By Annie-Rose Strasser on Apr 29, 2013 at 11:45 am
Credit: U.S. Army
Congress is forcing the Army to spend nearly half a billion dollars building tanks that Army officials insist they don’t want, with money they say could be better spent elsewhere, according to a new report from the AP.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) are the two members of congress at the helm of the effort to spend $436 million on upgrading the Abrams tank, “a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.” The reason? Both represent Ohio, home to the nation’s only tank manufacturing plant, which would profit from the money.
The move is contradictory for the two politicians; both are also vocal advocates for fiscal austerity, and have made careers insisting that the government cut what they see as wasteful spending. It would seem that pushing for tank production against the will of the Army — as Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno put it, “If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way” — is in direct contradiction to that aim.
Still, Rep. Jordan defended his push for the funding, saying, “The one area where we are supposed to spend taxpayer money is in defense of the country.” This is a common line among Republicans. The House GOP’s proposed budget also seeks to restore funding the military says it doesn’t need.
Indeed, Republicans have pushed to maintain defense spending while pushing for cuts to mental health programs, cancer treatment, food safety inspectors, and preschool programs. They have repeatedly ignored or dismissed the assertion from military generals that President Obama’s budget, which would have made targeted cuts to military programs, was an acceptable path to spending reduction.
A cut to one specific program would by no means be a drastic setback for the military; between 2001 and 2011, military spending nearly doubled. American voters, much like the military’s generals, also support scaling back the military’s spending.
This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.
Fort Bliss, a base near El Paso, is a hotbed of solar power and other green energy initiatives.
— By Jim Hightower
Do you know about “net zero”? That’s the wonky phrase attached to an elegant idea: converting communities to total renewable energy, complete recycling, and a culture of conservation to bring humankind’s carbon footprint into a sustainable balance with a healthy earth.
Now, imagine the last place you’d expect this ideal to take root…and even flourish. How about an Army base? In Texas? Well, astonishingly enough, the Army is pioneering America’s net-zero future. Fort Bliss, a sprawling military base accommodating 35,000 soldiers in El Paso, is one of our armed forces’ leading hotbeds of energy conservation and creativity.
The post already has a 1.4-megawatt solar array and has placed rooftop solar panels on enough base housing to generate 13.4-megawatts of energy. It’s partnering with El Paso Electric to add a 200-acre, 20-megawatt solar farm by 2015. The base’s managers plan to convert its own waste into energy. Oh, and it’s engaged in wind power, geothermal, and conservation projects while promoting energy-efficient vehicles and building bicycle lanes.
The Army! Who knew they cared?
At Fort Bliss, the rank and file, as well as the brass, are committed to achieving the goal of net zero by 2018. By that date, the base is supposed to generate all of the energy it uses — solely relying on renewable alternatives. Fort Hood, in Killeen, Texas, aims to get there by 2020.
The troops have earned their green stripes by planting nearly 15,000 trees and embracing recycling. To encourage the latter, base commander Gen. Dana Pittard has invested the revenue from recycling into skate parks, gyms, and other morale-boosting recreation projects.
“Everybody is getting involved,” he says, noting that the effort is changing behavior and fostering a conservation culture, which he hopes “our soldiers will then take with them when they go on.”
There’s hope for the Earth when even the Army begins to care, take action, and change attitudes.
columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. OtherWords.org Ribbon-cutting photo from USACE HQ/Flickr
Washington, DC – Today, Representative Steven Horsford (NV-4) co-sponsored the bipartisan Veterans Mental Health Accessibility Act, which was introduced by Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-17). Currently, veterans face a five-year window in which they must seek treatment for mental illnesses before losing their higher priority status. This legislation would eliminate the five-year window and allow veterans to seek treatment for service-connected mental illnesses, regardless of when their conditions manifest themselves.
“We must renew our commitment to provide the men and women who have served our country in uniform with the healthcare services they deserve,” said Horsford. “The Veterans Mental Health Accessibility Act would ensure the services and treatments that are available to recently discharged veterans are available to all who have served in combat. This bill maintains the role of the VA to treat service-related disorders and allows its healthcare professionals to diagnose mental disorders and illnesses according to established procedures.”
Currently, the VA offers healthcare treatment and services to our nation’s veterans who suffer from service-related physical or mental disabilities. While the diagnosis of physical injuries typically is made before or shortly after separation from the military, mental illnesses may not manifest themselves until years later. Serious mental health issues like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder were virtually undiagnosed in veterans of previous wars, having only been added by the to the American Psychiatric Association to the third edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) nosologic classification scheme in 1980. As the United States military and the VA continue to improve treatment for those who have served, there remains a gap for veterans struggling with mental illnesses that this legislation seeks to address.
Nevada Office of Veterans Services (NOVS) Veterans Outreach Visits Planned for Silver Springs & Dayton
The Nevada Office of Veterans Services (NOVS) Veterans Outreach “ROVER” Program will visit Silver Springs, April 9, and Dayton, April 10, so veterans and family members will be able to meet with a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) learn about benefits and services they may be eligible for but unaware of.
“We’re asking local businesses, city officials and anyone willing to help us spread the word, to post a flyer at their location or download and email the flyer to their personal network,” says Executive Deputy Director, Kat Miller. To download; go to the NOVS ROVER page at
to find the ROVER schedule and scroll down to the date of the event.
Location: Wednesday, April 10, Dayton Senior Center – 320 Old Dayton Valley Road – 10 am – 2 pm
Veterans and family members can make an appointment to meet with a Veterans Service Officer to discuss their benefits and PRE- SCHEDULED APPOINTMENTS ARE SUGGESTED. Walk-in appointments are welcome, but can only be seen as time permits. To schedule an advanced appointment, contact Pamela (775) 688-1653 ext 6 or Barbara at (775) 321-4880. Veterans are advised to bring a copy of their DD-214 discharge document and/or current VA paperwork. If the claim involves their dependents, veterans should bring marriage and/or birth certificates as well as social security numbers of their dependents.
The ROVER Program is funded by donations to the Veterans Gift Account that is supported by the Nevada Veterans License Plate Program. With mission-focused employees, NOVS is responsible for the administration of two State Veterans Memorial Cemeteries, a State Veterans Home, and a State-wide Veterans Service Officer program. NOVS is instrumental in connecting Nevada’s veterans and their families with benefits and assistance from both the State and Federal government. For more information, call (866) 630-VETS or visit www.veterans.nv.gov.
Much has been said over the past few weeks about the budget proposal in the House of Representatives, offered by Rep. Paul Ryan, and backed by Republican members, but not much has been said about how it will affect our veterans. As you know, the Paul Ryan plan will end Medicare, making it a voucher program, leaving seniors to buy their own insurance in the private system. It will therefore end one of the most popular and successful initiatives ever offered.
This plan will also punish veterans – harshly – and it’s important that you spread the word on how it will do so.
Here are the facts:
- Millions of veterans over 65 rely on Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance for their health care. In fact, according to the last survey of veterans by the Department of Veterans’ affairs, 39.3% of veterans use Medicare, compared with 14 percent of the general population.
- Many of these veterans are relying on Medicare as their sole health care provider. The Ryan plan would have an immediate impact on these veterans, forcing those falling into the “donut hole” with high-cost prescription drug costs to pay more for their medications in addition to paying more for preventative health services.
- Veterans who rely on Medicaid would not escape cuts either. The Republican plan could slash $1.4 trillion in health benefits over the next ten years. Forty-four states are already facing significant budget shortfall in Fiscal Year 2012,and the cuts could force the state to either ration health care benefits for veterans across the country, restrict eligibility rules and leave thousands uninsured, including veterans, or raise taxes to cover the shortfall.
- Finally, many veterans rely on private insurance, mostly through their employer. Because Republicans want to repeal the recent health insurance law, these veterans will no longer have guaranteed access to health insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions and may see annual or lifetime caps on coverage under the Republican budget.
In short, Republicans and Paul Ryan will strip away care for our veterans, in the name of budget cutting. These proposals are draconian, cruel, and unfair to those men and women who put their lives on the line for this country. But, unless we spread the word about how severely the Ryan/Republican plan will hurt veterans, most Americans won’t ever know.
Take some time to read their propaganda and get to know what they’re trying to do. Be an informed voter, not someone who swallowed their propaganda, hook, line and anchor.
|GOP 2012 Platform||GOP Growth Opportunities||2009 Road to Recovery||2010-Better Solutions|
|2010-Pledge to America||P2P v1.0||P2P v2.0||P2P v3.0|
Read/compare a few to see what you think — and if you’d like you can compare the actual budget numbers between plans here.
Veena Trehan, Op-Ed: Fifty years ago, Betty Friedan’s “Feminine Mystique” explained how wives were not fulfilled by homemaking and childbearing. Woman couldn’t get credit, were fired when their pregnancy showed and held mostly assistant or teaching positions in the 1960s. We’ve come a long way. Today, women comprise 58 percent of college students, 33 percent more college graduates than men, and a strong presence in most industries. Yet, they make up only 20 percent of Congress, 4 percent of Fortune 500 companies’ CEOs, and 15 percent of senior executives.
Anthony Gucciardi, News Report: In case you’re not familiar, the Monsanto Protection Act is the name given to what’s known as a legislative rider that was inserted into the Senate Continuing Resolution spending bill. Using the deceptive title of Farmer Assurance Provision, Sec. 735 of this bill actually grants Monsanto the immunity from federal courts pending the review of any GM crop that is thought to be dangerous. Under the section, courts would be helpless to stop Monsanto from continuing to plant GM crops that are thought even by the US government to be a danger to health or the environment.
William Astore, Op-Ed: Today’s unmanned aerial vehicles, most famously Predator and Reaper drones, have been celebrated as the culmination of the longtime dreams of airpower enthusiasts, offering the possibility of victory through quick, clean and selective destruction. Those drones, so the (very old) story goes, assure the U.S. military of command of the high ground and so provide the royal road to a speedy and decisive triumph over helpless enemies below. Fantasies about the certain success of air power in transforming, even ending, war as we know it arose with the plane itself.
Nina Rogozen, News Report: Millions of Americans lack adequate health care, using emergency rooms as a costly alternative or getting no care at all. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), often called “Obamacare,” opened the door for an affordable option. The December 31, 2012 deal between Congress and the administration that avoided the so-called “fiscal cliff” has, at least for the moment, closed that door for 26 states. The ACA funds private, nonprofit health insurers called Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans—CO-OPs. It originally set aside $3.4 billion for low-interest loans—seed money for at least one health cooperative in each state, plus Washington, D.C.
Amy Goodman, Video Interview: As Washington lawmakers pushes new austerity measures, economist Richard Wolff calls for a radical restructuring of the U.S. economic and financial systems. We talk about the $85 billion budget cuts as part of the sequester, banks too big to fail, Congress’ failure to learn the lessons of the 2008 economic collapse and his new book, “Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism.” Wolff also gives FOX news host Bill O’Reilly a lesson in economics 101.
Paul Buchheit, Op-Ed: The first step is to learn the facts, and then to get angry and to ask ourselves as progressives and caring human beings, what we can do about the relentless transfer of wealth to a small group of well-positioned Americans. End the capital gains giveaway, which benefits the wealthy almost exclusively. Institute a Financial Speculation Tax; both to raise needed funds from a currently untaxed subsidy on stock purchases and to reduce the risk of the irresponsible trading that nearly brought down the economy.
Ian Millhiser, News Report: Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear the first of two cases which could end discrimination against same-sex couples and ensure that all Americans can marry the person they love. Whatever happens in those two cases, one thing is all but certain: Justice Antonin Scalia will vote to maintain marriage discrimination and he will spend much of this week’s oral arguments making insulting comments about LGBT Americans. After the offensive things Scalia compared homosexuality to in his past opinions, Scalia concludes his Lawrence dissent with a plea that he is not in the least bit anti-gay. “Let me be clear,” Scalia writes, “that I have nothing against homosexuals.”
Yuriko Koike, Op-Ed: When the consequences of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq ten years ago are fully assessed, the importance of the subsequent rise of political Islam there—and throughout the wider Middle East—may well pale in comparison to that of a geostrategic shift that no one foresaw at the time. That shift, however, has now come into view. With America approaching energy self-sufficiency, a U.S. strategic disengagement from the region may become a reality. China’s dependence on Middle East energy imports means that it is almost certain to seek to fill any regional security vacuum.
Anthony Gucciardi, News Report: Thanks to corporate loopholes and profit-driven manufacturers, it’s harder than ever to really know what you are putting into your body — or perhaps even more importantly the mouths of your children. That said, it is possible to make sure you’re getting what is not just labeled organic and shipped from a contaminated facility in China, but actually high quality. The fact of the matter is that the decision to switch to organic food is one that signifies a serious change in lifestyle across the board, leading to a wealth of information and serious optimizations for your health.
News Report: One month after the largest climate rally in U.S. history urging President Obama to deny the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline’s northern segment, protesters in dozens of cities throughout the U.S. are confronting Keystone XL’s corporate backers directly. Thirty-seven have been arrested over the last 10 days for disrupting business as usual at TransCanada and their investors’ offices, with more actions planned over the next couple of days.
Robert J. Shiller, Op-Ed: With much of the global economy apparently trapped in a long and painful austerity-induced slump, it is time to admit that the trap is entirely of our own making. We have constructed it from unfortunate habits of thought about how to handle spiraling public debt. People developed these habits on the basis of the experiences of their families and friends: when in debt trouble, one must cut spending and pass through a period of austerity until the burden (debt relative to income) is reduced.
Igor Volsky, News Report: During a roundtable discussion on Friday, Fox News’ Lou Dobbs agreed with a network contributor who argued that Americans need to access military-style assault weapons to protect themselves from an Iranian invasion. “What scares the hell out of me we have a president, as we were discussing during break, that wants to take away our guns, but yet he wants to attack Iran and Syria. So if they come and attack us here, we don’t have the right to bear arms under this Obama administration,” Angela McGlowan, a former lobbyist for News Corp., said in the midst of a conversation about violence in Syria.
Jim Lobe, News Report: Defense establishments around the world increasingly see climate change as posing potentially serious threats to national and international security, according to a review of high-level statements by the world’s governments released here Thursday. The review, “The Global Security Defense Index on Climate Change: Preliminary Results,” found that nearly three out of four governments for which relevant information is available view the possible effects of climate change as a serious national security issue.
Michael Beckel, News Analysis: Natural gas executive James Willard Kinzer of Kentucky is one of more than 100 small business owners listed online as supporting Curtis Bostic, the former Charleston County council member who appears to have advanced to a runoff against former Gov. Mark Sanford following Tuesday’s 16-way GOP primary in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. But he’s much more than that. Not only did Kinzer donate the legal maximum to Bostic’s underdog campaign, he pumped $30,000 into a pro-Bostic super PAC called the “Coastal Conservative Fund.”
Amy Goodman, Video Feature: A shocking new report has been released by The Guardian newspaper and BBC Arabic detailing how the United States armed and trained Iraqi police commando units that ran torture centers and death squads. It’s a story that stretches from the U.S.-backed involvement in Latin America to the imprisoned Army whistleblower Bradley Manning. Amy Goodman is joined by Chief Reporter Maggie O’Kane
Dave Johnson, Op-Ed: The executives who run the giant multinationals want to be let off the hook for paying taxes on profits they make outside our borders. As an Apple executive said to The New York Times, giant multinationals “don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems.” And to prove it, American corporations are holding $1.7 trillion in profits outside the country—just sitting there—rather than bringing that money home, paying the taxes due and then paying it out to shareholders or using it to “create jobs” with new factories, research facilities and equipment.
Bill Moyers, Video Interview: Sheila Bair, the longtime Republican who served as chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) during the fiscal meltdown five years ago, joins to talk about American banks’ continuing risky and manipulative practices, their seeming immunity from prosecution and growing anger from Congress and the public. Also, Richard Wolff, whose smart, blunt talk about the crisis of capitalism the first time around now answers questions sent in by viewers, diving further into economic inequality, the limitations of industry regulation and the widening gap between a booming stock market and a population that increasingly lives in poverty.
Carl Gibson, Op-Ed: Kentuckians live by the phrase, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.” It’s emblazoned on our flag, and shows two men, a frontiersman (Daniel Boone) and a statesman (Henry Clay) standing together. They may be standing on opposite sides of the seal, but their embrace symbolizes a spirit of cooperation and caring for your fellow man even though you may sometimes disagree with him. Yet, as Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell proudly announced that his chief goal as the top Republican member was not to create jobs or help schools or look out for struggling middle class, but to deny President Obama a second term.
Anthony Gucciardi, News Report: Whether or not the FDA chooses to approve genetically modified salmon for sale in the marketplace, supermarkets themselves have decided to take a stand in the form of a mass boycott. One that would serve to crush the profits of the unlabeled seafood abomination. In a move that signifies the growing opposition to genetically modified creations from a grassroots level all the way to corporate understanding of consumer demand, chains like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Aldi, and others are now all reporting that they will refuse the sale of AquaBounty Technology’s modified salmon.
William Boardman, News Report: The F-35 is a case study of government failure at all levels—civilian and military, federal, state, local, even airport authority. Not one critical government agency is meeting its obligation to protect the people it presumably represents. Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who wrote the F-35 critique above, is hardly unique as an illustration of how government fails, but he sees no alternative to failure. The F-35 is a nuclear-capable weapon of mass destruction that was supposed to be the “fighter of the future” when it was undertaken in 2001.
The budgeting process for our Federal Government is a convoluted process that doesn’t come close to matching any budgeting process in the private sector. Since Congress hasn’t actually agreed upon spending and taxing policies, which they can use to create a budget, some means to fund government operations and services must be used. That’s where a continuing resolution comes in.
A continuing resolution is a type of appropriations legislation used by Congress (providing they can agree on the continuing resolution) to fund government agencies if a budget (appropriations) bill hasn’t passed both Houses and been signed into law by the end of a Congressional fiscal year (October 1st – September 30 each year).
Two budget bills were voted on this week in Congress … both along partisan lines. The Republican bill in the House was passed with only Republican votes and is pretty much DOA in the Senate. The Democratic bill in the Senate passed with votes from Democrats and Independents, but no Republicans. Similarly, the Senate bill is pretty much DOA in the House. Each bill takes different approaches in building a budget to fund governmental functions and services.
Rep. Paul Ryan’s Budget (HCONRES25) seeks $4.6 trillion in savings over the next 10 years without raising new taxes. It aims to reach a small surplus by 2023 through deep cuts to health care and social programs that aid the poor. It passed the House on a purely partisan vote with NO Democratic support and 10 Republican defections:
|3/15/2013||Introduced in House|
|3/15/2013||The House Committee on The Budget reported an original measure, H. Rept. 113-17, by Mr. Ryan (WI).|
|3/21/2013||Passed/agreed to in House: On agreeing to the resolution Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: 221 – 207 (Roll no. 88). Rep. Amodei is listed as “not voting”: Heck, Horsford and Titus all voted in against passage.|
|3/22/2013||Received in the Senate. Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 33.|
|HOUSE VOTE #88||YEAS||NAYS||PRES||NV|
Senator Patty Murray’s budget (SCONRES8) in the Senate aims to reduce deficits by $1.85 trillion over 10 years through an equal mix of tax increases and spending cuts. Again, this budget was also passed along partisan lines with four Democratic defections: Baucus (MT), Begich (AK), Hagan (NC) and Pryor (AR). Upon passage in the Senate, Sen. Murray (Senate Budget Cmtee Chair) stated, “While it is clear that the policies, values, and priorities of the Senate budget are very different than those articulated in the House budget, I know the American people are expecting us to work together to end the gridlock and find common ground, and I plan to continue doing exactly that.”
|3/15/2013||Introduced in Senate|
|3/15/2013||Committee on the Budget. Original measure reported to Senate by Senator Murray under authority of the order of the Senate of 03/14/2013. Without written report.|
|3/23/2013||Passed/agreed to in Senate: Resolution agreed to in Senate with amendments by Yea-Nay Vote. 50 – 49. Record Vote Number: 92. NOTE: Reid voted Yea / Heller voted against passage|
Given that Rep. Ryan’s Path to Poverty Version 3.0 budget bill went down in flames as soon as it hit the Senate door, and the Senate’s bill didn’t fair any better in the House, another continuing resolution to authorize modified levels of spending for the next six months was needed — or as they like to refer to it in Washington — kicking the can down the road for yet another six months. The Continuing Resolution bill is HR933, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013.
HR933 was originally introduced as Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013. Since the Senate can’t “originate” an appropriations bill, and since HR933 was an appropriations bill already passed by the House (the only chamber authorized to “originate” appropriations), the Senate commandeered that bill, replaced it’s contents with a continuing resolution, and sent it back to the House for concurrence. If the Senate were to have created a bill on it’s own, approved it and sent it to the House, it would have been blue-slipped and automatically rejected upon Constitutional grounds.
|3/4/2013||Introduced in House|
|3/6/2013||Passed/agreed to in House: On passage Passed by the Yeas and Nays: 267 – 151 (Roll no. 62).|
|3/20/2013||Passed/agreed to in Senate: Passed Senate with an amendment replacing its contents and an amendment to re-Title the bill by Yea-Nay Vote. 73 – 26. Record Vote Number: 44. NOTE: Reid voted Yea / Heller voted against passage (for shutdown)|
|3/21/2013||Resolving differences — House actions: On motion that the House agree to the Senate amendments Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: 318 – 109 (Roll no. 89). NOTE: Rep. Amodei is listed as “not voting”: Heck, Horsford and Titus all voted in favor of passage.|
|SENATE VOTE #44||TOTALS||DEMOCRAT||REPUBLICAN||INDEPENDENT|
|HOUSE VOTE #89||TOTALS||REPUBLICAN||DEMOCRAT||INDEPENDENT|
It now goes to the President for signature and thus, another kick of the budgetary can.
Budgets are technically, a statement of priorities, as are continuing resolutions. And, various tidbits and provisos of each party’s policy stances toward governance manage to slip in budgetary bills. Overall, 112 amendments were offered to the HR933. Transparency relative to all 112 amendments is sorely lacking, as most are listed on THOMAS as “Purpose will be available when the amendment is proposed for consideration. See Congressional Record for text.” It’s clear we need to revisit the issue of “transparency” with our legislators.
Here are a few of the amendments I found that failed:
- SA 30 introduced by Sen. Cruz (R-TX): To prohibit the use of funds to carry out the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
- SA 66 introduced by Sen. Coburn (R-OK): To temporarily freeze the hiring of nonessential Federal employees.
- SA 69 introduced by Sen. Coburn (R-OK): To prohibit Urban Area Security Initiative grant recipients from funding projects that do not improve homeland security.
- SA 93 introduced by Sen. Coburn R-OK): To transfer appropriations from the National Heritage Partnership Program to fund the resumption of public tours of the White House and visitor services and maintenance at national parks and monuments.
- SA 115 introduced by Sen. Toomey (R-PA): To increase by $25,000,000 the amount appropriated for Operation and Maintenance for the Department of Defense for programs, projects, and activities in the continental United States, and to provide an offset.
Here are a few of the amendments I found that passed:
- SA 72 introduced by Sen. Inhofe (R-OK): To require the continuation of tuition assistance programs for members of the Armed Forces for the remainder of fiscal year 2013.
- SA 29 introduced by Sen. Inhofe (R-OK): To prohibit the expenditure of Federal funds to enforce the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure rule of the Environmental Protection Agency against farmers.
- SA 65 introduced by Sen. Coburn (R-OK): To prohibit the use of funds to carry out the functions of the Political Science Program in the Division of Social and Economic Sciences of the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences of the National Science Foundation, except for research projects that the Director of the National Science Foundation certifies as promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States.
Here a a few other items that were slipped in to this bill that you might find a bit interesting.
Given the GOP’s advertisement of their “autopsy” and their need to be a kinder, gentler, more inclusive party of something other than Greedy Old Patriarchs, plus, given their “support for the troops” and their “Jobs, Job, Jobs” mantra … section 8014 of the bill is a bit counter-intuitive. Although—it does parallel their tiered benefits approach to Medicare (those older than 55 get the current program, those younger, well they’d get a declining value voucher). Under this proviso, it appears that if you re-enlisted before 10/1/1987 and have this in your enlistment contract, you get it … everyone else … so sad, too bad. The VA can buy your books and pay your tuition, but the government won’t pay you any wages or benefits … but hey … you’re still on the hook for your enlistment. Good luck supporting yourself and oh, by the way, hope you don’t get sick while you’re at school learning something that you’ll later apply back on the job during the rest of your enlistment.
Sec. 8014. None of the funds appropriated by this Act shall be available for the basic pay and allowances of any member of the Army participating as a full-time student and receiving benefits paid by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from the Department of Defense Education Benefits Fund when time spent as a full-time student is credited toward completion of a service commitment: Provided, That this section shall not apply to those members who have reenlisted with this option prior to October 1, 1987: Provided further, That this section applies only to active components of the Army.
The Long Defunct ACORN organization
Sec. 510. None of the funds made available in this Act may be distributed to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) or its subsidiaries or successors.
Good grief! ACORN was a collection of community-based organizations that advocated for low- and moderate-income families by working on neighborhood safety, voter registration, health care, affordable housing, and other social issues. The Gang Of Predators (GOP) killed that organization using totally and bogusly false allegations! It filed for Chapter 7 liquidation on November 2, 2010, effectively closing the organization. The GOP danced with glee … so if they’re trying to become a kinder, gentler, caring GOP, what’s with the paranoia … and the continued assault on any organization that helps the poor?
Restrictions Placed on the ATF — Gives away a KEY requirement for Control of Gun Violence to the NRA
One of the reasons we’ve not been able to get a handle on how to control gun violence is that we have not data from which we can effectively draw conclusions. That’s because, gun vendors are not required to keep any records whatsoever of gun sales for use in analyzing patterns. Similarly, police units are prohibited from keeping permanent records associated with background checks and trace data. In passing the continuing resolution … proviso language included in the bill perpetuate the lack of analysis data.
(b) For fiscal year 2013 and thereafter, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives shall include in all such data releases, language similar to the following that would make clear that trace data cannot be used to draw broad conclusions about firearms-related crime:
(1) Firearm traces are designed to assist law enforcement authorities in conducting investigations by tracking the sale and possession of specific firearms. Law enforcement agencies may request firearms traces for any reason, and those reasons are not necessarily reported to the Federal Government. Not all firearms used in crime are traced and not all firearms traced are used in crime.
(2) Firearms selected for tracing are not chosen for purposes of determining which types, makes, or models of firearms are used for illicit purposes. The firearms selected do not constitute a random sample and should not be considered representative of the larger universe of all firearms used by criminals, or any subset of that universe. Firearms are normally traced to the first retail seller, and sources reported for firearms traced do not necessarily represent the sources or methods by which firearms in general are acquired for use in crime.
Too Big to Jail
Ever wonder why the Attorney General never seeks an indictment and doesn’t prosecute government contractors for the waste, fraud and abuse they regularly commit? Could it be that if they took some of their egregiously fraudful government contractors to court and actually managed to convict them — well, they wouldn’t be able to let them continue to reap their fraudulent schemes and line all those congressional campaign coffers?
SEC. 540. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to enter into a contract, memorandum of understanding, or cooperative agreement with, make a grant to, or provide a loan or loan guarantee to, any corporation that was convicted of a felony criminal violation under any Federal law within the preceding 24 months, where the awarding agency is aware of the conviction, unless an agency has considered suspension or debarment of the corporation and has made a determination that this further action is not necessary to protect the interests of the Government.
Sec. 8126. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to enter into a contract with any person or other entity listed in the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS)/System for Award Management (SAM) as having been convicted of fraud against the Federal Government.
Those are just a few “policy” or “values” items I noted as a read through bill, as passed. You may find others if you take the time to read through the bill. But, as I said earlier, budgets are a statement of “policy” and “values.” Those activities and services deemed important by the powers that be (regardless of what ordinary Americans value) are funded, plain and simple. Watch, read, learn over this next term, and in the 2014 primaries, cast your vote based on the VALUES you espouse for a candidate you believe will uphold them.
- House passes spending bill, averting government shutdown (dailykos.com)
- Senate Bill Would Avert Government Shutdown (hispanicbusiness.com)
- House passes plan to avert federal shutdown (mysanantonio.com)
- Senate passes bill to avert government shutdown (news.yahoo.com)
- Senate bill aims to avert shutdown, lacks key budget powers (Reuters) (newsdaily.com)
- Bill is Triple Whammy for Federal Employees (afgelocal704.com)
- GOP Leaders Again Break Pledge to Post Bills 72 Hrs Before Vote: Pass 574-Page Senate CR (sgtreport.com)
— Mar 19, 2013 | By ThinkProgress War Room
The consequences of this decision have been overwhelming. A new report estimates that the Iraq War will end up costing American taxpayers at least $2.2 TRILLION, but perhaps as much as $4 TRILLION with interest since Bush put the war on the national credit card at the same he slashed taxes on the wealthy.
(Incidentally, $4 TRILLION is the total amount of deficit reduction that President Obama is seeking, including about $2 TRILLION in the current round of negotiations in order to replace the sequester and stabilize our long-term debt.)
The bill for the war may be large, but the human cost of the Iraq War is even more staggering. It’s estimated that 200,000 people, civilians and soldiers alike, were killed as a result of the war. A million other Iraqis were displaced by the conflict.
These topline figures are just the beginning. Our ThinkProgress colleagues outline five ways the U.S. is worse off because of the Iraq War:
1. The debt
At the start of the war, the Bush administration predicted that it would cost around $50-60 billion in total. They were wrong by more than a factor of ten, sending the U.S.’ debt soaring, a condition that has yet to be rectified. According to a recent study, the war is set to have cost the U.S $2.2 trillion, though that number may reach up to $4 trillion thanks to interest payments on the loans taken out to finance the conflict. Of that staggering amount, at least $10 billion of it was completely wasted in rebuilding efforts.
2. The physical and psychological strain on U.S. troops.
The soldiers charged with fighting the war were stretched to their limits, put through multiple tours, with increasing length of time overseas as the war stretched on and shrinking downtime in between each. All-told, over 4,000 U.S. troops died during the country’s time in Iraq, with another 31,000 wounded in action. In the aftermath, the cost of providing medical care to veterans has doubled, adding to the difficulties faced by those who served. Up to 35 percent of Iraq War veterans will suffer from PTSD according to a 2009 study, while the suicide rate among veterans has jumped to 22 per day.
3. The forgotten war in Afghanistan.
Even worse, the war in Iraq caused the U.S. to take its eye off the ball in Afghanistan. Rather than following through, the Bush administration allowed the country to stagnate, prompting a Taliban resurgence beginning in 2004. As the West focused almost exclusively on Iraq, Taliban fighters imported tactics seen in Iraq to great effect, keeping the Afghan government weak and U.S.-led NATO forces on their heels. The result: the United States is still attempting to tamp down on Taliban momentum today.
4. The opportunity costs.
Aside from missed opportunities in Afghanistan, the Iraq War-effort was all-consuming, pulling resources from all other areas of U.S. defense policy. Relationships with key allies were allowed to grow stale and U.S. prestige around the world plummeted. Fighting in Iraq was realized to be a diversion from combating al Qaeda, drawing funding that could have gone towards a litany of other efforts to effectively counter terrorism.
5. The strengthening of Iran and al Qaeda.
The power vacuum left after the fall of Saddam and the lack of adequate U.S. forces left room for U.S. adversaries to fill the void. Counter to what some still believe, Al Qaeda had no presence in Iraq prior to 2003. Instead, it was only in the post-Saddam climate that they gained a foothold in the form of Al Qaeda in Iraq. The group continues to carry out attacks against civilians to this day, keeping the Iraqi government on edge.
In the end, it was not the United States that gained the most strategically from invading Iraq, but the Shiite-dominated Islamic Republic of Iran. In removing Saddam Hussein’s predominantly Sunni regime from power, the U.S. opened the door to a greater Iranian influence in the region. That influence has been seen playing out counter to U.S. interests in situations such as allowing Iranian planes bearing weapons for Syria to cross Iraqi airspace.
Given that we know now that the war was launched on false premises and have witnessed what has happened since, you’d think the architects of the war would at least admit they wrong or express some regret. You’d be wrong.
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld took to Twitter today to pat himself on back:
“10 yrs ago began the long, difficult work of liberating 25 mil Iraqis. All who played a role in history deserve our respect & appreciation.”
Richard Perle argued in an opinion piece earlier this week that it was still right to have removed Saddam Hussein, even though he had no Weapons of Mass Destruction. Top war architect Paul Wolfowitz acknowledged that things “spiraled out of control,” but blamed others and argued that things would’ve been different if the war had been prosecuted his way (it was, incidentally).
Astonishingly, the American Enterprise Institute’s Danielle Pletka even went so far this week as to argue that the mess in Iraq is really President Obama’s fault. This view was echoed yesterday by Fouad Ajami, a conservative intellectual close to Wolfowitz and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who also criticized Obama for ending “an honorable war.”
It appears that the American people are smarter, or at least more honest, than the neocons who led us into perhaps the worst foreign policy blunder in American history. Polls out this week show that a majority of Americans believe the Iraq War was not worth fighting.
Evening Brief: Important Stories That You Might’ve Missed
- How the Iraq War changed everything: the rise of soldiers in popular culture.
- How the NRA secretly protects people who commit crimes with guns.
- Chipotle pulls out of Boy Scouts of America event due to conflict with its non-discrimination policy.
- Four ways the Supreme Court could knock out the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8.
- Cyprus rejects punitive EU bank bailout.
- CEOs kick off campaign to lobby for corporate tax breaks, reforms to make offshoring profits easier.
- Paul Ryan rules out any compromise in fiscal standoff.
- Bush speechwriter describes the run-up to the Iraq War.
- The GOP dilemma on immigration.
This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.