Blog Posts by Chris Moody

  • Cowboy poets likely to survive latest round of budget cuts

    Cowboy Poet Paul Zarzyski takes the wheel during the 2005 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. (AP)At least for now, cowboy poets across America can rest a little easier.

    The Western Folklife Center, which hosts Elko, Nevada's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering--made famous when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warned it might lose funding--is up for another grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

    Few would have known of the thriving community of cowboy poets--let alone that they receive federal funding--if not for Reid. The Nevada Democrat in April lambasted a Republican budget proposal that would have cut the NEA, which has awarded grants to the festival for decades.

    "The mean-spirited bill," Reid said, referring to the Republican budget that never passed, "eliminates the National Endowment of the Humanities, National Endowment of the Arts. These programs create jobs. The National Endowment of the Humanities is the reason we have in northern Nevada every January a cowboy poetry festival. Had that program not been around, the tens of thousands of people who come there every year would not exist."

    The NEA helped kickstart the annual program in the 1980s with a $50,000 grant and awarded the group more educational grants throughout the 1990s. For the past decade, the Western Folklife Center has received federal funding for various projects every year expect 2004. (It received an extra $50,000 through the 2009 stimulus package.)

    Read More »from Cowboy poets likely to survive latest round of budget cuts
  • LAST TICKET: Behind the scenes of the debt negotiations; take the debt ceiling quiz

    Here are the stories we took note of today but didn't give the full blog treatment:

    • A behind-the-scenes look at the final days before the debt deal passed. (New York Times)

    • "Gang of Six" member explains why he voted against the debt ceiling bill. (Washington Post)

    • Have you been paying attention? Take the debt ceiling quiz. (Washington Post)

    • Headline of the day: "Political Action Committee To Defeat Barack Obama As Soon As They Spell His Name Correctly." (TPM)

    Read More »from LAST TICKET: Behind the scenes of the debt negotiations; take the debt ceiling quiz
  • Meet the new Super Congress

    Carolyn Kaster (AP)Now that Congress has agreed on a general framework to raise the debt ceiling, party leaders will establish a bipartisan committee of lawmakers from both chambers to hash out the finer details.

    Under the new law, the federal government will cap spending levels by about $1 trillion over a ten-year period and delegate the responsibility of slashing another $1-$2 trillion to a powerful 12-member committee.

    No, it's not the Gang of Six (times two). This time it's called the "Super Congress."

    Read More »from Meet the new Super Congress
  • Understanding Rick Perry’s views on states’ rights

    Patrick Semansky/APFacing pressure from social conservatives in the weeks leading up to an expected announcement of his presidential campaign, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been cautiously clarifying his views on the balance between states' rights and federal power.

    In the past week, Perry has walked back comments that state governments should be free to determine their own policies on gay marriage and abortion and come out in favor of amendments to the United States Constitution that would ban both in all 50 states. Just days after Perry said he was "fine with" New York allowing gay marriage, he announced his support for a federal amendment that would overturn the state's new law. He also told the Houston Chronicle on Monday that he believes the federal government should take the same steps to ban abortion through an amendment.

    So which is it? Does he believe in states' rights or doesn't he? The answer, Perry insists, rests in the intricacies of the amendment process, which he says allows him to support states' rights while cheering on a change to the Constitution that would restrict them.

    Read More »from Understanding Rick Perry’s views on states’ rights
  • Congressional leaders reach agreement to raise the debt ceiling

    Jacquelyn Martin (AP)Republican and Democratic leaders have agreed on a plan to raise the debt ceiling, President Obama announced Sunday night.

    The announcement arrives after months of intense closed-door negotiations, and just two days before the deadline set by the Treasury Department.

    According to the details available, the agreement would slow the growth of government spending over the next decade by $2-$3 trillion and allow enough borrowing to put off another vote to raise the ceiling until 2013. About $1 trillion in cuts will begin immediately (spread out over 10 years), and the details of the remaining spending reductions will be handled by a bipartisan committee of 12 lawmakers from both chambers, who will recommend cuts for Congress to vote on. To appease the GOP's conservative wing, the deal requires a vote in both chambers on an amendment to the Constitution requiring the federal government to balance its budget each year.

    Read More »from Congressional leaders reach agreement to raise the debt ceiling
  • No deal yet: Senate votes to continue debate on debt ceiling bill

    Evan Vucci (AP)It's not over yet. The Senate rejected a motion Sunday to end debate on a bill to raise the nation's debt ceiling, leaving the door open for a final vote on a plan negotiated between the parties.

    The 50-49 procedural vote--the bill needed 60 votes to pass--effectively shut down Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's legislative attempt to end the stand-off. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts was the only Republican to vote with the chamber's Democrats.

    The details of a final proposal are slim, but lawmakers involved in the talks said it would initially cut about $1 trillion over 10 years and establish a bipartisan committee from both chambers to find another $1.4-1.8 trillion in cuts by November. The plan, still being negotiated behind closed doors, will not include any new taxes.

    Read More »from No deal yet: Senate votes to continue debate on debt ceiling bill
  • House passes Boehner’s debt ceiling plan–and Senate puts it on ice

    Susan Walsh (AP)After a grinding week of negotiations in the House of Representatives, the chamber's GOP majority finally approved Speaker John Boehner's plan to increase the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling just ahead of the the Aug. 2 deadline for its expiration. And in short order, the Democratic-led Senate voted to table the House-passed measure in favor of a proposal advanced by Senate majority Leader Harry Reid. The Senate's maneuver now sets up a House vote over the weekend on the Reid proposal--and a fresh round of battling in Congress.

    The final vote on the Boehner plan was 218 members--all Republicans--voting for the bill, with 210 against. Passage of the Boehner plan came a day after House leaders had originally intended to hold a vote on the measure--and after several days of intensive lobbying and arm twisting by Republican lawmakers.

    Faced with the threat that Republican leaders wouldn't be able to secure enough votes within their caucus, the party postponed the floor vote. After several failed attempts to bargain with the remaining holdouts, Boehner on Friday morning offered a provision allowing for a future vote on a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution in return for GOP support for the bill.

    It worked.

    Even the most hardline Republicans left a closed-door meeting with the caucus Friday morning with the announcement they had changed their minds and would support the Speaker's plan.

    Read More »from House passes Boehner’s debt ceiling plan–and Senate puts it on ice
  • LAST TICKET: Down to the wire on debt ceiling; get your own ‘T-Paw’ hockey jersey

    While we wait for the House to vote on the Republicans' new debt ceiling plan, here are the stories we took note of today but didn't give the full blog treatment:

    • President Obama still planning 50th birthday bash. (Political Punch)

    • Looks like the GOP has the votes for House Speaker John Boehner's debt plan (The Hill)

    • Top House Democrat calls Boehner's plan "totally unreal." (The Hill)

    • Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown might support Democratic debt ceiling bill. (Politico)

    Read More »from LAST TICKET: Down to the wire on debt ceiling; get your own ‘T-Paw’ hockey jersey
  • Apple has more cash than the federal government

    Paul Sakuma (AP)Who's ready for iAmerica?

    As the BBC has reported, the software company Apple has more cash on hand than the United States federal government, according to the company's financial records.

    Apple's quarterly financial report shows that the company responsible for the iPad, iPod and the iPhone now has $76.4 billion in reserve cash, while the Treasury Department is sitting on just $73.7 billion.

    Read More »from Apple has more cash than the federal government
  • Update: Republican leaders on Friday offered to include an addition to the bill requiring a vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment. That could be the ticket to swing enough GOP votes to pass the bill in the House.

    In a major blow to House Speaker John Boehner, the Republican Whip office postponed the vote on a debt ceiling package yet again late Thursday night due to a lack of support within the caucus. The speaker is holding a closed-door meeting with his defiant party members this morning, urging them to back the bill.

    The House originally intended to vote on the measure early this week, but the vote was canceled when conservative House members complained that Boehner's plan to raise the debt ceiling for six months--which would slow the growth of government spending by about $900 billion over a decade--did not meet their demands. Boehner revamped the bill by adding even more cuts, and announced a new vote scheduled tentatively for Thursday morning.

    But even with the new details of the bill, House members continued to push back.

    Read More »from House Republicans still unmoved on Boehner debt ceiling plan…UPDATE: With new details, GOP hardliners giving in

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