Chad’s Morning Brief: Social Issues Take Center Stage, Payroll Tax Agreement, & More
Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of February 15th, 2012. Give us your feedback below and tune in to Lubbock’s First News with Chad Hasty for these and many more topics from 6-9 am.
1. Social Issues Take Center Stage
Rick Santorum is gaining momentum every day and part of the reason could be the recent stories about social issues. For months the 2012 race has been about the economy. Those in the Republican Party believed, and many still do believe that the only way to beat President Obama is by focusing on the poor economy, the poor job numbers, and the national debt.
That could be changing though. According to FOX News:
They include the decision by the Obama administration, now amended, to require institutions run by the Roman Catholic Church to provide contraception coverage to female workers; the ruling by a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that overturns California’s law banning gay marriage; the Pentagon’s decision to open about 14,000 combat-related positions to women, and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation’s decision to withdraw, then restore, grant money to Planned Parenthood.
“This is (Santorum’s) bread and butter,” says Nathan Gonzales of the Rothenberg Political Report. “Rick Santorum couldn’t have manufactured this scenario, where he is in a dead heat with Mitt Romney.”
The question for Santorum and the Republican Party is whether his recent rise is the beginning of a path to the Republican nomination or rather the apex of a short-lived roller coaster ride.
Let’s see, gay marriage and sex. Yup, social issues are making a big comeback in the 2012 race and it just happens to be when Rick Santorum is making his comeback. Coincidence?
This will be interesting to see how this plays out. I’m not sure the GOP establishment wanted the 2012 race to focus on social issues. In fact, I’m about 90% sure they didn’t. If the social wars start now, the Republicans might have a lot to gain. Numbers show that Catholic voters are turning on Obama. Obama himself isn’t even seen as that different when it comes to gay marriage.
2012 continues to take very odd turns.
2. Payroll Tax Deal Reached?
It looks like the Republicans and Democrats have agreed on a deal that would continue the payroll tax cut. According to Politico:
Under the plan, a 2-percentage point payroll tax cut would be extended until the end of the year — and the $100 billion cost would be added to the deficit. Unemployment benefits would be extended for the next 10 months and doctors who treat Medicare physicians would avoid seeing their payments cut. Those two provisions would cost about $50 billion and be paid for with cuts elsewhere in the federal budget.
Democrats were generally pleased with the deal, given that President Barack Obama has made extending the payroll tax cut central to his reelection campaign.
Despite concerns from rank-and-file Republicans at a closed-door House GOP Conference meeting Tuesday night, it appeared that the $150 billion-package would make it to Obama’s desk within days — amounting to a rare breakthrough for a dysfunctional Congress.
So who won this battle?
3. U.S. Weighing Nuclear Arms Cut… Dramatic Cuts
President Obama wants to make the United States more secure by getting rid of our nuclear stockpile. Seriously. According to the AP, the administration will look to cut the U.S. nuclear force by up to 80%. According to one report, that would leave the United States with less warheads than China.
President Obama has ordered the Pentagon to consider cutting U.S. strategic nuclear forces to as low as 300 deployed warheads—below the number believed to be in China’s arsenal and far fewer than current Russian strategic warhead stocks.
Pentagon and military planners were asked to develop three force levels for the U.S. arsenal of deployed strategic nuclear warheads: a force of 1,100 to 1,000 warheads; a second scenario of between 700 and 800 warheads; and the lowest level of between 300 and 400 warheads.
What a terrible plan. This administration continues to make decisions that puts American lives at risk.
4. Dumb story of the morning (link)
The Food Police.
A mother in Hoke County complains her daughter was forced to eat a school lunch because a government inspector determined her home-made lunch did not meet nutrition requirements. In fact, all of the students in the NC Pre-K program classroom at West Hoke Elementary School in Raeford had to accept a school lunch in addition to their lunches brought from home.
NC Pre-K (before this year known as More at Four) is a state-funded education program designed to “enhance school readiness” for four year-olds.
The mother, who doesn’t wish to be identified at this time, says she made her daughter a lunch that contained a turkey and cheese sandwich, a banana, apple juice and potato chips. A state inspector assessing the pre-K program at the school said the girl also needed a vegetable, so the inspector ordered a full school lunch tray for her. While the four-year-old was still allowed to eat her home lunch, the girl was forced to take a helping of chicken nuggets, milk, a fruit and a vegetable to supplement her sack lunch.
The mother says the girl was so intimidated by the inspection process that she was too scared to eat all of her homemade lunch. The girl ate only the chicken nuggets provided to her by the school, so she still didn’t eat a vegetable.
The mother says her daughter doesn’t like vegetables and – like most four year olds – will only eat them at home under close supervision.
In an interview with the Civitas Institute the mother said “I can’t put vegetables in her lunchbox. I’m not a millionaire and I’m not going to put something in there that my daughter doesn’t eat and I’ve done gone round and round with the teacher about that and I’ve told her that. I put fruit in there every day because she is a fruit eater. Vegetables, let me take care of my business at home and at night and that’s when I see she’s eating vegetables. I either have to smash it or tell her if you don’t eat your vegetables you’re going to go to bed.”
The mother added, “It’s just a headache to keep arguing and fighting. I’ve even wrote a note to her teachers and said do not give my daughter anything else unless it comes out of her lunchbox and they are still going against me and putting a milk in front of her every day.
“Friday she came home and said ‘Mom, they give me vegetable soup and a milk,’” said the mother.
“So I went to the cafeteria to make sure she had no fee and it’s not being charged to her account yet,” she continued, ” but what concerned me was that I got a letter from the principal and it says students who do not bring a healthy lunch will be offered the missing portions which may result in a fee from the cafeteria. So if I don’t stay on top of her account on a weekly basis there’s that opportunity that charges could be put on her account and then if I let it go too far then it’s like I’m going to have a big battle.”
The principal of West Hoke Elementary, Jackie Samuels, says none of the children’s parents were asked to pay for the school food. While the parents may not have to pay, it was still an expense for the school to provide the extra food. A phone call to the Hoke County Schools Superintendent to inquire as to how much additional expense this would impose on the school was not returned.
The mother, who lives in Fayetteville, sent a statement to state Rep. G.L. Pridgen (R-Robeson) detailing her complaint. Pridgen says he was shocked to hear it. Pridgen has since learned this is a nationwide practice based on federal guidelines.
An assistant to Pridgen says the girl’s grandmother was also upset and asked, “This isn’t China, is it?”
The government inspector was from the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised program at the FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The program gives schools a grade based on standards that include USDA meal guidelines enforced by the N.C. Division of Early Childhood Development.
The nutrition standards for pre-K lunch require milk, two servings of fruit or vegetable, bread or grains and a meat or meat alternative. The school didn’t receive a high grade from the January assessment because the home-made lunches didn’t meet those guidelines. The mother points out the only thing on that list her daughter’s home lunch didn’t have was milk, so she doesn’t understand why the girl was given a complete school meal as a supplement.
The mother says her next step is to sit down with the principal and if nothing is done then she plans to go to the school board.
This is Obama’s America.
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