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January 31 2014

08:41

Week In The News: Southern Freeze, State Of The Union, So Long Bernanke

A southern deep freeze. State of the Union. Bye, bye, Ben Bernanke. Our weekly news roundtable goes beyond the headlines.

In this aerial view looking at I-75 north at Mt. Paran Rd., abandoned cars are piled up on the median of the ice-covered interstate after a winter snow storm Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, in Atlanta. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said early Wednesday that the National Guard was sending military Humvees onto Atlanta's snarled freeway system in an attempt to move stranded school buses and get food and water to people. Georgia State Patrol troopers headed to schools where children were hunkered down early Wednesday after spending the night there, and transportation crews continued to treat roads and bring gas to motorists, Deal said. (AP)

In this aerial view looking at I-75 north at Mt. Paran Rd., abandoned cars are piled up on the median of the ice-covered interstate after a winter snow storm Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, in Atlanta. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said early Wednesday that the National Guard was sending military Humvees onto Atlanta’s snarled freeway system in an attempt to move stranded school buses and get food and water to people.  (AP)

Guests

David Wessel, director, Hutchins Center on Fiscal & Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution. Contributing correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.  (@davidmwessel)

Kelly O’Donnell, Congressional correspondent for NBC News. (@KellyO)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Interstate-clearing focus turns over 2,000 abandoned cars — “More than 2,000 cars still left abandoned on metro Atlanta interstates as of Wednesday evening, and with road conditions now passable city-wide, state officials were turning their focus Thursday to getting those cars safely off the roads.”

Reuters: Households, trade keep U.S. economy humming in fourth quarter – “Gross domestic product grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate in the final three months of last year, the Commerce Department said on Thursday, in line with economists’ expectations. While that was a slowdown from the third-quarter’s brisk 4.1 percent pace, it was a far stronger performance than had been anticipated earlier in the quarter and welcome news in light of some drag from October’s partial government shutdown.”

The Economist: Praying for peace — “Only  a few weeks ago the dismissal of the Ukrainian government by President Viktor Yanukovych and his offer to appoint an opposition leader as the country’s new prime minister would have had an electric effect. It would have been cheered by protesters on Kiev’s Independence Square (the Maidan) as an important victory. It might even have persuaded them to unblock the roads in the capital. Not any more. On January 28th Mr Yanukovych at last surrendered Nikolai Azarov, a long-serving but ineffectual prime minister. But that was met with a shrug of the shoulders by those manning the barricades in Kiev. “

January 29 2014

06:42

State Of The Union And The State Of The Obama Presidency

We’ll dive into President Obama’s State of the Union Address. Analysis — and where the President stands — with Riehan Salam, Kristen Welker and Amy Davidson.

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union Address in front of the joint session of the U.S. Congress on Jan. 28, 2014. (AP)

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union Address in front of the joint session of the U.S. Congress on Jan. 28, 2014. (AP)

Guests

Amy Davidson, senior editor at The New Yorker. (@tnycloseread)

Reihan Salam, writer for National Review and Reuters Opinion. Co-author of “Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream.” (@reihan)

Kristen Welker, NBC News White House correspondent. (@kwelkerNBC)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Obama to Press for ‘Year of Action’ – “The speech repackages many of the policy proposals Mr. Obama has so far failed to achieve, including infrastructure projects, early childhood education programs and plans for making college more affordable. He’s also renewing calls on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, covering all U.S. workers, and pass an overhaul of the immigration system.”

New York Times: Obama Taking Up Economic Issues on His Authority – “Promising ‘a year of action’ as he tries to rejuvenate a presidency mired in low approval ratings and stymied by partisan stalemates, Mr. Obama used his annual State of the Union address to chart a new path forward relying on his own executive authority. But the defiant, go-it-alone approach was more assertive than any of the individual policies he advanced.”

Washington Post: Obama prepared to avoid Congress, go it alone on carrying out modest initiatives – “For the first time since taking office, Obama spoke to Congress on Tuesday evening from a clear position of confrontation. The areas he identified for possible cooperation with a divided Congress have shrunk, leaving an agenda filled out by a growing number of modest initiatives that he intends to carry out alone.”

January 14 2014

23:31

December 27 2013

09:01

Week In The News: 2013 In Review

Our weekly news roundtable –live and lively–in the studio looks back over a whole year, 2013.

Protesters hold posters of former National Security Agency member Edward Snowden in front of the German parliament building, the Reichstag, prior to a special meeting of the parliament on US-German relationships, in Berlin, Monday, Nov. 18, 2013.  (AP)

Protesters hold posters of former National Security Agency member Edward Snowden in front of the German parliament building, the Reichstag, prior to a special meeting of the parliament on US-German relationships, in Berlin, Monday, Nov. 18, 2013. (AP)

Guests

Karen Tumulty, national political correspondent for The Washington Post. (@ktumulty)

David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times. (@SangerNYT)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: White House Tries to Prevent Judge From Ruling on Surveillance Efforts –”The government said that despite recent leaks by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor, that made public a fuller scope of the surveillance and data collection programs put in place after the Sept. 11 attacks, sensitive secrets remained at risk in any courtroom discussion of their details — like whether the plaintiffs were targets of intelligence collection or whether particular telecommunications providers like AT&T and Verizon had helped the agency.”

Washington Post: Republicans reassess after shutdown debacle — “The GOP establishment has embarked, once again, on a round of soul-searching. But this time, the question is: What will it take to save the Republicans from the self-destructive impulses of the tea party movement? That the government shutdown was a political disaster for the party that engineered it is widely acknowledged, except by the most ardent tea partners. And that near-unanimity presents an opportunity for the establishment to strike back — and maybe regain some control from the insurgent wing.”

Boston Globe: The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev — “Federal investigators have suspected that Tamerlan, the 26-year-old boxer from southern Russia who is believed, along with his brother, to have set off the deadly Boston Marathon bombs in April, was motivated, if not deliberately directed, by real life jihadist revolutionaries on the other side of the globe. But an investigation by the Boston Globe suggests that Tamerlan was in the perilous grip of someone far more menacing: himself.”

December 17 2013

23:26

The GOP’s ‘Manchurian Candidates’ And Other Thoughts

Our Nov. 17 conversation with Michael Needham of the influential conservative political group Heritage Action and former Ohio Congressman Steve LaTourette took a close look at the state of the Republican Party as different sides of the party’s base struggle for control of the dominant narrative.

Needham, whose group is credited by some for pioneering the government shutdown as a way to defund and repeal the Affordable Care Act, spoke of the “bold, conservative ideas” that were helping the Republican Party, while LaTourette, a former Congressional ally and close friend of House Speaker John Boehner, accused Needham’s group of helping move the party toward “fratricide.”

Michael Needham On “The Reality” Of The Republican Grassroots

“I think the Speaker was being absurd there. Look the Republican Party is at it’s best when it’s the party of Ronald Reagan: standing for limited government, free enterprise, people who want to start business or go to their jobs and come home to their family. I think that many Republicans woke up in 2001, thought that President Bush had won an election, thought that it was gonna be a continuation of what Ronald Reagan did for the countr,y and were surprised to find that K Street had taken hold of the Republican Party. And now there’s a sense from I think many members of Congress that we’re back in control, we’re gonna kinda let the good good times roll, K Street will continue to call the shots, and the grassroots aren’t taking it anymore. And I think that we are one way that they’re having a voice in Washington, but there’s many other ways, and it’s the reality of the world we live in today.”

Steve LaTourette On The Heritage Action ‘Fratricide’

Heritage Action is not the Republican Party. And I do in fact care deeply about the Republican Party, as I’m sure he does, but  the fact of the matter is that his group, Club for Growth, Freedom Works have engaged sort of in this fratricide, and they’re not going after, with the same vigor, Democrats, who I think get zero or less than zero on their scorecards. And instead they’re inciting inter-party violence in primary elections and threatening to make the Republican Party regional, marginalized party that can have a slim majority in the House of Representatives but never again elect a President of the United States. And you know, cause some candidates to blow up in Senate races — the witch in Delaware, and Mr. Mourdock in Indiana and in other places. And you know, Speaker Boehner’s frustration was, you know, I think he’d had enough. The government shutdown was a stupid strategy. Anybody that mapped it out and said, ‘Well President Obama all of a sudden is going to sign a piece of legislation giving up on what you could argue what was the biggest and only accomplishment of his Presidency.’  I mean that’s just crazy. And to sell it that way to people and to ask them to send you money to fight the fight and support Senator Cruz, that’s what I think has the Speaker frustrated and I think he’s right to be frustrated.”

Michael Needham On How The Heritage Strategy Is Working

“It’s funny to kind of unpack that statement.  What everyone is saying today, is that they’re happy that Speaker Boehner shot us down last week because we’ve had too much control of the House, we’ve had too much influence and now he’s putting us in our place.  A year ago the Republican Party was seven points under water on the generic Congressional ballot. Today, they’re three points over water.  If you’ve improved by ten percentage points with the face of the party being the bold conservatism of Ronald Reagan and the commitment to the free enterprise system that Ted Cruz has, maybe that’s something that we should repeat. We know what happens when big entrenched interests run the Republican Party. And we saw it 2006, we saw unfortunately with this claim in 2012 that if we just didn’t stick our neck out, we didn’t make ourselves the issue, that the people would rebel against Obama and Mitt Romney would get to the finish line, and it didn’t work. Republicans are at their best when they stand for those values that make our country great.”

Steve LaTourette On Why The GOP Doesn’t Control The Senate

“We just want to be Republicans. We want to co-exist with Heritage Action, we want to co-exist with Club For Growth, we want to co-exist with the Ttea Party, we see the Tea Party and the conservative bloc of the Republican Party of being an important part of the Party…that’s the point. We want to be left alone. And you don’t see center-right Republican organizations, like mine, going out and actively recruiting candidates to wipe out or attack or defeat in Republican primaries more conservative candidates. But consistently that’s going on, particularly on the Senate side, and I would argue if it wasn’t for the efforts of these folks, we would have as a party functional control of the Senate, over fifty votes. But that’s been denied to us by Sharon Angle, Richard Mourdock, Todd Akin, the witch in Delaware, and on and on and on.”

Steve LaTourette On ‘Manchurian Candidate’ Conservative Republicans

“That reference of his, that we’re gonna get in the face, and knock the snot out of groups like his, and Club for Growth that continue to put these Manchurian Candidates that are not electable against center -right Republicans, who are good Republicans. These groups have no imprimatur to define who’s a good Republican and who is not a good Republican. And there’s a reason we don’t have one representative in New England, we’ve gone from like 12 to three in New York, and it’s not because we don’t have Republicans. It’s because we don’t have Republicans who can win elections based upon some of the principles that some of the Republicans in other parts of the country have.”

Michael Needham On How Conservative Candidates Are Helping The Republican Party’s Mission

“If we’re going to be fair, it’s the Tea Party, it’s the anti-establishment wing of the Republican Party that is responsible for Marco Rubio being the Senator from Florida.That’s responsible for Ted Cruz — who was outspent twenty-to-one — being the Senator from Texas, who was given a primetime spot at the GOP convention because he’s an exciting new face for the party. That’s responsible for Nikki Haley being the Governor from South Carolina — when she was the number four choice behind an attorney general, a Lieutenant Governor and a sitting Congressman of the D.C. establishment — being the exciting new face of the Republican Party down in South Carolina. In general, when the Tea Party or when the anti-establishment wing of the Republican Party  loses, they still go out they work for the establishment candidate that won, they show up at the polls. When it’s the moderates who take their balls and consistently go home. So when Lugar loses to Mourdock he refuses to endorse. Charlie Crist loses to Marco Rubio, and he changes parties and becomes a Democrat. Linc Chafee loses and he changes parties and becomes a Democrat. Lisa Murkowski loses, and she runs a write in campaign.”

Steve LaTourette On Expanding The Republican Party Beyond ‘Angry Old White Guys’

“If you look at the results of 2012, President Obama should not have been reelected with unemployment where it was. And the fight and the discussion is, and I know Michael has an opinion on this, but the fight within the party is, they would argue, it’s because we weren’t conservative enough, and we weren’t bold enough and so forth and so on. I would argue, that in order to win a national election, you need more than angry 57 year-old white guys in South Carolina and below the Mason Dixon line. and you have to attract other voters that don’t necessarily hue to some of the the messages. Ted Cruz’s message is fine in Texas, Rubio’s fine in Florida. They don’t play so well in Massachusetts. When I got here, we had two Republicans, Peter Blute and Peter Torkildsen, from Massachuseets. We had two in Maine, we had two in New Hamsphire, We don’t have any anymore.”

What do you make of the Republican Party’s internal struggle? Is it as divided as it sounds? Angling for national control? Angry for no reason? Better off than it seems? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook, Tumblr and @OnPointRadio.

07:22

A Republican Party At Odds With Itself

The fight for the soul of the GOP.  After Speaker Boehner’s tongue-lashing of the Tea Party, a key Main Streeter and a Tea Party stalwart join us to hash out the confrontation on the Right.

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio vehemently rebukes conservative groups who oppose the pending bipartisan budget compromise struck by House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Boehner said the GOP leadership has had enough tea party-driven intransigence in Congress and he doesn’t care what they think.  (AP)

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio vehemently rebukes conservative groups who oppose the pending bipartisan budget compromise struck by House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Boehner said the GOP leadership has had enough tea party-driven intransigence in Congress and he doesn’t care what they think. (AP)

Guests

Michael Needham, CEO of Heritage Action For America. (@MikeNeedham)

Steve LaTourette, President of McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies, a Washington, D.C. lobbying firm. President and CEO of the Republican Main Street Partnership. Former U.S. Congressman from Ohio’s 19th and 14th districts. (@LaTourette)

From Tom’s Reading List

USA Today: Palin to GOP budget supporters: ‘We’ll be watching’ — “Sarah Palin is adding her voice to the chorus of Tea Party conservatives upset with the compromise budget deal. The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, who enjoys a following among the small government, anti-tax supporters, blasted the two-year deal worked out by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray. Palin argued in an op-ed column for Breitbart.com that the budget agreement would lead to higher taxes and more spending.”

Washington Times:  Budget Deal: The GOP is playing the long game – “A big, messy, budget battle right now would do nothing to help the GOP politically. While the Tea Party will undoubtedly call bad form, and while acceptance of this budget by no means constitutes the act of practicing fiscal conservatism in Congressional politics, it does give the Democrats one less thing they can use to distract from the fact that President Obama’s single greatest legislative achievement has been marred by ‘faulty’ websites, lies, fraud, and downright resentment among the American people.”

Politico: Boehner, Ryan lobby Senate GOP on budget plan — “Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan convinced 167 House Republicans to back the bipartisan budget deal last week and effectively put an end to this year’s fiscal wars. Now, they’re trying to get at least five Senate Republicans to do the same. In an attempt to head off growing Senate GOP opposition to the plan, Boehner and Ryan have personally urged a handful of Senate Republicans to help advance the plan, according to several people familiar with the matter. Boehner has brought the issue up in conversations with some of his closest Senate GOP friends, sources say, while Ryan has actively made calls to wayward Senate Republicans.

December 13 2013

08:32

Week In The News: Budget Deal, Mourning Mandela And The Struggle In Ukraine

A budget deal, a handshake, a struggle in Ukraine and the world mourns Mandela. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Guests

Nancy Cordes, Congressional correspondent for CBS News. (@nancycordes)

Michael Hirsh, chief correspondent for the National Journal. (@michaelphirsh)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

National Journal: Behind the ‘Volcker Rule’: The Mutt-and-Jeff Team That Tackled Wall Street – “The Volcker Rule was, in fact, in grave danger of being loopholed to death right up until its adoption this week. And in the end it was largely one regulator, more than any other, stood firm against those efforts and managed to avert the worst of the watering down: Gary Gensler, the outgoing chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. As diminutive in stature as Volcker is towering, Gensler was the Jeff to Volcker’s Mutt, an essential part of a de facto team.”

Washington Post: Sebelius: Enrollment up with improving HealthCare.gov; review of problems launched — “The administration announced Wednesday that about 365,000 Americans chose health plans during the first two months of the federal and state insurance marketplaces, bringing the total to more than triple the meager enrollment from October. A report accompanying the announcement showed that the number of people who collectively signed up for coverage in the 14 states running their own insurance exchanges continued to outpace the total enrollment from the three dozen states relying on the federal marketplace.”

Reuters: U.S. schools look to guards, technology a year after Sandy Hook — “Schools are aiming to stop gun scares and killings, such as the shooting deaths of three students at an Ohio high school in February 2012, the wounding of two students at a California high school in January 2013 and a potential mass shooting at a Georgia elementary school in August that was averted when a school bookkeeper talked the gunman into laying down his AK-47 assault rifle. The number of school resource officers or law enforcement officers assigned to schools has risen to levels not seen since the aftermath of the 1999 Columbine High School ‘massacre’ in Colorado, in which 13 people were shot to death, said Maurice Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers.”

December 10 2013

05:22

Bland Budget Deal Could Break D.C. Impasse

With a deadline nearing for a budget deal, we’ll look at what it’s going to take to get the deal done.

Guests

Jake Sherman, Congressional reporter for Politico. (@JakeSherman)

Heather Boushey, executive director and chief economist at the Center for American Progress’ Washington Center For Equitable Growth. (@HBoushey)

Douglas Holtz-Eakinpresident of the American Action Forum. (@djheakin)

From Tom’s Reading List

Politico: Paul Ryan’s bipartisan budget moment? — “Over the next few weeks, as Congress pushes up against the December recess, Ryan’s influence in the Capitol will be put to a test. He will have to play a major role in convincing the same House Republican Conference that triggered a government shutdown to pass a budget agreement that doesn’t drastically change Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlement programs — the longstanding goal of Speaker John Boehner’s majority.”

Washington Post: Budget deal expected this week amounts to a cease-fire as sides move to avert a standoff — “The deal expected to be sealed this week on Capitol Hill would not significantly reduce the debt, now $17.3 trillion and rising. It would not close corporate tax loopholes or reform expensive health-care and retirement programs. It would not even fully replace sharp spending cuts known as the sequester, the negotiators’ primary target.After more than two years of constant crisis, the emerging agreement amounts to little more than a cease-fire. Republicans and Democrats are abandoning their debt-reduction goals, laying down arms and, for the moment, trying to avoid another economy-damaging standoff.”

Wall Street Journal: Lawmakers: Jobless-Benefits Fight Won’t Derail Budget Deal — “Several Democrats are pushing to vote on an extension this week in the Senate, though how to pay for it remains an issue. Congress has opted at times in the past to renew the 2008 benefits without offsetting their cost through tax increases or spending cuts. On the budget front, officials close to the talks have said Ms. Murray and Mr. Ryan are closing in on a deal that would allow spending of roughly $1 trillion in each of the next two years. The mid-October agreement to end the partial government shutdown tasked the budget group with coming up with a budget plan for the rest of the 2014 fiscal year by Friday.”

December 02 2013

15:00

Taking Stock Of HealthCare.gov

Healthcare.gov. It’s December. We’ll look at what’s working, what’s not, and the path now for health care reform.

Victory declared this weekend by the Obama administration in rescuing HealthCare.gov from its calamitous debut.  Critics compared it to George W. Bush’s derided “Mission Accomplished” claim in Iraq.  The website that barely breathed when the Affordable Care Act was rolled out October 1 is now said to be capable of handling 50,000 users at a time.  Small change in the world of cyber-Monday shopping.  A big deal if it ushers millions of Americans into new health care coverage.  The battle is still on. This hour On Point:  HealthCare.gov and health care reform, two months in.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Noam Levey, national healthcare reporter for the Los Angeles Times. (@NoamLevey)

Dan Schuyler, director at Leavitt Partners, a health-care intelligence business. Former director of technology for the Utah Health Insurance Exchange. (@dschuyler)

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), member of Congress representing Tennessee’s seventh district. (@MarshaBlackburn)

Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), member of Congress representing Maryland’s eight district. (@ChrisVanHollen)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Inside the Race to Rescue a Health Care Site, and Obama — “The website, which the administration promised would ‘function smoothly’ for most people by Nov. 30, remains a work in progress. It is more stable, with many more people able to use it simultaneously than just two weeks ago. But it still suffers sporadic crashes, and large parts of the vital ‘back end’ that processes enrollment data and transactions with insurers remain unbuilt. The president, who polls showed was now viewed by a majority of Americans as not trustworthy, has conceded that he needs to ‘win back’ his credibility.”

Wall Street Journal: Insurers Seek to Bypass Health Site — “Federal officials said they had largely succeeded in repairing parts of the site that had most snarled users in the two months since its troubled launch, but acknowledged they only had begun to make headway on the biggest underlying problems: the system’s ability to verify users’ identities and accurately transmit enrollment data to insurers. One of the leading states operating its own exchange is considering ways to decouple itself from the federal infrastructure it relies on to confirm residents’ eligibility for federal tax credits. That technology has been affected by planned and unplanned outages.”

Los Angeles Times: Major health website bugs fixed, officials say, but more work needed — “Reporting on its attempts to improve the HealthCare.gov portal, officials said that Web pages on the site now loaded in less than one second, down from eight seconds in late October. The system now operates more than 90% of the time, up from 40% during some weeks in October. The average rate of timeouts or other Web page failures has dropped to less than 1%. It was as high as 6% in October.”

November 20 2013

11:39

Digital Currency, Bitcoin And The Dark Web

Bitcoin and virtual currencies in the spotlight on Capitol Hill. We’ll look at the new world of digital money and the issues that come with it.

Guests

Andy Greenberg technology, privacy, and information security reporter at Forbes Magazine. Author of “This Machine Kills Secrets: How WikiLeakers, Cypherpunks, and Hacktivists Aim to Free the World’s Information.” (@A_Greenberg)

Robin Sidel, senior special writer at The Wall Street Journal.

Susan Athey, professor of economics at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economics Policy Research.

Sen. Tom Carper, U.S. Senator. (D-Delware). (@SenatorCarper)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Officials Set to Address Bitcoin at Senate Hearing — “Officials from the U.S. Secret Service, which investigates counterfeit currencies, and the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network made similar remarks, detailing successful criminal investigations into virtual currencies and the need to ensure that companies that deal in bitcoin comply with money-laundering rules where appropriate. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who isn’t testifying Monday, said in a letter to the Senate committee that while virtual currencies ‘may pose risks related to law enforcement and supervisory matters, there are also areas in which they may hold long-term promise, particularly if the innovations promote a faster, more secure, and more efficient payment system.’”

Forbes: Meet The ‘Assassination Market’ Creator Who’s Crowdfunding Murder With Bitcoins –”Like other so-called ‘dark web’ sites, Assassination Market runs on the anonymity network Tor, which is designed to prevent anyone from identifying the site’s users or Sanjuro himself. Sanjuro’s decision to accept only Bitcoins is also intended to protect users, Sanjuro, and any potential assassins from being identified through their financial transactions. Bitcoins, after all, can be sent and received without necessarily tying them to any real-world identity. In the site’s instructions to users, Sanjuro suggests they run their funds through a “laundry” service to make sure the coins are anonymized before contributing them to anyone’s murder fund.”

The New Yorker: Dark Wallet: A Radical Way To Bitcoin — “Wilson and Taaki’s project, tentatively known as Dark Wallet, is a simple wallet designed to be easier to use for people who aren’t tech-savvy; they hope that in turn accelerates the currency’s rate of adoption around the world. The wallet will be open-source and free to use. Eventually, Wilson and Taaki hope to create a vast stable of Bitcoin-related tools. The goal, for Wilson, is similar to what he tried to do with the Liberator: use technology to remove government intervention from his life, and from the lives of like-minded people.”

November 04 2013

15:00

The Food Stamp Cut And American Priorities

Food stamp benefits cut and Congress considers even deeper cuts. We’ll hear the debate over national priorities, hunger and character.

Food Stamps, the SNAP program, is the largest US anti-hunger program.  It’s designed to help the poor buy food.  It’s hardly luxurious.  The average household receiving SNAP benefits had an annual income of $8,800 in 2010.  SNAP benefits have covered $1.80 per meal.  Now, after cuts on Friday, that’s headed down to less than $1.40 a meal.  SNAP is controversial because it has grown.  Enrollment has doubled since 2004.  The cost has tripled.  Of course, we had an epic recession.  But the heat is on.  Up next On Point:  Food stamps – SNAP – American hunger and American priorities.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Eli Saslow, staff writer at the Washington Post; author of a four-part series of stories on food stamps. (@EliSaslow)

Rep. Peter DeFazio, Democratic Congressman from Oregon’s Fourth District. (@RepPeterDeFazio)

Michael Tanner, senior fellow at the Cato Institute. (@MTannerCato)

Eldar Shafir, professor of pyschology and public affairs at Princeton University, co-author of “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much.”

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: Hard Work – “The congressman had been called a “starvation expert” by analysts on TV and a “monster” by colleagues in the House of Representatives. Protesters had visited his offices carrying petitions demanding he resign. And now, six months into his crusade to overhaul the food stamp program, Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) departed the Capitol to address his most wary audience yet: the people whose government benefits he hoped to curtail.”

The Daily Beast: The Republicans’ Food Stamp Fraud: It’s Not About Austerity — “ Its size fluctuates with the economy—when more people are working, the number of those on food stamps goes down. This, of course, isn’t one of those times. So right now the SNAP program, as it’s called, is serving nearly 48 million people in 23 million households. The average monthly individual benefit is $133, or about $4.50 a day. In 2011, 45 percent of recipients were children. Forty-one percent live in households where at least one person works. More than 900,000 are veterans. Large numbers are elderly or disabled or both.”

Northwest Watchdog: Oregon’s DeFazio protests food stamp cuts — “DeFazio, a Democrat who represents Oregon’s fourth congressional district, is protesting proposed cuts in the U.S. House to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps low income families buy food, according to KVAL. A huge farm bill passed by the Senate on Monday includes $760.5 billion for SNAP, nearly 80 percent of the entire bill. The House is proposing steeper cuts to SNAP.”

Read An Excerpt Of “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much” By Eldar Shafir And Sendhil Mullainathan

October 18 2013

04:31

Week In The News: Shutdown, Senate Deal And ACA Struggles

Shutdown ends. Iran nuke talks.  Dry ice bombs at LAX.  Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Guests

Kristen Welker, White House Correspondent for NBC News. (@KWelkerNBC)

Bob Cusack, managing editor of The Hill. (@BobCusack)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

National Review: McConnell’s Exit Interview — “This thing that passed the Senate, which, honestly, only maintained the status quo for a few more months, was better than what the House tried to pass and couldn’t pass, because it has a longer CR, which is what we wanted. That’s how challenging it is when you can’t get something more in line with what you’d like to achieve over here. So, my job is to acquaint our members, the best I can, with the reality of our situation, and try to get them to enable me to get us all out of the ditch—and my members weren’t happy being in a 16-day government shutdown and being a day away from rattling the markets by getting close to default.”

Washington Post: Government reopens after shutdown; Obama urges Congress to resist ‘extremes’ — “Obama called on Congress to resist ‘pressure from the extremes’ and ‘understand that how business is done in this town has to change.’ He urged lawmakers to pursue a ‘balanced’ long-term budget and pass comprehensive immigration reform and a new farm bill. And he delivered a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to federal workers as they return to their jobs. ‘What you do is important, and don’t let anybody else tell you different,’ he said.”

Christian Science Monitor: Why a little-noticed chat between the US and Iran is a big deal – “Rarely has there been a greater study in contrasts in Iran than now, as outbursts of familiar, fierce anti-American rhetoric – a staple since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution – are joined by the taboo-breaking surge of high-level US-Iran contact. But Iran experts note that Tehran’s new diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear issue should not be conflated with overcoming the far more challenging historical and ideological differences that have kept the US and Iran arch enemies for a generation.”

October 10 2013

05:35

Digging Into The Definition Of A Federal Default

Barreling towards default. We’ll go deep on scenarios for the economy.  They’re scary—and the politics. Scary too.

 

Guests

Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator at The Financial Times. (@martinwolf_)

Alan Auerbach, professor of economics and law at the University of California – Berkeley and director of the Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance.

Austan Goolsbee, professor of economics at The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, former Chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. (@Austan_Goolsbee)

From Tom’s Reading List

 Washington Post: As debt-limit deadline nears, investors show growing concern about a U.S. default — “Short-term borrowing by the Treasury Department became twice as expensive Tuesday as it had been the day before, one of the most significant signs of alarm in the bond markets since the financial crisis of 2008.The stock market, meanwhile, continued the steady slide that began in mid-September, when Boehner (R-Ohio) embraced a right-wing strategy for using the budget battles to try to dismantle Obama’s signature health-care initiative. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell 20.67 points to 1,655.45 on Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped nearly 160 points to 14,776.53 and has lost nearly 6 percent of its value since hitting a one-year high Sept. 18.”

New York Times: Many in G.O.P. Offer Theory: Default Wouldn’t Be That Bad – “A surprisingly broad section of the Republican Party is convinced that a threat once taken as economic fact may not exist — or at least may not be so serious. Some question the Treasury’s drop-dead deadline of Oct. 17. Some government services might have to be curtailed, they concede. “But I think the real date, candidly, the date that’s highly problematic for our nation, is Nov. 1,” said Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee. Others say there is no deadline at all — that daily tax receipts would be more than enough to pay off Treasury bonds as they come due.”

Financial Times: America Flirts With Self-Destruction – ”Is the US a functioning democracy? This week legislators decided to shut down a swath of the federal government rather than allow an enacted health law go into operation at the agreed moment. They may go further; if they do not vote to raise the so-called “debt ceiling”, they risk triggering default on US government debt – a fate far worse than the shutdown or fiscal sequestration. If the opposition is prepared to inflict such damage on their own country, the restraint that makes democracy work has gone. Why has this happened? What might be the result? What should the president do?”

October 07 2013

11:35

Finding Common Ground In The Midst Of A Shutdown

Can a Tea Party activist, a mainstream Republican congressman and a former Democratic  presidential candidate Howard Dean find common ground on how to fix Washington? We’ll find out.

Guests

Katrina Pierson, candidate for Republican nomination in Texas’ 32nd Congressional District, Dallas Tea Party activist, head of Pierson Consulting Group. (katrinapierson">@katrinapierson)

Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, candidate for Democratic nomination for President in 2004. (@GovHowardDean)

Vin Weber, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District, adviser for Mitt Romney’s 2012 Presidential campaign, co-chairman and partner at Mercury/Clark & Weinstock.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: G.O.P. Elders See Liabilities in Shutdown — “From statehouses to Capitol Hill, frustration is building and spilling out during closed-door meetings as Republicans press leaders of the effort to block funding for the health care law to explain where their strategy is ultimately leading. ‘Fighting with the president is one thing,’ said Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri. ‘Fighting with the president and losing is another thing. When you’re in the minority you need to look really hard to find the fights you can win.’”

Wall Street Journal: GOP Begins Search For Broad Deal On Budget – “In recent days, Mr. Boehner has been talking with Republican House members about raising the debt ceiling, insisting to them it must be done. By taking that stance, he has raised questions about how much leverage he could take into negotiations—should any materialize—with Democrats over the debt ceiling. In a session with centrist Republicans, Mr. Boehner suggested that debt-ceiling legislation would likely have to have some support from Democrats, acknowledging that any such measure would be opposed by at least some conservative Republicans.”

Politico: Anger At Government Soars — “As the government shutdown continues in Washington, Americans are angrier with how things are going than they have been in years, according to a new poll. Overall, 87 percent expressed unhappiness with the direction of Washington, with 44 percent saying they were ‘dissatisfied’ and 43 percent saying they were “angry” in a new CBS News poll out Thursday night. Only 8 percent said they were ‘satisfied’ and 2 percent said they were ‘enthusiastic.’”

October 05 2013

17:35

Compromise in a Polarized Political World | On the Media 2013-10-04

Political scientist Brendan Nyhan says the roots of the shutdown aren’t so much in a failure of leadership from John Boehner or Harry Reid or President Obama. Rather, he tells Bob, all three men are at the mercy of an increasingly polarized political landscape that makes compromise extremely difficult. http://www.onthemedia.org/story/compromise-polarized-political-world/

September 18 2013

11:50

Furloughs, layoffs and health premiums - FederalNewsRadio.com

Greg Stanford, director of government affairs for the Federal Managers Association, and Federal Times Senior Writer Sean Reilly will discuss furloughs, layoffs, and other issues affecting federal workers. September 11, 2013 http://www.federalnewsradio.com/176/3448290/Furloughs-layoffs-and-health-premiums

June 28 2013

21:00

April 30 2011

06:41

January 05 2011

01:03

Congress and Constitutional Limits

The new House leadership is reading the U.S. Constitution on the floor of Congress. We look at what’s going on with the founding document.

December 02 2010

01:59

Will Deficit Cuts Help or Hurt?

The President’s deficit commission prepares to vote on a plan to attack the Federal deficit by raising the retirement age and cutting tax breaks. How would you vote?
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