You need to know this. Over the weekend, House Republicans and President Obama hit a stalemate in fiscal negotiations, and the Senate moved on to work out their own plan. On Saturday, after meeting with the President, House Speaker John Boehner told his party that talks with the White House had broken down. So, Senate leaders immediately started their own negotiations to deal with the government shutdown, and the debt ceiling. But, now there are new disagreements in the upper chamber about what should be offered in exchange for such legislation. What started out as a fight over Obamacare, has morphed into a debate about the sequester, tax revenues, and cuts to Social Security and Medicare. On CBS's “Face the Nation,” democratic Senator Chuck Schumer explained the proposal, saying, “The plan would be, open up the government immediately for a period of time before the sequester hits, and then have serious discussions where we might be able to undo the sequester.” However, President Obama already rejected a similar plan offered by House Republicans. That plan would have opened the government, raised the debt ceiling, and replaced the next round of sequester cuts with cuts to Social Security and Medicare. And, it appears unlikely that Senate Republicans will accept a plan that repeals the sequester without equal cuts to another program. Republican Senator Bob Corker said, “I just can't imagine how that has any possibility of becoming law.” But, at least Senate leaders are still talking, and still working with the White House to find a way to avoid default. As the debate continues, the debt ceiling deadline grows closer, and Americans – and the World – want our lawmakers to end this fight.
In screwed news... The debt limit fight has moved to the Senate, but that won't stop House Republicans from trying to insert a few demands into the deal. According to the Washington Post, Representative Paul Ryan said, “[the] House could not accept either a debt-limit bill or a government funding measure that would delay the fight until the new year.” That is, of course, unless Republicans are allowed to use the looming deadline as leverage to delay Obamacare, and deny women coverage of birth control. In a private meeting with Republicans, Paul Ryan said that the House should demand a delay in the individual mandate, and a so-called “conscience clause,” which would allow employers and insurance companies to deny contraception coverage. Although it's unlikely that Senate Democrats, or the President, would ever sign such legislation, women around our nation are furious that Paul Ryan even proposed it. And, they'd like him to answer - what exactly does women's healthcare have to do with the debt limit?
In the best of the rest of the news...
The people of Oklahoma will soon see a big drop in their electric bills. And, it's all thanks to green energy. That state's 100-year-old power company – the Public Service Company of Oklahoma – just signed an agreement with wind farms that are being developed in that state. The company purchased 600 megawatts of power, which was three times their original plan, “after seeing extraordinary pricing opportunities that will lower utility costs by an estimated $53 million in the first year, and even more thereafter.” Their purchase, which is awaiting approval from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, will provide enough energy to power 200,000 homes. In addition, just one of these three developing wind farms will create 200 jobs during construction, about 50 permanent jobs, and inject more than $130 million dollars into the local economy. The President of Clean Line Energy Partners, Michael Skelly, said, “The Panhandle of Oklahoma truly is one of the mother loads of wind in this country.” And it appears that these wind farms will bring a mother load of savings and new jobs to the state of Oklahoma.
Another business owner is proving that fair wages and benefits don't stand in the way of success. In a recent op-ed in The Detroit News, Paul Saginaw, owner of Ann Arbor's iconic Zingerman's Deli, called for a living wage and benefits for workers around our nation. He railed against industry groups like the National Restaurant Association for opposing a living wage, and wrote, “Our success at Zingerman's with over 30 years of operating and opening food-related businesses was not achieved by underpaying or withholding benefits from our employees.” Zingerman's has joined with more than 100 businesses around our nation to form a new association called “RAISE.” The group is committed to taking the “high-road” of labor practices, and to proving that “investing in [their] employees has been a driving force in [their] growth and success, not an impediment.” And, Mr. Saginaw predicts that businesses uniting in support of fair labor practices will only lead to further success. He wrote, “I sense we are ready for this change. Just as customers have voted with their pocketbooks for locally-sourced, organic and free-range products, they are voting for ethical employment by patronizing high-road restaurants.”
And finally… If you name a dog Houdini, you better be prepared for him to pull off a few tricks. That's what happened in Colorado Springs, with an Australian shepherd waiting at an animal shelter for a new home. The dog decided he was sick of waiting, so he opened his own kennel, two external doors, and went out to find his new owner. If it wasn't all captured on the shelter's security footage, the staff would have thought that Houdini just magically disappeared. Thankfully, a woman named Ashley found the dog wandering her neighborhood and decided to adopt Houdini. If no one comes to claim the dog from the shelter, he will soon go to his new home. Ashley said, “We think he's a wonderful dog, and as much as I would love his owner to come and claim him... I can't wait to welcome him into my family.” Hopefully, Ashley is prepared to secure her doors a little better so that little Houdini doesn't make another great escape.
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