Sandy aid amendment passes, but…

You know nothing happens in the Republican-controlled House out of altruism (unless it’s giving a targeted tax break to a big donor), so while it’s good that the Hurricane Sandy aid was approved, it’s very depressing that Republicans have to chip away at plans to prevent similiar damage from happening again:

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s (R-NJ) amendment to complete the Hurricane Sandy recovery and resiliency package just passed the House by a 228-192 vote. It adds $33.7 billion to the underlying $17 billion aid bill sponsored by Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY). The final package passed by a vote of 241-180. Only 49 Republicans, mostly from the Northeast, voted for final passage. These measures, along with prior flood insurance funding, would provide close to $60.4 billion in aid.

This critical victory comes attached with some unfortunate strings, including Republican-backed legislation that will cut hundreds of millions of dollars in coastal rebuilding. In addition, a measure was passed to prohibit the Agriculture and Interior departments from acquiring federal land using supplemental Sandy funding, inhibiting coastal restoration efforts. Luckily, other destructive amendments failed including an attempt to cut $13 million in funding for National Weather Service and an attempt to offset $17 billion of Sandy aid with discretionary spending cuts.

NY passes major gun control law

There’s such a split in how urban and rural dwellers experience guns. It’s probably hard for rural gun supporters to understand just how common it is for city residents to be hit by stray gunfire — often, when they’re home sleeping in their own beds. They can’t relate to the sense of violation and outrage, because they rarely experience anything like it. But both factions in the New York state house managed to come together long enough to put aside those differences and pass a comprehensive gun bill yesterday. Congratulations! We don’t see much real bipartisan cooperation these days:

New York lawmakers on Tuesday approved the toughest gun control law in the nation, expanding the state’s existing assault weapons ban and addressing gun ownership by those with mental illnesses in the first major legislative action in response to the Newtown, Conn., school massacre.

The measure passed the state Assembly 104-43 after passing the state Senate 43-18 Monday. Gov. Andrew Cuomo quickly signed the legislation on Tuesday.

“This unfortunately required tragedies and loss of life to actually spur the political process to action,” Cuomo said in remarks minutes before signing the bill.

“This will be the toughest gun control package in the nation,” Sen. Jeffrey Klein, leader of the Independent Democratic Conference that shares majority control with Republican senators, had told The Associated Press. “All in all, it is a comprehensive, balanced approach that will save lives.”

In a statement Tuesday, the National Rifle Association said it was “outraged” and called New York’s gun control bill “draconian.”

‘Gay marriage crashed my boat’

These people are insane:

It is not funny that Maryland Delegate Don Dwyer drunkenly crashed his boat last year, fracturing the skull of a five-year-old girl. But it is funny that he is blaming gay marriage for the alcoholism that made him drunkenly crash his boat last year, fracturing the skull of a five-year-old girl! Oh, did we say “funny”? Well, seems like everything is funny to us! First, congratulations to Del. Dwyer for sitting down with the Capitol Gazette and making a searching and fearless moral inventory of himself. Second, the opposite of congratulations to Del. Dwyer for coming up with the positively Gingrichian “I was working too hard to protect the sanctity of marriage and that’s why I fucked my aide drunkenly crashed a boat, fracturing the skull of a five-year-old girl.”

Working poor

These are the people Obama exhorts to get “skin in the game.” Even the people I know who still have “real” jobs are worried all the time, because life is so precarious now:

There are 10.4 million American households  that qualify as working poor, according to an economic analysis reported in Reuters.  This amounts to more than 47 million Americans living in “near poverty,” defined as earning less than twice the official poverty rate, $22,811 for a family of four.

The recession officially ended in 2009 and unemployment levels have slowly receded, but income inequality continues to grow as more workers taking low wage service jobs, many of them without benefits. The report, put out by The Working Poor Project, found that ”nearly one-third of working families now struggle, up from 31 percent in 2010 and 28 percent in 2007, when the recession began.”


“Although many people are returning to work, they are often taking jobs with lower wages and less job security, compared with the middle-class jobs they held before the economic downturn,” the report said.

“This means that nearly a third of all working families … may not have enough money to meet basic needs.”

In 2011, the top 20 percent of Americans earned 48 percent of the total income while only five percent of earnings went to the bottom 20 percent.

The number of working poor is not spread out evenly across the country; the situation for the working poor is worse in low service states like Arizona, Nevada, South Carolina and Georgia, the latter of which is making an aggressive effort to purge its welfare rolls. The state has 300,000 people below the poverty line and only 4,000 on welfare.

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