[Guest post by DRJ]
[Guest post by DRJ]
The good news is that Ben Bernanke said today the economy is on the verge of recovery, forecasting a return to growth in the “near term.” The bad news is that the White House acknowledged the 10-year budget deficit will be $9.1 Trillion — $2 Trillion more than originally projected:
“The $2 trillion revision, first reported by Reuters, stems from new data that showed the downturn was more severe than previously known, an administration official told Reuters.
The new forecasts are based on new data that reflect how severe the economic downturn was in the late fall of last year and the winter of this year,” the official told Reuters, adding that the new projections “are now in line with the spring and summer projections that the Congressional Budget Office put out.”
Also next week, as has been previously reported, the administration will revise its annual budget deficit projection for this year down from $1.84 trillion to $1.58 trillion, since less money than once anticipated has been needed to stabilize the financial system.
Still, the rising debt has caused increased concerns among key foreign lenders like China, which in June reduced its holdings of US assets by around $25 billion.”
I’m starting to really dread Friday afternoons.
[Guest post by DRJ]
The CIA reportedly contracted with Blackwater USA for a covert assassination program:
“U.S. officials familiar with the targeted-killing program said that Blackwater’s involvement was limited in scope and duration, and that the arrangement ended several years before CIA Director Leon E. Panetta killed the program two months ago.
The program was kept secret from Congress for nearly eight years before Panetta told lawmakers about it in June. CIA officials have emphasized that the program was never operational and that it did not lead to the capture or killing of a single terrorism suspect.
“It was never successful, so he ended it,” CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said. Panetta “never suggested to Congress that anyone at the CIA misled the intelligence committees or otherwise broke the law.”
As the article notes, the program may be legal and Panetta did suggest the CIA misled Congress … but those are stories for another day.
What I’m interested in is how the media is responding to the Blackwater report. Are they interested in gathering more facts, or in questioning why the CIA might enter into such contracts? Judge for yourself based on today’s press briefing with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs:
Q Has the President ordered any end of the contracts we have with the assassination mercenaries?
MR. GIBBS: Do you mean Blackwater?
Q Or anybody else.
MR. GIBBS: I have — I asked for an update, which I have not yet gotten, on where we are in different contracts. I would — as it relates to CIA’s use of contracting, I would point you specifically to them for responses on that.
Q I don’t think they would tell us.
MR. GIBBS: They may tell you, Helen. If you use that sweet voice on the phone, you never know what you could get. (Laughter.)
Q I want them to stop killing people.
MR. GIBBS: You should let them know.
Q You should, too. (Laughter.) You have the orders — you have the power.
MR. GIBBS: Yes, ma’am.”
I believe the initial questioning is by Helen Thomas and the final comments are by Savannah Guthrie of NBC News.
NOTE: This video suggests the last comments were made by Helen Thomas and not Savannah Guthrie.
[Guest post by DRJ]
Cindy Sheehan was a media darling four years ago when she camped outside President George Bush’s Crawford, Texas, ranch to protest the Iraq War. ABC’s Charlie Gibson anchoring Good Morning America opened the August 10, 2005, broadcast with the following words as video showed Sheehan “yelling at a Sheriff’s deputy” near Bush’s ranch:
“Standing her ground. She lost her son in Iraq, she opposes the war, now she’s camped out at President Bush’s ranch and says she won’t leave until he meets with her. An exclusive interview on Good Morning America.”
In succeeding weeks, Gibson continued to cover Sheehan’s protests against President Bush’s War in Iraq.
That was then. Now Cindy Sheehan plans to travel to Martha’s Vineyard to protest President Obama’s War in Afghanistan. Isn’t that equally newsworthy? Not to Charlie Gibson:
“Gibson’s answer was sympathetic but clear: No. “I gather she’s going back to Martha’s Vineyard,” Gibson began.
“It’s such a sad story. Martha Raddatz [of ABC News] wrote a terrific book about one battle that took place in Iraq, and it was the battle in which Cindy’s son was killed. And you look at somebody like that and you think here’s somebody who’s just trying to find some meaning in her son’s death. And you have to be sympathetic to her. Anybody who has given a son to this country has made an enormous sacrifice, and you have to be sympathetic. But enough already.”
Here is the WLS audio of Gibson’s interview.
However, I empathize with Gibson’s feeling that he’s heard enough from Sheehan. I feel the same about him.
The L.A. Times reports that President Obama took to the talk radio airwaves yesterday in support of ObamaCare, and (among other things) assured citizens that ObamaCare would not cover illegal immigrants:
“You mentioned illegal immigrants,” Obama told one caller. “None of the bills that have been voted on in Congress and none of the proposals coming out of the White House propose giving healthcare coverage for illegal immigrants – none of them. . . . That is simply not true.”
Section 246 of the bill does indeed contain language to the effect that illegal immigrants will not receive “Federal payments for affordability credits”:
“Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.”
Yet Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas begs to differ with Obama, and says that there are loopholes. In an op-ed published earlier this month at TheHill.com, Smith wrote:
Despite statements to the contrary, the Obama administration could force the American people to pay for the healthcare of millions of illegal immigrants in the U.S.
The Democrats’ bill in the House, H.R. 3200, contains gaping loopholes that will allow illegal immigrants to receive taxpayer-funded benefits. And these loopholes are no accident.
The legislation contains no verification mechanism to ensure that illegal immigrants do not apply for benefits. Republicans offered an amendment to close this loophole — it would have required verification using the existing methods that are already in place to verify eligibility for other federal benefits programs. But, when they were asked to put the language of the bill where their words were, in a party-line vote, House Democrats rejected the amendment to require verification and close this loophole.
The bill also leaves open the possibility that if one citizen family member is eligible for benefits, then the entire family — including illegal immigrants — is also eligible for the benefits.
I’d be interested in a pointer to the specific language Smith is discussing here. John Bonifield at CNN adds:
It’s a loaded issue — will health reform include coverage for illegal immigrants? President Obama has said no, with a possible exception for children, and the plans being drafted by Congress bar illegal immigrants. However, opponents say that the House bill leaves loopholes that may allow undocumented residents to benefit.
“There’s no system for verification,” said Ira Mehlman, media director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a lobbying group that aims to reduce immigration.
“On the one hand, they have language in there that says illegal aliens are not going to be eligible, but at the same time they’re getting a lot of heat from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, from the Hispanic leadership groups, that say we want everybody covered including illegal aliens,” Mehlman said. “They’re trying to have it both ways here. They’re saying to the public, ‘Don’t worry. Illegal aliens aren’t being covered,’ and they’re turning around to these special interests and saying, ‘Well, don’t worry. There really is no system to prevent them.’”
In July, Democrats voted down an amendment to the House bill that would have required mechanisms to verify citizenship. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which advocates on behalf of Latinos, said in a statement to CNN that health reform should include legal immigrants who have followed the rules.
I’m not sure what the answer to this is, so I’m open-sourcing it to you, the readership, for your thoughts. Who is right: Obama or his critics?
P.S. Note that even Obama concedes illegals will continue to be treated free of charge in emergency rooms across the country. Also please note that we constantly hear from Obama that we have 47 million uninsured in this country, and we are told that the goal is for everyone to be covered — yet of that 47 million, anywhere from 15 percent to one-third are illegal, depending on whose estimates you accept. Even using the lower estimates, that brings the number down below 40 million. So there is clearly some intellectual dishonesty in operation here any way you slice it: Obama includes illegals in the number of uninsured “Americans” but claims he will not cover them.
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