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News in Brief: GOP Wants to Keep Funding for NASCAR, and More

GOP Wants to Keep Funding for NASCAR

GOP Wants to Keep Funding for NASCAR

According to McClatchy Newspapers, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota), who is working to end the Pentagon's sponsorship of NASCAR teams, has come up against opposition from the Department of Defense and GOP lawmakers who say funding the race car teams helps military recruitment and could help save jobs through tax breaks. McCollum said giving NASCAR teams and track owners benefits doesn't offset other cuts to community health care and programs for homeless veterans. In 2010 and 2011, racetrack owners received $45 million in tax breaks to help improve their facilities, and will continue receiving them for the next two years. “We should take a critical eye and a critical look and say, 'Is this an appropriate role for the government?' ” McCollum said. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-North Carolina) disagreed, stating, “This is more about her disdain for NASCAR than it really is about saving taxpayers' money.” McCollum's amendment to prohibit federal funds for NASCAR teams failed in the House this month, but McCollum said she'll continue filing legislation.

Coburn Praises GAO Report on Wasteful Spending

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) on Tuesday praised a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that found 34 major areas of wasteful spending, The Hill reports. Coburn said the findings could help save the government $100 billion or more without cutting services. “GAO has identified the mother lode of government waste and duplication that should keep Congress busy the rest of the year,” Coburn said. Among the 34 areas cited in the report are fragmented economic development programs, unregulated federal transportation programs, a need for streamlining intelligence gathering by the military and Homeland Security, duplication in job training programs, a lack of coordination of federal homeless programs and fragmented financial literacy programs.

Supreme Court Rejects Corporate Privacy Rights

Reuters reports that the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled against privacy rights for corporations, asserting that they may not prevent disclosure of their federal government records. The justices unanimously overturned a previous ruling made by a US appeals court on a case brought by AT&T Inc. The telecommunications company wanted to prevent disclosure of its government records as part of the personal privacy exemption under the Freedom of Information law, but the Supreme Court said that the exemption applied only to individuals, not corporations. In an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the high court said that if AT&T received personal privacy, it could lead to government records being withheld about coal mine safety violations, unsanitary conditions at food manufacturing plants, offshore oil rig problems and illegal financial deals.

Walker Gives Democrats Ultimatum

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Monday gave an ultimatum to the 14 state Senate Democrats, who are blocking a vote on a budget overhaul bill that would restrict union workers' collective-bargaining rights, warning that the state would lose $165 million in bonds if the bill did not pass Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal said. The Democrats walked out of Congress on February 17 to delay a vote on the bill until union restrictions are removed from the language. “Failure to return to work and cast their votes will lead to more painful and aggressive spending cuts in the very near future,” Walker said. But Sen. Fred Risser, one of the 14 Democrats, said the deadline would not cause the group to return to Wisconsin. “The 14 of us are still united. We haven't developed any exit strategy at this time.”

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