Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) struck a deal to avert another government shutdown. No word on if they celebrated the pact with a selfie. PHOTO: Reuters.
A lot of big stuff went down on Tuesday, and no, I’m not talking about the Obama selfie or the handshake between Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro. I’m not even talking about my favorite Pope getting named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year (called it, by the way). I’m talking about—get this—stuff that actually matters. So, what did you miss in the selfie-handshake internet blizzard? Plenty:
1. Republicans and Democrats reached a budget deal
Remember the government shutdown? The deal that was reached to end the shutdown created a two month negotiating window to come up with a deal on the budget. House Budget Chairperson Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Senate Budget Chairperson Patty Murray (D-Wash.) put their differences aside and hashed out a deal which will avert another shutdown for two years, and makes some modest changes to the sequester cuts. The deal also cuts $23 billion from the deficit, and spares the military a scheduled cut of $19 billion. The deal does not include any adjustments to Social Security of Medicare, but it’s more than Republicans and Democrats had been able to agree on up to this point.
2. The Volcker Rule is back!
This is a huge deal. The Volcker Rule states that banks with insured deposits (such as your money) cannot engage in proprietary trading. Proprietary trading is basically a fancy term for placing bets on the market. There is a lot more to do to make the banks that hold our money to act responsibly, but this is a big step (and while I’m here, it’s still a very good idea to start an account at a small bank).
3. First Filibustered Judge Gets Confirmed
Patricia Ann Millett was confirmed to the D.C. Court of Appeals, becoming the first beneficiary of the landmark reforms to the filibuster. Millett and several other judges and cabinet appointees were repeatedly blocked by Senate Republicans, not because they oppose her in particular, they just wanted to deny Obama more appointments. The D.C. Court of Appeals is second only to the Supreme Court in its power.
4. Police Crack Down On Protests In Ukraine
The protests in the Ukraine against President Viktor F. Yanukovich continue unabated. Police and protestors fought through the night in Independence Square in central Kiev. Riot police cleared the square, making few arrests. The electricity was turned off at City Hall, which was also occupied by protestors.
5. Uruguay Legalizes Marijuana
Many nations have talked about it, but Uruguay is the first country in history to legalize marijuana after making it illegal. Uruguay President Jose Mujica framed the landmark move, which was approved 16-13 in the Senate, clearing the way for passage, as a way to fight gangs and cartels in the South American nation.
"We've given this market as a gift to the drug traffickers and that is more destructive socially than the drug itself, because it rots the whole of society," said President Mujica.
So, all that happened. And Obama took a selfie with the Prime Ministers of Denmark and Britain. I’ll let you put those events in order of importance.