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"Bad for growth. like your hair!" -bo

Mon, 03 Dec 2012 17:22:17 -0500

TechCrunch:

The world’s most powerful man went to Twitter to promote his plan to avoid the so-called ‘fiscal cliff‘ of impending tax hikes. If his style is any indication, the prez tweeted from Camp David while sipping an Arnold Palmer. So, make like your commander-in-chief, put your feet up, and check out some of the best moments of tax policy in 140 characters or less...

A noteworthing high point in the responses, and this exchange will be catalogued by the Library of Congress:

@dontbeaprat: @BarackObama #My2k As a recent college grad w/o a full time job, these cuts wouldn't help me, would they?

@whitehouse: @dontbeaprat cuts w/out revenue = reductions in student loans; work/study & college tax credits expire. Bad for growth. like your hair! -bo

Meanwhile, Dean Baker:

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican often cited on budget issues, is apparently badly confused about the basics of the budget. A Post piece quoted Graham as saying:

"This offer doesn’t remotely deal with entitlement reform in a way to save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security from imminent bankruptcy."

This statement is absurd on its face. Medicaid is paid out of general revenue, it makes no more sense to say that Medicaid faces bankruptcy than to say that the Commerce Department faces bankruptcy.

And Krugman:

The key is having a health insurance system that can say no — no, we won’t pay premium prices for drugs that are little if any better, we won’t pay for medical procedures that yield little or no benefit

But even as Republicans demand “entitlement reform”, they are dead set against anything like that. Bargaining over drug prices? Horrors! The Independent Payment Advisory Board? Death panels! They refuse to contemplate using approaches that have worked around the world; the only solution they will countenance is the solution that has never worked anywhere, namely, converting Medicare into an underfunded voucher system.

But, but... deficits!

 

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"Back to 1965..."

Fri, 30 Nov 2012 00:20:10 -0500

Ezra Klein notes the "peculiar impasse" in the negotiations to veer away from the apocalypse Armageddon cataclysm annihilation very-scary-sounding-thingy fiscal cliff: Republicans would agree to revenue if Democrats would just agree too... uh... They know they want “Medicare reform” — indeed, they frequently identify Medicare reform as the key to their support for a deal — but aside from premium support, they don’t quite know what they mean by it, and they’re afraid to find out.  The solution they’ve come up with, such as it is, is to insist that the Obama administration needs to be the one to propose Medicare cuts. “We accepted this meeting with the expectation that the White House team will bring a specific plan for real spending cuts — because spending cuts that Washington Democrats will accept is what is missing from the balanced approach that the president says he wants,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in regard to the most recent round of talks. Democrats find this flatly ridiculous: Given that the Obama administration would happily raise taxes without cutting Medicare but that Republicans will only raise taxes if we cut Medicare, it falls on the Republicans to name their price. But behind their negotiating posture is a troubling policy reality: They don’t know what that price is. Fear of political costs for unpopular, but necessary -- you believe -- policy isn't a political novelty (especially if you've convinced your entire base to take leave of the real world).  But I think this gives the Republicans too much credit in this particular self-created predicament.  This assumes they have specific ideas they believe make good policy and just don't want to own them alone.  It assumes they've thought this one through beyond an ideological hatred for Medicare and the safety net at large, success of the program(s) be damned.  Sherrod Brown said it best in 2003: [Privatization] has really been the thrust. From President Bush to the gentleman from California (Mr. Thomas) to Speaker Gingrich a few years ago, to back in 1965, Republicans really wanted this system turned over to the insurance companies. Privatize Medicare and give it to the insurance industry. Go back to 1965, out of roughly 200 Republican Members of the House and Senate, only 23 voted for the creation of Medicare. Gerald Ford in 1965, a future President, voted against it. Congressman Dole, future Senator Dole, Republican Presidential candidate, voted against it. Senator Strom Thurmond voted against the creation of Medicare. Congressman Donald Rumsfeld in 1965, later Secretary of Defense and the architect of this plan, I put in quotation marks, of the rebuilding of Iraq, voted against the creation of Medicare. Then in 1995, the first time Republicans had an opportunity to do something about Medicare, the Republicans under Speaker Gingrich tried to cut it by $270 billion in order to give a tax cut to the most privileged Americans, the same old story. Speaker Gingrich said in October 1995 that he hoped Medicare would wither on the vine. Republicans don't find themselves without a specific demand because  Vouchercare isn't on the table, they are in this bind because Vouchercare was only popular with Republicans primarily as a gateway to privatization.  I find it hard to believe the same party that successfully sold trickle-down economics for 3+ decades with little push back from Democrats, or managed to get the very tax cuts being debated now on the table then (as a job creator, no less) is suddenly too timid to bullshit the American populace into getting behind they're latest proposal.  No. They would praise the genius of toddler's finger painting if they thought the public would buy it. The reason Republicans can't make a specific demand now with the White House bluntly asking them to name their price is simple: they haven't considered it much. Reform is the white wash, ove[...]



Intruding Upon the Constitution by the Religious Right

Thu, 08 Nov 2012 17:50:21 -0500

  by WALTER BRASCH   Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky, of Peoria, Ill., ordered all parish priests in his diocese to read a letter to their congregations condemning Barack Obama. The letter, to be read the weekend before the election, declared that Obama and the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate had launched an “assault upon our religious freedom.” He wasn’t the only priest who used the pulpit to attack the President. Bishop David Lauren of Green Bay, Wisc., told his congregations that voting for Obama and other candidates who were pro-choice or who believed in embryonic stem cell research or gay marriage could put their “soul in jeopardy.” Others, primarily from evangelical Protestant faiths, were even more adamant in their religious intolerance, declaring that voting for Obama would definitely condemn their souls to Hell. Southern Baptist evangelist Franklin Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham, said President Obama was “waving his fist before God” by supporting same-sex marriage and women’s abortion rights. In full-page newspaper ads, shortly before the election, the 94-year-old Billy Graham, whose words may have been written by his son, declared that Americans should vote for “candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles.” Those principles, according to the ad, include opposition to same-sex marriage. A spokesman for the Grahams said that neither person endorses candidates. However, Billy Graham reportedly told Romney he would do “all I can to help you,” and removed Mormonism from a list of cults on one of their web pages. In February, Franklin Graham, who earns about $600,000 a year as head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, declared that Obama had plans to create “a new nation without God or perhaps under many gods.” The re-election of President Obama didn’t stop the attacks. The Rev. Jerry Priscano, a Catholic priest from Erie, Pa., said Obama was the anti-Christ. On his Facebook page, he declared, “It will only be a matter of time before our nation is completely destroyed,” and that Hurricane Sandy, apparently a sign from God to the liberal northeast, “was only the beginning.” A Pew Forum study of the 2012 vote showed that white Catholics favored Romney (59%–40%), Hispanic Catholics overwhelming supported Obama (75–21). Romney also had the evangelical Christians (79–20), and other Protestants (57–42). Although Romney pandered to Jewish voters, claiming he would be Israel’s best friend, and that Obama couldn’t be trusted, Jews went for Obama (69–30). The Pew exit poll measured only persons who identified themselves as Jews or Christians. Factoring into the vote against Barack Obama is religious bigotry that drips with the hatred of anything not Christian. About one-fourth of all White evangelical Protestants believe he is a Muslim, although the President goes to a Protestant church and has never held Muslim values or beliefs. In one of the great leaps of faith, evangelicals also believe Obama is a “godless socialist Muslim,” something much rarer than a Klan leader voting for a Black Jew for president. Overall, about one-sixth of Americans believe he is Muslim, according to a poll by Public Religion Research Institute. Ironically, most evangelical Protestants also believe Mormonism is a non-Christian cult and refused to support Mitt Romney in the primaries. Faced by a “Muslim” and a Mormon in the general election, the evangelicals supported the Mormon, who had flip-flopped from moderate to conservative to get the nomination and then tried tacking slightly to the center for the general election. The right-wing believe that America is a Christian nation and should elect only like-minded Christians to office. Even many Christian religions, such as Unitarianism, are suspect in the eyes of those who absolutely believe they absolutely know God’s intent, and everyone else is wrong. They support Israel, far closer to being a socialist na[...]



Big Bird

Tue, 06 Nov 2012 18:21:15 -0500

I went out canvassing for the Democrats out in Antioch, California yesterday. There I met a woman in mid-50s perhaps who said this to me. 

I ain't voting for the other guy after he dissed Big Bird.

And rightly so.

 

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When God is Your Lifeboat

Mon, 05 Nov 2012 02:35:22 -0500

Kevin Roose over at the Daily Intel of New York Magazine pointed me over this column by Red State's Erick Erickson who while believing that Mitt Romney will win on Tuesday with an Electoral College split of 285 to 253 over the President also exposes one of the key tenets of right-wing Christian evangelicalism especially as practiced in the United States. Erickson writes:

My world view is pretty simple. I think this world is destined to go to hell in a hand basket by design (his italics, my bold). I think things are supposed to go to pot. So if Barack Obama wins, I won’t be upset. If Mitt Romney wins, I won’t be running through the streets cheering. I think, either way, it is all part of the design. The world is going down hill. Barack Obama re-elected just gets us down the slippery slope faster in my view. For others, it is Mitt Romney who does.

If your way of thinking is that it is God's plan to have this Earth go to hell because in that said aforementioned deity is your lifeboat then what does it matter if life on this planet goes to "hell in a hand basket." Such thinking is delusional and Mr. Erickson in any other country would be dismissed as a lunatic not to mention as a seriously misguided practioncer of Christian theology. That line of thinking is starkly dangerous and should be universally condemned for what it is, insanity.

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The Party of Legitimate Rape Strikes Again

Wed, 24 Oct 2012 15:22:54 -0400

It is truly illuminating to hear the current crop of Republicans, especially their not so illuminated menfolk, expound their views on rape. And their views, which are so extraordinarily extreme, speak volumes as to who controls the modern GOP. In Missouri, Rep. Todd Akin now running against Senator Claire McCaskill thinks that not all rapes are "legitimate" basically implying that some women just ask for it. He further went to mouth off such quackery that in any other country, he would have been laughed into oblivion. Said Todd Akin, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

No Mr. Akin, the body does not have that capability. And shame on you for rape is rape.

But the shameful ignorance doesn't end there. Over in neighboring Illinois, first-term Rep. Joe Walsh just last week noted that abortions are "absolutely" never necessary to save the lives of pregnant women. "With modern technology and science, you can't find one instance," Walsh said. "There is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing."

While we are all aware that the modern GOP is not the party of science, this ignorance is beyond the pale. My Aunt Miriam, aged 46, died in 1970 having bled to death because doctors refused to abort a fetus that had turned in a malignant tumor. She hemorrhaged to her death in a country where abortion remains largely illegal. It was only in 2006 after decades of pressing for a few exceptions did Colombia's Constitutional Court grant the right to an abortion in cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger. So read this correctly, what Joe Walsh wants is for women like my aunt to bleed to death. I find this morally repulsive.

And now we are told that rape is an act of God. In Indiana, Richard Mourdock, the man who ended Dick Lugar's 36-year Senatorial career because he was deemed too centrist, claimed yesterday in a debate that pregnancies from rape are "something that God intended to happen".

One wonders is Mr. Mourdock a candidate for a post in the secular US Senate or is he a candidate for the ministry in some bizarre cult? Well to be frank, he, like Akin and Walsh, is already a member of a bizarre cult called the Tea Party and that cult is who effectively controls the modern GOP.

Please help defeat these extremists by donating to Democrats who fight to keep abortion safe, legal and rare:

Missouri Senate Race: Senator Claire McCaskill

Eighth Congressional District of Illinois: Tammy Duckworth

Indiana Senate Race: Joe Donnelly for Indiana

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Early voting victory in Ohio, but more challenges to come?

Tue, 16 Oct 2012 15:36:47 -0400

In a once sentence ruling, the Supreme Court left intact a US Appeals Court ruling that restored early voting rights for all OH voters the weekend before the Nov. 6 election.  Questions remained over how quickly Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted -- who has led the state Republicans' push to shrink the early voting window aggressively -- would uphold his promise to restore statewide early voting hours.

Steve Benen with some good news: 

Husted has now issued a directive setting uniform hours on the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before the election, and it's online here (pdf). In a statement, he grudgingly conceded, "Today I have set uniform hours statewide, giving all Ohio voters the same opportunities to vote in the upcoming presidential election regardless of what county they live in." That this is a concession the Ohio Secretary of State fought tirelessly not to make is rather remarkable, but as of this afternoon, it appears the fight is over.

Big win.  But Rick Hasen says voting rights battles may not be over in Ohio.

The state of Ohio still has not announced whether it will appeal further in the other Ohio voting case, involving wrong precinct ballots.  This is by far a more important case in terms of the consequences for the election.

[...]Ohio had a stronger argument in the early voting case on equal protection grounds than they’d have in the wrong precinct case.  But because this is more consequential, potentially outcome determinative in Ohio, there will be partisan pressures to appeal.

Stay tuned.

 

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A Great Question. A Horrible Answer.

Tue, 02 Oct 2012 00:34:19 -0400

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He had nine from which to choose. He admitted that he was a great question. His choice was Antonin Scalia as "the model judge" before scrambling back towards the center his discomfort ever evident.

Massachusetts can do better and will do better by sending Elizabeth Warren to the United States Senate.

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No Daylight Equals a Whole Lot of Darkness

Mon, 01 Oct 2012 17:58:10 -0400

There has been a debate within the Romney camp as to whether it suits the flailing candidacy of Mitt Romney to use the turmoil in the Middle East for political advantage. Mind you, Mittens already has tried this inappropriate if not heinous comments in the wake of Ambassador Chris Stevens' death in Benghazi.You would think having being once burned, actually twice burned because he of the recent summer tour in which he managed without even to batting an eyelash to disparage friend and foe (at least from his perspective the Palestinians are foes) so unwittingly that it raised issues of mental competency, Mittens might be shy about wading into issues that have singed him in the not so distant past. But if at first you fail, then fail, fail, fail again. Probably at the behest of John Bolton, the arch neo-conservative who served as George W. Bush's Ambassador to the United Nations and who just last week thought it appropriate to describe US foreign policy during the Obama Administration with a homophobic slur, Mitt Romney has taken to the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal to demonstrate how utterly unfit he is to be President of the United States. There are numerous outright fabrications in his piece. He writes for example that "in recent years, President Obama has allowed our leadership to atrophy." By what measure and over what time frame? Because while a June 2012 Pew Research Center poll found that "global approval of President Barack Obama's policies has declined significantly since he first took office, while overall confidence in him and attitudes toward the U.S. have slipped modestly as a consequence" but nonetheless remain significantly higher than at anytime during the George W. Bush years. Romney goes on to write "our economy is stuck in a 'recovery' that barely deserves the name. Our national debt has risen to record levels. Our military, tested by a decade of war, is facing devastating cuts thanks to the budgetary games played by the White House." Well if the economy is in a recovery that barely deserves such assignation, it is thanks to your party which in the words of Senate Majority Mitch McConnell believes that "single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president" and never mind the welfare of the American people. Thus for example it was your party which just last week defeated a jobs bill that would have put some 30,000 veterans returning from serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan to work. The line about the national debt would be more believable if not for the fact that under Reagan-Bush your party tripled the national debt and under Bush the Dumber doubled it. And that line about the military facing "devastating cuts" is an outright fabrication. The Obama budget proposal called for spending $36 billion more on the Pentagon in 2017 than in 2013. Only in the mathematically challenged world of the GOP is more less. But no line is more egregious nor more dangerous than when Romney writes that there should be "no daylight between the United States and Israel." Now think about what this means. For starters, it means jettisoning a bipartisan bedrock principle of US foreign policy as regards the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Notwithstanding the fact that Israel is an ally, it has been the policy of the United States government to at least back to Nixon Administration to act as a honest broker between the two sides. Romney would have throw us this away. Let's be very clear here. Both publicly and privately, Mitt Romney has expressed a rather one-sided, if not racist, view of the Palestinians. Even when he has a former US Secretary of State expressing that there might be a pathway to a permanent peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Romney is so entrenched in his views that he fails to ask that learned, experienced voice to expound on h[...]



Paul Ryan Doesn't Have the Time

Sun, 30 Sep 2012 17:52:20 -0400

"I don’t have the time. It would take me too long to go through all of the math." - GOP VP Candidate Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee

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He didn't the time to explain the Romney-Ryan tax cuts, or is it the Ryan-Romney plan, to Fox News' Chris Wallace. In this case it is not that the math is hard, it is that math is impossible or contradicts their stated view that their tax cuts for the wealthy would have no impact on the middle class. Here is what an August report from the non-partisan Brookings Institution concluded about the Romney-Ryan tax plan:

"Our major conclusion is that a revenue-neutral individual income tax change that incorporates the features Governor Romney has proposed – including reducing marginal tax rates substantially, eliminating the individual alternative minimum tax (AMT) and maintaining all tax breaks for saving and investment – would provide large tax cuts to high-income households, and increase the tax burdens on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers. This is true even when we bias our assumptions about which and whose tax expenditures are reduced to make the resulting tax system as progressive as possible. For instance, even when we assume that tax breaks – like the charitable deduction, mortgage interest deduction, and the exclusion for health insurance – are completely eliminated for higher-income households first, and only then reduced as necessary for other households to achieve overall revenue-neutrality– the net effect of the plan would be a tax cut for high-income households coupled with a tax increase for middle-income households."

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