Congress

COUNTY SERVICES IN JEOPARDY IF CONGRESS FAILS TO PASS PILT

 

January 21, 2014 (Washington D.C)--America’s counties will have no option but to severely reduce or eliminate critical county services to the public if Congress fails to deliver funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program in the Fiscal Year 2014 Omnibus spending bill.

Without annual PILT payments, many services including fire and emergency medical services, search and rescue, public health, law enforcement and justice operations could be affected. In many cases, counties will face more severe consequences including insolvency, default, and bankruptcy.

A REVIEW OF JUAN VARGAS’ FIRST YEAR IN CONGRESS

 

By Jordan Schaffner

Miriam Raftery also contributed to this article

January 21, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – What has Congressman Juan Vargas accomplished during his first year in office and how effectively is he representing his constituents?

The answer varies, with the Congressman showing strong interest in representing the interests of Latinos, seniors, and labor interests -- while largely ignoring the interests of rural constitutents and enviornmentalists concerned over the industralization of East County with large-scale energy projects.

RENO DISPATCH: DID THIS LEGENDARILY INERT CONGRESS REALLY JUST GET OFF THE FLOOR AND DO SOMETHING RIGHT FOR OUR TROOPS & VETERANS?

 

 

By Jamie Reno

Jan. 16, 2014  (San Diego) -- It’s been a pretty positive week in Washington for our troops and veterans. As you've probably heard, Congressional negotiators have shockingly agreed on a $1.1 trillion spending package that almost everyone says is a pretty good deal. Go figure! And one of the real positives of this whopping budget agreement is that it gives active-duty military a one percent pay raise. 

But wait, there's been even more surprising action from this historically do-nothing Congress.  Read more at the Reno Dispatch.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS EXPIRE FOR MILILONS OF LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYED

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 28, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) -- Long-term unemployment benefits expired on Saturday , after Congress failed to authorize an extension. People who have been out of work for six months or longer will no longer be receiving unemployment checks.

About 1.3 million Americans will lose benefits immediately, including 222,000 Californians.  By the end of 2014, it’s estimated that nearly 5 million people will lose unemployment benefits. Those checks range from $40 to $450 a week, so this is a major blow for individuals who may have no other source of income.

The New York Times reports that removing this safety net for unemployed workers will push hundreds of thousands of households below the poverty line. With the cut off, only one out of every four unemployed Americans will receive jobless benefits –the lowest proportion in half a century.

D-DAY: WILL THE U.S. DEFAULT ON DEBT?

 

By Miriam Raftery and Nadin Abbott

October 16, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – If Congress and the President don’t pass a spending bill and raise the debt ceiling, tomorrow the United States will default on its debts for the first time in our nation’s history. 

The heads of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce representing businesses, the AFL-CIO representing labor unions, and the nonprofit United Way have all urged Congress to end the shutdown and avoid a default. 

If the nation defaults on its debts, economists warn this could trigger a stock market crash, soaring interest rates, and a global recession.  The U.S. would be unable to borrow money and would be able to spend only cash on hand creating an uncertain future for all who rely on federal money, including Social Security and Medicare recipients.  Foreign creditors could seek to cash out their U.S. bond holdings, leaving the government unable to pay its debts.    Standard and Poors has downgraded the U.S. credit rating in reaction to the stalemate in Washington, CCN.

CONGRESSWOMAN DAVIS MOVES TO FORCE VOTE TO OPEN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

 

October 12, 2013 (Washington D.C.) --As the economically damaging government shutdown entered its 12th day, Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) took an extraordinary legislative step to bypass the Speaker of the House and force a vote to open the government.

“A majority of the Congress wants to end the government shutdown and stop the economic harm it is causing,” said Davis. “Legislation to open the federal government is sitting on the Speaker’s desk, having passed the Senate two weeks ago. Unfortunately, he won’t let the House vote. This move will apply the necessary pressure to force a vote to end the shutdown.”

Davis joined her House colleagues in signing what is known as a discharge petition to require the Speaker to bring the Senate-passed government funding bill to the House floor for an immediate vote. If a majority of the House signs the petition, a vote would be scheduled.

REPRESENTATIVES DAVIS AND VARGAS SUPPORT INCREASE IN MINIMUM WAGE

 

March 18, 2013 (Washington)--Two San Diego Congressional members, Democrats Susan Davis and Juan Vargas, joined 131 colleagues in introducing legislation to give minimum-wage workers a raise.  Both are cosponsors the Fair Minimum Wage Act (H.R. 1010) to boost the minimum wage to $10.10 over three years, increase the minimum wage for workers who rely on tips, and tie future annual increases to the rate of inflation. 

“Earning minimum wage salary should not mean living in poverty or struggling to pay the bills,” Davis said.  “A minimum wage increase would enhance the economic security of our families by putting more money in the pockets of those who need it most.  Let’s honor and respect our hard work minimum-wage earners by giving them a much-deserved raise.”

READER'S EDITORIAL: HOURS LEFT TO SAVE SOCIAL SECURITY

 

By Fred Griesbach

American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)

 

March 19, 2013 (Washington D.C)--In a matter of hours, the Senate could vote to cut your Social Security benefits.

President Obama is pushing a budget deal that would include a proposal called "chained CPI", a benefit cut that would take money straight out of your pocket – and some Senators want to take it.

Their vote could happen at any moment, so your Senators need to hear from you right now. Tell your Senators to keep your hard-earned benefits safe and say no to chained CPI.

READER'S EDITORIAL: SEQUESTER HARMS SAN DIEGO; BIPARTISAN SOLUTION NEEDED

By Congressman Scott Peters (D-San Diego)

March 12, 2013 -- Two weeks before the sequester took effect, House leadership called a recess and sent us home. As a former Port Commissioner and City Council president, that was foreign to me. I could not believe, with the amount of work still to be done, we were sent home. And, even more frustrating, that we were sent home without being allowed to vote on a single alternative to the sequester, because leadership didn’t agree with the legislation. This, in my opinion, is not representative of the democratic process that the United States is regarded for.

I used my time at home to send a message back to Washington. I worked with our port commissioners, scientific research community and maritime workers to tell Congress that the negative effects of the sequester will be felt in San Diego through layoffs, furloughs, stifled research and decreased GDP.

WHAT HAPPENS IF SEQUESTRATION OCCURS ON FRIDAY?

By Miriam Raftery

White House releases list of cuts to California

“By God, across-the board cuts are the worst and most cowardly way to approach this situation.” –Senator John McCain (R-AZ)

"Are Republicans in Congress really willing to let these cuts fall on our kids’ schools ...slash military health care and the Border Patrol ...Are they seriously prepared to inflict more pain on the middle class because they refuse to ask anything more of those at the very top?" -- President Barack Obama

February 25, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – If Congress can’t agree by Friday, automatic sequestration cuts will take place in nearly all federal programs.  Half will hit the military, the other half will slice domestic programs. 

Both sides agreed in prior debt negotiations that the cuts were so severe that neither party would actually let them take place--and that the sequestration trigger would force Congress to come up with a more sensible plan before the March 1 deadline.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened.  Sequestration appears likely to occur on Friday--and the impacts are apt to be felt by every American, from long waits at airports to cuts in programs impacting students, senior citizens, the military, national parks, the unemployed, health programs, and much more.  Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said cuts will  even harm the readiness of U.S. troops in the military.

CONGRESSMAN PETERS TO SERVE ON HOUSE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, SPACE AND TECHNOLOGY

January 16, 2013 (Washington, D.C.)--The Democratic Caucus earlier this month approved additional committee assignments for Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) has been assigned to serve on the House Science, Space and Technology committee.

ECM WORLD WATCH: GLOBAL AND NATIONAL NEWS

January 10, 2013 (San Diego’s East County)--ECM World Watch helps you be an informed citizen about important issues globally and nationally. As part of our commitment to reflect all voices and views, we include links to a wide variety of news sources representing a broad spectrum of political, religious, and social views. Top world and U.S. headlines include:

U.S.

WORLD

Read more for excerpts and links to full stories.

RENO DISPATCH: WILL CONGRESS THROW VETERANS UNDER THE BUS?

January 2, 2013 (San Diego) – What has sadly been lost this week amid all the chatter about the so-called fiscal cliff is the fact that members of Congress are already threatening to throw our veterans under the bus. And it is nothing short of despicable.

Back in September, I reported for Newsweek/The Daily Beast that an unidentified Senator tried to block disabled veterans and their survivors from getting a cost-of-living adjustment to their benefits. The Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) increase for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, which typically passes the House and Senate without opposition, was cleared by Senate Democrats but was unconscionably placed on a “secret hold” by an unidentified Republican senator.

http://therenodispatch.blogspot.com/2012/12/will-congress-throw-veterans...

FISCAL CLIFF LOOMS AS YEAR END DEADLINE DRAWS NEAR

How will failure of Congress to halt fiscal cliff impact you?

By Miriam Raftery

December 30, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – If Congress fails to agree by the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, automatic spending cuts of 8-9% across the board will take place as required through sequestration in both domestic programs and Defense.  That could cut the deficit by half, but theCongressional Budget office warns this could trigger recession as steep  tax hikes take effect along with spending cuts. It’s not just the rich who will feel the pinch—in fact middle class and low income earners would face severe economic impacts.

San Diego's biotech industry, military and Border Patrol offices are all bracing for potential painful cuts.

The deficit currently stands at $1.1 trillion, the lowest since 2008 but still a daunting figure that both sides seek to reduce, but with vastly different approaches.

ECM WORLD WATCH: GLOBAL AND NATIONAL NEWS

December 19, 2012 -- (San Diego’s East County) – ECM World Watch helps you be an informed citizen about important issues globally and nationally. As part of our commitment to reflect all voices and views, we include links to a wide variety of news sources representing a broad spectrum of political, religious, and social views. Top world and U.S. headlines include:

U.S.

Mass shooting at Connecticut elementary school:

Other national news:

WORLD

Read more for excerpts and links to full stories.

VETS FIGHT FOR WILDERNESS: ISSA BILL WOULD EXPAND WILDERNESS IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY

By Lori Abbott, California News Service

November 17, 2012 (San Diego)-Congress returned to Washington, D.C., to begin its lame-duck session, but a veterans' group has not given up the fight for legislation to protect parts of the California desert. A bill  by Darrell Issa (R-San Diego) would designate as wilderness more than 21,000 acres of Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia in northern San Diego County. 

NATIONAL COMMITTEE TO PROTECT SOCIAL SECURITY/MEDICARE BACKS PETERS OVER BILBRAY

October 9, 2012 (San Diego) -- The National Committee to Protect Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), one of the most trusted, independent and effective advocates for these programs in the country since 1982, has endorsed Scott Peters for Congress, the Peters campaign announced today.

 NCPSSM President and Chief Executive Officer Max Richtman said they are endorsing Peters over Bilbray because they trust Peters to protect Medicare and Social Security, while Bilbray has voted repeatedly to cut these critical programs which protect many of America’s seniors from living in poverty.

ECM WORLD WATCH: GLOBAL AND NATIONAL NEWS

 
August 2, 2012 --  (San Diego’s East County) – ECM World Watch helps you be an informed citizen about important issues globally and nationally. As part of our commitment to reflecting all voices and views, we include links to a wide variety of news sources representing a broad spectrum of political, religious, and social views. Top world and U.S. headlines include:   
 
 
 

U.S.

  • Romney would let wind energy tax credits expire, campaign says (Denver Post)
  • Leaders have agreement to avoid pre-election government shut-down (The Hill)
  • Scathing report on for-profit colleges and their $32 billion in tax dollars (Atlanta Journal Constitution)
  • Congress warned that Al Qaeda in Iraq is coming to America (Jewish World Review)
  • Scalia: Guns may be regulated (National Journal)
  • More worries for the wealthy? Inheritance taxes to jump unless Congress acts (Christian Science Monitor)
  • U.S. raises taxes on Chinese wind turbine makers (NY Times)
  • 14 reasons why this is the worst Congress ever (Wonkblog)
WORLD
  • India blackout affects millions, grid failure among world’s worst power outage (Reuters)
  • Japan utility gets $12.8B nuclear crisis bailout (UT San Diego)
  • Cuba broadens economic reforms, plans new measures (Reuters)
  • In pictures: Olympics opening ceremonies (BBC)
  • Thousands flee amid growing ethnic violence in India (NPR)
 
Read more for excerpts and links to full stories.

ECM WORLD WATCH: GLOBAL AND NATIONAL NEWS

 
July 5, 2012 --  (San Diego’s East County) – ECM World Watch helps you be an informed citizen about important issues globally and nationally. As part of our commitment to reflecting all voices and views, we include links to a wide variety of news sources representing a broad spectrum of political, religious, and social views. Top world and U.S. headlines include:    
 
 

 

WORLD
  • Al Jazeera: tests suggest Arafat died of radioactive polonium poisoning (USA Today)
  • Mexico’s president-elect may double security spending – aide (Reuters)
  • Iran long range missiles attack ‘mock’enemy  bases (ABC news)
  • Report describes brutal torture centers in Syria (CNN)
U.S.
  • Obama, Romney campaign to square off over energy (The Hill)
  • Congress passes student loan bill (Huffington Post)
  • The bomb buried in Obamacare explodes today – Hallelujah! (Forbes)
  • More state leaders considering opting out of Medicare expansion (Washington Post)
  • Romney campaign enters ‘message mayhem’ on insurance mandate (USA Today)
  • The Nation: Guns blamed for started wildfires in parched west  (North County Times)
  • This summer is ‘what global warming looks like’ (AP/Associated Press)
  • Deadly land hurricane strikes Midwest, Atlantic states  (Accuweather)
  • A health care Judas recounts his conversion  (CNN)
 
Read more for excerpts and links to full stories.

STATE AND FEDERAL RUN-OFF MATCHUPS FOR NOVEMBER

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 15, 2012 (San Diego) –Who will be squaring off in the November run-off  to represent East County and San Diego in Congress and the State Legislature?

With all but 7,000 votes counted locally, according to the Registrar, here’s a rundown on these important race--including our assessment of the odds for those vying in the November run-off election:

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

 

March 24, 2012 (Washington, D.C.)  “There is now more supply…available in America today than there was three years ago when the price of gas was a buck ninety a gallon. There’s less demand now than there was at any time since 1997, so we’re not looking at a supply and demand problem. What we also know is that over eighty percent of the oil futures market is not controlled by people who actually use the oil, airlines, etc. , but by Wall Street speculators like Goldman Sachs/Morgan Stanley…The root of the problem is that our friends on Wall Street who caused this recession through their greed are at it again, and by manipulating oil futures market they’re driving up prices” – Senator Bernie Sanders, Vermont,  only Independent member of Congress. 

 

MEET THE NEW 50TH DISTRICT CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATES IN JULIAN APRIL 4

March 20, 2012 (Julian) -- On Wednesday April 4, the Congressional candidates running for the new 50th District, previously the 52nd District, will participate in a question and answer session.  The candidates are Connie Frankowiak (D), Terri Linnell (R), David Secor (D), Michael Benoit (I)(L), and Congressman Duncan Hunter (R) has also been invited to participate.  In this forum the audience asks the questions, and the questions are not be screened.  Everyone is welcome to participate. 

WIND INDUSTRY SUSPENDS TURBINE ORDERS AS TAX CREDIT EXPIRATION DATE LOOMS

 
February 17, 2012 (Washington D.C.) – Congressional members are wrangling over extension of the production tax credit (PTC) , which is due to expire December 31.  According to Wind Power Monthly, “uncertainly over it future is already causing companies to suspend development activities and hold off on turbine orders for 2013.”

WIND SPIN: PUFFED-UP CLAIMS FROM THE WIND POWER LOBBY. AND SOME OPPONENTS.

 

February 15, 2012  (Pennsylvania) -- Reprinted with permission from FactCheck.org (a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania)
 
Originally published February 9, 2012 at http://www.factcheck.org/2012/02/wind-spin/ 
 
Summary
 
The wind-power lobby is spinning the facts in a $1.4-million TV ad campaign aimed at extending a lucrative tax break worth billions to the industry.

READER’S EDITORIAL: SAN DIEGO MOM ASKS CONGRESS TO EXTEND UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS AND KEEP HER FAMILY OFF THE STREETS

 By Vanessa Celia Winters, San Diego

 
December 16, 2011 (San Diego) -- I am a Wal-Mart associate who supports three children, and an unemployed husband. My husband was laid off due to the economic recession and has been on unemployment ever since. I work odd hours at Wal-Mart just to earn enough money to feed my family.

 

CONGRESS AVERTS GOVERNMENT SHUT-DOWN, BUT BATTLE LOOMS OVER PAYROLL TAX CUT, UNEMPLOYMENT, AND OTHER KEY ISSUES

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 16, 2011 (Washington D.C.) – Final votes are expected today in both houses on a compromise funding measure to avoid a government shut-down--just in time for the holiday adjounrment. 

HUNTER NAMED TO HOUSE-SENATE CONFERENCE COMMITTEE FOR NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT


December 11, 2011 (Washington, DC) --
U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter (CA-52), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has been named to the congressional conference committee that will negotiate differences between the House and Senate versions of the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. 

READER’S EDITORIAL: CONGRESS SHOULD EXTEND UNEMPLOYMENT BY DEC. 31 DEADLINE

By Sierra Severson

 
December 6, 2011 (San Diego)--The unemployment insurance fund is about to expire before the end of this year. Congress needs to act to extend this necessary safety net or Americans will suffer even greater than they already have. We need this program to be renewed for the millions of people who are seeking jobs in this economy.

 

SUPER COMMITTEE FAILURE TRIGGERS STEEP CUTS IN DEFENSE, MEDICARE, VETERANS' BENEFITS AND MORE

By Miriam Raftery

November 23, 2011 (Washington D.C.) – The Congressional budtet “super committee” charged with reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years failed to reach a deal by Monday's deadline. This sets in motion triggers forcing automatic deep cuts starting January 2013 in Defense spending and social programs including Medicare, Social Security, veterans’ benefits and food stamps.

The six Republicans on the 12-member committee demanded spending cuts in domestic programs listed above and sought to extend Bush tax cuts. Democrats wanted to raise taxes on millionaires, minimize cuts to social programs and add stimulus spending aimed at creating jobs while off-setting costs with savings from ending the Iraq War.

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