Take Two for August 30, 2013

Friday Flashback: Syria, immigration reform, Obamacare and more

US-SYRIA-CONFLICT

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

A member of US Secret Service uniform division keeps watch as tourists walk in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on August 29, 2013. US President Barack Obama said Wednesday he had not yet decided whether to strike Syria, but expectations of US military action hardened when Washington said a bid for a last-minute UN mandate was futile.

Obamacare. Immigration. Tackling the deficit, and funding the government. All issues Congress faces as they return from their summer recess next week, and some of the stuff we'll talk about on our weekly news analysis, The Friday Flashback.

Joining us today from Washington, DC, Christina Bellantoni, political editor at PBS Newshour, and here with us at the Mohn Broadcast Center, James Rainey, political columnist for the Los Angeles Times.  

Before we talk about the other issues facing Congress, it's starting to look more and more like the President is moving toward some sort of military strike against Syria. Earlier in the program we talked about how the issue of using force has split California lawmakers, and not really along party lines. Is that true for the Congress as a whole? 

How are Californians, and maybe Americans in general, feeling about using military force against the Assad government?

The Brits have decided not to participate, but the French are ready to go. The French military has put down a coup in Mali, and they were a big factor in Libya. Maybe it would be smart to let them take the lead in Syria? 

Meanwhile, back at home, all those issues facing Congress. Members had a nice long recess. What were some of the more memorable "What I did on my summer vacation" stories coming out of the Congressional delegation?

Let's tick through some of the issues Congress faces in the fall, starting with one we've talked a lot about - immigration reform. Dead? Clinging to some sort of marginal existence? 

The House GOP seems determined to continue hammering away at Obamacare. It looks like they may try to make it an issue in two big upcoming debates: the budget and the debt ceiling. Even though they are pretty united against Obamacare, it seems like at least some Republicans are pretty wary of going to the wall over this, like letting the government shut down or default on its debt. 

The Treasury has warned that the government will run out of money by the end of October is Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling. But House Speaker John Boehner was out talking tough this week. In a speech in Idaho, here's part of what he said:

"I wish I could tell you it was going to be pretty and polite, and it would all be finished a month before we'd ever get to the debt ceiling. Sorry, it just doesn't work that way"

The markets are already spooked by the prospect of another brush with default. Pretty much every time the GOP takes a hard line on this, they wind up bruised. Will anything be different this time around.

There was also the announcement this week that Wal-Mart would allow same-sex partners of employees to participate in company-sponsored health plans. I think you could say that was something of a surprise. What do you make of this?

We had the strike by fast food workers, who are pressing for a major increase in the minimum wage. What are the chances that Congress will increase it?

Yesterday the Washington Post published a series of stories, based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden, about the so-called "black budget" that funds the governments spy operations. And the numbers are pretty staggering. More than $52 billion for 2013.  


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