Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation: U.S. Rep. Broun files ‘Sanctity of Life Act’ then laughs at assassination question

Every year, some conservative politician files a bill in the U.S. House attempting to define “human life.” The reason, of course, is to use such a definition to then attack various policies such as legal abortion and stem cell research.

Luckily every year, cooler heads prevail and (rightly) decide that this question is a scientific and moral one, not political.

But this year, the introduction of a “Sanctity of Life” bill proves a little more ridiculous when you look at who sponsored it.

On January 7, Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia filed H.R. 212 — the Sanctity of  Human Life Act — to “provide that human life shall be deemed to begin with fertilization.” The language accompanying the bill states “the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being, and is the paramount and most fundamental right of a person.”

Now, fast forward to earlier this week, when the native Georgian organized a town hall meeting with his constituents. At one point, an elderly man asked Rep. Broun, “Who is going to shoot Obama.” According to witnesses, Rep. Broun responded with laughter and then failed to condemn the question:

“The thing is, I know there’s a lot of frustration with this president,” Broun responded, according to the Athens Banner-Herald. “We’re going to have an election next year. Hopefully, we’ll elect somebody that’s going to be a conservative, limited-government president … who will sign a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.” (Politico.com)

Rep. Broun may have respect for the life of the unborn, but that respect doesn’t seem to carry over to living humans — at least not if they are President of the United States.

Rating: 5 teabags

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Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation: U.S. Rep Serrano files ‘President for life’ bill

United States Representative Jose Serrano sure has some bad timing.

Earlier this month, as citizens in other countries protested their corrupt, leaders-for-life , Serrano introduced a bill to repeal the 22nd amendment to the United States Constitution — the one that limits the office terms of presidents.

Even if there was ever a time citizens of the United States would consider eliminating term limits for the President of the United States, this era of fierce bipartisanship would not be that time.

To even file such an undemocratic bill shows that Mr. Serrano, a Democrat from New York’s 16th district (think: Bronx Zoo), is truly out of touch with America. Of course, a man with a mustache like that is definitely a risk-taker.

But before you start accusing Mr. Serrano of wanting Barack Obama — that non-citizen Muslim from Kenya — to become “President for Life,” consider this: Serrano has filed this bill seven times in the last 14 years — including four times during the G.W. Bush years.

Now, that’s ridiculous.

Rating: 4 tea bags

Click here to learn about the rating system. For archives of the Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation, click here.

Florida’s extended (extended) unemployment benefits: The good, the bad, the ugly

First, the good news for my unemployed brothers and sisters:

Due to stagnant (and in some cases, rising) unemployment throughout the country, the Obama Administration approved another round of extended benefits for laid-off Americans earlier this month. Although there is confusion surrounding who will actually get these benefits, under the best case scenerio, unemployed Floridians will receive 20 more weeks of benefits to help you get through another four months of job searching.

Well, some of us will receive those benefits (about 250,000 according to the St. Petersburg Times). Which brings me to the bad news.

If you already exhausted your benefits before the bill was passed on Nov. 6, you probably aren’t eligible (although the state says you can apply).  Also, only those Floridians who will run out of all benefits between Nov. 6 and Dec. 27 qualify for the extra weeks.

There is a lot of confusion on who qualifies for the new extension and since the state unemployment office doesn’t make much sense explaining it, they’ve set up a webpage for you to check if you qualify (click on the button that says “Check your eligibility).

That fine print has some advocacy groups upset. The National Employment Law Center just released a study that found over a million American workers will be ineligible for benefits in January 2010. Federal workers have it worse; they estimate over three million of those workers will remain unemployed.

But things get uglier.

The state has already run out of the money to pay for benefits, partly due to the Florida Legislature’s inane idea to not accept federal stimulus money for unemployment insurance. So, as unemployment rises to record levels, there is another cloud on the horizon. Due to a clause in state law, businesses will be taxed extra for unemployment benefits next year. And by “extra,” I’m mean a tax hike approaching 120 percent, which I’m sure can’t be good for companies barely keeping afloat.

Talk about a vicious circle.

New credit card rules great for the unemployed

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There’s been a lot of buzz about the new credit card bill that moved through Congress and is heading to President Obama to sign. Right-wing talk radio has made much hoopla of the changes; their rallying cry is good credit consumers will subsidize the bad. Even some news reports have made the same statement. (Back to that argument later.)

But for the jobless, this bill will give some much needed relief, from banning the practice of raising interest rates on existing balances and double-cycle billing. Here’s a rundown of the proposed changes:

  • Companies can no longer charge consumers for paying their bills by phone;
  • Creditors cannot raise your APR in the first 12 months of a new account;
  • Promotional rates must last at least six months;
  • No longer can your interest rate on existing balances increase unless you fail to pay for 60 days;
  • Payments must be applied to the balance with the highest APR first;
  • Credit card bills must be sent at least 21 days before the due date;
  • Companies must give 45 days notice before changing your rates or fees;
  • Credit card statements must be told how long it will take to pay off their balance if they only pay the minimum amount due;
  • Creditors must remove any info given to a consumer reporting agency (Equifax, Experion, etc.) about new accounts if that card has not been used or activated within 45 days;
  • The legislation bans double-cycling billing.

The new rules will probably help some people who have gotten behind on their credit card and have the means to pay it off. I, for one, don’t agree with the argument that the bill makes good credit holders pay for the bad. It’s entirely the choice of credit card companies to raise rates on the good consumers. They are choosing that option, so they can continue to enjoy enormous profit margins.

Of course, my ultimate advice is for everyone to cut up their credit cards. But, hey, that’s just me.