Let’s start with the U.S. Senate:
Senate GOP Blocks Veterans’ Benefits Bill
Senate Republicans derailed efforts to move forward with a $21 billion bill to enhance health care, education and job benefits for veterans.
Republicans stopped the veterans’ bill from moving on a procedural vote, which needed 60 votes. The final tally was 56-41.
Republicans and Democrats normally agree on the need to enhance benefits for the nation’s 22 million veterans and their families, but Republican senators wanted to lower the amount of spending in the bill. The GOP senators also wanted to include a measure that would have imposed new sanctions against Iran, which President Obama has warned against doing at this time. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blocked the amendments from being considered.
“Shame on the Republicans for bringing base politics into a bill to help the veterans,” Reid said on the Senate floor Thursday morning.
The bill would have improved benefits for veterans, including better health care and dental services provided by the VA. It also would have guaranteed post-9/11 veterans access to in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities in any state.
Meanwhile, over in the House of Representatives:
House GOP Votes To Take 'Consumer' Out Of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
WASHINGTON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday to overhaul the U.S. consumer financial watchdog, although the politically charged legislation stands little chance of becoming law.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, was created as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law to help protect Americans from financial scams.
Republicans say the agency is unaccountable to lawmakers because its funding comes from the U.S. Federal Reserve, not congressional appropriations. Democrats, on the other hand, staunchly support the agency's independence.
"The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not responsive to Congress because it doesn't get its funding from Congress," said Wisconsin Republican Sean Duffy, who sponsored the bill.
"We think it is appropriate when you have an agency that is so powerful and so unaccountable that we give the elected members of the American people the power to say how much money they should have."
House members voted 232-182 for a bill that would replace the bureau's director with a commission and subject it to the appropriations process.
Which is why the legislation was designed so it wouldn’t be subjected to the whims of politicians.
Then in state politics, we received a video from the Wendy Davis campaign:
Wendy Davis Obliterates Ted Nugent and Greg Abbott with Blistering New Ad
The ad features rape survivor Nicole Anderson speaking out, “I am speaking out because it really bothered me for Greg Abbott to partner with Ted Nugent knowing his history of being a predator. I was at home. I heard about it on the news. It made me feel like the it minimized the fact that Ted Nugent is a predator. I think that it sends the wrong message that he partnered up with this man that is very vocal about liking underage girls. There’s something wrong with that. It’s not okay.”
This ad is important on a couple of different levels. First, it is telling the truth about Ted Nugent. These types of ads should make Republican candidates think twice before they decide to cozy up to, and appear with, a self-admitted sexual predator. Secondly, the use of Nugent as a campaign booster by Abbott is an escalation of the Republican war on women, and the men who support the rights of all women. Abbott’s embrace of Nugent is sending the message to all voters that if Greg Abbott is elected governor, open season will continue on the rights of women.
It is good to see Ted Nugent getting called out for what he really is, but it also highlights the crucial issue in this election. Do the women and men of Texas think it is representative of their values to have the Republican candidate for governor getting cozy with a sexual predator? If Greg Abbott has no qualms about buddying up with Mr. Poopypants, he also won’t hesitate to accelerate the extremist anti-women agenda in the state of Texas.
Finally, we were treated to an interesting set of discussions on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher. The guests this week included Austan Goolsbee, Margaret Hoover and Bill Kristol.
Bill Maher Takes Down Kristol: 'Tea Party Was About A Black President'
From the cursing, angry reaction of Bill Kristol, you can tell Maher hit a very raw nerve (yes, he said bulls**t). Not only does Maher lay out the irony of what the Tea Baggers are supposed to be about (given the returns on investment from various 'bailouts' prove they were wrong) but also notes the ignorance of Kristol's position just by visiting the Tea Bagger websites where they are talking about anything BUT the financial issues of bailouts, etc.
When you have Bill Kristol get as mad as he gets in this video, you know you've touched upon a deeper truth, and he knows it.
Bill Maher vs Bill Kristol: Have You Ever Met a War You Didn't Love
Bill Maher and Bill Kristol went at it even harder Friday night over the Pentagon's proposed spending cuts. While Maher argued that the relatively minor cuts could not possibly hurt our country's massive military, Kristol saw them as potentially disastrous. Maher showed a chart which was created by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and has been making the rounds this week, to ask why the U.S. needs to spend more on defense than the next 10 countries combined.
Kristol called Maher's arguments "childish," calling military spending the "lowest it's ever been in the modern era," a suggestion the show's other guests could not agree with.
"Have you ever met a war you didn't love?" Maher asked Kristol. All that the war mongerer Kristol could do was admit that he has supported military intervention by multiple administrations.
Finally, Maher’s monologue was a knee-slapper with some topical jokes and commentary about persecuted billionaires:
We will return to our regularly scheduled Caturday kittehs momentarily.