Categories
Here and Now Local News

Today on Here and Now

Financial institutions and states are watching events in DC. A community bank outside of Boston says it will waive overdraft fees for customers if they don’t receive Social Security and other checks from the government. Some investment firms are conducting stress tests and California may seek a bridge loan if Congress and President Obama fail to reach agreement on raising the debt ceiling. The loan would help pay California’s bills if the federal government stops paying for things like Medicaid. We’ll talk about worst-case scenarios and what’s being done to prepare for them.

Former labor secretary Robert Reich has been critical of President Obama’s emphasis on budget cuts to reach a debt deal. He is asking why spending, in the form of a new stimulus package to revive the economy and put more people to work, is not even on the agenda. Reich writes in his blog that Americans are now living in parallel universes. The first, he writes, is “the one in which most Americans live, where almost 15 million are unemployed, wages are declining, and we’re locked in a vicious economic cycle.” Reich argues that more government spending is “the only way out of the vicious economic cycle,” something that America has understood in every economic downturn since the World War II. The problem, says Reich, is that the other parallel universe, Washington DC, is moving in exactly the opposite direction, cutting spending, with Republicans proposing cuts and Democrats, including the President, playing, “I can cut the deficit more than you.” Reich joins us this hour.

You funded Erica Peterson’s recent series on coal ash though a program called Story Exchange – a model that answers the question, “What if local public radio stations with loyal news audiences were able to pitch ambitious story and project ideas directly to listeners?” John Barth, managing director of Public Radio Exchange, is in our studio this hour to explain how it works.

Categories
Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Despite Challenges and CBO Report, McConnell Supports Boehner Plan

Despite challenges within the Republican Party and projections that other congressional plans would result in more savings, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., reiterated his support for House Speaker John Boehner’s plan Wednesday.

Speaking on the Senate floor, McConnell said the proposal will prevent a government default before the August 2 deadline and reduce Washington spending. And unlike President Barack Obama, McConnell points out Boehner was courageous enough to provide the country with an option.

“And what about the President’s plan? Well, when asked the President’s plan, his aides point to a speech and a veto threat,” McConnell said. “With all due respect, Congress can’t vote on a speech, and a veto threat won’t prevent default. The fact is, Republicans have offered the only proposal at this point that attempts to get at the root of the problem—and which actually has a chance of getting to the President’s desk.”

From McConnell’s office:

But the speaker’s proposal had trouble getting out of the GOP caucus after the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reported it fell short of its projected savings. The mathematical snafu forced Republicans to re-work the plan and postpone a vote scheduled for this week.

Categories
Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Fischer Calls for Debt Ceiling Agreement

Dabbling in the national debate, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is calling on President Barack Obama and congressional leaders to compromise on the country’s debt ceiling before the August 2 deadline.

The mayor warned against a possible default, saying it would have a negative impact on Metro Government and “every aspect of American life.” Earlier this week, the president and Speaker John Boehner outlined their positions and plans, but the Washington stalemate continues.

“It’s important that both parties—Democrats and Republicans—put aside partisan differences and seal a deal that addresses the debt ceiling and balances a need for deficit reduction and job creation,” Fischer said in a news release. “Default would be a disaster for our country and have a trickle-down impact on our city.”

Fischer attended a U.S. Conference of Mayor’s meeting last week, where the group discussed the nation’s debt  and coordinated a message urging federal officials to settle the debate. The Fischer administration outlined a number of consequences to the city if a resolution isn’t reached.

From the mayor’s office:

Categories
Here and Now Local News

Today on Here and Now

Countdown clocks are showing up on cable TV – there to remind people that a deadline on the debt ceiling is looming. Conservatives in the House yesterday panned their own leader’s plan. So did Standard & Poor’s, which said it probably wouldn’t be enough to avert a downgrade in the U.S. credit rating. But a similar plan in the Senate may not have enough votes to pass. So where are we now?

The rapid rise of do-it-yourself redistricting is challenging the way politicians have traditionally drawn up legislative districts. Re-districting is now underway in almost every state and it’s a complicated process, with multiple and contradictory legal requirements and political realities that have to be coordinated precinct by precinct — even block by block. Harvard professor Stephen Ansolabehere says that “until you actually go through the process, you’ve don’t have a feel” for how everything from laws on minority representation to rivers and mountains affect the shape of districts. That complexity has kept re-districting in the hands of deal making politicians in the back room, but new do-it-yourself technology opens this mysterious world to citizens. Software programmer Dave Bradlee has created the most popular do-it-yourself re-districting website; he says, “people are becoming much more aware about how the process works, but it’s a hard road because it’s about power, this is really all about power, it’s just part of the political game, and that’s not going away.” They’ll both be with us to talk about the future of redistricting.

We’ll also speak with Forecastle Festival founder JK McKnight about how this year’s Halfway to Forecastle went, how the festival has grown from its humble beginnings, and what’s on the horizon for 2012.

Categories
Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Paul Opposes Both Debt Deals

Dismissing both plans as insufficient, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., quickly released a statement opposing the dueling debt ceiling deals being proposed by House Republicans and Senate Democrats on Monday.

“The proposed deals being discussed today by House Republican and Senate Democrat Leaders do not make cuts to our debt. They do not solve our debt problems. They do not balance the budget, ever,” says Paul.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Oh., unveiled his caucuses two-step plan to raise the debt ceiling, conceding it is imperfect while challenging President Barack Obama not to veto the plan.

The Boehner plan calls for a short-term solution by raising the debt $1 trillion coupled with $1.2 trillion in budget cuts. It then calls for a second round of reduction talks that would take place in 2012.

But the White House has rejected that plan and endorsed another the deal being touted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nv., which would reduce the deficit by $2.7 trillion, without touching entitlement programs or tax increases.

For Kentucky’s junior Senator and Tea Party darling, both plans stink.

Categories
Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Yarmuth: Ideology Does Not Pay Bills

Speaking from the House floor last Thursday, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., berated congressional Republicans for having an agenda “driven by a reckless Tea Party ideology” during ongoing debt ceiling negotiations.

The Kentucky congressman says the GOP is ignoring reality and the economic consequences if the government default after the August 2 deadline.

Check it out:

Meanwhile, the market’s patience with Washington is running thin and leaders of both parties are scrambling to stitch together a deal.

Categories
Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Yarmuth: GOP Plan Takes Country Back to 1966

Speaking on the House floor Tuesday, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., denounced the Tea Party-backed “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan introduced by congressional Republicans.

The congressman said for the past few years people have been chanting to “take our country back” and the GOP proposal takes the federal budget to 1966 by shredding the safety net and punishing the poor.

Check it out:

Categories
Local News Noise & Notes Politics

McConnell Urges Support for “Cut, Cap and Balance” Plan

Speaking on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urged his colleagues to support the “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan being proposed in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon.

Backed by the Tea Party, the bill seeks to curb government spending by cutting spending by $111 billion and capping federal expenditures to 19.9% of the nation’s gross domestic output. The legislation also seeks to send a balanced-budget constitutional amendment to the states for ratification.

“Today, members of the House of Representative will have a chance to stand up and be counted,” McConnell said. “They’ll show with their votes whether they believe in freezing Washington’s current spending habits in place, and raising job-killing taxes or whether they believe, as I do, that the reckless spending and debt of the past two years has brought us to the point of crisis, and that something serious must be done to rein it without damaging a fragile economy with job-killing taxes. It’s that simple.”

Categories
Local News Noise & Notes Politics

GOP Losing Debt Ceiling Debate

A new CBS News poll shows average Americans aren’t pleased with anyone involved in the debt ceiling negotiations in Washington, but congressional Republicans are taking the brunt of the blame.

The survey shows 71 percent disapprove of the GOP’s handling of the talks while 58 percent blame Democrats and 48 percent point the finger at President Barack Obama. Though the president received the lowest disapproval ratings, Mr. Obama’s negatives are still higher than his approval ratings on the matter.

From CBS News:

Congressional leaders’ inability to convince their own party members that concessions are necessary is likely driving the dismal approval for lawmakers involved in the testy negotiations.

Approval drops to 31 percent for the Democrats in Congress, and only 21 percent of the people surveyed said they approved of Republicans’ handling of the negotiations, while 71 percent disapprove.

Even half of the Republican respondents (51 percent) voiced disapproval of how members of their own party in Congress are handling the talks. Far fewer Democrats expressed disapproval of their own party’s handling (32 percent) or President Obama’s (22 percent) of the urgent quest to raise the nation’s debt limit ahead of a looming default on Aug. 2 if action isn’t taken.

Meanwhile, the proverbial clock is still ticking.

Categories
Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Yarmuth: Cantor is a Big Problem

Appearing on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show” Thursday, Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., praised President Barack Obama’s work on the debt ceiling talks while criticizing Republican congressional leaders for being irresponsible during the negotiations as the federal government faces default on the August 2 deadline.

Joined by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-NJ., Yarmuth blasted House GOP Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., for being reckless with his language and encouraging Tea Party members of the Republican conference to reject any proposal to raise the debt limit.

At a White House meeting earlier this week, the Virginian congressman described the president as being agitated and told reporters Mr. Obama stormed out of the meeting. But Democratic lawmakers have been pushing back against that narrative and blame Cantor for disrupting the talks.

“He is acting like the not most mature person in the room,” Yarmuth said. “This is really playing with fire and Eric Cantor through his lack of leadership is creating a big part of this problem.”

From Yarmuth’s office: