TheDC Morning: Obama’s DOJ doesn’t understand why it has to explain itself
1.) Deficit commission gets no respect during SOTU address — “Wait for the deficit commission.” That’s what the White House told Reuters’ James Pethokoukis whenever he asked about Pres. Obama’s strategy for dealing with America’s debt problem. “Obama’s panel has come and gone,” Pethokoukis wrote after the SOTU address. “And in his speech last night, he failed to explicitly endorse any of its budget-cutting recommendations.” After 10 months of deliberation and town halls across the country to the tune of $500,000, and a contentious fight over which commission faction’s proposal was the best proposal, Obama has essentially scrapped the whole thing. “I don’t agree with all their proposals, but they made important progress,” Obama said last night. “To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations.” Never mind that Obama has endorsed exactly zero of the commission’s ideas, but as Pethokoukis points out: “Did Obama not check his in-box? His bipartisan commission gave him a Social Security fix.”
2.) If a budget cut proposal sounds too good to be true… — In last night’s SOTU address, Obama talked spending freezes and budget cuts. But how do you know what’s what? The Daily Caller’s Jon Ward and his trusty CSI-approved black light are here to help. Spin: The White House is selling the freeze, as Sperling put it, as “one of the deepest and toughest spending restraint budgets that has been seen by a president.” Fact: They are freezing less than one half of one fourth of the budget. Spin: The White House says they will reduce the deficit by $400 billion over 10 years. The $400 billion figure will stick in people’s minds. The 10 year window likely will not. Fact: That’s $40 billion a year cut from the projected deficit. Spin: Republicans will say the president must do more. Fact: The cuts put forward by Republican leadership so far are only marginally greater than the president’s.
3.) Rep. Sanchez attempts to give Giffords the boot — “Behind closed doors, California Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez has proposed removing Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords from the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) until she recovers from injuries sustained after being shot in the head,” reports TheDC’s Chris Moody. “The proposal sparked an outrage, according to those in the room — including from those in Sanchez’s own party.” The move sparked one GOP aide to point out that Sanchez isn’t completely devoid of emotion, just manners. “From a woman who memorialized her cat, you’d think she’d show a little more compassion for a woman shot in the face.”
4.) Obama’s DOJ jumps the gun — “Members of Congress chided the U.S. Department of Justice for suggesting a new law requiring Internet companies to keep records of user activity, but not disclosing details on how it should be crafted to aid criminal investigations,” reports CNET. During the hearing, DOJ representatives suggested that forcing companies to store more user data for up to two years would aid in police investigations. When asked for a framework, however, “Jason Weinstein, deputy assistant attorney general for the criminal division, irked the committee members by saying ‘the government doesn’t have a specific proposal’ at this time.” You’ve heard the phrase “power-hungry”? It appears the DOJ is “power-starved.”
5.) Elected politician one step closer to understanding the root problem with federal student aid — At a recent conference on college accreditation, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), head of the House subcommittee on higher education, said the smartest thing anyone has said in a long time about subsidies for higher education. Rules proposed last year by the Department of Education that would tie a for-profit college’s eligibility for federal aid to student success not only “concentrate[d] arbitrary power over a select group [of colleges] in the hands of a few unelected bureaucrats,” but they also ignore a problem that spans the higher education industry: If a debt-income ratio makes sense — “and I’m not sure it does,” Foxx said, according to Inside Higher Ed — “it should make sense for every last institution that receives federal aid.” That includes your second-wave feminist cousin with the anthropology degree from NYU, $50K in federally backed student loans, and a job at Starbucks.
6.) EPA regulations meant to pad Teamster ranks? — “By increasing the number of ‘green’ requirements truckers have to comply with in order to get into some major United States ports — like Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland — the Obama administration and the Environmental Protection Agency are helping push previously independent truckers into companies, which then makes them vulnerable to unionization or, in many cases, forced to join a union,” writes TheDC’s Matthew Boyle. “Trucks that don’t fit this new ‘green’ standard are still allowed to operate throughout the country, but each of the major port authorities won’t let them in if they don’t fit the new environmental regulations.”