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Hot rhetoric on debt-limit vote

The House voted today against a bill that would’ve increased the nation’s debt limit; the vote was 97-318, with seven voting “present” and nine not voting.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the vote “shows the House is listening to the American people.”

“The Obama Administration and congressional Democrats have repeatedly asked for a debt limit hike without any spending cuts and budget reforms, and the American people simply will not tolerate it,” said Boehner, who timed the vote so it would come just before tomorrow’s Republican caucus meeting with President Obama. “Raising the debt limit without major spending cuts and meaningful reforms would hurt our economy and destroy more jobs, adding to our debt crisis. Today the House stood with the American people and said very clearly that this course of action is unacceptable. Republicans have passed a budget and outlined a pro-growth job creation plan that pays down our debt over time. We need to create a better environment for private-sector job growth by stopping Washington from spending money it doesn’t have, not by raising taxes and adding more debt onto the backs of our kids and grandkids.”

But not all who voted against this bill actually oppose raising the debt limit without the cuts and reforms the GOP is seeking.

Today’s legislation, HR 1954, contains a congressional finding “that the President’s budget proposal, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2012, necessitates an increase in the statutory debt limit of $2,406,000,000,000.” That’s horsepucky, many Democrats say, blaming the nation’s huge debt instead on Bush-era warmaking and tax cuts.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez; and Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, voted against the bill.

“Our country’s debt is a serious issue that must be addressed. Unfortunately, the bill put forward by the Republican Majority today was just a political ploy. Republican House leaders wrote and offered this bill and then urged their own members to vote against it,” McNerney said. “Instead of wasting time on legislation that’s designed to fail, House Republicans should focus on reaching a bipartisan solution that includes reasonable measures to restrain future spending and start paying down the debt.”

Of course, for McNerney – a perennial GOP electoral target – it was damned if he did, damned if he didn’t.

National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Paul Lindsay had issued a statement this morning saying “(i)f McNerney votes today to continue these policies free from any spending cuts, he’ll be requiring more tax dollars from the pockets of California families who all share the increasing government debt burden to foreign countries like China.”

After McNerney voted against the bill, Lindsay put out another release saying McNerney “and the Democrat leaders he blindly followed today are clearly trying to run for cover after realizing the political costs their party is taking for demanding more debt without any real spending cuts to show for it. Instead of dancing around the issue, McNerney and his fellow Democrats need to demonstrate a commitment to fiscal reform that his California constituents overwhelmingly demand.”

Here’s what Pelosi had to say about who’s dancing around what:

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Jerry Brown cuts 400 jobs at state prisons HQ

Gov. Jerry Brown brought the ax down today at the state prison system’s headquarters, eliminating 400 jobs to save $30 million.

The cut at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation‘s head office returns its bureaucratic workforce to 2005 levels, so that it now accounts for less than 5 percent of CDCR’s total workforce; 600 other headquarters positions already had been eliminated in the past 18 months.

“This is a long overdue action to make CDCR more efficient while cutting costs,” Brown said in a news release.

CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate said the “new executive structure is designed to create a leaner organization, clarify functions and responsibilities, delegate decision-making authority and eliminate duplicative functions.”

The governor’s office says this restructuring includes cutting 32 executive-level positions including the chief of staff, deputy chief of staff and five chief deputy secretaries. More than 100 manager and supervisor positions will be eliminated, increasing responsibilities in many areas for those remaining. This round of cuts affects more than 90 personnel classifications.

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Marin post office renamed for soldier killed in Iraq

Jake VellozaPresident Barack Obama today signed into law a bill renaming the post office in Marin County’s Inverness in memory of U.S. Army Spc. Jake Robert Velloza, who was killed in May 2009 near Mosul, Iraq.

“I am so pleased that the President has chosen to honor the memory of one of the North Bay’s finest by signing my legislation,” Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, said in a news release. “Jake Velloza, like so many brave men and women before him, signed up for some of the most difficult and dangerous work imaginable. He loved his country enough to give his life for it, and his community and the entire nation are grateful. America is strong and great because of selfless patriots like him.

“With his signature today, the President has ensured that Jake Velloza’s name, and a reminder of his service, will be permanently displayed in his hometown. Future generations will now know how Jake Velloza sacrificed for them.”

Velloza grew up in Inverness and attended Tomales High School before joining the Army in 2006; he was assigned to 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. He’s buried at Olema Cemetery.

Woolsey’s H.R. 793, introduced in February, is the first post office naming bill to pass Congress and be signed by the President this year. Information on a public ceremony at the post office will be released soon; in the meantime, Velloza’s parents, Bob and Susan Velloza, and fiancé, Danielle Erwin, are declining to be interviewed.

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First Lady to speak in Oakland June 14

The White House, which had announced last week that First Lady Michelle Obama would visit the Bay Area on Tuesday, June 14, today specified that she’ll speak at a Democratic National Committee fundraising breakfast in Oakland and then a DNC fundraising luncheon in San Francisco.

The previous morning, she’ll be at the Writers Guild Theater in Los Angeles for an event with a task force consisting of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Directors Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, Screen Actors Guild and the Writers Guild of America West, focused on portraying the experiences of today’s military families in film, television and digital media. Later Monday, she’ll speak at a DNC luncheon in Pasadena and a DNC dinner in Los Angeles.

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CoCo grand jury speaks on pension reform

A month before labor contracts with the vast majority of Contra Costa County government employees expire, the civil grand jury issued its pension reform package.

The report came out today. The grand jury recommends the county:

  • Seek concessions in upcoming union talks that will offset rising pension costs.
  • Prioritize employee benefit changes that produce immediate cost savings, while pursing legislative relief in other areas.
  • Move immediately in areas where the board of supervisors has legal authority to act without union authority or legislative change, although there aren’t many and they are disputed.
  • Require employees to pay more toward their pension costs.
  • Seek legislation that would permit the placement of pension cap so that no employee receives a pension payment higher than what he or she earned while on the job.

Read the full report below.


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