Archive for March 11th, 2010
Very interesting video. Well worth the click and the time to watch.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is making plans for the final floor activity on health care reform, and if there are lingering doubts from skeptical House Dems about Reid’s intentions, they should check out his new letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell explaining the path forward on health insurance reform. In the letter, Senator Reid details the steps that Senate Democrats have taken to secure bipartisan support for health reform despite the lack of cooperation from Senate Republicans. Reid said he will seek a democratic, up-or-down simple majority vote to revise the health reform bill already passed by a supermajority of 60 Senators last December. Reid also reiterated the commitment of Senate Democrats to deliver meaningful health reform that will ensure access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans.
Reid’s letter wasn’t exactly tepid. It accuses Republicans of "distorting the facts" and spreading "outright lies" while millions of Americans "struggle to afford to stay healthy, stay out of bankruptcy and stay in their homes."
Reid reminded McConnell that Republican concerns about reconciliation are "unjustified," and that "the reconciliation bill now under consideration would not be the vehicle for comprehensive reform." The Majority Leader added that it’s McConnell’s party that has long loved this same procedure: "[O]ne might conclude that Republicans believe a majority vote is sufficient to increase the deficit and benefit the super-rich, but not to reduce the deficit and benefit the middle class. Alternatively, perhaps Republicans believe a majority vote is appropriate only when Republicans are in the majority. Either way, we disagree."
He concludes by effectively daring McConnell and his caucus to oppose the legislation: "Keep in mind that reconciliation will not exclude Republicans from the legislative process. You will continue to have an opportunity to offer amendments and change the shape of the legislation. In addition, at the end of the process, the bill can pass only if it wins a democratic, up-or-down majority vote. If Republicans want to vote against a bill that reduces health care costs, fills the prescription drug "donut hole" for seniors and reduces the deficit, you will have every right to do so."
Seems like someone had his Wheaties this morning.
Via mistermix at Balloon Juice, you can now get biking directions from Google maps. mistermix said that he’d been biking to work for 10 years, and Google showed him a better route. Go here to see.
This recipe is now simmering.
UPDATE: Unbelievably tasty. I amped up the crushed red pepper (of course), so it’s nice and spicy. I used Pacific swordfish as the fish and “lite” coconut milk.
It wasn’t clear whether the garlic and lemon/lime juice marinade for the fish should go into the soup. I did include it.
Governors and education leaders on Wednesday proposed sweeping new school standards that could lead to students across the country using the same math and English textbooks and taking the same tests, replacing a patchwork of state and local systems in an attempt to raise student achievement nationwide.
But states must first adopt the new rigorous standards, and implementing the standards on such a large scale won’t be easy.
Two states — Texas and Alaska — have already refused to join the project, and everyone from state legislatures to the nation’s 10,000 local school boards and 3 million teachers could chime in with their opinions.
The public is invited to comment on the proposed new standards until April 2, and the developers hope to publish final education goals for K-12 math and English in May.
The state-led effort was coordinated by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Experts were called in to do the writing and research, but state education officials and teachers from around the nation were actively involved.
After the standards are complete, each state will still have to decide whether to adopt them as a replacement for their existing education goals.
The stakes could be high. President Barack Obama told the nation’s governors last month that ..
"Filegate" is a term that always deserved scare quotes, because the putative scandal concerning the misuse of FBI files in the Clinton White House was so clearly, from its very beginning in 1996, no scandal at all. But the obvious absence of any credible evidence that Bill or Hillary Clinton or any of their employees or associates had ordered up such files, or committed any abuse of them, did nothing to dissuade mainstream media, right-wing outlets, or Republican politicians from hysterically promoting the pseudo-scandal.
Today it is amazing to recall how significant this nothingness was once deemed to be, with nightly coverage on network newscasts. On Capitol Hill, Sen. Orrin Hatch demanded a fingerprint analysis to determine whether Hillary Clinton had touched the files (she hadn’t) while lengthy investigations got under way in the Senate, the House and the Office of the Independent Counsel led by Kenneth Starr. Bob Dole, the Republican presidential candidate in 1996, compared "Filegate" with Nixon’s Watergate scandal and asked: "Where’s the outrage?"
Yesterday the last wheeze of hype was squeezed from that old controversy, when U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth dismissed the remaining civil lawsuit against former Clinton administration officials in the FBI files affair. Brought by eccentric attorney Larry Klayman, who became a favorite of cable television and conservative funders during the Clinton era, those costly lawsuits were described in the judge’s decision as essentially baseless.
Summing up his findings, Lamberth wrote: …
One of the greatest hardships facing America’s college students is student debt; the average student in the class of 2008 graduated with $23,000 of debt, “a figure 25 percent higher than what their older brothers and sisters owed when they graduated from college in 2004.”
To tackle this student debt crisis, last year the House of Representatives passed the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), which expands and improves successful student aid programs like the Pell Grant and the Perkins Loan program, and eliminates billions of dollars in subsidies to wasteful private lenders by arranging loans directly with students instead of through bank middlemen.
The Senate is currently deliberating over its own version of the bill, and it is one Senate floor vote away from being signed into law by the President. However, the student lending industry has launched an “aggressive lobbying campaign” of senators representing states where big lenders are based, scaremongering about job losses resulting from passing SAFRA. Now, it appears that their lobbying is paying off, as six Democratic senators have written to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, asking him to “consider potential alternative legislative proposals” to SAFRA’s major lending reforms:
Six Democrats signaled deep concerns with their chamber’s student lending reform bill on Tuesday, imploring party leaders to “consider potential alternative legislative proposals” in the coming days.
That could spell trouble for Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and other Democratic leaders, who once hoped to advance the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act to the president’s desk using the chamber’s 50-vote reconciliation process.
In a brief letter dated Tuesday, Democratic Sens. Bill Nelson (Fl.), Tom Carper (Del.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Jim Webb (Va.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.) describe reform to the country’s “higher education funding” system as a “priority.” But the group…also express concerns the Senate’s lending bill could ultimately result in local job loss.
While the senators may be claiming that passing SAFRA would result in job losses in their states, the truth is that it would be minimal at worst. The fact is that only 30,000 people at most are employed in the student lending industry. And because the companies would still be in charge of servicing all the government issued loans, servicing jobs could actually increase. For example, “Nelnet (Ben Nelson’s biggest donor) saw their servicing revenues [increase] 13% in 2009 as a result of a contract they won to service student loans for the Department of Education.”
One way to avoid a filibuster by Republicans and lender-friendly Democrats is to pass SAFRA with the health care legislation in one reconciliation bill. The Hill reports that “a Democratic official familiar with negotiations” over the student lending bill has told them that the leadership has already decided to “pair [the] overhaul of student lending with healthcare reform,” although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) office says “no final decision has been made.” Using reconciliation for a major education reform bill would hardly be without precedent. In 2007, the Senate passed the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007 through the reconciliation process by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 79-12.