Helen Thomas: Grande Dame of the White House Press Corps

Some journalists, as the saying goes, speak truth to power. Helen Thomas made power squirm. White House correspondent Thomas, who died on July 20 at age 92 in Washington, D.C., covered every president from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama over more than five decades. She was inquisitive – and an inquisitor. “I think that presidents deserve to be questioned, maybe irreverently, most of the time, [to] bring ‘em down a size,” she explained in an HBO documentary about her life. And …

Obama’s Budget Aims to Expand the Estate Tax

Just a few months ago, President Obama and Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill negotiated their way off the fiscal cliff and agreed to make the estate tax a mere shadow of its former self – so much so, according to estimates from the Tax Policy Center, that only 3,800 estates will owe any federal estate tax in 2013. President Obama’s new budget proposal, however, aims to turn things back around. It would raise the estate tax rate to 45 percent …

Why the Chained CPI is Wrong for Social Security

Yesterday, the President included Social Security cuts in his budget through a proposal called the “chained CPI”. Let’s take a minute and break down exactly what that means: The chained CPI would modify the way the cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) for Social Security is calculated, cutting benefits by $127 billion dollars over the next 10 years alone. That comes out to over $2000 in lost benefits for the average senior. Some have tried to defend this unprecedented inclusion of Social Security benefit …

Cutting Benefits: Washington’s New Way to Thank Veterans for Their Service

This week AARP highlights the financial losses veterans would face if a COLA cut known as Chained or Superlative CPI ever became law.  It seemed unlikely that after setting such a different agenda, rumors would still persist that the President wants to cut benefits for children, veterans, people with disabilities, widows, and older Americans in his budget.  If the President also thinks that making such a proposal doesn’t doom his chances to win the House back from GOP control, we …

Obama’s Charm Offensive: Time-Tested Strategy

Maybe the most surprising thing about President Obama’s wining and dining of GOP lawmakers is the fact that it’s surprising. Socializing that crossed party boundaries once was the lubricant that greased political compromise in Washington. In recent years, though, lawmakers have been spending much more time back in their home districts, which means they have less time to get to know their colleagues in Washington. And the polarization of politics has led to less two-party partying. Obama drew lots of …

Obama Frames Voting Reform Around 102-Year-Old Hero

The sheer determination of a 102-year-old Miami woman brought the U.S. government to its feet Tuesday night. In his State of the Union address, President Obama recognized Desiline Victor, a retired farmworker who voted last fall after enduring a wait that would have discouraged most voters. Lawmakers and other Washington VIPs rose to their feet and craned their necks to see Victor, sitting in the back row of the First Lady’s box. “When Desiline arrived at her polling place, she …