July 31, 2014

Blunt critical of Obama in KC (AUDIO)

Missouri’s junior Senator of President Obama’s trip to Kansas City and the way the President blasted Congress.

The President ripped Congress for blocking all of his economic initiatives and called on Congress to “stop being mad all the time”  and “stop this hatin’ all the time.”

But Senator Blunt finds that kind of talk antagonistic and counterproductive.  He says he used to tell new members of the House  the new person on the other side of an argument also is well motivated but they’re just wrong in the way their argument is perceived.  But being wrong doesn’t mean somebody is bad. Blunt thinks Obama should have stayed in Washington instead of campaigning in Kansas City  against Congress.

“We need Presidential leadership. Presidential leadership matters and legislatively we don’t have the kind of leadership that helps work through difficult situations,” he says.

He says the President should be working with his party and with Blunt’s party to get things done.

AUDIO: Blunt Q&A 3:38

President Obama bashes Congress, calls for end to cynicism (AUDIO)

President Obama has lambasted Congress as being out of touch with the average American family, and calls today’s House authorization for a lawsuit against him “a political stunt.”

The President’s half-hour speech in front of a friendly audience of about 1,500 in Kansas City defended his economic policies and the forty actions he says he has had to take through executive order because Congress has refused to act on economic policies that he says would create an economy “that works for everybody.”

Obama says the economy has turned around so well that people are seeking to invest in the United States, not China, “and our lead is growing.”   But he complained that the Republican-led House of Representatives has blocked every idea that helps working families.

“The folks in Washington, sometimes they’re focused on everything but your concerns,” he told the audience.  He said special interests in Washington prefer the status quo that favors their interests .  “They’re counting on you getting cynical so you don’t vote and don’t get involved ….And the more you do that, then the more power the special interests have and the more entrenched the status quo becomes,” he said.

“You can’t afford to be cynical,” he said at the end, “Cynicism didn’t put a man on the moon.  Cynicism didn’t win women the right to vote. Cynicism did not get a Civil Rights Act signed.  Cynicism has never won a war. Cynicism has never cured a disease.  Cynicism has never started a business. Cynicism has never fed a child…You don’t have time to be cynical.”

AUDIO: Obama sp;eech 34:53

Missouri Senators discuss rulings on federal health care subsidies

It is likely the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether subsidies for insurance coverage under the federal healthcare reform law will continue to be available, after conflicting federal appeals court rulings about them this week.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO)

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO)

One ruling upholds subsidies for insurance purchased on the federal exchange, one says the law only provides them for insurance purchased on state exchanges.

The case carries extra meaning in Missouri, where the Republican-led legislature opted not to create a state exchange.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D) believes in the end, the subsidies will be upheld.

“We’ve had a number of court decisions on this issue and most of them have said that the subsidies are perfectly fine in the federal exchanges, so I think ultimately that position will prevail in the courts,” says McCaskill. “It has been the dominant decision in the courts that have considered it.”

The other option would be for Congress to change the law to clarify that those subsidies are OK, but Senator McCaskill says that is unlikely.

“It would be great to fix it along with other things that we’d like to fix in the health care bill, unfortunately it’s being wielded as strictly a political weapon by the Republican party right now,” says McCaskill. “They will not come to the table and fix things that need to be fixed because they think it diminishes their ability to win elections around this issue.”

Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO)

Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO)

Senator Roy Blunt (R) says the conflicting rulings are the result of courts trying to sort out a law that didn’t go to conference between the two chambers.

“The law was poorly written, it was poorly structured, it was crammed down the throats of the minority in both the House and the Senate,” says Blunt.

Discussing the case potentially reaching the Supreme Court, Blunt tells Missourinet affiliate KZRG in Joplin, “Ultimately this gives John Roberts maybe a chance to redeem himself and look at this law one more time, and decide it’s really not the best thing for the country and was done in the worst possible way.”

Blunt refers to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who delivered the majority opinion when the Court upheld the constitutionality of the “Affordable Care Act.” Roberts, an appointee of President George W. Bush, has been heavily criticized by conservatives for voting to uphold that law.

President Obama to talk economy in Kansas City

The White House says President Barack Obama will visit Kansas City next week.

President Barack Obama delivers his 2013 State of the Union address.  (Courtesy; White House Media Affairs)

President Barack Obama delivers his 2013 State of the Union address. (Courtesy; White House Media Affairs)

According to the White House Media Affairs office, “On Tuesday, July 29, President Obama will travel to the Kansas City, MO area. He will remain overnight. On Wednesday, July 30 he will deliver remarks on the economy and return to Washington, D.C. More details about the President visit to the Kansas City area will be made available in the coming days.

Sen. McCaskill says GM legal team’s actions ‘killed innocent customers’

Senator Claire McCaskill (D) has gone after General Motors’ legal team for its handling of reports of ignition switch problems on vehicles including the Chevrolet Cobalt, now linked to 13 fatal crashes including one in Missouri.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D) chairs a hearing by a Senate subcommittee on consumer protection.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D) chairs a hearing by a Senate subcommittee on consumer protection.

GM’s legal staff dealt with lawsuits stemming from those failures for years while engineers and investigators were aware of safety concerns. McCaskill says those attorneys allowed a dangerous situation to continue, and asked why GM’s General Counsel Michael Millikin had not been fired.

“It is very clear that the culture of lawyering up and whack-a-mole to minimize liability in individual lawsuits killed innocent customers of General Motors,” says McCaskill in a hearing of the subcommittee on consumer protection, which she chairs.

GM CEO Mary Barra defends her general counsel.

“Senator McCaskill, I respectfully disagree,” says Barra. “I have made the promise to fix what happened in the company to make sure that we are dedicated to safety, that we’re dedicated to excellence … to do that I need the right team. Mike Millikin is a man of incredibly high integrity.”

McCaskill told Barra, “I think the failure of this legal department is stunning. You look around government. When something like this happens … you know what? [Former Veterans Administration Secretary Eric] Shinseki didn’t know about those problems with [veterans scheduling appointments at VA hospitals]. Nobody told him. He’s gone.”

More hearings involving GM officials are anticipated.

A fund set up by General Motors for restitution for victims of GM ignition switch failures and their families will begin processing claims August 1.