FROM Roger Hickey
The road to the White House: "Brass knuckles and back-alley brawls" Donald Trump's been sounding mellower lately, reading prepared speeches off a tele-prompter, but traditional GOP leaders are braced for what might come next. The campaign's latest CEO is Steve Bannon, who transformed the conservative website Breitbart by catering to the so-called "alt-right." That's the domain of white nationalism, misogynism, and anti-Semitism — anathema to mainstream Republicans. Breitbart has also published rumors about Hillary Clinton's health, adding false reports to the very real issues about e-mails, the Clinton Foundation — and trust.
Hillary Clinton Finally Does It Again More than a minute into a two-minute web video with "everyday Americans," talking about their futures, Hillary Clinton says what everyone already knew. What everyone doesn't yet know is why she's running and what she stands for -- beyond becoming the first woman to capture the White House. It's a campaign announcement that's low key compared to her launch in 2007. Now she's literally "hitting the road" to Iowa in her "scooby-Doo van" -- no more helicopters or jet planes. Will her new style appeal to her party's "liberal wing."
Stalemate over the Debt Ceiling Continues Last week, President Obama and Speaker John Boehner agreed that the debt-limit deadline had created an opportunity for something "big:" tax loophole-closings and spending cuts, including adjustments to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. But yesterday, Boehner backed off and called for a smaller package or even a stopgap. This morning, the President called any extension " unacceptable ." As Washington's debt-limit brinkmanship continues with inconclusive meetings and political positioning, will Washington let the money run out? Will Medicare and Social Security be part of a final deal?
Stalemate over the Debt Ceiling Continues " If not now… when? " President Obama asked today as leaders of both parties in Congress prepared for yet another White House negotiating session. He challenged both parties to compromise, so that raising the debt ceiling can become an opportunity for spending cuts and closing tax loopholes long term, insisting that a short-term deal would be unacceptable. What happened to the so-called "big deal" he and Speaker John Boehner talked about just last week? With both parties divided, are next year's elections making it harder to avoid the first default in American history?
Is AARP Leading the Way to Cuts in Social Security? Last week, the Wall Street Journal quoted John Rother, policy director of the AARP saying, "The ship was sailing. I wanted to be at the wheel when that happens." What he was talking about was AARP's decision that cuts in Social Security might be necessary. In Washington, and around the country, the reaction was deafening. Had AARP changed its position? Should Social Security become part of deficit reduction? We hear an argument directly affecting America's most reliable voting bloc.
Social Security, the AARP and the Deficit With 37 million members and a massive budget, AARP claims it's the voice in Washington for senior citizens, America's most reliable voting bloc. But last week, AARP created a firestorm by saying it would consider "modest" cuts in Social Security benefits. The Wall Street Journal quoted AARP Policy Director John Rother saying, "The ship was sailing. I wanted to be at the wheel when that happens." In Washington, and around the country, the reaction was deafening. Deficit hawks said it's about time, but other defenders of Social Security accused the organization of selling out the very people it claims to represent. Has AARP provided an opening for America's most popular social program to be put on the deficit chopping block?
House Democrats Unveil Healthcare Bill, Including Public Option President Obama pitched healthcare reform again today, this time to an audience of small business owners. Meantime, Democratic leaders in the House unveiled their compromise bill , including a government-run plan to compete with private insurance.
House Democrats Unveil Healthcare Bill, including Public Option Earlier this week, it was the Senate . President Obama pitched healthcare reform again today, this time to an audience of small business owners. Meantime, Democrats in the House announced it will take up its own version of a government plan to compete with private insurance. Speaker Nancy Pelosi made compromises to get the votes of moderates in her own party. Republicans said her plan came "lurching out of the back rooms…like another freight train of big government with more mandates and more spending and that's not what the American people want in healthcare reform." With debate to begin in both houses, we hear the pros and cons of the "public option" and other issues. If Independent Joe Lieberman won't go along, will a filibuster kill healthcare reform in the Senate?
Health Insurance on Capitol Hill and the Presidential Trail While Hillary Clinton and the rest of the candidates are debating healthcare reform, President Bush and the Congress are at odds over a current program that's about to expire. The State Children's Health Insurance Program was created to provide coverage for children of the working poor—kids whose parents make too much for Medicaid but still can't afford private insurance. After ten years, both parties agree it's been a success—but it's scheduled to expire at the end of this month. In the Senate, Democrats and Republicans have agreed to expand it into the lower middle class. In the House, Democrats working alone have approved a much bigger expansion . President Bush has threatened to veto either version. Claiming that expansion of the program would move middle class families who can afford private insurance to let the government pay, the Administration has enacted new guidelines, requiring privately insured families to wait for a year before they're eligible for SCHIP.
"Tough on crime" rhetoric sees a revival at Sessions' DOJ The pendulum swings between treatment-focused approaches to drug abuse and tough law enforcement. Now, after years of Obama-era "reforms," President Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions wants local police freed from federal restrictions to fight another "war on drugs."
White House flip flops: NATO, Syria and China In less than 100 days, President Trump has contradicted himself on a host of foreign policy issues — Syria, NATO, China and Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Is it a strength — or a weakness — for the United States when the world of power politics never knows what to expect?