spending bill in December, a move that will fire up opposition from Tea Party conservatives.
Reid says he wants to avoid the prospect of the federal government running for another year on stopgap spending measures.
Democratic aides argue that Reid, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Obama have already agreed to set the level of federal discretionary spending at $1.043 trillion for fiscal year 2012 so there’s no need for further drama.
Reid said he will encourage meetings between appropriators in the Senate and House to iron out differences over specific programs and policy riders and combine the remaining spending bills in one large package.
Barney Frank Offers Several Reasons For Retiring
If House Republicans expected the Solyndra investigation to focus public attention on their opposition to President Obama's energy policies, by any measure they have succeeded. However, in gunning after the Department of Energy and its solar power loan program they have fallen prey to the law of unintended consequences, and are now heading on a collision course with the Department of Defense. Read More →
‘They Found Nothing. Nothing.’
The IAEA, Iran And ‘Fantasy Land’
Earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its much-trailed report ‘presenting new evidence’, said the BBC, ‘suggesting that Iran is secretly working to obtain a nuclear weapon.’
Relying on ‘evidence provided by more than 10 member states as well as its own information’, the IAEA said Iran had carried out activities ‘relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device’.
Having looked deeply into the claims, veteran journalist Seymour Hersh commented this week in an interview with Democracy Now!:
‘But you mentioned Iraq. It’s just this — almost the same sort of — I don’t know if you want to call it a "psychosis," but it’s some sort of a fantasy land being built up here, as it was with Iraq, the same sort of — no lessons learned, obviously.’
Indeed, informed scepticism in the corporate media has been muted or non-existent - the image of Iran as a ‘nuclear threat’ has yet again been imposed on the public mind. Any reasonable news reader and viewer would find it extremely difficult to question the emphatic declarations offered right across the media ‘spectrum’.
Thus, a Guardian editorial asserted: ‘It really is time to drop the pretence that Iran can be deflected from its nuclear path.’
Two days earlier, the Guardian’s diplomatic editor, Julian Borger, anticipated the report’s publication on his ‘Global Security Blog’ with a piece titled ‘Iran “on threshold of nuclear weapon”’. The accompanying photograph helpfully depicted a giant mushroom cloud during a 1954 nuclear test over Bikini Atoll. His article was linked prominently from the home page of the Guardian website.
In a later article, Borger gave prominence to a quote from an unnamed ‘source close to the IAEA’:
‘What is striking is the totality and breadth of the information [in the IAEA report]. Virtually every component of warhead research has been pursued by Iran.’
Presumably all-too-aware of increased public scepticism in the wake of Iraq, the anonymous source continued in the Guardian:
‘The agency has very, very, high confidence in its analysis. It did not want to make a mistake, and it was aware it had a very high threshold of credibility to meet. So it would not be published unless they had that high level of confidence.’
In similar vein, a New York Times report opened with:
‘United Nations weapons inspectors have amassed a trove of new evidence that they say makes a “credible” case that “Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device,” and that the project may still be under way.’
The Daily Telegraph declared its version of the truth unequivocally in a leader titled ‘Iran’s nuclear menace’. It noted that the IAEA report ‘has for the first time acknowledged that Tehran is conducting secret experiments whose sole purpose is the development of weapons.’
Presumably drawing on clairvoyant powers, the editors added:
‘Indeed, the IAEA has known for years that Tehran was building an atomic weapon, but has been reluctant to say so.’
The title of an editorial (November 10, 2011) in The Times was similarly categorical and damning: ‘Deadly Deceit; Iran's bellicose duplicity is definitively exposed by an IAEA report’:
‘Tehran's decade-long nuclear programme is obviously not intended purely for generating electricity. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed this week that it has credible evidence that Iran has worked on the development of nuclear weapons.’
The editorial stamped this with the required emphasis:
‘This will sound, and is, a statement of such banality that it ought not to need saying.’
And then continued without a shred of uncertainty:
‘The IAEA report is extensive and understated. Founded on intelligence sources from ten countries, it explains in detail how Iran has established a programme to develop the technologies for a nuclear weapon. Its findings are entirely consistent with all that has been known and exposed before. Indeed, the IAEA is late in stating them.’
For anyone relying solely on corporate news media coverage, the case against Iran was closed. All that remained was to decide the necessary course of international action: ramped-up ’diplomacy’, international sanctions and perhaps – the threat was left ‘lying on the table’ – war.
What is so breathtaking is that the apparent consensus on Iran, like the case against Iraq, is a fraud.
Burying The Cable – WikiLeaks And IAEA Chief Yukiya Amano
One of the stunning omissions in corporate media coverage of the IAEA report are the WikiLeaks disclosures concerning IAEA chief, Yukiya Amano. According to a US Embassy cable from a US diplomat in Vienna, where the IAEA is based, Amano described himself as ‘solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program.’
Amano’s predecessor as IAEA chief was Mohammed ElBaradei who had refused to bow before US war-mongering, and who was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. As ElBaradei came to the end of his term in 2009, the Americans sensed an opportunity to work with someone more compliant. They lobbied successfully on Amano’s behalf. Following his election as IAEA chief, a US cable reported on a meeting with him:
‘This meeting, Amano's first bilateral review since his election, illustrates the very high degree of convergence between his priorities and our own agenda at the IAEA. The coming transition period provides a further window for us to shape Amano's thinking before his agenda collides with the IAEA Secretariat bureaucracy.’
This ‘very high degree of convergence’ would presumably be useful in hyping the alleged ‘nuclear threat’ of Iran.
A US mission cable from Vienna commented that Amano was ‘DG [Director-General] of all states, but in agreement with us.’
The Guardian reported the Amano cable in a blog back in November 2010, but not in the paper itself. Our newspaper database search revealed that not a single UK national newspaper has mentioned the WikiLeaks cable revealing that Amano is ‘solidly in the U.S. court’ in coverage of the latest IAEA report. The sole exception we could find anywhere in the UK print media was an article in the New Statesman by Mehdi Hasan.
Rather than report this vital evidence from WikiLeaks, the British media have either tried to silence or vilify its founder, Julian Assange. This is a truly damning indictment of the ‘free press’.
By contrast, Seymour Hersh is a rare voice of rationality exposing this latest propaganda hype. On Democracy Now!,Hersh commented of former US Vice-President Dick Cheney:
‘Cheney kept on having the Joint Special Operations Force Command, JSOC — they would send teams inside Iran. They would work with various dissident groups — the Azeris, the Kurds, even Jundallah, which is a very fanatic Sunni opposition group — and they would do everything they could to try and find evidence of an undeclared underground facility. We monitored everything. We have incredible surveillance. In those days, what we did then, we can even do better now. And some of the stuff is very technical, very classified, but I can tell you, there's not much you can do in Iran right now without us finding out something about it. They found nothing. Nothing. No evidence of any weaponization. In other words, no evidence of a facility to build the bomb. They have facilities to enrich, but not separate facilities for building a bomb. This is simply a fact. We haven’t found it, if it does exist. It’s still a fantasy.’
Hersh said that Iran did look ‘at the idea of getting a bomb or getting to the point where maybe they could make one. They did do that, but they stopped in ’03. That’s still the American consensus. The Israelis will tell you privately, “Yes, we agree.”’
He described the new IAEA report as ‘not a scientific report, it’s a political document’, noting that ‘Amano has pledged his fealty to America.’
Amano had been ‘a marginal candidate’ for the position of IAEA chief but the US wanted him in place:
‘We supported him very much. Six ballots. He was considered weak by everybody, but we pushed to get him in. We did get him in. He responded by thanking us and saying he shares our views. He shares our views on Iran... it was just an expression of love. He’s going to do what we wanted.’
In a blog on The New Yorker website, Hersh added that one of the classified US Embassy cables from Vienna described Amano as being ‘ready for prime time.’ The cable also noted that Amano’s ‘willingness to speak candidly with U.S. interlocutors on his strategy … bodes well for our future relationship.’
In his Democracy Now! interview, Hersh pointed out that his blog piece was thoroughly researched and checked by The New Yorker, and that it included expert testimony shunned by the major newspapers:
‘These are different voices than you’re seeing in the papers. I sometimes get offended by the same voices we see in the New York Times and Washington Post. We don’t see people with different points of view… And I get emails, like crazy, from people on the inside saying, “Way to go.” I’m talking about inside the IAEA. It’s an organization that doesn’t deal with the press, but internally, they’re very bothered by the direction Amano is taking them.’
Hersh cited Robert Kelley, a retired IAEA director and nuclear engineer who previously spent more than thirty years with the US Department of Energy’s nuclear-weapons programme:
‘He noted that hundreds of pages of material appears to come from a single source: a laptop computer, allegedly supplied to the I.A.E.A. by a Western intelligence agency, whose provenance could not be established. Those materials, and others, “were old news,” Kelley said, and known to many journalists. “I wonder why this same stuff is now considered ‘new information’ by the same reporters.” ’
An assessment of the IAEA report was published by the Arms Control Association (ACA), a non-profit organisation campaigning for effective arms control. Greg Thielmann, a former US State Department and Senate Intelligence Committee analyst who was one of the authors of the ACA assessment, told Hersh:
‘There is troubling evidence suggesting that studies are still going on, but there is nothing that indicates that Iran is really building a bomb. Those who want to drum up support for a bombing attack on Iran sort of aggressively misrepresented the report.’
The BBC ‘Notes’ Privately That There Are Dissenting Views
On November 9, 2011, a BBC news piece carried a side bar ‘analysis’ by James Reynolds, the BBC’s Iran correspondent. We wrote to him the same day:
I hope you’re safe and well there. In your analysis which is included in the BBC News article ‘UN nuclear agency IAEA: Iran “studying nuclear weapons”’, you note that:
‘The agency stresses that the evidence it presents in its report is credible and well-sourced.’
You then add:
‘Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has dismissed the IAEA as puppet of the United States. His government has already declared that its findings are baseless and inauthentic.’
You attribute such views to Iran, an officially-declared enemy of the West. A more balanced approach might be to report that a US Embassy Cable published last year revealed that Yukiya Amano, the IAEA director general, is ‘solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision’.
And according to a recent New York Times report: ‘the Obama administration, acutely aware of how what happened in Iraq undercut American credibility, is deliberately taking a back seat, eager to make the conclusions entirely the I.A.E.A.’s, even as it continues to press for more international sanctions against Iran.’
Shouldn’t these crucial facts be noted in your analysis?
The NYT report continues:
‘When the director of the agency, Yukiya Amano, came to the White House 11 days ago to meet top officials of the National Security Council about the coming report, the administration declined to even confirm he had ever walked into the building.’
Isn’t all this relevant in assessing the context, realpolitik and implications of the IAEA report? Can you not find critical commentators outside the Iranian government whom you can quote?
Given the stakes involved, would you perhaps consider addressing the above points in your analysis in future, please?
Rather than address any of the above points, Reynolds emailed back:
‘thanks for your message. I appreciate your comments and insight.’ (Email, November 9, 2011)
Just over a week later, a new BBC piece appeared in which the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany claimed to have ‘deep and increasing concern’ over Iran's nuclear programme. We emailed Reynolds again (November 18, 2011):
Have you considered interviewing sceptical and informed commentators?
For example, you could approach the experienced investigative journalist Gareth Porter. He says that the recent IAEA report’s ‘dubious intelligence [is being] used as pretext for tougher sanctions’:
Porter’s analysis is backed up by Robert Kelley, a nuclear engineer who has carried out IAEA inspections. Kelley believes that ‘the report misleads and manipulates facts in [an] attempt to prove a forgone conclusion.’
He also says that the IAEA report ‘recycles old intelligence and is meant to bolster hard liners.’
Shouldn’t you also be including such important and informed views in your reporting for BBC News?
Not hearing from him, we nudged Reynolds on November 21 when he again avoided addressing the points made:
‘I received your message - thanks. I shall reflect on the points you raise.
‘It is always important for me to hear from licence-fee payers - the lifeblood of the BBC.’ (James Reynolds, email, November 21, 2011)
We tried once more to elicit a response from the BBC’s Iran correspondent that actually addressed the points put to him:
I appreciate your reply.
But with the resources of the BBC at your disposal, you surely cannot be unaware of the informed commentators and important points presented to you [in the previous emails]. It is notable that you do not appear to have included them in any of your BBC reports to date. Why not?
Nor have you reported - although I may have missed it - that IAEA chief Yukiya Amano is regarded by the US,according to a WikiLeaks cable, as 'solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program.'
Why remain silent about this astonishing fact? Isn't this crucially relevant for public understanding of what is happening over Iran? Perhaps there are editorial reasons that are making it difficult for you to properly report these vital issues? (Email, November 22, 2011)
To no avail: the response was even more terse this time:
‘points noted.’ (James Reynolds, email, November 22, 1011)
Curiously, ‘the lifeblood of the BBC’ deserves no better than this.
Can journalists really have forgotten the propaganda offensive that predated the March 19, 2003 invasion of Iraq – a tsunami of disinformation in which they were accomplices? Have they really learned nothing? What gives them the right to absolve themselves and to start with a clean slate now that Iran is the next hyped ‘threat’?
Surely now more than ever - as the spectre of yet another war in the Middle East looms, perhaps the greatest conflagration yet - it is vital that journalists should be wary of repeating propaganda claims over Iran.
The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. If you do write to journalists, we strongly urge you to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.
Please write to:
Julian Borger, diplomatic editor of the Guardian
James Reynolds, BBC Iran correspondent
Jeremy Bowen, BBC Middle East editor
Please blind-copy us in on any exchanges or forward them to us later at:
Dem strategist accuses Romney of invoking Rev. Wright in new ad
By Justin Sink
By Justin Sink
Democratic strategist Tad Devine, an adviser to Al Gore and John Kerry's presidential campaigns, accused Mitt Romney's campaign of invoking controversial pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright in a recent ad.
Devine said Wednesday that he was "shocked" to see what he believed to be imagery of an African American church in an ad released Tuesday by Romney's presidential team and airing in New Hampshire. The ad, Romney's first of the campaign, is "clearly an attempt to bring back Rev. Wright and race," Devine tweeted.
In the ad, a series of images including those of a foreclosed home and empty businesses flash by as text criticizes President Obama's economic record. But at two points, the imagery cuts to well-dressed African-American women walking down a large hallway, and pans over a predominantly black audience.
Devine believes that these images were selected intentionally to invoke the Jeremiah Wright controversy.
"I was really surprised and even shocked to see a "flash" scene in the new Romney ad that depicts an African American church congregation (eerily reminiscent of Rev Wright)," Devine said in a post to his Facebook page early Wednesday. "They are obviously trying to raise the race issue through the backdoor. Maybe they are worried about how poorly Romney is doing in South Carolina."
The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Twilight Zone-like video above, shot and posted by Lee Fang, was taped this evening as UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi walked to her car while students lined the sidewalk and roadway, sitting and locking arms in complete silence. Their demonstration came on the heels of Katehi's support of the hyper-militarized UC Davis Police Department's outrageous and brutal use of pepper spray on dozens of compliant, peaceful Occupy demonstrators who were sitting in a circle, locking arms, on the campus quad yesterday.
We covered the shocking pepper spray incident, including the remarkable photographs and videos of the event, along with the calls for Katehi's resignation,earlier today here.
Fang's describes what happened leading to the haunting moment seen in the video above this way:
The blatant torture of peaceful demonstrators on the UC Davis campus yesterday was just the latest in a string of similarly appalling incidents of violence orchestrated by highly militarized "law enforcement" officials over the last several weeks across the nation in response to the growing Occupy Wall Street movement. We detailed a number of the most disturbing recent incidents, many of them caught on video tape and photographs, in this report yesterday.
The boy who first came forward to accuse former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky of sexual assault recently left high school in the middle of his senior year because of intense harassment. Former head coach Joe Paterno’s attorney told Good Morning America that the coach strongly condemns bullying. That might be little comfort for the victim—his mother told ABC that students are blaming her son for the firing of Paterno
Bans Corporate Money in Elections and Declares Corporations Are Not People
Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-19), a Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, introduced the Outlawing Corporate Cash Undermining the Public Interest in our Elections and Democracy (OCCUPIED) Constitutional Amendment. The OCCUPIED Amendment both overturns the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that wrongly awarded the Constitutionally-protected free speech rights of people to corporations and totally bans corporate money from America’s electoral process.
“No matter how long protesters camp out across America, big banks will continue to pour money into shadow groups promoting candidates more likely to slash Medicaid for poor children than help families facing foreclosure,” said Rep. Deutch. “No matter how strongly Ohio families fight for basic fairness for workers, the Koch Brothers will continue to pour millions into campaigns aimed at protecting the wealthiest 1%. No matter how fed up seniors in South Florida are with an agenda that puts oil subsidies ahead of Social Security and Medicare, corporations will continue to fund massive publicity campaigns and malicious attack ads against the public interest. Americans of all stripes agree that for far too long, corporations have occupied Washington and drowned out the voices of the people. I introduced the OCCUPIED Amendment because the days of corporate control of our democracy. It is time to return the nation’s capital and our democracy to the people.”
Though several amendments aimed at overturning Citizens United have been introduced in recent weeks, Rep. Deutch’s OCCUPIED Amendment is the only proposal that:
- Makes clear that free speech and other constitutionally protected rights are those of natural persons and not corporations or entities formed to promote their business interests.
- Reaffirms that corporations are formed under the laws of Congress and the States and are thus subject to laws enacted to protect the environment, ensure public health, and other safeguards for the people.
- Overturns Citizens United by ending corporations’ ability to spend unlimited amounts of their general treasury funds in elections.
- Sets the stage for real campaign finance reform by reasserting the authority of Congress to regulate all election contributions and expenditures, including those of individuals and groups funneling money anonymously to influence elections.
The introduction of Congressman Deutch’s amendment was applauded by several public interest leaders dedicated to stopping corporations from buying elections to pad their profits:
“Public Citizen enthusiastically applauds and endorses Representative Ted Deutch’s proposed constitutional amendment, which would comprehensively repair the damage done to our democracy by Citizens United,” said Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen. “It would clarify that constitutional rights are intended for real, live, breathing human beings. It would end corporate spending on elections. And it would give Congress authority to adopt a sensible campaign finance system. It would make American stronger, more democratic and more just.”
“We join Americans across the nation in applauding Congressman Ted Deutch for affirming fundamental truths self-evident to almost everyone except five guys on the Supreme Court: For-profit corporations are not people and thus are not entitled to the same constitutional rights as people,” said Lisa Graves, Executive Director of the Center for Media Democracy, publisher of PRWatch.org and ALECexposed.org, and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General. “No other congressional effort has so directly confronted the twin problems created by judges who have arrogantly granted rights to corporations, without democratic consent, and overturned bipartisan laws that limited the corrupting influence of money in our elections.”
“The problems caused by the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizen’s United must be addressed – and we’re delighted to see Representative Deutch offer a comprehensive solution to stop the flood of corporate money in our electoral system,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of Policy and Programs for People for the American Way. “Our democracy belongs to all of the people, not just the wealthy, and not to large and powerful corporate interests. Amending the constitution is the best tool we have to protect that democracy for the American people. Rep. Deutch’s amendment is a positive step toward ensuring that our elected officials remain accountable to the people they are in office to serve.”
Click here to read the OCCUPIED amendment.
Click here for a backgrounder on the amendment.
Click here to read the OCCUPIED amendment.
Click here for a backgrounder on the amendment.
At 1 p.m. EST, the California Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on standing in the Prop 8 case. Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights and chairman of Faith in America's board of directors will have an analysis of the decision at the Prop8 Tracker web site. Minter led the legal team for the In re Marriage Cases decision before the California Supreme Court in 2008, among others. Look for the analysis at theProp 8 web site.
The freshly evicted Occupy Wall Street protesters may not have a home, but they’re booked solid Thursday. Tens of thousands of 99 percenters are planning a citywide event that will begin Thursday morning on the two-month anniversary of the movement. The march will start in the financial district, with the goal of interfering with the workday. By midday, protesters will target public transportation hubs, while students are urged to stage walkouts. The demonstrators will converge on lower Manhattan's Foley Square where a rally will take place—backed by the city’s unions and reportedly supported by a permit.
n addition to the constant trashing of Obama's actual record with lies and distortions, I'm also sick to death of claims that Democrats "had no spines" and couldn't pass anything. Republicans held Congress from 1994-2006 and rigged the filibuster rules. If you'll remember, they pretended to try to kill the filibuster, and in the process, ended up simplifying the rules, making it easier for a single senator to hold up a bill anonymously, and require 60 votes for cloture, to to release that hold.
Put simply, the SOLUTION to the problem in 2010 would have been to keep the House, and reduce the number of Republicans in the Senate. Instead, we had the Right Wing crying "Democrats can't get anything done!" and the Left Wing crying, "Democrats can't get anything done!" THAT is why Democrats lost so badly last year; instead of ofering up an alternate viewpoint, we basically echoed theirs. That's what drove turnout down, and gave the GOP one of the biggest wins in their history.
Read these and tell me Democrats weren't trying really hard to make things better. Again; these are bills that were PASSED by the Democratic House, and BLOCKED by 40-41 solid votes in the Senate. Compare these to the complete SHIT the current Republican-led House is producing, and then tell us again how there's no difference between the two parties.
We really have to stop self-destructing. Democrats ARE much better than Republicans, the previous Democratic House, led by Nancy Pelosi, DID try like hell to make this country better.
Again; this is a partial list?
HR 12 – Paycheck Fairness Act – While the Lily Ledbetter Act was a good start, this bill would have mandated pay fairness and prohibited pay discrimination based on sex. In other words, while Lily’s Bill made it easier for women to sue, this would have created fair workplace system with regard to pay. In other words, Republicans voted in favor of paying women less money for the same job.
H.R. 20 -- Melanie Blocker Stokes Mom’s Opportunity to Access Health, Education, Research, and Support for Postpartum Depression Act – This bill would have provided for research into women’s health issues, specifically regarding post-partum health. That kind of reinforces the overall impression Republicans give, that they care a whole lot about the fetus, but couldn’t care less once the baby is born, and they don’t care about women at all.
H.R. 320 -- CJ’s Home Protection Act – This bill would have provided for changes in building standards to require manufactured homes to come equipped with a weather alert radio and an alarm during certain weather conditions, like tornadoes. The bill allowed for possible exemptions based on geography on a limited basis, so it wouldn't "force" anyone to install them where they weren't needed. In case you think this type of thing is just silly, think again. NOAA weather radio was created in the wake of a “super outbreak” of tornados in April 1974. Within a 16-hour period, 148 tornados touched down, killing 330 people and injuring more than 5,000. Tornado warnings were beuing issued so fast, local radio and television stations couldn’t keep up. As most of us know by now, manufactured housing is more vulnerable during weather related events. Now, NOAA’s weather radio warning system covers 98% of the country, and the installation of what amounts to $20-50 worth of electronic equipment in manufactured homes could end up saving hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. Basically, for the sake of political expediency, Republicans said no to saving lives during bad weather.
H.R. 448 -- Elder Abuse Victims Act – This bill would address legal issues regarding the elderly, and establish policies and procedures designed to minimize the negative effects of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. Is there a segment of the population Republicans DO care about? They don’t care for women, they don’t care for the elderly, and their feigned care for fetuses ends at the birth canal. Perhaps they care about the troops…
H.R. 466 – Wounded Veteran Job Security Act – This bill would actually provide job security for veterans who are receiving medical treatment for injuries suffered while fighting in defense of their country. It would prohibit employers from terminating employees who miss work while receiving treatment for a service-related disability. Guess that answers that question; they don’t care about the troops, either. This isn't the only bill they have blocked having to do with the troops, either.
H.R. 515 – Radioactive Import Deterrence Act – This one has to make you scratch your head. Basically, this bill would prohibit the issuance of licenses to import of low-level nuclear material and waste to this country. It specifically exempts nuclear waste belonging to the United States, and it allows the president to make exceptions where necessary. Is this an industry Republicans are anxious to establish in this country? Do we really want to become a repository of the entire world’s nuclear waste? How safe would you feel if they opened a nuclear dump right next to the elementary school?
H.R. 549 -- National Bombing Prevention Act – Yes, this bill would do exactly what you think it would do, and Republicans have blocked it. This is the language used by the CRS to describe the bill: “Amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish within the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Protective Security Coordination Division of the Office of Infrastructure Protection an Office for Bombing Prevention to enhance and coordinate U.S. efforts to deter, detect, prevent, protect against, and respond to terrorist explosive attacks in the United States.” I don’t know about you, but taking whatever measures are necessary to prevent terrorist bombings would seem to me to be pretty important. Their blockage of this bill certainly indicates that they simply don’t really care about this country’s security. (By the way, they have also blocked H.R. 553 – Reducing Over-Classification Act, which is designed to make the Department of Homeland Security more efficient and responsive, which would save taxpayers a lot of money and make us safer over the long haul. Again; why do Republicans not want us to be safer? Next time someone suggests that Republicans want us to be attacked again, you simply have to think twice before dismissing the argument as paranoid delusion, don't you?
H.R. 577 – Vision Care for Kids Act – Of course, this would provide eyesight screening for children who do not have insurance that covers this, and help provide them with glasses. Seriously, this is, at most, about $250-300 per year , at most, for the children with bad eyesight; how cheap are Republicans? And why do they pretend to care so passionately about the fetus, but have no regard for them once they're born?
H.R. 626 – Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act – This puts the lie to the concept that Republicans are all about the family. It also demonstrates just how much Republicans want to stick it to Democrats, because to stop this bill is completely irrational. This bill would allow federal employees to substitute any available paid leave for any unpaid leave for “either the: (1) birth of a child; or (2) placement of a child with the employee for either adoption or foster care. Makes available (subject to specified requirements) for any of the 12 weeks of leave an employee is entitled to for such purposes: (1) four administrative weeks of paid parental leave in connection with the birth or placement involved; and (2) any accumulated annual or sick leave.” In other words, folks, it allows federal money to take money they are already entitled to sooner than perhaps they originally planned. The actual net cost to the federal government would essentially be zero dollars above what they would already pay these employees. Does this sound like a political party that gives a damn about the average American or families? The answer, of course, is no.
H.R. 780 – Student Internet Safety Act – For a political party that's always railing about the disgusting content available to kids on the Internet, blocking this bill is especially hypocritical. This bill would provide money so that schools to teach children how to protect themselves against online predators, cyberbullying, or unwanted exposure to inappropriate material, as well as to promote parents’ involvement in their child’s Internet usage. Once again, Republicans demonstrate an unwillingness to protect our children. So far, they have denied kids basic vision care, denied their parents their right to take a proper parental leave without going broke, and now, they don’t care to protect them on the Internet.
H.R. 911 -- Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act – This bill would actually improve oversight and prevent child abuse in group homes. Once again, they demonstrate their complete disregard for children once they’re out of the womb.
H.R. 985 -- Free Flow of Information Act – This bill would provide for a federal shield law for journalists who actually do investigative journalism. So, here’s the question; are Republicans -- who are always on about being "strict constructionists" -- now against protecting the free press? As a shield law, it doesn’t even provide unqualified immunity, as federal judges could declare certain news stories as having a public interest based confidential sources. Perhaps they don’t care about this law, since it’s unlikely anyone from Fox News will ever come under it.
H.R. 1029 – Alien Smuggling and Terrorism Prevention Act – Yes, another bill that does what its title says it will do, and Republicans blocked it. With all of their phony “tough talk” regarding immigration, this should come as a surprise to pretty much everyone, regardless of your level of racism. The intent of this bill is to crack down on alien smuggling and provide for better border enforcement and stiffer penalties for violators. In other words, it does many of the things Jan Brewer is pissed off about in Arizona. So, what IS the Republican stance on immigration? They’re against going after employers who hire illegal immigrants, and apparently, they’re against stricter laws against those who smuggle people into this country. They’re apparently against anything that might actually work. If you're in favor of immigration reform and you're planning to vote Republican, think again.
H.R. 1110 – PHONE Act and H.R. 1258 – The Truth in Caller ID Act – These consumer protection bills would make it a crime for anyone to “spoof” their caller ID record when engaging in any sort of commercial transaction, or in any case in which the intent is to defraud the person on the other end of the line. Two common sense bills that prevent consumers from being ripped off, and Republicans have blocked both of them.
H.R. 1168 -- Veterans Retraining Act – This bill would provide for assistance to help veterans who are currently unemployed with their expenses while retraining for the current job market. So, what do Republicans have against the unemployed, and why do they hate the troops?
H.R. 1171 – Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization – Once again, you have to wonder; what do Republicans have against those who have served our country? This bill would reauthorize programs in support of homeless veterans, to assist them with job training, counseling, and placement services through the Department of Veterans Affairs through 2014. Perhaps they think of “troops” the same way they think of “fetuses”; we should “honor” them while they’re fighting unnecessary wars, but forget them the minute they leave the service? They have also blocked H.R. 1172 -- Requiring List on VA Website of Organizations Providing Scholarships for Veterans which does nothing more than direct the Department of Veterans Affairs to include information about scholarships for veterans. Why do Republicans hate the troops once they come home?
H.R. 1262, Water Quality Investment Act – This bill would not only invest needed funds into improving water quality in areas where it’s needed, but it would also create jobs for those who work in that industry, so this is a double whammy. Apparently, Republicans don’t care if some folks have to drink contaminated water, and they certainly don’t want your tax money going to make your life better, do they?
H.R. 1293 -- Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act of 2009 – Here’sanother bill in support of those who have fought for their country, passed by House Democrats and blocked from becoming law by Republicans. Clearly, Republicans hate the troops, because there is no other reason to be against this bill. This would increase the amount paid by the VA to disabled veterans for necessary home structural improvements from $4,100 to $6,800 for those who are more than 50% disabled, and from $1,200 to $2,000 who are less than 50%, disabled. This means, if a veteran lost the use of his legs in service of his country, the country will pay for the wheelchair ramp so that he can live at home. Yet, Republicans, who have been admonishing everyone to love the troops without question, are denying them the ability to do so. By the way, the last time this ceiling was lifted was in 1992. If Republican presidents are going to start unnecessary wars, is it too much to ask to support those who actually put their bodies on the line? There isn't even a fiscal reason for being against this bill, as the total cost of this bill, according to CBO estimates, would be a “whopping” $20 million. That's about a quarter (25 cents) per family of four.
H.R. 1319 – Informed P2P User Act – This is an interesting bill for a couple of reasons. First of all, the bill itself is yet another consumer protection measure, designed to protect Internet users from malware that comes from installation of any peer-to-peer program. Frankly, this bill isn’t as crucial as many of the others shown here, in that it doesn’t directly adversely affect the lives of ordinary people. But it does demonstrate that Republicans are filibustering pretty much anything the House throws to them, because this bill was originally written and sponsored by Mary Bono Mack, a Republican.
H.R. 1380 -- Josh Miller HEARTS Act – This is another one that should make one wonder, just what are these people for? This bill would provide matching grants to assist local school districts in purchasing defibrillators to have on hand to save lives, should a student, teacher, staffer or visitor have a heart attack. The school district would have to apply, and provide at least 25% of the cost. Why would anyone block something like this? It makes money for the manufacturers of the defibrillators, it creates a few jobs, and in the end, it saves lives. As someone who once watched a kid fall over and die during a PF class when I was in high school, I can tell you, this is a very real issue. And Republicans are playing politics with it.
H.R. 1429, Stop AIDS in Prison Act – Who in their right mind would be against this? This bill would provide testing of all prisoners during intake, provide for annual testing of inmates, testing of pregnant inmates, and provide for AIDS education for inmates. It would also direct prisons to develop policies for dealing with HIV. See, here’s the problem that Republicans never seem able to grasp when it comes to anything to do with crime and prisons; the vast majority of prisoners will one day be released. This should be a no-brainer; we have custody of these people, let’s do our best to make sure they’re less of a danger to everyone else when they get out.
H.R. 1469 – Child Protection Improvements Act – The Republicans once again demonstrate how little they care about children once they’re out of the womb. This is a no-brainer bill designed to enhance and streamline the processes for doing background checks, including identifying criminal histories for those people who are looking for jobs that put them in close proximity to children. In what universe is this not an important bill? Republicans are actually preventing us from putting in place better protections for our children, and to keep pedophiles and child molesters far away from them.
H.R. 1511 – Torture Victims Relief Reauthorization Act – This bill designates appropriations for fiscal years 2010-2011 to assist domestic treatment centers for torture victims, including training of health care providers. Once again, what do Republicans have against helping those who need it.? This is about making sure people who come here as torture victims have a shot at the American Dream, just like the rest of us. That’s the problem with these Republicans; they talk a great game when it comes to claims of providing opportunity, but they simply do not want to do what is necessary to make it happen.
H.R. 1514 – Juvenile Accountability Block Grants Program Reauthorization Act – This bill does exactly what it says. It provides block grants to states to help them pay for juvenile justice. Those Republicans – tough on crime, but not so tough on criminals.
H.R. 1580 – Electronic Waste Research and Development Act – This bill would actually create research programs and grants to develop ways to make electronics more recyclable, to make them from materials that are more environmentally friendly and to create a better system of disposal of electronic equipment. In other words, folks, Republicans are blocking a bill that would make the creation and disposal of electronics, like cell phones, iPods and laptops more environmentally friendly, so that our children might not grow up to a poisonous planet. And lest you think they were simply trying to be “fiscally responsible,” the total cost of this bill would be $84 million (that’s an “m,” not a “b”) over 5 years. It’ll cost your family of four another quarter a year; think you can handle it?
H.R. 1585 -- FIT Kids Act – This would develop programs targeted to making our kids healthy, by teaching them healthy eating habits, monitor physical education programs and providing local school systems with grants to help them improve children’s health-related programs. Once again; what do Republicans have against children who are born?
H.R. 1617 – Department of Homeland Security Component Privacy Officer Act – So, this bill would change little to nothing about the Department of Homeland Security, except to create Privacy Officer positions in several areas of the Department, whose duty would be to protect the balance between our need for national security and our right to privacy. In other words, someone would provide oversight to make sure that someone in the government didn’t decide that, say, tapping everyone’s phone and violating their right to privacy was absolutely necessary to keep everyone safe. Do they get that, when we allow our rights to be compromised in order to fight terrorism, the terrorists win. Republicans seem to want the terrorists to win.
H.R. 1622 – Research and Development Programs for Natural Gas Vehicles – This is one that has to make you shake your head, you know? This bill would make yet another alternative fuel more viable, and save us some money, so Republicans have to be against it. It won’t cost a lot of money; about $25 million a year over 6 years. There’s another quarter a year to your family of four, so that we can use our domestic supply of natural gas to wean ourselves from that “foreign oil” Republicans have been whining about for years. Of course, we all know their whines have been a joke, haven’t we?
H.R. 1675 – Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2009 – This bill would strengthen programs that allow the poorest people in society, with serious long-term disabilities to live independently by providing affordable rental housing, as well as adequate voluntary services and support. Currently, there is a chronic shortage of such housing in many areas, and this legislation would create more. In other words, it would create more opportunities for the disabled to be more self-sufficient, which is something Republicans have always claimed they were in favor of.
H.R. 1709 – STEM Education Coordination Act – The acronym STEM refers to Science-Technology-Engineering-Math, and this bill would create a committee under the National Sciences and Technology Council, to create and coordinate education programs and activities designed to enhance those areas of study, and make the United States competitive again. Imagine a country in which we were training our own scientists and engineers, instead of training scientists and engineers for other countries, so that they can kick our asses on the world economic stage? Dare we dream? This type of program is small in scope, but it’s a very good investment, because we need people who are versed in science and math, in order to compete in the world economy. This really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone, since Republicans have largely been anti-science for at least a decade. Oh – and once more, for those who think there’s a “fiscally responsible” purpose behind blocking this, this measure would cost $2 million per year – or about 2 cents per year for your family of four. They are also blocking H.R. 1736 – The International Science and Technology Cooperation Act, which would establish a committee under the NSTC that would coordinate with international science and technology efforts, with a goal of strengthening “US science and technology enterprise, improve economic and national security, and support US foreign policy goals.” If you need any more proof that Republicans hate science and fear the future, there you go.
H.R. 1722 --Telework Improvements Act – This is another bill that just makes sense, if you have ever experienced traffic in DC. The highways are jammed, the Metro is packed like sardines, and if you want to park at an outlying Metro lot and take the subway into town, you’d better get there about 5 AM, or there will be no parking available. And it all happens between about 7-9 AM and about 5-7 PM. This bill would create a framework whereby government employees could telecommute about 20% of the time during each two-week period, without adversely affecting their productivity. And in this case, government could lead by example; most of us could do a large portion of our jobs at home right now; imagine if you only had to go into the office 2-3 days per week instead of five. Better yet, imagine you’re a business and you could stagger your employees in-office days so that you needed fewer offices? And with 20% less traffic on the road some days… Republicans are against progress, folks; remember that.
H.R. 1727 -- Managing Arson Through Criminal History (MATCH) Act – Here is another bill from Republican Mary Bono Mack, which would create a national database of known convicted arsonists and bombers, that police agencies from all over the country could access, and possibly prevent major tragedies from occurring. This is another measure that just seems to make sense. If a known arsonist is in town, police should know it. Yet, Senate Republicans sit on it and prevent it from becoming law. So, when did the Republican Party become “soft on crime”?
H.R. 1741 -- Witness Security and Protection Grant Program Act – In yet another example of how soft Republicans really are on crime, this bill would serve to strengthen protections for witnesses for homicides and serious felonies, such as rape. Essentially, it would provide block grants to states and local law enforcement agencies to help them get up to speed regarding best practices to prevent witness intimidation or tampering. This is yet another bill that costs a whopping $20 million per year, so they can’t even hang the “fiscal responsibility” tag on it. Put simply, Democrats want to spend a quarter per year per family of four to increase the likelihood that murderers and rapists get put away in prison, and Republicans are working against that.
H.R. 1796 – Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act – This bill would establish mandatory consumer product safety standards for carbon monoxide detectors, provide grants to states to provide CO detectors for homes with low-income families, as well as buildings housing the elderly or children, and to create a public outreach program to educate people on the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Given that carbon monoxide is an invisible gas that causes brain damage and death, and given that CO results in nearly 15,000 emergency room visits and nearly 500 deaths every year, this bill would save lives and health care dollars every year. The total cost of this program is about $13 million over five years, or which means it would cost a family of four less than a nickel per year. Compare that to the cost of a typical emergency room visit, or losing a close friend or relative from something so preventable. .
H.R. 1803 -- Veterans Business Center Act – Here’s another head scratcher, to be sure. What would you say to a bill that helps veterans start their own business? It’s about perfect, right? If you don’t think so, I have two words for you; GI Bill. This bill would set up a Veterans Business Center program within the Small Business Administration, which would specialize in such programs as grants for service-disabled veterans, help them develop business plans and secure business opportunities. In other words, folks, it would create jobs and offer opportunities those who have fought in defense of our country. And the Republicans are working against it. You have to wonder; do they hate the troops more, or the unemployed?
That’s only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to Democrats helping small businesses, and Republicans blocking them. About the time they were passing the very effective stimulus plan, Democrats in the House were passing a huge number of measures designed to help folks start or maintain small businesses. Check out all of these, and remind your small business owning friends that DEMOCRATS passed these bills, and REPUBLICANS are blocking votes on them.
In addition to the measure above, there was also H.R. 1807 – Educating Entrepreneurs through Today’s Technology Act – This bill would direct the Small Business Administration to contract with tech vendors to provide assistance to small businesses to get them up to speed with regard to technology. Essentially, it would help small businesses become stronger by providing free or inexpensive technical assistance to help them compete in the current economy. Republicans working against small businesses; imagine that…
Republicans are also blocking H.R. 1834 – Native American Business Development Enhancement Act, which would create an Office of Native American Affairs within the SBA, which would assist Native Americans in starting small businesses. As a point of reference, unemployment on some Indian reservations is currently running twice the rate as elsewhere.
Republicans are also blocking H.R. 1838 – Amending Small Business Act to modify certain provisions regarding women’s business centers, which would, as it reads, make the SBA more responsive to small businesses that apply for loans and grants at women’s business centers. They are blocking H.R. 1839 – To amend the Small Business Act to improve SCORE, which is the Service Corps of Retired Executives, which provides expertise to small businesses, to make them less likely to fail, and more likely to grow and create jobs. H.R. 1842 – Expanding Entrepreneurship Act is also being held hostage by Senate Republicans. This bill would create and expand small business entrepreneurial development programs, with the specific goal of using them as a catalyst for job creation. And they are blocking H.R. 1845 -- Small Business Development Centers Modernization Act, which would give a boost to SBDCs, providing business assistance that is often relied upon by small business owners to expand revenues and create jobs.
Seriously, folks; how many small businesses are hurting right now, and how many of them know that help would be on the way, if not for their Republican buddies holding it up? Once again, folks; ALL of the above bills were pushed through by DEMOCRATS in the House, and BLOCKED by REPUBLICANS in the Senate. I know I’m writing this a lot, but sometimes you have to repeat it to make it stick.
H.R. 1824 -- Best Buddies Empowerment for People with Intellectual Disabilities Act – I’m including this one because it’s flat out mean. This bill would increase grant funding for a well-established non-profit called Best Buddies International, an organization with chapters in high schools and college campuses all over the country, that pairs volunteers with intellectually disabled individuals, to increase their ability to function independently. The more intellectually disabled individuals can take care of themselves, and pay their own way in life, the better for all of us, in a variety of ways. In other words, it’s an investment; in the long run, creating more taxpayers means the rest of us pay less. Yet, Republicans are against this.
H.R. 1875 -- End the Trade Deficit Act – This bill would establish the Emergency Trade Deficit Commission, which would look at what is causing the enormous trade deficit that is turning our economy to dust, and to consider ways to address it and fix it. Why would Republicans be against fixing the trade deficit? They’re always whining about the federal budget deficit (at least when they’re not in charge); do they not realize that the trade deficit is probably the number one cause of the budget deficit? Buy American, right?
H.R. 1879 -- National Guard Employment Protection Act – This bill would grant greater employment and reemployment rights to individuals ordered to full-time National Guard duty by the Department of Defense. Currently, these rights are limited to the first five years only, and as we all now know, sometimes Republican presidents start wars and order National Guard troops to serve beyond their contract. Guess Republican Senators are more keen on protecting such presidents than the actual troops.
H.R. 1933 – A Child Is Missing Alert and Recovery Center Act – This bill would provide coordination and guidance for law enforcement agencies, and pool their resources in order to find missing children more quickly. Once again; if this was for missing fetuses, one would have to think Republicans would be all over it. But it’s children, and they clearly do not care about them.
H.R. 2020 -- Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act of 2009 (I suppose it would have to be “of 2011” by now, huh?)– Why does it feel as if Republicans absolutely fear science and technology? This bill would make sure this country keeps up with the rest of the world when it comes to computers and information technology. That’s all. It provides for extensive coordination of research and development in areas having “the potential for significant contributions to national economic competitiveness and for other societal benefits.” I hate to break it to you folks, but other nations are way ahead of us in many technological areas, and we can’t even figure out what to do about the concept of net neutrality. Think our cell phones are nifty? Go to Japan or Finland. If you think we’re way ahead on web development, it’s because you can only speak English. For eight years, our government sat back and tried to push us back into the dark ages. We either catch up to the rest of the world, or we falter, and fall even farther down the economic ladder. And Republicans are blocking that progress.
H.R. 2093 – Clean Coastal Environment and Public Health Act – This bill would strengthen the Clean Water Act by directing the EPA to develop better standards for monitoring and assessment of coastal waterways. It would provide for better source identification and tracking of pollution sources, and it would increase testing for pathogens. In other words, it would take better care to insure that our beaches and recreational areas are safe for our kids to play in. It would also create a “rapid-testing” method to test for contamination in the case of spills. This bill doesn’t have a lot to do with the BP oil spill, but in the wake of that disaster, one would think that monitoring the health and safety of our waterways would be a little more important. But Republicans don’t care if you and your family are healthy, do they? By the cost of this program? A whopping $40 million, or 50 cents for every family of four in the country.
H.R. 2134, -- Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission Act – This bill would create a Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission, which would evaluate our policies regarding illegal drug supply reduction and interdiction. The commission would emphasize international drug policies and programs directed at countries in the Western Hemisphere. They would essentially report on the condition of the “drug war,” and tell us what’s working, what’s not working, and what needs serious improvement. When it’s finished with its report, the commission goes away within 60 days, so it’s not like it creates another layer to the bureaucracy. The drug war is failing, and failing badly. Apparently, Republicans just don’t care about that, either.
H.R. 2142 – Government Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Performance Improvement Act – Yeah, I know; with all of the bitching they’re always doing about how bad government is, and how incompetent government is, one would think they’d be ecstatic to see a bill designed to make the government more efficient, increase its effectiveness and monitor and improve its performance. The purpose of this bill is to direct agencies to develop long-term strategies and goals, and to come up with plans to meet performance objectives. And every bit of information would be readily available on the Internet and elsewhere, for every citizen to look at and evaluate for themselves. In other words, this bill would make the government more responsive and accountable to everyone. But Republicans are against it. And lest you think they’re against it because they’re worried about the deficit, the total cost of implementing these programs at 17 different agencies would be a total of $150 million over five years, or about 35 cents per year per family of four, according to the CBO.
H.R. 2187 – 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act – The next time a Republican or Independent voter tells you the GOP got a bad rap for their non-response to Katrina, show them their blockage of this bill. The purpose of this bill is twofold; it would create a program of grants to renovate schools to make them more energy efficient, and to save taxpayers money. The jobs created would help to alleviate economic problems in a number of hard-hit geographical areas. Which brings up the second part of this bill, which would provide a little extra help in rebuilding and modernizing schools in the Gulf Coast region, which is still reeling from the effects of Katrina. (The Democratic House passage of this bill pre-dates the BP oil spill.) Such a bill would create thousands of jobs and make substantial infrastructure improvements to educational institutions all over the country, and will result in significant cost savings over the long haul. But Republicans won’t let it happen.
H.R. 2200 – Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act – So how tough are Republicans on terrorism, reallyy? This bill would not only fully fund the TSA, but it would implement a program to screen baggage for explosives, as well as a program to verify the identity and status of law enforcement officers who fly armed. And Republicans are blocking it.
H.R. 2221 – Data Accountability and Trust Act – This bill would actually create a regulatory structure that would require any business using personal information to establish security policies and procedures to protect that data. It would require information brokers and others to submit those policies and procedures to the FTC for approval, and it would prohibit such businesses from obtaining or disclosing, or soliciting to obtain, personal information by false pretenses. In other words, another step to make sure that eCommerce is safe, which would protect consumers and businesses in every transaction, and create a level playing field for everyone. But Republicans are blocking it.
H.R. 2352 – Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act – This bill essentially combines a number of other bills that Republicans had blocked in the Senate previously, and adds a few elements. The bill would again establish a Veterans Business Center Program; it would encourage and enhance Native American entrepreneurship; it would strengthen the Women's Business Center Program (the bill’s description uses the term “broadening,” which seems unfortunate); it would improve the SCORE programs; it would recommend major enhancements to the SBA’s entrepreneurial development programs; it would modernize and expand the Small Business Development Center Program; it would improve technology to create better distance learning and other educational programs for budding entrepreneurs; it would create a Microenterprise Training Center Program, to encourage and train low-income and unemployed folks to enter the market with a small business; it would establish a Military Entrepreneurs Program; and it would establish a Rural Entrepreneurship Advisory Council. In other words, this bill would encourage just about anyone with an idea to start a small business and hire people, and give them the knowledge they need to do so successfully. If small business is the backbone of the American economy, then why do Republicans object to strengthening the backbone?
H.R. 2454 – American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 – This bill sets up a regulatory framework that would greatly improve our energy situation, which is probably our greatest national security concern for the future – or it should be, anyway. It would improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and enable the overall transition to a clean energy economy, including provisions for agriculture and forestry related offsets. The provisions include: (1) creating a combined energy efficiency and renewable electricity standard and requiring retail electricity suppliers to meet 20% of their demand through renewable electricity and electricity savings by 2020; (2) setting a goal of, and requiring a strategic plan for, improving overall U.S. energy productivity by at least 2.5% per year by 2012 and maintaining that improvement rate through 2030; and (3) establishing a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and setting goals for reducing such emissions from covered sources by 83% of 2005 levels by 2050. Oh, now I get it – it’s that damn “cap-and-tax” that gets them! Does anyone actually care about the future of this country? The beauty of cap-and-trade is that the tax would constantly go down over time, as people use less and less energy. If only all taxes worked that way, huh?
H.R. 2510 – Absentee Ballot Track, Receive and Confirm Act – This bill would amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to direct the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to reimburse states for costs incurred in establishing an absentee ballot tracking program for federal elections. Couple that with H.R. 2499 – Puerto Rico Democracy Act, which would allow Puerto Ricans to hold a plebiscite to either confirm their current status as a commonwealth or approve a change in political status, as well as to hold another plebiscite every eight years after that, and you can see that Republicans aren’t big on democracy. Oh, wait; these are all bills they won’t allow to be voted on; I guess that’s apparent, huh?
H.R. 2529 – Neighborhood Preservation Act – This act would authorize any bank to offer a lease/purchase agreement for up to five years to anyone for any property it came into ownership of through foreclosure. This exception to the law would only be allowed for two years, while the current housing mess shakes itself out. Such a move would do a couple of things; it would keep homes occupied, and mitigate the negative effect on home values of having too many empty homes in a neighborhood, and it would create home purchase opportunities that would otherwise not be available. This type of program would do wonders for stabilizing home values, which is key to fixing the housing market once and for all. And your Republican Party won’t even allow a vote on it. Look at the empty homes in your neighborhoods, and put the blame where it belongs; Vote Democratic.
H.R. 2554 – National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers Reform Act – Remember that economic meltdown we had a few years back? I know you do. Well, apparently, Republicans would like you to forget about it. This bill would reinstate a key component of Glass-Steagall that was removed when Republicans rammed through Gramm-Leach-Bliley and made it possible for pretty much anyone in the world to call himself a “broker,” and sell any “financial instrument” he or she wanted to sell, without oversight. This bill would reestablish the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB) as a nonprofit corporation to oversee licensing and insurance producer qualification requirements and conditions, although states would retain authority with regard to licensing, supervision, disciplining, and setting of fees, as well as insurance-related consumer protection and unfair trade practices. It also requires anyone applying for a license to undergo a thorough criminal background check, and all members will be required to continue their education as they work. It restores sanity to the insurance and financial services industry, and Republicans are blocking it.
H.R. 2611 – Authorizing the Securing the Cities Initiative of the Department of Homeland Security – Exactly what it says. You know, if Republicans really don’t want another terrorist attack, they sure have a funny way of showing it…
H.R. 2664 – Promoting Transparency in Financial Reporting Act – Again, Republicans would like us to forget the financial meltdown, which was largely the result of massive investment in a number of “financial instruments” that even experts had a difficult time understanding. This bill would work to create standards whereby disclosures for bonds and other instruments have to at least make sense and are written in “plain English.” The bill also includes a reassessment of outdated or arcane accounting standards in favor of principles-based accounting standards (you know, in which $2 + $2 = $4, instead of $6, including sleight of hand) in which everyone up and down the line deals with real, not hypothetical money, and encouraging the use of interactive data. The reason Republicans are against this is because they don’t believe in real investment with real money. Think about it; Every period in which they’ve bragged about the “booming” economy has featured phony money – money that doesn’t actually exist, but which they can put onto paper, as if it was actually real.
H.R. 2693 – Oil Pollution Research and Development Program Reauthorization Act – Once again, this bill was introduced and passed by the Democrats in Congress BEFORE BP’s deep water rig blew up and ruined a large swath of the Gulf of Mexico. But even nearly six months after that, this bill sits and waits to be voted on in the Senate. It would authorize a “comprehensive federal oil spill research program, complete a research assessment on the status of oil spill prevention and response capabilities, and develop a federal oil spill research plan. Directs the Committee to: (1) establish a program for conducting oil pollution research, development, and demonstration; (2) submit to Congress an assessment of the status of oil spill prevention and response capabilities; and (3) establish the priorities for federal oil spill research and development.” Gosh, I can’t think of any reason why we’d need something like that, can you?
H.R. 2749 -- Food Safety Enhancement Act – Among other things, this bill would require that all food processing plants not already under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture be registered with the department, and any plant that produces contaminated food loses its registration. In other words, it would make our food supply safer. And Republicans are against it.
H.R. 2868 – Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009, Drinking Water System Security Act of 2009 and Wastewater Treatment Works Security Act of 2009 – This bill would enhance security at chemical plants, wastewater treatment plants and drinking water facilities, to guard against terrorism. What do Republicans have against national security? I mean, one might get a sense that they actually want an attack while Democrats are in charge.