The final days of the 113th Congress brought with it the end of a turbulent month -- and year -- of American politics. It also led many of us to think ahead to the coming years as Republicans assume control of the House and Senate in January and a presidential election looms on the horizon in 2016.
Entering the seventh year of his presidency, there is every indication that Obama and his administration are preparing for the full-court press that anti-Gitmo advocates have long been waiting for.
Figueroa's four-part series has ripped the cover off a corrupt branch of the veterans' benefits system, transforming the national conversation about why so many of our soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan are being denied disability benefits and medical care.
Well we did it. Made it through another year. Women have had some good news and some bad news with a bit of the ridiculous thrown in. So let's review some items affecting the female sex both here and abroad that didn't make the front pages in 2014.
According to reports, one of the first acts of the Republican Congress will be to fire Doug Elmendorf, current director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, because he won't use "dynamic scoring" for his economic projections. Dynamic scoring is the magical-mystery math Republicans have been pushing since they came up with supply-side "trickle-down" economics. It's based on the belief that cutting taxes unleashes economic growth and thereby produces additional government revenue. Supposedly the added revenue more than makes up for what's lost when Congress hands out the tax cuts. Dynamic scoring would make it easier to enact tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, because the tax cuts wouldn't look as if they increased the budget deficit.
2014 saw an unprecedented number of humanitarian crises around the globe. At the same time, this year's mid-term congressional elections brought partisan tensions to new highs inside the Washington Beltway.
The Best Idea for 2014 was requiring police to wear body cameras. This idea was so good it actually cut across the lines of the protestors and the supporters of police. Many on both sides of that divide support the idea, for what boils down to the same reason: the camera doesn't lie.
For those still smarting from the results of the mid-term elections, here is a song that may encourage you to embrace the new Congressional spirit. It...
In 2015 LCV will continue to call out the naughty and the nice. Our only challenge is that the naughty list would love nothing more than to get a lump of coal for Christmas!
Normalization with Cuba will be a process, and its pace and scope will depend in part on the actions of the Cuban government to permit dissent. A good start would be to join international conventions that protect human rights.
Many orchids are now endangered or going extinct, as we destroy their special habitats. As it is, our exploding populations are changing the climate and irreversibly extinguishing much of the beautiful tapestry of life on Earth, and our mega life support systems, our ecosystems.
I don't expect you to understand the problems my brothers and sisters face, Senator Coburn. I do expect you to do your best to have a bit of sensitivity when it comes to veterans issues.
As we look ahead to the 2016 elections, some may be surprised to learn that six countries in the Middle East and North Africa surpass the US when it comes to female legislative representation.
Millions of Americans are still filing for bankruptcy because of medical debt, even though they have insurance. In 2015, families could be on the hook for 13,200 in out-of-pocket expenses before their coverage kicks in. That's far more than many household budgets will allow.
The "non-target" costs of spraying lethal poisons in the environment are often high. In a cotton field, everything but the bugs feeding on cotton is non-target: that includes farmers, farm workers, children, birds, beneficial insects, other crops and wildlife.
Last week, I wrote a piece in this space lamenting the fact that so many Democrats had voted for a budget package that gutted a key provision of the Dodd-Frank Act. The so called swaps push-out provision, now repealed, required banks to separate their speculative business in derivatives from depository banking covered by government insurance and further protected by the Federal Reserve. The broader budget deal, technically a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through next September, also cut a lot of needed public spending and added several odious riders, including one that raises the ceiling on individual campaign contributions to party committees about tenfold. Had Democrats resolutely opposed the deal, I argued, it would have revealed Republicans as friends of Wall Street and enemies of Main Street -- a useful party differentiation between now and 2016.