Saturday, December 10, 2011

Weekly Address: Ensuring a Fair Shot for the Middle Class

President Obama calls on Congress to do what's right for the American people by extending the payroll tax cut and confirming Richard Cordray to lead a new consumer-watchdog agency that will protect families from dishonest business practices.

Making College More Affordable

Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visit Duncan Fletcher High School in Neptune Beach, Florida to discuss the steps the administration has taken to make college more affordable and the need for Colleges to keep costs lower so the next generation of Americans can outcompete the rest of the world.

New York State Flood Relief Update

GOP Candidates Distance Themselves From Trump Debate

With six candidates out and only two participating, is the Trump debate December 27th going to happen?

By Christina Hartman
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Croatia Signs Treaty of Access to EU

Croatian officials signed the treaty in Belgium Friday, putting the country on the road to 2013 full membership. But will it pass a referendum?

By Orkide Izci
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Romney Slams Gingrich

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney says Newt Gingrich is not conservative enough for the GOP.

By Jonathan Ketz
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Britain Opts Out of EU Crisis Plan

Analyst say as long as the UK sticks with pound it doesn't have much incentive to fall in with EU's interest.

By Jennifer Long
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Gridlock Continues Over GOP's Pipeline Option

Republicans want a provision that will ensure construction of an oil pipeline from Canada to Texas. President Obama says he will veto it.

By Victoria Craig
Anchor: Victoria Craig
Link courtesy of

Friday, December 9, 2011

New Bill Launches Inner-City Youth Employment Program

"NY Youth Works" Provides $25 Million in Tax Credits and $62 Million for Job Training

Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill creating "NY Youth Works," an inner city youth employment program that will combat high unemployment in the state's metro areas.

The new law includes $25 million in tax credits for businesses that hire unemployed and disadvantaged youth and $62 million to support job training programs. Cuomo was joined by his colleagues from the Legislature at a bill signing ceremony held at Medgar Evers College of The City University of New York in Brooklyn.

"We are giving young adults in our cities the skills and the opportunity to build a career," Governor Cuomo said.

"With four out of every ten inner city young adults looking for work, our state faces an unemployment crisis within an unemployment crisis that needs to be immediately addressed. Through the NY Youth Works program, we are putting our young people on a career path and preventing a cycle of poverty. This program represents not only an investment in our youth, but an investment in the collective future of our state."

The NY Youth Works program provides $25 million in tax credits to benefit employers that hire unemployed youth over the first six months of 2012, with the ultimate goal of permanent, unsubsidized employment.

NY Youth Works will function in three phases. In the first phase, for up to six weeks before a youth is placed in employment, youth providers, like not-for-profits and workforce investment boards, will prepare eligible youth with skills such as work readiness, occupational training, and digital literacy.

In the second phase, businesses will be offered a $3,000 wage subsidy in the form of tax credits to hire disadvantaged youths for six months. Preference will be given to employers in demand industries such as clean energy, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and conservation.

Priority will be given to employers that provide on-site occupational skills training during this period. During phase one and phase two, participating youth will be provided with up to three monthly stipends of $300 to cover costs associated with transitioning into the workplace.

During the final phase, an additional $1,000 tax credit will be available to employers that retain the participating youths for an additional six months.

Under the new law, $62 million in funding will be provided to critical job training and support programs for inner city youth, including basic education programs, summer youth employment, job search and placement initiatives, and child care.

Eligible participants for the jobs program include unemployed, low-income youth aged 16 through 24 who are located in one of the following areas: Albany, Brookhaven, Buffalo, Hempstead, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, New York City, Rochester, Schenectady, Syracuse, Utica, and Yonkers.

"While Washington is paralyzed by gridlock, we have worked together in New York to advance a plan that instills fairness in our tax code, stimulates New York's economy, and creates jobs. The Assembly Majority has made it a priority to fight for and fund jobs programs for inner city young people because unemployment among our youth is unacceptably high," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

That is why I am so pleased that, with the strong leadership of Governor Cuomo, we were able to include the Inner City Youth Employment Program and tax credit in the larger agreement to cut taxes on working families and create jobs. This is not only about unemployment and the economy, it's also about our children. I am confident our efforts will go far in helping young New Yorkers find good paying jobs and keep them."

"The most worthwhile investments we can make in government are investments in our youth – the future workforce that will carry on this state's legacy of economic vitality and innovation. I'd like to applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership on this progressive legislation and his strong commitment to an urban agenda," noted New York State Senator John L. Sampson.

"This legislation – including a business tax credit for employers – will ensure that more young people in inner city communities gain useful skills and embark on fulfilling careers. Statistics show that finding employment at a young age helps ensure long term professional success. This legislation sends the right message that we will not ignore the needs of young people in communities that are often overlooked."

"Unemployment among New York youth is at a record high, especially among inner city minority youth. During these difficult times, it is up to government to take the lead in stimulating the economy and creating jobs," added New York State Assemblyman Karim Camara.

"Working with Governor Cuomo and my colleagues in the Legislature, we have developed a series of initiatives to help New Yorkers get back on their feet. I am confident that the NY Youth Works program will go far in helping young New Yorkers secure brighter futures. I encourage businesses to take advantage of these incentives, and I thank Governor Cuomo for his hard work."

"Governor Cuomo's job initiative underscores what he has repeatedly emphasized in his remarks about our state economy – there is nothing New Yorkers need more than jobs, jobs, jobs. We believe that in urban communities like Central Brooklyn, an impactful inner-city youth employment program can create real momentum and stabilization for the local economy," said Dr. William Pollard, President of Medgar Evers College of The City University of New York.

"In turn our young people, who have struggled so noticeably in finding meaningful employment and opportunity, can help drive economic growth and local competitiveness. Governor Cuomo's NY Youth Works program is welcome news for both businesses and young job seekers and I applaud the Governor for making the future of our inner-city youth a priority and legislative focus."

Even in a robust economy, younger workers have higher levels of unemployment than those aged 35 and older. Recent unemployment levels have escalated to all-time highs as a result of the prolonged economic downturn of the past few years. According to the Department of Labor, unemployment among the state's youth is more than 25 percent, with minority youth facing unemployment rates of up to 40 percent.

The new inner city youth employment program and tax credit is part of Governor Cuomo's comprehensive New York Works Agenda, which was passed by the Legislature earlier this week.

The New York Works Agenda will create thousands of jobs and grow the state's economy with investments in New York's infrastructure, a new fair tax reform plan that achieves the first major restructuring of the tax code in decades, a tax cut for 4.4 million middle class New Yorkers, additional relief for areas devastated by recent floods, and a reduction of the MTA payroll tax to provide relief for small businesses.

India Hospital Fire Death Toll Reaches 89

Six senior hospital officials were arrested after allegedly fleeing when a fire broke out in the AMRI Hospital in Kolkata, India.

By Sarah Ng
Anchor: Megan Murphy
Link courtesy of

Virginia Tech Victim: Vet, Husband, Father of Five

After a gunman opened fire Thursday and shot a Va. Tech policeman before allegedly killing himself, investigators are still on the hunt for answers.

By Christina Hartman
Anchor: Megan Murphy
Link courtesy of

Controversial Plan B Decision Fuels Debate

The Obama administration bans the contraceptive 'Plan B, One Step' from being sold OTC to girls under 17, even though the FDA deemed it safe.

By Charles McKeague
Anchor: Lauren Gores
Link courtesy of

Hanukkah at the White House

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama celebrate Hanukkah with a reception at the White House.

New Viral Video Slams Gingrich

A new viral video slamming Newt Gingrich, produced by a conservative video artist, is circulating around Iowa.

By Jim Flink
Anchor: Jim Flink
Link courtesy of

Syria Closes Border Gates With Turkey

Syria has closed two of its four border gates with Turkey, a close neighbor and an old ally.

By Orkide Izci
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Political Maneuvering Leaves CFPB Leaderless

A move by Senate GOPers to block Pres. Obama's nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau means political stalemate for the agency.

By Christina Hartman
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Thursday, December 8, 2011

White House Briefs

President Obama Speaks on Confirming Richard Cordray

President Obama says he’s not giving up on confirming Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after the Senate blocks a vote to put Cordray in place to help protect American consumers from unscrupulous financial operators.

Obama Administration Announces $2 Billion in Resources for Job-Creating Startups

Latest Move in a Series of Executive Actions by the Administration

Today, the White House announced administrative and private sector actions that will help entrepreneurs grow their businesses and create jobs by increasing their access to capital and resources.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is moving forward with launching a $1 billion Early Stage Innovation Fund, originally announced as part of Startup America, which will provide matching capital to Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs), targeting early-stage small businesses seeking private institutional capital.

The White House also hosted the first board meeting of the Startup America Partnership, where board members will announce commitments from more than 50 private-sector partners to deliver over $1 billion in value – from free software to free consulting and legal services – to 100,000 startups over the next three years.

The President also renewed his call for Congress to work on a bipartisan basis to develop ideas from his American Jobs Act plan that will help our small and growing businesses access capital while continuing to protect investors.

Specifically, the President has called for increasing limits on “miniofferings,” allowing “crowdfunding,” and phasing in some requirements for small firms as they go public.

“Today, we’re announcing $2 billion in public and private resources to help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Now it’s time for Congress to do its part. It was encouraging to see members of both parties in the House come together to pass legislation that will help small businesses get ahead, and I’m calling on the Senate to do the same. But America’s small businesses can’t wait for these important tools to grow and hire faster,” said President Obama.

The Early Stage Innovation Fund will leverage the successful SBIC program to allow privately managed investment funds to put more capital into the hands of small business startups. SBA is acting on this commitment by proposing a modification of its rules allowing private funds that invest in early stage companies to participate in the SBIC program.

The proposed modifications are now up for public display, and the fund will be fully implemented in 2012. Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of executive actions the Obama Administration is taking to strengthen the economy and move the country forward because we can’t wait for Congress to act.

The Startup America Partnership is a nonprofit alliance of entrepreneurs, major corporations, and service providers committing private-sector resources to accelerate the growth of new companies.

The partnership, led by iconic entrepreneurs like Steve Case (AOL) and Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), was launched earlier this year in response to the President’s call to action to dramatically increase the success of America’s high-growth entrepreneurs. New startup businesses create most of the net new jobs each year, in every industry and all across the country.

In September, when the President announced his American Jobs Act, he called on Congress to take steps to help small businesses raise the funds they need to innovate and grow. He urged Congress to work on a bipartisan basis to develop these ideas in ways that will help our small businesses while continuing to protect American investors.

Regulation A “miniofferings:” Small businesses owners who are seeking private capital of less than $5 million are currently exempt from a variety of regulations. The President has called for raising that limit to up to $50 million, while still protecting investors, in order to make it easier for small companies to raise the capital they need to grow.

Crowdfunding: Already, nonprofits have harnessed the power of online fundraising and social media to help meet their mission. In a similar way, we can allow entrepreneurs to raise money from many small-dollar investors, while also modifying the rules to build in strong investor protections to these new platforms.

Easing costs for small, young firms: Research shows that most job creation for public firms occurs after they go public. By phasing in certain regulations for small, high-growth firms, we can provide a transition period to help these companies ramp up to the full costs of being public, while still protecting investors.

Additional commitments announced today include:

Startup America Policy Challenge - In the spirit of open and participatory government, the White House will use online platforms to ask entrepreneurs and the broader public how to accelerate entrepreneurial innovation in three priority industries: healthcare, clean energy, and education.

Students and other solvers will then compete to translate the best ideas into “Policy Business Plans,” which will be shared with relevant Cabinet Secretaries from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Energy, and Education.

Administration Commits to Advance Entrepreneurship Education - The Dept. of Education and the Dept. of Labor are advancing a youth entrepreneurship agenda that infuses entrepreneurship education into a range of existing programs involving K-12 education, career and technical education, community colleges, universities, and low-income youth.

As part of this effort, the Dept. of Education is launching a new National Education Startup Challenge, inviting middle school, high school, and college students to develop an innovative solution to an education problem and prepare a business plan for a new company or non-profit organization to deliver that solution.

NFTE Expands Entrepreneurship Education for Underserved Youth - The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) provides a first-class entrepreneurship education for at-risk high school students from low-income communities.

Today, NFTE and the Pearson Foundation are launching
Connect, a free online community for teacher collaboration and training focused on entrepreneurship education, fulfilling a commitment made at the launch of Startup America earlier this year.

Connect community is open to all educators who want to infuse entrepreneurship education best practices into their classroom, with a goal of at least 5,000 registered educators in the next 24 months.

In addition, SuperCamp/Quantum Learning Network, one of the top academic summer camp providers in America, is partnering with NFTE to making its BizCamps widely available to young people across the country.

Junior Achievement Announces Entrepreneurial Reinvention - Junior Achievement, the nation’s oldest and largest youth entrepreneurship program, is announcing a historic reinvention of its century-old JA Company Program to be more contemporary and relevant to today’s dynamic entrepreneurial landscape.

Supported by global technology leader Emerson, this program is designed to reach at least 50,000 students over the next five years.

Over 100 Community College Presidents Commit to Entrepreneurial Transformation - The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) is launching the Presidents for Entrepreneurship Forum, through which community college presidents make specific commitments to advance entrepreneurship and the impact these colleges have on the economic well-being of their communities.

Over 100 community college presidents have signed on at launch, with the goal of at least 600 by the end of 2012, comprising around half of all community colleges in the U.S.

Politics in Action: S. 1944 and S. 1931


S. 1944 – Middle Class Tax Cut Act of 2011
(Sen. Casey, D-Pennsylvania, and 5 others)

The Administration strongly supports passage of S. 1944, which would continue and expand the payroll tax cut in place this year and put more money in the pockets of working and middle class Americans. The President proposed this measure to the Congress as part of the American Jobs Act as a way to create jobs and spur economic growth.

By extending and expanding the payroll tax cut, the bill would cut in half the amount of payroll tax paid by employees and the self-employed on their wages and salaries for 2012. Approximately 160 million workers would benefit from this tax cut, which would increase the size of the payroll tax cut for a family earning $50,000 from $1,000 in 2011 to $1,500 in 2012.

S. 1944 is paid for through a balanced and fair set of measures, including asking the Nation’s wealthiest to contribute a small percentage more and modestly increasing the fees that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac charge mortgage lenders to guarantee repayment of new mortgage loans. What is most important is putting Americans back to work, and S. 1944 would meet the test of paying for the extension and expansion of the payroll tax cuts in a way that is fair.

If the Congress does nothing, the typical working family will see its taxes go up by $1,000. Independent economists have confirmed that these tax cuts for working families would add hundreds of thousands of jobs to the economy next year. By enacting S. 1944, the Congress and the President can work together to create jobs, and the Administration urges prompt and favorable action.


S. 1931 – Temporary Tax Holiday and Government Reduction Act

(Sen. Heller, R-Nevada)

In the American Jobs Act, the President proposed to continue and expand the payroll tax cut in place this year to help provide relief to working families and boost the economy. Passage of S. 1944, the Middle Class Tax Cut Act of 2011, would enact these tax cuts into law and fully pay for them, in part by asking the Nation's wealthiest to contribute a small percentage more.

The Administration recognizes that S. 1931 would at least continue this year's payroll tax cut. However, the Administration opposes S. 1931 because, by contrast to S. 1944, it provides one-third less tax relief for America's workers and is paid for by unbalanced cuts that would break a bipartisan deal achieved in August and would undermine the Nation's ability to invest in areas that are key to America's future, to maintain core government functions, and to defend the United States.

If the Congress does nothing, the typical working family earning $50,000 will see its taxes go up by $1,000. Under the American Jobs Act and S. 1944, that family's tax cut would be increased from $1,000 to $1,500. By contrast, S. 1931 does not expand the current payroll tax cut at all, thus providing one-third less tax relief to 160 million American workers.

While S. 1944 proposes to fully pay for the tax cuts in a balanced and fair way, S. 1931 would almost entirely pay for the payroll tax cuts by breaking the bipartisan deal achieved in the Budget Control Act. It would add new cuts on top of the $1 trillion in reductions to defense and non-defense spending under the Budget Control Act and the additional $1.2 trillion in cuts that could automatically go into place because of the failure of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction.

The additional spending cuts under S. 1931 would mean further reductions in areas like education and energy, reducing core government functions ranging from services for this Nation's veterans to border security, and further cutting back spending on the Nation's defense.
The President is committed to providing tax relief to America's workers next year and fully paying for this relief in a way that is fair. The Administration strongly supports S. 1944 and opposes S. 1931.

Image courtesy of Public Domain clipart

Russian Prime Minister Blames Hillary Clinton for Protests

The Russian Prime Minister accused U.S. Secretary Clinton of encouraging the recent protests in Russia. But, did Clinton have a valid point?

By Kim St. Onge
Anchor: Kim St. Onge
Link courtesy of

Jon Corzine Claims He Can't Find Missing Funds

Former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine apologized during a House committee, saying he doesn't know what happened to $1.2B in missing customer funds.

By Ryan Schmidt
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Holder Testifies in Fast and Furious Hearings

Attorney General Eric Holder told a House committee - lost weapons from the failed U.S. operation will be used in crimes for "years to come".

By Blake Hanson
Anchor: Blake Hanson
Link courtesy of

Yahoo Awarded Millions in Damages

Yahoo was awarded over $600 million in statutory damages in their case against Thai and Nigerian email scammers.

By JJ Bailey
Anchor: Lauren Gores
Link courtesy of

Anonymous Targets Controversial Senate Bill

International Hacking Group Issues Warning to U.S. Senate:
"Expect Us!"

"Anonymous" has set its sights on S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, a bill that the Obama Administration and civil libertarians have expressed great concern over.

The bill, which passed by a 93-7 vote in the Senate several days ago, was crafted by Senator Carl Levine (D-MI) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ). It includes a provision that would allow the United States military to arrest and indefinitely detain anyone suspected of being a terrorist or linked to a terrorist organization... without due process.

In addition, because the bill does not clearly indicate how the term terrorist is defined, S. 1867 would grant the President and the military full authority to arrest and indefinitely detain American citizens suspected of engaging in terrorism, again, without due process.

Once certain legislative amendments have been made, as per the request of the Obama Administration, the bill will be sent to the House of Representatives for a vote. The President has been urged to veto the legislation if the changes are not implemented.

One section of the "Detainee Matters" provision of the bill, which has caused the greatest concern, states the following:

"The Administration objects to and has serious legal and policy concerns about many of the detainee provisions in the bill. In their current form, some of these provisions disrupt the Executive branch's ability to enforce the law and impose unwise and unwarranted restrictions on the U.S. Government's ability to aggressively combat international terrorism; other provisions inject legal uncertainty and ambiguity that may only complicate the military's operations and detention practices.

Section 1031 attempts to expressly codify the detention authority that exists under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) (the “AUMF”). The authorities granted by the AUMF, including the detention authority, are essential to our ability to protect the American people from the threat posed by al-Qa'ida and its associated forces, and have enabled us to confront the full range of threats this country faces from those organizations and individuals. Because the authorities codified in this section already exist, the Administration does not believe codification is necessary and poses some risk.

After a decade of settled jurisprudence on detention authority, Congress must be careful not to open a whole new series of legal questions that will distract from our efforts to protect the country.

While the current language minimizes many of those risks, future legislative action must ensure that the codification in statute of express military detention authority does not carry unintended consequences that could compromise our ability to protect the American people.

The Administration strongly objects to the military custody provision of section 1032, which would appear to mandate military custody for a certain class of terrorism suspects. This unnecessary, untested, and legally controversial restriction of the President's authority to defend the Nation from terrorist threats would tie the hands of our intelligence and law enforcement professionals.

Moreover, applying this military custody requirement to individuals inside the United States, as some Members of Congress have suggested is their intention, would raise serious and unsettled legal questions and would be inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets."

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) addressed the issue of "Indefinite Detention" in a 13-minute statement to President Obama two days before the vote was cast.

From The G-Man published the bill in its entirety on November 17, 2011. Here is the link:

Anonymous video uploaded to YouTube by

Rand Paul video uploaded to YouTube by

EU Leaders to Debate Franco-German Treaty Proposal

Two days before EU heads of state meet to hammer out a way to save the Euro, Germany and France propose a new treaty for a closer-knit union.

By Mikkel Noel Lanzky
Anchor: Jim Flink
Link courtesy of