Friday’s school shooting in Connecticut appeared to prompt a renewed effort by lawmakers to curb gun rights, as a top Democrat vowed Sunday to introduce new legislation on the first day of the new Congress next year.
The massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. — which left 28 dead, including 20 students, seven adults and the suspected shooter — has led proponents of gun control to redouble their efforts to seek new regulations. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an outspoken advocate of gun control, said the issue should now be atop President Barack Obama’s second term agenda.
To that end, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D, said she intended to introduce a gun control bill on the first day of the next Congress. Paired with a twin version in the House, Feinstein’s law would take aim at limiting the sale, transfer and possession of assault weapons, along with the capacity of high-capacity magazines.
“It can be done,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The senator, a proponent of gun control, said she expected Obama to offer his public support for the law.
A federal ban on assault weapons, first passed in 1994 and signed by President Bill Clinton, expired in 2004. And while Obama has said he favors its reinstatement, the administration has hardly thrown its weight behind such a proposal during his first term.
The especially grisly shooting in Connecticut — which follows several other high-profile shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. or outside a Sikh temple in Wisconsin — might now serve as a catalyzing moment in that dormant gun debate.
Ezra Klein explains how Obamacare slows down the race to the bottom to create a level playing field:
Businesses try to cut costs. One way they do that is by skimping on employee pay and benefits. The Affordable Care Act, at least in the short-term, will raise costs on businesses that have pursued that particular cost-cutting strategy.
As Slate’s Matt Yglesias has noted, that makes the Affordable Care Act an intervention on a particularly worrying change in the economy. In recent years, corporate profits, measured as a percentage of the U.S. economy have been hitting record highs, even as the share of those profits that go to workers have hit record lows.
The health-reform law won’t reverse that trend, but for the businesses that are doing the most to drive it — the ones that have cut costs and boosted profits by paying their workers very little and refusing to offer them decent health insurance — the Affordable Care Act will force them to contribute a bit more toward their workers’ health care or raise their prices. And if they choose the latter route, then fine: It levels the playing field between them and their competitors who haven’t taken a low-road approach to paying their workers. That gives pizza companies that do pay their employees well a slightly better position in the marketplace than they have today.
[…] both Democratic and Republican presidents used to think the proper role for business in the American health-care system was to pay most of the cost of their employee’s health-care insurance.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the principle is different, and much less onerous: Employers don’t need to offer health care, and they don’t need to pay for most of the cost of their employee’s health care, but if their employees are taking advantage of public subsidies, then the employer should have to pay a penalty equal to about 1/8th the cost of the average employer-provided health-insurance plan.
For years now, we’ve been hearing the rich baritone carnival bark of Steve Wynn, who never misses an opportunity to attack President Barack Obama for his economic policies.
His passion on the subject is a little obscure. After all, in March 2009, about two months after Obama took office in the midst of the financial crisis, Wynn stock hit a low of $15.40. It now trades above $100, an increase of more than 500 percent.
Like many of the super wealthy, Wynn has come out of this recession largely unscathed — in 2010, the richest 1 percent took home 93 percent of all the income gains — and his taxes remain largely unchanged.
But it was Obama’s rhetoric that scared Wynn, apparently, with all his “socialist” talk about returning tax rates on the wealthy to where they were during the crazy socialist tenure of President Bill Clinton.
Politico reported that Wynn gave “millions” to Karl Rove’s super PAC to defeat Obama and the Democrats. Money well spent. But Wynn was perhaps most effective attacking Obama in interviews.
Last week, three days after the election, a story appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer in which Wynn said in an interview that he was proposing to build Wynn Philadelphia. Wynn told the reporter that the board of directors of Wynn Resorts signed off on the project two weeks ago, meaning before the re-election of the crazy socialist Obama.
Perhaps Wynn was duped by Karl Rove into thinking Obama would lose. Or, just as likely, all that talk about business sitting on its hands until Obama leaves offices was just that: talk.
Either way, Wynn apparently now believes there’s money to be made in an America whose president will be Obama for another four years. Not to mention he’s doing it in high-tax Philadelphia — the tax on slot machines is 55 percent there, compared with Nevada’s state gaming tax of well below 10 percent.
Africa is more important than ever to the United States. The continent, home to six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies, is booming. And democracy has become the African norm rather than the exception. This year alone, no fewer than fifteen sub-Saharan countries will hold elections. With their combination of liberal politics and market economics, countries such as Ghana and Botswana are attracting frontier investors. Huge potential markets like Nigeria and Ethiopia are leveraging modest reforms into big economic opportunities. These trends all suggest that Africa is on a path to prosperity, and that it is ripe for U.S. investment, trade, and partnership.
At the same time, danger zones across the continent pose a growing security concern for Washington. Terrorist groups in Somalia and northern Mali are direct threats. In addition, pockets of weak governance in West Africa and in the Horn lead to cross-border problems such as narcotics trafficking and the spread of infectious diseases. In short, while Africa is making democratic and economic strides, it is also increasingly a locus of terrorism and transnational threats.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has, to her credit, visited fifteen African countries on four separate trips. But her presence has been overshadowed by President Obama’s absence. Obama has set foot on the continent just once: for a mere 20 hours in Ghana in July 2009 where he gave a speech on democracy that resulted in no substantial action. The president’s Kenyan heritage inspired unreasonably high hopes for a robust Africa policy; but his administration has failed to meet even the lowest of expectations. Even Obama’s most vocal supporters quietly admit that he has done much less with Africa than previous presidents have.
Compare Obama’s approach to Africa with that of his predecessors. President Bill Clinton exuded enthusiasm for the continent. His Africa policy was defined by the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which reduced trade barriers on more than 1,800 products exported from the continent to the United States. Partly as a result of the act, trade between the U.S. and Africa has more than tripled since 2000 to more than $90 billion. More important, Clinton approached Africa as a partner, not just as a receiver of goodwill.
For most Americans, the so-called drone war is a no-brainer: maximum lethality delivered at low economic cost, with zero risk to American personnel—all buffered by the virtual-reality nature of a delivery system that keeps the consequences safely out of sight. That explains why a stunning 83 percent of the country supports President Barack Obama’s use of drones to target suspected terrorists. But the rest of the world isn’t as comfortable with this remote-controlled, auto-pilot war. Indeed, international watchdogs have begun to raise concerns.
It’s easy to understand the appeal of drones. First and foremost, drones are the closest thing to risk-free war man has ever invented—at least for those of us on this side of the unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) prowling the skies of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. While the political cost is high when a commander-in-chief loses a pilot, it’s negligible when a commander-in-chief loses a pilotless plane. Compare, for example, the ho-hum reaction to the loss of drones in Iran and the Seychelles under Obama with the international crises other presidents faced when U.S. pilots were shot down over enemy territory: President Dwight Eisenhower was publicly humiliated after the Soviets brought down Gary Powers’ U-2. President John Kennedy was pressured to go to war when Rudolf Anderson was shot down during the Cuban Missile Crisis. And President Bill Clinton had to deal with a hostage crisis after Michael Durant’s Blackhawk was shot down in Mogadishu, and later had to launch a massive search-and-rescue operation deep behind enemy lines when Scott O’Grady’s F-16 crashed in Bosnia.
Most UCAV operators, however, are some 7,000 miles away from their targets—and 7,000 miles away from danger. With no risk to U.S. personnel and a high return—the Brookings Institution estimates that as many as 2,209 militants have been killed by drone strikes—Washington has latched on to UCAVs as an important tool in the national-security toolbox and arguably the primary weapon in the post-9/11 campaign against jihadist groups:
Jon Corzine’s testimony before the House agriculture committee may mark the definitive end to the Democratic party’s love affair with Wall Street.
Once upon a time, Wall Street bankers were Republicans. Not terribly ideological, they preferred whenever possible a minimum of taxation, regulation, and government in general, but they didn’t make a fetish of it. As the GOP moved right starting in the mid-1960s the east coast Republican establishment began to crumble, and by the late 1980s it was mostly gone. These silk stocking conservatives had been driven out of the Republican party by a social agenda that frightened them, a budget deficit that threatened their livelihoods, and a base that increasingly viewed moderates as RINOs (“Republicans In Name Only”).
By the early 1990s Wall Street was ready to go Democratic. In his new book, Back To Work, former President Bill Clinton writes,
“For every person on Wall Street who resembles the character Michael Douglas played in the Wall Street movies, there are many others who give lots of money every year to increase educational and economic opportunities for poor kids and inner-city entrepreneurs.
“Most of these people are grateful for their success and know that because of current economic circumstances, they’re in the best position to contribute to solving our long-term debt problem and to making the investments necessary to restore our economic vitality. Many of them supported me when I raised their taxes in 1993, because I didn’t attack them for their success. I simply asked them, as the primary beneficiaries of the 1980s growth and tax cuts, to help us balance our budget and invest in our future by creating more jobs and higher incomes for other people.”In crafting his first budget bill, Clinton was mindful of the bond market to such a degree that James Carville famously complained, “I used to think that if there was reincarnation, I wanted to come back as the President or the Pope or as a .400 basball hitter. But now I would like to come back as the bond market. You can intimidate everybody.”