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New GOP House Rules Pave The Way For More Tax Cuts, Deficits

“In 2007, just weeks after Republicans lost control of the House and Senate and six years after the first passel of Bush tax cuts were signed into law, Democrats made a key change to the budget rules to prevent that episode from repeating itself.

Republicans had used the budget reconciliation process — immune from a filibuster — to pass the cuts and explode the deficit: two things the reconciliation process was never meant to allow. To get away with it, Republicans were forced to include a 10-year sunset in package — planting the seeds for the tax cut fight we just saw on Capitol Hill. After Dems wrested control of Congress, they banned the reconciliation loopholes used by the GOP altogether.

But as they return to power in the House of Representatives, Republicans are taking steps to unravel those changes.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities examined the GOP’s proposed new rules for the House, and here’s what they found.

The new rules would stand the reconciliation process on its head, by allowing the House to use reconciliation to push through bills that greatly increase deficits as long as the deficit increases result from tax cuts, while barring the use of reconciliation in the House for legislation that reduces the deficit if that legislation contains a net increase in spending (no matter how small) that is more than offset by revenue-raising provisions.”

Latest Right-Wing Freak-Out: Obama Wants To Give Manhattan Back To Native Americans

“The good news is that the right-wing isn’t talking about President Obama being a secret Muslim right now. The bad news is that they’re now concerned that he’s going to use his honorary status as a Crow Tribe Indian to return the United States to Native Americans.

The outrage began after the President announced on December 16 that the U.S. would reverse course and support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. The Declaration was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2007, but the U.S., under President Bush, opposed it. “

GOP Could Force Vote On ‘Death Panels’

“Republicans could turn the cooked-up controversy over end-of-life counseling into a “Death Panel” vote next year.

If they fully embrace their new strategy, outlined here, Republicans could cherry pick politically-charged executive branch regulations and put vulnerable Democrats, particularly in the Senate, in a bind: vote for regulations that are unpopular with their constituents; or rebuke President Obama as he attempts to govern from the White House.

One of those regulations — scheduled to take effect January 1 — would achieve the Obama administration’s goal of encouraging end-of-life planning.”

Supported By Tea Party Polluters, Upton Flips On Threat Of Global Warming

“In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, incoming energy chair Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) joined Americans For Prosperity (AFP) president Tim Phillips, a global warming denier, to support the lawsuits by global warming polluters against climate rules. One of the companies leading the charge against the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas endangerment finding is Koch Industries, the private pollution giant whose billionaire owners have been directing the Tea Party movement through its AFP front group.

Upton once considered a “moderate on environmental issues,” but has worked hard to refashion himself as a hard-right defender of pollution in recent months. Some Tea Party groups tried to block Upton from taking the gavel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, attacking his past support for energy-efficient light bulbs.”

Right-Wing Groups Abandon Conservative Forum For Inviting Gay Conservatives To Participate

“The religious right has grown apoplectic over what it sees as the harbingers of its demise: gay conservatives. The emergence of the GOProud, a right-wing group of conservatives that support gay rights, is spurring a civil war between conservative bigwigs. This summer, WorldNetDaily publisher and proud “birther king” Joseph Farah and right-wing ranter Ann Coulter launched into a hyperbolic squabble after Coulter agreed to keynote GOProud’s inaugural “Homocon” conference. Fearful of GOProud’s impending “coup” of the conservative movement, Farah even called for extra security at his WND conference panel “is GOProud conservative?” because, as his loyal followers noted, GOProud could bring its “radical gay” supporters to help in its “infiltration of the conservative movement.”

Ever vigilant against “twisted and dangerous” threat of gay conservatives, right-wing groups are now repudiating any person, place, or thing that may associate with these wolves-in-sheep’s-clothing, most notably the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). “

GOP Senator-Elect Calls For Filibuster Reform On Judicial Nominees

“In 2005, when President Bush was nominating judges, GOP senators almost universally denounced filibusters of judicial nominees as unconstitutional. Four years later, when a Democratic president moved into the White House, the GOP conveniently forgot about its previous stance on the Constitution — wielding the filibuster to block an unprecedented number of President Obama’s judges.

At least one member of the incoming GOP caucus, however, believes that his party was right in 2005 and is wrong today. In an interview with right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt, Senator-elect Mike Lee (R-UT) argued against applying the filibuster to judges.”

Hey, Congress: Keep Your Day Jobs

“Some prominent conservatives have called for a return to the days when being a member of Congress was a part-time job, arguing that it will keep lawmakers more in touch with reality. But critics warn it would strengthen the presidency too much. Either way, is it even feasible?”

Alaska judge clears way for Murkowski swearing-in as Senator

“A federal judge today dismissed Republican Joe Miller’s federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of the Nov. 2 election, clearing the way for U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski to be certified as the winner.”

The BP Oil Spill Saga: Where Things Stand Now

“The BP oil spill in the Gulf killed 11 workers in April, released nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and triggered multiple government investigations and an overhaul of the nation’s offshore drilling regulatory agency.

Federal scientists estimated in August that between 53,000 and 62,000 barrels spilled into the Gulf each day until the well was temporarily plugged in July. BP has contested those numbers, arguing that the figures are flawed [PDF]. If the company prevails, it could reduce the size of its per-barrel pollution fines by billions of dollars, as well as what it may eventually have to pay to the government in lost royalties if the spill is found to be a result of BP’s negligence.

For its role in the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, BP currently faces a civil lawsuit by the Department of Justice. BP’s well partners Anadarko and MOEX, rig operator Transocean and Transocean’s insurer have also been named as defendants in the lawsuit, which seeks to recover the government’s removal costs, economic losses, and environmental damages resulting from the spilled oil.

A criminal investigation is ongoing and could result in additional financial penalties. As the Blog of LegalTimes pointed out in a blog post, Attorney General Eric Holder has acknowledged that conducting parallel civil and criminal proceedings can be “a little tricky.” If criminal charges are filed, those per-barrel fines for Clean Water Act violations could come into play in addition to fines under the Refuse Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.”

China to Tighten Limits on Rare Earth Exports

“The reduction in quotas is the latest in a series of measures by Beijing that has gradually curtailed much of the world’s supply of rare earth minerals.”

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