TEA PARTIER MAKES SHOCKING OBAMACARE COMPARISON
Bill O'Brien Compares Obamacare To Fugitive Slave Act
The Huffington Post | Ashley Alman | 08/01/2013
DURING AN AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY RALLY ON THURSDAY, NEW HAMPSHIRE STATE REP. BILL O'BRIEN (R) COMPARED THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT TO THE FUGITIVE SLAVE ACT.
"And what is Obamacare?" O'Brien, formerly the state's House Speaker, asked. "It is a law as destructive to personal and individual liberty as the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 that allowed slave owners to come to New Hampshire and seize African Americans and use the federal courts to take them back to federal… to slave states."
The tea party-backed O'Brien, who is currently exploring a run for Congress, made the remarks at a statue of John Parker Hale, one of the first U.S. senators to take a stand against slavery in the 1800s.
O'Brien continued: "Barack Obama and our allies fooled us long enough to pass a law that is clearly among the worst ever enacted by Congress."
"BILL O'BRIEN'S PAINFUL AND GROSS COMPARISON IS JUST THE LATEST IN A LONG LINE OF MISLEADING ATTACKS AND RHETORIC PROMOTED BY THE SAME SPECIAL INTERESTS WHO OPPOSED HEALTH REFORM IN THE FIRST PLACE," said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director to Granite State Progress said in a statement.
HAWKINS SAID THAT AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY AND ITS SUPPORTERS ARE ACTIVELY WORKING TO MAKE HEALTH COVERAGE EXPANSION "AS SCARY AND BURDENSOME AS POSSIBLE."
O'Brien's appearance at the event was part of an ongoing, Koch brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity campaign targeting President Barack Obama's signature health care law. THE ADVOCACY GROUP RECENTLY SPONSORED AN ADVERTISEMENT THAT ASKED MISLEADING QUESTIONS ABOUT THE IMPACT OF THE HEALTH CARE LAW.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
GOP ABORTION OPPONENT MAKES EMBARRASSING BLUNDER
GOP Abortion Opponent Realizes That His Own Party's Amendment Helped Cover Abortions
RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR | 12/04/13 | HuffPost
WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 90 percent of health insurance plans offered to lawmakers and congressional staff cover abortion, an unforeseen consequence of a Republican amendment to President Barack Obama's health law.
The disclosure Wednesday by abortion opponent Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., also highlights an emerging issue nationally: It may be hard for individual consumers to determine whether abortion is a covered benefit in plans offered through the new online insurance markets.
For government insiders, there's another twist: Lawmakers and their staffs now appear to be the only federal employees with access to abortion coverage through their government-supported health insurance plans.
Smith said only nine of the 112 insurance plans offered to members of Congress and their staffs through the Washington, D.C., insurance market exclude abortion as a covered benefit.
"It was incredibly confusing, if not impossible, to find out," said Smith. "That is what's happening in state after state. People cannot find out if plans on the exchange include abortion."
Although the Washington insurance market has been recognized for making information on abortion coverage relatively easy to find for consumers, Smith says he suspects some abortion opponents on Capitol Hill may have unwittingly signed up in plans that do cover the procedure. Lawmakers and staffers have only until Monday to finalize their enrollments, while the rest of the country has until Mar. 31.
Abortion remains a legal medical procedure in most cases, but it's subject to increasing restrictions in conservative-leaning states.
Under Obama's health care law, every state must have at least one plan that does not cover abortion. And states can also bar or restrict abortion coverage by the new plans. At least 23 states have done so. But a majority have not, along with Washington, where lawmakers and staff must shop.
The district's insurance market —DC Health Link — provides information on abortion coverage through its frequently-asked-questions feature. Spokesman Richard Sorian said abortion is not covered in all Aetna plans or the BlueCross BlueShield multistate plan.
But in other states, consumers have to look up the benefits for each plan individually.
"The problem we are coming up against is that customer service representatives don't know what's going on," said Anna Higgins, a health care policy expert with the religious conservative group Family Research Council. "It's not necessarily their fault. The law is very complicated."
Higgins said the district has actually been in the forefront of disclosing abortion information. She says a federal disclosure requirement is needed for the country as a whole. Abortion rights supporters say such concerns are overblown, given the number of states that have barred coverage.
Abortion politics is tricky and convoluted.
A longstanding federal law known as the Hyde amendment prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. A similar law applies to the federal employee health plan.
However, lawmakers and many staffers are no longer in that plan.
That's due to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who opposes the new health care program and abortion. When Obama's law was being debated, he pushed through an amendment that requires lawmakers and their personal staffs to get private coverage through the same markets that uninsured Americans will be using.
And those plans can cover abortion, provided that they do not use federal funds to pay for it. Federal tax credits to help people afford coverage must be kept apart from funds used to pay for elective abortions. The money will come from the portion of premiums directly paid by enrollees.
That compromise was sufficient to secure the votes of Democratic lawmakers opposed to abortion for passage of the health care law.
But many abortion opponents, including Roman Catholic bishops, say the compromise weakened the longstanding federal ban on abortion funding.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Scott Walker Fires Campaign Aide Following Racist Tweets
The Huffington Post | By Ashley Alman
Posted: 12/03/2013 10:50 pm EST | Updated: 12/04/2013 1:59 am EST
The campaign of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) fired deputy finance director Taylor Palmisano on Tuesday after learning that she'd tweeted out bigoted comments about Hispanics in 2011.
Shortly after Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Daniel Bice notified Walker's campaign of the tweets, which made derogatory comments about a housekeeper in a library and fellow patrons on a bus, Palmisano was ousted.
"I will choke that illegal mex cleaning in the library. Stop banging (expletive) chairs around and turn off your Walkman," said one of the tweets, posted on March 9, 2011.
In a statement to the Sentinel, Friends of Scott Walker spokesman Jonathan Wetzel attempted to distance the governor from the aide's comments, saying Palmisano was "immediately removed."
"Both the Governor, and the campaign, condemn these insulting remarks which do not reflect our views in any way," he said.
Palmisano, who has already deleted her Twitter and Facebook accounts, released a statement to the Sentinel expressing her remorse.
"I deeply regret these offensive and irresponsible remarks," she said. "I sincerely apologize, and understand the consequences of making such unacceptable statements."
Palmisano was the aide responsible for sending out the campaign's bizarre solicitation for donations on Black Friday, encouraging supporters to contribute to the campaign, rather than buy toys and electronics.
"[H]elp give your children the gift of a Wisconsin that we can all be proud of," she wrote in the donation email.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
SORRY FOLKS, RICH PEOPLE DON'T ACTUALLY "CREATE JOBS"
Henry Blodget | Business Insider
As America struggles with high unemployment and record inequality, everyone is offering competing solutions to the problem. In this war of words (and classes), ONE THING HAS BEEN REPEATED SO OFTEN THAT MANY PEOPLE NOW REGARD IT AS FACT. "RICH PEOPLE CREATE JOBS." SPECIFICALLY, BY STARTING AND DIRECTING AMERICA'S COMPANIES, RICH ENTREPRENEURS AND INVESTORS CREATE THE JOBS THAT SUSTAIN EVERYONE ELSE. THIS STATEMENT IS USUALLY INVOKED TO JUSTIFY CUTTING TAXES ON ENTREPRENEURS AND INVESTORS. IF ONLY WE REDUCE THOSE TAXES AND REGULATIONS, THE STORY GOES, ENTREPRENEURS AND INVESTORS CAN BE INCENTED TO BUILD MORE COMPANIES AND CREATE MORE JOBS.
THIS ARGUMENT IGNORES THE FACT THAT TAXES ON ENTREPRENEURS AND INVESTORS ARE ALREADY HISTORICALLY LOW, EVEN AFTER THIS YEAR'S MODEST INCREASES. AND IT IGNORES THE ASSERTIONS OF MANY INVESTORS AND ENTREPRENEURS (LIKE ME) THAT THEY WOULD WORK JUST AS HARD TO BUILD COMPANIES EVEN IF TAXES WERE HIGHER. BUT, MORE IMPORTANTLY, THIS ARGUMENT PERPETUATES A MYTH THAT SOME WELL-OFF AMERICANS USE TO JUSTIFY TODAY'S RECORD INEQUALITY—THE IDEA THAT RICH PEOPLE CREATE JOBS.
Entrepreneurs and investors like me actually don't create the jobs—not sustainable ones, anyway. Yes, we can create jobs temporarily, by starting companies and funding losses for a while. And, yes, we are a necessary part of the economy's job-creation engine. But to suggest that we alone are responsible for the jobs that sustain the other 300 million Americans is the height of self-importance and delusion.
So, if rich people do not create the jobs, what does? A healthy economic ecosystem—one in which most participants (the middle class) have plenty of money to spend. Over the last couple of years, a rich investor and entrepreneur named Nick Hanauer has annoyed all manner of rich investors and entrepreneurs by explaining this in detail. Hanauer was the founder of online advertising company aQuantive, which Microsoft bought for $6.4 billion. What creates a company's jobs, Hanauer explains, is a healthy economic ecosystem surrounding the company, which starts with the company's customers.
The company's customers buy the company's products. This, in turn, channels money to the company and creates the need for the company to hire employees to produce, sell, and service those products. If the company's customers and potential customers go broke, the demand for the company's products will collapse. And the jobs will disappear, regardless of what the entrepreneurs or investors do.
Now, again, entrepreneurs are an important part of the company-creation process. And so are investors, who risk capital in the hope of earning returns. But, ultimately, whether a new company continues growing and creates self-sustaining jobs is a function of the company's customers' ability and willingness to pay for the company's products, not the entrepreneur or the investor capital. Therefore, as Hanauer argues, suggesting that rich entrepreneurs and investors create jobs is like suggesting that squirrels create evolution.
Or, to put it even more simply, it's like saying that a seed creates a tree. The seed does not create the tree. The seed starts the tree. But what actually grows and sustains the tree is the combination of the DNA in the seed and the soil, sunshine, water, atmosphere, nutrients, and other factors that nurture it. Plant a seed in an inhospitable environment, like a desert or Mars, and the seed won't create anything. It will die.
So, then, IF WHAT CREATES THE JOBS IN OUR ECONOMY IS, IN PART, "CUSTOMERS," WHO ARE THESE CUSTOMERS? AND WHAT CAN WE DO TO MAKE SURE THESE CUSTOMERS HAVE MORE MONEY TO SPEND TO CREATE DEMAND AND, THUS, JOBS? THE CUSTOMERS OF MOST COMPANIES ARE ULTIMATELY AMERICAN'S GIGANTIC MIDDLE CLASS—THE HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF AMERICANS WHO CURRENTLY TAKE HOME A MUCH SMALLER SHARE OF THE NATIONAL INCOME THAN THEY DID 30 YEARS AGO, BEFORE TAX POLICY AIMED AT HELPING RICH PEOPLE GET RICHER CREATED AN EXTREME OF INCOME AND WEALTH INEQUALITY NOT SEEN SINCE THE 1920S.
AMERICA'S MIDDLE CLASS HAS BEEN PUMMELED, IN PART, BY TAX POLICIES THAT REWARD "THE 1 PERCENT" AT THE EXPENSE OF EVERYONE ELSE. IT HAS ALSO BEEN PUMMELED BY GLOBALIZATION AND TECHNOLOGY IMPROVEMENTS, WHICH ARE LARGELY OUTSIDE OF ANY ONE COUNTRY'S CONTROL. The prevailing story that justifies tax cuts for America's entrepreneurs and investors is that the huge pots of gold they take home are supposed to "trickle down" to the middle class and thus benefit everyone. Unfortunately, that's not the way it actually works.
First, AMERICA'S COMPANIES ARE CURRENTLY BEING MANAGED TO SHARE THE LEAST POSSIBLE AMOUNT OF THEIR INCOME WITH THE EMPLOYEES WHO HELP CREATE IT. CORPORATE PROFIT MARGINS ARE AT ALL-TIME HIGHS, WHILE WAGES ARE AT AN ALL-TIME LOW.
Second, AS HANAUER OBSERVES, AMERICA'S RICHEST ENTREPRENEURS, INVESTORS, AND COMPANIES NOW HAVE SO MUCH MONEY THAT THEY CAN'T POSSIBLY SPEND IT ALL. SO INSTEAD OF GETTING PUMPED BACK INTO THE ECONOMY, THUS CREATING REVENUE AND WAGES, THIS CASH JUST REMAINS IN INVESTMENT ACCOUNTS. HANAUER EXPLAINS WHY. HANAUER TAKES HOME MORE THAN $10 MILLION A YEAR OF INCOME. ON THIS INCOME, HE SAYS, HE PAYS AN 11 PERCENT TAX RATE. (PRESUMABLY, MOST OF THE INCOME IS DIVIDENDS AND LONG-TERM CAPITAL GAINS, WHICH CARRY A TAX RATE OF ABOUT 20 PERCENT. AND THEN HE PROBABLY HAS SOME TAX SHELTERS THAT KNOCK THE RATE DOWN THE REST OF THE WAY).
WITH THE MORE THAN $9 MILLION A YEAR HANAUER KEEPS, HE BUYS LOTS OF STUFF. BUT, IMPORTANTLY, HE DOESN'T BUY AS MUCH STUFF AS WOULD BE BOUGHT IF HIS $9 MILLION WERE INSTEAD EARNED BY 9,000 AMERICANS EACH TAKING HOME AN EXTRA $1,000 A YEAR. WHY NOT? BECAUSE, DESPITE HANAUER'S IMPRESSIVE LIFESTYLE—HIS FAMILY OWNS A PLANE—MOST OF THE $9 MILLION JUST GOES STRAIGHT INTO THE BANK (WHERE IT EITHER SITS AND EARNS INTEREST OR GETS INVESTED IN COMPANIES THAT ULTIMATELY NEED STRONG DEMAND TO SELL PRODUCTS AND CREATE JOBS). FOR EXAMPLE, HANAUER POINTS OUT THAT HIS FAMILY OWNS ONLY THREE CARS, NOT THE 3,000 CARS THAT MIGHT BE BOUGHT IF HIS $9 MILLION WERE SPREAD OUT OVER A FEW THOUSAND FAMILIES.
If that $9 million had gone to 9,000 families instead of Hanauer, it would almost certainly have been pumped right back into the economy via consumption (i.e., demand). And, in so doing, it would have created more jobs. Hanauer estimates that, if most American families were taking home the same share of the national income that they were taking home 30 years ago, every family would have another $10,000 of disposable income to spend. That, Hanauer points out, would have a huge impact on demand—and thereby, job creation.
So, if nothing else, it's time we stopped perpetuating the fiction that "rich people create jobs." Rich people don't create jobs. Our economy creates jobs. We're all in this together. And until we understand that, our economy is going to go nowhere.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
WHY THE GOP SHOULD STOP SUPPORTING LIMBAUGH
Rush Compares Filibuster Reform to Rape, Proving Yet Again He Is America’s Worst Person
By Jamelle BouieNovember | Nov. 23rd 2013 | The Daily Beast
Rush Limbaugh compared Democrat-led filibuster reform to rape on his radio show on Friday. Shock may be part of his shtick, but it’s time the GOP stopped supporting him.
Yet again, Rush Limbaugh proves he is the worst person in America. In this case, it’s his reaction to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision to end the supermajority requirement on judicial nominees—an extra constitutional innovation of Senate Republicans—and lower the threshold to a simple majority of 51 votes.
In short order, Limbaugh goes from complaining about the rule change to comparing it to rape. Specifically, he offers an analogy. “Let’s say, let’s take ten people in a room and they’re a group. And the room is made up of six men and four women. Right? The group has a rule that the men cannot rape the women. The group also has a rule that says any rule that will be changed must require six votes of the 10 to change the rule."
Already, you can tell this will not end well. Says Limbaugh, “[E]very now and then some lunatic in the group proposes to change the rule to allow women to be raped. But they never were able to get six votes for it. There were always the four women voting against it and there was, you know, two guys.”
I think you can see where this is going. “Well, the guy that kept proposing that women be raped finally got tired of it,” Limbaugh said. “He was in the majority and he said, you know what, we’re going to change the rule. Now all we need is five. And the women said, ‘you can’t do that.’ ‘Yes we are, we’re the majority, we’re changing the rule.’”
There’s so much wrong with this analogy that it’s hard to know where to begin. To start, freedom from rape isn’t just a rule that you can implement and change at will; it’s a human right. The filibuster, by contrast, is an accident of legislative history that can—and has—been changed to fit the circumstances.
What’s more, there was nothing illegitimate about the Democratic rule change. The “nuclear option” was a drastic step—though, arguably, it returns the Senate to its pre–2009 status quo—but it was fair game.
And again, beyond all of that, changing the filibuster is nothing like rape, and your consent isn’t violated when you lose a majority vote. Limbaugh obviously thinks differently, but Republicans don’t have the right to impose a supermajority requirement on the business of the Senate or blockade presidential nominations. By contrast, people have a right not to be raped.
Of course, Limbaugh doesn’t actually care about any of this, he’s just looking for a way to offend people and fan the sputtering rage of his loyal followers. And it worked. This “analogy” was followed by a stream of harsh criticism from a whole host of journalists and Democratic officials.
The question isn’t whether Limbaugh will ever stop—he won’t—but whether Republicans will ever have the guts to cut themselves off from his garbage. And given the GOP’s continued enthusiasm for this talk radio troll, I don’t think I’ll hold my breath.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
RIGHT-WING GARBAGE DEBUNKED: NO, REGULATION DOESN’T KILL JOBS
The right loves to warn that regulations will harm "job creators." A new report explains why that's nonsense
SEAN MCELWEE | Dec. 2, 2013 | Salon
IT’S ONE OF THE OLDEST RIGHT-WING CLAIMS: “EXCESSIVE” REGULATION WILL HARM JOB CREATORS AND KILL THE ECONOMY. BUT IS IT BASED ON SOUND ECONOMICS?
ONE NEW STUDY, WHICH EXAMINES THIS PARTICULAR ARGUMENT, FINDS IT ABSURD ON ITS FACE. Taylor Lincoln, who authored the report for Public Citizen, tells Salon the goal was to “point out hypocrisy and contradictions and the chasms between rhetoric and reality.” To that end, the report cites one Heritage Foundation study which asserted that a more efficient regulatory system could create 9.6 million jobs. The problem, as Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein noted: “there are only 7 million unemployed Americans.”
Heritage isn’t the only one making this argument. A Phoenix Foundation study claimed that, “a 5 percent reduction in the federal regulatory budget would yield 5.9 million new jobs over five years.” But the Public Citizen report points out that this leads to a ludicrous conclusion: “a 16 percent decrease (a figure the authors chose to parallel the amount by which they say federal spending had exceeded revenue since 2000) would result in the creation of 18.8 million new jobs over five years. In contrast, there are only about 11.3 million unemployed Americans.”
Dr. Thomas McGarity, a University of Texas professor who has studied regulation for decades, finds the right-wing argument wanting. As to whether cutting regulation could increase economic growth, he tells Salon, “it’s a silly argument. The impact of regulation, particularly in this era when it’s so darn hard to write a regulation, is nothing compared to what the Fed does each meeting.” His most recent book, Freedom to Harm, details how a decade-long assault on regulation threatens workers and the environment.
IN FACT, THE OMB ESTIMATES THAT REGULATIONS PROVIDE HUGE ECONOMIC BENEFITS. THEY FIND THAT MAJOR REGULATIONS BENEFIT THE ECONOMY BETWEEN $193 BILLION AND $800 BILLION A YEAR AT A COST OF $57 TO $84 BILLION. McGarity confirms this, telling Salon, “The thing that is most troubling to me is, when the right-wing think-tanks or the government estimates the cost of regulation, they never go back and see how much it did cost. The few retrospective studies that have been done have shown uniformly that the cost estimates have been higher, much higher than the actual cost of the regulation. The reason is that once the regulations are in place companies are able to adapt to them very quickly.”
The irony is that REPUBLICANS ALWAYS HAIL THE ABILITY OF BUSINESSES TO INNOVATE AND ADAPT, BUT THEIR ANTI-REGULATORY STANCE IS PREMISED ON THE IDEA THE BUSINESSES CANNOT ADAPT TO NEW REGULATION.
BOTH MCGARITY AND LINCOLN NOTED THAT NIXON, FORD AND H.W. BUSH WERE ALL VERY PRO-REGULATION. McGarity tells Salon that “there used to be strong environmentally conscious Republicans in the House and Senate, [but] you can’t point to one Republican now who is a strong environmental advocate.” Lincoln says the anti-regulatory impulse is tied to the economy. When the economy is strong, businesses quickly adapt to regulation, but in hard times, regulation appears as a scapegoat for the weak economy. Both feared that the Republican party is now ruled largely by business interests unconcerned with the common good.
But it’s not just right-wing think tanks and demagogues claiming that cutting regulation will somehow magically create jobs. The Economist claimed this year: “But red tape in America is no laughing matter. The problem is not the rules that are self-evidently absurd. It is the ones that sound reasonable on their own but impose a huge burden collectively.” The article concludes that regulation may “crush the life out of America’s economy.”
In the New York Times earlier this month, Tyler Cowen wrote:
We don’t really know the total regulatory burden in our economy today, in part because there are too many rules and side effects to add up all the costs. Nonetheless, we are continually increasing the obstacles to doing business. America has lost the robust productivity growth of much of the postwar era, and the share of start-ups in the economy has been falling each decade since the 1980s. Although overregulation is hardly the only culprit, it is very likely contributing to the problem.
WHEN ARGUING TO GUT AMERICA’S REGULATORY REGIME, ONE DOESN’T NEED DATA OR STATISTICS, JUST A GENERAL FEELING THAT REGULATION IS PROBABLY HARMING ECONOMIC GROWTH.
OPPONENTS OF REGULATION OFTEN SUGGEST THAT REGULATIONS CREATE UNCERTAINTY AND THEREFORE STYMIE GROWTH, BUT IN TRUTH THEY DO THE OPPOSITE. To understand why, IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT REGULATION, ONE IN WHICH RAILROAD TRACK GAUGES ARE DIVERGENT, FOOD AND DRUGS ARE RELEASED WITHOUT TRIALS AND BUILDINGS ARE BUILT ON A WHIM. AMERICANS WHO VISIT COUNTRIES WITH A WEAK GOVERNANCE ARE OFTEN SURPRISED TO FIND THAT THE STAIRS AREN’T OF EQUAL HEIGHT. BY ESTABLISHING A MINIMUM STANDARD FOR ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION, CUSTOMER SAFETY AND WORKER TREATMENT, REGULATION CAN CHANGE ENTIRE INDUSTRIES.
THE AUTO INDUSTRY IS A QUINTESSENTIAL EXAMPLE. TODAY’S ADVERTISEMENTS FOCUS ON FUEL EFFICIENCY AND SAFETY, AND WE TAKE AIR BAGS AND SEAT BELTS FOR GRANTED, BUT CARS WERE ONCE DEATH TRAPS. Lincoln explains, “Their market research showed that adding seat belts didn’t help and they’re not seeing profit it it, they’re not seeing dollar signs.” All of that began to change with Ralph Nader’s famous “Unsafe at Any Speed.” CUSTOMERS DIDN’T KNOW THAT CARS COULD BE SAFER AND MORE FUEL-EFFICIENT UNTIL THE GOVERNMENT BEGAN ENFORCING THE REGULATIONS. HENRY FORD ONCE SAID, “IF I HAD ASKED PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANTED, THEY WOULD HAVE SAID FASTER HORSES.”
CONSUMERS ARE NATURALLY CONSERVATIVE AND THEY ARE HEAVILY INFLUENCED BY ADVERTISING. GEORGE MCGOVERN, ECHOING THE ARGUMENTS OF J. K. GALBRAITH, SAID THAT ADVERTISING CAN “BRAINWASH THE CONSUMER” BECAUSE “NO ONE WAS EVER BORN WITH THE TASTE FOR HUGE AUTOMOBILES.” COMPANIES WERE STUCK ON PRODUCING SLICK FANCY CARS, NOT SAFE CARS. REGULATION UPENDED THE INDUSTRY AND ENTIRELY CHANGED THE WAY THAT CUSTOMERS AND SOCIETY VIEWED THE CAR: NOT A LUXURY TOY, BUT A UTILITARIAN MODE OF TRANSPORTATION. This changed the way customers thought about safety and companies thought about advertising.
THE REPORT SHOWS HOW REGULATIONS WE NOW TAKE FOR GRANTED — CATALYTIC CONVERTERS, UNLEADED GASOLINE, FUEL EFFICIENCY STANDARDS, WORKER SAFETY PROTECTION, MINIMUM WAGES, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS — WERE ONCE DENOUNCED BY INDUSTRY SHILLS AS “JOB KILLING” OR “ECONOMY STRANGLING.” INDUSTRY EXPERTS PREDICTED THAT WORKER SAFETY REGULATIONS WOULD DESTROY JOBS AND TANK INDUSTRIES. THE DAY BEFORE THE BILLS WOULD PASS THEY WOULD SHOUT CASSANDRA-LIKE WARNINGS AND HOLD UP MAYAN CALENDARS. BUT THE NEXT DAY THE AIR WAS CLEANER, WORKERS WERE SAFER AND THE ECONOMY CHUGGED ALONG.
Even Tom Donohue, the President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is forced to concede, “I think we need a strong public sector. We have about a $1.7 trillion a year regulatory bill. Seventy-five, 80 percent of that is very useful. You’ve got to have air traffic control. You’ve got to have food safety.”
Today, THE SAME ABSURD CLAIMS ONCE RAISED ABOUT NOW BANAL REGULATIONS ARE BEING TOSSED ABOUT AGAIN. ALREADY INDUSTRY EXPERTS HAVE PREDICTED 12.9 MILLION JOB LOSSES FROM DODD-FRANK, THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT AND OBAMA’S GHG REGULATION PROPOSALS. LINCOLN’S GOAL IS SIMPLE: “WE ARE TRYING TO LAY DOWN A RECORD OF WHAT THEY’RE SAYING NOW, BECAUSE THEY ARE GOING TO BE WRONG AGAIN.”
Sentiment: Strong Buy
BOB MCDONNELL ENDS TERM IN VIRGINIA STATEHOUSE WITH SCANDAL-STAINED YEAR
ERIC TUCKER | 11/28/13 | HuffPost
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Bob McDonnell's national profile ascended fast in four years as Virginia governor.
He delivered the Republican response to the State of the Union Address in 2010. HE BECAME CHAIRMAN OF THE REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION IN 2011 AND WAS WIDELY MENTIONED AS A POSSIBLE VICE PRESIDENTIAL PICK JUST OVER A YEAR AGO. Even on the day he was passed over in favor of Rep. Paul Ryan, McDonnell introduced Mitt Romney at a Norfolk naval museum and basked in the Republican candidate's public praise.
"WHAT A GREAT GOVERNOR YOU HAVE," ROMNEY TOLD CHEERING VIRGINIANS. "WHAT A TERRIFIC MAN AND A TERRIFIC LEADER. WAY TO GO."
That was then.
McDonnell leaves office in January under the cloud of a federal investigation that has overshadowed his accomplishments, risks tarnishing his legacy and perhaps has crippled beyond repair a once-promising political future. He hasn't ruled out a return to politics — though his options seem limited. He told The Associated Press in a recent interview that he would remain engaged in "compassionate conservative" policies he values, including perhaps homelessness or prisoners' rights, but wouldn't disclose specifics.
The governor's seat has opened the door to higher office since Thomas Jefferson held it from 1779 to 1781. McDonnell's two immediate predecessors — Democrats Tim Kaine and Mark Warner — are now U.S. senators. Even so, McDonnell said he has no interest in the Senate and has never thought seriously about the White House. He brushed aside questions about whether an investigation into his relationship with a donor had derailed his political career, saying he's never looked beyond his current position.
"The thought of doing something beyond being governor of Virginia is something the press mentioned and other people mentioned, but until I finished this office, I really wasn't going to engage seriously in thinking what else could that be," said McDonnell, a former legislator, state attorney general and retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel.
Like all Virginia governors, he is barred from seeking a consecutive term. After being governor, he said, "There really aren't a whole lot of offices that excite you."
MCDONNELL'S DEPARTURE COMES AS FEDERAL PROSECUTORS INVESTIGATE WHETHER HE AND WIFE MAUREEN GAVE SPECIAL TREATMENT TO STAR SCIENTIFIC INC., A DIETARY SUPPLEMENT-MAKER WHOSE CHIEF EXECUTIVE HELPED COVER CATERING COSTS FOR THEIR DAUGHTER'S WEDDING AND GAVE THE FIRST COUPLE OTHER GIFTS, INCLUDING A ROLEX WATCH FOR THE GOVERNOR.
McDonnell apologized in July and said he had returned more than $120,000 in loans, as well as other gifts. He repeated in the interview that he had done nothing illegal on Star Scientific's behalf, but said he'd do "things differently today than choices I made a couple of years ago."
"This has been a difficult year," he said. "In 37 years (of service), never has anyone ever even insinuated that I have done anything improper in my professional life."
A Justice Department spokesman and a spokesman for McDonnell's legal team declined to comment on the investigation, which surprised many in the state.
"If you said Bob McDonnell, the first words out of my mouth would be Boy Scout, Eagle Scout, just beyond reproach," said Democratic state Sen. Chap Petersen, who served alongside McDonnell in the House of Delegates. "You just could not imagine him getting caught up in something like that."
As governor, McDonnell has actively lobbied for select policy initiatives — for instance, delivering detailed PowerPoint presentations at town-hall meetings in support of an ultimately unsuccessful effort to privatize state-owned liquor stores — and engaged directly with lawmakers on issues, including transportation, he's prioritized. But he's also invited staffers and subordinates to collaborate on strategy and to help sort out specifics of implementing big-picture goals, said former state Education Secretary Laura Fornash.
WHATEVER THE INVESTIGATION'S OUTCOME, THE SCANDAL REPRESENTS A PRECIPITOUS FALL FOR A HIGHLY VISIBLE REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR WHOSE CENTRIST APPEAL IN A CRITICAL SWING STATE MADE HIM A KEY ROMNEY SPOKESMAN. Though he took office with nearly 59 percent of the vote, exit polling conducted at this year's election for AP and television networks show that a slight majority of Virginians — 52 percent — approve of his job performance, while 41 percent disapprove.
As McDonnell ends his term, many remain mindful of the scandal. …."
Sentiment: Strong Buy
RIGHT-WING EXTREMISTS FACE NEW MORAL CONUNDRUM
When Healthcare.gov actually starts working, GOP will have to choose between politics or their constituents' health
BRIAN BEUTLER | NOV 25, 2013 | Salon
The confluence of two pieces of news last week will place Republicans at a moral crossroads — either by this weekend, or whenever Healthcaregov can legitimately be described as a “working” website.
The first came from Jeffrey Zients — the Obama administration point person in charge of fixing Healthcaregov — who told reporters on Friday that the site will be able to handle 50,000 users at a time and 800,000 users a day by the the end of next week. That’s double the current capacity, and right in time for an expected surge in demand just before the end of the year.
The second came from the pro-reform group Families USA, which examined options available to 15 million people who are currently covered on the individual market (many of whose policies have been canceled and will lapse by the end of the year) under the Affordable Care Act.
ACCORDING TO FAMILIES USA, OVER 70 PERCENT OF THOSE CURRENTLY INSURED WILL EITHER QUALIFY FOR PREMIUM TAX CREDITS ON STATE-BASED INSURANCE EXCHANGES, OR BECOME NEWLY ELIGIBLE FOR MEDICAID COVERAGE UNDER THE HEALTHCARE LAW.
“Nationally, 71 percent of people in the individual market under age 65 have incomes at or below 400 percent of poverty,” according to Families USA. “Under the Affordable Care Act, these people are income-eligible for financial help to purchase an insurance plan, either through new premium tax credit subsidies or through expanded Medicaid.”
TOGETHER THAT COMBINES ALL OF THE INGREDIENTS ANY MARKETPLACE NEEDS TO BE SUCCESSFUL:
1) An appealing product.
2) A large population of motivated shoppers.
3) Affordable prices, either by design or by discount.
4). A fast-moving checkout counter.
THIS IS PARTICULARLY EXCELLENT NEWS FOR THE 5-OR-SO MILLION PEOPLE WHOSE EXISTING POLICIES ARE ABOUT TO LAPSE. MANY OF THEM WEREN’T AWARE THAT THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT OFFERED THEM COMPARABLE OR BETTER DEALS. But even if they were, they didn’t have easy access to those deals if they lived in states with federally facilitated insurance exchanges. Healthcaregov’s failure left even the most informed consumers without reliable access to replacement coverage. If the site had been working, the Families USA study suggests most of the people currently facing the prospect of a coverage gap would have actually been able to purchase similar or preferable alternatives right away.
FOR THE PAST COUPLE OF MONTHS, THE HEALTHCAREGOV FAILURE ALLOWED REPUBLICANS TO IGNORE THE MORAL IMPERATIVE THEY FACE TO DIRECT THESE CONSTITUENTS TOWARD NEW OPTIONS. The cash registers aren’t working, they could tell themselves, so what good would we be doing by directing people to the market anyhow. This was always dodgy logic, but it enjoyed a real sheen of plausibility. And that’s why Republicans have spent most of November soliciting Obamacare horror stories, rather than trying to help the narrators.
A WORKING SITE THAT CAN SERVICE NEARLY A MILLION PEOPLE A DAY DESTROYS THAT EXCUSE. SOME CONSERVATIVE GROUPS HAVE BEEN CRAVEN AND RECKLESS ENOUGH TO ACTIVELY DISCOURAGE PEOPLE FROM ENROLLING IN AFFORDABLE CARE ACT COVERAGE. ELECTED REPUBLICANS HAVE GENERALLY USED THEIR INFLUENCE MORE SUBTLY, BY DRAWING ATTENTION TO THE HASSLES AND SUPPOSED DANGERS OF USING HEALTHCAREGOV. MANIPULATION VS. DIRECT APPEAL. THEY’VE ALSO MALIGNED AN ADMINISTRATIVE SOLUTION PRESIDENT OBAMA DEVISED THAT WILL ALLOW CARRIERS IN SOME STATES TO REISSUE CANCELED POLICIES.
BUT THE REAL FIX FOR 70 PERCENT (OR SO) OF PEOPLE WHOSE POLICIES HAVE BEEN CANCELED IS TO GET NEW, SUBSIDIZED COVERAGE THROUGH EXCHANGES, OR TO ENROLL IN MEDICAID. ONCE HEALTHCARE.OV IS WORKING AT HIGH CAPACITY, THEY’LL OWE PEOPLE WITH CANCELED COVERAGE MORE THAN JUST THE PLAY-ACTING THEY’VE OFFERED FOR THE PAST MONTH.
DEMOCRATS WILL BE HELPING THESE PEOPLE FIND SUCH COVERAGE. WILL REPUBLICANS?
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Well, clearly, it's not just dickw and bum with the pathetic RWNJ idiocy:
FOX NEWS HOST MAKES MAYBE THE WORST OBAMACARE COMPARISON YET
The Huffington Post | By Catherine Taibi | 11/25/2013
Fox News' Martha MacCallum had this to say on Monday about the rollout of Obamacare:
“What I keep coming back to in all of this is UNLIKE OTHER ISSUES — KATRINA OR THE IRAQ WAR—THIS IS SOMETHING THAT TOUCHES SO MANY PEOPLE’S LIVES ACROSS THE COUNTRY...”
Sentiment: Strong Buy
JOHN CORNYN, TEXAS SENATOR, SAYS IRAN DEAL IS OBAMACARE DISTRACTION
By Benjamin Hart| 11/23/2013 | HuffPost
It was predictable that GOP hawks like Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) wouldn't love the historic deal the Obama administration reached with Iran on Saturday night.
But Texas Senator John Cornyn had a unique, if completely bizarre, take on the agreement:
Amazing what WH will do to distract attention from O-care
Among the many politicians and journalists to counter Cornyn's wacky assertion was David Plouffe, Senior Advisor to President Obama:
No, a real distraction would be war. Like Iraq.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
CROOKS, LIARS, IDIOTS, AND PLUTOCRATS
BY MATÍAS VERNENGO | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013
Economic historian Carlo Cipolla famously noted that human beings fall into four basic categories: the martyr who takes an action and suffers a loss while producing a gain to others; the genius or prodigy who takes an action by which he/she makes a gain while yielding a gain also to society; the #$%$ (and liar, too) who takes an action by which he/she makes a gain causing others a loss; and the stupid person who caused losses to others while deriving no personal gain and even possibly incurring losses. AT FIRST GLANCE, THE RECENT SHUTDOWN OF THE GOVERNMENT AND THE NARROWLY AVERTED DEBT-CEILING CRISIS SEEM TO INDICATE THAT WE ARE DEALING WITH IDIOTS, THE LIKES OF MICHELE BACHMANN, TED CRUZ, LOUIE GOHMERT, STEVE KING, AND OTHER TEA PARTY REPUBLICANS.
After all, there was no rational reason to shutdown the government to preclude what is essentially a Republican-designed health law (created by the Heritage Foundation and identical to “Romneycare” in Massachusetts), that would create the conditions for finally attaining universal health coverage in the United States, a goal that all the other advanced nations achieved decades ago. In particular, the alternative to “Obamacare” proposed by the GOP is nonexistent—except for leaving millions of Americans without proper medical care. On top of that, the shutdown, together with the previous sequestration and the overall contractionary fiscal stance, contributed to make the very slow recovery even slower, leaving an unnecessarily large portion of the labor force unemployed. The actual size of the negative impact of the shutdown might be debatable (some have estimated it in the billions of dollars), but there is little doubt among reasonable economists that it was clearly negative.
The Default Prevention Act of 2013, included in the continuing resolution, reinstated government funding at pre-shutdown levels through January 15, 2014, and authorized suspension of the debt limit through February 7, 2014, at which point we would be basically in the same situation we were in October. Under the agreement reached to end the shutdown and to avoid breaching the debt-ceiling limit, the House of Representatives and the Senate agreed to hold negotiations to reach an accord by December 13 on a plan for fiscal policy for the next ten years.
This is not very different from the previous debt-ceiling crisis in 2011, when the so-called “Super Committee” was charged with finding $1.5 trillion in savings over a ten-year period, but eventually failed to reach an agreement. That triggered, in early 2013, the infamous “sequestration,” cuts of discretionary spending totaling around $1.2 trillion over the same period. Note that, as for the Super Committee and the previous Bowles-Simpson National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, the terms of any accord by the members of the Budget Panel led by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) (who were members of the Super Committee) would imply further “fiscal adjustment.” The main disagreements are that Democrats would like to see targeted spending cuts, and to increase revenue by closing tax loopholes for corporations and wealthy individuals, while Republicans would not want any tax increases, and demand cuts to entitlement spending.
The attempt at bipartisanship did not go all that well last time, and chances are that it will fail again. It must be emphasized that the actual net level of debt, once government holdings (by the Fed and other agencies and trusts) are discounted, is actually not high by historical standards (around 60% of GDP rather than 100%), and the rate of interest on it is at historical lows. So, actually, borrowing more to speed up the recovery would be the sensible thing to do.
IT WOULD, HOWEVER, BE A MISTAKE TO CONCLUDE THAT WE HAVE BEEN DOMINATED BY A GROUP OF ROGUE AND IRRATIONAL IDIOTS HELL-BENT ON DESTROYING WESTERN CIVILIZATION IN THE NAME OF CHRISTIAN VALUES AND SOME CRAZY, ILL-DEFINED NOTION OF FREEDOM. IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT, OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS, THE RADICAL ELEMENTS WITHIN THE GOP HAVE ACTUALLY ACHIEVED SOMETHING. THEY HAVE CONSOLIDATED A CONTRACTIONARY FISCAL STANCE, BARRING ANY POSSIBILITY OF THE FISCAL EXPANSION THAT WE NEED FOR A HEALTHY RECOVERY. IN FACT, REAL FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SPENDING HAS BEEN CONTRACTING EVER SINCE THE END OF THE 2009 FISCAL PACKAGE.
IN OTHER WORDS, THE INABILITY TO FIND A BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT ON FISCAL ISSUES IS NOT MERELY A “MISTAKE.” AND THE TEA PARTY ACTUALLY DOES PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN THE STRATEGY OF THE CONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT. THEY PLAY IN THE UNITED STATES THE SAME ROLE THAT THE TROIKA (EUROPEAN COMMISSION, EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK, AND INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND) PLAYS IN EUROPE, AND THAT THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF) HAS TRADITIONALLY PLAYED IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. AND AUSTERITY IS AT THE SERVICE NOT ONLY OF CUTTING EXPENSES ON SERVICES THAT AFFECT THE NEEDIEST IN SOCIETY, BUT ALSO KEEPING WAGE DEMANDS IN LINE, AND SO PROTECTING THE INTERESTS OF CORPORATIONS AND THE FEW THAT BENEFIT FROM THAT. THE PERSISTENT BATTLE ON THE BUDGET AND THE DEBT CEILING ARE PART OF THE OLD “STARVE THE BEAST” STRATEGY, WHICH ALLOWED FOR TAX CUTS AND INCREASED SPENDING, PARTICULARLY ON DEFENSE, IN ORDER TO SHOW THAT GOVERNMENT IS BLOATED AND OUT OF CONTROL, AND THAT SOCIAL SPENDING HAS TO BE SLASHED.
SO, WHILE THE PUBLIC FACES OF THE SHUTDOWN AND DEBT-CEILING CRISIS WERE THE TEA PARTYITES IN CONGRESS, WITH TED CRUZ AND HIS FILIBUSTER AS THEIR POSTER CHILD, IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT THESE GROUPS HAVE RECEIVED THE BACKING OF FOUNDATIONS AND SHADOW GROUPS CONTROLLED BY A FEW WEALTHY PLUTOCRATS LIKE THE KOCH BROTHERS. IT IS THOSE WEALTHY AT THE TOP, WHO ARE NOT AFFECTED BY THE SHUTDOWN, THAT SHOULD BE BLAMED FOR THE CURRENT CRISIS. CLASS WARFARE, NOT STUPIDITY, AND THE CROOKS, LIARS, AND PLUTOCRATS AT THE TOP, NOT THE “IDIOTS” IN THE PUBLIC SPOTLIGHT, ARE THE PROBLEM—AND AUSTERITY, PERSISTENT UNEMPLOYMENT, AND WORSENING INCOME DISTRIBUTION ARE THE RESULTS.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Ted Cruz Readies Second Attempt To Peg Obamacare Repeal To Budget Deal
The Huffington Post | By Ashley Alman
Posted: 11/22/2013 12:46 am EST
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a leader in the anti-Obamacare showdown that shut the federal government last month, is plotting how he might exploit the next budget crisis for another try at repealing President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.
While members of Congress negotiate plans to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling, Cruz, during a Bloomberg TV appearance Thursday, jumped at the opportunity to reiterate his steadfast disproval of Obamacare and said he remains focused on its repeal.
Bloomberg's Al Hunt asked Cruz whether he would insist on the repeal of Obamacare as a condition in any budget legislation that results from the talks. Cruz didn't say he would. But he didn't deny the possibility.
“I think there will be plenty of time to worry about the specific text. What I think is critical is that we keep focus on Obamacare and on fixing things," said Cruz, a possible presidential contender in 2016. "I think what we need to do is repeal in its entirety. I don’t know [if I can do that in January]. I hope so."
He may have trouble dragging some fellow Republicans along for the ride, as he did during the crisis that sparked the Oct. 1 government shutdown. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said in an interview with HuffPost earlier this month she views the budget negotiations as an opportunity for Republicans to prove that they can give up the "temper tantrums and non-compromise" to deliver a budget deal the country would approve.
"I think the Republicans have to sit back and say, 'Do we want to be part of that governing party system and compromise system, or do we want to be the group in the corner that yells and screams?' " Murray said. "That's what caused the government shutdown, the -- I'm sorry, I used to teach preschool -- the temper tantrum on the floor, to show how somehow they are powerful."
Sentiment: Strong Buy
WILL PAUL RYAN AND GOP BUDGET NEGOTIATORS #$%$ DEFEAT FROM JAWS OF VICTORY?
The sequester helps explain why we’ve seen two consecutive years oflower spending in Washington for the first time since the 1950s
by Daniel J. Mitchell on 20 November 2013 | The Commentator
There’s a joke in Washington that Democrats are the evil party and Republicans are the stupid party. Except this joke isn’t very funny since a lot of bad policy occurs when gullible GOPers get lured into “bipartisan” deals that expand government.
Consider, for example, all the tax-hiking budget deals – such as the “read my lips” capitulation of the first President Bush – that enable more spending.
TO BE FAIR, SOMETIMES REPUBLICANS ARE PLACED IN A NO-WIN SITUATION. DURING THE “FISCAL CLIFF” DISCUSSIONS LAST YEAR, OBAMA HELD THE UPPER HAND SINCE HE WOULD GET A HUGE AUTOMATIC TAX HIKE IF NOTHING HAPPENED. SO THE FINAL AGREEMENT, WHICH RESULTED IN A SMALLER TAX INCREASE, WAS ACTUALLY BETTER (OR, TO BE MORE ACCURATE, LESS WORSE) THAN I WAS EXPECTING.
BUT IN OTHER CASES, REPUBLICANS SHOULD PREVAIL BECAUSE THEY HAVE THE STRONGER HAND. THAT’S THE SITUATION WE’RE IN TODAY WITH THE AUTOMATIC SPENDING CUTS KNOWN AS SEQUESTRATION.
The sequester, which resulted from the 2011 debt-limit fight, was an unambiguous defeat for Obama and a significant victory for advocates of smaller government. And it was a defeat for all the lobbyists, special interests, and crony capitalists that get rich when there’s more money in Washington.
Though I don’t want to exaggerate. The “cuts” merely reduce the projected growth of federal spending.
But after years of unconstrained spending by both Bush and Obama, any fiscal restraint is a welcome development. Indeed, the sequester helps to explain why we’ve seen two consecutive years of lower spending in Washington for the first time since the 1950s.
No wonder Obama is desperate to cancel sequestration, even to the point of making himself a laughingstock to cartoonists.
But maybe Obama will have the last laugh because some Republicans are negotiating with Democrats to undo some of the benefits of sequestration. Here are some excerpts from a Politico report.
"…an agreement may not be so elusive after all. Hopes are growing that Ryan and Murray could reach a narrow deal to replace a portion of the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration, according to lawmakers and senior aides involved in the discussions. …On Tuesday, several key lawmakers and aides said there was about a 50-50 chance, if not better, that a small deal could be reached — a much better prognosis than many had anticipated. Murray said in an interview Tuesday that she’s in “very good conversations” with Ryan. “The goal here is to replace sequestration with responsible spending cuts and revenue,” Murray said."
I shudder to think what Senator Murray means by “responsible spending cuts.” Presumably gimmicks.
But we don’t need a vivid imagination to know what she means by “revenue.” The real question is why Republicans would be willing to “feed the beast” with more revenue, particularly when it means eviscerating the genuine spending restraint imposed by sequestration.
It even appears as if Republicans are willing to increase unemployment as part of a bad deal.
"House and Senate appropriators are putting major pressure on Murray and Ryan… Revenue raisers being discussed include increased Transportation Security Administration fees… As an extra bargaining chip, Republicans would consider including an extension of extended unemployment benefits, which expire on Dec. 28. …Murray has made clear she won’t agree to any structural changes to Medicare or Social Security, particularly without significant revenue increases."
So let’s summarize this issue. Current law is the sequester, which is a big victory.
The big spenders understandably want to eliminate or weaken the sequester, and would be especially happy to get more revenue coming to Washington.
Paul Ryan and the other Republican negotiators have the upper hand since the sequester continues if there’s no agreement.
So we have to ask ourselves why GOPers are even bothering to negotiate. There are two possible answers.
1. The “stupid party” joke actually is an accurate assessment of mental ability and Republicans are easy to trick because of their developmental challenges.
2. Republicans pretend to be fiscal conservatives when talking to voters but secretly want to enable more spending by sabotaging the sequester.
I’m actually being a bit unfair. What’s really happening is that there are divisions inside the GOP. A majority of the Republican caucus presumably understands that they hold a winning hand and they’re content to maintain current law and let the sequester continue.
BUT THE REPUBLICANS ON THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE TEND TO DISLIKE THE SEQUESTER SINCE IT REDUCES THEIR ABILITY TO SPEND OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY IN EXCHANGE FOR POLITICAL SUPPORT.
They correctly complain that America’s main fiscal problem is entitlement spending, so you can understand why they’re a bit irked that their programs are being restrained while boondoggles such as Obamacare are putting us deeper in a fiscal hole.
But that’s not an argument to waste money on so-called discretionary programs. Moreover, the appropriators are wildly wrong when they assert that appropriations spending already has been “cut to the bone.”
There are also some hawks who accurately complain that defense spending incurs a disproportionate share of the sequester, but they are wrong when they say this endangers national security. After all, defense spending still grows under sequestration and America will still account for nearly 50 percent of the world’s military spending.
So what’s the bottom line?
In an ideal world, policy makers would focus first on desperately needed entitlement reform. And I suspect many members of the Appropriations and Defense Committees would grumble a lot less about restraints on discretionary spending if real structural reforms to so-called mandatory programs were being implemented.
But we don’t live in that world. The sad reality of Washington is that genuine entitlement reform won’t happen with Obama in the White House. But that’s not an argument for surrendering on sequestration and allowing discretionary spending to climb at a faster rate.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
GOP FOOD STAMP CUTS HELP THE RICH, HURT THE POOR AND STARVE THE ECONOMY
Nov 19, 2013 | truthdig
If House Republicans succeed in their quest to slash the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program—food stamps—while preserving farm subsidies, they would both exacerbate economic inequality in the country and add yet another drag on the economy, a Nobel Prize-winning economist says.
Joseph Stiglitz argues in The New York Times under the headline, “The Insanity of Our Food Policy,” that the consolidation of wealth in the hands of the few has also led to a consolidation of political power, leaving low-income Americans both cut out of the Great Recession recovery and with little political recourse to do anything about it. He writes:
The proposal is a perfect example of how growing inequality has been fed by what economists call rent-seeking. As small numbers of Americans have grown extremely wealthy, their political power has also ballooned to a disproportionate size. Small, powerful interests—in this case, wealthy commercial farmers—help create market-skewing public policies that benefit only themselves, appropriating a larger slice of the nation’s economic pie. Their larger slice means everyone else gets a smaller one—the pie doesn’t get any bigger—though the rent-seekers are usually adept at taking little enough from individual Americans that they are hardly aware of the loss. While the money that they’ve picked from each individual American’s pocket is small, the aggregate is huge for the rent-seeker. And this in turn deepens inequality.
THE NONSENSICAL ARRANGEMENT BEING PROPOSED IN THE HOUSE REPUBLICANS’ FARM BILL IS AN ESPECIALLY EGREGIOUS VERSION OF THIS PROCESS. IT TAKES REAL MONEY, MONEY THAT IS NECESSARY FOR BARE SURVIVAL, FROM THE POOREST AMERICANS, AND GIVES IT TO A SMALL GROUP OF THE UNDESERVING RICH, IN RETURN FOR THEIR CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND POLITICAL SUPPORT. There is no economic justification: The bill actually distorts our economy by promoting the kind of production we don’t need and shrinking the consumption of those with the smallest incomes. There is no moral justification either: It actually increases misery and precariousness of daily life for millions of Americans.
Stiglitz argues that farm subsidies made sense during the Great Depression, when they first arose, to try to shore up rural economies—home then to 40 percent of the country—and domestic food production. These days, the beneficiaries of the subsidies tend to be large corporations that don’t need the help, and the subsidies wind up perverting the economy.
And although the farm subsidies no longer work as an anti-poverty measure, food stamps have become one of the main sources of support for the growing ranks of impoverished Americans. Yet HOUSE REPUBLICANS WANT TO KEEP THE FARM SUBSIDIES—REWARDING CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTORS AND THE WEALTHY—AND SLASH AN ADDITIONAL $40 BILLION OVER 10 YEARS IN FOOD STAMPS. IT IS ROBBING THE POOR TO GIVE TO THE RICH, WITH RATHER DIRE RIPPLES, FROM MAKING IT HARDER FOR THE POOR TO BECOME ECONOMICALLY PRODUCTIVE MEMBERS OF SOCIETY, TO PRESERVING A FOOD SYSTEM HEAVILY RELIANT ON PRODUCTS THAT ERODE HEALTH—PRODUCTS OFTEN USED BY THE POOR BECAUSE OF THEIR LOW COSTS. It’s no mystery why low-income Americans have a higher incidence of adult Type II diabetes. According to Stiglitz:
BY CUTTING BACK ON FOOD STAMPS, WE ARE ENSURING THE PERPETUATION OF INEQUALITY, AND AT THAT, ONE OF ITS WORST MANIFESTATIONS: THE INEQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY. When it comes to opportunity, America is doing an alarmingly bad job, as I’ve written before in this series. We are endangering our future because there will be a large coterie of people at the bottom who will not live up to their potential, who will not be able to make the contribution that they could have made, to the prosperity of the country as a whole.
ALL OF THIS EXPOSES THE REPUBLICANS’ ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF THESE FOOD POLICIES—A CONCERN FOR OUR FUTURE, PARTICULARLY THE IMPACT OF THE NATIONAL DEBT ON OUR CHILDREN—AS A DISHONEST AND DEEPLY CYNICAL PRETENSE. NOT ONLY HAS THE INTELLECTUAL UNDERGIRDING OF DEBT FETISHISM BEEN KNOCKED OUT (WITH THE DEBUNKING OF WORK BY THE HARVARD ECONOMISTS CARMEN M. REINHART AND KENNETH S. ROGOFF THAT TIED SLOWED GROWTH TO DEBT-TO-G.D.P. RATIOS ABOVE 90 PERCENT). THE REPUBLICANS’ FARM BILL ALSO CLEARLY HARMS BOTH AMERICA’S CHILDREN AND THE WORLD’S IN A VARIETY OF WAYS.
For these proposals to become law would be a moral and economic failure for the country.
Well, it’s not like Washington hasn’t embraced moral and economic failure before.
Sentiment: Strong Buy