Key Largo Palms wallpaper – Medieval Republicans

Key Largo Palms wallpaper

The WaPo did a fact check of Ryan’s Medicare/Medicaid plans ( which we should start calling simply the House Republican Plan since they passed it. The plan is not going to become law because thankfully the Senate will not pass it). WaPo practically bends itself into a pretzel to give the Ryan/Republican plan a fair hearing and still finds they are being less than truthy, GOP lawmakers tout Medicare reform by stretching a comparison to the health benefits they receive

Ryan, in his quote, said the new Medicare would be “working like a system just like members of Congress and federal employees have.” But the comparison begins to break down once you consider the premium support payments. Ryan would peg the premium support to the consumer price index, a broad gauge that has been rising more slowly than have health care costs.

The Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan arm of Congress, analyzed Ryan’s plan and estimated that by 2030, the government would pay just 32 percent of the health care costs, less than half of what the federal plan currently pays. The other 68 percent of the plan would have to be shouldered by the retiree. (The CBO estimated that if traditional Medicare stayed in place, the government would pay 70 to 75 percent of the costs.)

While we can all understand how Republicans think Ryan is an economic genius – the same people who put a couple of trillion-dollar wars on your grandchildren’s credit card, what about Ryan’s view of the American people. He is assuming the majority of Americans are not aware they health care costs have risen faster than the rate of inflation for every other segment of the economy. That fact was and is one of the driving factors behind health care reform – The Affordable Care Act. The CBPP and Congressional Budget Office also ran the Ryan/Republican numbers and came to the same conclusion, CBO Report: Plan Also Contains Deeper Cuts to Medicare and Medicaid Than Paul Ryan(R-WI) Revealed

For Medicare, the CBO report reveals that the Ryan plan would raise the age at which people become eligible from 65 to 67, even as it repeals the health reform law’s coverage provisions.  This means 65- and 66-year-olds would have neither Medicare nor access to health insurance exchanges in which they could buy coverage at an affordable price and receive subsidies to help them purchase coverage if their incomes are low.  This change, which is not mentioned in the 73-page booklet on his plan that Chairman Ryan released,[4] would put many more 65- and 66-year-olds who don’t have employer coverage and can’t afford insurance into the individual insurance market — where the premiums charged to people in this age group tend to be very high — leaving them uninsured.  People of limited means, such as those who are trying to get by on incomes as low as $12,000 a year in today’s dollars, would be affected most harshly because they wouldn’t be able to afford private coverage.

The CBO report also reveals that the vouchers, or “defined contribution amounts,” that Ryan would provide to seniors to buy coverage from private insurance companies in lieu of current Medicare coverage would be adjusted each year only by the general inflation rate.  For more than 30 years, health care costs per beneficiary in the United States have been rising about two percentage points per year faster than GDP growth per capita.

Ryan/Republican Plan would greatly increase out of pocket expenses for seniors

Drive to recall Michigan Governor Rick Snyder(R) clears first hurdle

The group said it was part of a grassroots effort and its members “believe that Snyder’s early performance proves he is not qualified to lead Michigan.”

In part, the group cited as reasons for the recall effort Snyder’s law that expands the powers of emergency managers named by the governor to rescue failing schools and cities. Those powers include the ability to break union contracts and remove locally elected officials.

More here on Snyder’s efforts to replace legally elected governance with corporate stooges,

Michigan’s law allows the state to appoint emergency managers to nullify contracts, including labor agreements – which is what has unions upset. But the scope and intention of the law is much deeper and wider than simply anti-union. The legislation allows emergency managers to nullify the powers and authority of local governments of all kinds. One of its supporters gave the game away when he spoke of the need to impose a kind of “financial martial law” in which all pretense of democracy would be abolished in targeted communities. The community the Republican politician had in mind was Detroit, the Black metropolis, where the public schools were promptly put under emergency state control. But there is nothing to stop the state from abolishing democratic governance in any of Michigan’s cities, if an emergency can be declared or created. On April 15, the mostly Black city of Benton Harbor, the poorest jurisdiction in the state, was placed under total financial martial law, its citizens suddenly made more powerless than Blacks in Selma, Alabama, prior to the civil rights movement.

While they only really seem to believe in it when there is a Democratic president or a Democratic majority in the House, Republican philosophy is supposedly centered on local control – Washington bad, local always good. That being the case why is big state government and its dictatorial powers better than a city or town’s elected governmental authority. A Democratic city mayor and city council in Michigan should pass the same kind of “emergency” laws and send their appointed managers to kick out Snyder. If governors like Snyder and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker would to go fascist-lite on the locals, than they can cope with the mentality they created.

Governor says Obama leaving Texas in the dust. Texas Governor Rick Perry(R) has advocated secession, the rights of states to nullify federal law(both clearly unconstitutional) and begged Washington for stimulus funds, bragged about projects done with those funds – all while slinging cheap insults at Washington and the Recovery Act from which those funds came. Now Perry is whining about President Obama and the feds not declaring a state of emergency in Texas. Why does Mr. Secession want his state to be declared in a state of emergency? A federal major disaster declaration could reimburse Texas and local governments 75 percent of the cost of their response. The feds have supplied firefighters. The feds have given Perry 22 grants to help pay fire management – 16 of those just this month. Republicans still think Bush 43 was a basically good president with sound policies – he just had some bad luck in executing those policies. With the current crop of Republican governors we’re just seeing a state sized version of Bush in action. It does not seem to matter how deeply or often their policies fail they keep to the agenda and blame others for their failures.

Twisters Kill 337; 2nd Deadliest in U.S. History….and Republicans and the grand old philosophy of conservatism responds, GOP’s Continuing Resolution Cuts Funding for National Weather Service, FEMA

Nationally, reduced funding will mean upper air observations now made twice a day might be reduced to every other day, buoy and surface weather observations that provide data for warning systems could be temporarily or permanently discontinued and there could be delays in replacing satellites, according to the release.

But Republicans can always find an excuse for corporate tax cuts.


Vintage Maps and Compass wallpaper – The Tea Puppets Versus the Reasonable People

Vintage Maps and Compass wallpaper

Remember the videos of the angry “grassroots” tea nuts who were the modern incarnation of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. The 2010 mid-terms were all about sending them to Washington or your state capital to finally clean house. To show us all how clean government, by and for the people was supposed to work. The tea nuts were Hope and Change 2.0, Its Official The Tea Party is Just a Puppet for Wall Street

Check out the financial services subcommittee, which handles legislation affecting Wall Street bankers. Five tea partiers got coveted slots on this panel, and all five were suddenly showered with big donations from such financial lobbying interests as Goldman Sachs. Now, all five are sponsoring bills to undo parts of the recent reforms to reign in Wall Street excesses.

Steve Stivers of Ohio, for example, hauled in nearly $100,000 in just his first two months in office — 85 percent of it from the special interests his committee oversees. He insists that the cash he took from Goldman Sachs and others has nothing to do with his subsequent support of bills that Goldman is lobbying so strongly for. Stivers claims that his sole legislative focus is on jobs for Ohio’s 15th district.

Really? Among the deform-the-reform bills that Steve is carrying is one to let Wall Street giants avoid disclosing the difference in what the CEO is paid and what average employees make. Another would exempt billionaire private equity hucksters from regulation. I can see that these bills are great job extenders for the barons of Wall Street, but how do either of them create a single job in his district?

This stuff does nothing but shelter the greed-headed banksters who wrecked our economy.

President Obama’s former director of the White House National Economic Council Larry Summers was certainly a black-eye on the appearance of change if nothing else – for better or worse sometimes appearances matter. Summers is a linchpin in understanding the deregulation bandwagon that lead to the too big to fail financial firms. Despite the presence of Summers the country got at least some modest financial reforms. Now the tea baggers, the great faux populists of two years ago, are now up to their necks in Wall St money trying to protect the too big to fail kingdom. One assumes it is  since this recession is so much fun, the tea bags would prefer we  have another one sooner rather than later. Where sane Americans see the Great Recession as a bad thing, conservatives have been happy to exploit it to undermine every progressive policy since Teddy Roosevelt – from protecting our national parks to knee capping Medicare.

This is especially frustrating in light of the fact that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid(D-NV) is going to give Paul Ryan’s Road map to gutting Medicare and the middle-class a vote, The Left’s Stealth Budget Plan

Unlike unpopular budget plans by Obama and Paul Ryan, the People’s Budget saves Social Security, jacks up taxes on the rich, and produces a surplus within a decade. David A. Graham explains why the plan is flying under the radar.

Perhaps most important, though, is the question of “realism.” “We’re not getting attention because the attitude is, ‘It’s a great effort, but it will never happen,’” says Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat and co-chair of the CPC. But pointing at recent polls that show widespread opposition to entitlement cuts and support for higher taxes on the rich, he insists that’s wrong: “This is more than just a message. We put a budget together that reflects desires of the American people, based not just on conversations with constituents but on polling. People haven’t been given the option.”

“Why is cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security courageous, but raising taxes is not?”

The Villagers have decided the national meme  and not surprisingly that meme is two plans that are right of center. The Ryan plan is a far Right radical wet dream that rewards wealth and punishes the working class. While the Obama plan is just Right of center and is not quite as punitive. Now admittedly Reid’s political ploy is to get Senate Republicans on the record as supporting Ryan’s to give grandma and grandpa, and the grand kids the map to Pottersville. Why not get everyone on the record for the People’s Budget. Even if it goes down the country will know where individual senators stand. Most of the public, including most of the tea baggers do not want cuts to core social programs like Medicaid and Medicare and most Americans think it is a travesty that many of America’s richest corporations are paying little to no taxes. The People’s Budget is not perfect, but it a far better starting point for negotiations than a choice between a fringe Right-wing budget and a Republican-lite budget.

This is from Hawaii’s largest circulation newspaper, The release of Obama’s birth papers puts a spotlight on an isle doctor’s family

Short-handed staff at the offices of the governor, attorney general and Health Department hope they can finally move on from spending untold hours devoted to the issue of President Barack Obama’s place of birth after he released copies of his “long form” birth certificate yesterday.

The move was an attempt to put to rest doubts that Obama was born in Hawaii, but it also catapulted the family of the late Dr. David ASinclair into the glare of the national media because the document showed Sinclair was the physician who delivered the future president.

[  ]…At a time of deep cuts in government services in the islands, the single issue of Obama’s birth at 7:24 p.m. on Aug. 4, 1961, at Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital “has taken up a lot of staff time … dealing with mail and phone calls from across the country from birther conspirators,” she said.

On Friday, Obama sent a letter to state Health Director Loretta Fuddy, asking for two certified copies of his original Certificate of Live Birth. On Monday, Fuddy made an exception to state policies regarding the release of birth certificates and witnessed the copying of the original certificate and attested to the authenticity of the two copies, which were certified by state registrar Alvin Onaka, Abercrombie’s office said.

Original forms from the time of birth are used to produce computer-generated documents recognized as official birth certificates in the state of Hawaii.

Obama’s personal attorney, Judith Corley, showed up at the Health Department on Monday and paid $10 for the first certified copy of the state’s original certificate and $4 for the second copy.

“The exception made in this case to provide President Obama with a copy of his original Certificate of Live Birth was done according to the letter of the law,” Attorney General David Louie said in a statement. “Director Fuddy exercised her legal authority in a completely appropriate manner in this unique circumstance. We will continue to maintain the strict confidentiality requirements afforded to vital statistics records, such as birth certificates. These requirements help protect the integrity of the records, and keep us all safe from crimes, such as identity theft.”

Everyone, including the White House is using the term “long form”, but there still is no such thing. There is the state of Hawaii’s and the hospitals “certificate of live birth”. It was and still is the law that residents requesting a copy of their birth certificate be given the one Obama released years ago. A legal exception had to be made in this case by state officials. It still will not make the birthers happy.

Sinclair suffered from Alzheimer’s disease when he died of cardiac arrest in 2003 at the age of 81. He rarely spoke about his patients, or the thousands of babies he delivered from 1960 through 1988 — many of whom are named “David” after him, said Sinclair’s wife, Ivalee Sinclair, 82, who lives in Manoa Valley, and started the Learning Disabilities Association in Hawaii and works for the Community Children’s Council.

“For our family, it’s a historic footnote,”?Ivalee Sinclair said yesterday. “I consider it a great honor and a big surprise.”

She said she instantly recognized her husband’s signature on Obama’s birth certificate — especially because it had no period after the middle initial “A.”

“He was supposed to be named David Augustus, but his mother didn’t like Augustus,”?Sinclair said. “So he didn’t have a middle name. It was just ‘A.’

Sinclair was the son of former Territorial Engineer Karl Sinclair, who later became engineer for the City and County of Honolulu.

David A Sinclair, a lifelong Democrat, witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor as a 15-year-old boy and later became an Army Air Corps lieutenant, flying night missions in a P-61 over Asia, Ivalee Sinclair said.

She met him after the war in trigonometry class at the University of Hawaii in 1946 when Sinclair wanted to become a doctor.

“After dropping so many bombs, he wanted to do something that was positive in the world,” she said. “He felt badly about all of the people he had killed and went into medicine to give back the lives he had taken.”

Sinclair was a solo practitioner at the Dickson Bell medical offices on Bishop Street, with privileges at the three hospitals now known as Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, the Queen’s Medical Center and Straub Clinic & Hospital, when Obama was born, his widow said.

Sinclair’s medical career inspired one of his three sons, Brian, a 52-year-old neuroradiologist at Straub Clinic & Hospital, to pursue his own medical career.

Another son, Karl, 55, of Kailua, looked at a copy of Obama’s long- form birth certificate yesterday and also recognized his father’s signature.

Karl then imagined his dad — with his ever-present pipe in hand — chuckling over the discovery 50 years later that he had delivered America’s 44th president.

“My dad would have definitely thought it was funny,” Karl said. “‘Imagine that: I delivered the president.'”

I tend to think, heading into the 2012 elections, that this was a brilliant move by the White House. All the crazies who believe the bogeyman lives under their bed, the earth is only a couple thousand years old and that Barack Obama was not born in the USA can line up over there. Let America get a good look at what a mindless assclown wing-nut looks like. Reasonable people like President Obama can line up over here. What do most American want to be associated with – the loons like Orly Taitz, Terrance Lakin and WorldNutDaily or the mature reasonable black guy. The GOP’s Birther Blues

Of course, Obama wasn’t talking to the hardcore birthers. He was talking over their heads to the other “adults in the room” who were likely nodding their heads in agreement with his remarks about how the question of his birth got more attention than any of the serious challenges the country is grappling with.

Obama was speaking over the birthers’ heads to the 4 out of 10 Americans who believe the economy is getting worse. He was talking to those Americans who are mystified by the agenda the GOP is pursuing in the midst of what Robert Reich called a “wageless recovery” that puts many households in a bind because they had a tough enough time making ends meet with two paychecks before the recession, and now they’re down to “one-and-a-half, or just one, and its shrinking.”

Obama spoke to Americans who are exasperate with lawmakers who seem oblivious to their economic realities and their concerns.

Do we want to have a national discussion about the multitude of conspiracy theories – the certificate issue was only one – or do most of us regardless of party want to discuss real solutions to real problems. As citizens, do most Americans want to model their civics and standards on the rantings of Glenn Beck and clones or the reasoned measured judgment of  Lincoln, Jefferson and FDR.

Cyan Blue City wallpaper – There is Only One Serious Budget Plan, The People’s Budget

Cyan Blue City wallpaper

Have you heard of The People’s Budget ( there is a full pdf at the link). Probably not if you rely on the nightly broadcast news or the usual cadre of Washington pundits. The Economist likes it. ( CNN did do a piece on The People’s Budget and Paul Krugman likes it. Not exactly the kind of wide-spread coverage Ryan’s plan received).Which is almost asking if anyone has read that new story on quantum mechanics and probability theory in quantum geek magazine. The Economist is popular for what it is, a generally mediocre conventional wisdom take on all things economic with a right of center slant. Though I guess I should go easy on them since they actually like The People’s Budget,

Have you ever heard of the Congressional Progressive Caucus budget plan? Neither had I. The caucus’s co-chairs, Raul Grijalva of Arizona and Keith Ellison of Minnesota, released it on April 6th. The budget savings come from defence cuts, including immediately withdrawing from Afghanistan and Iraq, which saves $1.6 trillion over the CBO baseline from 2012-2021. The tax hikes include restoring the estate tax, ending the Bush tax cuts, and adding new tax brackets for the extremely rich, running from 45% on income over a million a year to 49% on income over a billion a year.

Mr Ryan’s plan adds (by its own claims) $6 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, but promises to balance the budget by sometime in the 2030s by cutting programmes for the poor and the elderly. The Progressive Caucus’s plan would (by its own claims) balance the budget by 2021 by cutting defence spending and raising taxes, mainly on rich people. Mr Ryan has been fulsomely praised for his courage. The Progressive Caucus has not.

I’m not really sure what “courage” is supposed to mean here, but this seems precisely backwards. For 30 years, certainly since Walter Mondale got creamed by Ronald Reagan, the most dangerous thing a politician can do has been to call for tax hikes. Politicians who call for higher taxes are punished, which is why they don’t do it. I’m curious to see what adjectives people would apply to the Progressive Congressional Caucus’s budget proposal. But it’s hard for me to imagine the media calling a proposal to raise taxes “courageous” and “honest”. And my sense is that the disparate treatment here is a structural bias rooted in class.

Ryan’s plan takes money from the middle-class and seniors, while giving the wealthiest Americans and corporations yet another tax break . The Villagers in D.C. and the far Right has some strange ideas about courage. I always thought, as my police acquaintances do, that taking from the most vulnerable is not courage, its being a cowardly punk. What is so radical about the People’s Budget is that it repeals almost all of the Bush tax cuts, even more than President Obama plans to do. The PB does keep some elements of the Bush-Obama changes in tax structure, keeping about a trillion in tax credits, like marriage relief and benefits for children and education. According to polls most Americans support reverting to tax rates on the wealthy that we had during the Clinton years. Even the Committee for Economic Development, a nonpartisan policy-research group of business and university leaders supports putting tax increases on the bargaining table( no courage from John Boehner (R-Oh) and House Republicans there. Regardless of the insanity and immaturity of saying no to any tax increases). So being courageous might just mean listening to what the people are saying. There is absolutely no support for cutting Medicare beyond some fringe wackos –i.e. Ryan supporters. One small progressive group has come out and stated the unvarnished truth, we have a revenue problem. Those who are of the scorched earth philosophy toward the economy, the middle-class and the working poor, a decaying country that resembles a fiefdom with our Wall St overlords at the top probably find the Ryan plan a poor substitute for their fantasy America, but it is the next best thing.

The People's Budget
The People's Budget

This budget is not perfect, but that probably does not matter anyway because it is going nowhere. The PB is actually serious about deficit reduction, creating jobs and keeping a strong social safety net. Conservatives are not, never have been and never will be serious about proper management of the economy. What they are very serious about is dismantling as much of the social safety net like Medicare – REPORT: The 46 Year-Long Republican War On Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as they can.The conservative movement could care less about deficits per se. Their economic record on spending and deregulation proves it.

I’ve always thought John Boehner(R-OH) was a joker – House Speaker John Boehner to President Obama: ‘Come on! Time to Grow Up’ About Deficit and Taxes. Or maybe John is a top, he spins like one – Less Than Two Months After GOP Voted To Preserve Billions In Taxpayer Oil Subsidies, Boehner Now Opposes Them (Updated) and than supported them again. Republicans are all over subsidies,  tax breaks and land giveaways – don’t laugh, all to create jobs – but think it is downright immoral to provide American families and workers a safety net, you know, in case things do not go as planned.

Red Cap Lighthouse wallpaper – Republicans Have Guiding Principles Issues

Red Cap Lighthouse wallpaper

John Nichols gives Sen. Collins(R-Maine) credit for speaking out loud that she does not support Paul Ryan’s(R-WI) pie in the sky balanced budget plan – that will not only gut Medicare, but severely weaken Social Security. He notes that Ryan voted for Bush’s TARP. Ryan also supported the domestic auto industry bail-out. While both those programs were hot potatoes in 2009 because of the tea bags, since both programs have been largely repaid by Wall St and the auto industry, respectively, the taint of making those votes is not quite what it was short a few short months ago. Ryan went on to defend his vote for TARP and the auto industry loan as arm twisting by the Bush administration and than piled on the BS by claiming President Obama turned TARP into a “slush” ( according to Michelle Malkin – Next use for TARP: Government union slush fund). Ryan and Malkin failed to supply any supporting facts, but the newly courageous and brave Ryan peddled backwards well enough to generally buy his way back into the hearts of Wingnuttia. Not exactly breaking news that yet another conservative is a weal kneed short sighted opportunist who can’t even think of convincing lies to tell the freaks under his own circus tent. Though it does speak to Ryan’s blind opportunism and lack of any real guiding principles, except political survival. That is not to say he is not consistent in his own brand of conservative-libertarian loyalty to oneself first. Obviously he sincerely believes in putting himself first and the best interests of his fellow citizens someone further down his list of priorities, if they are on the list at all.

Republicans Just Voted To End Medicare — So Where’s The Outrage? So let’s get this straight. Paul Ryan(R-WI) and House Leader John Boehner(R-OH) led the charge to gut Medicare because, you know, because it costs too much. Were the same guys that voted for TARP, the auto industry bail-out, the Bush tax cuts and the invasion of Iraq. Even though 80 percent of the public ( and 70% of tea baggers) do not want cuts to Medicare. There has been the first waves of a backlash, Town Hall Citizens Confront Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) For Voting To Privatize Medicare And Defend Tax Breaks For RichRep. Patrick Meehan (PA) Faces Constituent Anger After Breaking Campaign Promise To Not Privatize Medicare, and Paul Ryan’s Plan To End Medicare Stirs Anger At Pennsylvania Town Hall Event. Why hasn’t there been more outrage. One reason is that the bill passed in the House is dead on arrival. Even if it made it to a vote in the Senate there are not enough votes to pass and President Obama is certain to veto it. The other reason is a perennial one, not just for Democrats, but for non-kool-aid drinkers in general. We don’t have a Fox News and a Koch brothers promoting the equivalent of the tea smoker town hall disruptions. Democrats are out there, but they have their hands full with fighting legislation at the state level. The Republicans in the House have passed a few purely symbolic votes. If you have finite time and money, it does not pay to spend them on fighting symbolism. Republican governors are doing well pushing their radical agenda. An agenda that will likely pay dividends for Democrats in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida. The Florida business community is pissed and bewildered at Criminal-in-Chief Rick Scott’s rejection of high speed rail road funds. Scott is another Scott Walker clone – he is shifting costs and cutting services to the poorest Floridians while pushing a large corporate tax cut. If corporate tax cuts were the fuel that drove job creation the country should be at 2% unemployment. At what point does the American public see that conservatives and conservatism is built on a house of cards. Its clumsy deceits uncovered over and over again. Remember all that stuff during the Bush era about Republicans being the daddy party. Maybe they are. They the irresponsible daddy that tells the kids they can have great services, great education, great communities and all the material goodies a kid could dream of, all without paying for them. Most of our taxes are not going to support that imaginary legend of right-wing demagoguery – the welfare queen – driving to buy caviar in her new Mercedes, its going to buy Exxon, Citigroup, Pfizer and other huge corporations even more power. They’re also the abusive daddy who thinks it is time for children, the disabled and seniors to make even more sacrifices.

Most human beings come with the potential for an almost unlimited supply of compassion. While dehumanizing people who have large incomes is uncalled for, it is pushing it to start the ridiculous meme that we should all be using up large portions of compassion for the well off. Increasing Taxes on the Wealthy is Unfair???

You can tell something’s happening in the economic policy debate when you start reading more things like AEI’s Arthur Brooks explaining that it would simply be unfair to raise taxes on the rich. Harvard economics professor and former Council of Economics Advisor chairman Greg Mankiw has said the same thing. And of course Representative Paul Ryan is both a fan of Books and a fan of the works of Ayn Rand. Which is just to say that we used to have a debate in which the left said redistributive taxation might be a good idea and then the right replied that it might sound good, but actually the consequences would be bad. Lower taxes on the rich would lead to more growth and faster increase in incomes.

Now that idea seems to be so unsupportable that the talking point is switched. It’s not that higher taxes on our Galtian Overlords would backfire and make us worse off. It’s just that it would be immoral of us to ask them to pay more taxes even if doing so would, in fact, improve overall human welfare.

If that sounds remotely plausible to you, you might have a lucrative career ahead of you working as an apologist for said Galtian Overlords. If not, then congratulations for possessing a modicum of common sense.

And related to this poor poor pitiful rich meme is the rich are supporting our lazy asses, Zombie Taxes

Following up the recent commenter who repeated the oft-told lie that wealthy people carry most of the tax burden — Paul Krugman addresses this on his blog today, in a post called “Zombie Tax Lies.” If you figure all taxes — income, FICA, state taxes, etc. — the percentage of the total tax burden is remarkably un-progressive…

It should go without saying that when a cop or school teacher or a millionaire buys a set of tires they all pay the same sales tax rate. Even renters pay property taxes as part of their rent.  Those who make minimum wage to up to the median range of household income $50k per year might pay little or any federal income tax, but they are not using the nations’ resources the way Microsoft or BP is using them. Who benefits more from engineers, accountants,scientists and so forth who got tax payer guaranteed student loans and grants to public universities. The corporations who need those skilled workers. Who benefits more from the nation’s infrastructure, from police, the Coast Guard and fire protection – wealthy corporations. It is not unreasonable to make the people who profit most from the commonweal to pay the most.

Blue and Green World Map wallpaper – Obama vs. Ryan, What apples-to-apples budget comparison?

Blue and Green World Map wallpaper

James Pethokoukis, an economics pundit who has written for the right-wing The Weekly Standard, Commentary and Investor’s Business Daily posted this on Reuters,  The $4 trillion gap: Obama vs. Ryan, an apples-to-apples budget comparison. His conclusion is all one needs to know as to why far Right blogs across the net were thrilled to find some straw to gasp after the beating Paul Ryan’s Road Map to Hell took for eviscerating Medicare and relying on some preposterous modeling, that for example, relied on a 2.3% unemployment rate by 2021. Most economists agree that the U.S. and most modern western free market economies can expect 4 or 5 percent unemployment under the best of circumstances ( some of it is just structural – seasonal workers, workers in career transitions, etc). A  couple red lights should go off for critical readers of Pethokoukis’s interpretation of a study he says was done by Goldman-Sachs.

* Where is that Goldman Sachs Study? Hard to argue with numbers that you can’t crunch. I would agree that the Obama budget proposals are stretchy or vague. Those numbers are probably some version of the Fiscal Commission’s proposal (Simpson-Bowles). But may also include some of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s plan (Rivlin-Domenici) plan. So if we’re to uphold the spirit of apples to apples comparison, implying bare knuckles honesty and critical analysis. How do does  Pethokoukis and his spiritual economics guru find an absolute difference between the Obama plan and the Road Map plan of $3.9 trillion dollars in federal savings over exactly ten years.

* Pethokoukis says “2) To do an apples-to-apples comparison, it’s necessary to a) plot them over the same time span; b) compare them against the same baseline and c) adjust them for similar economic assumptions. Goldman Sachs does the first two steps for me. It plots both plans vs. what the CBO calls its “alternate” baseline — the one it thinks most likely. (For instance, it does not assume all the Bush tax cuts get repealed like the main CBO baseline does.) Goldman thinks that’s what the White House did, too.” No mention here of the assumptions he is making about the Ryan plan. One of the reasons that it has been criticized is that Ryan asked for a CBO analysis where he told the CBO to make certain assumptions. Where is the Goldman Sachs analysis that does a comparison with a budget plan Obama proposed back in February with and without Ryan’s arm twisting to get better numbers.

Why is the CBO assuming that? Because Ryan’s staff told it to, without indicating how that revenue would actually be raised:

The path for revenues as a percentage of GDP was specified by Chairman Ryan’s staff. The path rises steadily from about 15 percent of GDP in 2010 to 19 percent in 2028 and remains at that level thereafter. There were no specifications of particular revenue provisions that would generate that path.

If you tell the CBO to assume a certain amount of revenue will be raised, it does, even if that revenue is wildly optimistic. Ryan did the same thing when he had the CBO score his Roadmap For America’s Future. He told the CBO to assume that the plan would raise 19 percent of GDP in revenue, and the CBO based the rest of its numbers on that assumption. But when the Tax Policy Center ran the numbers, it found the Roadmap would raise far less than Ryan said it would:

Assuming taxpayers choose their preferred tax system, revenue would average 16.1 percent of GDP between fiscal years 2011 and 2015, rising to 16.6 percent by 2020, compared with 20.2 percent under CBO’s January 2010 baseline. The fall in revenue would result primarily from the lower individual income tax rates and the exemption of capital income.

Without the level of revenue specified, Ryan’s Roadmap wouldn’t set the country on a path to reducing the debt, with debt growing to 175 percent of GDP. Are the revenue assumptions for Ryan’s 2012 budget any better? If they’re not — and we have no reason to believe they are, given Ryan’s previous performance — the radical cuts that Ryan has in mind will fail to reduce the country’s debt.

* Goldman and Pethokoukis admit they are making speculative assumptions about the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. Pethokoukis is making the assumptions about revenue that Ryan wants everyone to make. Gee, how accommodating.

* The sin of omission. Pethokoukis leaves out that Ryan can attribute a large chunk of his savings to gutting Medicare. A biased or casual reader of Pethokoukis’s column would see the bottom line – discount a lot of assumptions – many of them favorable to Ryan’s best spin on his plan – and think, wow, the Ryan plan saves so much more on the deficit. Where do those savings come from? Leaving seniors, the disabled and children begging for health care once their vouchers run out. Within Ryan’s framework of assumptions is that seniors will be able to afford to buy more health care insurance and that the private health insurance market will sell it to them. Seniors don’t have too much of a problem finding supplemental insurance to their Medicare now, but that insurance is to fill small to medium-sized gaps. Ryan’s plan will create huge gaps once you get sicker or suffer an injury that is above what Ryan and his health care cost increase projections.

Under Ryan’s plan, the value of the vouchers would fall further behind the rising cost of health care with each passing year, so they would purchase less health coverage over time. By 2080, Medicare would be cut 76 percent below its projected size under current policies, according to CBO. In other words, by 2080, the vouchers that would replace Medicare would receive one-quarter of the resources that Medicare would otherwise use.

* Goldman and Pethokoukis cannot have used a complete CBO score of Ryan’s plan, because despite citations of CBO, the CBO only scored portions of the plan that could be reasonably evaluated with the information Ryan gave them and again, with projections Ryan told them to use,

Reports of Plan’s Fiscal Soundness Rest on Misunderstanding of CBO Analysis

Assertions that the Ryan plan is fiscally responsible rest on a serious misunderstanding of a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the plan. CBO only partially analyzed the Ryan plan. Contrary to some media reports, CBO has not prepared an actual cost estimate of it. [2] CBO generally does not produce estimates of the effects of proposed changes in tax policies; that is the responsibility of the Joint Committee on Taxation. In its analysis of the Ryan plan, CBO did not attempt to measure the revenue losses that Rep. Ryan’s proposals would generate.

Instead, as its report states, CBO simply used an assumption specified by Rep. Ryan’s staff that the overall level of revenues would remain unchanged from what the federal government would collect through 2030 under current policies, and would equal 19 percent of GDP in later years. CBO did not find that the Ryan plan actually would achieve these assumed revenue levels. (For commentary by Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Center on the widespread misunderstanding of the CBO analysis, see the box on page 5.)

The reality is different; TPC finds that the Ryan plan would result in very large revenue losses relative to current policies. TPC estimates that even with its middle-class tax increases, the plan would reduce federal revenues to 16 percent of GDP in 2014. Because the tax cuts for the wealthy would dwarf the tax increases for the middle class, the Ryan plan would allow the federal debt to continue growing for a number of decades to come, despite its steep cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Goldman and Pethokoukis both rely on CBO estimates of revenue that do not exist. Once more that makes any assertion that Ryan’s plan would shave $6.9 trillion and the Obama tentative plan, $3 trillion, I don’t know, chose your adjective – absurd, meaningless or smoke and mirrors. It is not an apples to apples comparison.

* Lie of omission number two. Goldman and Pethokoukis make no mention of how Ryan’s plan partially dismantles Social Security through the backdoor, in the name of reducing the deficit of course. Ryan’s Assault on Medicare Would Unravel the Value of Social Security Benefits

The Ryan plan’s omission of direct cuts to Social Security is no doubt a victory for the program’s advocates, whether it was due to sober electoral considerations (polling shows the vast majority of Americans strongly oppose benefit cuts) or the messaging efforts of progressive coalitions like the Strengthen Social Security Campaign. But that progress would be instantly negated if Ryan’s cuts to Medicare are enacted, since people would be forced to reallocate their Social Security income (the part that isn’t already dedicated to fixed expenses – food, mortgage payments, etc.) towards medical expenses, which can’t exactly be skimped on. Grandma, can’t that knee replacement wait until next month?

These cuts amount to a direct assault on the purchasing power of Social Security – as well as any other source of retirement savings a person has amassed. The government may as well send seniors their Social Security checks with a forwarding envelope to send right along to the private insurance companies waiting to collect! In the zero-sum world of retirement security programs, cuts in one program necessarily damage the goals of another. The Ryan plan threatens the entire foundation of programs we have established to care for our elderly for three important reasons:

Medicare cuts have a domino affect on everyone’s’, but the very wealthiest, retirement security. As Our Future notes Medicare recipients will be paying more our of pocket with Ryan’s vouchers. In many households they will use their Social Security benefits to pay for out-of-pocket expenses or to pay for more insurance. Those receiving some kind of conventional pension plan benefits – a fixed income – will also be forced to dip into those funds. 401Ks have proven to be less than ideal since their value is connected to the stock market. Maybe those with a large 401K will weather the storm, others not so much. How’s that Ryan back of the envelope projection of deficit savings looking now. Savings for who. Ryan’s plan includes a huge tax cut for corporations and millionaires. Like all conservatives and especially Randians like Ryan, he thinks we all have to keep the one percent at the top of the pyramid happy because they create jobs – or they create the nation’s income and revenue. Even far too many conservative Democrats believe that. Creating the nation’s wealth is a partnership. Without labor the most creative, most brilliant entrepreneur in the world is largely one person with a pipe dream. Only labor turns dreams and ideas into money. There has been a steady erosion of this fact of economic life in the U.S. at least since Nixon. Not all, but many of America’s wealthy – the Koch brothers school of economics, believe they are modern royalty, they are the princes of supply side economics – they and they alone create wealth. No dollar is created in this country that does not owe its origins to someone who did some actual work – who built the frame for the house, who assembled the car frame, who delivered the fuel, who programmed the data, who created and tallied the spread sheet, who changed the bed pan. These are the people the right-wing conservative bloggers call thugs.These American workers are the people who only exists as some kind of background noise to Ryan and Pethokoukis; the great unwashed masses who should be grateful that our overlords give us work. While we need some good federal stewards of the economy, we also need one political movement and a good portion of the business community to learn some humility. America’s wealth depends on a partnership, not the kings in their McMansions handing down edicts to the peasants.

Some useful links: Paul Ryan’s Tax Plan Based On Discredited Heritage Foundation Analysis That Forecast Bush Boom

This from conservative David Frum, Ryan’s Rosy Job Numbers: Fact or Fantasy?

Specifically, the Ryan budget touts analysis from the Heritage Foundation which argues that the unemployment rate will reach 2.8% by 2021. (For comparison, ‘natural’ unemployment is estimated to be around 5%) FrumForum contacted the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis to ask about this figure.

The Heritage Foundation is just making stuff up. They can call Paul Krugman names all days it still doesn’t make their math right.

The Reviews Are In for Paul Ryan’s Budget and based on what he actually says and with fewer rosy assumptions, it ain’t good.

Ryan Plan Pushes Optimism to the Outer Limits

Paul Ryan already benefited from the Social Security fund he now wants to gut. Like Sarah Palin, Ryan thinks government checks to them are good, bad when anyone else gets one.

Fools and Economics.Republicans Satirize Themselves.

Could the average sober U.S. citizen tell whether this was satire or not, Mean streak: Obama is not as nice as he looks

By their lights, Reagan could commit the most heinous acts, but their criticisms were usually shrugged off by the American people, who judged him a “nice guy” who deserved the benefit of the doubt. President Obama has enjoyed something similar during his first 2 1/2 years in office. Even as public opposition mounted to his policies — Obamacare, the failed economic stimulus program, cap and trade, skyrocketing government deficits — Obama retained a reserve of public good will reflected in consistently strong personal favorability ratings. People who didn’t like his policies generally still saw Obama as a likeable guy, somebody they would enjoy having over for dinner with the family.

But that may be changing. Recall that Obama invited House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to George Washington University to hear his Wednesday address on the federal government’s dire fiscal situation. The speech was advertised by the White House as a major address in which the president would join the serious conversation initiated two weeks ago by Ryan in his detailed proposal for cutting spending. What Obama instead delivered, with Ryan sitting in the front row, was, in the Wall Street Journal’s unsparing description, a “poison pen” speech dripping with mean-spirited partisanship, gross misrepresentations of fact, and sophistry of the lowest sort concerning Republicans’ alleged desire to hurt old people, the poor and mentally challenged children. It was the sort of harangue one would expect from a rabidly devoted partisan hack, with no relation whatever to the thoughtful appeals to reason and common values that historically have characterized presidential leadership in this country.

If you thought that was written by The Onion you would be wrong. It is a serious editorial in The Washington Examiner.

ObamaCare a failure? Not all of it has been implemented , but a failure? That would be a less than honest evaluation. Many Americans who would have lost or been denied, or could not afford health insurance now have it. ObamaCare ( I’m embracing the name because the Right has tried to use it as an epitaph) or the Affordable care Act has literally saved lives. In order for conservatives to care about whether you live or die, you have to jump in the time machine and go back to being a zygote.

Skyrocketing government deficits? When the cave dwelling deficit peacocks realized conservatives had run up the largest debt in U.S. history, there was a giant sigh of relief when they realized a Democrat had been elected. They’ve spent the entire Obama presidency trying to pin blame for the deficit on Obama. That would work, but once again would require the use of a time machine.

Conservative Policies and Tax Cuts Major Causes of Debt

“The failed economic stimulus program”? Nice try. The Right does like to find a lie and repeat it until the magic kicks in and it becomes their new reality. Crisis No More: The Success of Obama’s Stimulus Program and Obama’s Economic Stimulus Program Created Up to 3.3 Million Jobs, CBO Says. The TARP program started by Republicans, the auto bail-outs started by Republicans and Obama Recovery Act were not perfect by any means, but the nation did not hit rock bottom because of them. The banks have paid back most of TARP and the auto companies have paid back most of their bail-out. As much as the Right seemed to root for the total collapse of the domestic auto industry, they survived.

A “poison pen” speech dripping with mean-spirited partisanship? Kids, this is what happens when you twist your tin-foil hat too tight. Obama dared to tell the truth and did it in as civil a manner as one can reasonably expect considering the life and death consequences for which the WaEx has so little regard – Civil and Human Rights Coalition Urges Congress to Reject Ryan’s ‘Draconian’ Budget Resolution.

Chairman Ryan Gets Roughly Two-Thirds of His Huge Budget Cuts From Programs for Lower-Income Americans.

Rep. Ryan’s Free-Market ‘Death Panels’ . To be uncivil to Ryan would have been to ask him how he can sleep at night or look himself in the eye and deny that he is a scumbag social-Darwinist, and if his budget is adopted it will in fact kill quite a few grandmas and grandpas. But Obama was civil and did not tell America the unvarnished truth – we have a revenue problem not a spending or taxes are too high problem – because not stepping on toes is more important in American politics than telling the unvarnished truth. Well, it is for Democrats anyway. Conservatives can engage in behavior that makes Charlie Sheen seem almost reasonable – Examples of Uncivil: McCain camp: Obama is ‘radical,’ pals around with terrorists, Obama is a MarxistTea Pee Party Christine O’Donnell camp: O’Donnell Aide: Obama Is a Secret Muslim, Huckabee falsely claims Obama was raised in Kenya, Beck accuses Soros, Tides and Obama of conspiring to start a Czech-style communist revolution. Remember the Right judged that civility was not only dead, but any invectives and lies directed at their opponents were always permissible in the name of the cause – Wing-nut sycophant Don Suber declaring when it comes to civility, “bite me”. Don’s strange fantasies are still probably just that.

There is a speculative element to this, but there is some circumstantial evidence to support the speculation, An ‘Oh Please!’ Moment: Is S&P Running Interference for the Right to Help Crush Social Security and Medicare?

Fitch goes on to add, “The brinkmanship over the debt ceiling and the 2011 budget will be resolved…Fitch does expect that the tough choices on tax and spending will be made – as is starting to be seen at the state and local level – that are necessary to place public finances on a sustainable path.” Unlike S&P and Moody’s, Fitch’s analysts note the critical point that “The U.S. ‘AAA’ status is underpinned by the flexibility and dynamism of its economy, as well as the exceptional financing flexibility that derives from the U.S. dollar’s role as the world’s predominant reserve currency.”

Investors took the bad S&P news in stride.

The timing and the source is suspect. The timing would benefit the scorched earth economic policies of the right-wing tea smokers and pin-striped libertarians. Standard and Poor is not exactly the gold standard in unbiased ratings. They have a tendency to grease the wheels of their handlers, Credit Rating Agencies Triggered Financial Crisis, U.S. Congressional Report Finds

The Senate panel released internal documents showing how Moody’s and S&P failed to heed their own internal warnings about the deteriorating mortgage market.

Emails in 2006 and early 2007 show employees were aware of housing market troubles, well before the massive downgrades in July 2007.

“This is like watching a hurricane from FL (Florida) moving up the coast slowly towards us. Not sure if we will get hit in full or get trounced a bit or escape without severe damage …” one S&P employee wrote in response to an article on the mortgage mess.

Senate investigators concluded that had Moody’s and S&P heeded their own warnings, they might have issued more conservative ratings for the securities linked to shoddy mortgages.

“The problem, however, was that neither company had a financial incentive to assign tougher credit ratings to the very securities that for a short while increased their revenues, boosted their stock prices, and expanded their executive compensation,” the report said.

Black and White City Center wallpaper – The Deficit and Conservative Diversions

Black and White City Center wallpaper

It is bad enough the nation has been suckered and manipulated into a a deeply dishonest debate about spending and deficits. To hear the Right and most of the main stream media tell it, we’re in economics straights so dire we have no choice but to destroy Medicare, Medicaid and and every other component of the economic safety net for average Americans. Republican governors were so high on deficit kool-aid they felt perfectly comfortable telling people grandiose lies about labor rights being directly connected to their budget woes. All the while pushing yet more tax cuts for corporations, many of which were paying little to no taxes and reaping record profits. In other words there is no reason in regards to corporate taxes, taxes on the wealthy or corporate profits to explain why unemployment remains unacceptably high, that homes are being foreclosed without any genuine attempt by mortgage holders to negotiate with homeowners, or that health care for the working poor must be cut. But like a vicious rumor we’re all being dragged into this mendacious and misleading debate. Like most such debates from the Right, the framing is dishonest, and the content of the debate is equally free of facts. In President Obama’s recent speech on the economy and the national deficit he said,

To meet this challenge, our leaders came together three times during the 1990s to reduce our nation’s deficit — three times.  They forged historic agreements that required tough decisions made by the first President Bush, then made by President Clinton, by Democratic Congresses and by a Republican Congress.  All three agreements asked for shared responsibility and shared sacrifice.  But they largely protected the middle class; they largely protected our commitment to seniors; they protected our key investments in our future.

As a result of these bipartisan efforts, America’s finances were in great shape by the year 2000.  We went from deficit to surplus.  America was actually on track to becoming completely debt free, and we were prepared for the retirement of the Baby Boomers.

But after Democrats and Republicans committed to fiscal discipline during the 1990s, we lost our way in the decade that followed.  We increased spending dramatically for two wars and an expensive prescription drug program — but we didn’t pay for any of this new spending.  Instead, we made the problem worse with trillions of dollars in unpaid-for tax cuts — tax cuts that went to every millionaire and billionaire in the country; tax cuts that will force us to borrow an average of $500 billion every year over the next decade.

To give you an idea of how much damage this caused to our nation’s checkbook, consider this:  In the last decade, if we had simply found a way to pay for the tax cuts and the prescription drug benefit, our deficit would currently be at low historical levels in the coming years.

But that’s not what happened.  And so, by the time I took office, we once again found ourselves deeply in debt and unprepared for a Baby Boom retirement that is now starting to take place.  When I took office, our projected deficit, annually, was more than $1 trillion.  On top of that, we faced a terrible financial crisis and a recession that, like most recessions, led us to temporarily borrow even more.

In this case, we took a series of emergency steps that saved millions of jobs, kept credit flowing, and provided working families extra money in their pocket.  It was absolutely the right thing to do, but these steps were expensive, and added to our deficits in the short term.

So that’s how our fiscal challenge was created.  That’s how we got here.  And now that our economic recovery is gaining strength, Democrats and Republicans must come together and restore the fiscal responsibility that served us so well in the 1990s.  We have to live within our means.  We have to reduce our deficit, and we have to get back on a path that will allow us to pay down our debt.  And we have to do it in a way that protects the recovery, protects the investments we need to grow, create jobs, and helps us win the future. [Remarks by the President on Fiscal Policy, 4/13/11]

As far as political speeches this one stands out as one of the more accurate and free of double-talk. In the first paragraph he even gave Republicans in the 90s more credit for acting responsibly than they deserve. Whether one thinks it is a positive or negative trait of Obama’s political style, one cannot say he does not regularly try to give credit to his political adversaries as a way to keep the door open for their input. This is opposed to the Bush-Cheney-Rove era in which disagreeing with Bush was the same as some kind of sedition. This time Obama is guilty of spitting on Superman’s cape, excuse me, blaming Bush and Conservatives for doing things they actually did,

Kilmeade: Obama’s Speech Was “Blame Bush.” On the April 14 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed that the theme of Obama’s budget speech amounted to “blame Bush.” Guest co-host Peter Johnson Jr. responded by saying, “All the way. Very perceptive, Brian.” Kilmeade then stated, “How could you possibly, three years into your presidency, blame what happened eight years ago or along the way?”

[  ]…Carlson: “Obama Back To The Bush Blame Game When It Comes To The Deficit.” Later on Fox & Friends, Carlson teased an upcoming segment by stating: “And as we told you, President Obama back to the bush Blame game when it comes to the deficit. But now that he’s holding the checkbook, does that argument really work?” While Carlson spoke, on-screen text stated, “Bush blame game”

[  ]…Doug Powers: Obama’s “Obligatory Bush Blame” Was “Predictable.” In an April 13 post on Michelle Malkin’s blog, Dough Powers wrote that “[t]he ‘predictable as the sun rising in the east’ part was, of course, the obligatory Bush blame.”

[  ]…Jim Geraghty: “There Is A Lot Of Blaming Bush In This Speech.” From an April 13 National Review Online post by Jim Geraghty

Contribution to fiscal deterioration 2009 and 2010

I read Geraghty’s whole post so you don’t have to. I’m a little conflicted since I don’t know whether I should feel sorry for Geraghty for having such poor mental cognitive capacity or just write it off as yet another Con who cannot handle the truth. Geraghty claims Obama is increasing the national debt at three times the rate of Bush ( he does pause to admit Bush’s deficits were not a good thing. This is a National Review SOP. You admit that something a Republican did was not stellar judgement, and then rip the Democratic target of the hit piece with made up or exaggerated evidence). I’ll try to explain this in a way that even a tea smoker like Geraghty and his readers can understand. Let’s say George stole your credit card and not only charged up to the limit, but manipulated his way into charging way beyond the limit. Now assume George and the friends who helped him with his scam leave you with the debt to pay. Assuming we live in conservative dreamland where there is no regulation to protect consumers, you have to pay the debt, but can only afford to make the minimum payments. That means a small portion of your payment is going toward the principle and the rest is going to pay the interest. That is close to what is happening with the national debt. Only George and company also sabotaged the economy, so you’re earning less. Payment to debt, plus interests, plus lower earnings and you get Jimbo’s description of the debt. Only he has placed blame on the victim. I can also assure you that the National Joke Review thinks the Bush tax cuts – also part of the lower capacity to repay the debt – supported the Bush tax cuts and was against letting them expire in 2010. Imagine trying to pay off a debt someone else created with your hands tied behind your back. President Obama is not playing the blame game. Just as that credit card debt would be a real financial burden with consequences, so are the legacy of the Republican economic policies which are the cause of most of the nation’s current problems. Blaming Bush and Republicans should never end because their legacy is now a historical fact. We’re all paying for them now. Your grand children will be paying for them. Think of them as an inheritance in reverse. Republicans should know about the blame and accountability game. If you believe everything they say, it is almost as if George W. Bush the failed businessman, alcoholic and draft avoider was never president. CBPP: “[V]irtually The Entire Deficit Over The Next Ten Years” Due To Bush Policies, Economic Downturn.”

Some critics continue to assert that President George W. Bush’s policies bear little responsibility for the deficits the nation faces over the coming decade — that, instead, the new policies of President Barack Obama and the 111th Congress are to blame.  Most recently, a Heritage Foundation paper downplayed the role of Bush-era policies (for more on that paper, see p. 4).  Nevertheless, the fact remains: Together with the economic downturn, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years.

Fox News’ Kilmeade had the shameless gull to say, “How could you possibly, three years into your presidency, blame what happened eight years ago or along the way?”. When Bush was president they blamed The Big Dog for a recession that started on their watch, The Bush Economy and the Myth of the Clinton Recession

Facing the avalanche of grim news Monday, the White House still refuses to use the term “recession” to describe the economic calamity that Barack Obama will inherit from George W. Bush. Two months after press secretary Dana Perino claimed, “I don’t think anybody could tell you right now if we’re in a recession or not” and one month after he himself rejected a question as to whether the U.S. was in a recession as “irrelevant,” Bush spokesman Tony Fratto today said of the slowdown, “What’s important is what is being done about it.”

Of course, back in 2001 the new Bush administration and its amen corner in the right-wing media weren’t shy at all when it came to blaming a sluggish economy on Bill Clinton.

While the NEBR determined the George W. Bush’s first recession actually began in March 2001, the history of U.S. GDP shows that the traditional definition of recession – two straight quarters of GDP decline – was never met during either the last year of the Clinton presidency or the first of Bush’s tenure:

Undeterred, the Republican Party and its echo chamber have for years continued to perpetuate the myth that President Bush “inherited a recession” from Bill Clinton. As Media Matters detailed, the sound bite was introduced before George W, Bush even took the oath of office. On December 3, 2000, Dick Cheney told Tim Russert “I think so” when asked if “we’re on the front edge of a recession.”

There was never a time during the Bush era when Republicans took responsibility for a sluggish economy, the worse job creation record since Herbert Hoover and even during the last year of Bush’s second term, as the housing bubble was well underway and the Great Recession had well started they were trying to spin the history of the Bush-Republican years, White House projects record deficit for 2009

“The determination was made that getting the economy back on track was a higher priority than immediate deficit reduction,” Nussle said.

He said the OMB projects that the deficit would fall after the 2009 budget year, and he predicted that the government would have a surplus in budget year 2012, if the president’s budget blueprint is followed.

“Near-term deficits are temporary and manageable if — and only if — we keep spending in check, the tax burden low and the economy growing,” Nussle said, warning that congressional Democrats were planning to add billions of dollars in spending to the federal budget.

President Bush inherited a budget surplus of $128 billion when he took office in 2001 but has since posted a budget deficit every year.

US budget surpluses and deficits by Congressional Budget Office. Note Clinton surplus

No mention of the contribution of the Bush tax cuts, Bush’s failure to be proactive about the housing bubble, Republican failure to police the rating agencies and their security evaluations, Bush’s failure to pay for the costs of invading Iraq or adjust course at any time during his presidency despite plenty of data that showed the economy was in deep trouble. From a November 2008 post by Perrspectives, Measuring the Bush Recession

As the American economy plunges deeper into crisis, the conservative chattering classes are hoping for a replay of their 2001 blame game. Having successfully perpetuated the myth that President Bush “inherited a recession” from Bill Clinton, right-wing mouthpieces from Rush Limbaugh to Fred Barnes began blaming Barack Obama for the Bush recession literally within hours of his election. But as a quick glance at the data shows, across virtually economic indicator from GDP, unemployment and consumer confidence to home prices, foreclosures and manufacturing output, ownership for this mushrooming economic calamity squarely belongs to George W. Bush.

Gross Domestic Product. U.S. GDP shrank by 0.3% in the third quarter (July through September), a decline which followed the downward revision of the Q2 number from 3.3% to 2.8%. But while “recession” is traditionally defined as two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction (which is almost certain to occur), the quarterly Survey of Professional Forecasters by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia concluded that the United States entered a recession in April.

Recession at the State and Local Level. While there is debate as to whether or not the United States has technically slipped into a recession, at the state and local level there is no doubt at all. According to Moody’s Economy, by the end of September 30 states were in recession, up from just five in March. 19 more states were deemed “at risk.”

Obama and Congress had not passed the first dime in spending and the Right was jumping up and down, arms flailing – nothing that has happened or will happened and any consequences from the things they did but pretended never happened were, are or will be their fault. The Right’s political mentality is just like that of a career criminal. Nothing is ever their fault, they think they should never be held accountable, they feel they are victims and society is out to get them. What with the 24/7 right-wing distortion machine, wrapping their trash in the flag, and the general public’s tendency to have a short-term memory, the Right always seems to end up rewarded for its abhorrent behavior.

Anza Borrego State Park California wallpaper – Obama, The Budget and The Long War

spring wallpaper, american landscape

Anza Borrego State Park California wallpaper

I was going to find one from a few days ago. One of those relatively useless posts about what president Obama was going to say in his budget speech and how much was he going to cave ( some people seem to think compromise and cave mean the same thing). While the speech was generally substantive and channeled some of FDR’s spirit, it had one disappointing part in particular, the Right is still trying to catch its breath. For as long as I can remember Republicans have always been the party that  likes to portray itself and actually enjoys having the reputation of being school yard bullies. Like all bullies they are generally pouting bed wetters underneath and you do not have to push back very hard to get them to expose their childish and spiteful disposition. I think it was unethical for CBS not to cut the audio feed, but this does show the pre-speech prognosticators on the liberal side were at least partly wrong about President Obama not being up to out-negotiating conservatives, Obama: GOP tried to “sneak” agenda into budget

In what he thought was a private chat with campaign donors Thursday evening, President Obama offered the most revealing behind-the-scenes account to date of his budget negotiations with GOP leaders last week.

CBS Radio News White House correspondent Mark Knoller listened in to an audio feed of Mr. Obama’s conversation with donors after other reporters traveling with the president had left the room.

In the candid remarks, Mr. Obama complains of Republican attempts to attach measures to the budget bill which would have effectively killed parts of his hard-won health care reform program.

“I said, ‘You want to repeal health care? Go at it. We’ll have that debate. You’re not going to be able to do that by nickel-and-diming me in the budget. You think we’re stupid?'” recalled the president of his closed-door negotiations on the bill to fund the federal government until September.

What’s in the budget bill?

Mr. Obama said he told House Speaker John Boehner and members of his staff that he’d spent a year and a half getting the sweeping health care legislation passed — paying “significant political costs” along the way — and wouldn’t let them undo it in a six-month spending bill.

The bill, approved by Congress in a Thursday vote, trims about $38 billion from the government’s spending authority, though confusion and consternation over the size of the bill’s actual spending cuts increased Thursday in the wake of a report showing the legislation would only bring a real reduction of $352 million in non-war government spending for the rest of this fiscal year.

Speaking into a microphone which he may not have realized was still relaying his remarks to the White House press room — where Knoller had been listening to earlier remarks that were open to the press — Mr. Obama bemoaned GOP leaders’ attempts to attach a measure to the budget bill which would have cut funding for Planned Parenthood.

“Put it in a separate bill,” the president said he told Boehner and his staff. “We’ll call it up. And if you think you can overturn my veto, try it. But don’t try to sneak this through.”

In the end, the deal that was struck did see the Planned Parenthood measure, and a separate effort to defund parts of the health care program, voted on as stand-alone bills Thursday prior to the budget vote. Both measures failed.

If the culture war riders, mostly aimed at poor women and the environment were not sneaky, they were a cowardly way to hold the nation’s budget hostage. Republicans said they were serious about deficit reduction, but were willing to kill any budget that did not include their war on women. If the above was not enough to elicit the right-wing feak-out in the comments on this story, this really yanked some wing-nut chains,

“When Paul Ryan says his priority is to make sure, he’s just being America’s accountant … This is the same guy that voted for two wars that were unpaid for, voted for the Bush tax cuts that were unpaid for, voted for the prescription drug bill that cost as much as my health care bill — but wasn’t paid for,” Mr. Obama told his supporters. “So it’s not on the level.”

Calling out the Right’s current golden boy for his hollow numbers, blatant lies, budget gimmicks and glaring hypocrisy. That is a sure way to make the kool-kids heads explode.

By way of this recent post by Glenn Greenwald – Obama’s “bad negotiating” is actually shrewd negotiating. He makes a lot of good points about Obama not being a bad negotiator, but that Obama actually starts from Right of center. Glenn also does an excessive amount of projecting thoughts and motivations into the heads of people who take up for Obama. He has not turned out to be my dream president. Former Senator Russ Feingold(D-WI) is a closer to my politics than Obama. But I don’t have the president I wished for, I have a reality to deal with. Given the political option on the table at any one time on any issue from national security to the social safety net to employment to labor rights, education, the environment, financial regulation, health care and every other issue – I hope for and advocate the best possible outcome from those available options. For instance, the votes were not there for a public option on health care. That doesn’t mean I do not hope that someday we’ll have some type of public option or early Medicare buy-in option. I supported the best outcome of what could pass into law. Any time Obama and Democrats compromise that does not mean liberals and progressives who see the good are political hacks who back Obama just because of partisan loyalty. It means we’re adults who have seen the worse, hope for the best and are used to getting something in between. I see the Obama presidency as progress. While I have full faith that Greenwald, Alternet, Firedoglake, The Nation and other liberals will continue to hold Obama and Democrats feet to the fire, it is also just as important to acknowledge those tiny steps forward. Contrary to what Glenn thinks there is nothing wrong with regularly contrasting Obama/Democratic policies with those of the far Right as a motivator. As much as we’re all disappointed that Obama has not been his generation’s FDR ( there is still time left for him to change that impression), does even the most ideologically entrenched liberal really want Scott Walker’s(R-WI) guiding the national agenda. Or Sarah Palin, Chris Chrsitie, Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney. On balance are moderate Americans really supposed to embrace the unhinged extremism of these denizens of Wingnuttia because Obama is not our fantasy president. Almost by definition, to be a liberal, progressive or even centrist Democrats is to be constantly frustrated by the lack of progress and the pace of progress. If genuine progressive values are what anyone has signed up for, than you have signed up for the long fight. The fight that never ends. Liberalism as a concept has been around since the ancient Greeks. Philip E. Agre sums up the battle lines as well as anyone in a less than book length treatment in his essay, What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It?

From the pharaohs of ancient Egypt to the self-regarding thugs of ancient Rome to the glorified warlords of medieval and absolutist Europe, in nearly every urbanized society throughout human history, there have been people who have tried to constitute themselves as an aristocracy. These people and their allies are the conservatives.

The tactics of conservatism vary widely by place and time. But the most central feature of conservatism is deference: a psychologically internalized attitude on the part of the common people that the aristocracy are better people than they are. Modern-day liberals often theorize that conservatives use “social issues” as a way to mask economic objectives, but this is almost backward: the true goal of conservatism is to establish an aristocracy, which is a social and psychological condition of inequality. Economic inequality and regressive taxation, while certainly welcomed by the aristocracy, are best understood as a means to their actual goal, which is simply to be aristocrats. More generally, it is crucial to conservatism that the people must literally love the order that dominates them. Of course this notion sounds bizarre to modern ears, but it is perfectly overt in the writings of leading conservative theorists such as Burke. Democracy, for them, is not about the mechanisms of voting and office-holding. In fact conservatives hold a wide variety of opinions about such secondary formal matters. For conservatives, rather, democracy is a psychological condition. People who believe that the aristocracy rightfully dominates society because of its intrinsic superiority are conservatives; democrats, by contrast, believe that they are of equal social worth. Conservatism is the antithesis of democracy. This has been true for thousands of years. (more at link)

In more modern terms think of the overall war that we’re having now. The Right’s class warfare, the war against organized labor, the war against women, the war against science, the war against the social safety net, the war against protecting consumers and middle-class investors . Those are not just about Obama’s relatively modest health care reforms, they are about pushing back FDR’s achievements. They are about Paul Ryan and the Right’s revenge against legislation that Lyndon Johnson passed in the 1960s. The Right is like a gang of Medieval kings who think the peasants have stolen their god given right to rule as they see fit. This is the psychology that motivates Grover Norquist and the anti-tax extremists – how dare the peasants take the gold that the dukes and princes have a sacred right to and spend it on disabled kids and the elderly and cancer research and repairing bridges and having better schools. The Right honestly thinks the Koch brothers, Bank of America and Exxon creates wealth, while the workers are mindless drones who shouldn’t get too uppity. They either cannot, or stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that all wealth is a result of labor. I suspect that centrist Democrats like Obama carry some of those Republican genes when it comes to economics. His former Director of the White House National Economic Council Larry Summers had those old monarchical tendencies to a fault.

I agree with Krugman and Greenwald that the Obama plan is already right of center. If that is his starting point for compromise, than yes, progressives are screwed. Yet, the Right will no doubt chime in with some shrill protestations about how we’re falling deeper into the depths of Marxism. Which will be another disturbing reminder of the Right’s true inclination, not conservatism, but proto-fascist plutocracy.

In case anyone missed these, Should The Revenue Assumptions In Ryan’s Budget Be Trusted?

If you tell the CBO to assume a certain amount of revenue will be raised, it does, even if that revenue is wildly optimistic. Ryan did the same thing when he had the CBO score his Roadmap For America’s Future. He told the CBO to assume that the plan would raise 19 percent of GDP in revenue, and the CBO based the rest of its numbers on that assumption. But when the Tax Policy Center ran the numbers, it found the Roadmap would raise far less than Ryan said it would:

Assuming taxpayers choose their preferred tax system, revenue would average 16.1 percent of GDP between fiscal years 2011 and 2015, rising to 16.6 percent by 2020, compared with 20.2 percent under CBO’s January 2010 baseline. The fall in revenue would result primarily from the lower individual income tax rates and the exemption of capital income.

Without the level of revenue specified, Ryan’s Roadmap wouldn’t set the country on a path to reducing the debt, with debt growing to 175 percent of GDP. Are the revenue assumptions for Ryan’s 2012 budget any better? If they’re not — and we have no reason to believe they are, given Ryan’s previous performance — the radical cuts that Ryan has in mind will fail to reduce the country’s debt.

Ezra Klein onHow do $38.5 billion in cuts become $350 million?. I may have underplayed the actual cuts in my last post. The point is that while some of the real cuts beyond the creative accounting do hurt the working porr the most, they are not the draconian cuts Republicans were drooling over.

If you have an ironic sense of humor, the good news is the good times did not end with the end of the Bush-Cheney administration – Ryan Budget Plan Produces Far Less Real Deficit Cutting than Reported
Plan’s $4.3 Trillion in Program Cuts, Offset by $4.2 Trillion in Tax Cuts, Yield Just $155 Billion in Deficit Reduction.
Republicans bloggers such as Ed at Hot Air are treating the Ryan numbers as though they were written by a bolt of lightning on a big clay tablet, all the while claiming Obama’s numbers don’t add up. The full report is at the link. If the Right is serious about deficit reduction they’ll get more with Obama’s plan. If the Right is actually more concerned with giving the wealthy and corporations even further tax cuts to produce yet another illusionist voodoo economics boom, than the Ryan plan is the one to go for. Big corps are using their tax cuts and loopholes, not to hire new employees and invest in America, but to have more money to spend toward making America into their plutocratic dreams, 12 Tax-Dodging Corporations Spent $1 Billion To Influence Washington Over The Last Decade

EXXON MOBIL: The oil giant that was the world’s most profitable corporation in 2008 has spent $5.7 million in campaign contributions over the last ten years and $138 million in lobbying expenditures. Its federal corporate income tax liabilities for 2009? Absolutely nothing. Not only did it pay nothing, but it also received a tax rebate the same year of $156 million.

CHEVRON: Chevron spent $4.4 million in campaign contributions and $91 million in lobbying expenditures over the last decade. It received a tax refund of $19 million in 2009 while making $10 billion in profits and $324 million in government contracts in 2008.

[  ]..BANK OF AMERICA: Bank of America employees contributed $11 million to federal political campaigns from 2001 to 2010 and spent $24 million lobbying over the same period of time. It made $4.4 billion in profits in 2010 while receiving a tax refund of $1.9 billion.

CITIGROUP: Citigroup employees contributed $15 million to federal political campaigns from 2001 to 2010 and spent $62 million lobbying over the same period of time. It made $4 billion in profits in 2010 while paying absolutely nothing in federal corporate income taxes. It also received a $1.9 billion tax refund.

Credit Rating Agencies Play Big Role in Triggering Financial Crisis

Moody’s Corp and Standard and Poor’s triggered the worst financial crisis in decades when they were forced to downgrade the inflated ratings they slapped on complex mortgage-backed securities, a U.S. congressional report concluded on Wednesday.

In one of the most stark condemnations of the credit rating agencies, a Senate investigations panel said the agencies continued to give top ratings to mortgage-backed securities months after the housing market started to collapse.

The agencies then unleashed on the financial system a flood of downgrades in July 2007…

Debt Ceiling Fight Will be Another Victory for The Adults….The Democrats

Economist Dean Baker gets it, Radical Republicans Lead by Paul Ryan(R-WI) in Your Pockets: Government by People Who Hate You

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan put out a budget proposal last week that will leave the vast majority of future retirees without decent health care by ending Medicare as we know it. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis, most middle-income retirees would have to pay almost half of their income to purchase a Medicare equivalent insurance package by 2030. They would be paying much more than half of their income in later years.

This sort of broadside against the living standards of the middle class might have been expected to draw an outraged response in a nation that exalts the lifestyle and values of the middle class. Instead the punditry rallied around Mr. Ryan’s plan to deal with the problem of run-away entitlement spending, crediting it for being “serious” even if they did not embrace all the details.

Why or how did the national media let Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security become the patient with a broken leg that Republican want to undergo extensive cancer treatment. The disease is not programs that have helped alleviate poverty, suffering and disease. The disease is the gangrenous rot conservatives started in 2000.

In principle the country’s elite should be laying low right now. After all, their greed and ineptitude has given us the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. But after getting the Wall Street banks back on their feet with trillions of dollars of government subsidized loans, the elite are once again making a full-frontal assault on the living standards of the middle-class. Last week it was Medicare, but they promise to be back to attack Social Security in the not-too distant future.

The ostensible rationale for this attack is the country’s huge budget deficit. This is garbage. As all the pundits know, the country has a huge deficit today because the Wall Street boys drove the economy off a cliff. If the government deficit was not propping up the economy we would be looking at 11 or 12 percent unemployment, rather than 8.8 percent. Spending creates jobs and at this point it is not coming from private sector, so the government must fill the hole.

Every American should be shocked and sickened that the same remorseless, shameless, incompetent sleazebags who refused to pay for two wars – a first in U.S. history – who crashed and burned the economy are back and they’re telling middle-class America the only way we can save the ship Republicans set on fire is to throw the middle-class overboard.

Some consolatory news for those who were sure Democrats went too far in compromising with The Orange Boehner Crew on the budget, Budget deal details: Cuts that aren’t quite cuts. Obama gave up some of the high-speed rail funds (1.5 billion, but kept $6.5 billion). $10 billion came from cuts in slashing earmarked projects by legislators – some of that from Republicans of course. Obama saved the Head Start early learning program, the maximum Pell grant of $5,550 and the President’s “Race to the Top” initiative for better-performing schools. Democrats also saved medical and research funding for the National Institutes of Health. And this has got to burn – Obama saved funding for National Public Radio. The details are on-line for hardcore wonks to read , Historic Spending Cuts the Centerpiece for Final Continuing Resolution (CR) for Fiscal Year 2011. To me it looks as though Obama threw Boehner some table scraps to help him save face with the tea smokers, but it was largely a compromise that favored Democrats.

The next big battle is rising the debt ceiling. This is already more about the radical Right jockeying not to appear like they are going to ignore the tea nutty platforms of the 2010 elections. Democrats will win. That is unequivocal. There are a few reasons. Number one is the millions, more likely billions failure to rise the ceiling will have on the corporate-conservative money train. The only people who really seem itching for letting the debt ceiling cave in are the full-time flame throwers like Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. Besides that the House Majority Leader Boehner (R-OH) and his House Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) will have to eat a lot of crow, Boehner’s Double-Dealing on the Debt Ceiling

When George W. Bush sat in the Oval Office, Republican majorities in Congress voted seven times to increase the U.S. debt ceiling. That recent history, combined with the inconvenient truth that the national debt tripled under Ronald Reagan and doubled again under Bush, may have prompted then Minority Leader John Boehner to warn his GOP colleagues in November that “We’re going to have to deal with it as adults.” But emboldened by his victory in Friday’s budget showdown, Speaker Boehner is now holding the debt ceiling and the U.S. economy hostage, claiming Republicans won’t “roll over” and give President Obama “a clean bill.”

I differ with the analysis. Boehner got a few concessions and thanked Obama for sparing him even more embarrassment. Notice you have not heard Wall St demanding their bought and paid for Republicans pols to not rise the ceiling. That quiet speaks volumes. They cannot risk the U.S. defaulting on its debt for the first time in history. It might cause a second recession ( with no bail-out this time) or cause a new wave of global financial collapse. All of this because Democrats will not defund Planned Parenthood or stop the EPA from enforcing laws against air borne toxins. Obviously the usual crowd of wing-nuts allergic to accountability will do their twisted dance of denial, but most people will see a worsening of the economy over holding women’s health care hostage as unacceptable. House Whip Cantor can talk tough all day about holding the debt ceiling hostage – as a matter of fact he and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) should talk trash all day every day so we’ll have plenty of sound bites like “a time leverage moment”. Millions of newly unemployed Americans can read the trash talk while they’re applying for food stamps they won’t get because the cupboard is bare. There will be some entertainment value just as Wall St was getting back to their multi-million dollar bonuses and record profits, they take another financial bath. And let’s not forget everyone who has their fingers crossed that the housing market was on the way to a full recovery. No new debt ceiling means a deeper and prolonged housing slump. Obama could, but probably will not, destroy Boehner and Cantor’s political careers. Once again, he’ll offer up some crumbs around the edges so they and the rightie pundits can save face and claim victory.

I’m a little surprised by what some liberal bloggers are saying. They really seem to believe the right-wing sugar daddies like the Koch brothers, Richard Scaife and others are willing to take a potentially billion dollar bath to make the average teatard happy.


ABC has an easy to read consequences of playing chicken with the federal debt limit, Debt Ceiling Fight Takes Center Stage: What It Means For You – If U.S. Debt Limit Isn’t Raised, Interest Rates Would Surge and Markets Would Crash