by German Lopez
West Chester lawmaker promises to tackle debt, jobs
In news that will surprise almost no one, John Boehner was
re-elected to the U.S. House of Representative’s top spot today.
Boehner, a Republican from West Chester, will now act as U.S. House
speaker for the 113th Congress.
Just moments after his re-election, Boehner pledged to tackle the U.S. debt and deficit. The line is nothing new. When President
Barack Obama stepped into the Oval Office, the debt and deficit became top concerns
for Republicans after eight years of binge spending and tax cutting
under former president George W. Bush.
But focusing on the debt could hurt an already slow economy. In recent years, many economists, including Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, have criticized budget austerity measures for dampening economic growth.In fact, Republicans recently embraced
the economic fact by joining the rest of the country in freaking out
about the fiscal cliff. The primary concern with the fiscal cliff was
that it would have cut spending and raised taxes so much and so quickly that
it would have thrown the country back into recession. The Congressional Budget
Office estimated the wave of austerity would have spiked the U.S.
unemployment rate to 9.1 percent by the end of 2013, up from November’s
rate of 7.7 percent.
In Europe, governments have learned the lessons of
austerity all too well. Last year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
was pushing Europe to balance its books. Now, top IMF economists are
releasing papers admitting the IMF greatly underestimated the negative impact austerity has on the economy.
In other words, if Republicans continue focusing on austerity measures to fix
the immediate deficit, the economy could get worse.
Boehner regained the top seat in the U.S. House largely thanks to redistricting. As CityBeat covered in this week’s issue, redistricting helped Republicans win the House despite losing the popular vote to Democrats.
by German Lopez
Fiscal cliff averted, Boehner uses naughty word, private prison penalized
Happy new year! Yes, planet Earth made it through another year. Welcome to an “extra saucy” Morning News and Stuff.
U.S. Congress managed to narrowly avert the “fiscal cliff,”
a series of tax hikes and spending cuts set to kick in at the beginning
of 2013. If the fiscal cliff had not been prevented, economists and the
Congressional Budget Office warned the United States would have plunged
back into recession. The final deal keeps tax hikes for those making
more than $450,000 a year, and most Americans will see their taxes
increase as the payroll tax break passed with President Barack Obama’s
stimulus package expires. It’s important to remember that the passing of
a deal is not some show of bipartisan heroism; instead, it’s Congress barely preventing an entirely self-inflicted problem.
But the deal did not come smoothly. Not only did Congress wait until the very last moment, but U.S. Speaker John Boehner used a naughty word.
At a White House meeting, the Ohio politician shot at unfavorable
comments from Democratic U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s by telling Reid, “Go f—
yourself.” In fact, Boehner actually used the naughty word twice! Reid
replied, “What are you talking about?” Boehner once again said, “Go f—
yourself.” Who knew U.S. Congress would turn out to be so much like high
When Corrections Corporation of America’s (CCA) Lake Erie
prison received an unfavorable audit, the Ohio Department of
Rehabilitation and Correction reacted by cutting payments to CCA by $573,000. CityBeat covered the audit and its troubling findings here. CityBeat also covered private prisons in-depth here.
On the bright side, Ohio’s minimum wage went up,
like it’s required to do so every year. Policy Matters Ohio says the
increase will bring in $340 per year for 215,000 low-wage workers around
Cincinnati-based Kroger is looking mighty tempting this year. Stock-wise, anyway. I don’t think many people like grocery shopping.
A court ruled Ohio overcharged 270,000 businesses for workers’ compensation premiums and must repay them. The ruling could cost the state millions of dollars.
In case anyone was worried, the national standards Ohio adopted for schools do not ban The Catcher in the Rye. Book cliff averted.
Allstate is hiring in Ohio. I’m not sure why this is news, but it’s on multiple newspapers today, so there it is.
Gays are now marrying in Maryland. Is the apocalypse near?
Intel could be looking to revolutionize the cable industry by allowing people to subscribe to individual TV channels.
That’s not a medieval weapon; it’s a space rover! The new rovers planned by top universities and NASA could visit Mars’ moon Phobos or an asteroid. It’s, like, whatever.
by Andy Brownfield
Posted In: Budget
at 04:31 PM | Permalink
Statement of principles presented to staffer outside of West Chester office
Activists gathered on Thursday outside of the West Chester
office of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, asking the House’s top
official to look at reducing military spending when coming up with a
The group of nearly two dozen — which included nuns, a
veteran, a retiree advocate, a small businessman and progressive
activists — held signs reading, “It is time for Nation Building in the
United States. Cut Massive Pentagon Budget Now!” and “End Tax Breaks for
“We’re here today in front of Speaker of the House John
Boehner’s West Chester office to drive home the fact that we believe
that over 50 percent of the budget magically, this elephant in the
House, has failed to be discussed as we discuss taking away services
that provide human needs,” said David Little of Progress Ohio.
“Any discussion that fails to address excesses in that budget is failing the American people.”
Little added that it was possible to support the troops and veterans without spending billions on pointless wars.
Butler County attorney and Navy veteran Bruce Carter said the military can be more efficient in what he called the changing
“When you refuse to have a discussion on over half of the
budget, that’s like trying to tell the Bengals to win a game without
going over the 50 yard line,” he said.
The group had a letter to deliver to Boehner, which contained what they called a statement of principles.
“We believe in a holistic approach to the budget crisis,
and in order to protect the middle-class, cuts to the Pentagon need to
be at the forefront,” the letter states. “We understand that Pentagon
cuts are a controversial issue, however, Pentagon cuts in the sequester
do not threaten our national security.”
The letter suggests that some of the money currently being
spent on the Defense Department goes to providing services for veterans.
The military accounted for about 52 percent — or $600 billion — of discretionary spending in fiscal year 2011.
In contrast, education, training and social services collectively made up 9 percent of the budget.
The group of four activists weren’t allowed into Boehner’s
office, but a young staffer met them outside. He said that the speaker
thought everything should be on the table when it came to budget cuts.
0 Comments · Tuesday, December 4, 2012
WEDNESDAY NOV. 28
Whether it’s London, England or London,
Ky., people tend to get pissed off when they find out their children
have been banned from one day entering the pearly gates of heaven.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 12, 2012
The Ohio Voters First
campaign for Issue 2 has shined some
light into how Ohio’s district boundaries are redrawn. In a new graph,
the campaign revealed that getting a business added to a district
is sometimes as simple as asking for a favor.
by German Lopez
Boehner staffer got request filled in 13 minutes, no questions asked
The Ohio Voters First campaign for Issue 2 has shined some
light into how Ohio’s district boundaries are redrawn. In a new graph, the campaign revealed that getting a business added to a district
is sometimes as simple as asking for a favor.
Just a day before the approval of Ohio’s new district
maps, Tom Whatman, a Boehner staffer, sent an email to Adam Kincaid, a
staffer for the National Republican Congressional Committee, and others in charge of redistricting. In the
back-and-forth, Whatman asks for a “small carve out” to include a
manufacturing business in the congressional district for Rep. Jim
Renacci, a Republican who has received support from the business in the
past. Before 13 minutes had passed, Kincaid replied to Whatman, securing
the change with no questions asked.
“Thanks guys,” Whatman replied. “Very important to someone important to us all.”
The Voters First graph, which mocks the 13-minute exchange
with the title “Jim Renacci: The 13 Minute Man,” can be found here. The
full emails, which were released by the Ohio Campaign for Accountable
Redistricting in a Dec. 2011 report, can be seen online here.Jim Slagle, who served as manager for the Ohio Campaign
for Accountable Redistricting, says the emails are indicative of a
redistricting process that is controlled entirely by “political
insiders.” Slagle says the interests of the people come second to politics under the current system.
If Issue 2 is approved by voters this November, the
redistricting process will be placed in the hands of an independent
citizens commission. Under the current system, the state government is
tasked with redrawing district boundaries every 10 years. Republicans have controlled
the process four out of six times since 1967, which is when the process
was first enacted into law. The political party in charge typically redraws
districts in a politically favorable manner in a process known as
“gerrymandering.”On Saturday, Rep. Steve Chabot, who represents Cincinnati
in the U.S. House of Representatives, told supporters to vote against
Issue 2. Chabot is enormously benefiting off the current redistricting
process. Cincinnati’s district was redrawn to include Warren County,
which has more rural voters that typically vote Republican, and less of
Cincinnati, which has more urban voters that typically vote Democrat. The
shift to less urban voters is emphasized in this graph by MapGrapher:
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 18, 2012
A post on viral web cataloger BuzzFeed
last week accused U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt or her staff of airbrushing the
congresswoman’s Wikipedia page.
by Andy Brownfield
Viral web cataloger says local reps are among 33 Congress members to have altered pages
A post on viral web cataloger BuzzFeed accuses U.S. Rep.
Jean Schmidt or her staff of airbrushing the congresswoman’s Wikipedia
BuzzFeed claims that a user bearing the Internet
fingerprint shared by all Congressional offices removed the section of
Schmidt’s Wikipedia entry titled “The Armenian Genocide issue.”
Schmidt was one of 33 Congress members alleged to have had airbrushing done to their Wikipedia pages.
Also listed was House Speaker John Boehner, who allegedly
had mention of his knowledge of the Mark Foley congressional page
scandal scrubbed from his page.
CityBeat on Wednesday asked for comment from the offices of Schmidt and Boehner but no response was given.
“The Armenian Genocide issue” section appeared on
Schmidt’s page as of Wednesday. It’s unclear whether the section had
previously been removed.
According to the entry, Schmidt came under fire in 2008
from congressional challenger David Krikorian for failing to publicly
define the mass killing of 1.5 million Ottoman Armenians between
1915-1916 as the “Armenian Genocide.”
The Armenian-American Krikorian accused Schmidt of taking
tens of thousands in “blood money” from the Turkish government in order
to push the denial. Krikorian’s claims resulted in a defamation lawsuit
from Schmidt and a complaint before the House Ethics Committee.
However, Boehner’s page still contained no mention of his knowledge of the Foley page scandal as of Wednesday afternoon.
In 2006 former Republican Florida Rep. Mark Foley resigned
over reports that he had sent sexually explicit Internet messages to at
least one underage male former congressional page.
Boehner told The Washington Post that he had
learned of inappropriate “contact” between Foley and a 16-year-old page
and told then-House Speaker Dennis Hassert about it. He later told the
newspaper that he couldn’t remember whether he talked to Hassert.
by German Lopez
Election year causes GOP candidates to downplay rhetoric, but legislation remains
Jobs, jobs, jobs. That is what
Republican House Speaker John Boehner said would be priority No. 1
for Republicans after sweeping the House of Representatives and many
state legislatures in 2010. This, Republicans said, was why they were
elected: People wanted to see changes in the economy fast.
But, apparently, there was one other
Almost immediately after coming into
office in 2011, Virginia Republicans set the national stage for vital
women’s health issues. House Bill 1 — the first bill Virginia
Republicans chose to take on — was a personhood bill, a bill that
define life beginning at conception. Not only would the bill have
banned abortion, it would also have banned the birth control pill,
which sometimes prevents birth by stopping the implantation of a
An impartial observer might wonder why
a personhood bill would be a top Republican priority. After all, the
same election that put all these Republicans in power also had a
personhood bill overwhelmingly rejected in Mississippi — a state so
socially conservative that 46 percent of Mississippi Republicans want
to make interracial marriage illegal, according to a recent poll from
Public Policy Polling.
Nonetheless, this was the issue
Virginia Republicans decided to give serious attention. In an economy
with a 9 percent unemployment rate at the time, this was the most
important issue to Virginia Republicans.
Ohio wasn’t much luckier with its
crop of Republicans. Five months after inauguration, the Ohio House
passed its “heartbeat” bill, or H.B. 125. To this day, it’s the
most radical anti-abortion bill in the country. Not only would it ban
abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, but the bill makes no
exceptions for rape, incest or life-threatening circumstances.
Ohio and Virginia were not alone.
Republicans were pushing anti-abortion, anti-contraception bills all
around the nation. Pennsylvania, Kansas, Mississippi and Texas all
made national headlines with their own bills. In more than 20 states,
bills have been introduced to restrict insurance coverage of
abortions, according to ABC News. At the federal level, Republicans
have made funding for Planned Parenthood a top issue time and time
again, and insurance companies covering contraception recently became
such a big issue that the White House had to step in.
So much for keeping the government out
of health care. The same political party that clamored for small
government now couldn’t wait to regulate women’s health care.
Apparently, the economy is too much for the government to handle, but
every woman’s uterus is fair game.
There has been some backlash. After
Virginia tried to pass a bill that would force doctors to give
patients seeking abortion a transvaginal ultrasound, women’s health
advocates in states across the nation organized protests, leading to
governors and state legislatures beginning to back down in their
rhetoric. Even Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican who
originally supported the transvaginal ultrasound bill, has been
downplaying his involvement in Virginia’s anti-abortion,
Now, Mitt Romney, the likely GOP
nominee for president, is facing some of the backlash. In a recent
Gallup poll, women came out severely against Romney. In the category
of women under 50, Obama held 60 percent of voters, while Romney held
only 30 percent. That’s right, Obama now leads with women under 50
by a two-to-one margin.
But while that may stop some rhetoric,
the bills and laws are still coming forward. The Ohio heartbeat bill
is still being pushed by some Republicans in the Ohio Senate, and a
personhood initiative could show up in Ohio’s 2012 ballot after a
stamp of approval from Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.
Mississippi also plans to reintroduce its personhood initiative in
the 2012 ballot, and other states are beginning to pass around
petitions for their own initiatives as well.
In the end, one is left to wonder what
could stop social conservatives. Public backlash and poor polling
don’t seem to be enough to stop the Republican war on women, and in
some cases it might have actually emboldened them.
by Kevin Osborne
Unlike GOP colleagues, House Speaker won't comment
National media are reporting about how West Chester’s favorite son is avoiding taking a stand on whether women should be admitted into the Augusta National Golf Club.As poll after poll shows the Republican Party lagging in support among female voters, various GOP politicians have spoken in favor of admitting women into the club, seeing it as an easy way to restore some goodwill with women. The all-male institution has been roundly criticized because it typically extends membership to the CEOs of IBM Corp., but hasn’t done so to its current leader, Ginni Rometty.Among those who’ve recently said Augusta should admit female members are Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and John McCain. But not timid House Speaker John Boehner (R-West Chester).Politico tried to ascertain Boehner’s stance on the issue last week, to no avail. The website reported:Asked if Boehner thinks women should be permitted into Augusta, his spokesman Michael Steel said he has "never heard him discuss it." Pressed again, he demurred.The Masters Golf Tournament is held annually at Augusta, Ga. This year’s event ended Sunday, with Bubba Watson emerging as the winner.It seems like a fairly simple question to us. Either you think Augusta should open its membership or you don’t. What are you so afraid of, Mr. Boehner?Romney has said, "If I were a member and if I could run Augusta, which isn't likely to happen, but of course I'd have women in Augusta."Also, McCain tweeted last week, “Don't you think it's time Augusta National joined the 21st Century — or the 20th — and allowed women members?”Another website, Talking Points Memo, gave a possible reason for Boehner’s reticence. It stated:"That could be because Boehner — an avid golfer — is himself a member of an all-male golf club. The AP reported last year that Boehner has ‘been chided for his membership at Burning Tree, an all-male golf club in Maryland.”Located in Bethesda, Md., Burning Tree has even more restrictive policies than Augusta. “Beyond the no-women membership policy, women are not even allowed on the grounds as guests,” ESPN reports.