S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Legislative sound bites

Democrats arise!

What is happening in the news? Do you watch TV or read the papers to learn? Or do you go online?

Slate Magazine, owned by the Washington Post, publishes a column labeled, "today's papers - A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers," written by Daniel Politi, who lives in Buenos Aires (title linked above). It is a very useful way to catch up, if you can visit only one site.
Congress-blog day for me is Tuesday. Besides the crucial vote on the nomination of Judge Alito to SCOTUS, what's happening right now that pertains to legislative matters? Here's a quick catch-up, a la Slate, with my "takes" on a few of the other stories.
Hillary campaigns: Senator Clinton must get reelected this year. In a courageous move, our former First Lady has taken on the health care, after 12 years. The nation is clearly worse off now than when she and her husband first addressed the subject. It seems she has learned something since the first time around. Senator Clinton is talking about health care again, but in a much more pragmatic way. CNN reports that,
. . . her pet issue, health care, (is) at the center of her Senate re-election effort Monday, accusing the Bush administration of "deliberate neglect" of the issue. "I'm ready to get back into the fray, knowing how difficult and controversial it is," . . . "The status quo is not sustainable."
Republicans behind closed doors: Democrats are routinely shut out of the legislative process. And it happened again last month. Despite being in the midst of the breaking Abramoff scandal, the health care lobby had a great deal of influence over recent Medicare payment legislation. The house must still approve it. But it will probably sail through, perhaps late at night, as is often the case. The WaPo reports that,
House and Senate GOP negotiators, meeting behind closed doors last month to complete a major budget-cutting bill, agreed on a change to Senate-passed Medicare legislation that would save the health insurance industry $22 billion over the next decade, according to the CBO.
Not real ethics reform: When one party controls every branch of government the country will soon get into trouble. There are no checks and balances. And this year of midterm elections, when so few election races are contested, it will get worse. Members of Congress in safe seats and not indicted will do just barely enough reform to get by. Everything is political. The proposed legislation to clean up the lobbying scandal will not be strong enough, seven public citizen groups contend. Quoting CNN,
Congressional proposals to end corrupt and unseemly ties with lobbyists fall short because they don't sufficiently address the role of lobbyists in raising money for politicians, private groups said Monday. . . . "We need to break the nexus between lobbyists, lawmakers and campaign cash," said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. "At rock bottom, that is the root cause of the Abramoff scandal."
Mine safety-Federal and State: The Clinton administration had begun to try to make miners more safe. But, until now, those efforts had been scrapped by the current administration. And 14 coal miners have lost their lives as a result. Today the Senate will hold hearings to try to find out what went wrong at the Sago mine. To quote Fox,
Senators from coal mining states are leading the charge to review how 13 miners in the Sago Mine in Tallmansville, W.Va., became trapped for more than 41 hours after an explosion on Jan. 2.
West Virginia state regulatory legislation was passed quickly yesterday. Quoting CNN,
Following the deaths of 14 West Virginia miners in less than three weeks, state lawmakers on Monday approved legislation aimed at improving the chances of survival for miners trapped underground.
The measure proposed by Gov. Joe Manchin would require miners to wear wireless devices so they can be found more quickly.

Now is the time-2006 is the year: Democrats may find it very difficult to regain control of a weak and corrupt Congress. But, in spite of that, the party must try as hard as iy can to win the battle. Business, through its lobbyists, controls too much of what happens in Congress. As a result, too few people have too little health care coverage. Medicare recipients are not well served. Workers are not safe. And these issues are just a few of those needing to be addressed soon. This is the year to do it.
My "creative" post today at Southwest Blogger is about fame and fortune's potential rewards.

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