Reports that the NSA is collecting extensive phone and Internet data from U.S. citizens have ignited a debate about privacy versus security among government officials and American citizens. Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, weighs in on the controversy.
“If we’re gonna have a debate about privacy versus security let’s have it in the open," Harpe says. "Let’s have some oversight of the National Security Agency and let’s have some oversight on the part of Congress. We in the public need to oversee our Congress much better because they’re not doing their job so far.”
Harper adds that collecting all the data from every American’s phone calls “can’t possibly be useful for link-based investigation.”
This morning on "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) weighs in on the stalemate in Congress over working to avoid forced massive spending cuts.
Rush transcript available after the jump.
Sen. Angus King (I-ME) on President Obama's second inauguration and the importants of bipartisanship in Congress.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on President Obama's second inauguration and the work facing the new Congress.
The new members of the 113th Congress were sworn in yesterday and for the first time, the House Democratic caucus is dominated by women and racial minorities.
Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii is among one of the newly elected Representatives, and she made history by becoming the first Hindu-American to enter the House. Gabbard will also be one of two female combat vets elected to Congress.
The freshman Congresswoman stops by Starting Point this morning to the historical significance of her election and to explain her desire to bring her "aloha" spirit to Congress.
"What aloha really means is having respect for other people regardless of what our differences may be and really finding the common ground that we have," Gabbard explains.
Regarding her faith, Gabbard says, "We’ve been sent here to be servant leaders and that’s the inspiration I get from my Hindu practice and what will help keep me focused on the task at hand."
Rep. John Boehner was re-elected Speaker of the House yesterday after roughly a dozen of his Republican colleagues voted for someone else or withheld their vote in protest of his leadership.
On Starting Point this morning, Former Congressman Steve LaTourette discusses these defections, saying that they don’t “send a good signal” and is really “not a good way to start your career.”
“They really have to come to terms with why they are here,” LaTourette says. “If they’re just here to vote no, we can train a monkey to come and vote no. If they’re here to legislate then they need to be serious about legislating and that’s finding common ground and not saying its 100% or nothing. That’s really not how the system was built.”
The Ohio Republican also discusses the incoming freshman class in Congress and responds to the optimism of Texas Rep. Joaquín Castro.
“They’ll knock that right out of him in the first couple months,” LaTourette remarks. “You’re serving with 434 other high school class presidents. There’s a lot of A type personalities in Congress and it’s very difficult for one voice to punch through. But if he’s got 60 or 70 of his friends that are willing to make a go of it and he can shame some of these other chuckleheads who have done nothing than stand in the way of progress, maybe he can get something done.”
Today marks the swearing in of the 113th Congress. There will be 12 new members in the Senate, adding three Republicans and eight Democrats with one Independent. Eighty three new members will be joining the House, 34 Republicans and 49 Democrats. The newly elected Congress will set a new record with the most Latinos elected to Senate and the House. Among those Latino representatives is newly elected Democratic Representative-elect Joaquin Castro, from the 20th Congressional District in Texas. He joins “Starting Point” live from Washington this morning.
President Obama and the Senate are returning to Washington today after taking a Christmas Break. They now have only five days to act to avoid the fiscal cliff as they wait to see if the House will come into session. The GOP is meanwhile putting pressure on Senate Democrats to make the next move in the fiscal cliff standoff. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is a Democrat from Connecticut. He joins “Starting Point” live from D.C.
"I'm really hopeful," Sen. Blumenthal says. "I think there is still sufficient time to reach a deal if we use the common ground that we have. And that common ground is that nobody wants to go over the fiscal cliff."
President Barack Obama and the Senate are returning to Washington today after taking a Christmas Break. They now have only five days to act to avoid the fiscal cliff as they wait to see if the House will come into session. The House left town after Republicans failed to bring a vote on their own Plan B last week. Ohio Republican Congressman Steve Latourette seemed exasperated about that. Rep. LaTourette is a member of the Appropriations Committee. He joins “Starting Point” live from D.C.
Rep. LaTourette says "everything needs to be on the table" to reach a deal averting the fisacl cliff or "this is gonna be a huge problem."
Just six days away from falling over the fiscal cliff, and still no deal. Congress returns to D.C. this Thursday after taking a Christmas vacation. Let's hope lawmakers bring with them little bit of left-over Christmas spirit. The president will leave Hawaii very late tonight to come back to Washington. With the latest on the fiscal cliff is Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Florida. She is the most senior Republican woman in the entire House.
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen believes lawmakers do not want to go over the fiscal cliff and a compromise is inevitable. “I’m very optimistic that if all of us pull our weight and do some serious conversations, we will have a bi-partisan solution,” Rep. Ros-Lehtinen says. “Let’s give up a little bit. Each side can concede a little and I think we can find that middle ground.”
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen also talks about her big role in getting an ex-marine out of a nightmarish prison in Mexico and back to his family for the holidays. Fmr. Marine Jon Hammar was released from the prison thanks to help from the Congresswoman. She has been in constant touch with his family.
Starting Point airs weekdays from 7am to 9am ET on CNN. Check in often to join the daily conversation.