“Tax hikes are off the table,” he said. “First of all, raising taxes is going to destroy jobs….second, a tax hike cannot pass the US House of Representatives — it’s not just a bad idea, it doesn’t have the votes and it can’t happen. And third, the American people don’t want us to raise taxes. They know we have a spending problem. –Speaker of the House John Boehner.
Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ron Paul (R-TX) introduced a bill today that would amend the government’s Controlled Substances Act to remove all federal penalties for the production, distribution, and possession of marijuana, effectively striking down its classification as a scheduled drug.
The bill aims to allow individual states to set their own marijuana laws without the concern of being overridden on the federal level. The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011 [pdf] — the first bill of its kind — resembles the repeal of the 18th Amendment in that it restricts the government’s role in controlling the substance to keeping the drug out states where it is banned.
“The legislation would limit the federal government’s role in marijuana enforcement to cross-border or inter-state smuggling, allowing people to legally grow, use or sell marijuana in states where it is legal,” according to the MPP statement.
The legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), is the first of its kind to be proposed in Congress that would end the 73-year-old federal marijuana prohibition that began with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.
Although Frank insists that this “is not a legalization bill,” it will be an excellent test for those in Congress who claim to be for a limited, smaller, federal government — one that gives more power to the states whenever possible as Paul and the “tea party” have rallied for over the last few years.
If the bill somehow makes it through both houses of Congress, it would be interesting to see if President Obama would sign it, seeing as the president’s feelings on the controversial matter have been hazy.
“We need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws,” Obama said in Feb. 2008. “But I’m not somebody who believes in legalization of marijuana. What I do believe is that we need to rethink how we’re operating in the drug war. Currently, we’re not doing a good job.”
During a conference call today, Frank suggested what he’d like to see states do with their new autonomy, expressing his view that “prosecuting responsible adults who make the decision that they wish to smoke marijuana interferes with their personal freedom.” He said he was “particularly struck by the hypocrisy of public officials who will themselves talk about smoking marijuana, wink at it, and then make it criminal for other people,” which results in “a very discriminatory pattern of enforcement.” (Ahem, Bloomberg.) Frank conceded the bill “has no chance of passing” anytime soon, but added, “I think we are making progress. I think the public is way ahead of the legislators on this….This is an educational process.”
The bill amends the Controlled Substances Act so that marijuana is no longer a scheduled drug and declares:
This Act [the CSA] shall not apply to marihuana, except that it shall be unlawful only to ship or transport, in any manner or by any means whatsoever, marihuana, from one State, Territory, or District of the United States, or place noncontiguous to but subject to the jurisdiction thereof, into any other State, Territory, or District of the United States, or place noncontiguous to but subject to the jurisdiction thereof, or from any foreign country into any State, Territory, or District of the United States, or place noncontiguous to but subject to the jurisdiction thereof, when such marihuana is intended, by any person interested therein, to be received, possessed, sold, or in any manner used, either in the original package or otherwise, in violation of any law of such State, Territory, or District of the United States, or place noncontiguous to but subject to the jurisdiction thereof.
I take from this all that the states will deal with marijuana issues on their own terms (some are with their heavily militarized approaches). The rest of the fine details I have not fully digested yet.
Boehner, for instance, has overseen a Republican House that has gone to bat for tax breaks, increased drilling, and less regulation of oil companies as gas prices have risen. His personal investments, estimated at $2 million or more, include such oil giants as Exxon, Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips, and Occidental.
Another question: does Boehner really stand for free markets for the sake of businesses thriving or is he just looking out for his own dividends?
They … aggregate the survey responses to measure the average ideology of various federal agencies. And here’s where it gets really interesting. When agencies are ideologically far from the average member of Congress, the longer and more detailed are the laws that Congress passes to govern that agency. In other words, when an agency is ideologically distant from Congress, Congress appears to afford that agency less discretion, as manifest in its insistence on these detailed legal rules.
The Grand Old Party is anticipating itself controlling the House of Representatives after the midterm elections. In that case, they have a list of demands. I wish I could download it. It sent me through some scam Facebook application. If someone can get a direct link to download this .pdf, shoot me a copy via email.
There are no details of who wrote this document. It is rather short (21 pages), but that is the practicalness of the GOP; they hated that the Dems had 1,000+ page documents that they and their three lawyers still couldn’t fully read or “understand”.
After reading it, I believe that it has the same tone as the rest of the Tea Party / fringe conservatives. I will fas forward to the National Security page (pg 19 and on). Lets begin with noting their tone:
And we will never apologize for advancing the cause of freedom and democracy around the world, nor will we abandon our historic role in lifting up those who struggle to receive the blessings of liberty.
American Exceptionalism at any cost, no matter what. The Dems have their larger government and the GOP has their larger military. The latter seems to forget that.
Here are their promises:
Pass Clean Troop Funding Bills: When asked to provide our troops with the resources they need, we will do so without delay. That means no more troop funding bills held up by unrelated policy changes, or extraneous domestic spending and pork-barrel projects.
Is that really really possible? To me, it sounds of the chant, “Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war.” The military gets anything they want, even if there is question of whether we can execute and “win” a war, find WMDs, or repeating the quagmire in Vietnam.
Demand an Overarching Detention Policy: Foreign terrorists do not have the same rights as American citizens, nor do they have more rights than U.S. military personnel.We will work to ensure foreign terrorists, such as the 9/11 conspirators, are tried in military, not civilian, court.We will oppose all efforts
to force our military, intelligence, and law enforcement personnel operating overseas to extend “Miranda Rights” to foreign terrorists.
Rich right wing hubris is dripping from the above paragraph. Lets try them in military courts that have convicted far far far fewer terrorists than civilian courts. Where is the love that Jesus talked about in this document?
The next were proposed for Congress:
We will fight to ensure transparency and accountability in Congress and throughout government.
You didn’t do this with the torturing of enemy combattents in Gitmo, nor were you transparent with the growth of the security state.
We will continue to fight the growth of government and oppose new stimulus spending that only puts our nation further into debt.
Under George W. Bush, your party began the stimulus bail out that you so loath.
We will fight efforts to fund the costly new health care law.
Between 1995 and 2007, the GOP had control of two houses. Where was your plan then?
We will fight efforts to use a national crisis for political gain.
Iraq war, oil, and the Bush family?
Now for more of their proposed spending cuts.
With common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops, we will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone and putting us on a path to balance the budget and pay down the debt. We will also establish strict budget caps to limit federal spending from this point forward. We will launch a sustained effort to stem the relentless growth in government that has occurred over the past decade.By cutting Congress’ budget, imposing a net hiring freeze on non-security federal employees, and reviewing every current government program to eliminate wasteful and duplicative programs, we can curb Washington’s irresponsible spending habits and reduce the size of government, while still fulfilling our necessary obligations.
As Andrew Sullivan notes, “without tackling entitlements, none of this matters a jot.” Here are some final reactions that sum up my thoughts and others on this document:
Given the gravity of the debt crisis, this is the most fiscally irresponsible document ever offered by the GOP. It is to the far right of Reagan, who raised taxes and eventually cut defense, and helped reform social security to ensure its longterm viability. It is an act of vandalism against the fiscal balance of the US, and in this global economic climate, a recipe for a double-dip recession and default. It is the opposite of responsible conservatism.
1. For much of, oh, the past decade, the GOP has been staggeringly incompetent in defining themselves as the party of small government. Their standard-bearer, George W. Bush, managed to jack up total federal outlays 104 percent over his predecessor in eight short years, and he either signed off on or strong-armed all sorts of big-government projects through both Republican and Democratic majorities (No Child Left Behind, Medicare Prescription Drugs, McCain-Feingold, Sarbanes-Oxley, endless war supplemental spending bills, TARP, auto bailouts, etc.).
Adhering to the Constitution: This is another one that’s popular among the Tea Party crowd, but which is also pretty much meaningless. A rule requiring Congress to cite the Constitutional authority for an specific bill isn’t going to stop Congress from acting. For most legislation, all they’ll have to do it cite to the Commerce Clause, the General Welfare Clause, or theNecessary and Proper Clause and their job is done. Thanks to a century or more of Supreme Court jurisprudence, there is very little that the Congress wants to do that it can’t do under the Constitution as that document is currently interpreted.
Yes, yes, it is full of mom tested, kid approved pablum that will make certain hearts on the right sing in solidarity. But like a diet full of sugar, it will actually do nothing but keep making Washington fatter before we crash from the sugar high. It is dreck — dreck with some stuff I like, but like Brussels sprouts in butter… Overall, this grand illusion of an agenda that will never happen is best spoken of today and then never again as if it did not happen. It is best forgotten.
[W]hat really struck me as I went through it the first time was the foreign policy section, which is…how should I say this…amateurish and pathetic. What’s the current Republican foreign policy? Stripping out the immigration stuff from that section of the document, what remains is (1) Gitmo; (2) Missile defense; and (3) threatening Iran. That’s it. Iraq and Afghanistan are referred to once, in passing. There’s nothing at all about what the United States should do in those nations. Nothing about Pakistan. Nothing about Russia, or China (China at least gets one mention, in the context of the deficit). Nothing about Europe. The rest of the world? Obviously not.
[W]ith all of the huffing and puffing we have heard – and indeed continue to hear – from conservatives about Obama’s “appeasement” of Iran, are these same critics thus satisfied by a short and simple pledge to enforce “tough sanctions against Iran”? I believe this demonstrates just how easy it is to be one of the two main political party on the outs in the United States. Ideological rigidity, or, in the specific case of Iran, radical statements about preparing for a regime change, make for good soundbites and exchanges on the Sunday morning shows, but they don’t resemble, as far as I can tell, the actual Republican plan for governance regarding the Islamic Republic – and that’s a good thing. All this could change, of course, in 2012 …
There’s one bright spot in the GOP’s “pledge.” No where are their any promises, euphemistic or otherwise, to ensure that torturous “enhanced interrogation techniques” are used again. Although having attacked Obama for months over ending torture, it begs the question of why, if torture is so important to national security, Republicans haven’t put it in their policy platform. It’s almost as if they were willing to lionize torture just to make the administration look bad.
To be honest, this document is designed to make GOP base voters happy, which is fine as far as that goes. It is, after all, a campaign pamphlet (granted, a long one). It is not, however, a real blueprint for policy. Instead it amounts to pledges for themes popular with the base: tax cuts, vague spending cuts, repeal of health care reform, and symbolic (not to mention bogus) promises to read bills and ensure their constitutionality.
Does anything done by Obama not frustrate the GOP?
The decision to use a recess appointment to install Dr. Donald Berwick as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services drew immediate fire from the GOP. Republicans have raised concerns about Berwick’s views on rationing of care and other matters, and said it was wrong for Obama to go around the normal Senate confirmation process. Both parties have used the recess appointment in the past.
Surprisingly, Max Baucus of Montana had beef:
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.), whose committee would have held Berwick’s confirmation hearing, also said he was troubled by the recess appointment. “Senate confirmation of presidential appointees is an essential process prescribed by the Constitution that serves as a check on executive power,” he said.
No pun intended with the title, by the way.
Barack Obama confronts the issue of 11 GOP senators who don’t support Immigration reform now but did in 2001:
Some of the 11 senators whose support is critical to his plans signaled Thursday that they are not ready to back reform this time around. They also denied that they had changed their positions for political reasons.
Laena Fallon, a spokeswoman for Sen. Judd Gregg(N.H.), said the senator is interested in fixing the immigration system. But she added that he had made it clear he “does not support any initiative promoting comprehensive reform until the president and this administration get serious about controlling our borders.”
I wonder if border control is really the issue. Well, Obama isn’t advocating to simply build a wall like John McCain (or finish it, I mean). I am not sure of the full answer to this issue. But bipartisan support and discussion is necessary. Once demonizing rhetoric comes into play, it limits work being done.
Source: NY Times
Solicitor General Elena Kagan faced questions from senators including, clockwise from top left, Jeff Sessions, Patrick J. Leahy, Ted Kaufman, Arlen Specter, Al Franken, Jon Kyl, Charles E. Grassley and Orrin G. Hatch.
Garrett Epps follows up on Day 1 of the Kagan-a-thon:
The mummery of opening day is an odd way to introduce a potential Justice to the nation. She was required to sit on camera without speaking while a series of politicians alternately acclaimed her as a new Learned Hand and reviled her as a threat to the space-time continuum. She had to sit quietly while political opponents suggested that the American “mainstream” does not include former Justice Thurgood Marshall, former Judge Abner Mika, or even her own parents, who raised her in a “liberal household.” This onslaught would, perhaps, arouse in any of us a nameless dread. At any rate, Kagan played no facial favorites–she gave Sen. John Kerry, the home-state Senator who came to introduce her to the committee, the same quizzical look she directed at Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions when he warned that “The personal right of every American to own a gun hangs by a single vote.”
In the end, her opening statement was no more substantive than were the senators’. She cited the admonition given by Harvard Law School to each graduating student that law is a system of “wise restraints that make us free.” The adage echoes conservative forefather Edmund Burke, who warned that “the restraints on men, as well as their liberties, are to be reckoned among their rights.” It was a conciliatory gesture to the conservative senators (those, at any rate, who know who Burke was).