Obama to nominate Hagel for defense secretary
by Thomas Ferraro
January 6, 2013
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will nominate former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to be his defense secretary and an announcement could come on Monday, sources familiar with the nomination process said.
The choice will likely set up a confirmation battle in the Senate over whether the former Nebraska senator and Vietnam veteran is a strong enough supporter of key U.S. ally Israel and over his past calls for military cuts.
The Obama administration backed down from a tough Senate confirmation battle over Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, who was Obama's first pick to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.
Rice withdrew her name from consideration after drawing heavy fire from Republicans for remarks she made in the aftermath of a September 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. Obama then nominated Massachusetts Democratic Senator John Kerry, a former presidential candidate.
"The administration has a lot of work to do on Hagel," a Democratic Senate aide said on Sunday.
"He is in a weaker position now than Rice ever was because Rice would have rallied Democrats behind her. The administration floated Hagel's name, then neglected to defend him effectively when his critics started taking shots," the aide said.
However, the White House is confident it can weather criticism of Hagel's record and garner enough votes from both sides of the political aisle to get his nomination through committee and win confirmation in the Democratic-led Senate.
"The president wants him, because he trusts him and he's an independent voice," a second source close to the situation said.
The source said Hagel had received high-level messages of reassurance in recent days that his nomination was on track despite a campaign by his critics aimed at derailing it.
People close to Hagel have been informed of an imminent announcement, the source added.
Obama is also expected to round out his security team by unveiling his pick for CIA director to replace David Petraeus, the retired general who stepped down in November over an extramarital affair with his biographer.
In recent weeks a number of prominent Republicans have said they would oppose Hagel's nomination. On Sunday, Republican lawmakers made clear he would face a tough nomination process.
"This is an in-your-face nomination by the president to all of us who are supportive of Israel," South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told CNN's "State of the Union."
"I don't know what his management experience is regarding the Pentagon, little, if any, so I think it's an incredibly controversial choice."
Many Republicans contend that Hagel, who left the Senate in 2008, at times opposed Israel's interests. He voted several times against U.S. sanctions on Iran, and made disparaging remarks about the influence of what he called a "Jewish lobby" in Washington.
Read more: http://goo.gl/bSKxj
|Critical of Israel - Opposes Iranian Sanctions - BAD Choice for America|
Obama supporters shocked, angry at new tax increases
by Joseph Curl
January 6, 2013
With President Obama back in office and his life-saving “fiscal cliff” bill jammed through Congress, the new year has brought a surprising turn of events for his sycophantic supporters.
“What happened that my Social Security withholding’s in my paycheck just went up?” a poster wrote on the liberal site DemocraticUnderground.com. “My paycheck just went down by an amount that I don’t feel comfortable with. I guarantee this decrease is gonna’ hurt me more than the increase in income taxes will hurt those making over 400 grand. What happened?”
Shocker. Democrats who supported the president’s re-election just had NO idea that his steadfast pledge to raise taxes meant that he was really going to raise taxes. They thought he planned to just hit those filthy “1 percenters,” you know, the ones who earned fortunes through their inventiveness and hard work. They thought the free ride would continue forever.
So this week, as taxes went up for millions of Americans — which Republicans predicted throughout the campaign would happen — it was fun to watch the agoggery of the left.
“I know to expect between $93 and $94 less in my paycheck on the 15th,” wrote the ironically named “RomneyLies.”
“My boyfriend has had a lot of expenses and is feeling squeezed right now, and having his paycheck shrink really didn’t help,” wrote “DemocratToTheEnd.”
“BlueIndyBlue” added: “Many of my friends didn’t realize it, either. Our payroll department didn’t do a good job of explaining the coming changes.”
So let’s explain something to our ill-informed Democratic friends. In 2009, Mr. Obama enacted a “holiday” on the payroll tax deduction from employees’ paychecks, dropping the rate from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent. But like the holidays, the drop ended, and like New Year‘s, the revelers woke up the next morning with a massive hangover and a pounding head.
“Bake,” who may have been trolling the site, jumped into the thread posted Friday. “My paycheck just went down. So did my wife’s. This hurts us. But everybody says it’s a good thing, so I guess we just suck it up and get used to it. I call it a tax increase on the middle class. I wonder what they call it. Somebody on this thread called it a ‘premium.’ Nope. It’s a tax, and it just went up.”
Some in the thread argued that the new tax — or the end of the “holiday,” which makes it a new tax — wouldn’t really amount to much. One calculated it would cost about $86 a month for most people. “Honeycombe8,” though, said that amount is nothing to sneeze at.
“$86 a month is a lot. That would pay for … Groceries for a week, as someone said. More than what I pay for parking every month, after my employer’s contribution to that. A new computer after a year. A new quality pair of shoes … every month. Months of my copay for my hormones. A new thick coat (on sale or at discount place). It would pay for what I spend on my dogs every month … food, vitamins, treats.”
The Twittersphere was even funnier.
“Really, how am I ever supposed to pay off my student loans if my already small paycheck keeps getting smaller? Help a sister out, Obama,” wrote “Meet Virginia.” “Nancy Thongkham” was much more furious. “F***ing Obama! F*** you! This taking out more taxes s*** better f***ing help me out!! Very upset to see my paycheck less today!”
“_Alex™” sounded bummed. “Obama I did not vote for you so you can take away alot of money from my checks.” Christian Dixon seemed crestfallen. “I’m starting to regret voting for Obama.” But “Dave” got his dander up over the tax hike: “Obama is the biggest f***ing liar in the world. Why the f*** did I vote for him”?
Of course, dozens of posters on DemocraticUnderground sought to blame it all (as usual) on President George W. Bush. “Your taxes went up because the leaders need to dig us out of this criminal deficit hole we are in which has been caused because taxes were too low during the Bush years. Everyone has to help by spreading the wealth around a little. Power to the correct people!” posted “Orinoco.”
But in fact, it was Mr. Obama who enacted the “holiday,” and, to be clear, the tax cut that he pushed throughout the campaign — remember? 98 percent of Americans will get a cut under his plan? — was really the extension of the Bush tax suts. Thus, it was Mr. Obama who raised taxes on millions of Americans, not Mr. Bush.
How many Americans? The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in Washington put the total at 77.1 percent of all wage earners. In fact, “More than 80 percent of households with incomes between $50,000 and $200,000 would pay higher taxes. Among the households facing higher taxes, the average increase would be $1,635, the policy center said,” according to a Bloomberg News article. Hilariously, the tax burden will rise more for someone making $30,000 a year (1.7 percent) than it does for someone earning $500,000 annually (1.3 percent).
Read more: http://goo.gl/ZBK0p
The Trouble for Conservatives
by Erick Erickson
January 7, 2013
Jim Bridenstine may get a primary challenge. You may not know who he is, but Jim Bridenstine is a brand new member of Congress, a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Reserves, a fighter pilot from the Iraq and Afghan Wars, and a strong fiscal conservative.
He should be a hero to any and all Republicans. He’s a genuine bad ass. And on Day 1, he decided not to vote for John Boehner for Speaker. Bridenstine is happy to play on the team, but unhappy to go along to get alone when we are looking at $16 trillion in debt.
His office is silent, but friends of his in Congress say the House Republican Leaders already have him on a list of incumbents they may just want to do away with. But he is exactly the type of guy we need in Congress.
This presents a problem for House conservatives. There are more and more signs that the GOP Establishment intends 2014 as an election season to seek revenge on conservatives. Conservatives are going to have to hang together or they will absolutely hang separately.
Jonathan Strong at Roll Call has what I’d consider the definitive take on the Boehner coup attempt. It shows just how vulnerable Boehner was. There are a few details Jonathan, Matthew Boyle, and the others who’ve reported on this have missed, but needless to say there was some overnight and on the floor gamesmanship and a key block of votes got scared in the overnight hours before the vote.
Enough of them, however, have now been outed that they, like Bridenstine, could be marked men. The only solution for them is going to have to be to come out of the shadows and make their voices heard from the back bench. If they will not have the support of the leadership, they must support each other.
They know now that conservatives will absolutely stick with them if they stick with conservatives. They have a position of incumbency that will help them. But they must not just disappear into the back benches now. Remember, it took two years to really orchestrate the removal of Newt Gingrich. The conservatives must keep pushing.
And yes Main Street Republicans or whatever you liberal Republicans call yourselves these days — back in the 90′s the GOP was largely held hostage by the left of the party on spending issues, social issues, etc. Now you know what that feels like.
Read more: http://goo.gl/QPimD