Congress Racks Up $3.22T in Debt; Kucinich, Casey Re-Election Woes

Sunday, 02 Jan 2011 04:43 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Obama Eyes Chicago for Re-Election HQ
2. Abortion Foes Target Sen. Casey in Pa.
3. Scientist: Blame Blizzards on Global Warming
4. Mortgage Interest Benefits Vary Widely
5. Last Congress Boosted Debt by Record $3.22 Trillion
6. We Heard: Dennis Kucinich, Ahmadinejad
 

1. Obama Eyes Chicago for Re-Election HQ

No modern president has headquartered his re-election campaign outside the Washington, D.C., area. Barack Obama reportedly aims to do just that.

While the final decision has not yet been made, “a Chicago location is a near certainty,” Politico reported, citing sources with knowledge of the campaign planning.

Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush all located their re-election operations in Washington or its Virginia suburbs.

Re-election campaigns are typically based in Washington because that puts the operation closer to where the candidate lives, Democratic consultant Jamal Simmons told Politico.

In modern presidential history, locating the campaign outside Washington “is kind of revolutionary,” he added.

But “for people who have been in the White House the past two years, it’s probably a good idea to get outside the presidential bubble. Being in Chicago is a good way to do that. It’s just real life.”

In Chicago, staffers are less likely to mingle with political reporters, reducing the likelihood of leaks, said Phil Singer, who served as campaign spokesman for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Also, “you just get a lot more perspective and oxygen to your brain when you’re outside the Beltway, and it’s harder for the lobbyists and insiders to infiltrate the operation,” said Mark McKinnon, a Republican consultant who worked on George W. Bush’s two presidential campaigns.

The most obvious advantage of going outside the nation’s capital “is the symbolism of so-called Beltway outsiderdom,” Politico concludes. “But whether that’s available to a sitting president — the ultimate Beltway insider — is debatable.”

Editor's Note:



2. Abortion Foes Target Sen. Casey in Pa.

Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey is one of just three anti-abortion Democrats remaining in the Senate after the midterm elections, yet pro-life advocates plan to oppose his re-election in 2012.

Casey’s sin: He voted in favor of President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul.

“Pro-lifers in Pennsylvania are terribly disappointed with Sen. Casey’s vote in favor of President Obama’s healthcare reform law,” Michael Ciccocioppo, executive director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, told Roll Call.

“We know that Casey’s office was flooded with constituents urging him to vote ‘No.’ In the end, on the biggest vote of his career, he didn’t listen to the voters. Pro-life Pennsylvanians have long memories.”

Ciccocioppo believes the bill would allow taxpayer-funded abortions and deny care to the elderly through “the rationing of medically necessary treatments.”

Helen Gohsler, president of the Scranton chapter of Pennsylvanians for Human Life, dismissed the possibility that the local anti-abortion community could support Casey in 2012, saying: “He betrayed us.”

Pro-life groups might use healthcare and other issues to entice “evangelicals and Catholics they hope will oppose Casey’s re-election bid,” Roll Call reported.

Casey’s office responds that he fought for provisions in the healthcare bill that would block public funding of abortion, worked to insert provisions boosting funding for the adoption tax credit, and opposed an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act that could have permitted taxpayer-funded abortions on military bases.

Reportedly, one-third of Pennsylvania voters who believe abortion should be illegal supported Casey in 2006, when he defeated social conservative Rick Santorum by more than 17 percentage points.

hat’s less likely to happen in 2012, Roll Call observes: “Pennsylvania’s anti-abortion leaders say Casey’s ultimate vote to support the overhaul is unforgivable.”

Editor's Note:



3. Scientist: Blame Blizzards on Global Warming

Blizzards closed Europe’s busiest airports for days, a cold spell killed dozens in Northern Europe, snow fell heavily enough to collapse the roof of the Metrodome in Minneapolis — all before winter even began.

Then came the blizzards that ravaged much of the United States in recent days.

What’s to blame for the cold and snowy weather? Global warming, of course.

At least that’s the view of Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research. He wrote an article for The New York Times attempting to “reconcile” recent brutal winters with reports that the past decade was the warmest on record.

“The not-so-obvious short answer is that the overall warming of the atmosphere is actually creating cold-weather extremes,” Cohen states. “Last winter, too, was exceptionally snowy and cold across the Eastern United States and Eurasia, as were seven of the previous nine winters.”

Cohen dismisses the possibility that annual cycles such as El Nino, solar variability, and ocean currents could account for recent winter cooling.

Instead, his reasoning is basically this: Higher temperatures due to global warming have melted Arctic ice over the past two and a half decades, making more moisture available to fall as snow and steadily increasing snow cover across Siberia.

“The sun’s energy reflects off the bright white snow and escapes back out to space. As a result, the temperature cools,” he writes in the Times.

The increased snow cover also influences the jet stream, which then flows predominantly more north and south instead of west to east as usual. That brings warm air north to Alaska and Greenland, and pushes cold air south from the Arctic to parts of North America and Eurasia.

Cohen concludes: “The reality is, we’re freezing not in spite of climate change but because of it.”

But the recent winter cooling remains “a big problem for those who see human-caused global warming as an irreversible result of the Industrial Revolution's reliance on carbon-based fuels,” Investor’s Business Daily observes in an article headlined “The Abiding Faith of Warm-ongers.”

“Based on global warming theory — and according to official weather forecasts made earlier in the year — this winter should be warm and dry. It's anything but. Ice and snow cover vast parts of both Europe and North America, in one of the coldest Decembers in history.”

To the warm-ongers, “no matter what the weather, it's all due to warming,” IBD states.

Editor's Note:



4. Mortgage Interest Benefits Vary Widely

The recently disclosed Bowles-Simpson plan to rein in the federal deficit has drawn new scrutiny of a “sacrosanct” tax loophole — the mortgage interest deduction.

Former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, a White House chief of staff under Bill Clinton, co-chaired an 18-member presidential committee seeking ways to cut federal spending and boost revenue.

Their draft proposal released in November called for the elimination of the mortgage interest deduction (MID) benefiting Americans who own their own home. But statistics from the Internal Revenue Service show that elimination would affect residents of some states far more than others.

“Sound tax policy dictates that interest payments be deductible only when they are incurred to produce taxable income, such as those resulting from a small business loan,” according to The Tax Foundation, a nonprofit educational organization founded in 1937.

“Mortgage interest on a principal residence doesn’t meet this requirement, but a special exception was carved out at the inception of the income tax in 1913, and the mortgage interest deduction has become one of the largest and most sacrosanct loopholes in the tax code.”

On average, Americans deducted $3,279 in mortgage interest in 2008 — a figure arrived at by including tax returns that had no MID at all, according to a Tax Foundation analysis. Counting only the returns that actually included the deduction, the average amount was $12,221.

The MID has been criticized as inequitable. It offers no benefit to Americans who rent rather than own their principal residence, and residents of Maryland are more than twice as likely to claim the MID as those in North Dakota.

In Maryland, 37.9 percent of federal returns due April 2009 claimed the MID. That was followed by Connecticut (35.1 percent), Colorado (34.5 percent), Minnesota (33.7 percent), and Virginia (33.6 percent).

But in North Dakota, only 14.6 percent of returns claimed the MID; in South Dakota it was 14.8 percent, and in West Virginia, 15.2 percent.

The highest average MID amount was in California, $18,876, followed by Hawaii ($16,730), Nevada ($15,502), Washington ($14,262), and Maryland ($14,162).

Elimination of the MID would have the least impact on residents of Oklahoma, where the average deduction was $7,992, followed by Iowa ($8,104), and Nebraska ($8,233).

The savings vary from state to state for two main reasons, according to The Tax Foundation. Residents of states with higher average incomes are more likely to take out a large mortgage for an expensive property, and higher earners are in higher marginal tax brackets and therefore can benefit most from the MID.

Editor's Note:



5. Last Congress Boosted Debt by Record $3.22 Trillion

The federal government ran up more new debt during the 111th Congress than it did during the first 100 Congresses combined, according to the U.S. Treasury.

As of Dec. 28, the national debt had risen by $3.22 trillion during that Democratic-controlled Congress — equal to more than $10,429 for each person counted in the 2010 Census.

The total debt stood at $13.85 trillion on that date, or about $44,890 for every man, woman, and child in the country.

The new accumulated debt shattered the record set by the previous 100th Congress, which adjourned on Jan. 4, 2009 — $1.95 trillion.

While Democrats controlled the House and Senate in both of those Congresses, the two previous, Republican-controlled Congresses each added more than $1 trillion to the national debt.

The overall federal debt did not reach the $3.22 trillion figure until September 1990, during the 101st Congress, CNSNews reported.

Since Nancy Pelosi assumed her post as speaker of the House on Jan. 4, 2007, the national debt has ballooned by $5.17 trillion.

Yet during her inaugural address as speaker, Pelosi had vowed that under the 100th Congress the government would not burden future generations “with mountains of debt.”

She said: “After years of historic deficits, this 100th Congress will commit itself to a higher standard: Pay as you go, no new deficit spending.”

Editor's Note:



6. We Heard…

THAT ultra-liberal Democratic congressman and two-time presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich fears the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature will eliminate his district.

Ohio will lose two House seats thanks to the 2010 Census, and Kucinich wants to start planning in case his Cleveland-area district is one of them.

“I will not wait until a new Ohio map is produced to begin this crucial discussion of the consequences of congressional redistricting,” the seven-term legislator said in an e-mail to supporters.

“We are going to have to prepare for a different kind of election, possibly in a different place, because my district may be eliminated. We are going to have to organize in a different way now.

“Please participate by providing your insight and advice.”

THAT Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is becoming a used car salesman.

He is placing his 33-year-old Peugeot up for auction, reportedly to benefit a charity that funds housing projects for young people. A shortage of housing is a major concern in Iran, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

Ahmadinejad has rarely used the 1977 sedan since becoming president in 2005.

Editor's Note:



Editor's Notes:

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