In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Conservatives have long searched for an effective message against Social Security. Now, they seem to have found a new one to try as they set up a fight over the 80-year-old program in the coming Congress: The disabled are robbing the retired.

Social Security advocates describe it almost invariably as the "divide-and-conquer" strategy: Pit the program's two funds -- the retirement and disability programs -- against each other. The disability fund won't be able to pay its full benefits starting in late 2016, and House Republicans passed a rule earlier this month stating that they won't allow a transfer of tax revenue from the retirement fund to cover the shortfall, as has been done multiple times on a bipartisan basis, most recently in 1994, unless Social Security's overall solvency is improved.

Republicans have been clear that they intend to use the need for reallocation as leverage to force a debate about the disability program -- and perhaps, some conservatives hope and Democrats warn, Social Security as a whole.

Read More →

With a fight over Social Security brewing in the new Republican Congress, advocates are worried that a possible GOP angle is to turn Social Security into a perennial crisis in much the same way raising the debt limit has become. By setting up a series of forcing events, the argument goes, Republicans would be able to create an ongoing crisis atmosphere around Social Security that would create a pretext for dramatic changes to the 80-year-old program.

Read More →

Tens of thousands of Americans descended on Washington for the annual March For Life on Thursday only to see House Republicans melt down over their signature issue: abortion.

A symbolic messaging bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy threw the party into disarray and was abruptly pulled at the last minute after a group of GOP women and swing-district lawmakers raised hackles over a rape-exception provision that required victims of sexual assault to report the crime to authorities before they could get an abortion.

"None of us saw it coming," Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) told reporters on Thursday.

Read More →

President Barack Obama will not meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when Netanyahu comes to Washington, D.C., in March to address a joint session of Congress at House Speaker John Boehner's invitation.

Boehner's invitation for Netanyahu to address Congress on Iran was described by experts as an "unprecedented" rebuke of Obama, but White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said that the president would not meet personally with Netanyahu because of the upcoming elections in Israel.

“As a matter of long-standing practice and principle, we do not see heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections, so as to avoid the appearance of influencing a democratic election in a foreign country," she said in an email to TPM. "Accordingly, the President will not be meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu because of the proximity to the Israeli election, which is just two weeks after his planned address to the U.S. Congress."

Read More →

House Speaker John Boehner's invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress on Iran is an unprecedented rebuke of President Barack Obama as he and Congress are preparing for a battle over Iran sanctions, experts told TPM.

The move came the day after Obama threatened in his State of the Union address to veto legislation putting new sanctions on Iran. He warned that new sanctions by Congress would disrupt the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) acknowledged the week before that ending negotiations "is very much an intended consequence" of a new sanctions bill that has been put forward with some Democratic support.

Although the US and Israel maintain a "special relationship," the discord between the Obama administration and Netanyahu's government has been well documented. Netanyahu welcomed 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in a visit Israel in the midst of the campaign. And anonymous Obama administration officials have been quoted calling the Israeli prime minster "a chickenshit."

Read More →

LiveWire