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Posts tagged ‘Michael Bloomberg’

Conservatives Brace for Boehner Immigration Plan.

Image: Conservatives Brace for Boehner Immigration Plan

By Newsmax Wires

House Republicans led by Speaker John Boehner are preparing to unveil a major immigration initiative this week that many hope could trigger movement on an issue that has troubled the nation for decades.

The brief outline of immigration principles Boehner will unveil at a three-day Republican leadership retreat in Cambridge, Md., will include strengthening border security and creating new visas for foreign workers, and offer a path to legalization – though not necessarily citizenship – for the nation’s 11 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants, according to people briefed on the deliberations who spoke to The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Coming on the week of President Barack Obama’s “State of the Union” address, which will be given Tuesday night, some Democrats are expressing hope that new momentum could yield results after months in which the issue languished in the House.

On Sunday, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sen. Rand Paul said there is some room for compromise on immigration with the Obama administration.

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“We don’t agree on the whole comprehensive package with the Democrats, but I’ll bet you about half of it we agree on,” Paul said. “The question is: are we willing to narrow our focus and go after things that we can agree to and get them done, or are we going to stay so polarized that we always have to have our way or the highway?”

Administration officials and others told the Post that there still is a long way to go before any compromise could be reached between the House and Senate, which approved a bipartisan plan to overhaul border-control laws last June.

“It’s a very big deal, and there’s a path here that could get it done,” Cecilia Munoz, the White House’s director of domestic policy, told the Post.

Specifically, Boehner’s initiative would come in the form of simple statement of principles.

The central idea is to put forth separate bills dealing with such issues as:

  • border security
  • the hiring of illegal immigrants
  • guest-worker rules
  • a path to citizenship for those who arrived in the country illegally as children
  • a plan to legalize undocumented workers who have American family ties or sponsoring employers

This is far different from the view long held by Obama and Democrats that immigration could be taken up in a single, sweeping bill.

But Obama and Democratic leaders have said they are open to the multiple-bill approach favored by Boehner and key Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Rubio’s backing is crucial for the key bloc of tea party Republicans in both the House and the Senate.

Fixing the immigration crisis is believed key to the electoral fortunes of both Democrats and Republicans. Obama is facing mounting pressure from immigration advocates to halt deportations, which are on pace to soon top the 2 million mark during his tenure. That’s more than the George W. Bush administration deported in its entire eight years.

Republican Party leaders, meanwhile, are convinced that their party must broaden its appeal to Latinos and Asian Americans. Obama won reelection in 2012 with the support of more than 70 percent of those voters.

On Friday, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned Republicans that fixing immigration is essential to their plans to take the Senate in 2014 and recapture the White House in 2016.

“If you are against the fastest-growing voting bloc in the country, you and your party don’t have a future,” Bloomberg said flatly at a forum on immigration Friday with Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, who served in President George W. Bush’s administration.

“The principles they lay out I’m sure won’t satisfy everybody,” Bloomberg said. But, he added, “if we can make some compromises here for the good of the country, I think we have a very good chance for the first time in a long time of changing something that is really damaging all of us.”

Boehner’s plan is designed to assuage concerns of conservative Republicans who oppose outright citizenship or amnesty for illegal immigrants who arrived in the country as adults, but do not oppose a path toward legalization.

Alfonso Aguilar, of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, said the question now is whether Democrats would kill any plan toward legalization that does not include citizenship. He pointed to a Pew Hispanic Center poll that showed 61 percent of immigrant Latinos place legalization higher on their preferences than citizenship, the Post reported.

Conservative opponents of any compromise on immigration reform had hoped to obstruct the Senate immigration bill in a Senate-House conference committee. However, party leaders appear to be trying to come up with a compromise that circumvents the formal structure of a conference committee, the Times reported.

Meanwhile, House immigration hawks are working on an alternative to Boehner’s proposal, Breitbart reported. 

On Thursday, aides to House conservatives who oppose the leadership’s plan gathered in the office of Sen. Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama and a fierce opponent of the immigration push, to plot a strategy to torpedo it.

Rep. Raúl R. Labrador, a Republican of Idaho and once a leading immigration negotiator in the House, told the Times it would be a mistake to push forward.

“The president has shown he’s not willing to work with us on immigration,” Labrador said. “It’s not worth having a party divided when we have so many issues we can come together on.”

Still, many Republicans — especially governors like Snyder — are thought to favor an rapid, comprehensive overhaul of the system.

“We need comprehensive immigration reform. To be blunt, we have a dumb system,” said Snyder, who described efforts in Michigan to grant visas to immigrants for work. He said it would “turbo-charge” the economy in places like Detroit.

Gutierrez said that without immigration overhaul, “our workforce down the road doesn’t grow,” and argued that there was increasing recognition within the GOP that it must be the party of immigration.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the No. 3 leader in the House, expressed support this week for legalization for many of the immigrants here illegally while Democrats have pressed for a path to citizenship.

An unusual coalition of business, labor and evangelicals has lobbied hard for immigration legislation. Thomas Donohue, president of the Chamber of Commerce, has said immigration overhaul is a top priority this year. Donohue met with Boehner last week.

The issue is also crucial to several House Republicans whose districts have seen an increase in Hispanics and who are concerned about their re-election chances.

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., who met with Boehner earlier this month, said the speaker is “very committed to getting it done and getting it done this year. He quoted Boehner as saying, “There’s no good time to do it, so let’s just get it done now.'”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


NYC’s de Blasio Set to Unveil Most Sweeping Liberal Agenda in a Generation.

Image: NYC's de Blasio Set to Unveil Most Sweeping Liberal Agenda in a Generation

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, propelled by a landslide election and the hopes of a party out of power for a generation, will be quickly unveiling an ambitious liberal legislative program that could fundamentally reshape the role of government in the nation’s largest city.

De Blasio, a Democrat whose efforts will be closely watched and potentially imitated across the nation, is wasting no time. He has begun pushing for sweeping changes on several fronts, from the care of the homeless to police conduct, all while trying to leverage his political capital into a proposal that would be unthinkable for most politicians: to raise taxes.

“He’s trying to send a strong signal that he is going to be ambitious in his legislative goals,” said Costas Panagopoulos, a political science professor at Fordham University. “It’s a bold, risky strategy. He’s not at all trying to move in small steps.”

Editor’s Note: 18.79% Annual Returns . . . for Life? 

The centerpiece of his first year in office is to fund universal prekindergarten and expanded after-school programs for middle school students by raising taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers. His proposal would increase the income tax rate from 3.9 to 4.4 percent on residents who earn more than $500,000 annually.

But the mayor of New York can’t raise taxes unilaterally and needs the support of the state Legislature and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. So de Blasio, both as mayor-elect and then after taking office, has devoted an enormous amount of time and energy to pushing the plan.

He and his staff have wooed lawmakers both in New York and in Albany. He has applied pressure through the media and trotted out a grassroots lobbying effort and powerful labor unions that support the idea. Cuomo has embraced the concept of universal pre-K, touting it again in his State of the State speech last week, but appears leery of raising any taxes.

And the tax hike has become key for de Blasio, who has repeatedly said he wants a dedicated revenue stream — not a one-time budget maneuver — to pay for the plan. As the hike on the rich plays well in liberal circles, de Blasio has refused to even consider alternative means of funding the pre-K plan.

De Blasio ran a very liberal campaign to survive the left-leaning Democratic mayoral primary and didn’t track to the center in the general election, refusing to budge from his plan to battle the city’s income inequality problem, which he dubbed “The tale of two cities.” He captured 73 percent of the vote on Election Day, posting the largest margin of victory by a non-incumbent while becoming the first Democrat to be elected mayor since 1989.

“Now I know there are those who think that what I said during the campaign was just rhetoric, just ‘political talk’ in the interest of getting elected,” he said during his inauguration speech. “So let me be clear: When I said we would take dead aim at the ‘tale of two cities,’ I meant it. And we will do it.”

To help pass his sweeping agenda, he helped install a partner at the controls of city government who shares much of his liberal ideology. De Blasio took the unusual step of forcefully interjecting himself into the City Council speaker race, lobbying councilmembers to defy the wishes of their party bosses to install Melissa Mark-Viverito as speaker.

After weeks of wheeling and dealing, she was voted in unanimously Wednesday.

De Blasio’s administration, while still not entirely filled out, believes it has the political capital to pursue multiple items on the agenda even as the future of the pre-K plan remains uncertain.

Many of his initiatives have long been pushed by liberals across the city and are a clean break from the policies set out by his predecessor Michael Bloomberg.

In the first days of his administration, de Blasio loosened the restrictions allowing access to homeless shelters, reversing a Bloomberg decision that would not let families stay in a city-run facility if they had relatives nearby who could theoretically provide them a place to stay. The number of homeless dramatically increased during Bloomberg’s time in office, and de Blasio, who says he was moved by a recent series in The New York Times about the plight of one 11-year-old girl, has pledged further changes.

The new mayor also campaigned on a promise to mend frayed relations between the police and some minority neighborhoods that he believes was caused by an overreliance on the police tactic known as stop and frisk. Critics say the police tactic to stop anyone they deem suspicious unfairly targets blacks and Hispanics.

Although de Blasio hired a proponent of stop and frisk, William Bratton, to be his police commissioner, both men have pledged to better explain the use of the tactic. De Blasio has also vowed to drop the Bloomberg administration’s objections to a pair of watchdogs — both an independent general and a federal monitor — who have been tasked with overseeing the NYPD. That could happen as early as next week.

In the first months of his term, de Blasio also aims to save a pair of Brooklyn hospitals on the brink of closing, perhaps by brokering a deal that would transform them into smaller urgent-care units.

And by year’s end, de Blasio — with help from the City Council — hopes to push liberal favorites like expanding paid sick days and living wage legislation and begin creating 200,000 new units of affordable housing.

All of his moves will be eyed by Democrats in power in other cities, and those eyeing the White House, as the party appears to shift to the left before the 2016 presidential election.

“Even if all of his moves aren’t emulated, other (Democratic) politicians will be watching to try and avoid potential pitfalls,” Panagopoulos said. “But what they may find is that the liberal environment to support those changes is unique to New York City.”

Editor’s Note: 18.79% Annual Returns . . . for Life? 

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Bill Clinton Swears in de Blasio as NYC Mayor.

Image: Bill Clinton Swears in de Blasio as NYC MayorBill de Blasio is sworn in as the mayor of New York City on Jan. 1 by former President Bill Clinton while de Blasio’s family, Chiara de Blasio, Dante de Blasio, and wife Chirlane McCray look on.

Bill de Blasio, an unabashed liberal Democrat who campaigned to reduce the gap between New York City’s rich and poor, was formally inaugurated on Wednesday as the city’s 109th mayor at a ceremony on the steps of City Hall.Former President Bill Clinton administered the oath of office using a Bible once used by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

De Blasio had been sworn in earlier, just after midnight, at a ceremony at his home in Brooklyn.

He succeeds Michael Bloomberg, who led the city in the aftermath of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and the recession six years later. Bloomberg’s policies have been credited with making the city safer, greener and more livable.

Bloomberg, who is leaving City Hall after 12 years, has said he plans to take a two-week vacation in Hawaii and New Zealand with his longtime girlfriend, Diana Taylor.

Then, the billionaire, who has homes in Bermuda and London, has said he will focus on his charitable foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and remain active in public health, gun control and government innovation.

Running for office, de Blasio presented himself as an anti-Bloomberg candidate, decrying the “tale of two cities” that he said has emerged as New York shed its reputation, from the 1970s and 1980s, as a gritty and dangerous place.

After a resounding victory in November with more than 70 percent of the vote, de Blasio pledged to confront an affordability gap that has left those in the middle and bottom rungs of the economic ladder struggling to pay for basic services such as housing and mass transit.

“When I said we would take dead aim at the tale of two cities, I meant it. And we will do it,” de Blasio said in excerpts of his inaugural speech released beforehand.

“That mission — our march towards a fairer, more just, more progressive place, our march to keep the promise of New York alive for the next generation — it begins today,” he said.

Over the last decade, as the city prospered, apartment rents in New York City rose about 44 percent and the cost of a monthly Metro Card jumped 60 percent.

De Blasio has made some major promises, including a signature proposal to create universal access to pre-Kindergarten and middle school after-school programs, and his critics are likely to seize quickly on his ability to deliver.

“We will ask the very wealthy to pay a little more in taxes so that we can offer full-day universal pre-K, and after-school programs for every middle school student,” de Blasio said in the prepared remarks. “We do not ask more of the wealthy to punish success. We do it to create more success stories.”

Those programs depend on approval by state lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo of an income tax increase on the city’s highest earners. Cooperation from Albany is far from assured.

De Blasio has also pledged to improve police and community relations to extend New York’s historic drop in crime as well as to fight the closing of community hospitals.

While Bloomberg has left the city with no budget deficit for the current fiscal year, contracts for all of the public sector unions have expired.

In a news conference on Tuesday, de Blasio said he hoped to have the new contracts in place within a year.

De Blasio began his career in government working under David Dinkins, the city’s first black mayor who was elected in 1986 and was the last Democrat to hold the post.

In 2000, when former U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton ran for U.S. senator in New York, de Blasio was her campaign manager.

He went on to serve two terms on the New York City Council and four years ago was elected public advocate – a citywide office with a budget of just $2 million that is generally seen as a springboard for the job of mayor.

On Wednesday, the city’s new comptroller, Scott Stringer, and its new public advocate, Letitia James, also were sworn in. Both are Democrats and close allies of de Blasio.© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.


Facebook’s Zuckerberg Tops 2013 Charitable Giving List.

Image: Facebook's Zuckerberg Tops 2013 Charitable Giving List

By Andrea Billups

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg led the way on the giving list for U.S. philanthropists, gifting a Silicon Valley foundation with nearly $1 billion along with his wife, Priscilla Chan.

Zuckerberg, 29, who founded the social media website while a student at Harvard, offered the Silicon Valley Community Foundation 18 million in Facebook shares, totaling about $992 million.

The youthful social media pioneer joins 14 other big ticket donors in the U.S., including outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and businessman and political activist David Koch, who were among those giving away at least $100 million of their fortunes at one time, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which released its annual charitable giving list Wednesday.

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Zuckerberg is the first person aged under 30 to top the list of biggest givers.

The year’s top 15 donors gave a total of $3.4 billion, the Chronicle noted, calling 2013 “notable because of a strong rebound in the number of gifts of $100-million or more.” The total amount of gifts of $100 million or more reached $9.6 billion —a jump of more than one-third over the 2012 figure.

Universities were the big gainers with 12 of the 15 biggest gifts going to higher-education institutes. The University of Michigan received two of those.

Zuckerberg made the same donation last year, 18 million shares of Facebook stock, but in 2012, those shares were valued at much less, worth under $500 million, Forbes reported. With stocks making significant gains in 2013, Facebook shares rebounded as well, nearly doubling Zuckerberg’s net worth from $12.5 billion last year to $25 billion this year.

Nike chairman Phil Knight came in second on the 2013 list, giving $500 million to the Oregon Health & Science University Foundation for cancer research. Outgoing New York mayor Bloomberg was third pledging $350 million to Johns Hopkins University and financier Charles Johnson was fourth for his offered $250 million pledge to Yale.

The others on the list are: Real estate developer Stephen Ross, $200 million pledge to the University of Michigan; real-estate heiress Muriel Block, $160 million bequest to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Yeshiva University; real-estate develoeper John Arrillaga, $151 million pledge to Stanford University; Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs, $133 million pledge to Cornell NYC Tech; Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Charles Munger, $110 million pledge to University of Michigan; David Koch, $100 million pledge to New York-Presbyterian Hospital; real-estate developer Frank McCourt, $100 million pledge to Georgetown University; investor Ronald Perelman, $100 million pledge to Columbia Business School; United National Corporation chairman T. Denny Sanford, $100 million pledge to the University of California at San Diego; financier Stephen Schwarzman, $100 million pledge to Tsinghua University; and real-estate heiress Deborah Joy Simon, $100 million pledge to Mercersburg Academy.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Cuomo Fighting de Blasio over NYC Council Speaker.

By Lisa Barron

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has apparently picked his first fight with Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s by trying to stop his liberal pick for City Council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito.

The Democratic governor has been trying to drum up support instead for Councilman Dan Garodnick, Councilwoman Mark-Viverito’s opponent in the race for the city’s second most powerful position, the New York Post reported Monday.

“It’s certainly not in Cuomo’s political interest to have another left-wing activist along with de Blasio running the city,” a Democratic city leader told the Post of Cuomo’s effort to upset de Blasio’s endorsement of Mark-Viverito. “The sense is that Cuomo wants to see de Blasio defeated on this one, so that he’ll start off as mayor weaker and not stronger, relative to the governor.”

Cuomo, first elected in 2010, has recently launched his 2014 re-election campaign, presenting himself as an economic moderate.

“The governor, who wants to run for president, doesn’t want to see the city turned into a People’s Republic of New York at the same time as he’s trying to make the state at least look like it’s business friendly,” a political observer told the Post, referring to .

De Blasio, who has called for higher taxes on the wealthy, endorsed Mark-Viverito, one of his strongest supporters in the mayoral election, for speaker earlier this month.

“The mayoral meddling in Council business was unsurprising but unseemly, especially from someone who used to accuse Speaker Christine Quinn of being too close to Mayor Michael Bloomberg,” wrote the New York Times Editorial Board on Sunday.

“Now we’re about to get a speaker with an enormous debt to the mayor, leading a legislative body that is supposed to be an independent counterweight to the executive.”

The Times editorial continued, “Meanwhile, there are 50 others in the council who need to remember that electing speaker is their decision, not any party boss’s or mayor’s. It is their institution whose role and reputation they are bound to protect.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Justice Sotomayor to Drop Ball, Not Gavel, on 2014 Times Square Countdown.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor will take center stage among about 1 million revelers in New York‘s Times Square to usher in 2014 by pressing the button to lower the iconic countdown ball, organizers said on Sunday.

New York native Sotomayor will join pop star Lady Gaga, boxing great Muhammad Ali as well as Bill and Hillary Clinton among those who have had the honor of starting the ball drop, which organizers said will be watched by an estimated 1 billion people around the world.

Sotomayor was chosen for her achievements and rise from humble beginnings in the Bronx to become the first Hispanic appointed to the country’s highest court, organizers said.

“She’s an inspirational and aspirational choice,” said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, which organizes the annual event.

The first Supreme Court justice chosen for the honor is scheduled to be in the global glare a few minutes after provocative pop star Miley Cyrus finishes a performance.

One regular guest who will not be in the crowd is outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg. After 12 years in office, Bloomberg opted to spend his final hours as mayor celebrating privately with friends and family, Tompkins said.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

De Blasio to be Sworn In by Bill Clinton.

Bill de Blasio will be sworn in as mayor of New York City by former President Bill Clinton.

The Democrat will be inaugurated as the 109th mayor of the nation’s largest city during a ceremony Wednesday on the City Hall steps.

His transition team announced Saturday that he will be sworn in by the former president. De Blasio worked in Clinton’s administration in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Clinton will use a Bible once owned by another former president, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The de Blasio transition team says former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also will attend the New Year’s Day ceremony.

De Blasio managed her successful 2000 Senate campaign.

De Blasio is succeeding Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is leaving office after three terms.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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