National

Second round of sequester cuts could threaten the Pell Grant

With the second round of sequestration cuts approaching in January, federal financial aid for students remains at risk.

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Fix the debt

With the big fight behind them, it’s time for the leaders in Washington to sit down and get to work in order to prevent another confrontation in January. Haha! I know, it’s always best to open with a joke, so I hope you liked that one.

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Campaign financing and the price of democracy

All indications are that the Supreme Court will soon declare yet another campaign finance reform measure unconstitutional, chipping away yet another piece of the Post-Watergate reforms that sought to limit the corrupting influence of money in politics. At least this is the indication based on the oral arguments in the recently argued McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission case. The Roberts Court will do this by arguing that the First Amendment protects the right of individual donors to expend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. The basis of the reasoning will be that aggregate spending limits by individuals does not corrupt or lend to the appearance of corruption of the political process.

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Four reasons immigration reform is YOUR issue; even if you are not an immigrant…

  1. You benefit from the work, taxes and contributions of immigrants in America. Don’t participate in the passive exploitation of immigrants, join in solidarity with them. The American Revolution with Great Britain began over taxation without representation, today millions of UDP (Undocumanted Persons) contribute taxes yet have no voice in government.
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Shutdown ends, debt crisis averted – now what?

The federal government shutdown has ended and the debt ceiling crisis averted, but serious concerns remain about whether Congress will take a path that supports economic growth and boosts Americans’ living standards, or instead will focus too much on deficit reduction and in the process, increase hardship and slow down the economic recovery.

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Making sense of American politics in the age of Barack Obama

A couple of weeks ago the United States was on the edge of a crisis. Had Republicans and Democrats in Congress not come to agreement with President Obama, the United States would have run out of money and defaulted on its debts, potentially throwing the country and the world economy into a recession. This crisis would have been a result of the Congress failing give the president to raise the debt ceiling which would have authorized him to borrow money to pay America’s bills.

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Meanwhile…

A continuing resolution which re-opens the federal government was passed along with a debt ceiling increase that keeps everything hummin’ along until February. It’s good news, at least until the next manufactured crisis comes. We can’t be sure what kind of economic damaged was done in the 16 day shutdown until … well, until the workers in the government that tabulate this stuff get back to work.

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Federal transit funding uncertain; State, locals must step up

From street cars and rapid buses to expanding rural and exurban mobility, many Minnesota communities have ambitious plans for transit. In the past, federal funding has been a key tool to finance local transit needs and expansions.

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"Heads-in-Beds" mandate crushes our national soul

A little-known Congressional mandate requires U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to keep an average of 34,000 detainees per day in its custody. This quota has steadily risen since it was established in 2006 by conservative lawmakers who insisted that the agency wasn’t doing enough to deport unlawful immigrants.

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Ending the government shutdown in court

So what if Congress and the president cannot reach an agreement to end the partial government shut-down or worse, extend the debt limit? Is the country hopelessly stuck in the middle of a political dispute? Not necessarily. Ignored in the entire dispute is one obvious resolution –the Supreme Court. While some may argue that budget and finance matters are no place for the courts to venture, the partial governmental shutdown and the pending debt limit extension both represent controversies that have a legal or constitutional basis that can be addressed by the courts.

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