Bold Roundup: Feb 20-24

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In case you missed the 20th Republican presidential debate, the Daily Show has a good wrapup. As the number of debates has increased, it seems the candidates’ attachment to reality seem to have decreased. Here’s your Roundup:

More Keystone Pipe Dreams: An op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle seems to think the Bay Aread will be able to benefit from the construction of Keystone XL. The author uses a new jobs number–6,500–which he attributes to the State Department, though any well-read Nebraskan knows they predicted 5-6,000 jobs. The problem with this piece is that it focuses on Bechtel Corp. in San Francisco to try and persuade those in the Bay Area that the pipeline would be good for the local economy there. This is simply not true since TransCanada has already acquired the pipe necessary for the job. The tone of the op-ed makes it all too clear that author’s agenda is not to educate Bay Area readers but to make a political argument for the pipeline using “facts” provided by TransCanada. Read here

Don’t Leave Just Yet: Nebraska state senators currently can only serve eight consecutive years in the Unicameral. A resolution introduced by Sen. Tom Carlson (LR358ca) would allow Nebraska voters to decide in November whether or not to extend that limit to 12 years. The last time Nebraskans voted on term limits was in 2000 and those limitations took effect in 2006. Now some State Senators feel it is time to assess the impact that the limits have had. Other Senators have voiced concerns about the complexity of the job and the amount of time it takes to really understand the political process. Read here

Oh Frack:  A recent New York Supreme Court case upheld a local ban on the use of hydraulic fracturing to drill for natural gas. A lot has been said lately about fracking and the possible harmful side effects. Fracking is under a lot of scrutiny and scientists are scrambling to gather research on if it contaminates groundwater or not. A lot of citizens have raised concerns over the exemption of oil and natural gas companies from the Clean Water Act and other reporting standards. Wherever you stand on fracking, Nebraskans should have a right to know what chemicals these companies are using and how these procedures may affect our local environment, natural resources and our safety. This article provides a good explanation and narrative of how local residents stood up for themselves against oil and gas companies and made their voices heard. Read here

Mason-Dixon Marriage: A bill legalizing same-sex marriage passed the Maryland legislature by a vote of 25-22. The bill will now move to Gov. Martin O’Malley who has previously said that he will sign the bill into law. While this is great news for supporters of same-sex marriage, opposition to the measure is not ending the fight. Opponents of the bill will be looking to get the measure on the ballot so that same-sex couples will have to appeal to the will of the majority to have their individual rights recognized. Read here

Immigration Victory: This week a U.S. District Court ruled a provision in the Fremont ordinance that bans undocumented residents from renting housing and requires businesses to use E-Verify to be unconstitutional. The ordinance caught a lot of media coverage last year when residents of Fremont voted to pass it, and then it was immediately suspended because of lawsuits. The District Court ruled the provision prohibiting undocumented persons from renting property to be unconstitutional while leaving the provision adopting the federal E-Verify program as constitutional. Read here

 

Thursday, February 23nd

Last night, Republican presidential candidates faced off in the 20th GOP debate covering topics from earmarks and taxes to health care. We can only hope last night was the final debate featuring out-of-touch and dangerous proposals by Republican candidates before the nomination. Here’s your Roundup:

Ice Cold: Yesterday, the Nebraska Legislature Revenue Committee discussed LB 753, a bill introduced by Senator Bill Avery that would tax sugary soft drinks. Currently, soft drinks are tax exempt because they are considered food. Taxing pop like we do alcoholic drinks would bring in $11 million that would be used to implement obesity prevention programs. However, members of the Revenue Committee were very not very fond of the idea; senators used the topic to question taxes in general, existing health measures and former bills. With a growing obesity epidemic and scientific research displaying a healthy diet is more central to losing weight than exercise, action must be taken on this issue to foster a healthier state. Read here

Up, Up, Up: The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit 13,000 for the first time since 2008 due to European leaders reaching a deal to support the Greek economy. The latest stock market surge also displays the continuing improvement of the U.S. economy. Furthermore, a recent study has shown that stocks return more when a Democrat is president. Republicans proclaim themselves as the Wall Street-friendly party, but that is simply not true. In fact, it is not even close–money invested only during Democratic administrations would return more than nine times the dollar amount when compared to investing only during Republican administrations. Read here

Food Fight: A recent cartoon television ad by Chipotle about industrialized factory farming has several agriculture groups fuming. One of those groups is the Nebraska Farm Bureau, claiming that people fail to acknowledge the fact that modern day farm and ranch families are asked to provide food for a world of 7 billion people. What the Nebraska Farm Bureau fails to acknowledge is the fact that it is wrong to attack small family farms in a state that is built on such operations. That’s why we support the Nebraska Farmers Union, an organization that stands behind and represents real family farms and sustainable agricultural practices across our state. Even better, the union is now offering a consumer membership! Read here

An Arm and a Leg: In a recent attempt to discredit the Obama Administration, several Conservatives have turned to rising gas prices. As claims against the supposedly “anti-oil” President Obama mount, the truth is beginning to emerge. The number of oil drilling rigs in the U.S. has quadrupled and domestic oil production hit an eight year high under the Obama Administration. Rather than placing blame on the President, we need to seriously discuss the power and corruption of Big Oil and its speculators, like TransCanada, and what can be done to effectively regulate energy. Read here

Creative Equality: As debate across the country on women’s health and reproductive rights intensifies, a Georgia lawmaker has come up with a rather creative response to a legislative bill banning abortions for women who are more than 20 weeks pregnant. The Georgia state representative has introduced a bill that would ban males from seeking vasectomies, citing the constant invasive pressure placed on women by the government. By drawing a comparison between women’s reproductive choices to those of men’s, the female representative is taking a bold stance against gender inequality and the politicization of women’s health. Read here

Tax Reform: The Obama Administration released a new business tax reform plan on Wednesday. Focused on five objectives from strengthening innovation and manufacturing to tax cuts for small businesses, the plan would reduce the corporate tax rate from 35% to 28%. Lost revenue would be made up by eliminating outsourcing loopholes and simplifying an inefficient business tax system. Through these changes, the U.S. would become more competitive with other nations in manufacturing and business processes. The proposal will be sent onto Congress where it’s likely to stall. Read here

Check out a recent article by Yes Magazine featuring Bold’s own Ben Gotschall and the fight against the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline

 

Wednesday, February 22nd

With a highly anticipated GOP debate going on tonight, the candidates may still struggle to top the entertainment of President Obama. Singing in the company of many blues greats, Obama showed off his singing chops once again. Personally, we’d rather listen to the President sing over hearing Santorum assail women’s rights any day. Here’s your Roundup:

Mr. Charitable-in-Chief: President Obama and the First Lady gave the highest proportion of their income to charity despite having the second lowest combined income of presidential candidates. The First Family gave 14.2% of their adjusted gross income of $1.8 million. Mitt Romney was a close second with 13.8%, with the majority of the Romney’s donations going to the Mormon Church. Romney also far out paces the field with $21 million earned in 2010. Other candidates (Paul has still not released his tax returns) were much less charitable. Gingrich gave only 2.6% of his $3.2 million earned in that year, and Santorum gave 1.8% of his nearly $1 million. Read here

Down the Drain: Governor Heineman’s experiment with the privatization of children’s welfare in Nebraska continues to get worse and worse. The latest case management service provider has left the program. KVC is the fourth departure, leaving only one of the original five companies who signed on to provide care. It is time for the Governor to bring welfare back into state hands. His plan has proved to be a failure, and it harms our children. Nebraska’s care quality was recently given poor grades by the federal government. The worse thing about this fiasco is that the Governor continues to avoid taking blame, nor will he address plans to make child welfare something Nebraska children can count on. Read here

Behind the Words: Continuing a pathetic line of attack, Franklin Graham told Morning Joe that he was unsure on what kind of Christian Obama was and that he couldn’t ‘categorically say’ whether Obama was not a Muslim. Islam, stated Graham, has received a free pass under the President who those in the Muslim faith consider a ‘son of Islam.’ Graham’s comments are merely shameful attempts to stir up those same unfounded fears about the President’s agenda and continue the shameful suspicions about the patriotism of American muslims. No matter what the President accomplishes, no matter what foreign policy successes make America safer, conservatives like Graham still question the President’s patriotism. Read here

Going Bananas: Tar Sands supporters are boycotting Chiquita Bananas after the company decided not to use any oil that comes from Canadian tar sands production. Chiquita has been a leader in promoting sustainable energy for over a decade and their latest decision gives tar sands fighters a reason to smile while enjoying the tasty fruit. The boycott comes with news that the US Navy is working on reorganizing its fuel supply around more sustainable sources. We can only hope this reorganization includes a commitment against all tar sands oil. Read here  

 

Tuesday, February 21st

Some good news abroad as the Eurozone settled on a $173 billion bailout of Greece. This is good economic news for the short term, but many uncertainties still exist about Greece’s longterm ability to curb its high running deficits. Meanwhile, on the home-front, GOP candidates for President as well as Republican state legislatures around the nation continue their assault on women’s rights and health. Here’s your Roundup:

 Hypocritical Fight: A poignant letter to the Lincoln Journal Star notes the hypocrisy that should cripple the contraception debate occurring in this country. Instead the far-right ignores this and continues to politicize the issue of women’s health. As the letter questions, at which point is the religious freedom of non-Catholic workers of Catholic institutions infringed upon when they are not provided insurance for birth control as other employers must now do? Furthermore, how much of this was made an issue by conservative leaders and pundits? After all, 98% of Catholics already use a form of birth control. The letter closes with what is possibly the most disappointing aspect of all conservative efforts to limit women’s rights. The effort is focused, they say, on protecting the unborn. What is so unfortunate, regardless of your stance on abortion, is the lack of protection these same activists wish to give to children once they are born. Nebraskans can look to an example of this within our own state. Our Governor has dismantled and rendered child welfare ineffective with his privatization experiment. Despite putting the lives of many Nebraskan children at risk, we have seen very little efforts to address or mitigate the problem. Read Here. For a satirical review of the ‘vengeful crusade’, watch Colbert Here.

Backwards Logic: Newt Gingrich, with his back against the wall, leveled erroneous attacks on President Obama. Sensing his campaign is in dire straits, Gingrich called the President’s energy policy ‘outrageously anti-American.’ The former speaker specifically mentioned the Keystone XL pipeline, apparently finding something American about a foreign corporate project with no guarantees to securing American energy, all the while damaging our ecosystem. He also critiqued Obama’s support of electric vehicles, somehow deducing that staying away from such new vehicles will somehow address our commitment to foreign oil. Gingrich states that the President, “routinely only obeys laws that he deems fit.” This is obviously another example of Gingrich forgetting his own repugnant past. Read Here.

Energy Windfall: When it comes to wind energy, Nebraska is not playing its cards right. Despite the 4th best opportunity for wind production in the country, Nebraska ranks 25th in current energy produced. Studies show Nebraska is capable of producing 120% of the states electricity needs through wind technologies, but instead Nebraska is loosing to surrounding states. This is because other states provide the necessary tax relief to these companies that subsequently breath new life into rural areas. Residents of Petersburg can give a first hand account of all the benefits their community has received by becoming the state leader in wind energy. If our Governor and Unicameral really wants to aid working families and promote future prosperity for our state, then we should provide the proper incentives to bring these wind companies to our state along with the jobs and community development they bring with them. That is the kind of tax changes that sets Nebraska up for success, not the current tax changes proposed by Heineman. Read Here.

Power to the PAC: Recent financial disclosures shows just how large of a role Super PACs are playing in this Presidential campaign and will continue to play in the coming months. Despite spending $14 million in January on a barrage of negative ads, Romney didn’t have an especially good month. However, the large sum of money that his Super PAC sits on represents a significant advantage in the primary. With his string of victories, Santorum too is raising more money. What is so disheartening about these Super PACs is that they are majority funded by a small group of millionaires and billionaires. Indeed, each GOP candidate has his own specific billionaire backer. This tendency to give the super rich further influence takes the power out of the hands of the American people. Citizens United must be reversed, until then however it seems Super PACs are here to stay. That is why we commend CREDO for its grassroots approach at creating a Super PAC, truly the lesser of all other evils. Read Here.

 

Monday, February 20th

Happy Presidents’ Day! We hope those of you who got the day off are enjoying it. For anyone who’s working through the federal holiday, we’re hoping HuffPo’s collection of the 15 Hilarious President Impressions brightens your day. Here’s your Roundup:

 

Unanswered Questions: Voices of opposition are uniting against the Governor’s hazardous tax shift, make sure Heineman knows what real Nebraska values are. The questions and uncertainties about his tax shift are clear: What are we willing to loose in order to implement Heineman’s plan? Do we want to strain our education system further or put public works projects in limbo? Will towns and cities find their families crippled as they are forced to raise property taxes to cover state aid shortfalls? Heineman continues to dodge these questions, nor does he have a solution for the massive budget shortfall his plan will cause. Watch remarks from: Nebraska State Education Association, Voices for Children, NE AARP, and Lancaster Board of Commissioners. 

Unfair Impact: The Post Office is considering shutting down 3,830 locations around the U.S. The Internet is being blamed as main reason why the U.S. Post Office can’t keep its head above water anymore. Yet, nearly 80% of the locations in danger are in rural areas with higher rates of poverty. These Americans often have lower quality Internet or none at all. It’s in these communities where residents rely on the Post Office and still use it on a daily basis. The government needs to reassess these closings. The Post Office is in horrendous financial condition, but in trying to save the company are those who need it most being unequally adversely affected? Read here 

Moving Forward: LB 1118 moved forward without a late minute amendment pushed by its creator, Senator Abbie Cornett. The bill would provide economic incentives for businesses to bring large scale data centers to the state, requiring at least a $300 million investment and the creation of 30 jobs. Cornett tried to attach an amendment lowering the $300 million threshold to $200 million. She was forced to pull the amendment after senators took issue with the lack of information about it’s impact on increasing tax refunds and that most of them were hearing about the change for the first time on the floor. Senators should be reluctant when facing too many unknowns, and for that reason they should question Heineman’s tax shift, too. Read here

Front runner? Really?: While Romney is closing in on Michigan, Santorum now leads the volatile National GOP Presidential tracker poll by 8 percentage points. The increased lead comes on the back of some pretty outrageous statements by the former Pennsylvania senator. First, he implied that the President follows a religion outside of the Bible. His defense of these remarks was worse. He reiterated that he believes global warming isn’t scientifically proven, making us wonder what Santorum actually considers science. Santorum isn’t much different from Romney when it comes down to it. His plan to run on “Guns, God, and Gays” while proposing vastly dangerous environmental regulations shows that he is equally as out of touch as Mittens himself. Read here

The Bold Roundup is assembled every morn by our smart and savvy interns.

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