Opening up Commie Island was a smart move, Obama

Mike Riggs Contributor
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1.) Chambliss and Warner to propose Cat-food Commission report as legislation — If Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Mark Warner have their way, the We’re Broke Commission report will be more than just a ball of peanut butter meant to quiet the snapping maws of Blue Dogs and Tea Partiers. “We decided we would go ahead and take that commission report, even though we both have problems with it,” Warner told Bloomberg TV. “And we’re going to introduce it as legislation and we’re not going to let that kind of momentum that was starting to build up fade away.” Both men acknowledged that cutting Medicare and Social Security are politically risky ventures, but necessary all the same. Like an octopus of death, “it has so many tentacles out there because we’re talking about deductions in not only discretionary spending which we need to do but we’re also talking about the reform of mandatory programs,” Warner said. Chambliss anticipates his colleagues will want to soften the blow, “but if we don’t have everybody participating in the sacrifice, it won’t work.” Tall talk from a company that hasn’t been forced to reduce its head-count in forever.

2.) GOP froshes totally psyched about budget-cutting party — “The massive House Republican freshman class is poised to make their presence felt for the first time in the next few weeks, and will likely push immediate spending cuts above the goal set by House Speaker John Boehner,” reports The Daily Caller’s Jon Ward. “The head of a large conservative bloc within the House GOP said Monday that he is going to push his party — when debate begins over a bill to fund the government through September – to cut the $100 billion in non-defense discretionary spending they promised in the fall.” The freshmen communicated their intent to ride herd on Republican leadership at a retreat at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. “Freshmen were fired up about it,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican and head of the Republican Study Committee. “They said, ‘Heck yes we should!’” Now if only they could turn that into “Heck yes we did.”

3.) FCC cites its own lethargy as reason why ISPs can’t sue over net neutrality — On Dec. 21, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to pass net neutrality rules for a “free and open Internet.” Ironically, it wasn’t until the day before Christmas that the public could actually see the rules that the FCC voted on. Now the FCC says that Internet service providers that don’t like the law can’t sue just yet, because the FCC hasn’t published its rules in the Federal Register. According to CNET, the commission is also reluctant to allow lawsuits filed by Verizon and MetroPCS to be heard in the D.C. District Court of Appeals, because the agency isn’t sure it “is the appropriate venue for the case.” For those keeping score: The D.C. Court of Appeals is the same court that told the commission it had “overstepped its authority when it sanctioned Comcast for violating the agency’s net neutrality principles.”

4.) Reince Priebus opens RNC ledgers for the world to see — “While the year-end FEC report reveals the Republican National Committee is $21 million in debt, I believe it is best to get out all the facts as we know them associated with our financial position,” Priebus wrote in a Monday announcement. “To date, the committee has approximately $23 million in debt: $15 million in loans, and $8 million owed to vendors.” Is that your jaw on the floor, reader? Would you like some help pushing your eyes back into your skull? Priebus has you covered: “In the first two weeks we have reduced staff from 124 positions to 82, frozen all major contracts until they can be evaluated, and assembled an incredibly strong finance transition team. These moves alone have resulted in payroll savings of $500,000 a month and we exceeded the RNC’s major donor goals by over 30 percent in January with only half the execution time.”

5.) Obama should take more pride in opening up Commie Island — Pres. Obama quietly announced the re-opening of Cuba earlier this month. Writing in Foreign Policy, Arturo Lopez-Levy thinks the president should have made more noise about the change. “Whether the Castros admit it or not, Cuba is moving in a direction that fulfills U.S. hopes for a more market-oriented, open society on the island. Obama’s reforms take advantage of this opening,” writes Lopez-Levy. “The authorization of $500 non-family-related remittances, while paltry from a U.S. perspective, can provide a substantial boost for Cubans trying to open new businesses in a period of economic transition, particularly among black Cubans who are underrepresented in the exile community.” Also: “The new directive makes it easier for religious organizations to sponsor travel to (and religious activities in) Cuba, a move that suggests the Obama administration has a sophisticated understanding of Cuban civil society: Cuban religious congregations are the largest and most relevant forces for liberalization on the island and are important interlocutors with the Cuban government.”

6.) Congress really kicking itself for buying into Pelosi’s scandal-plagued Office of Congressional Ethics — “House Republicans decided to keep the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) in order to avoid political attacks from their opponents, the chairman of the House Ethics panel said Sunday,” reports The Hill. “Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) claimed in an interview that the majority of lawmakers would vote to disband the controversial OCE, which was created in 2008 by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). But Bonner said that getting rid of the office would make the House GOP look weak on ethics.” But it’s not just Republicans who hate the OCE, as Reps. Rangel and Waters will gladly tell you. According to The Hill, “Bonner said that given the chance on a secret ballot, Congress would do away with the office since members on both sides have ‘buyer’s remorse.'”

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Mike Riggs