This year has been a busy one in the world of politics. As we come to the end of 2013, the staff at The Daily Runner thought it would be a good idea to look back on some of the major political events that took place this year. Below are ten political milestone of this past year for you to reflect on as we make our way into 2014.
10. The Start of President Obama’s Second Term
Back in February, President Obama gave a State of the Union Address where he laid out his goals for his second term. Among them was to provide every four-year-old with access to preschool, raise taxes and minimum wage, increase gun control, create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, implement a cap-and-trade program and start investing to upgrade our infrastructure. The Washington Post called his speech “incredibly ambitious” and said that “America would be a markedly different country” if he accomplished all these goals. However, they also said that most of these proposals have only a small chance of becoming law. One year later and all we have is immigration reform in the works and a failed attempt to increased gun control legislation.
9. The Sequester
A simplistic definition of a sequester is basically a number of big budget cuts within the government. Sequestration cuts went into effect in March, and resources in each non-exempt budget account were ordered to be cut. According to Politico, other resources affected by the cuts included “new budget authority, unobligated balances of defense function accounts carried over from prior fiscal years, direct spending authority and obligation limitations.”
8. The Million Vet March on DC
On Oct. 13, a march took place on 17th street in Washington, D.C., to protest the closure of the WWII memorial to its veterans. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin all spoke during the protest. The barricades were subsequently removed from the memorial and carried to the White House.
7. Failed Gun Control Legislation
In the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, bipartisan legislation was proposed to expand background checks for gun-buyers, as well as an assault weapons ban. According to The Huffington Post, the expansion of background checks was voted down in the Senate 54 to 46, and the assault weapons ban was voted down 40 to 60.
6. Chemical Weapons in Syria
On Aug. 21, a chemical weapon in the form of poisonous gas was launched on Damascus, killing and wounding thousands of civilians. Ten days later, President Obama announced that he would seek congressional approval for an attack on Syria. Syria, however, eventually accepted an offer from Russia to avoid a US attack by handing over their chemical weapons.
5. The Coup in Cairo
On July 3, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, was ousted by the military just one year after his election. According to The Blaze, their “Islamist-drafted constitution” was also suspended, and the military called for new elections. Fearing violence from Morsi’s Islamic supporters, the military deployed armored vehicles in Cairo, surrounding Islamist rallies. Violence broke out in several cities where Islamists opened fire on police, and at least nine people were killed. Morsi and 12 of his aides were placed under house arrest in a Presidential Guard facility. President Obama said that the US would not take sides in the conflict and commit itself “only to democracy and respect for the rule of law.” Adly Mansour, chief justice of the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court, was appointed as interim president until the new election.
4. The Government Shutdown
Oct. 1 began the first partial government shutdown in 17 years after Senators and Representatives failed to come up with a plan to renew funding for the federal government. Roughly 800,000 federal workers were furloughed. On October 16, the Senate voted 18-81 to reopen the federal government and raise the debt ceiling, mere hours before the US Treasury faced the possibility of defaulting on its debt. The House passed the legislation 285-144, and it was signed early on Oct. 17 by President Obama.
3. The Budget Deal
This past Tuesday, a bipartisan two-year budget deal passed by 67-33 in the Senate. The legislation is “a compromise designed to ease the impact of impending spending cuts and avoid a government shutdown when funding runs out in mid-January.” The deal still has to clear the final vote in the Senate, which will likely take place later today or tomorrow. If the deal passes it will bring closure to months of fiscal fighting on Capitol Hill, which included the 16 day partial government shutdown in October, as well as a number of short term policy fixes. “We have lurched from one crisis to another, from one fiscal cliff to the next,” said Senate Budget Chairman Patty Murray (D., Wash.), who negotiated the deal along with House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R.,Wis.). Despite the fact that the deal passed by a landslide with resounding Republican support, many Republicans still oppose it. Passing this bill is crucial to funding the government after Jan. 15, when the temporary spending bill ending the government shutdown will expire.
This law went into effect on Oct. 1st, and the implementation has been botched at best from the start. The law faces a myriad of problems, from “glitches” with healthcare.gov to higher premiums. One of the biggest problems with the implementation of the law is that millions have received cancellation letters from their insurance providers. President Obama promised that, “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period.” According to Politifact, this is the Lie of the Year. Another article on Politicfact has compiled of 37 instances when president Obama or a top administration official made this statement, or some variation of it. Americans have until midnight on December 23rd to sign up for coverage.
1. Edward Snowden and the NSA Leaks
Near the beginning of the summer, we learned of the NSA’s collection of the telephone records of millions of US Verizon customers. This story was originally broke by Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian, when the information was leaked to him by whistleblower Edward Snowden. Prior to leaking this information Snowden had been working for the NSA for the past four years. Greenwald calls this “one of the most significant leaks in US political history.” We have continued to learn more about the NSA’s activities as this series of leaks has emerged. But the underlying premised of the NSA’s data mining is “that the NSA’s goal is to collect, monitor and store every telephone and internet communication that takes place inside the US and on the earth,” according to The Guardian. Greenwald left The Guardian at the end of October. In his final article for them, he said, ”I’m leaving The Guardian in order to work with Pierre Omidyar, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill and soon-to-be-identified others on building a new media organization. As I said when this news was reported a couple of weeks ago, leaving The Guardian was not an easy choice, but this was a dream opportunity that was impossible to decline.”