Immigrants and their advocates gathered at the Latino Cultural Center at Yale University Thursday to watch the president explain his actions, which have drawn extensive praise from Hispanic leaders but criticism from Republicans who say he is exceeding his executive power.
Millions will benefit, while others will have to wait for Congress to fix a system that most people admit is broken.
A coalition of immigrant groups over the past year, when it was clear that Congress was not going to act, switched its pressure to Obama to invoke exective action. Chief among them were the Center for Community Change, the Center for American Progress, United We Dream, the Service Employees International Union and America's Voice.
"I was overwhelmed," said Kica Matos, an official with Center for Community Change and a New Haven resident. "I never thought this would happen. The president did the right thing. It is a victory for millions of families who fought so hard. It is a victory for the immigrant rights movement. It is a victory for the civil rights movement."
Matos and others, however, said they would continue to work for a permanent fix that helps all 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Comedian Jay Leno canceled a planned appearance at a firearms trade show on the Las Vegas Strip after learning that a group representing victims of gun violence was gathering signatures urging him not to attend, his publicist said Thursday.
Leno made the decision when he was told the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show is hosted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a group that lobbies for gun owners and manufacturers, said Dick Guttman, spokesman for the former NBC "Tonight Show" host.
"He thought it was a sporting group," Guttman said. "He understands that it caused concern. He fully understands the sensitivities."
Newtown Action Alliance leader Po Murray said Leno called her Wednesday, just hours after her group announced it had collected 6,000 signatures urging Leno to cancel.
Murray and Guttman both said Leno characterized the booking as a mistake.
Murray noted it has been less than two years since a rampaging gunman killed 20 children and six staff members in December 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, also killed himself.
The massacre led to the formation of Murray's group, a nonprofit led by volunteers that advocates for stricter gun laws.
"To think a celebrity of that stature would participate in raising funds for the gun lobby was extremely disheartening for us," Murray said, referring to Leno.
Last week, DeLauro was the point person - by dint of her leadership post in the House Democratic Caucus - in telling Duckworth she couldn't vote by proxy in the caucus elections. Duckworth is a veteran, a double amputee from wounds incurred in the line of duty. In the late stages of pregnancy, she was told by her doctor not to travel.
Here was the line from DeLauro's office: "Congresswoman DeLauro does not want to set a precedent. There are many meritorious situations where the argument could be made for a waiver, including Congresswoman Duckworth's. The question is, how do you choose?"
Does that statement sound familiar? It's exactly the kind of paternalistic, head-patting talk that was used against women in the workplace for decades. It echoes the rhetoric that was used against the Family Medical Leave Act. It goes like this:
"I'd like to help you out, honey, but I got a business to run here. If I make an exception for you, where do I draw the line?"
Using DeLauro's logic, Dodd really should have told her, "Sorry about the cancer, sweetie, but I can't give you special treatment."
Of course, it's also a lie. Whenever political leaders do something shabby and claim they're standing on principle, they're lying. In this case, Duckworth was planning to vote the wrong way on some tin-pot ranking member post. Nancy Pelosi, DeLauro's boss, backed a different candidate. Pelosi handed DeLauro the hatchet.
I've noticed this about people sitting precariously on top of a dung hill: the smaller the dung hill gets and the more wobbly their perch, the more likely they are to mistake the dung hill for a crystal palace.
The Kennedy name is not beyond reproach among the Democrats who rule Connecticut.
When lawmakers reconvene for the new legislative session in January, the General Assembly is expected to discuss new limits on how much state parties can contribute to individual candidates for the state Senate and state House of Representatives.
The push comes after Ted Kennedy Jr. received $207,000 in aid from the Democratic State Central Committee for his victorious state Senate campaign, despite being bound by spending limits as a taxpayer-funded candidate.
Of the additional funds, $88,000 came from relatives and business associates of Kennedy, a Branford Democrat who is the son of the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy.
"I am disturbed by the way that all happened," House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said in a recent interview. "I am concerned about the appearance it leaves."
The October 9th Wait, What? post was entitled, "There is something very, very wrong going on at Connecticut's Board of Regents."
But no, it was not a blog post about the growing controversy surrounding the effort to jam through the ill-conceived and damaging "Transform CSCU 2020" plan that is being pushed by Regent President Gregory Gray and the members of the Connecticut Board of Regents.
The Wait, What? blog with that title was posted more than two years ago (October 2012) and dealt with the myriad of problems that surfaced when the previous president of the Board of Regents, Robert Kennedy, illegally hand out nearly $300,000 in pay raises to employees in the central office despite state law and the SEBAC labor agreement that prevented such a maneuver. Three days later, Kennedy submitted his resignation and was gone.
But the sad and shocking reality is that the notion that "there is something very, very wrong going on at Connecticut's Board of Regents" is even truer today than it was two years ago.
In fact, the action being pursued by the Board of Regents and its current president may well be the worst proposal for public higher education in Connecticut history.
Rather than improve the quality and accessibility of a college education for tens of thousands of Connecticut students, their new plan, would leave Connecticut's state universities and community colleges a sad empty shadow of what they once were and could be with the proper leadership and support.
To begin to understand the situation, all you have to do is read some of the recent news stories in the CT Mirror and Hartford Courant.
Faculty decry provost's departure, president's plan for CSCU's future and ECSU faculty union gives president's plans an F and Faculty push back on president's plans for Connecticut State Universities and Regents Provost Resigns Abruptly After Less Than 8 Months and ECSU Faculty OK Organizing 'No Confidence' Vote On Regents President and Smart Classrooms Discussed At Board Of Regents Meeting
But the real problem behind the proposed "Transform CSCU 2020" is far more serious than the media coverage has yet explained.
I agree with that message from Gov. Malloy to other Dem candidates. And he is a fighter. I'll give him his due there. He did the right thing and hammered at Foley, who was a very weak candidate. Foley definitely had the air of a bored aristocrat during the entire campaign and Malloy's attacks looked like they wore out the GOP candidate. If Foley had eked out a victory, I didn't see him lasting more than 1 term.
For such a party of know-it-all wonks, Democratic candidates are incredibly timid when is comes to educating the voters. Instead of using polling data as a guide to information gaps, Dems treat weak areas like quicksand and won't go near certain subjects. As Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy points out, that's exactly the wrong approach -- and it's why lots of them lost. Via the Daily Beast:
If his fellow Ds want similar results in the wake of a bloodbath of an election that was the 2014 midterms, Malloy says: "They can't run as Republicans. Democrats can't run away from what they have done. If there is a message out there, it is that we failed to embrace our successes because we thought that it would remind people that we are Democrats. Well, guess what? I am a Democrat. And I ran as a Democrat."
Too many Democrats, in the face of national headwinds, ran as Republican-lite, Malloy said. And now many of those Democrats are heading home after long careers in public life, with some losing easily winnable races.
"The other people are the people who want to make the rich richer and, quite frankly, if that makes the poor poorer, that is OK with them. And if you don't point that out, don't be shocked that people get confused."
"What I think happened is people underestimated the ability of the voting public to put things in context," he said. "If you are going to have a contest and it is going to be about who is the grayest, then Democrats lose. But the world is more black and white than it is gray, and if you fail to point that out, then don't be surprised that you lost."
Well, Malloy has a fan at Crooks & Liars.
This guy was born with severe dyslexia and motor problems, but look what he's done. With that kind of story, he should be on somebody's VP shortlist.
With his popularity ratings still low and low in a blue state, I doubt Malloy will be on anyone's VP list.
Wall Street is indeed a one-way street for U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., and not just on maps.
Adept at mining campaign cash for House Democrats from the financial services industry, which he once worked in as a Goldman Sachs executive, Himes said Tuesday those very same connections likely factored into his being passed over for his caucus' top political leadership post.
"My guess is, it was a factor, which is disappointing because I think the criticism is way off base," Himes, 48, said.
A request for comment was left Tuesday for Pelosi, who bypassed the candidates suggested by the liberal PAC, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee -- Reps. Donna Edwards, D-Md., and Jared Polis, D-Col.
Still, the committee's co-founder applauded the snub of Himes.
"In not selecting Jim Himes to lead the DCCC, Nancy Pelosi rejected the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party," Adam Green said. "Appointing a Goldman Sachs banker to lead the DCCC would be marching House Democrats in the exact opposite direction they need to go in order to win. An economic populist agenda consisting of bold ideas -- like breaking up `too big to fail' banks and jailing Wall Street bankers who broke the law -- is wildly popular in red, purple and blue states."
In fact, the cost of basic household expenses here is more than most jobs can support, according to a report released today by the Connecticut United Ways that provides a detailed snapshot of financial hardship above and beyond the outdated and woefully inadequate federal poverty guidelines.
Thirty-five percent of Connecticut's working households grapple to afford the basics of housing, child care, food, health care and transportation, according to the ALICE report - an abbreviation for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed - which was developed by the state's 16 United Way chapters in collaboration with Rutgers University. It is intended to be used as a tool for policymakers and stakeholders to better understand and address the financial hardships faced by the working poor.
The 121-page report examines the struggles that laborers, retail salespeople, customer service representatives, personal care aides and other low-paid, service-sector workers regularly experience in trying to stay financially afloat. And it introduces a new measurement tool - the ALICE Threshold - that calculates income inadequacy by computing the current cost of basic necessities and geographic variations.
The findings portray a significant portion of the state's population struggling to make ends meet.
Despite Connecticut's above-average minimum wage - it is scheduled to increase to $9.15 on Jan. 1, 2015, and to $10.10 on Jan. 1, 2017 - the cost of living here is beyond what many jobs pay, forcing individuals and families to make difficult budgeting choices.
While Connecticut's median household income is $67,276 - 24 percent higher than the U.S. median of $51,371 - that median masks the fact that 35 percent of households are financially in peril or fragile. In addition to the 10 percent already classified by federal guidelines as living in poverty, another 25 percent live below the ALICE Threshold, an indicator that they, too, are scraping to get by.
According to the report, 51 percent of jobs in Connecticut pay less than $20 per hour, pushing many households below the ALICE Threshold.
The problem is exacerbated because the growth of low-skilled jobs is expected to outpace that of medium- and high-skilled jobs in the state and across the country over the next decade, the report states. At the same time, the cost of basic household necessities will rise.
State programs totaling tens of millions of dollars may be abruptly terminated this week, as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy grapples with a $100 million shortfall in the $20 billion budget that runs through next June.
But the deficit is a fraction of the $400 million wave of red ink that resulted in the special legislative session of December 2012, which was ultimately overshadowed by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
Benjamin Barnes, secretary of the state Office of Policy and Management, told reporters Monday that as much as $70 million in line items could be cut by Friday, with more reductions in January.
He declined to list specific areas of savings. But tactics in 2012 included a hiring freeze.
Also, personnel vacancies were not filled and a range of state agencies sustained programming cuts into the tens of millions of dollars.
The registrars of voters' office needs "a major overhaul" and its Democratic registrar, Olga Vazquez, should resign after issues on Election Day delayed voting at several polling places, Mayor Pedro Segarra said.
"This is not new to that office," Segarra said. "There have been problems in that office during the time that I have been mayor, and that's one of the reasons I took a very strong stance in wanting to create ... a professionalized office; not a political office, not a partisan office - a professionalized office."
Segarra did not go into detail about the previous issues. Documents at the State Elections Enforcement Commission show that in the past five years, Vazquez has been named in seven citizen complaints that resulted in either orders, or signed agreements, to comply with state election laws and procedures that hadn't been followed properly.
Last Friday, the Connecticut General Assembly's Office of Fiscal Analysis issued its annual Fiscal Accountability Report. The report serves as the definitive independent assessment of the fiscal health of the state of Connecticut.
Unlike the "projections" produced by the Office of Policy and Management, which are designed to protect a sitting governor from criticism, the work done by the Office of Fiscal Analysis is widely respected and noted for its accuracy.
Those truly interested in understanding the Connecticut state budget and the issues surrounding taxes and spending in Connecticut should begin by reading OFA's Fiscal annual Accountability Report. The OFA report not only provides a review of the status of this year's state budget but they also provide a detailed assessment of what will occur over the next three fiscal years.
Unlike the rosy picture painted by Dannel Malloy during the recent gubernatorial campaign, OFA's report is stark and disturbing.
The Office of Fiscal Analysis reports;
This year's state budget (FY15) is running at least an $89.1 million deficit. (Although Malloy repeatedly claimed, up until Election Day, that there will be NO state deficit, his budget director has finally admitted that this year's state budget deficit is closing in on $100 million.)
The projected state deficit for FY16 (next year) is $1.3 billion.
The projected state deficit for FY17 is $1.4 billion.
And the projected state deficit for FY18 is $1.7 billion.
The single most important factor to understand when reviewing the OFA projections is that they take into account the expected growth in the economy.
For example, this year the state of Connecticut was expecting an additional $350 million in revenue due to growth in the economy. However, one of the reasons the state is now facing a deficit is that Connecticut's economy is not growing as quickly as the experts expected.
According to OFA, the factors driving this year's growing state deficit is that state revenues are $59.1 million lower than originally budgeted and state spending is $30.4 million higher than originally budgeted.
The increased spending is due, in part, to the Malloy administration's failure to allocate sufficient funds to pay the healthcare costs for state employees retiring from the Department of Corrections and Malloy's decision to intentionally underfund Connecticut's magnet schools.
The harsh reality is that Connecticut is short about $4.5 billion in revenue from what it will need to maintain "current services" over the next three and a half years and that this number already takes into consideration an on-going improvement in the economy.
While OFA's Fiscal Accountability Report is immediately relevant because of its projections about revenue and spending over the next three fiscal years, the report also covers Connecticut's long-term "obligations" or "liabilities," otherwise known as the money that taxpayers will need to come up with in order to make the state's debt payments and fund the state's other obligations, such as pensions.
It is in this area that the news is even more troubling.
The following chart highlights Connecticut's Unfunded Liabilities.
Liability: Amount in Billions
Debt Outstanding: $21.3 Billion
State Employee Retirement System (SERS): $12.3
Teachers' Retirement System: $10.8
State Post Employment Health and Life: $19.5
Teachers' Post Employment Health: $2.4
Generally Accepted Accounting Principles Deficit: $1.1
TOTAL: $68.4 Billion
The total amount in long-term obligations means that Connecticut taxpayers will need to come up with $68.4 billion over the twenty to thirty years, in addition to their federal, state and local tax payments for existing governmental expenses.
In essence, the state's long-term debt saddles taxpayers with an annual payment in addition to any payments they have for a home mortgage, student loan debts or consumer debts.
With about 1.2 million taxpayer households in Connecticut, the state's extraordinary level of debt and long-term obligations means that each taxpayer family or household, on average, will be responsible for paying in about $57,000 in addition to their regular tax payments over the next twenty years or so.
And unlike debt at the Federal level which can be easily pushed off, Connecticut MUST pay these obligations during the next two decades or so. This means that the burden to make these payments will fall on the state's existing taxpayers and those that are already born but have yet to become taxpayers.
You can read more about the latest budget news at CT Mirror -Budget chief: Some tax cuts may have to wait; CT colleges likely to face cuts and NewsJunkie Gov's Budget Office, Nonpartisan Analysts Project Deficit.
The reports include confirmation that Governor Malloy will be announcing budget cuts soon and that those cuts will probably be disproportionately aimed at Connecticut's public colleges and universities.
The CT Mirror story also reports that the Governor's operation is already backpedaling on nearly $220 million in tax cuts that Malloy pushed through before the election and another $40 million in tax cuts that he promised to put into law if he were re-elected.
The list of new and proposed tax cuts that Malloy promoted during his campaign are now in jeopardy include;
Restoring the sales tax exemptions on clothing and non-prescription medications.
A new income tax credit for retired teachers.
Returning the Earned Income Tax Credit for working poor families to its original level.
And putting an end to the corporation tax surcharge.
Plus new tax cuts, including a special tax break for urban businesses and an income tax credit for those who are paying interest on their student loans.
For years, we have listened to Republicans lecture us on issues of morality, only to find them caught up in zipper problems or paying for abortions for their mistresses or whatever. Too often, their moral stance has been trumped by a wide stance, or whatever.
Now, the House Democratic leadership has painted itself into a corner on a women's issue, and it's time to call them out and get them to change course before it gets any worse.
Illinois Congressman Tammy Duckworth is in the ninth month of her first pregnancy. Her doctors have ordered her not to fly and to stay home because of risks to her health. She will be unable to attend the House Dems' meeting in Washington this coming week where they will choose their leadership team.
Rep. Duckworth asked for a waiver to the "no proxy" rule in order that she might take part. She mentioned her medical condition. Reps. Pelosi and DeLauro said no and the request has been denied.
What Rep. Duckworth did not mention in her letter - which all House members know - is that she lost both legs and part of an arm in Iraq. She is not only a pregnant woman in her ninth month, but a disabled veteran. To require that she travel to Washington in her condition to have a vote on the party's leadership and future is morally untenable.
Nor did she mention that three dozen House Democrats - with the support of President Obama - have introduced legislation that would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees.
In other words, do as we say, not as we do.
For years, Democrats have rightly pointed out how Republican policies have discriminated against women. And, given the gender gap in the vote, a good number of women agree. And while the decision not to waive the no-proxy rule for Tammy Duckworth is a single incident up against years of Republican actions, the optics are so horrible that someone should tell the women in the Democratic leadership to get wise or get lost.
Earth to Nancy: someone invented something called Skype. Let Tammy use it just this one time.
The worst of all political sins is hypocrisy. For the House Democratic leadership to accuse the Republicans of waging a war on women while denying the doctor's request for a woman in her ninth month - who is a double amputee in a wheelchair - is one for the ages.
It's been an awful month, but this may be the lowest point.
Lets hope Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro will wake up and do the right thing...