Is this report accurate? That President Obama will withdraw 10,000 US troops from Afghanistan this year? White House press secretary Jay Carney said today that press reports today are still speculative.
** QUICK HITS. President Barack Obama announces his latest Afghan policy developments at 5 PM Pacific on Wednesday. His likely moves are not likely to be enough for shifting public opinion. … Governor Jerry Brown, handed more power by Controller John Chiang’s decision to withhold legislative pay in the wake of Brown’s historic veto of a gimmicks-ridden budget, had this brief statement: “The Controller has made his determination. We should all work together to pass a solid budget.” … Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered a well-received keynote address this morning in Vienna at the United Nations conference kicking off a global drive for access to energy, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. More to follow.
** CALIFORNIAN LEON PANETTA CONFIRMED AS THE NEW SECRETARY OF DEFENSE. Veteran California politician Leon Panetta was confirmed this afternoon as the new U.S. secretary of defense. He will replace outgoing Secretary of Defense Bob Gates at the end of the month.
CIA Director Panetta, who won unanimous support last week from the Senate Armed Services Committee, was confirmed this afternoon by the full U.S. Senate on a resounding vote of 100 to 0.
Panetta won widespread acclaim for his overall command of the mission to track down and take down Osama bin Laden. To those of us long familiar with the avuncular pol, the thought of him as America’s “M” was a bit of an adjustment, but it became clear early on that he was adapting very well to his new task as spymaster.
Now he takes his experience as a longtime congressman from Northern California, chairman of the House Budget Committee, federal budget director, White House chief of staff, and CIA director into the cockpit of the Pentagon.
At a time in which America must carefully disengage from Iraq and Afghanistan while successfully prosecuting the ongoing war against jihadist networks around the world. And in which the Pentagon must rein in its heavy spending.
This tape will self-destruct in 10 seconds …
** CALIFORNIA 2011: STATE CONTROLLER BLOCKS PAY FOR LEGISLATORS. In the latest twist in California’s chronic budget crisis, state Controller John Chiang bucked heavy pressure from fellow Democratic politicians and their interest group backers and announced at 12 noon today that he will not pay state legislators in the wake of Governor Jerry Brown’s veto of the state budget cobbled together and passed last week.
Last year’s Prop 25 docked legislative pay and expenses in the event that they did not pass a budget by June 15th. 2004′s Prop 58, from former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, requires that state budgets be balanced. Which has obviously not been the case for some time.
But there was never previously a penalty for non-performance.
The Legislature, of course, passed its budget on June 15th, just under the wire to continue getting paid.
Or so its members thought.
Naturally, we can expect a lawsuit, if anyone is foolhardy enough to try. The outcome of which will likely hinge on voter intent.
Did the voters intend for the much-derided Legislature to be able to keep paying itself no matter what it produced? That doesn’t seem especially likely, does it?
In fact, this promise was key to getting Prop 25 — which was, ironically, backed heavily by legislative leaders — passed in the first place.
What’s needed to solve the problem? Isn’t it obvious?
A better budget.
Here’s what Chiang had to say in his statement: “My office’s careful review of the recently-passed budget found components that were miscalculated, miscounted or unfinished,” said Chiang. “The numbers simply did not add up, and the Legislature will forfeit their pay until a balanced budget is sent to the Governor.”
Proposition 25, titled the “On-Time Budget Act of 2010,” was approved by voters November 2, 2010. The initiative lowered the vote requirement for passing a budget from two-thirds to a simple majority without lowering the two-thirds vote required for tax increases. It also forfeits Legislators’ pay and living expenses incurred from June 16 until “the day that the budget bill is presented to the Governor.”
Nothing in the Constitution or state law gives the State Controller the authority to judge the honesty, legitimacy or viability of a budget. The Controller can only determine whether the expected revenues will equal or exceed planned expenditures in the budget, as required by Article 4, Section 12(g) of the Constitution: “. . .the Legislature may not send to the Governor for consideration, nor may the Governor sign into law, a budget bill that would appropriate from the General Fund, for that fiscal year, a total amount that. . .exceeds General Fund revenues for that fiscal year estimated as of the date of the budget bill’s passage. That estimate of General Fund revenues shall be set forth in the budget bill passed by the Legislature.”
“While the vetoed budget contains solutions of questionable achievability and some to which I am personally opposed, current law provides no authority for my office to second-guess them in my enforcement of Proposition 25,”said Chiang. “My job is not to substitute my policy judgment for that of the Legislature and the Governor, rather it is to be the honest-broker of the numbers.”
Using this standard, the Controller’s analysis found that the recently-vetoed budget committed the State to $89.75 billion in spending, but only provided $87.9 billion in revenues, leaving an imbalance of $1.85 billion.
The largest problem involved the guaranteed level of education funding under Proposition 98. The June 15 budget underfunded education by more than $1.3 billion. Underfunding is not possible without suspending Proposition 98, which would require a supermajority (2/3) vote of the Legislature.
The budget also counted on $320 million in hospital fees, $103 million in taxes on managed-care plans, and $300 million in vehicle registration charges. However, the Legislature never passed the bills necessary to collect or spend those funds as part of the State budget.
** NEW POLL: AMERICANS WANT OUT OF AFGHANISTAN. On the eve of President Barack Obama’s latest big speech on Afghan War policy, a new Pew Research poll shows that a record number want US troops brought home from Afghanistan as soon as possible.
White House press secretary Jay Carney today denied during his briefing the various reports in the press on how many troops Obama will announce for withdrawal.
Obama will speak from the White House Wednesday at 5 PM Pacific.
The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
For the first time, a majority (56%) says that U.S. troops should be brought home as soon as possible, while 39% favor keeping troops in Afghanistan until the situation has stabilized.
The proportion favoring a quick withdrawal of U.S. forces has increased by eight points since last month (from 48%), immediately after the killing of Osama bin Laden. A year ago, just 40% favored removing the troops as soon as possible, while 53% favored keeping them in Afghanistan until the situation stabilized.
Americans continue to say the decision to use force in Afghanistan was the right one, and 58% believe the United States will definitely or probably succeed in achieving its goals in Afghanistan. That is largely unchanged from the 62% who said the U.S. would achieve its goals in Afghanistan shortly after Osama’s death. But at the same time, a majority (56%) says it is unlikely that Afghanistan will be able to maintain a stable government after the U.S. military leaves.
Even among those who predict the U.S. will be successful in Afghanistan, nearly as many favor removing the troops as soon possible (46%) as favor keeping then there until the situation is stable (51%). Among those who say the U.S. will definitely or probably fail in achieving its goals – 34% of the public – a large majority (75%) supports removing the troops as soon as possible.
Over the past year, support for removing U.S. troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible has increased across nearly all political and demographic groups.
Two-thirds of Democrats (67%) now say troops should be removed as soon as possible, up from 43% a year ago. A majority (57%) of independents also support immediate troop withdrawal, an increase of 15 points from last year.
Republican support for removing U.S. troops as soon as possible has risen 12 points since last June. At that time, 65% of Republicans favored keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan until the situation is stabilized while 31% favored removing them as soon as possible. In the current survey, 53% support keeping the troops there and 43% favor their withdrawal.
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 10:30 AM Pacific, White House press secretary Jay Carney, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg deliver a briefing.
** LIVE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE.
With massive geopolitical events swirling and the 2012 presidential race unfolding, the White House is increasingly a pivot point for the day’s events. Live streaming of key presidential events is now available as a matter of course here on New West Notes. You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
NWN will continue to present other live netcasts in full streaming mode, as it did with the Ronald Reagan Centennial events from the Reagan Library, as they emerge and are technically available and as significance dictates.
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who until recently served the Obama Administration as U.S. ambassador to China, this morning entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination with this speech near the Statue of Liberty.
** NEW POLL: FEINSTEIN SUDDENLY SLUMPS! (NOT). A number of media outfits have discovered that Senator Dianne Feinstein’s popularity is suddenly down. The woman routinely described for years as California’s most popular pol now has a bare plurality saying they are inclined to re-elect her next year.
But so also said the March Field Poll, which I pointed out at the time.
Feinstein is now where she was then. She has a 46% job approval rating, with 31% disapproving. Which is fine, and exactly what Governor Jerry Brown has.
Where she has a problem is with the hypothetical re-elect number. Only 43% say they are inclined to re-elect her next year; 39% say no.
What accounts for this?
This latest Field Poll doesn’t say. Nor did the one in March.
So in the absence of information from Field, one must speculate. Maybe people are getting bored with her as a U.S. senator.
She’s been in there since she was elected back in 1992. That was the last time Jerry Brown ran for president. Bill Clinton, after beating Brown in the primaries, won his first term. Basic Instinct had just made Sharon Stone a superstar. The second Batman film was a big hit, before the series descended into camp, which was before the franchise was rebooted and became bigger than ever.
You get the idea.
So is Feinstein in trouble? Not really. No significant Republican has signaled any intention to run against her. Nor will she have a primary challenge, despite lots of previous chatter along those lines in the yaposphere.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have received the daily intelligence and economic briefing in the Oval Office.
Obama then met with with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 10:30 AM Pacific, Press Secretary Jay Carney, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg deliver a briefing in the James S. Brady Briefing Room.
They will likely discuss graphic new warning labels on cigarette packaging.
The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
You can mute the sound by clicking on the pause button.
At 1 PM Pacific, Obama meets with Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner in the Oval Office.
At 1:30 PM Pacific, Obama meets with Secretary of Defense Bob Gates in the Oval Office.
For his part, Biden holds the next meeting of the bipartisan, bicameral group of members of Congress working on a legislative framework for comprehensive deficit reduction at the U.S. Capitol.
Then he flies to Chicago, where he attends a Democratic National Committee event and delivers remarks at the 2011 CURE Chicago Event. CURE is Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy.
Obama is putting the finishing touches on tomorrow’s address outlining the path forward in Afghanistan.
Obama will announce the beginning of next month’s drawdown of US forces. Press reports place the number of troops to be withdrawn variously at 10,000 or 5,000.
Obama is also monitoring a variety of geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab awakening, AfPak, and Iraq.
War Zone Times: Libya is nine hours ahead of Pacific time, Iraq and Yemen are ten hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown is continuing work on California’s chronic budget crisis and his nascent administration.
All eyes are on state Controller John Chiang, who must decide whether or not state legislators will be paid in the wake of Brown’s historic veto of the state budget.
They are only supposed to get paid if they produced a balanced budget by June 15th. Meanwhile, Chiang has been taking part in a fast to convince Brown, the biggest ally the United Farm Workers have ever had, to sign card check legislation for farm workers in lieu of union representation elections in which employers frequently intimidate the workers.
While Chiang ponders and fasts, Democratic legislative leaders are opining that only legislators can decide if the budget passes muster sufficiently for them to be paid.
That doesn’t sound right. The budget has to be signed by the governor, after all, in order for it to take effect, and they don’t have the votes to override Brown’s veto. And state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, who has been a major Democratic leader longer than these folks have been out of short pants, says that this budget is not sufficient for him to get needed cash flow financing for state operations on Wall Street.
While the drama of the legislative paycheck plays out, and public employee unions signal that they would rather spend their money next year to elect a super-majority than on any election for tax extensions now, state Chamber of Commerce chief Alan Zaremberg says that he things Brown can still reach a deal with enough Republicans to achieve his goal.
** JERRY BROWN’S BIG BUDGET VETO, AND WHERE IT GOES FROM HERE. The dust is still settling in the wake of Governor Jerry Brown’s veto of the California state budget. That budget, designed by Democratic legislative leaders and their backers, had good things in it, and also some highly questionable elements, i.e., gimmicks, some of which may be replaceable in another iteration.
Can Brown get his better budget, the sensible compromise mostly blocked by Republican intransigence? That question probably becomes moot on June 30th. Why? It’s simple enough. That’s the point at which his proposed tax extensions become tax increases.
Meanwhile, for the first time in California’s recorded history, a governor has vetoed a state budget. …
After months of negotiations, Brown has come up against the same intractable dynamics that bedeviled Arnold Schwarzenegger in his last years as governor. An ultra-government faction that wants to keep expanding government vs. an anti-government faction that wants to contract government. Add in term limits, gerrymandered safe districts for hyper-partisans, ballot box budgeting, and an odd constitution that cuts a tax on a majority vote but takes a two-thirds vote to raise one, and there you go.
The state’s fiscal problems date back to the late ’90s and early noughties, with each faction pushing program expansions and tax cuts based on a dot-com bubble that went bust. … From my June 17th column.
** WEINERGATE’S LASTING IMPACT: THE FIRST BIG SOCIAL MEDIA POLITICAL SEX SCANDAL. New York Congressman Anthony Weiner has his definitive claim to fame. He’s center stage in the first big social media political sex scandal. It seems fitting that his surrealistic meltdown of a press conference came on the same day that Steve Jobs unveiled another path to making our lives more virtual, more convenient, and more risky. … From my June 7th column.
** JERRY BROWN’S NEW PROBLEM. … From my June 3rd column.
** HARSH REALITIES IMPINGE ON OBAMA’S EMERGING DOCTRINE. … From my June 1st essay.
** JERRY BROWN RETURNS (AGAIN!) ONLY TO DROP BACK INTO STEALTH MODE. … From my May 25th feature.
** NCIS: AMERICA’S FAVORITE SHOW AND WHAT IT TELLS US. … From my May 18th essay.
** FROM GOVERNATOR TO MOONBEAM. … From my January 3rd, 2011 feature.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th, 2009 Huffington Post column.
Thousands gathered at Stonehenge this morning to mark the Summer Solstice.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti. While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in three wars in the region, and the Arab uprising underway, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, 2008, crude oil is trading at $94 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $60 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity.
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