Headlines for May 12, 2015
I’m donning my tinfoil hat today and gazing into the future for headlines on May 12, 2015. In a year, I’ll check back and see how close I came.
Congress Repeals Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974
The Republican-majority House and Senate, citing Obama’s “recalcitrant attitude” regarding Congressional budget attempts, including a failed override of Obama’s veto on repealing Obamacare, has resorted to a “clean slate” approach to the federal budget, by repealing the law which governs the current budget process. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell announced “the legislative branch is taking control of the budget process, and we will set the rules, not the White House.”
The White House commented “the President is looking forward to working with Congress to reset our failed partisan budget gridlock, and making real progress on our spending priorities.”
Obama is expected to sign the legislation entitled “The Congressional Budget Reconstruction Act”.
[In reality: Obama has ignored the impoundment restrictions in the 1974 law for over 6 years, this simply makes it official]
S&P Downgrades US Treasury Debt to AA from AA+
Standard & Poors has not reaffirmed the AA+ US Treasury credit rating, instead downgrading US debt to AA. S&P claims this is a natural reaction to Congress’ repeal of the 1974 Budget law, which set the debt ceiling. The current US debt of $20.4 trillion is the highest in history, and with Obama’s signature, the new Congressional Budget Reconstruction Act specifies no debt limit, effectively giving the Treasury a blank check for “infinite debt expansion” according to S&P’s statement.
The White House responded, quoting Obama’s remarks at a Democratic fundraiser, “S&P is wrong again. I will not abuse the power Congress has granted to the Treasury to set equitable debt limits and control spending as the economy recovers. There is no reason that one company should have the power to rate American debt. The middle class workers don’t deserve this.”
The markets have so far reacted with timidity, the Dow down 190 points in morning trading.
Obama Proposes New Cabinet Level “Human Rights Department”
President Obama has proposed consolidating the many “human rights” offices within the federal government into one cabinet-level entity. “We have to rethink the way we do business, and what our priorities are. There are literally hundreds of federal offices dealing with human rights issues, creating waste in money and resources. This simply elevates our highest commitment to human rights to the level it should be,” said Obama in his Monday night prime-time speech introducing the new proposal.
The Human Rights Department would consolidate the Justice Department’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, along with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, elements of the Departments of State, EPA, and Homeland Security into one cabinet level agency. The new agency would be charged with “keeping and enforcing U.S. commitments to Human Rights at home and abroad” through an enforcement arm, an investigative arm, and a liaison arm which would be responsible for coordination with foreign and state governments, according to the White House statement.
Senator Dianne Feinstein hailed the proposal, “This is long overdue. Our country has devolved into a lawless, gun worshipping culture of hate. We will finally have the right priorities in place to turn the tide on hatred and bigotry.”
China Surprises the World with Manned Moon Launch
The Chang’e 5 mission launched from the Xichang Space Center using a Long March 5B rocket. The mission was a surprise since Chang’e 5 was expected to launch in 2017 as an unmanned test of return capability. The three cosmonauts aboard the lunar exploration module are scheduled to land on the moon’s surface, near the site of the historic US landing in 1969, in five days.
“This is a historic mission, which establishes the People’s Republic of China’s dominance as the leading space and technology nation in the world,” read the statement by the Chinese National Space Administration. NASA had no comment other than “we wish the Chinese crew Godspeed on their mission.”
Russia Supports Latvian Independence Movement
Moscow has affirmed the Latvian Independence Movement which rejects NATO membership and seeks reconciliation with Moscow. In a national vote, the Latvian separatists claim that 78% of voters opted for its leadership. Last month, citing civil unrest, Moscow cut all Gazprom natural gas deliveries to Latvian cities. US LNG ships attempting to deliver fuel at Riga and Salacgriva have been turned back by Russian Navy patrol boats, who have warned of “unpredictable conditions” at the ports. The Latvian Independence Movement claims it has control of the ports and doesn’t want to take US “blood money” which they say has torn countries like Iraq and Ukraine apart.
Moscow has pledged “whatever support is necessary to relieve tensions and de-escalate the situation.” While 1,300 NATO troops are stationed in Latvia, NATO had no comment on Moscow’s statement, and no additional troops are planned for deployment.