President Barack Obama’s first budget is his clearest opportunity to date to put U.S. money where his mouth is by establishing priorities for his new administration.
The big winners in the new budget are:
* THE BANKING INDUSTRY. The budget sets aside $250 billion as a “placeholder” if Obama decides to ask Congress for more money to help the troubled U.S. financial system. Officials said such a decision has yet to be made.
* CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY. The budget includes billions of dollars in revenues, starting in 2012 and lasting many years, from a greenhouse gas emissions trading system, one of Obama’s key proposals to fight global warming.
* HEALTHCARE OVERHAUL. The budget includes a 10-year, $634-billion reserve fund to help pay for the president’s proposed healthcare reforms.
* PUBLIC WORKS. Officials are trying to jolt the faltering economy in the face of 14 months of recession with public-works spending.
* MIDDLE CLASS. Tax cuts would benefit the U.S. middle class.
The number of hate groups across the country went up 54 percent since 2000, two of which are in Mesa, according to statistics released in a quarterly report Thursday by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit headquartered in Alabama that regularly tracks such groups.
The Mesa groups mentioned are the Nationalist Coalition, identified as a neo-Nazi group, as well as the Vinlanders Social Club, identified as a racist skinhead group. There are 19 groups spread across Arizona. Another East Valley group – the National Socialist Movement – is in Apache Junction, the report states.
According to the law center, the rise in such groups can be attributed in large part to anti-minority and anti-immigration sentiment, combined with the recent faltering economy. One more factor: Barack Obama’s successful bid to become the first black president of the country.
Who did not see this coming? And it will need to be watched closely.
In a brief filed late Wednesday obtained by Raw Story, the Department of Justice provided its views to Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, after the San Francisco federal judge questioned the constitutionality of the wide-sweeping law and whether it gives the U.S. Attorney General too much power in deciding whether a company is immune from lawsuits after it has shared information with federal agents.
The law was specifically designed to protect companies who participated in government wiretapping programs from legal claims and is one that President Obama supported as a senator when it was approved by Congress last year.
“Electronic communication service providers play an important role in assisting intelligence officials in national security activities. Indeed, the intelligence community cannot obtain the intelligence it needs without assistance from these companies,” the Administration’s 18-page brief says.
“The department is compelled to defend the statute as long as it can reasonably do so, and in this case the department was asked by the court to make a defense of the statute passed by Congress,” DOJ spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement accompanying the submission of the brief. “The [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance] Act passed by Congress in 2008 is the law of the land, and as such the Department of Justice defends it in court.”
The Justice Department brief was filed in support of the department’s motion to Walker to dismiss or to provide summary judgment in the lawsuit against AT&T for sharing customer telephone and e-mail records with federal agencies. The constitutionality of the law is defended on the grounds that the attorney general is only carrying out powers specifically given to him by Congress.
The Department asserts that the “presumption of constitutionality becomes even stronger” when Congress delegates authority to the executive branch in matters of national security or foreign affairs.
Somethings never change…..even when change is called for.