House Democrats have caved in to Republican pressure, removing an anti-torture provision from the Fiscal 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R. 2701). “The controversial provision,” the Washington Post reported February 26, “would have subjected intelligence officers to up 15 years in prison for interrogations that violate existing anti-torture laws, including the use of extreme temperatures, acts causing sexual humiliation or depriving a prisoner of food, sleep or medical care.”
President Obama signed into law February 12 a bill that would increase the federal debt limit by $1.9 trillion to a total of $14.3 trillion. The legislation also included a restoration of the “pay-as-you-go” provision of congressional budgeting that requires new spending proposals in Congress to be matched by cuts or tax increases in order to prevent accelerating the already out-of-control federal budget deficit.
If there were any lingering doubts that official Washington rewards incompetency and lack of foresight, Thursday’s Senate confirmation of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to a second four-year term as Fed Chairman should put them to rest.
The Senate voted on December 24 to allow the federal government to borrow an additional $290 billion, thereby increasing the total federal debt from $12.1 trillion to about $12.4 trillion. The House had already approved the measure during the previous week.