President Obama today will sign into law legislation that will prevent student loan interest rates from doubling as scheduled, as well as provide transportation funding that will save and create millions of jobs. House Republicans had bogged down the transportation funding over demands that the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline be approved, but they dropped that demand last week.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Monday vetoed a tax increase on millionaires passed by Democrats in the state legislature for the third consecutive year, even as the Democrats planned to use the tax increase to pay for other tax cuts that Christie wants.
Christie himself has proposed tax cuts that would primarily benefit the wealthiest of the state’s residents and has justified his veto of the millionaire’s tax by saying it would lead to a mass exodus of high-income individuals from the state, despite evidence showing that would not be the case. But after vetoing the millionaire’s tax and millions in spending, Christie called legislators back to the capital to work on another tax cut, CBS News reports:
He called lawmakers, who would normally be on vacation after passing the budget, back to Trenton for a special session where he unveiled an alternate tax plan. His latest proposal: Use some of the $361 million he cut last week from the state budget with a line-item veto to pay for property tax cuts for any homeowner with a household income under $400,000 and for an expansion in an earned-income tax credit for the working poor.
Democrats slammed Christie’s latest proposal as “political theater,” and one activist group said he was using the state’s poorest residents as “pawns” in a political game. Supporting the boost to the earned income tax credit is, indeed, a change of tune for the governor. The Democratic budget bolstered the credit to 25 percent of the federal level, giving $115 a year to the average family. Christie, who now claims support for such a plan, scaled back that provision in his budget two years ago, did not include it in his own budget, and used his line-item veto to remove it from the Democratic budget.
Women of Brooklyn, New York, State Senator Marty Golden (R) wants to turn you into proper ladies fit for employment.
As part of a summer series on career development directed at his female constituents, Golden is hosting a taxpayer-funded event called “Posture, Deportment and the Feminine Presence” on July 24. Golden promises to teach Bay Ridge women “the art of feminine presence,” which includes tips on how to “sit, stand and walk like a model” and “walk up and down a stair elegantly”:
Golden defended the workshop as simply a way to help women get jobs in a tough market. Countering this justification, State Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) told City & State:
“Rather than passing legislation such as the Fair Pay Act to assist women in the workplace, the Senate Republicans appear to be offering career advice on posture and how to act feminine,” said Krueger, who hosted the Senate Democrats’ forum on issues affecting women in the workplace in May. “Perhaps this would be appropriate on Mad Men, but not in New York in the 21st century.“
Golden was the only Brooklyn senator to vote against New York’s same-sex marriage law.
Golden’s website has deleted the above quotes from the event page.
GOP Congressional Nominee Opposes Obamacare Because People ‘Don’t Die From Prostate Cancer, Breast Cancer’A Republican running for Congress in one of the nation’s most competitive districts claimed that Americans “don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer” in order to justify his opposition to health care reform.
Chris Collins, the GOP nominee opposing Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) in New York’s 27th congressional district, gave a wide-ranging interview to The Batavian late last month. The New York Republican said he opposed Obamacare, claiming that the situation in America is not nearly as dire as some might think:
Collins also argued that modern healthcare is expensive for a reason.
“People now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things,” Collins said. “The fact of the matter is, our healthcare today is so much better, we’re living so much longer, because of innovations in drug development, surgical procedures, stents, implantable cardiac defibrillators, neural stimulators—they didn’t exist 10 years ago. The increase in cost is not because doctors are making a lot more money. It’s what you can get for healthcare, extending your life and curing diseases.”
In fact, over 28,000 men will die of prostate cancer this year. According to the American Cancer Society, “Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer. About 1 man in 36 will die of prostate cancer.”
(HT: Daily Kos Elections)
It was just over a year ago that same-sex marriage became legal in New York, and in that time over 3,000 couples have tied the knot, comprising about 6 percent of all marriages in the state. These numbers do not include New York City, which counts its marriage separately. In February, the city had reported over $200,000 in new income from marriage licenses and a sharp increase of several thousand marriages over previous years, but did not report a count of same-sex marriages.
Until we’re forced to go without it.
I’ve not blogged for a while because I’ve been intermittently without electricity–first, by design, for a couple of days last week, when I took a rafting and camping trip off the grid in northern California, and then after I returned home to Bethesda, where a summer storm that killed 22 people also left more than 1.8 million people without electricity in the mid-Atlantic states.
Being power-less does interesting things to people.
Before leaving on the rafting trip, I confess, I was uneasy about doing without a cell phone, Internet access, email, Twitter and baseball scores, not necessarily in that order. I try to turn off my computer on Saturdays, to observe the Jewish sabbath, but I rarely succeed. Even when traveling overseas, I try to check in at least once a day. On an ordinary day, I rarely go more than an hour without checking email. This is an addiction, plain and simple.
Once I got out on the middle fork of the American River, none of that mattered. (Well, I did think about my beloved Washington Nationals now and then.) I was traveling with a group of fun and interesting people, assembled by Jib Ellison of the BluSkye sustainability consulting firm. The rafting was enormous fun. I camped for the first time in more than 30 years. (The technology of tents has improved nicely since then.) We ate well, and marveled at the beauty of the Sierra Nevadas.
Being off the grid was liberating–and restorative.
As it happened, we talked some about electricity. This was a group of sustainability people, after all. David Crane, the ceo of NRG Energy, talked about how he’d like to see solar panel on the roofs of half of the homers in America, roughly 50 million in all, but lamented the fact that most people aren’t aware that the cost of solar has fallen dramatically, that you can lease panels rather than buy them and avoid the high upfront costs, and that in some states the owners of solar-powered homes can sell electricity back to the grid. Most people, we agreed, just turn on their TV or plug in their laptop without thinking about how they are powered.
That wasn’t the case, of course, after a powerful storm struck Washington, D.C., and its suburbs on Friday. Many people took the inconvenience in stride, especially those of us, like my wife and I, who were fortunate enough to be able to check into a hotel for a couple of nights. But others griped incessantly about Pepco, the local power company, and a few treated the power outage as a hardship, which, to be fair, it can for older people or small children which suffer from the heat.
Hundreds of people flocked to malls and coffee shops to feed their Internet habit, sometimes squabbling over outlets.
That there might be a connection (no pun intended) between their electricity usage and the extreme weather — particularly the sweltering heat that has enveloped the DC area — probably did not occur to many. Burning coal, which generates more than 40% of the electricity in the US, is the biggest single contributor to climate change.
In a very real sense, the storms that cause us to lose electricity are caused, in part, by the fact that we use electricity that’s produced by burning fossil fuels.
To be sure, it’s not possible to link any particular weather event to global warming. But according to the National Climatic Data Center, more than 16,300 daily high temperature records were broken through June this year in the U.S. Whew! For more on the relationship between climate change and extreme weather, check out this update on Heat Waves and Climate Change from a nonprofit group called Climate Communication.
Don’t blame Pepco, folks; blame us.
Being without power is, of course, a more than an inconvenience for many. It’s a way of life. An estimated 1.3 billion people, or about 20 percent of the world’s population, live without regular access to an on-off switch of any kind, according to the International Energy Agency. About 85% of people in rural sub-Saharan Africa, for example, have no electricity in their homes.
Their kids can’t study at night. And they can’t plug in at a neighborhood Starbucks.
Maybe instead of whining when we’re powerless, we should try to be grateful that we live in a country where the electricity is nearly always on. Be even more grateful when we have an opportunity to unplug. And give some thought to installing solar panels on the roof.