Beltway Insider: Obama visits the Middle East; Assad Assassinated; Senate Tosses Assault Ban; Sequester Impacts

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President Obama spent the week touring the Middle East and speaking with heads of states from Israel, Jordan and the Palestine urging leaders on to move forward with a peace initiative.

According to Gallup, President Obama’s job approval, over the past week, dropped one percentage point to 48% of those polled approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President dropped a single percentage point to 45%.

Syrian President Basher Assad Assassinated

In breaking news, as of press time, multiple global news agencies have reported Syrian President Basher Assad was assassinated Sunday by his bodyguard. Final confirmation of his death has yet to be announced.

Obama Middle East Trip

President Obama departed Washington on Wednesday for a four day trip to the Middle East, the first of his second term, meeting with heads of state from Israel, Jordan and the West Bank.  

Meeting first with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu,  the topics was directly related to the joint concern of both the United States and the Israeli people over Iran’s determination to develop nuclear weapons.  As well as the Israeli people’s right to defend themselves from every threat, known and unknown, and to create a solid, sure and ready plan that includes military action if diplomacy and sanctions do not  produce the intended results.

“America’s commitment,” according to President Obama, “is to the security of the State of Israel is a solemn obligation, and the security of Israel is non-negotiable.”

The commitment to Israeli goes beyond words and extends to financial support of the Iron Dome, which had proven to be highly effective, acting as a defense system shielding the intended targets through a radar interception that detects incoming air attacks. The computerized system tracks the artillery trajectory and fires a Tamir Interceptor Missile destroying the incoming attack. The system is very expensive and the United States has pledged 200million dollars in financial assistance.

The president also met with the Palestine Authority President Abbas, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, attending a working lunch followed by a Press Conference.  The day ended with President Obama reiterating a two state solution, Israeli and Palestine, is viable and must be obtained for the future of both nations. The problem of Hamas, a terror group which predominately occupies Gaza, refuses to renounce violence as a means of furthering the spread of hate doctrines was also addressed by the president.

The final leg of the president’s Middle East visit was Amman, Jordan where he met with King Abdullah II. The most pressing issue affecting the Jordanian people continues to be the influx of Syrian refuges.

President Obama commended “His Majesty for his leadership and I want to commend the Jordanian people for the compassion during an extraordinarily difficult time for their neighbors.”

King Abdullah, the son of the late King Hussein the stepson of American born Queen Noor, is clearly moved by the plight of the Syrian refugees who are flowing into country as he indicated  the Jordanian people cannot look away from the hurting.

The issue, is not as both leaders recognized the refugee, but the Syrian violence under the Assad regime and the concern that it will escalate.  President Obama indicated the United States is committed to assisting in the protection of the Jordanian people.  The president also indicated he would work with congress to provide an additional 200million budget support as well as loan guarantees in financial support to the people of Jordan.

Senate tosses Assault Ban

Despite pleas Neil Heslin, father of Sandy Hook shooting victim Jesse McCord Lewis, the senate tossed out the strictest assault weapon bill under consideration sponsored by California Senator Diane Feinstein.  

With a collage of the twenty-six victims of Sandy Hook, a solemn reminder of the most recent mass shooting and the grave and irreparable damage these killing machines are capable of inflicting, the bill could not garner the necessary sixty votes for passage.  Exhibiting zero shred of moral compass the Feinstein sponsored ban on assault weapons died in congress Tuesday. 

As the first shock waves of the Sandy Hook massacre that reverberated through society have ended the real truth now to elected officials, while still, and clearly, sympathetic over the lost lives and those affected, is that gun lobbyists are alive and will certainly be supportive of efforts through campaign contributions and the shredded children and educators who died shielding the students cannot.  

Additional bills are under consideration which contains minimal bans on assault weapons and other more lenient and palatable gun control options.

Continued Impact of Sequester

The Sequester, which went into effect March 1, 2013, was basically the perfect fiscal storm combining the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the payroll tax cut which according all economists would have most certainly thrown the US Economy into another recession. These policies become known as The Fiscal Cliff. A deal was hammered out in the last weeks of 2012 to avert The Fiscal Cliff delaying the Sequester and the belief that a second more impacting recession was also averted.

The Sequester was always in place, the fiscal cliff that all believe was hurdled was actuality was a smoke screen for a larger and more damaging fiscal problem which has become known as The Sequester.

According to The Washington Post, the sequester cuts are not discriminatory in that no program, or group will experience the brunt of the cuts. Defense and Discretionary spending will see the majority of the impact with a very limited number of programs falling into the protected class.

The Beltway Insider coverage of March 16, 2013 detailed the domestic programs that would have a direct cause on the most vulnerable citizen who will feel an extreme squeeze.  Other programs that directly affect citizens in a time of crisis include FEMA’s disaster relief budget which will loss 375million. The CDC, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, will be cut by $323million.

Defense readiness and preparation will also see major cuts and it isn’t simply the purchase of aircraft by the Air Force and Navy which lose $3.5billion combined. Military research will also see big cuts totaling $6.3billion and Military operations across all branches of service will lose $13.5billion and more frightening, the Energy Department’s program which secures our Nuclear weapons will lose $650billion.

Additionally, as the debate on immigration policy rages the Sequester will actually cut Immigration Enforcement by $323million and Border Security by $581million.

The Sequester, which will continue to effect citizens until 2021, is meant to trim the national debt by over $102trillion over ten years.

 

For more information on President Obama: www.whitehouse.gov 

For more information on President Obama: http://www.barackobama.com/

 

 

 

Sources: The Washington Times, The Washington Post, Wikipedia

 

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