June 24, 2013
When Governor Perry originally called for a special session of the state legislature, it wasn't about abortion. Instead, it was about redistricting. A special session does play by different rules though, and GOP lawmakers went on the attack.
Timeline, and just what happened:
- Perry calls for a special session after the Texas redistricting proposal is shot down by Washington for racial discrimination.
- With two weeks remaining in the session, anti-abortion legislation is proposed.
- Democrats are locked out of the amendment process
- This even makes it difficult to add an exception for rape and incest. No, really, Texas lawmakers are actually clueless about the issue.
- Facing defeat, House Democrats in Texas sought to use parliamentary moves to delay the bill, pointing out flaws in paperwork and even showing up late to debates.
- The House passes the bill, and now Senate Democrats are moving to filibuster.
What's in the bill:
- New rules on how abortion providers can run clinics, which would ultimately close down 37 out of 42 clinics across the state, leaving much of the state without coverage.
- Chiefly that abortion providers must have privileges at a local hospital - something many hospitals restrict for religious reasons or to avoid protests and controversy
- No, it's not an accident that this tactic is exploited
- A ban after 20 weeks, which is a move seen in 8 other states (notably, North Dakota put in a ban after 12 weeks - a move currently facing the courts)
Just how uninformed are Texas lawmakers?
To find out, just check out this quote:
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jody Laubenberg, R-Parker, faced pointed questioning from Democrats opposing the bill. She opposed amendments to makes exceptions for victims of rape or incest and to rely on the latest, peer-reviewed medical studies for making legal decisions.
"The woman had five months to make that decision, at this point we are looking at a baby that is very far along in its development," Laubenberg said in rejecting new exceptions to the measure. "What I would like to do is raise the standard. You have clinics that are out there already at that standard of care and all I'm asking is that we raise the others to that level." (Source)
No, really, the bill's sponsor believes that rape kits are a form of abortion.
June 20, 2013
It isn't a stretch of the imagination to realize that people want lower interest rates, and the last 6 weeks has seen an intense fight by the GOP to do anything but that.
Senate Democrats have backed a bill that would peg interest rates to the 91-day Treasury note rate plus a percent decided by the Education secretary. It would cap interest rates for the subsidized portion of the loan at 6.8 percent and the unsubsidized portion and graduate loan at 8.25 percent. It also includes the White House proposal to expand the income-contingent loan repayment plan. - RollCall
What does that mean for voters and college grads? You can find out here :
Student loan rates are set to double on July 1st. Check out the full infographic to see the bigger picture.
June 19, 2013
It's no secret that the GOP is still fighting Roe v. Wade 40 years later.
So it should come as no surprise that they decided to blow $2 million tax-payer dollars on a symbolic vote to further restrict a woman's right to choose.
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz) sponsored the bill, and it resembles the recent string of legislative battles that have taken place in a dozen different states. The bill would ban most abortions after 20 weeks, passed on very clear party lines. What's more, the bill passed out of an all-male committee.
It's a man's world
One of the fights that came out of this bill was a GOP attempt to, once again, redefine rape and would force women to report a rape to the authorities. The bill originally didn't even have a rape or incest exception, and after a debate in which Republicans argued against an amendment, the public outcry resulted in them quietly adding one (and to have a key-sponsor of the bill take his name off of it in outrage - he was one of the 6 Republicans to vote against it, too)
This cannot be real life
You won't believe where the justifications of this are coming from. One Republican believes that, because a fetus was rocking back and forth in the womb, that it was masturbating and feeling pleasure. And, therefore, it can feel pain.
Just. What? Rachel Maddow breaks it down for us...
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Okay maybe it is real life. But it doesn't end there. The GOP's longstanding effort to rebrand itself and appeal to kids may actually have played a role in Congressman Burgess' fetal masturbation theory. No one wants this to be true, but it's hard to escape reality.
At the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference, one panel dedicated time to making the GOP accessible to millenials. No, they weren't going to try and do it by softening their stances, like this College Republicans report suggested. Instead they were going to add humor and sarcasm to the debate.
Essentially, they want to make abortion funny.
So far the push by the GOP to restrict a woman's right to choose has been the most popular policy objective they've had to work with, and their ridiculous attempts to shape the debate have hit a wall. There's no way this legislation will pass congress, and no way that they can push this on the people from Washington.
There's a hashtag on Twitter we like for moments like this: #GoodbyeGOP
June 18, 2013
Our friends over at MoveOn.org sponsored a poll done by Public Policy Polling. The results show rare bipartisan support to have student interest rates lowered!
83% of American voters polled by PPP have indicated they want to either lower student loan interest rates, or keep them at current levels. This figure splits in two direction:
The partisan breakdown saw 86% of Republicans, 84% of Democrats, and 77% of independents supporting lowering or keeping rates the same. Large majorities of voters are saying that they would be less likely to vote for their member of congress if they supported raising their rates, and a greater majority would vote to have rates lowered to 0.75% - this breaks down as 60% of Democrats, 54% of independents, and 50% of Republicans. Senator Warren's bill has the strongest support of those polled, with a 2:1 margin supporting it - this breaks down to 65% of Democrats and 56% of Republicans and independents each.
- 41% of those polled expressed support for Elizabeth Warren's proposal to lower them to 0.75%
- 42% of those polled said they would prefer them to stay at current rates
Source:Public Policy Polling
There is clear, bipartisan support for Senator Warren's bill to lower student loan rates to the same that big banks pay to borrow from the government.
Become a citizen co-sponsor and tell congress not to double student loan rates on July 1st!
June 18, 2013
Note: We couldn't embed the video, but you can catch it here, then click on "Senator Elizabeth Warren," to skip to the beginning of her speech.
Now for the blow-by-blow.
@ 15:45 - Power is becoming one-sided, with deep pockets lining up to push against anything that changes the status quo.
@ 17:00 - Even if powerful interests lose the fight in congress, they turn it into a victory with a favorable court opinion.
@ 17:50 - There is an intense fight over what the federal court system will look like in the future.
@ 18:15 - There is a major lack in professional diversity on the federal bench.
According to a study published by ACS earlier this year, as of 2008, the federal appellate bench was "dominated by judges whose previous professional experience is generally corporate or prosecutorial." The study examined the biographies of 162 judges listed in the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary. It found that 85% of the judges had worked in private practice, and also noted that it was "clear from the judges’ biographies that a sizable number of them worked for large, well-known firms that tend to represent corporations."
@ 21:10 - A great quote on Judge Chen:
At his induction ceremony, Judge Chen was quoted as saying that he never considered withdrawing his name from consideration because, as he explained, “I believe that someone should not be disqualified from the bench simply because they once represented the voiceless and unpopular, rather than the wealthy and the powerful.” Judge Chen is right.
@ 22:10 - Recent data shows a very pro-corporate tilt on the Supreme Court.
The five conservative justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court are in the top ten most pro-business justices in a half century – and Justices Alito and Roberts are numbers one and two – the most pro-business.
@ 22:45 - The extremely pro-business Chamber of Commerce, as well as other pro-business groups have had more and more wins against increasingly conservative courts. At this rate, these courts will be bought and paid for by corporate interests.
The courts have an extreme pro-business bias, and their ability to pick and choose cases is giving it the power to shape the evolution of the political landscape to its, and the powerful corporate interests to give them more power than at any point in recent history.
See the full transcript of Warren's speech on her website.
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