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How the Richest Members of Congress Made Their Fortunes

Capitol Hill is brimming with millionaires, but if you think that most of the richest members of Congress got that way from working hard, guess again.

When you browse through the list of the richest members of Congress, one of the most common themes is that many of them married into wealth, regardless of gender.

The best-known beneficiary of spousal wealth is former Sen. John Kerry, D-MA, who recently left the Senate to serve as Secretary of State in the Obama administration.

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Sequestration Is a Gift – Not an Apocalypse

Everybody sing along…

It's a happy day… Oh happy days. It's a happy day…Oh happy days. When sequestration rules it drives the tears away… Oh happy days!



Those are the words President Obama used to describe what would result from sequestration.

Please, don't make me laugh. The sequester will not only not ruin America, it will in fact start the process of fixing what Congress can't – no, make that won't – fix.

What's the upside?

Our magnificent Founding Fathers were all together in the creation of the United States, but it didn't mean they all loved each other or that they all had the same views about government. They sure didn't. But, those differences were acknowledged and incorporated into the Constitution and sanctified – for the people – in the Bill of Rights.

That's divided government folks. This ain't socialism, though sometimes it feels like it.

And it's that nagging feeling that a slimy, slithering strain of socialism is snaking its way into mainstream politics that keeps me up at night, in case we, the people, are overrun by "them" – the usurpers of republican democracy.

Thank goodness that divided government gave us sequestration.

So, Congress can't get along. That's nothing new. The question is who gets to pander to their constituents. That's nothing new. We have sequestration. So, what? That's nothing new.

We need to cut crap out of the budget – A lot of crap. I'm sorry if that word bothers you… but I'm not allowed to use stronger language. Don't hate me because I'm fed up. You should be, too. Maybe you don't use strong language. Maybe you don't use colloquialisms (you're better then me, I grant you that, for sure) but I'm willing to bet that you're just as mad as I am.

The Republicans want to protect the rich and their tax loopholes – including carried interest. I get that, and I vehemently disagree (and believe me, folks, I enjoy carried interest). The Democrats want us all to share the cost of running a social welfare state to pander to their voting constituents. I get that, and I vehemently disagree.

So, they can't agree on tax increases (oh, wait, wait don't tell me… they did agree on $600 billion in tax increases in January, remember?) and they definitely can't agree on spending cuts. Why are spending cuts so hard? Because, silly, spending is the bread and butter that Congress feeds to their voting constituents – and campaign-backing cronies. Duh!

Sorry, I got carried away. Forget all that stuff. I just had to get it off my chest.

This is really about sequestration and how good it will be for the country.

We need to cut wasteful spending, period. What better way to do it that to take spending cuts out of the hands of Congress and put the task squarely in the hands of the departments and programs that are wasting the money in the first place? They should be tasked with making cuts and laying off unproductive people who do unproductive things. This is great!

The Budget Control Act, passed in August 2011, basically said, "Hey, if this Super Committee we put together can't cut $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next ten years (they were shooting for $1.5 trillion, go figure) then, by this law, sequestration will go into place to the tune of $1.2 trillion between January 2013 and October 2121."

Pretty simple, but no one figured we'd get here. Me, personally? I was praying we would.

Here's a brilliant, simple play-by-play I found from Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC, Attorneys at Law:

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The 9 Biggest Sequestration Lies

Though we've come to expect no better from our leaders in Washington, the sequestration lies rank among the most blatant whoppers ever to come out of the nation's capital.

Sequestration, of course, is the $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to go into effect at midnight Friday.

Instead of working together to come up with an alternative to replace the sequester, Republicans and Democrats have spent the past several weeks playing a maddening game of political chicken.

Both parties were counting on the fear of sequestration to force the other to cave before it happened.

Toward that end, leaders of both sides have tried to sway public opinion with exaggerations, obfuscations and outright lies.

Yes, business as usual in Washington, but an affront to U.S. citizens nonetheless.

Here are some of the biggest sequestration lies.

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The Sequestration Follies: How Washington Outsmarted Itself

It seems every politician in Washington is up in arms over sequestration, the devastating automatic budget cuts on track to take effect March 1.

For weeks, lawmakers on both sides have been calling sequestration a "bad idea" and criticizing any proposals put forth by the opposing party.

Politicians aren't happy that sequestration not only would cut billions of dollars in federal spending, it would also slash the budget indiscriminately with across-the-board cuts.

Just today (Tuesday), President Barack Obama urged Congress to delay sequestration for the rest of the year or risk damaging the U.S. economy.

"It won't help the economy. It won't create jobs. It will visit hardship on a whole lot of people," President Obama said. "If Congress allows this meat-cleaver approach to take place, it will jeopardize our military readiness; it will eviscerate job-creating investments in education and energy and medical research."

Listening to all the rhetoric, Americans with short memories might believe that those in Washington only have the best interests of the country at heart.

But the rest of us remember how this whole sequestration fiasco really happened. It was their idea – Republicans and Democrats, the White House and Congress. All guilty.

"The idea was that no sane person would allow such cuts to happen," Bob Schieffer, host of CBS News' "Face the Nation," said on that show Sunday. "Well, guess what. Even Washington managed to underestimate its own ineptitude."

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Energy investing

Will Environmentalists Kill the Keystone XL Pipeline?

For more than four years, the controversial Keystone XL pipeline has been at the center of a heated battle between opponents and supporters.

Those who favor the 1,700-mile extension of the pipeline see it as a step toward North American energy independence and a source of tens of thousands of jobs.

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State of the Union Speech to Disguise True Obama Agenda

In his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, U.S. President Barack Obama will risk the ire of Republicans by telling the nation the government needs to spend more money to restore economic prosperity.

President Obama will spend much of his fifth State of the Union address outlining several new initiatives aimed at bringing relief to middle-class Americans hard hit by the Great Recession, White House officials have told several major news organizations.

"Our single biggest remaining challenge is to get our economy in a place where the middle class is feeling less squeezed, where incomes sustain families," a senior administration official who had seen a draft of the speech told The Washington Post.

But while the U.S. economy will be the overriding theme of President Obama's State of the Union speech, many of the proposals will not coincidentally advance many of the president's other favorite issues, such as climate change and education.

According to those who have seen the speech, President Obama is expected to announce initiatives in education, infrastructure, clean energy and manufacturing. White House officials told The New York Times that the cost of these proposals would be offset by savings elsewhere in the budget – or new revenues.

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Will John Kerry Kill the Keystone XL Pipeline?

When new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Friday with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird in Washington, the talk turned to the fate of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

Kerry said the controversial $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline project would undergo a "fair and transparent review," adding he expects to make a decision "near-term" on whether to move forward with it. The State Department has final say over the pipeline because it traverses international borders.

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Top News

Government S&P Lawsuit: Who's Next?

A massive U.S. government S&P lawsuit has no doubt hurt the fortunes of Standard & Poor's parent company The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. (NYSE: MHP), whose shares have dropped 25% since it was filed.

But the collateral damage could spell bad news for a number of parties and has implications even for the overall health of the U.S. economy.

The Justice Dept., joined by attorneys general from 16 states, unveiled a case accusing S&P of fudging its ratings of subprime mortgages to make the toxic securities appear better than they were.

The federal government is seeking $5 billion in penalties — more than five times what S&P made in 2011 — to cover losses to investors in federally insured banks and credit unions. Separate suits filed by individual states could more than double that figure.

It's the first time the government has taken action against a credit rating agency over illegal behavior tied to the recent financial crisis.

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The Real Cost of Obamacare

Like it or not, in less than a year – January 2014 – the core of U.S. President Barack Obama's healthcare reform goes into effect – and recent data show the cost of Obamacare will be quite high.

The statistics are startling, seeing as the intent of Obamacare was to reduce overall medical costs in the country – one big reason government spending is running wild – by improving access to treatment for Americans. An additional 30 million Americans are expected to be covered under Obamacare.

But new reports estimate the new healthcare system could cost about $1.3 trillion over the next 10 years.

That means the original outcome – which President Obama said would be to "cut the cost of a typical family's premium by up to $2,500 a year" – is far from reality.

Here's a breakdown of what Obamacare will really cost you – and your job could be included.

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Top News

Why Did the U.S. Government Sue Standard & Poor's?

The U.S. Justice Department slapped Standard & Poor's Rating Services with a lawsuit claiming the agency sidestepped its own standards when rating mortgage bonds that collapsed during the financial crisis, resulting in billions of dollars in losses for investors.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's civil charges, filed late Monday against S&P, are the first federal enforcement charges against a credit rating firm over the financial crisis.

Reports say the government is going after S&P to the tune of more than $1 billion.

Following a report in The Wall Street Journal Monday afternoon that the government planned to file the suit, S&P acknowledged it was expecting the action and claimed the firm was being wrongly punished by the U.S. government for "failing to predict" the housing meltdown or financial crisis.

New York-based S&P, one of the three major rating firms, has denied any wrongdoing. The firm said in a statement before the government filed the suit that it would be "entirely without factual or legal merit."

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