TheDC Morning: Obama’s State Department doesn’t want you to leave America, ever again
1.) New passport rules will keep you grounded (forever) — Don’t believe me? Check out the proposed new passport requirements: “Form DS-5513 asks for all addresses since birth; lifetime employment history including employers’ and supervisors names, addresses, and telephone numbers; personal details of all siblings; mother’s address one year prior to your birth; any ‘religious ceremony’ around the time of birth; and a variety of other information,” reports Consumer Traveler, which adds that only “some” citizens will have to fill out the questionnaire. Who of us counts as “some” is a complete and total mystery, as the State Department’s proposed rule does not include a handy chart for determining which level of hell applicants must travel to in order to be able to go to Cancun for spring break. Consumer Traveler also reports that “the State Department estimated that the average respondent would be able to compile all this information in just 45 minutes.”
2.) State budgetocalypse continues apace — A new study from the Pew Center on the States found that America is even broker than we thought. “The state funds that pay pension and health-care benefits to retired teachers, corrections officers and millions of other public workers faced a cumulative shortfall of at least $1.26 trillion at the end of fiscal 2009,” the report says. Also: That “the pension and health-care funding gap increased by 26 percent over the previous year.” But that’s not all. It gets much, much worse: “If states calculated their investment returns the same way that private firms are required to for their pensions, their obligations would balloon to $1.8 trillion, the report said. If states pegged their returns to 30-year Treasury bonds, an even more conservative standard, the liability would be $2.4 trillion.” That’s equivalent to almost 20% of our national debt! But the heads of public sector unions don’t want you to worry, because “these funds are not only persevering but are well on their way to full recovery,” said AFSCME Prez Gerald W. McEntee. You hear that? EVERYTHING IS OK.
3.) Homeless woman’s crime spree finally comes to an end — “Tanya McDowell, a homeless single mother from Bridgeport, is charged with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny for signing up her 5-year-old son to attend nearby Norwalk schools under the address of a friend,” reports Yahoo!’s Lookout blog. The friend was booted from public housing for helping McDowell, and McDowell’s son was kicked out of his Nowalk school. The homeless mother of one now faces up to 20 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Ironically, McDowell occasionally stays in a Nowalk homeless shelter, and could’ve registered that address to qualify her son. When asked about the merits of punishing a homeless woman for trying to save her son from a life of poverty, Norwalk school board president Jack Chiaramonte said, “There has to be a penalty for stealing our services.”
4.) Wall Street ditches Dems for GOP — After giving heavily to Democrats in the last election cycle, Hedge fund managers are switching sides. “Daniel Loeb, founder of Third Point LLC, was one of the biggest Obama fund-raisers in 2008, rounding up $200,000 for him, according to campaign-finance records. In the decade prior, Mr. Loeb and his wife donated $250,000 to Democrats and less than $10,000 to Republicans,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “But since Mr. Obama’s inauguration, Mr. Loeb has given $468,000 to Republican candidates and the GOP, and just $8,000 to Democrats.” Loeb, who is but one of a number of big money types to play for the other team, summed up his feelings in a widely circulated email initially sent to just a few friends: “I am sure, if we are really nice and stay quiet, everything will be alright and the president will become more centrist and that all his tough talk is just words…I mean, he really loves us and when he beats us, he doesn’t mean it.” In reality, the spankings never stop.
5.) Voyeuristic Americans intrigued by concept of monarchy — “Kate Middleton and Prince William’s upcoming nuptials have gotten more press in the United States than in England, the country where they will actually tie the knot this Friday,” writes TheDC’s Laura Donovan. According to Nielsen, “The share of news coverage by U.S. news outlets is more than twice that in the United Kingdom and Australia at the most recent measurement on April 3.” So, really, the British won.
6.) New York labor leaders are planning a huge, horrible party — “On May 12, demonstrators will stage what they hope will be a massive rally against the financial industry – and Mayor Bloomberg – over policies and budget cuts that could mean layoffs and the slashing of social services,” reports the New York Daily News. The organizers are calling their special fiesta “The Day We Made Wall Street Stand Still,” and it will include “community groups” as well as the United Federation of Teachers and 1199/SEIU, both of whose members should be working that day.
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