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Archive for October, 2013

When all else Fails, Bring in the Gals!

 

Women in Senate Urge Compromise: As talks to reopen the federal government continue, three Republican senators have emerged as the leading voices for compromise and are illuminating the growing power of women in the Senate.

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By  and 
Published: October 14, 2013

WASHINGTON — As the government shutdown dragged on, Senator Susan Collins of Maine was spending another weekend on Capitol Hill, staring at C-Span on her Senate office television as one colleague after another came to the floor to rail about the shuttered government.

 
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Evan Vucci/Associated Press

Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, center, on Friday with fellow Senate Republicans, from left, Rob Portman, Kelly Ayotte (back to camera), Lisa Murkowski and John McCain.

Frustrated with the lack of progress, Ms. Collins, a Republican, two Saturdays ago quickly zipped out a three-point plan that she thought both parties could live with, marched to the Senate floor and dared her colleagues to come up with something better. A few days later, two other Republican female senators eagerly signed on — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who overcame theTea Party to win re-election in 2010, and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who benefited from the Tea Party wave.

Together the three women started a bipartisan group whose negotiating framework formed the centerpiece of a tentative Senate deal nearing completion Monday to reopen the federal government and avert a disastrous default.

“Before I went to the Senate floor, no one was presenting any way out,” Ms. Collins said. “I think what our group did was pave the way, and I’m really happy about that.”

In a Senate still dominated by men, women on both sides of the partisan divide proved to be the driving forces that shaped a negotiated settlement. The three Republican women put aside threats from the right to advance the interests of their shutdown-weary states and asserted their own political independence.

“I probably will have retribution in my state,” Ms. Murkowski said. “That’s fine. That doesn’t bother me at all. If there is backlash, hey, that’s what goes on in D.C., but in the meantime there is a government that is shut down. There are people who are really hurting.”

Two powerful women on the Democratic side of the aisle — Senators Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland and Patty Murray of Washington — took a hard line and pressed their Republican counterparts to temper their demands, but they also offered crucial points of compromise.

Together, the five senators starkly showed off the increasing power of women — even those who are not on the relevant committees — as their numbers grow in the upper chamber. Of the 13 senators on a bipartisan committee who worked on the deal framework, about half were women, even though women make up only 20 percent of the Senate. Senator John McCain of Arizona joked at several points in their meetings, “The women are taking over.”

Senator Joe Manchin III, Ms. Collins’s first Democratic collaborator, said: “That gender mix was great. It helped tremendously.” He added: “Would it have worked as well if it had been 12 women or 12 men? I can’t say for sure, but it worked pretty well with what we had.”

The women are hardly in lock step politically. But their practice of meeting regularly and working on smaller bills together, even in a highly polarized Congress, set the stage for more significant legislation. Ms. Ayotte and Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, hosted an informal get-together for women in the Senate last Monday evening.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that women were so heavily involved in trying to end this stalemate,” Ms. Collins said. “Although we span the ideological spectrum, we are used to working together in a collaborative way.”

More than two weeks into a government shutdown, Washington is now two short days from a possible default on federal obligations. The women showed pragmatism as negotiators in the midst of fierce partisanship and a level of frustration with the leaders of both parties that reflect their constituents and the nation.

“Where we find ourselves right now is unacceptable for America,” Ms. Ayotte said on the Senate floor. “It’s unacceptable as leaders that have been elected by the people of this country. We owe it to our constituents to resolve this now.”

The Republican women involved in the compromise represented three of their party’s four female members. (Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska did not participate.) The bipartisan negotiating group included three Democratic senators as well, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Ms. Shaheen. The strongest Democratic voices counseling a hard line were also women.

Ms. Murray is chairwoman of the Budget Committee and would have primary responsibility for turning any broad agreement into a detailed plan for tax and spending policy over the next decade. Ms. Mikulski, who leads the powerful Appropriations Committee, has been the most forceful voice in efforts to blunt the impact of future budget cuts.

“Patty and I were e-mailing all weekend,” Ms. Collins said. “I was not off the phone for longer than 20 minutes yesterday.”

It was Ms. Murray who suggested language ordering an immediate start to budget talks. That language tempered Democratic concerns that the emerging deal would lock in across-the-board spending cuts for next year.

In contrast, Ms. Mikulski’s Republican counterpart on the Appropriations Committee, Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, and the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, were notably absent from the talks. Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Budget Committee, complained over the weekend that the Collins negotiations had excluded House Republicans.

The leader of the Republican trio, Ms. Collins, has emerged as the most powerful moderate in the Senate, and like her fellow Mainer and now-retired Senator Olympia J. Snowe, often shows her own flair for the dramatic — the only Republican vote on several high-profile Democratic bills and the must-have Republican.

Ms. Ayotte, best known in the Senate for her hawkish foreign policy associations with fellow Republican Senators McCain and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, is using the moment to pursue an issue she has mostly paid lip service to: finding money for a military with its wings clipped by automatic spending cuts.

Brimming with frustration, Ms. Ayotte went to the Senate floor earlier this month to deliver what her own staff now calls “the reality check” speech. Members of her own party had embraced “an ill-conceived strategy” to tie further financing of the government to gutting the president’s health care law, she said. The government shut down, yet the health care law is moving forward.

“I would say to my Republican colleagues in the House and to some in this chamber, it’s time for a reality check,” she said.

Ms. Murkowski has been nursing wounds since the Republican establishment abandoned her in the wake of her defeat by a Tea Party candidate in the 2010 primary. She won as a write-in candidate and has seized the chance to assert her independence.

“Politics be damned,” she said Monday.

 

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Chunky Chicken Chili / Better Homes and Garden

Chunky Bean and Chicken Chili
  • 3cups tortilla chips
  • 1pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut in bite-size pieces
  • 2teaspoons cooking oil
  • 219 ounce canscannelini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers (1-1/2 cups)
  • 14 1/2ounce candiced green chilies
  • 114 ounce canreduced sodium chicken broth
  • Fresh cilantro (optional)
1.Preheat broiler. Coarsely crush 2 cups of the chips.

2.In 4- to 5- quart Dutch oven brown chicken in hot oil over medium-high heat. Add beans, 1 cup of the cheese, the chilies, broth, 1/2 cup water; and crushed chips. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3.Meanwhile, for tortilla crisps, place remaining 1 cup chips on baking sheet lined with nonstick foil. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Broil 6 inches from heat for 1 to 2 minutes, until cheese is melted and begins to brown. Serve chili with tortilla crisps. Sprinkle cilantro. Makes 4 servings.

 
nutrition facts (Chunky Bean and Chicken Chili)

  • Servings Per Recipe 4,
  •  

  • cal. (kcal) 575,
  •  

  • Fat, total (g) 23,
  •  

  • chol. (mg) 111,
  •  

  • sat. fat (g) 10,
  •  

  • carb. (g) 52,
  •  

  • Monosaturated fat (g) 2,
  •  

  • Polyunsaturated fat (g) 3,
  •  

  • fiber (g) 14,
  •  

  • sugar (g) 1,
  •  

  • pro. (g)55,
  •  

  • vit. A (IU) 680,
  •  

  • vit. C (mg) 8,
  •  

  • Thiamin (mg) 0,
  •  

  • Riboflavin (mg) 0,
  •  

  • Niacin (mg) 11,
  • Pyridoxine (Vit. B6) (mg) 1,
  •  

  • Folate (µg) 8,
  •  

  • Cobalamin (Vit. B12) (µg) 1,
  •  

  • sodium (mg) 1172,
  • Potassium (mg) 712,
  •  

  • calcium (mg) 434,
  •  

  • iron (mg) 4,
  •  

  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

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Explaining the Shutdown to Kids

How to Explain the Government Shutdown to Kids

BY   |  WEDNESDAY, OCT 02, 2013 2:00PM  |  COMMENTS (24)

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With many adults not truly understanding the government shutdown (and the Affordable Care Act), it is difficult to explain it to our children. Our friends over at  Here There Everywhere: News for Kids have a really great explanation for kids:

 

You may be hearing a lot of talk about the government partially shutting down.

It’s true.

What does that actually mean? How did it happen? And will you feel it?

It’s pretty complicated (understatement), but here’s the shutdown in a nutshell:

The federal government in Washington makes decisions on how to spend the country’s money. A lot of that money is actually from taxes your parents pay. There’s supposed to be a budget each year that decides how that money is spent.

In general, Democrats and Republicans have very different ideas on how to best use that money. They actually have different ideas on the role the federal government should have in people’s lives. Democrats generally believe in a bigger role than Republicans. Those differences come into play when they’re trying to figure out how to budget the nation’s money.

In order to pass the budget, Congress — the Senate and the House of Representatives — need to agree, or at least come to a compromise. Currently, the Senate is controlled by Democrats and the House of Representatives is controlled by Republicans. And they’ve found it maddeningly difficult to work together.

The government shutdown happened largely because of a huge sticking point over a healthcare program called Obamacare (it’s technical name is the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act). It passed into law a few years ago, but it went into effect Tuesday, the same day as the deadline to pass a budget.

House of Representative Republicans don’t want to fund this big new national and mandatory health care program. They’re the keepers of the government checkbook and budget legislation originates with them. In the budget they proposed they said they won’t write checks to fund Obamacare. The Senate responded to the House of Representatives saying they won’t sign the House of Representatives’ budget because it doesn’t fund Obamacare. Total impasse.

This went back and forth … until their deadline to figure this out by Monday at midnight came and went. And now both sides blame each other.

The consequence of missing the deadline is that the government partially shuts down until Congress figures it out. Keep in mind, you have your state and local government as well and they’re not part of this.

Members of Congress continue to get paid but the people most hurt by the shutdown are every day Americans — it’s their tax money AND they elected Congress to figure these things out for them in the first place. Regular citizens will also feel the impact of the government shutdown most.

Click here for headlines

Polls show Americans blame Republicans for Shutdown

Gone Gov't by Christine Doyle

Gone Gov’t by Christine Doyle

Photo courtesy: Flickr.com Photo: Flickr user Kaz Vorpal via Creative Commons
I just saw a post in the Washington Post with a playlist of songs related to the shutdown that you might have on your iPod. “Wake me up when September ends?” Well, September has ended. And a shutdown that was expected to last a couple of days is now entering its second week.
There are reports surfacing that both sides may be heading back to the table to end the government shutdown. It’s about time. The current crisis is beginning to feel like the retooling of a bad network television pilot, at risk for cancellation, where every aspect of the production needs some serious tweaking, and a few of the key characters need outright replacing.
Polls show a majority of Americans blame Republicans for the shutdown, a majority of Americans still don’t like Obamacare, which is officially up and running now, and a majority of Americans don’t want to raise the debt ceiling without cuts somewhere else.
Social Security checks have still been going out but if you’ve had questions about Social Security or Medicare, you haven’t been able to get a live person on the line to answer it or access a government run website. Monuments and National Parks have been shut down while NASA was kept afloat. The list goes on.

Paul Ryan, the slash and burn Congressman from Wisconsin and Chairman of the Budget Committee, who has rightly said entitlement programs will have to be reformed, has essentially gone into hiding. Even a fiscal hawk like Ryan could see the Election Day implications for House Republicans if they tried to attach a repeal of Obamacare to funding the government.  As Mr. ‘I’m Moderate Again’ John McCain said to the Tea Party hostage takers within his own party, and I’m paraphrasing, “Like it or not, Obamacare is now the law.”

The part I still don’t get is why anyoe thought is was a good idea for the Republicans to reach out and grab that falling anvil in the first place. After all, Americans, even those without insurance, were already conflicted about Obamacare, as Obama’s falling popularity numbers indicated. And they were warming up to fiscal reform.

You could be forgiven if you have dialed out of this drama. But don’t change the channel just yet. I don’t think this series will get cancelled after all.  Its’ name may be changing, though from “The Grand Bargain” to “Gone Gov’t.”

Eating Well

KALE, SAUSAGE & LENTIL SKILLET SUPPER

EatingWell

 

WHAT’S THIS?

SERVING SIZE4
PREP TIME
TOTAL TIME

 

INGREDIENTS

3 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cooked chicken sausage
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp chopped garlic
pinch of crushed red pepper, or to taste
2 ½ cup water
1 ½ cup red wine
1 cup lentils, preferably French green
12 cup chopped kale leaves, tough stems removed
1 tsp chopped fresh sage
¼ tsp salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausages and cook until browned on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes total. Transfer to a clean cutting board.

2. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and onion to the pan and cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add water and wine, increase heat to high and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Add lentils, reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook, partially covered, for 40 minutes.

3. Add kale, sage and salt and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the lentils and kale are tender, about 10 minutes more. Slice the sausage and stir into the pan along with pepper. Cover and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.

NUTRITION FACTS

Provided by: EatingWell

Per Single Serving / Serves 4 Total

  • Calories50017%
  • Calories from fat9920%
  • Total Fat11gm28%
  • Sodium665mg64%
  • Total Carbohydrates58gm
  • Fiber16gm
  • Protein32gm
  • Cholesterol60mg19%
*

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

 

Tags: Main DishDinnerDiabeticGluten FreeHealthyHigh FiberChickenVegetableBean & LegumeFrenchWinter

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