Obama’s Wall Street speech inspires Rep. Jason Chaffetz to once again target presidents’ pensions

  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and co-sponsor of a 2016 bill that would limit presidential pensions, wants to reintroduce the bill in Congress after it was vetoed by President Barack Obama.
  • According to USA Today, the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act “would cap presidential pensions at $200,000, with another $200,000 for expenses.”
  • But here’s the catch: “[T]hose payments would be reduced dollar-for-dollar once [the president’s] outside income exceeds $400,000.”
  • The $400,000 income provision is noteworthy, because Obama has been under scrutiny for accepting that amount to offer a speech to a Wall Street firm. Read more (5/4/17)

Attention UK Labour voters! Heed well the following message from Owen Jones!

Theresa May is taking the elderly vote for granted at this election. Old age pensioners always vote Conservative, she thinks, so the Tories can do what they like. The Tory manifesto promises to attack hard-up older people by abandoning the triple-lock on pensions, means testing the winter fuel allowance and introducing a ‘dementia tax’. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour manifesto offers a better deal for pensioners and will guarantee security for your grandparents and your own future’s too. So pick up your phone, call your grandparents and ask them to vote for your future. 

Please if you can please call your grandparents #callyourgrandfolks

Say @iandsharman mind if I ask you to help spread the word?

ALVAR AALTO, Floor Lamp model No.A808 (1955/1956). Originally designed for the National Pensions Institute in Helsinki. Material brass, metal and leather. Manufactured by Valaistustyö Ky, Finland. 

Who’s in Theresa May’s Cabinet?

If it sounds like a twisted children’s game, we promise it was only half intentional.

After every general election, the first fun game (after ‘who the heck will the minority government team up with?’) is the building of the cabinet. The Conservative party have decided to set themselves up as the minority government in a ‘confidence and support’ scheme with the DUP, meaning they get first shot at playing the game.

Don’t forget - they haven’t passed the Queen’s speech test yet, so this might not be the government we finish with. There’s talk of Corbyn (backed by almost every non-blue MP) making a bid for power and completely obliterating the Queen’s speech talks. It’s unlikely, but an interesting potential plot twist nonetheless.

So back to The Game.

How does a prospective Prime Minister choose her cabinet? Some, like Amber Rudd and Philip Hammond, are pretty obvious choices. They already held their seats before the snap-election and were very loudly on May’s side even after the polls had closed on a slightly-darker-than-expected day for the Conservative party. Any name not in bold falls into this category.

Then we get to the four newcomers, the ladies and gentlemen getting promoted or demoted in the aftermath of GE17. These are the bolded names in our list (taken lovingly from the BBC live updates page, accurate as of 10pm on June 11th).

First we have Damian Green. Let’s think of him as Theresa May’s best mate. Admittedly, with the Tory performance in a snap election they probably shouldn’t have lost, he maybe doesn’t have so much competition for that role as in April. The fact remains that Damian Green, 61 years old and Oxford educated (like 15% of the 650 MPs elected on Thursday) is now officially Theresa’s righthand man in Parliament. 

Green retained his seat in Ashford, Kent, with a 29% majority. He has previously voted against a ban on fox hunting. Generally speaking, he votes along party lines (no rebellion from this staunch Tory man). His most recent role in government was as the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (the benefits department) from July 2016, so a definite promotion this time.

What about the new Justice Secretary, David Lidington? Bucking the political trend, Lidington is not an alumni of Oxford University… he attended Cambridge, earning a PhD in Elizabethan history. This is another man promoted after the 2017 election: his previous role was as Leader of the House of Commons. Perhaps most notably, this CBE honoured 60 year old once claimed over £115,000 in expenses in one year. This included £1,300 claimed for toiletries like toothpaste and vitamin supplements.

The man replacing him in Work and Pensions is David Gauke, the MP for South West Hertfordshire. This is another for the expenses scandal files: Gauke once claimed over £10,000 in expenses for a second flat in London, despite his commute to the city being under an hour by car. A law graduate of Oxford University, all of Gauke’s previous roles in government have been within the Treasury department.

‘What about the women?!’ we hear you ask. There are over 200 female MPs in Parliament now - surely one of them must have been promoted to the top table? Welcome, Liz Truss. Having attended a comprehensive school - and then Oxford University - Truss has been moved from Justice Secretary to Chief Secretary to the Treasury. This is the second most senior position within the Treasury, so a big move for the first woman ever to hold the Justice position. 

One name that was only announced after we took this screenshot was Michael Gove, the new Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In a shrewd move by Theresa May to block off a leadership challenge from Gove, he has been brought back into government (albeit to the role nobody ever asks for). Michael Gove, while Education Secretary, once faced a vote of no confidence in his policies from all major teaching unions. 

So that’s the cabinet as it stands. It’s a who’s-who of Oxford alumni, a Dulux wall chart for a house themed on Whipped Cream Gone Off. Alternatively, it’s a collection of qualified, competent, devout Tory MPs who are now less likely to stab May in the back to try and steal her position as head of the party.

We’ll leave it to you to decide your view on the matter…

One embittered jobless graduate (Hankinson, 2010) wrote, ‘Baby boomers had free education, affordable houses, fat pensions, early retirement and second homes. We’ve been left with education on the never-never [student debt] and a property ladder with rotten rungs. And the financial system which made our parents rich has left us choosing between crap job or no job’.
—  Guy Standing, The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class