It appears that President Barack Obama and Beltway Republicans have reached a compromise on the so-called Bush era tax rates. Obama, to be certain, took it on the chin, but it remains to be seen whether Democrats will follow course. Here’s the deal: the prez gave up his fight to more aggressively tax the rich and agreed to a two-year extension of all the current federal tax rates, plus a temporary 35 percent estate tax rate with a $5 million cap and a 2 percent decreases in payroll taxes. In return, the GOP leadership has expressed a willingness to support a provision allowing unemployment checks for individuals at the present 99-week cut off limit for a period of 13 months only — this means, for the first time in U.S. history, unemployed citizens will be able to collect a check from the feds for three consecutive years without having to enter the workforce. Both sides of the aisle call it a true compromise.
Now that the tax rate debate is settled — hopefully — lawmakers can begin focusing on what to do about that pesky food safety legislation. The Senate passed S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, earlier this month, but it included a fee, which must constitutionally originate in the lower chamber. Lawmakers have a number of options, yet it seems likely that the policy package will have to be re-routed through the Senate and then sent back to the House for consideration. There’s a great deal at stake for Louisiana. For example, the Senate-passed bill requires, among other things, that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration conduct public health and cost assessments before issuing any new regulations affecting the processing and consumption of raw oysters.
It also includes language to prohibit “port shopping,” which is a tactic foreign seafood producers use to find ports with loose safety requirements to sell seafood that would otherwise be rejected. Farmers and other agriculture interests are on the hook, too, since the bill creates new standards for harvesting fruits and vegetables; expands the FDA’s recall authority; increases facility inspections; requires more testing; and strengthens oversight on imports. State Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain says the Senate food safety bill is “a major advance toward safeguarding the nation’s food supply” and added that Louisiana will be ready for the news regs — if and when they’re adopted. “As much as I dislike additional red tape for farmers to navigate, I believe these new measures will provide the framework to strengthen our food supply chain and prevent adulterated and contaminated food from entering the markets in the future,” Strain says.
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OCT 24 You gotta love it when they start eating their young, right? In this post in Politico, BP mouthpiece Geoff Morrell denies that his company's oil spill "ruined the Gulf." Instead, he says, it was Bobby Jindal's decision to divert fresh water into the salt water environment that caused massive losses to shrimp and oyster industries. The evidence doesn't back up any claims that the spill caused that harm, he says. Nothing to see here, move along.
OCT 24 The former mayor of Sorrento was arrested on dozens of child pornography charges, a post on The Creole reports here. Wilson Longanecker Jr. was arrested in his Ascension Parish mansion, the blog reports.
OCT 24 As Bobby Jindal's tenure as governor winds down, blogger Tom Aswell tells us to expect to see more and more of his appointees jumping ship. Some might get shown the door (or the federal indictment, as the case may be) and others are just going to want to avoid standing in "the inevitable unemployment line," he says.
OCT 24 Jim Brown is blogging about elections in this post. There's no one more recognizable when it comes to elections than he is, and yet he still had to show his ID, you know. He gives some easy-to-remember advice on the Amendments: vote against them all. This stuff needs to be handled by legislators, not added to the Constitution, he says.
OCT 24 Bobby Jindal's recent "magical" budget touch - you know, the one that turned a $140 million deficit into a $170 million surplus - is just imaginary, columnist James Gill tells us in this post. It's about as real as that story he tells about the "gold standard" of ethics, Gill says.
OCT 24 George Carter III, a teenage member of the group Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, died this week, the Picayune reports here. Educators who knew him called him a "visionary." He certainly had some highly-developed ideas for his age, but despite his ability to provide positive ideas for helping kids in the city, in the end he wasn't able to escape NOLA's problems, either.
OCT 24 John Dickerson posts this slice-of-campaign-life look at Mary Landrieu on the trail in Louisiana. Republicans are playing to a runoff, he opines, meaning our state will become "a zoo" if it turns out this race will decide control of the Senate.
OCT 24 Bike lanes have been quite the topic of convo over in NOLA recently, what with streetspace, already at a premium downtown, being sacrified for them. In this post on the Uptown Messenger blog, Owen Courreges opines that the lanes are not really being constructed for people who ride bikes, but instead because developers seeking to make money downtown feel they are needed. He's also predicting that they will increase already nightmarish levels of traffic to new heights. Nah -- that couldn't happen!
OCT 23 Blogger Tom Aswell posts the photo that started making the rounds of the Facebook this week; it shows our governor and his lovely bride, all bright and smiley and holding big guns. The Jindals look a little posed, down to their carefully and properly placed index fingers. They're both grinning wide, displaying how comfortable they are with weaponry. Whee!
OCT 23 This fascinating post on The Lens opens the discussion of New Orleans as subject. C. W. Cannon talks about the concept of dual consciousness and how New Orleanians, especially, have experienced this condition post-Katrina. Cannon attended a recent conference about the issue at Tulane, where the discussion focused on how the romanticization of the city by outsiders masks real social problems.
OCT 23 Bayou Buzz is taking Gov. Bobby Jindal and the GOP to task here for the Ebola shrieking. The so-called "travel ban" makes no sense, and these politicians should have done their homework before coming up with this stunt, Stephen Sabludowsky writes.
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