BREAKING NEWS! THE US SENATE MAY ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING!
It is 12 noon eastern as we write this and it has been a very, very busy hour in Washington.
GUNS: “I don’t consider background checks to be gun control. I consider them to be common sense.”
With those words Rep. Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey may have uttered the most important statement ever issued in the entire gun debate. Toomey effectively separated background checks from gun control and in so doing may have paved the way toward passing the first substantive gun violence legislation in over a decade.
Toomey joined Dem. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin in announcing a bi-partisan agreement on background checks that will close the gun show loophole and tighten up the laws governing internet sales. The Senate is expected to begin deliberations on the bill tomorrow. It appears that the filibuster threat from the right may have been quashed by an avalanche of criticism from the Sandy Hook parents, the president and from within their own party. Perhaps they understand that trying to filibuster the issue would be far worse for them politically than voting “No” on the record.
The Heritage Foundation and the NRA have already criticized the bill. And it will take a 70-75 vote majority in the Senate to shame John Boehner to allow a vote in the ever dysfunctional House.
But this is good news! Kudos to Toomey and Manchin for having the political courage to do the right thing.
BUDGET: Toomey and Manchin’s announcement was upstaged by the president who formerly announced his budget to a White House gathering.
The president’s budget includes specific reforms to entitlement programs; reforms that have been taboo to his liberal base. The president tied those reforms to an overhaul of the tax code which would raise revenues by cutting tax loopholes that favor major corporations and the very rich.
Republicans, led by Paul Ryan and John Boehner attacked the budget for raising revenues. But their criticism is not credible because the president’s proposal includes entitlement and tax reforms that Republicans have proposed in the past.
Kudos to the president for offering a specific, substantive, balanced plan to reduce the debt and deficit.
IMMIGRATION REFORM: The bi-partisan Gang of 8 announced that they have reached agreement on comprehensive immigration reform bill. They are expected to reveal the details later on today.
Guns…budget…immigration… Do we dare think compromise?