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Longwood Gardens.  February, 2013.  Photo by joanneleon.



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Sounds like a solution, but which "tax expenditures" and who does it affect? If it's tax breaks for Big Oil or TBTF banks, sounds like a solution and why didn't they do this in the first place?

The Way Out of the Sequester Is Cutting Tax Expenditure
The horrifying list of budget cuts seems inevitable. Republicans want spending cuts, and Democrats want revenue increases. But they can get both by getting rid of hidden spending programs.

But there is a way forward. All it takes is for the Republicans to remember that there are hundreds of billions of dollars in hidden spending programs that operate through the tax system. Cutting them would satisfy both Republicans who demand smaller government and Democrats who want higher revenue.
These spending programs are known as “tax expenditures,” and for good reason. In most cases they are indistinguishable from spending programs in every respect, except that they deliver their benefit in the form of a targeted tax break instead of a government check.
[...]
For years, conservatives seeking to cut down the size of government have recognized that these tax expenditures are equivalent to spending programs. As President Reagan’s chief economic adviser, Martin Feldstein, wrote in 2010: “If Congress is serious about cutting government spending, it has to go after many of them. Cutting tax expenditures is really the best way to reduce government spending.” And none other than House Speaker John Boehner said before the 2010 midterm elections: “We need to acknowledge that what Washington sometimes calls tax cuts are really just poorly disguised spending programs that expand the role of government in the lives of individuals and employers.”

There is the S word again.  Graham is out there talking Social Security cuts.  Riggell is the guy that Obama was with yesterday giving the speech in front of the three story ship propeller.  He is talking "tax reform", code word for less progressive, flatter tax structure.  Those are the two big things that the 1% wants.  Those are the holy grail.  Are they going to work Social Security cuts into this deal somehow at the last minute?  Doesn't seem likely and it has nothing at all to do with the debt or deficit.  
Graham and Rigell Open Door to New Revenue

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he could support another $600 billion in revenue if it were part of a larger deficit reduction deal including an overhaul of Medicare and Social Security.

And in a trip to Newport News, Va., with President Barack Obama on Tuesday, Virginia Republican Rep. Scott Rigell, who represents the district that includes a large military presence around Newport News and Norfolk, said he favored raising additional revenue as part of a tax overhaul.

“Our country has a spending problem,” he said. “We need to grow our economy and raise revenues that way. I also believe that revenue has to come up a bit, first by growing the economy but also by tax reform, which also includes eliminating lobbyist-inspired, lobbyist-written loopholes. I am in favor of that.”

The usual kabuki.
With Republican ally, Obama blasts Congress on sequestration

“These cuts are wrong,” he said while standing in front of a three-story aircraft carrier propeller. “They’re not smart, they’re not fair, they are a self-inflicted wound that doesn’t have to happen.”
[...]
“There are too many Republicans in Congress right now who refuse to compromise even an inch when it comes to closing tax loopholes and special interest tax breaks,” Obama said. “Keep in mind, nobody is asking them to raise income tax rates. All we’re asking is for them to consider closing tax loopholes and deductions.”

More kabuki but he has a point and it applies mostly to himself.  The question is, what were you doing on recess last week if this apocalyptic event was looming?  And on the other hand, even though the Constitution requires it, the House doesn't seem to initiate revenue bills anymore.  They all seem to be written in the Senate -- the president's legislative arm, with the help of the think tanks.
John Boehner says White House 'playing games'

“I think that the administration is trying to play games — play games with the American people, scare the American people. This is not, this is not leadership,” Boehner said.
[...]
“They’re out there making a lot of noise. What they really ought to be doing is coming up to the Hill and working with the Senate Democrats to pass a bill that can replace the sequester and begin a deal with our long-term spending problem,” he said.

Obama cybersecurity chief warns further regulations may be required

Daniel said new regulations could be needed to create a “backstop” to address security gaps in the computer systems and networks of the nation’s water systems, electric grid and other critical infrastructure.
[...]
In the near term, the White House will focus on overseeing the implementation of the measures in the executive order, while it is also working on a set of legislative principles to help guide Congress’s work on cybersecurity legislation.

Daniel said the principles will be similar to those outlined in the cybersecurity legislative proposal the administration delivered to Congress in May 2011, such as stiffening criminal statutes for cyber crime and creating a national data breach notification law that tells companies when they need to report a security breach to the government.

Supreme Court Voting Rights Act Case: DOJ's Tom Perez Calls Section 5 'Regrettably' Necessary

WASHINGTON -- If the Supreme Court decides to strike down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the strongest weapon the federal government has to prevent discrimination at the voting booth, Tom Perez is the guy who’ll have to pick up the pieces.
[...]
Four years since the start of the Obama administration, the Civil Rights Division -- and the Voting Section in particular -- seems to have gotten its mojo back. Perez frequently says his mission was the "restoration and revitalization" of the division; he says that he tried to fill its sections with “litigators and problem solvers” instead of “memo writers,” and that empowering the division’s career staffers to focus on their jobs has been a key to their success. Under Perez, the 55-year-old DOJ entity has gone on a bit of a hiring spree, obtained record fair-lending settlements and implemented a new law banning hate crimes against gays and lesbians. In fiscal year 2012, it handled the largest number of new voting cases in the section’s history.

Now, with the Supreme Court putting DOJ’s most powerful tool in combating voter discrimination on the chopping block, the Civil Rights Division may yet again have to make a major shift.
[...]
“Section 5, regrettably, continues to be very necessary,” Perez said. “Texas is one of a number of examples why its necessary and the law is not over-inclusive.”

Kevin Gosztola was at the hearing.  The judge ruled that the detention time was reasonable.  On Thursday, Manning will read a long statement when he formally enters his plea, during which he will explain why he gave the information to Wikileaks.  The government had some objections to this.  If I am understanding this correctly, he is going to plead guilty to some or all of the charges.  I don't know if there has been a plea bargain.
Bradley Manning Motion Hearing: Speedy Trial Ruling, Possible Plea (Updates)

[...]
6:00 PM EST Hearing has wrapped for the day. There was argument on whether the government has to prove the “enemy” received “intelligence” Manning “caused to be published.” Military prosecutor Maj. Ashden Fein gave a kind of history lesson to the court. You know, as a public service, because he said Manning should know the nature of the charges. He is going to be pleading guilty to offenses on Thursday.

The main issue was the relevance that Osama bin Laden received an email with the charged information attached. More soon because it is important to explore.
[...]

12:10 PM EST The military judge did not even finish the ruling. It took about an hour. Recall, reading of the ruling on whether Manning was punished “unlawfully” took about one hour and a half. She will be reading her ruling on Sixth Amendment alleged violations.
[...]
This an abuse of secrecy powers. The military expert keeps going on about how press can submit Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests [...]
Original Post
[...]
I am in the media center at Fort Meade. The New York Times, The Washington Post, AFP, Telegraph, The  Guardian, Courthouse News, Alexa O’Brien and Nathan Fuller of the Bradley Manning Support Network are all here to cover proceedings—along with Firedoglake. (RT has a reporter in the public gallery.)

Bradley Manning judge rules length of soldier's detention 'reasonable'
Charges in WikiLeaks case will not be dismissed as judge rules soldier's right to a speedy trial has not been violated

The judge presiding over the prosecution of alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning has ruled that the US soldier was brought to trial in good time and did not have his constitutional rights violated, removing the final impediments to a full court martial trial in June.
[...]
The judge, Colonel Denise Lind, spent two hours reading out her judgement to a pre-trial hearing in Fort Meade, Maryland. She went through the procedures in preparing for trial in minute detail, concluding that the exceptional length of the case was almost entirely justified as a result of its uniquely complex and sensitive nature.
[...]
Under the Rules of Court Martial 707, any member of the military who is prosecuted must be brought to trial – as measured by the date of his or her arraignment – within a "speedy trial clock" of 120 days of being detained. But there are grounds for excusable delays that set back the clock that include the need for counsel to prepare for trial in a complex case, an inquiry into the mental condition of the accused, and the time taken to obtain security clearance for classified information.
[...]
Lind spent an hour reading out her ruling, stopping only to drink from a bottle of water. The judgement is not being made available to the public, further exacerbating complaints that the trial is being conducted amid excessive secrecy.

Serious political activism is a lifelong endeavor

While it is certainly correct that each numerically-counted generation must, in the words of Frantz Fanon, “discover its mission” and “fulfill, or betray it;” none of us—irrespective to what “generation” we might consider ourselves to be a part of—can afford to give up, give in, or betray our quests as lifelong serious and committed political activists. We know that our “mission” is to collectively save ourselves, each other, and this planet; and this mission cannot and does not abide giving up. This mission continues of necessity—just as it has over the generations.

We are now living in a time when humankind possesses the insane military capability of annihilating itself, along with Mother Earth herself. Greed and the insatiable accumulation of wealth and power on the part of a tiny elite, at the expense of the majority of humanity, represent the actual reasons for the massive inequities, unending economic, political, judicial, and social violence at home, and the perpetual U. S. wars abroad.

Our quest, as serious political activists, is indeed an urgent and lifelong one. The corporate/military elite will not go away of its own accord. Only the determined and protracted collective actions by conscious everyday ordinary Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people will get these bloodsuckers off our backs, and relegate them to the dustbin of historical infamy where they belong.

Be we young or old, female or male, let us fulfill our mission and carry on in this quest. Educate, agitate, organize.

Remember: Each one, reach one. Each one, teach one. Onward, then, my sisters and brothers. Onward!





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