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Ear to the Ground

Congressman Attempts Patriot Act Repeal, GOP’s Cuccinelli Supports Oral Sex Ban, and More

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Posted on Jul 17, 2013

Student Achievement: The Senate has reportedly come to a bipartisan agreement that would restore federally subsidized student loan interest rates to the levels they were at before going up at the beginning of the month. Under the proposed plan, the lower interest rate would continue through the 2015 school year before possibly skyrocketing to as high as 8.25 percent. On July 1, rates for current students doubled from 3.4 to 6.8 percent, adding about $2,600 more to their education costs. A vote on the proposal is expected to take place Thursday. (Read more)

Civil Liberties Push: Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., is drafting legislation that would repeal both the Patriot Act and the 2008 FISA Amendments Act. Additionally, the measure he’s proposing would offer real protection for whistle-blowers. Holt made the announcement in an editorial that appeared in last week’s Asbury Park Press. “I will introduce legislation that would repeal the laws that brought us our current ‘surveillance state,’ ” he wrote in the New Jersey publication. “My bill would restore the probable cause-based warrant requirement for any surveillance against an American citizen being proposed on the basis of an alleged threat to the nation. And it would, for the first time, provide genuine legal protections for the Thomas Drakes of the world.” (Read more)

38th Time’s the Charm?: The Republican-controlled House is once again trying to thwart Obamacare, voting Wednesday to delay two mandates related to the Affordable Care Act. This marks the 38th time the House GOP has tried to repeal, defund or cut back on the health care law. As before, the vote is expected to accomplish nothing, aside from its symbolic meaning. The bills now head to the Democratic-controlled Senate, which will likely ignore them. And even if the measures had somehow beaten the odds and made their way through the Senate, President Obama has already threatened a veto. Even so, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich still believes it’s a day for the history books. He tweeted: “Historians will look back on today’s House votes to repeal employer mandate and individual mandate as beginning of the end for Obamacare.” (Read more)

Healthy Decrease: And speaking of Obamacare, President Obama’s signature health care law could cut insurance premiums by half for individuals buying it in the Empire State once the law goes into full effect next year, according to The New York Times. In a piece published on Wednesday, the Times reports that rates will decline, on average, by more than 50 percent. So for example, individuals in New York City paying at least $1,000 for health insurance would be able to buy coverage for as low as $308 a month. The rates affect only the handful of New Yorkers who buy insurance on their own; it will not impact the majority who get health coverage through their work. Said Gov. Andrew Cuomo: “New York’s health benefits exchange will offer the type of real competition that helps drive down health insurance costs for consumers and businesses.” (Read more)

Sex Crusade: Republican Ken Cuccinelli’s idea of smaller government includes legislating what goes on consensually in your bedroom. You see, the Virginia gubernatorial candidate wants to resurrect the state’s anti-sodomy laws that would prohibit oral and anal sex, despite the fact that the Supreme Court has declared such a ban unconstitutional. Cuccinelli, the state’s current attorney general, insists the laws apply only “to sodomy committed against minors, against non-consenting adults, or in public,” but neglects to mention that they also criminalize what consenting adults do in the privacy of their homes. As Jezebel pointed out though, Cuccinelli’s campaign isn’t just about protecting children. The website says that in 2009 “Cuccinelli told a newspaper that he believes it should be okay for the state to regulate the sexual behavior of grown ass adults, because homosexual acts are inherently wrong.” (Read more)

Video of the Day: A new budgeting tool McDonald’s created with the help of Visa for its employees confirms that its workers can’t survive on the company’s low wages alone. The guide states it in fact, as the budget’s fuzzy math even assumes the employee has a second job. But as the below video demonstrates, there’s still many gaping holes in the budget McDonald’s put out for its workers. Take a look:

 

—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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