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.
JUNE 19 Former Saint Steve Gleason, who is paralyzed by ALS, released a statement Tuesday in response to the Atlanta radio station's skit making fun of him and the disease, this Picayune post reports. What did he say? He said he'd accepted the apology of the DJs who did it, notes that at least the incident has got people talking about ALS, and asks anyone who is burning to take action about it to do so -- by helping him fight ALS.
JUNE 19 Blogger Ian McGibboney takes a look at the Gleason incident in this post. He makes a good argument about the difference between having free speech and being free from consequences for your speech (which none of us is). He also admits that many of us got upset before we listened to the skit -- but lets us know that the reality is far worse than we can imagine. It was the incredibly bad judgment, even more than the actual speech, that probably got those DJs fired, he opines.
JUNE 19 Washington Post blogger Aaron Blake writes about Sen. Guillory's switch to the GOP in this post. He writes what most political watchers in Louisiana know: Guillory was a Republican before he decided to run for the senate seat in a mostly-D St. Landry district, and has switched back now that he plans to run for Lt. Gov. in a mostly-R state. But how come Blake missed Guillory's appearance on a TLC pageant show? Now that is a video we'd like to see. (Again).
JUNE 19 Here's another Washington Post blog post about a Louisiana politician, and it's just plain scathing. Ezra Klein says Jindal's Politico post was "insulting" to the intelligence of voters, and adds that Jindal is personifying the "stupid" he's railed against, by being an "elite" who convinces GOP activists of "things that aren't true." Me-ow.
JUNE 19 Here's Gov. Jindal's post in Politico, in which he asks the GOP to get over losing to Obama (again) and stop "the bedwetting." (Uh, what?) He gives his Republican buddies what is probably a nerd's idea of a coach's motivational talk, which starts with a list of accomplishments that they can't seem to exploit and ending with an absurd description of liberals that sounds like a character treatment for a Fox "News" movie scripted by Gordon Liddy. Sure, he's preaching to the choir, but even the choir's not this gullible.
JUNE 19 Lamar Parmentel read Gov. Jindal's post on Politico, but thinks it was so dumb it probably was published in the wrong paper. This post by Lamar on the Daily Kingfish opines that possibly Jindal's post was destined for the Onion -- because the governor couldn't possibly be serious here. If you listen closely, you can hear the staff of the Kingfish giggling.
JUNE 19 Blogger Robert Mann posts from Turkey, a country he has visited several times in the past few years. Mann gives an interesting overview of the current political and societal climate of the country, which -- if you're living under a rock and don't know -- is experiencing protests and turmoil these days. Mann promises to post as much as he can during his trip, which should be fascinating reading.
JUNE 19 Blogger CB Forgotston says the legislature is keeping the vicious cycle going with its funding of new buildings for the community college/technical college system. Universities across the state need maintenance and improvement on existing buildings, and the solution is to build new buildings at other schools? By the time the bonds are paid off, those buildings will be falling down, too, CB says.
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to offer shares of its stock to the public for the first time.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.