TIME Congress

Video: Congressional Committee Hijinx

Since the dawn of the C-SPAN era, members of Congress have used the ever-present cameras to their advantage: for fundraising, for television ads, for testimonials on their websites.

But the flip side of that is those same cameras catch some scenes no elected member would like to have out in the public domain: flippant statements, mental flubs or, as Senator Dan Coats, an Indiana Republican, found out this week, wandering into the wrong hearing and asking off topic questions.

Let the record show: Congress can be incredibly whacky, as these videos prove.

TIME Congress

The Bill To Ban Stalking Apps Would Ban More Than Stalking Apps

Secretary Of State Kerry And Treasury Secretary Lew Brief Capitol Hill Lawmakers On Iran
Senator Al Franken speaks during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee December 11, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Alex Wong—Getty Images

It sounds like a simple idea: Outlaw technology that allows stalkers to trace your movements without permission. But advertisers are worried it goes too far.

Late last month, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken introduced a bill to ban so-called “stalking apps,” hidden programs that predators can use to track the location of victims by hijacking their smartphone geolocation data. For Franken, it was a do-over, with slightly tweaked legislative language. His first attempt, before the 2012 election, failed to make it to the Senate floor, in part because of concerns from deep pocketed interest groups.

None of those groups, of course, were advocating for the rights of stalkers. The opposition arose because the original bill did more than outlaw smartphone apps for creeps. As the bill’s title suggests, “The Location Privacy Protection Act” is a volley in the privacy wars, pitting privacy advocates against corporations, governments and stalkers alike in the fight to retain control over the increasingly rich trail of personal information we leave behind in our digital detritus.

“My commonsense bill will help a whole range of people—including victims of domestic violence and stalking victim,” Sen. Franken, chairman of the Senate subcommittee on privacy and technology, said in a statement announcing the new bill. “My bill would finally put an end to GPS stalking apps that allow abusers to secretly track their victims. It would also give consumers more control over their very sensitive location data.”

It’s hard to say how many people exactly have been the victims of GPS stalking. A Wall Street Journal analysis of a Department of Justice Report using data from 2006, found that “more than 25,000” U.S. adults were the victims of GPS stalking every year. But in 2006, only about 6% of the cell phones sold in the U.S. were smartphones, the sort with geo-location capabilities; many of those counted in 2006 may have been stalked with simpler GPS trackers, like the kind you can stick under a car. As late as 2011, only 35% of U.S. adults owned smartphones, according to the Pew Research Center. By, 2013 that number was 56%.

The apps in question give the aspiring stalker information on the locations of their mark, and they are marketed with names along the lines of “Girlfriend Tracker” or “EZ Spy.” (To find the real names, you will have to look elsewhere.) Some are keen enough to couch their apps as services for monitoring for small children or errant employees while others are more direct, emphasizing cheating spouses.

“We see tons of cases where abusers and stalkers use apps to stalk their victims,” said Cindy Southworth of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Sometimes an app store can be convinced to stop hosting a GPS tracking app, she said, but “it’s sort of like wack-a-mole.” Ilse Knecht, of the National Center for Victims of Crime, also said she sees numerous cases of people—usually, though not always, women—stalked via GPS tracker apps.

But what is a clear cut case of privacy violations for victims-rights advocates is a matter of commerce for many emerging technology companies. In fact, the initial bill would not just impact stalkers. “If that were just in and of itself the bill, we could happily support that,” said Sarah Hudgins, public policy director for the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade group for the digital advertising industry. “Unfortunately, it’s sort of two bills in one.”

The IAB objects to restrictions the bill places on an aspect of their industry likely to become increasingly important in the future: mobile marketing, wherein an advertiser tailors ads to the location of a smartphone user, like a special deal at a coffee shop nearby, for example. Though still a nascent sector of the advertising business at large, many in the industry believe mobile marketing could be the Next Big Thing for digital advertising.

Franken’s 2012 bill has been altered to reflect some ad industry concerns. A requirement that any apps collecting your location data disclose the specific companies to whom they’re selling the data, for example, has been eased to disclosing just the “categories” of companies. A cap of $1 million has been placed on damages for negligent violations, whereas no cap existed before. Still, as it exists today, Hudgins said, IAB does not support Franken’s measure.

What’s next for the bill is unclear and the measure has not yet been fully taken up in the House. The 2012 version enjoyed strong support, however, and this iteration may well come to a Senate floor vote even with out the support of digital advertisers. “All we’re saying,” said Knecht, of the National Center for Victims of Crime, “is, basically, you have to get somebody’s permission before you can get their geo-location information.”

TIME Congress

Mike Rogers Says Obama Has Gone ‘Kinder, Gentler’ Against al-Qaeda

Mike Rogers
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., at a press conference in Washington, March 25, 2014. J. Scott Applewhite—AP

The retiring House Intelligence Committee chief tells TIME that Obama is leaving terrorists "on the battlefield," and explains his charge that Edward Snowden is "under the influence" of Russia's security service

When you think of spring break, you probably don’t envision a congressional hearing on Benghazi. But politics runs deep in the home of Mike Rogers, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, whose college-age son is spending his time off from school in Washington, D.C., this month, and who attended the hearing his dad convened Wednesday on the 2012 tragedy in Libya that Republicans call a scandal and Democrats a dead horse. “Don’t give him any ideas,” Rogers said with a chuckle when TIME suggested to his son that spring break should be enjoyed on a Florida beach, not in a Rayburn building hearing room.

It’s actually the elder Rogers who’s about to enjoy a good time. After more than a decade in Congress, the Michigan Republican announced last week that he’s leaving the Hill at the end of this year to become a talk-radio host, with a national show syndicated by Cumulus Media. The salary is undisclosed, but presumably large enough for a few luxurious beach vacations. And for a man who loves to talk — Rogers has long been a fixture on political television — the new gig should be a breeze.

Nor does Rogers seem to be foreclosing a political future, unlike the countless members of Congress who jump to lucrative influence-peddling jobs. “I don’t think I’m done with government service,” Rogers said with a knowing smile, before unsubtly offering that his show will reach primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. (Presidential intention or PR gimmick? You decide.)

For now, though, Rogers is still in the thick of it — consumed by the parade of horribles on view in his regular classified briefings, fretting about America’s myriad vulnerabilities. In a TIME Newsmaker interview, Rogers talked about which threats worry him most, his belief that President Barack Obama has gone too soft on al-Qaeda and just what he means when he says Edward Snowden is “under the influence” of Russian officials. Here’s a partial transcript:

You just held yet another hearing on Benghazi, this one featuring former deputy CIA director Michael Morell. So much has been said about that night already — did you really take away anything new?

The takeaway is that the CIA had all the relevant information. There was confusion in the day or day after the attack, but it started to gel that this was an al-Qaeda extremist event — yet the narrative of the Administration never changed.

Isn’t one reason the Benghazi debate never ends that people disagree about whether it’s correct to call it an “al-Qaeda event”? Even if people with al-Qaeda connections were involved, that doesn’t mean it was planned and organized by core al-Qaeda leaders. Which is what the New York Times reported in December.

That all went out the window today when the deputy director of the CIA said that the reason he removed references to al-Qaeda from the talking points was because they had sources that said al-Qaeda participated in the event, and in their mind they didn’t want to disclose those sources. [See here for more on Morell’s testimony and this dispute.]

We have numerous people that we know participated in the Benghazi attacks affiliated with al-Qaeda that are still on the battlefield. We have the capacity to get them but there’s no planning to get them. We have other serious al-Qaeda threats that normally we would take off the battlefield, but because of this Administration’s more kinder, gentler approach we have not done that.

What do you mean by a “kinder, gentler” approach? Is that because the pace of drone strikes seems to have slowed?

I’m not allowed to talk about specific programs. But I can tell you that there are ways that we have taken people off the battlefield that have been disruptive to their ability to plan operations, and there are cases where we are no longer doing that.

And if you have serious al-Qaeda players remaining on the battlefield because of bureaucracy created here, that’s a problem. We know from the 9/11 Commission that once nothing happened after the U.S.S. Cole was bombed in 2000, the psychology of that empowered al-Qaeda and led them to do bigger and bolder things. Which led to 9/11.

The old slogan is that Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive, and that al-Qaeda core is going away. Which is inconsistent with the facts that we know. And it concerns me that it is translated into policy. If you tell everybody that works for you that al-Qaeda’s not that big a threat, well, guess what? Their decisions will reflect that.

You get classified briefings. Apart from al-Qaeda, what worries you the most?

Oh, which one? Cyber is the biggest national-security threat I’ve ever seen, one that we’re not prepared to deal with. Disengaging the size and scope of our military has sent a pretty awful message — it has said to countries they can invade their neighbors without fear of retribution. Radiological material, black-market issues around the world. Iran’s interest in getting a nuclear weapon.

How about bioterror? Not everyone thinks it’s a serious threat.

I do worry. It’s cheap. That’s worrisome. I did a biodefense bill to stockpile prophylactics. I still worry about it, because we know it’s out there and we know that al-Qaeda has talked about trying to get their hands on it.

You have said that Edward Snowden is “under the influence” of Russian officials. What does that mean, exactly? That they house him? Pay him? Recruited him? People say you’re casting aspersions without evidence.

The NSA contractor is definitely under the influence of Russian officials. We know that he was in China, Hong Kong anyway, and in Russia today. We have seen patterns and activities that lead us to believe that some or all of that information is being worked through by those intelligence services and putting the U.S. at risk.

“The NSA contractor” — you don’t use his name?

I think people have wrongly given him some elevated status, and he has some kind of an underground rock-star status. He’s a traitor who puts our soldiers lives at risk.

So what exactly does “under the influence” of Russian officials mean?

First of all, he’s living about a mile from the FSB [Russian security service] facilities. We know he has regular conversations with the FSB. And remember we have a long history of both KGB and FSB operations, we know how they work. The FSB grabbed a guy off the street in Kiev who was involved in the street protests, cut his ear off, drilled a hole in his hand — all to make him confess that he took money from the Americans to foment problems in Kiev. This wasn’t 1950, it wasn’t 1960, wasn’t 1970. This was this year.

So we see how they get people to cooperate, the kind of tactics that they use. And it is absolutely naive to believe that this guy who we know has been in the custody of intelligence agents of the Russian Federation, who has been housed in the joint facility, who got permission to go to work — that’s just not happening without their approval.

You’re saying he’s housed in a “joint facility”?

No, no, not a joint facility. He’s housed very near an FSB facility. Makes it convenient for everybody.

And remember we have other classified ways as well. That’s why no counterintelligence official does not believe that today he’s under the influence.

But that’s not the debate. The debate is, when did it start? Did it start in 2010 when he was taking classes in India, and made it known — in a place that is frequented by Russian intelligence officials — made it very clear that he was working for a U.S. intelligence agency? We don’t know, exactly. The FBI would call that a clue. In the spy business you call that a dangle.

We have other cases, you can go back and look at the history of profiles of someone who did not get along with co-workers, who had employment-history problems. This guy fits the profile to a T. I get worried when people want to think he’s something different than he is.

You took over the House Intelligence Committee in January 2011. Is the average American more or less safe today?

Oof. [Pauses.] Again, there are counterterrorism policies that I disagree with that I argue put us in a more dangerous position today. On this committee, I think the oversight is far better, I think the budgeting is far better. We chased partisanship out of the committee.

We engaged in constructive investigations — the Huawei investigation, for example, where it was darn close that the Chinese government was going to own the pipes through which all our private information traveled within the United States. And that is no longer the case, because of the work of our report. We have moved the country to a better place to be better protected on a whole host of threats.

Will you have more influence as a talk-radio host than you do as a Congressman?

The opportunity is pretty significant. It’s across the country. It’s talking to people every single day to develop a relationship. The kinds of things I was able to do at the committee never get talked about. This notion that if we just hide under our desks, the rest of the world will leave us alone and we’ll have a prosperous nation is dangerous. And that perspective is there on both the right and the left.

I think more people will tune in, and we’ll have better, more fired-up and productive conservatives at the end of the day.

And if a Republican is elected in 2016, will you return to run the CIA, FBI or Department of Homeland Security?

I never say never. I don’t think I’m done with government service. We’ll see what role it takes.

I look forward to the opportunity to talk to people in Iowa and New Hampshire too, that’d be nice. And of course New Mexico, Michigan and South Carolina. ["Ooo-kay," an aide says warily, ending the interview on schedule. Rogers laughs.]

This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity and readability.

TIME Congress

Lobbyists Push Congress to Curb Misleading Photoshopped Ads

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif. speaks at a news conference, March 20, 2012.
Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif. speaks at a news conference, March 20, 2012. Tom Williams—CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Fashion and beauty ads where the physical appearance of subjects is dramatically altered can have a dire effect on the health outcomes of young people, say anti-eating disorder groups. A bill introduced last month could prompt the FTC to investigate

Lobbyists concerned with the way digitally altered advertisements impact young women and girls took to Capitol Hill on Thursday to rally support for a new bill.

Members of the Eating Disorders Coalition met with over 50 lawmakers about the Truth in Advertising Act of 2014, introduced on March 27, which they say could prompt the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the impact digitally retouched images have on society.

Seth Matlins, a marketer who works to promote positive images of women and girls, said Thursday he’s concerned about “ads that take Kim Kardashian’s body and make it Miley Cyrus’s.”

“If photoshopped ads told the same bold-faced lies that they do on images there would be regulatory action,” Matlins said during a briefing on the lobbying effort. “Truth in advertising matters because we can no longer sit by and allow this to happen.”

The problem for the Eating Disorders Coalition isn’t the ads themselves; it’s the altered images the ads present. The group handed out before and after images of advertisements from fashion houses like Ralph Lauren and Lancôme that they claimed showed the insidious effect of digital alterations. Speakers, who included a former Photoshop professional who referred to himself as an “eye-con,” told personal stories of how altered images had affected people around them.

Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), a co-sponsor of the new bill, said during the briefing that as a mother and as a school nurse in her home state she had seen the impact altered fashion ads can have on young girls. She acknowledged the bill faced an uphill battle to gain widespread support in today’s Congress, but said there was a historical precedent for action.

“Just as with cigarette ads in the past, fashion ads portray a twisted, ideal image for young women,” she said. “And they’re vulnerable. As sales go up, body image and confidence drops.”

The Eating Disorders Coalition claims the bill is a great first step to preventing some of the negative health outcomes that have been directly linked to these types of images. Though the new bill would not force the Federal Trade Commission to take direct action against advertisers, the federal government would study the use of images where subjects’ physical attributes had been tweaked in order to pursue recommendations on what should be done about it.

Several research studies have found that higher exposure to beauty and fashion magazines increase the likelihood that young girls will develop negative body image and eating disorders. In one study, young girls in Fiji had already begun to develop eating disorders and body image issues only three years after western TV was introduced there.

“The link between false ads and eating disorders becomes increasingly clear every day,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), a co-sponsor of the new bill. “We need to instead empower young men and women to have realistic expectations of their bodies.”

But the Federal Trade Commission already has the authority to keep “unfair and deceptive” commerce away from consumers, and Dan Jaffe of the Association of National Advertisers says the federal government already has more than enough power to protect vulnerable communities from false ads. He argues the law as it stands is actually too broad and that eliminating the use of photoshop would be going too far.

“The use of cosmetics and photoshop are widespread practices,” Jaffe says. “It can’t just be the photoshopping that they go after, it would have to be tied to something specific. Are you just going to say that when ever someone photoshops it’s a per se violation? I think that would be going too far.”

TIME Newsmaker Interview

Exclusive: SEC Chair Mary Jo White On Not Sleeping, Money Markets And The Angry Left

In her first year at the Securities and Exchange Commission, Chair Mary Jo White has toughened enforcement, broken a partisan stalemate over post-crash regulation and launched studies of high frequency trading and market fragmentation. In a profile in this week’s magazine, available to subscribers here, TIME reports on how she has turned the agency around and where she is taking it.

Last month she sat down for an interview with TIME in her office overlooking the U.S. Capitol Building. An edited version follows.

One of the first things you did on arriving at the SEC was to change its settlement policy to require admissions of guilt in certain cases. How did you come to that position?

When I was U.S. Attorney I actually did the first deferred prosecution agreement and in that case I decided admissions really added to the accountability of the purported potential defendant.

The money market fund rule proposed last June broke a rule-making stalemate at the SEC but it was a compromise. Why should everyday Americans have faith that a rule produced by a political compromise will be effective?

Our proposal was based on a very important analysis and study by our economists, and that made a tremendous impact not only on me, but on the other commissioners [by showing that the 2010 reforms] didn’t completely address the phenomenon that we’d seen, the structural vulnerability that we’d seen,during the financial crisis. Second, this is an independent agency, we are deciding this on the merits.

Sen. Sherrod Brown [Democrat of Ohio] said he voted against you in committee in part because he thought you were too close to Wall Street. What do you say to those who say as a white collar defense lawyer you’re predisposed to Wall Street’s view more than the individual investor you’re charged with protecting?

My job here, my duty here, is to serve the American public, obviously, including investors in our markets, and that’s what I do. I started my career in the private sector and then became U.S. attorney. I think I was a stronger U.S. attorney, and I frankly think I am a stronger Chair of the SEC, because of that experience.

You said the policy of requiring admissions of guilt would evolve. What do you mean by that?

I would expect it to expand. There are lots of things you could put into the bucket of “particularly egregious conduct,” which is one of things we consider when seeking admissions. So far we’ve proceeded primarily with admissions against institutions, which I think is appropriate. But one must also think about appropriate cases for individuals too when the conduct was particularly egregious.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren famously grilled your predecessor for not prosecuting big banks.

I think what she was saying was, are they too big to try in court? The answer is they’re not too big to try. If you get everything you ask for in a settlement that the law allows you to have and they agree to it, there’s not going to be a trial. There is a premium that companies of all kinds place on putting the matter behind them. So that’s going to translate into not very many trials because they’re going to give us as the government all the relief we are seeking in a settlement.

Why have you proposed a review of company’s public disclosure procedures? The left is angry.

And they shouldn’t be. All you have to do is read the disclosures that are out there now and be struck by the fact that we can do this better and in a more meaningful way. The idea isn’t less disclosure, the idea is more meaningful disclosure for investors.

The left in general is unhappy. They see you as being overly solicitous to concerns of commissioners on the right and staffers here whom they perceive to be institutionally aligned with prior administrations.

I’m basically merits driven. I’m literally an independent. Apolitical. So that I am not always going to be with the left’s perceived interests or the right’s perceived interests. It’s going to be what I think the right answer is. Look, you have to decide over time, no matter who you are, what I’m about.

One of the things that’s interesting about this job is that it’s unlike being U.S. Attorney, where 90% of what you do, everybody loves. You’re going after bad guys. Here everything you do somebody’s going to dislike. That just kind of goes with the territory I think, and my job is to do what I think is the right thing. Carry out the mission the best way I can.

Is there anything about the market structure that worries you, that keeps you up at night? That makes you feel like there’s an imminent danger to the economy or the markets?

My usual answer to what keeps me up is I don’t sleep. Which is actually true.

How many hours of sleep do you get a night?

About four. That’s always been true. It serves me very well now.

But in terms of the market structure issues, each issue can undermine the confidence in our markets. The fragmentation of markets, dark pools and high frequency traders—it’s important to say that those phenomena are pretty well known.

The impacts, however, are not as well known and the theories about them are all over the lot. And so one of my primary focuses, really since before I walked in the door, was to make sure that we were doing everything we could to fully understand those issues. We do have a lot of safeguards. It’s just a matter of what else do we need to do, to make it even better, more resilient.

Even your friends say that while you’re an expert on enforcement, you’re a novice on market structure and rules.

Every chair and every commissioner has different expertise. The staff, however, has the full range of expertise. So you pick your staff well. You listen to them. You learn. I think I’m a quick study. I also, in my prior life, sat on the NASDAQ board for four years and was exposed to a number of these issues then, including many of the market structure issues. I made a decision about whether, given my particular background, I thought I could do a very strong job here and I certainly made the decision that I could. And I guess time will tell.

What’s your vision for the commission and what you can achieve while you’re here?

Overall vision is that it remains the very strong independent agency that it is, that oversees the fairness and safety of the markets on behalf of companies and investors and that’s really the heart of it. I’d like to see significant progress made on market structure issues. Being perceived as a strong cop on the beat I think is very important on the enforcement side, in terms of the confidence in the safety of our markets and the credibility not just of law enforcement but of government itself.

What does personal success look like?

Did a good job and was a strong leader of a strong agency.

Have you had any conversations with the White House or anybody else about being Attorney General if that job opened up?

I’m not going to talk about specific conversations.I’m here to do this job.

 

TIME General Motors

GM CEO Dodges Questions During Congressional Grilling

GM CEO Mary Barra testifies on Capitol Hill
GM CEO Mary Barra takes her seat on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 1, 2014, prior to testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Evan Vucci—AP

Mary Barra gave few concrete answers to Congress's questions about GM's failure to fix an ignition defect linked to at least 13 deaths

General Motors CEO Mary Barra evaded a series of pointed questions on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, as members of a House panel searched for answers into why the company waited about 10 years before taking drastic action to fix a defective ignition switch now linked to 13 deaths.

Many lawmakers implied that General Motors must have known it had a serious problem, pointing out over 130 related consumer complaints from June 2003 to June 2012, litigation in which confidential settlements were reached, and a move in 2006 made by a GM engineer that slightly improved the switch without also changing the identification number. “Do you think it was a cover-up or it was sloppy work?” charged Representative Marsha Blackburn, the Republican from Tennessee.

But Barra repeatedly dodged that line of questioning, telling lawmakers GM would be able to explain more about the delays after it completed its internal investigation opened a few weeks ago by former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas. Barra told the committee she found out about the defective ignition switch on Jan. 31, after an executive committee made the recall decision. The slow response, she said, was “unacceptable.”

The chief executive officer also sounded a note of contrition, however, apologizing to the families of those killed in GM cars, many of whom were in the audience, and announcing that the company would look into giving compensation to those affected. She said GM had hired Kenneth Feinberg as a consultant, who has handled high-profile compensation issues related to 9/11, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the Boston Marathon bombing. “We are committed to our customers, and we are going to work very hard to do the right thing,” she said.

Barra insisted the company’s culture had changed since this problem had been discovered. “Today, if there is a safety issue, we take action,” said Barra. “If we know there is a defect, we do not look at the cost associated with it, we look at the speed at which we can fix the issue.” Representative Bruce Braley, the Democrat from Iowa, thought that answer was ridiculous, showing for the cameras a 20-year-old promotional screwdriver with the words “safety comes first at GM” etched on it. “Isn’t it true that throughout the history of the company, it has made representations like this to the driving public as a way of inducing them to buy your vehicles?” asked Braley, who added that his son Paul owned a Chevy Cobalt, one of the models recalled. Barra responded that they had over 18 vehicles with a five-star crash rating.

Despite the somber atmosphere, Representative Lee Terry, the Republican from Nebraska, cracked a joke as he began his testimony near the end of the proceedings. “I’m sorry for being late, but my plane was canceled for mechanical reasons, probably an ignition switch,” he said. “U.S. Air.”

Terry later apologized, telling TIME it was an “off-handed comment” that detracted from the substance of the hearing.

 

TIME Budget

New Paul Ryan Budget Cuts Trillions in Spending, Faces Difficult Vote

Paul Ryan
House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., March 6, 2014. Susan Walsh—AP

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has released his fiscal year 2015 budget that would cut $5.1 trillion in spending by repealing Obamacare, eliminating USAID and set aside less funding to fight climate change, among other big reductions

Updated at 4:50pm to include comment from Paul Ryan.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan on Tuesday released his fiscal year 2015 budget, in which he cuts $5.1 trillion in spending, mostly from health care, to balance the budget by 2024.

The budget would repeal ObamaCare, including the money-saving Independent Payment Advisory Board, cutting $1.2 trillion in federal outlays. It turns Medicaid into a block grant program for states, which would save $732 billion over 10 years. It essentially aims to privatize Medicare, offering enrollees in 2024 the choice of a private plan, while raising the age of eligibility and means tests for high income seniors. All told, more than half of the $5.1 trillion would come from health care savings. The document, provided on an embargoed basis to reporters, did not provide detailed budgetary outlays, but rather an overview of the budget’s goals.

As in past budgets, Ryan leaves the Pentagon and the Veterans Affairs Department largely untouched, including only those cuts recommended by the Pentagon itself. In fact, he criticizes President Obama from cutting too much in military spending in his 2015 budget, calling the President funding level “irresponsible.”

While all of this may sound like a Republican, or at least Tea Party, dream, Ryan is expected to have a tough time getting his bill through the House. The measure assumes a 2015 spending baseline as prescribed in the deal he made with Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray earlier this year. That baseline mitigates the sequester cuts and assumes a higher level of spending than House Republicans like. Sixty-two Republicans voted against that deal, which passed on Democratic support. There will be no Democratic votes for the Ryan budget as it includes drastic cuts to programs Democrats seek to protect, which means Ryan must convince those 62 nay votes to support his budget despite the short-term increase in spending.

“Members who may not have supproted the Ryan Murray deal will see this is a much bigger picture, balancing the budget and paying off the debt,” Ryan told reporters on a call Tuesday afternoon. “The good clearly outweighs any other concerns that they might have had.”

Of course, this budget is going nowhere in the Democratically-controlled Senate, which has already announced it would not pass a budget this year citing the two-year deal Murray and Ryan forged earlier this year. Democrats, meanwhile, were gleefully anticipating the Ryan budget, hoping to use some of its more extreme positions against GOP candidates in a midterm election where they are portraying Republicans as unsympathetic to the working class. “The Ryan budget wouldn’t do a thing to help the middle class, and simply attacking Obamacare won’t get them the political victory they seek,” Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said in response to Ryan’s budget on Tuesday. “We’ll put our agenda to give everyone a fair shot by creating jobs and raising wages, against a plan that guts the middle class and replaces Medicare’s guaranteed benefits any day of the week.”

The plan eliminates USAID, moving international aid to the Millennium Challenge Corporation. It also cuts international education exchanges and programs like the East-West Center. In a nod to Benghazi, it maintains increased spending on diplomatic security—8% over 2013 levels.

The budget drastically cuts clean energy and technology funds and funding to fight climate change, while expanding oil and gas drilling on and offshore. It also recommends approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Canada and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

It cuts $23 billion in agriculture subsidies and turns the food stamp program into a block grant program for the states. It trims funding to Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which Ryan says is being abused by the states. It would also slash federal pensions by $125 billion over 10 years. It would eliminate a program to repay federal employees’ student loans, and would encourage attrition in the federal workforce. It would cut welfare programs by $5 billion over 10 years. And it would bar people from receiving both unemployment and disability benefits at the same time, saving $5.4 billion over 10 years. It also eliminates printing costs by switching most records to electronic copies. And it would end election assistance.

The budget would cut funding to the Securities and Exchange Commission, restrict the FDIC’s authority to bail out bank creditors. It would privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and slashes $19 billion from the struggling U.S. Postal Service.

Ryan did not include his “Road Map” recommendation from 2010 to essentially privatize Social Security. In this budget he simply notes the problem in long-term projected shortfalls and calls on Congress and the President to begin working on solutions.

It ends support for Amtrak, cuts some funding for the Transportation Security Administration, eliminates the Community Development Program, cuts funding to the Federal Emergency Management Program, noting that in the last three years 2,400 emergencies have been declared many of those decisions were “not made judiciously.” Ryan recommends reducing FEMA expenses by instilling per capita thresholds.

The budget would streamline job training by getting rid of nearly 50 duplicate and overlapping programs. It would cut funding to Pell Grants by imposing a maximum income eligibility cap, ending funding for less than half-time students and capping the maximum award to $5,730. It would streamline Education Department programs, particularly the 82 programs focusing on teacher quality and calls for major reform to elementary and secondary programs. It would end all federal funding to the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

In a nod to Ryan’s anticipated move to become House Ways and Means Committee chairman, Congress’s top tax writing committee, Ryan included the bones of a tax reform plan he’s likely to push in the next session. That plan repeals the alternative minimum tax, cuts corporate tax rates to 25% and consolidates the seven personal income brackets to just three with a top rate of 25% and a bottom rate of 10%.

TIME Automotive

Congress Pulls GM Over For Failing to Fix Defect

The General Motors logo outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit on Aug. 25, 2009.
The General Motors logo outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit on Aug. 25, 2009. Jeff Kowalsky—Reuters

A House subcommittee investigating the recall of 2.6 million Chevy Cobalts and other cars says GM ignored or dismissed several warnings about the danger of a defective ignition switch for a decade, and that regulators were also asleep at the switch

General Motors in 2005 twice neglected to fix a defect in ignition switches that has forced the company to recall 2.6 million cars and a federal regulator failed to investigate warnings about the defect, a congressional memo said Sunday.

The memo, released by the House subcommittee investigating the case, said that both engineers and the automobile giant’s brand quality division investigated the defect and proposed possible fixes during the spring of 2005. Some solutions were deemed too costly and time consuming to implement, while at least one other was canceled after initially being approved.

The faulty ignition switch, which has caused the Chevrolet Cobalt and other model cars to stall and has disabled the air bags and power steering, has been linked to 13 deaths.

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee is currently investigating why General Motors didn’t recall the cars before this year, as the company first became aware of the problem in 2001 and was warned that the defect was linked to four fatal crashes in 2007. The company’s CEO Mary Barra will testify before the subcommittee in charge of the investigation on Tuesday and participate in a Senate hearing Wednesday, while an official from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also testifying before lawmakers this week.

TIME Mike Rogers

Mike Rogers Won’t Rule Out 2016 Run

The Republican Congressman and House Intelligence Committee chairman is stepping down from politics at the end of this year to host a talk-radio show focusing on national-security issues

House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers, the Republican from Michigan, is stepping down from politics for now, but he hasn’t ruled out a 2016 bid for President.

Rogers is giving up his seat in Congress at the end of the year to host a talk-radio show focusing on national-security issues. In a Sunday interview with Rogers, Fox News’ Chris Wallace mentioned that President Ronald Reagan had a radio gig before running for the White House.

“Ronald Reagan used his platform on radio to run for President of the United States? I had no idea, Chris,” replied Rogers with a coy, joking smile. “I’m going to take it where it goes.”

Rogers went on to say he hopes his future in national radio will help him “move the needle” on policy debate.

TIME Congress

Top Intelligence Lawmaker to Retire

Mike Rogers is stepping away from Congress and stepping up to a microphone

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of his term for a new career in talk radio.

“As I close this chapter please know that I am not finished with the effort to bring back American ‘exceptionalism,’” Rogers said in a note to supporters. “Not in the sense of a great notion, but in the sense of impacting the hopes and dreams of a great nation and her people. You may have lost my vote in Congress but not my voice. I look forward to building on our successes and confronting America’s challenges together.”

Rogers, a Republican, has represented part of southwest Michigan since 2001, and has risen in prominence from a FBI special agent to a frequent Sunday talk show guest as a fierce defender of the National Security Agency. After the disclosure of mass NSA domestic surveillance programs by leaker and former contractor Edward Snowden, Rogers and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence committee, released a proposal earlier this week to scale back the NSA’s bulk collection of data on Americans’ phone calls, a significant measure compared to just a year ago.

Rogers will start as a radio talk show host for the company Cumulus in January of 2015.

 

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