WBEZ | Politics http://www.wbez.org/news/politics Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Obama administration won't seek to end 529 college tax break http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-administration-wont-seek-end-529-college-tax-break-111466 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr bradley gorden backpacks.PNG" alt="" /><p><div class="storytext storylocation linkLocation" id="storytext"><p>Reversing what had been an unpopular approach, the White House says it is dropping the idea of ending a tax break for 529 college savings plans. Critics had called the proposal a tax hike. All 50 states and the District of Columbia sponsor 529 plans.</p><p>Money in 529 accounts is meant to grow along with future college students, and then be distributed to pay for education expenses without being taxed.</p><p>As <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/01/27/381783199/obama-takes-heat-for-proposing-to-end-college-savings-break">NPR&#39;s Tamara Keith reported</a> this morning, &quot;It&#39;s a pretty good deal, and one that&#39;s been around since 2001. But the White House says fewer than 3 percent of families use these accounts &mdash; and 70 percent of the money in them comes from families earning more than $200,000 a year.&quot;</p><p>Obama&#39;s plan had been to end the tax benefit for future contributions, replacing it with other education and tax proposals. But the idea drew bipartisan criticism, and the White House said today that it will now ask Congress to focus on &quot;a larger package of education tax relief that has bipartisan support,&quot; along with proposals the president mentioned in his State of the Union speech.</p><p>NPR&#39;s Keith confirmed the reversal Tuesday. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/28/us/politics/obama-will-drop-proposal-to-end-529-college-savings-plans.html">The New York Times</a> reported the news today, saying that the president was &quot;facing angry reprisals from parents and from lawmakers of both parties.&quot;</p><p>The move comes a day after Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., <a href="http://lynnjenkins.house.gov/press-releases/reps-jenkins-kind-introduce-legislation-to-expand-strengthen-529-college-savings-plans1/">introduced a bill</a> that would expand college savings plans instead of limiting them.</p><p>Today, Jenkins said her bill would &quot;further promote college access and eliminate barriers for middle class families to save and plan ahead. It would also modernize the program by allowing students to purchase a computer using their 529 funds.&quot;</p><p>House Speaker John Boehner, who had urged Obama to keep the 529 plans intact, says he&#39;s glad the president &quot;listened to the American people and withdrew his proposed tax hike on college savings.&quot; He added, &quot;This tax would have hurt middle-class families already struggling to get ahead.&quot;</p><p>Aides familiar with the conversations tell NPR&#39;s Keith that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urged preserving the 529 provisions today, as she traveled with the president on Air Force One from India to Saudi Arabia.</p><p>You can read about 529 plans at the <a href="http://www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/intro529.htm">SEC website</a>, as well as at the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/uac/529-Plans:-Questions-and-Answers">IRS site</a>.</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/01/27/381967958/obama-administration-won-t-seek-to-end-529-college-tax-break" target="_blank">via NPR</a></em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-administration-wont-seek-end-529-college-tax-break-111466 Why aren’t there more Latinos on TV? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/why-aren%E2%80%99t-there-more-latinos-tv-111465 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/0127_cristela-abc-624x415.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The big four television networks have made progress in diversifying their casts, but only among African-American actors. That&rsquo;s according to recent numbers compiled by the Associated Press.</p><p>Latinos represent about 17&nbsp;percent of the American population, but on network T.V., that group represents less than 10&nbsp;percent of characters.</p><p>NPR TV Critic <strong>Eric Deggans</strong> joins <em><a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/" target="_blank">Here &amp; Now&rsquo;</a></em>s Lisa Mullins to discuss why it might be that&nbsp;Latino Americans continue to be snubbed in casting, in spite of the fact they tend to consume more media by percentage than another other group.</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/01/27/latinos-television-casting" target="_blank">via Here &amp; Now</a></em></p></p> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/why-aren%E2%80%99t-there-more-latinos-tv-111465 To protect his son, a father asks school to bar unvaccinated children http://www.wbez.org/news/protect-his-son-father-asks-school-bar-unvaccinated-children-111464 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rhett-1_slide-c10ff261cacc06cbd89faaa50e63cda63bfc99b4-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Carl Krawitt has watched his son, Rhett, now 6, fight leukemia for the past 4 1/2 years. For more than three of those years, Rhett has undergone round after round of chemotherapy. Last year he finished chemotherapy, and doctors say he is in remission.</p><p>Now, there&#39;s a new threat, one that the family should not have to worry about: measles.</p><p>Rhett cannot be vaccinated, because his immune system is still rebuilding. It may be months more before his body is healthy enough to get all his immunizations. Until then, he depends on everyone around him for protection &mdash; what&#39;s known as <a href="http://blogs.kqed.org/stateofhealth/2013/08/23/5-things-you-should-know-about-vaccines/" target="_blank">herd immunity</a>.</p><p>But Rhett lives in Marin County, Calif., a county with the <a href="http://ww2.kqed.org/news/2013/08/21/marin-vaccinations/" target="_blank">dubious honor of having the highest rate of &quot;personal belief exemptions&quot;</a> in the Bay Area and among the highest in the state. This school year, 6.45 percent of children in Marin have a personal belief exemption, which allows parents to lawfully send their children to school unvaccinated against communicable diseases like measles, polio, whooping cough and more</p><p>Carl Krawitt has had just about enough. &quot;It&#39;s very emotional for me,&quot; he said. &quot;If you choose not to immunize your own child and your own child dies because they get measles, OK, that&#39;s your responsibility, that&#39;s your choice. But if your child gets sick and gets my child sick and my child dies, then ... your action has harmed my child.&quot;</p><p>Krawitt is taking action of his own. His son attends Reed Elementary in Tiburon, a school with a 7 percent personal belief exemption rate. (The statewide average is 2.5 percent). Krawitt had previously worked with the school nurse to make sure that all the children in his son&#39;s class were fully vaccinated. He said the school was very helpful and accommodating.</p><p>Now Krawitt and his wife, Jodi, have emailed the district&#39;s superintendent, requesting that the district &quot;require immunization as a condition of attendance, with the only exception being those who cannot medically be vaccinated.&quot;</p><p>Carl Krawitt provided me with Superintendent Steven Herzog&#39;s response. Herzog didn&#39;t directly address their query, instead saying: &quot;We are monitoring the situation closely and will take whatever actions necessary to ensure the safety of our students.&quot;</p><p>Typically, a response to health emergencies rests with county health officers. During the current measles outbreak, we&#39;ve already seen that unvaccinated students at Huntington Beach High School in Orange County <a href="http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-students-exposed-to-measles-oc-20150120-story.html" target="_blank">were ordered to stay </a>out of school for three weeks after a student there contracted measles. It&#39;s one way to contain an outbreak.</p><p>But those steps were taken in the face of a confirmed case at the school.</p><p>When I called Marin County health officer Matt Willis to see what he thought of keeping unvaccinated kids out of school even if there were no confirmed cases, he sounded intrigued. &quot;This is partly a legal question,&quot; he said.</p><p>But he was open to the idea and said he was going to check with the state to see what precedent there was to take such an action.</p><p>Right now, there are no cases of measles anywhere in Marin and no suspected cases either. Still, &quot;if the outbreak progresses and we start seeing more and more cases,&quot; Willis said, &quot;then this is a step we might want to consider&quot; &mdash; requiring unvaccinated children to stay home, even without confirmed cases at a specific school.</p><p>Rhett has been treated at the University of California, San Francisco, and his oncologist there, Dr. Robert Goldsby, said that he is likely at higher risk of complications if he were to get measles.</p><p>&quot;When your immune system isn&#39;t working as well, it allows many different infections to be worse,&quot; Goldsby said. &quot;It&#39;s not just Rhett. There are hundreds of other kids in the Bay Area that are going through cancer therapy, and it&#39;s not fair to them. They can&#39;t get immunized; they have to rely on their friends and colleagues and community to help protect them.&quot;</p><p>Goldsby pointed to the number of people who, when facing a friend or family member who receives a challenging diagnosis, will immediately ask how they can help. &quot;Many families will say, &#39;What can I do to help? What can I do to help?&#39; &quot; he said, repeating it for emphasis. &quot;One of the main things they can do is make sure their [own] kids are vaccinated to protect others.&quot;</p><p>Krawitt has been speaking up about vaccination for a long time now. He told me about going to a parent meeting at his daughter&#39;s school just before the start of the school year, where a staff member reminded parents not to send peanut products to school, since a child or children had an allergy. &quot;It&#39;s really important your kids don&#39;t bring peanuts, because kids can die,&quot; Krawitt recalls the group being told.</p><p>The irony was not lost on him. He told me he immediately responded, &quot;In the interest of the health and safety of our children, can we have the assurance that all the kids at our school are immunized?&quot;</p><p>He found out later from a friend that other parents who were present were &quot;mad that you asked the question, because they don&#39;t immunize their kids.&quot;</p><p><em>This story was produced by </em><a href="http://blogs.kqed.org/stateofhealth/">State of Health</a><em>, KQED&#39;s health blog.</em></p></p> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/protect-his-son-father-asks-school-bar-unvaccinated-children-111464 Grading Rahm: Public Safety http://www.wbez.org/news/grading-rahm-public-safety-111462 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rahmmccarthy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel talked about reducing crime &quot;in every neighborhood.&quot; While homicides are down, are the gains shared by all Chicagoans?</p></p> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 15:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/grading-rahm-public-safety-111462 Quinn had marijuana recommendations, didn't act http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-had-marijuana-recommendations-didnt-act-111456 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/3326238955_c9bec05717_z (1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Newly released documents show former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn received recommendations on which businesses should receive lucrative medical marijuana licenses but did not act on them before leaving office.</p><p>Gov. Bruce Rauner&#39;s administration released the material to The Associated Press and other news organizations in response to Freedom of Information Act requests.</p><p>A Rauner spokesman says aides will review the evaluation process and forward their findings to the attorney general.</p><p>Quinn&#39;s administration had said he would issue the licenses by the end of last year. A Quinn spokesman said Monday that the former administration made &quot;substantial progress&quot; in evaluating applications but decided to hand it over to Rauner for &quot;proper review.&quot;</p><p>The documents appear to show the agencies made recommendations to Quinn around Dec. 25.</p></p> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 10:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-had-marijuana-recommendations-didnt-act-111456 Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah dies http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-01-23/saudi-arabias-king-abdullah-dies-111448 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/King Abdullah.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-03c4e882-17c2-1d25-93e4-be52a7c6de4a">King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has died at the age of 90. </span>His half-brother, Salman, has been confirmed as the new king. We&rsquo;ll take a look at his legacy and his successor with Joseph Kéchichian, a senior writer for <a href="http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/dr-joseph-a-kechichian">Gulf News</a> and the author of several books on Gulf affairs.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/the-death-of-king-abdulla/embed?border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/the-death-of-king-abdulla.js?border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/the-death-of-king-abdulla" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: The Death of King Abdullah" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 09:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-01-23/saudi-arabias-king-abdullah-dies-111448 Emanuel introducing ordinance to use park land for Obama library http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-introducing-ordinance-use-park-land-obama-library-111427 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rahm-file_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he&rsquo;d move &ldquo;heaven and earth&rdquo; to bring the Obama presidential library to Chicago. At Wednesday&rsquo;s City Council meeting, he officially offered up parkland to help bolster the University of Chicago&rsquo;s bid.</p><p>The U of C originally pitched three locations to the Obama foundation as part of their application for the library. That plan is in the running for the coveted library alongside the University of Illinois at Chicago, as well as Columbia University in New York City and The University of Hawaii.</p><p>The U of C&rsquo;s bid is eying two sites controlled by the Chicago Park District: Washington Park and Jackson Park. But there was word earlier this month that the Barack Obama Foundation was hesitant.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Chicago was not in its best position we did not have our best foot forward because of questions raised by the foundation,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;We can address those questions. So I&rsquo;m gonna take the necessary steps to do that so we can gain the jobs, the economy and the cultural enrichment that would come with it.&rdquo;</p><p>The step Emanuel took Wednesday would transfer that parkland to the city of Chicago, but he promises they&rsquo;d replace whatever open space is used up by the library. For example, Emanuel&rsquo;s ordinance suggests that the library would only take up five acres within the 21 and 20 acre Washington Park and Jackson Park, respectively. That means five acres of open space would be placed elsewhere in the neighborhood.</p><p>The proposal still needs to be voted on by both the City Council and the Park District Board. Over twenty aldermen have already signed on to Emanuel&rsquo;s proposal. At two public hearings hosted by the park district last week, South Side residents came out in droves to share their opinions on the matter. While many said they wanted the library no matter where it was, some stressed the importance of preserving public park land.</p><p>Cassandra Francis, president of the nonprofit group Friends of the Parks, called the mayor&rsquo;s proposal both &ldquo;unprecedented&rdquo; and &ldquo;dangerous.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;The attempt to confiscate this parkland for this use is something that has really galvanized people to focus on this issue. And not just related to real property, but other public trust assets and transfers of those out of the hands or the benefit of the public into things that would not necessarily prioritize public use,&rdquo; Francis said.</p><p>Francis said she personally would be thrilled if President Obama chose to bring the library to Chicago, but says it doesn&rsquo;t belong in a public park.&nbsp;</p><p>Francis wouldn&rsquo;t say for sure if Friends of the Parks or any national groups would take legal action over the mayor&rsquo;s proposal.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 08:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-introducing-ordinance-use-park-land-obama-library-111427 State of the Union primer: What President Obama proposed http://www.wbez.org/news/state-union-primer-what-president-obama-proposed-111426 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/sotu_wide-456588d57da3d41fbdf48da8113282bc3bbe242a-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Facing a Republican-controlled Congress in his sixth State of the Union speech, President Obama took credit Tuesday for an improving economy and focused on proposals aimed at advancing the middle class.</p><p>After years of recession and war, Obama claimed &quot;the shadow of crisis has passed.&quot; In its place, he asserted, is a future marked by &quot;a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production.&quot;</p><p>Here&#39;s what Obama proposed on the policy front:</p><p><strong>Economy</strong></p><p>For years, Obama has been wary of cheering too loudly about the nation&#39;s economic recovery for fear of seeming out of touch with hard-hit Americans or being caught short by another slowdown. It&#39;s happened before. But after what he called a &quot;breakthrough year,&quot; Obama is setting caution aside.</p><p>&quot;The shadow of crisis has passed,&quot; Obama said. &quot;Tonight, we turn the page.&quot;</p><p>The president has reason to celebrate. Last year saw the strongest job growth in 15 years. The unemployment rate dropped to 5.6 percent. Inflation was a non-issue. And with gasoline selling for just over $2 a gallon in many parts of the country, drivers are expected to save hundreds of dollars at the pump this year.</p><p>Polls show Americans&#39; attitudes about the economy are also improving &mdash; and that in turn has boosted the president&#39;s own poll numbers.</p><p>Wages remain stagnant, though.</p><p>The president has offered a variety of prescriptions to address that, and in his speech, he grouped those ideas together under a new label: &quot;Middle-Class Economics.&quot;</p><p><strong>Middle-Class Economics</strong></p><p>Obama&#39;s budget proposal will call for a number of new and expanded tax credits to help working families. He also wants Congress to require paid sick leave for the 43 million American workers who don&#39;t already have it. And because many jobs now require some form of higher education, Obama wants to let anyone attend community college for free, so long as they keep their grades up and graduate on time.</p><p>The president suggests paying for these proposals by raising the top tax rate on capital gains to 28 percent, and extending it to cover inherited wealth. The White House says 99 percent of the additional taxes would be paid by the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. The idea is almost certainly a nonstarter in the Republican-controlled Congress. But Democrats will use it as a rhetorical weapon to campaign on.</p><p><strong>Infrastructure</strong></p><p>The first bill the new Republican Senate took up this year would green-light the Keystone XL oil pipeline, carrying oil from the Canadian tar sands to the Gulf Coast of the United States. Obama has threatened to veto the measure, saying his administration needs more time to decide whether building the pipeline is in the national interest.</p><p>Critics say the pipeline would worsen the problem of climate change by encouraging development of the carbon-intensive tar sands. In his State of the Union address, Obama downplayed the pipeline controversy to focus on broader infrastructure needs, including modern ports, faster trains, and affordable broadband Internet.</p><p>&quot;Let&#39;s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline,&quot; Obama said. &quot;Let&#39;s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than 30 times as many jobs per year and make this country stronger for decades to come.&quot;</p><p><strong>Trade</strong></p><p>One area where Obama may have gotten more applause from Republicans than from Democrats was his call for &quot;fast track&quot; authority to negotiate two big trade deals &mdash; one spanning the Pacific, the other the Atlantic.</p><p>Many members of the president&#39;s own party oppose the trade deals, and Obama openly acknowledged their skepticism. &quot;I&#39;m the first one to admit that past trade deals haven&#39;t always lived up to the hype,&quot; he said. &quot;But 95 percent of the world&#39;s customers live outside our borders, and we can&#39;t close ourselves off from those opportunities.&quot;</p><p>Republican congressional leaders like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner have identified trade as one of the few areas where they think they can find common ground with Obama.</p><p><em>&mdash; Scott Horsley</em></p><p><strong>National Security</strong></p><p>&quot;Stopping ISIL&#39;s advance&quot; is how President Obama described the U.S. bombing campaign against Islamic State fighters in both Iraq and Syria, with the aim to &quot;degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group.&quot; The president touted the U.S. leading &quot;a broad coalition&quot; including Arab nations &quot;instead of getting dragged into another ground war.&quot; Translation: The U.S. will keep fighting an air war while others battle at ground level.</p><p>The president&#39;s apparent resolve not to send in ground troops may help garner support from Congress for the new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) he called on lawmakers to pass. It may also draw opposition from hawks, including Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain, who say U.S. ground forces are needed to push back the gains Islamic State fighters have made this year.</p><p>One other unresolved question about the AUMF: Who&#39;s going to draft (and thus own) the measure?</p><p>House Speaker John Boehner says he wants the White House to send such a proposal to the Hill; Obama simply says he has committed to both parties to working on a text for the AUMF. One thing all parties agree on is that the two AUMFs, from 2001 and 2002, currently being used to justify the air war against ISIS are obsolete and need to be replaced by a measure that has a clear expiration date.</p><p>The president departed from his prepared text in proclaiming, &quot;It&#39;s time to close Gitmo!&quot; &mdash; a task he set for himself at the beginning of his presidency. Obama said he has reduced the prison population at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by half &mdash; and that&#39;s true. What he did not say is that even he thinks there are several dozen detainees being held there who are too dangerous to be set free, but against whom there is insufficient evidence for a court conviction. He did not propose what their fate should be.</p><p><em>&mdash; David Welna</em></p><p><strong>Foreign Policy</strong></p><p>President Obama is defending his new approach to Cuba, saying he&#39;s ending a policy that is &quot;long past its expiration date.&quot; He used his State of the Union address to urge Congress to lift a decades-old embargo on Cuba. Knowing that is unlikely, he has already chipped away at the embargo, easing many travel and trade restrictions on Cuba and sending Roberta Jacobson, assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, to Havana this week to begin talks on restoring diplomatic ties and reopening embassies.</p><p>Opponents of the president&#39;s new policy invited some Cuban dissidents to the chamber to remind Obama of the ongoing human rights abuses on the island. The White House guest list included Alan Gross, the U.S. government contractor who was freed in December after five years in a Cuban jail for trying to provide Internet services on the island; Gross&#39; release opened the door to these warming ties. He stood up to say &quot;thank you&quot; as the president spoke about his case.</p><p>On Iran, diplomats trying to resolve the nuclear issue have missed a couple of deadlines, but Obama says there is still a chance between now and the spring to negotiate a &quot;comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran.&quot;</p><p>&quot;There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed,&quot; Obama said in his State of the Union, but he warned lawmakers that any new sanctions will &quot;all but guarantee that diplomacy fails.&quot;</p><p>Obama has made this case before, arguing that the sanctions under consideration would divide the U.S. and its partners. The Obama administration has been working with the U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China and has tried to keep up a united front. Lawmakers that support new sanctions argue that it took economic leverage to get Iran to the table in the first place.</p><p>As he outlined his broader foreign policy agenda, Obama said he plans to lead &quot;not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve.&quot; He touted his efforts to work with partners and not to get &quot;dragged into another ground war in the Middle East.&quot;</p><p>Obama says the U.S. is leading a broad coalition to stop the advances of the self-proclaimed Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, supporting Iraqi forces and the &quot;moderate opposition&quot; in Syria to help. However, in Syria, the situation is far more complex. The opposition and some U.S. partners are less focused on countering ISIS than on countering Bashar Assad&#39;s regime.</p><p><em>&mdash; Michele Kelemen</em></p><p><strong>Cybersecurity And Technology</strong></p><p>Obama called on Congress to pass cybersecurity legislation &mdash; something Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he&#39;s open to moving on (unlike immigration). So it&#39;s a good&nbsp;<em>political</em>&nbsp;move. But Obama may be missing the mark in terms of substance &mdash; maybe even making it easier for the private sector to pass the buck.</p><p>In this digital age, as companies throw people&#39;s data into the cloud, they have to treat that data like banks treat money &mdash; with real protections.</p><p>Obama wants more information sharing between the government and companies. But experts say that could give companies an excuse to just wait for federal dispatches or &quot;most wanted&quot; lists, and not vigilantly monitor their own networks for malicious software (malware) and other attacks.</p><p>Obama also wants consumers to be told, in 30 days, if their credit card number was stolen. But, critics say, the retailer Target sending customers a letter doesn&#39;t solve the problem of mangled internal practices.</p><p>And the president is throwing stones from a glass house. So far, government audits indicate that&nbsp;<a href="http://gao.gov/assets/670/662227.pdf" target="_blank">federal agencies are failing</a>&nbsp;to protect Americans&#39; data too, and tell us about it.</p><p>Another concern is that Obama&#39;s move to make tougher criminal justice laws, through changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, will be &quot;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/01/14/obamas-proposed-changes-to-the-computer-hacking-statute-a-deep-dive/" target="_blank">too severe</a>&quot; on low-level hackers (some of whom are in fact white hats &mdash; the good guys telling companies about flaws in systems we use).</p><p>It&#39;s unclear how Obama plans to partner with other countries to take down cybercriminal rings and build international norms. But that&#39;s key, given how the Internet works.</p><p>While the president laid out a cybersecurity platform of sorts, he talked about technology a lot more in terms of economic growth. Just like the manufacturing sector is creating new jobs, he said, &quot;there are also millions of Americans who work in jobs that didn&#39;t even exist 10 or 20 years ago &mdash; jobs at companies like Google, and eBay, and Tesla.&quot;</p><p>It&#39;s not clear what he&#39;ll expect from Silicon Valley in the coming year. Obama says businesses should connect with community colleges. But his plan has been&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2015/01/13/if-community-college-is-going-to-be-free-coding-boot-camps-should-be-free-too/" target="_blank">criticized</a>as an ineffective, indirect route to getting young people into tech when he could just support coding boot camps.</p><p><em>&mdash; Aarti Shahani</em></p><p><strong>Justice</strong></p><p>President Obama made only brief reference to ongoing policing controversies in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y., perhaps because the deaths of two black men in police-involved incidents remain under federal investigation.</p><p>But he reiterated his call for criminal justice reform, an issue his attorney general and several GOP members of Congress have been advocating at least since 2013. States have been leading the way.</p><p>The president also urged lawmakers to update the 1965 Voting Rights Act, an issue he&#39;ll press in a March 7 visit to Selma, Ala. But voting legislation is all but moribund in the House, where Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte last week said he did not see that any fixes were &quot;necessary&quot; following a sharply divided Supreme Court ruling that gutted the decades-old system for requiring many mostly Southern states to get federal approval before making elections changes.</p><p><em>&mdash; Carrie Johnson</em></p></p> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 08:14:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/state-union-primer-what-president-obama-proposed-111426 Study projects Illinois deficit growing to $14 billion by 2026 http://www.wbez.org/news/study-projects-illinois-deficit-growing-14-billion-2026-111420 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/capitol_1.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs says there is no easy to repair Illinois&#39; chronic annual deficit.</p><p>An analysis released by the university&#39;s Fiscal Futures Project indicates Illinois currently faces a $9 billion annual deficit that will grow to $14 billion by 2026.</p><p>Co-Director Richard Dye compares the state&#39;s fiscal status to that of a person in deep credit card debt. He says the state hasn&#39;t paid debt totaling $159 billion. He says that is more than twice the inflow of revenue in a single year.</p><p>Dye says solving the debt problem will require a long-term fiscal plan that includes tax increases, spending cuts and economic growth. But those alone won&#39;t solve the state&#39;s fiscal problems. It says changes in expectations and policy are needed to restore fiscal balance.</p></p> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 08:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/study-projects-illinois-deficit-growing-14-billion-2026-111420 State Of The Union: 5 things to watch http://www.wbez.org/news/state-union-5-things-watch-111419 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ap107344952338_custom-5a245bf3a994f32a35a8bf64bfc05290653e9088-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Even in the era of declining television audiences, President Obama&#39;s state of the union address is still the biggest audience he&#39;ll have all year. Historically, seventh-year state of the union speeches have a short shelf life. Every one of the five lame duck presidents (that is, presidents constitutionally barred from running again &mdash; Eisenhower, Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama &mdash; have all had opposition congresses, making the prospects for passing major parts of the president&#39;s agenda slim to none.</p><p>But on Tuesday Obama will try to use his speech to frame the debates for the next two years and set the table for the 2016 election.</p><p>Here are 5 things to watch:<br /><br /><strong>1. How does the president talk about the economy?</strong><br /><br />We know he will make &quot;Middle Class Economics&quot; the centerpiece of his speech, with a tax plan that raises taxes on the wealthiest and the biggest banks in order to pay for tax breaks for working families. How will he convince the country that his policies have led to an economy that&#39;s growing fast enough that it&#39;s now time to move beyond the debate about deficits and stimulus?<br /><br /><strong>2. What tone will he take toward Congress?</strong><br /><br />The president&#39;s tax plan is a not-so-subtle populist challenge to the new Republican majority. Will they dare to defend tax breaks for inherited wealth &mdash; like what the White House is now calling the &quot;trust fund loophole?&quot; The president&#39;s tone is important. Will he reach out to his old golf buddy John Boehner in the spirit of compromise? Or will he treat the GOP leadership the way he did the Supreme Court in his state of the union address after the&nbsp;<em>Citizens United</em>&nbsp;ruling (the one that prompted much head shaking from Justice Samuel Alito)?<br /><br /><strong>3. Will Obama challenge his own party?</strong><br /><br />With his tax proposals, the president is finally giving Democrats the middle class economic agenda they&#39;ve been missing. Will he also challenge them on trade? Getting &quot;fast track authority &quot; through Congress is one area where there is potential for bipartisan action. But most Democrats are opposed. On Tuesday night the president can show he&#39;s willing to push his own party on this issue, or he can make it clear he&#39;d rather let Republicans do all the heavy lifting on trade votes.<br /><br /><strong>4. How does the president avoid looking like the &quot;small-ball&quot; president?</strong><br /><br />President Obama famously said he didn&#39;t want to play &quot;small-ball&quot; &mdash; referring to Bill Clinton&#39;s agenda of narrowly focused items like midnight basketball, or school uniforms. Now, though, the president has rolled out a series of bite size proposals and executive actions like expanded access to high speed broadband, mortgage relief, and free community college tuition. Can he wrap them all into a compelling agenda for the middle class that is bigger than the sum of its parts?<br /><br /><strong>5. How does he talk about Iran, ISIS, and the new terrorist threats?</strong><br /><br />This was going to be the year that Obama ended two wars and made a legacy-cementing deal with Iran on nuclear weapons. But the world isn&#39;t cooperating. Watch how the president talks about the attacks in France, the negotiations with Iran and the so far unsuccessful efforts to degrade and destroy ISIS in Syria and Iraq.</p><p><strong>NPR&#39;s reporters will be covering the speech, and here is some of our related coverage:</strong></p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/01/19/378289335/white-house-rolls-out-tax-proposals-before-state-of-the-union-address">White House Rolls Out Tax Proposals Before State Of The Union Address</a></p><p>&mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/01/18/378080969/obamas-trouble-articulating-the-economy">Obama&#39;s Trouble Articulating The State Of The Economy</a></p><p>&mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/01/17/378028524/obama-to-propose-tax-changes-in-state-of-the-union-address">Obama To Call For Tax Hike On The Wealthy In State Of The Union</a></p><p>&mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/01/20/377715976/working-3-jobs-in-a-time-of-recovery">Working 3 Jobs In A Time Of Recovery</a></p><p>&mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2015/01/16/377611438/iowas-sen-ernst-grabs-spotlight-thats-often-proven-too-hot">Iowa&#39;s Sen. Ernst Grabs Spotlight That&#39;s Often Proven Too Hot</a></p><p><em>-via <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2015/01/20/378486364/state-of-the-union-5-things-to-watch">NPR News</a></em></p></p> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 08:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/state-union-5-things-watch-111419