Now, let us stipulate that the government shutdown, however long-lived its repercussions turn out to be, was a Republican political failure on a truly grand scale. Moreover, the agents provocateurs were indeed the Tea Party darlings of the House and Senate, all of whom were happy to let the government close shop in their tilt against the Obamacare windmill, and some of whom may well have been willing to risk sovereign default to get their way (but most of whom would certainly have known that the political process was likely to spare them any consequences for their posturing to that effect).
Nevertheless, the new line among Democrats and progressives is actually a net positive for the GOP and the best thing (in fact, the only good thing) that has happened to the party over the past couple weeks. Because the Republican Party truly is divided now—between a majority that is as staunchly conservative as ever and a minority that is not merely staunchly conservative but manifestly radical in its aims and tactics. It does not hurt, but rather has the potential to help Republicans, for their opponents to acknowledge the division within the party and the status of the Tea Party faction as a very vocal minority.
The Tea Party faction is telling its own version of the same story, namely, that it fought the good fight and lost. But that’s another way of saying that the Tea Party does not have the political power within the GOP to prevail.
We fought the good fight is indeed the fable that conservatives are telling themselves. Tod Lindberg is correct, up to a point that there is a divide and the non-tea baggers won. Though what happened was more about who is in charge of the GOP. The shut-down was bad for business. Since forever or since Saint Ronnie you could draw a pie chart with conservatives who could mostly be in the culture war slice and conservatives who mostly fit in the far Right libertarian business slice. The latter is what has and still does have the last say on the conservative agenda. The business slice saw that the shut-down was costing them money. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who is nothing more than a corrupt puppy of the coal industry stepped in and said enough is enough. The business wing of conservatism has always been willing to pander to the culture conservatives because legislation that gives government more control over women does not have much effect on wealthy conservative women, who will get whatever health care they want regardless of what Paul Ryan (R-WI) wants. There is no division between conservatives and the tea baggers that has not always been there. If you think their rhetoric is especially hateful or radical then you need to look back at the Clinton years ( the Hillary and Vince Foster murder conspiracy theory, the Bill Clinton Arkansas mafia that knocked off political enemies conspiracy theory, Bill Clinton was behind the Oklahoma bombing conspiracy theory). Or the George W. Bush years where everyone who disagreed with the invasion of Iraq was a terrorist sympathizers. The tea bags are the same nutbars who have always been in the circle jerk of conservative crazy. The only thing that might have changed is that a few more of them got elected and much of their wackness has become part and parcel of mainstream conservatism. If you’re not out there comparing Obamcare to slavery or Hitler you’re just not a real Republican. Does it benefit the Mitch McConnells and John Boehners (R-OH) to be able to lay off blame to some supposed division in the GOP, to make it seem like there is a somewhat moderate wing of conservatism that will appeal to independent voters in 2014. That is where Lindberg might be on to something. After all conservatives convinced themselves they did not blow up the economy in 2007 and invading Iraq was a great idea.
I have a question for Sarah Palin and other Obamacare haters. It is a rhetorical question, because being in touch with reality and not blinded by the worse kind of venal partisanship, I know the answer. When you use a private insurance web site or talk to customer service over the phone has your experience always been perfect. I know that it has not because i have worked with every kind of insurance company and their data bases and customer service. They have a good sized turn over ate in customer service personnel because of the burn out dealing with frustrated customers. This site has a possible five star rating for health insurance companies – look how many get one star. Palin: Obamacare website glitches are a feature, not a bug, and will push U.S. into socialism. You mean that Congress will pass legislation making Marxist Medicare available to everyone? Oh my, that would be awful. That would be the Medicare that her and Todd will be filing for in a few years. The Palin family collected every public benefit they could get in Alaska, why isn’t it socialism when conservatives do it. That is one of the disturbing things about how tea bagger conservatives see values; giving millions of Americas more access to health care is some how immoral. The Palin families’ corruption is the new patriotism. Weird.
Japanese World Map, created between 1850-1900. The map is from a woodcut engraving and shows an enormous archipelago representing Japan at the center of the world. The interesting characters drawn in the insets are of a Russian soldier. The inset texts have a very brief history of each country.
House Republicans cheered as they passed their special farm-not-food farm bill by the skin of their teeth Thursday afternoon. It wasn’t clear in the immediate run-up to the vote if Republicans would have the votes, and then Democrats forced repeated procedural votes as a protest against the Republican leadership’s decision to separate the farm subsidies part of the traditional farm bill from funding for nutrition programs.
The way forward is murky for the bill, since the Senate already passed a farm bill including both farms and food and isn’t likely to agree to strip out the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in conference…
..In other words, that what they passed won’t pass the Senate or get the president’s signature is not the issue. This is about John Boehner, and his need to show he could get the House Republicans he ostensibly leads to pass something, anything, to make up for his farm bill failure last month. And he barely got it through: The 216-208 vote was only good enough for passage because some Republicans were absent.
In the bizarre alternate reality in which conservatives live, money to feed hungry people is money down a endless void. Be fore we proceed to see how food assistance is both good for the country in terms of economics and American ideals like humanitarianism, this bit from the far Right Heritage Foundation, Food Stamps Don’t Stimulate Economic Growth
The number of Americans on food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is at historic highs, but some on the left—like Paul Krugman—think that’s not such a bad thing because, as they argue, food stamps “stimulate” the economy:
We desperately needed (and still need) public policies to promote higher spending on a temporary basis.… [E]ach dollar spent on food stamps in a depressed economy raises G.D.P. [gross domestic product] by about $1.70—which means, by the way, that much of the money laid out to help families in need actually comes right back to the government in the form of higher revenue.
Others on the left have made similar statements about SNAP stimulus. What’s the problem with this argument?
First, food stamps are intended to serve as a temporary safety net for those who face economic hardship, not as an economic stimulus. To justify food stamps as a stimulus to raise government revenue ignores the long-term economic consequences of welfare spending.
Maybe I’m giving them too much credit, but I think that is a pretty clever. She does not in anyway rebut the food stamp argument directly, she suddenly shifts, to a yea but it adds to the total national debt in the long term argument. That is not true either, but it gives the typical Fox News viewer or Breitbart reader the kind of mental rationale they need to repeat it to the point of nausea. First, just the numbers that would relate to being a drain on taxpayers,
When the money goes to people, they spend it and stimulate the economy on the order of $1.5 to 1.7 for every dollar spent. This means that the $78 billion spent on food stamps in 2011 led to $115 billion in overall economic activity.
That $37 billion is how tax payers get their money back, grocery stores make money and pay some taxes, food suppliers and farmers make money and pay some taxes. Oh, and of course this $37 billion helps people keep and create jobs. And frankly I don’t care about that and no one with a conscience should. Even if the program came out even $78 billion spent to $78 billion in economic activity, people need to eat. Conservatives do not seem to have much in the way of moral qualms about people going hungry, but most Americans do. Some more numbers and some stuff about people who conservatives think should just drop dead,
Advocates for the poor consider such cuts unconscionable. Food stamps, they argue, are far from lavish. Only those with incomes of 130% of the poverty level or less are eligible for them. The amount each person receives depends on their income, assets and family size, but the average benefit is $133 a month and the maximum, for an individual with no income at all, is $200. Those sums are due to fall soon, when a temporary boost expires. Even the current package is meagre. Melissa Nieves, a recipient in New York, says she compares costs at five different supermarkets, assiduously collects coupons, eats mainly cheap, starchy foods, and still runs out of money a week or ten days before the end of the month.
That average comes out to about $4.43 a day. According to conservatives and their brilliant insights into the human psyche, that kind of cash is what makes people lazy and want to live off gov-mint giveaways. So here we have a issue with a political movement that is not so much about politics as about the mental state of someone who wants misery for another human being who they see as the disgusting other. A few more numbers and humans,
The majority of SNAP recipients are children or elderly–and many work. A report released in November 2012 by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service shows that 45 percent of SNAP recipients were under 18 years of age and nearly 9 percent were age 60 or older. What’s more, more than 40 percent of SNAP recipients lived in a household with earnings.
So 54% of SNAP recipients are at a place in life where they have no boot straps to pull themselves up with. This should be embarrassing to conservatives who worship the absolute god-like perfection of the free market: how can that 40% work 40 or more hours a week and still not earn enough not to qualify for food assistance. Spoiler alert, I have part of the answer to that mystery: employers like Walmart, Target, McDonalds, Applesees, Sears. Taco Bell, Amazon and most retail grocery chains do not pay most of their employees a living wage, but they all have executive management that takes home millions – far more than they earned, deserve or need for a comfortable life. The same people Republican governors have cut taxes for and the same executives that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan wanted yet another tax cut. And like a dovetail joint those tax cuts for people who rob from their employees to give to themselves we have the deep wisdom of the Koch brothers, Billionaire Koch Brother Says Eliminating The Minimum Wage Will Help The Poor.
The Kansas ad does not specifically mention the minimum wage, but it does claim that Americans earning $34,000 a year should count themselves as lucky, because that puts them in the top 1 percent of the world. “That is the power of economic freedom,” the ad concluded. Meanwhile, Charles and David Koch are the ones comfortably in the 1 percent, with a net worth of about 1 million times that figure. Watch the ad:
The ad cites a report from the Koch-funded Fraser Institute showing that “The United States used to be a world leader in economic freedom but our ranking fell. And it’s projected to decline even further.” (That same Fraser report interestingly ranks Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Chile ahead of the U.S. Those places all have government-run health care, which the Kochs adamantly oppose.)
The Kochs were sent to elite colleges by their wealthy dad, from who they also inherited a large fortune. They did some really innovative stuff like buy some paper mills, some companies they make artificial carpeting synthesized from petroleum products. Most of their money now comes from their money. When you’re that rich and reach a certain threshold of wealth, your money by way of very safe investments and interests pays back huge sums of money. Listening to them give advice how how to get out of a low wage job is to listen to someone who is truly clueless. Someone who has never achieved anything on their own because they started out life, not a step up the ladder, but on top of the ladder charging fees to anyone who wanted to get on. The picture at this link says basically the same thing Lincoln said about labor being superior to capital, People like the Kochs, Romneys, Gold-Sachs, Bank of America, the Walton family, the Coors family, Sheldon Adelson take our ideas, they take our labor, they take our talent, they frequently take our health, they take our jobs during a takeover or export them to Asia, then turn around and call us the takers. It is close to the Antebellum plantation owners calling the slaves ungrateful for all the opportunities they provided.
A Fox News correspondent is attacking “the liberal, anti-South media” for unfairly “trying to crucify Paula Deen” over her admission in a court deposition that she’s used racial epithets.
Todd Starnes, who also hosts a Fox News Radio segment, wrote on his Facebook page that the “liberal, anti-South media is trying to crucify Paula Deen. They accuse her of using a derogatory word to describe a black person. Paula admitted she used the word — back in the 1980s – when a black guy walked into the bank, stuck a gun in her face and ordered her to hand over the cash. The national media failed to mention that part of the story. I’ll give credit to the Associated Press for telling the full story.”
Starnes also defended Deen via Twitter, writing: “The mainstream media hates Paula Deen […] I think it’s because most of them don’t eat meat.”
Starnes’ defense of Deen doesn’t square with reports about Deen’s deposition. The Huffington Post reported it “obtained a transcript of the deposition in question” and Deen is quoted as stating she “probably” used the word “in telling my husband” about the incident, and she is “sure” she’s used it since then, “but it’s been a very long time.” She went on to say “my children and my brother object to that word being used in any cruel or mean behavior. As well as I do.”
Deen also discussed planning a “really southern plantation wedding” and was asked if she used the n-word then:
Lawyer: Is there any possibility, in your mind, that you slipped and used the word “n–r”?
Deen: No, because that’s not what these men were. They were professional black men doing a fabulous job.
She apologized today in an online video “to everybody for the wrong that I’ve done … Inappropriate and hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable.”
In 2011, Starnes tweeted “Blacks riot at Burger King” and linked to a local news story about a cell phone camera capturing a brawl at a Panama City Beach Burger King. The story did not mention or discuss the race of the participants. The tweet was later deleted.
I don’t know where Starnes was born or where he lives. I suspect he is not a southern. Most of us are not crazy about having the kind of lingering racism that Deen is guilty of and that Starnes defends. When the media points out what someone said, under oath mind you, and that language is clearly racist, the media is not being anti-South, it is being anti-racist. I do not take offense at someone pointing out racism, so why is Starnes. Why does he think it necessary to defend racism to the point where he is willing to act like a clown without honor. It that how desperate conservatism has become. Every time someone does or says something deeply crude and offensive, Fox news runs to the rescue. Nope, we must not let millionaires who say things that are immoral take their lumps, they must be guarded from the reasonable reactions to unreasonable behavior. In driving the clown car of conservative racism Starnes for got to think that maybe he was, in addition to his own record of racism, displayed an amazing amount of pretension and contempt for the South.
We might be wrong about the conservatives how the SCOTUS thinking tat corporations are human. They actually seem to think that corporations are special units of being. Beings that require special rights and privileges exceeding those of human beings, Worst Supreme Court Arbitration Decision Ever
So, today, in American Express v. Italian Colors, the U.S. Supreme Court said that a take-it-or-leave-it arbitration clause could be used to prevent small businesses from actually pursuing their claims for abuse of monopoly power under the antitrust laws. Essentially, the Court said today that their favorite statute in the entire code is the Federal Arbitration Act, and it can be used to wipe away nearly any other statute.
As Justice Kagan said in a bang-on, accurate and clear-sighted dissent, this is a “BETRAYAL” (strong word, eh?) of the Court’s prior arbitration decisions. You see, until now, the Supreme Court has said that courts should only enforce arbitration clauses where a party could “effectively vindicate its statutory rights.” Today, in a sleight of hand, the five conservative justices said that this means that arbitration clauses should be enforced even when they make it impossible for parties to actually vindicate their statutory rights, so long as they have a theoretical “right” to pursue that remedy.
The plaintiffs in this case, restaurants and other small merchants, claim that American Express uses its monopoly power over its charge card to force them to accept American Express’s credit cards and pay higher rates than they would for other credit cards. This is called a “tying arrangement” under the antitrust laws — American Express is alleged to be using its monopoly power over one product to jack up the price of another product to higher rates than it could charge in a competitive market.
For plaintiffs to prove this kind of case, they have to come up with hard evidence — economic proof — that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. And each individual merchant has only lost, and thus can only hope to recover, a small fraction of that amount. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recognized that if American Express’s arbitration clause (and particularly its ban on class actions) was enforced, that would mean that none of the small business plaintiffs could enforce their rights under the antitrust laws. And under a long line of Supreme Court cases, arbitration clauses are only enforceable when they permit the parties to effectively vindicate their statutory rights.
Today’s decision turns that rule on its head. According to Justice Scalia’s majority opinion, even if an arbitration clause would mean that no individual would ever actually be able to pursue an antitrust claim on an individual basis, the arbitration clause still has to be enforced. The law has changed dramatically — parties no longer have a right to “effectively” vindicate their statutory rights; they are left with the meaningless but formal right to pursue economically irrational claims if they choose to do so.
This would be one of those pro-business arrangements that conservatives like so much. One that makes small business and consumers helpless victims, but which makes sure the feudal overlords of business can raid and blunder as much as they like. If conservatives politicians and legal wizards were ever hooked up to a device that made them loose a tooth every time they used their nonsensical doublespeak, they’d be toothless in a week. The average conservative blog and their comment section is filled with invectives about how tyrannical Obama or some Democrat is, yet they’re celebrating a SCOTUS decision that took away some, not just basic legal rights, but economic and human rights. This decision, along with Citizens United , are poster issues for the kind of tyranny that the conservative movement passes off as freedom.,
Erick Erickson, the conservative blogger and Fox News personality, became the most hated man on Twitter today after responding to a much-discussed Pew survey on female breadwinners by saying that science says that men should dominate women (to be fair to Erickson, Juan Williams and Lou Dobbs expressed equally retrograde sentiments on the very same segment, but have largely escaped the drubbing).
Erickson tried to clear things up with a blog post this afternoon, but only made matters worse by showing how much he doesn’t get it. The missive started off poorly, with some whining about how feminists and “emo lefties have their panties in a wad” (pro-tip: when accused of sexism, don’t reference your opponents’ panties while mounting your defense) and only got worse from there.
First there was a science lesson:
I also noted that the left, which tells us all the time we’re just another animal in the animal kingdom, is rather anti-science when it comes to this. In many, many animal species, the male and female of the species play complementary roles, with the male dominant in strength and protection and the female dominant in nurture.
There are also species where males castrate themselves before sex to avoid being eating alive by females. Perhaps Erickson would like to experience that — you know, because science?
Erickson goes on to equate all female breadwinners with single mothers, and then to assume that the outrage directed at his comments was about some kind of politically correct effort to destroy families…
First of all, Freedom. We live in a democratic republic. We have a free market economy. It is not for conservatives to decide who should make the most based on strange criteria such as gender, race or religion. If some women make more money than men or have more power in their relationships, that is their personal business. It is a result of their circumstances, life choices and some luck, good or bad. You know where you can here the same conservative misogynistic nonsense? From Iranian fundamentalists. Robbed of simple pleasures – Women’s rights in Iran
Equality does not take precedence over justice… Justice does not mean that all laws must be the same for men and women. One of the mistakes that Westerners make is to forget this…. The difference in the stature, vitality, voice, development, muscular quality and physical strength of men and women shows that men are stronger and more capable in all fields… Men’s brains are larger…. Men incline toward reasoning and rationalism while women basically tend to be emotional… These differences affect the delegation of responsibilities, duties and rights.
— Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iranian Parliament Speaker, 1986
Iranian women were strong participants in the 1979 revolution, but fundamentalists, led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, seized control after the revolution. Once in power, the fundamentalists betrayed the work and humanity of women by implementing a crushing system of gender apartheid. Fundamentalists built their theocracy on the premise that women are physically, intellectually and morally inferior to men, which eclipses the possibility of equal participation in any area of social or political activity. Biological determinism prescribes women’s roles and duties to be child bearing and care taking, and providing comfort and satisfaction to husbands.
Men were granted the power to make all family decisions, including the movement of women and custody of the children. “Your wife, who is your possession, is in fact, your slave,” is the mullah’s legal view of women’s status. (2) The misogyny of the mullahs made women the embodiment of sexual seduction and vice. To protect the sexual morality of society, women had to be covered and banned from engaging in “immodest” activity.
I don’t know who first used the term, but Erickson, Dobbs and Will aims are examples of the observation that many conservatives embrace an American Taliban mentality. With the attitude that only men can make decisions, only men can lead, only men can think clear thoughts, only men should be allowed to compete in the commercial marketplace, and the marketplace of ideas. I do not see how men do anything but profit from equality with women. Unless you’re an American or Iranian conservative who has a fundamentalist fixation on controlling every aspect of someone’s life. More on Erick’s dream world, Mullahs’ parliament adopts bill prohibiting issuance of passport for single women
On November 13, mullahs’ parliamentary Commission on National Security and Foreign Policy, in consideration of the Passport Bill, had adopted this article for “single women under 40” (IRGC news agency – Fars). However, mullahs’ parliament declared on December 11 that mention of a particular age has been dropped in this bill. Safar Naimi, a mullahs’ parliamentarian said: “It is the belief of most members of the committee that issuance of passport for women, whether single or married, should be conditioned on the approval of her guardian or the Shariat judge; meaning that a single woman would need approval from her guardian father, grandfather or Shariat judge; and a married woman has to have the approval of her husband, guardian or the Shariat judge”.
Sean Hannity invited Ann Coulter on his Thursday night Fox News show to get her take on this morning’s Senate showdown between Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Coulter immediately started slamming Feinstein’s response to Cruz, in which she told the younger Senator that she’s “not sixth-grader” and didn’t need a “lecture on the Constitution.”
Comparing Feinstein to another “I am woman, hear me roar” Democrat, Hillary Clinton, Coulter said “as soon as they get a question they don’t like, they start crying.” She called Feinstein’s Constitutional arguments “preposterous” and proclaimed that Sen. Cruz “nailed her so she said ‘I’m offended.’”
As far as perception of personalities go, Cruz looked like an obnoxious creep and Sen. Feinstein like the statesman. To “nail” someone in this context means to have all the facts on one’s side. Cruz seemed out of his depth. Utterly clueless as to what the Constitution actually says, former rulings by even conservatives on the SCOTUS and that a president named Bush signed the previous assault weapons ban into law. Senators Destroy Clueless Ted Cruz(R-TX) Argument Against The Assault Weapons Ban
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) battered Democrats with questions about whether they would support restrictions on the First or Fourth Amendments he claimed were similar to those an assault weapons ban would impose on the Second:
I pose to the senator from California [Sen. Diane Feinstein], would she deem it consistent with the Bill of Rights for Congress to engage in the same endeavor that we are contemplating doing with the Second Amendment in the context of the First or Fourth Amendment, namely, would she consider it constitutional for congress to specify that the first amendment shall apply only to the following books and shall not apply to the books that congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights?
But Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) obliterated his argument by noting the analogous actual restrictions on the actual First Amendment:
In reference to the question my colleague from Texas asked, would you limit books? Would you name specific books? Yeah. It’s constitutional within the ambit of the First Amendment to eliminate child pornography. And we have lots of laws that are very explicit about that. Very explicit. That are constitutional, that have been upheld as constitutional. Similarly, you can’t falsely scream fire in a crowded theater. Similarly, we have libel laws. Every one of these is an impingement on the sacred First Amendment, upheld as constitutional. There are reasonable limits on each amendment, and I think it is anomalous, to put it kindly, for either side to interpret one amendment so expansively and another amendment so narrowly that it just doesn’t add up because your interpretation of the Constitution should be consistent.
Let’s go to the text of the 2nd Amendment: As passed by the Congress:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
In 2008 and 2010 – with a majority of conservative extremists on the court they ruled that gun ownership did not require participation in a militia. Let’s say you like that ruling. Let’s concede that what the court did was interpret the original 2nd amendment in way that they think had implicit meaning, rather than the explicit meaning of the text – individuals could only have guns in the context of membership in a regulated militia. Cruz and Coulter might want to grab a dictionary and look up the three simple words that begin that amendment – “A well Regulated”. While the court ruled that the right to bear arms extends to almost everyone – the court did not rule out the well regulated clause. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough is a conservative and he knows as much about economics as a tree stump, but even he get how ridiculous Cruz and his defender M’s Coulter, are –
SCARBOROUGH: Did they teach Ted Cruz to read what the Supreme Court said? Especially in the landmark, the landmark decision regarding Second Amendment rights over 200 years was written in 2008? I’m just wondering why would he use his seat on the Judiciary Committee if he went to Harvard to — to — to put forward a willfully ignorant statement about this bill violating the Second Amendment, because it does not. And Ted Cruz knows it does not. So who is he playing for? Is he playing for — for — for people who can’t read, for illiterates? I don’t understand…. When you’re condescending and you don’t even have the facts right. When you’re misstating what the Second Amendment says as interpreted by the conservative court, by Scalia. I have a problem with that.
Indeed, to quote Justice Scalia’s decision in the landmark 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” The ruling also allows limitations on ownership of “dangerous and unusual” weapons that are not in “common use” — like, for example, assault weapons.
This is a summary of the assault weapons ban that Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is sponsoring. Senator Feinstein (D) is a trained/licensed gun owner.
After a militant anti-capitalist group called the New World Liberation Front unsuccessfully tried to bomb her house in the 1970s, Feinstein trained to use one.
“I know the urge to arm yourself, because that’s what I did,” she told Senate colleagues in 1995. “I made the determination that if somebody was going to try to take me out, I was going to take them with me.”
To Feinstein, the battle is about keeping what she considers weapons of war out of the hands of those who intend to massacre innocent people. Her personal experience isn’t all that impels her to wage it.
Before the December shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, there was the Cleveland Elementary School shooting in Stockton in January 1989. A 26-year-old man opened fire on a group of children with an AK-47, killing five and wounding more than 30 before taking his own life.
Before the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., last July that resulted in 12 deaths and injuries to 58 others, there was the office tower shooting at 101 California Street in San Francisco in July 1993. A gunman with a grudge against a law firm shot and killed eight people before killing himself.
As time has passed, the tragedies have faded from public memory. But Feinstein has not forgotten.
“This is something I’m deeply passionate about, and I believe it saves lives,” she said. “I don’t intend to stop.”
Intelligent, capable, accomplished women like Sen. Feinstein are just the kind of women that make Coulter go off the rails,
Taking her outrage one step further, Coulter said, “I used to think women should not be able to vote and now I think liberal women should not be able to hold office.”
Like her ideological cousin, Jennifer Rubin at the WaPO, Coulter’s analyses and points of view are located somewhere between 1850 and deranged. The only difference might be is that Rubin wants to be taken seriously as an opinion journalist, while Coulter will seemly say anything to get attention and fatten her bank account.
One thing more must be noted. If within a society based on private ownership of the means of production some of these means are publicly owned and operated, this still does not make for a mixed system which would combine socialism and private property. As long as only certain individual enterprises are publicly owned, the remaining being privately owned, the characteristics of the market economy which determine economic activity remain essentially unimpaired. The publicly owned enterprises, too, as buyers of raw materials, semi-finished goods, and labor, and as sellers of goods and services, must fit into the mechanism of the market economy; they are subject to the same laws of the market. In order to maintain their position they, too, have to strive after profits or at least to avoid losses.” (Mises 1998: 5)
It is quite surprising how much Mises was prepared to concede: an economy with some limited nationalised industry (although run on the principle of profit and loss) where the majority of capital goods are private owned is still a “market economy” with its fundamental characteristics “essentially unimpaired.”
For those not familiar with the term, Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan (R-WI), Mitt Romney and most of the conservative and libertarian movement are Austrians – followers of the Mises school. As compared to Keynesian – and variations of Keynesian – which most Democrats are. The Austrians are not real big on arithmetic. They like to throw some numbers out there that PowerPoint fans will be able to use as justification for continuing to believe in economic pixie dust, Paul Ryan’s $5.7 Trillion Magic Trick
But I was right about the big story: this magic asterisk is worth about $1 trillion more than before. Ryan keeps the same tax cuts he had last year, but he assumes these same cuts will raise an extra 0.5 percent of GDP in revenue. In other words, it’s the same magical budgeting we’ve come to know from Ryan — but now with even more magic!
…Who would pay more under the Ryan plan? Probably the upper-middle class. The Tax Policy Center hasn’t finished updating its distributional analyses of all the different tax expenditures, but the trend is generally the same: households in the $75,000 to $200,000 range take a good amount of deductions. Their tax cuts under the Ryan plan are small enough that they easily could end up paying more if he zeroed out big deductions, like home mortgage-interest.
Of course, Ryan might find that he prefers magic to math — that if it’s a choice between not paying for his tax cuts, and not getting them, he’ll choose to not pay for them. In other words, his $5.7 trillion magic asterisk might just turn out to be $5.7 trillion of red ink.
Hmmm. Budget-busting tax cuts heavily tilted towards the rich? That’s not even a new trick.
A saloonkeeper and adventurer, Bean’s claim to fame rested on the often humorous and sometimes-bizarre rulings he meted out as a justice of the peace in western Texas during the late 19th century. By then, Bean was in his 50s and had already lived a life full of rough adventures.
Born in Kentucky some time during the 1820s, Bean began getting into trouble at an early age. He left home in 1847 with his brother Sam and lived a rogue’s life in Mexico until he shot a man in a barroom fight and had to flee.
…For about 16 years, Bean lived a prosperous and relatively legitimate life as a San Antonio businessman. In 1882, he moved to southwest Texas, where he built his famous saloon, the Jersey Lilly, and founded the hamlet of Langtry. Saloon and town alike were named for the famous English actress, Lillie Langtry.
Bean makes for a very colorful legend. Paul Newman was a in pretty good comedy-western-satire about Bean called The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972) . It does not pretend to be a factual biography – just a starting point to tell the kind of fable rich stories we often hear about the Old West.
But the sword feels much sharper for families, advocates, and local officials who rely on government funding to treat and care for those with mental illness. Starting April 1, cuts to the Mental Health Block Grant program alone will deprive over 373,000 seriously mentally ill and seriously emotional disturbed children of services, according to a White House fact sheet. Experts also say that nearly 9,000 homeless people with serious mental illness won’t receive the outreach and social-work assistance offered by PATH, a vital federally funded program that helps 90,000 people a year to transition to permanent housing. The big picture for the crisis: Disoriented, suffering people may end up jailed, or resort to suicide because the wait for treatment is too long.
Conservatives are trying to have it both ways. They’re claiming that the cuts either do not matter, or there will be minimal consequences, yet just in case, they’re simultaneously busy trying to shift blame to President Obama. These cuts are going to hurt a lot of people and businesses. Though it is funny to watch conservatives conservatives peddling as fast as they can on their spin machine trying to make arguments that are the opposite of each other.
It’s a sign of how anxious the right wing is about the possibility that Ashley Judd might run for Senate against Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that the attacks on her have geared up before she’s even formally entered the race. There’s the American Crossroads ad trying to frame her as out of touch with a series of relatively anodyne and contextless quotations. And now, the Daily Caller, which has been trying to frame Judd’s feminist beliefs as fringe, has launched the stupidest salvo against her at all: arguing that Judd, because she has done nude scenes for her work as an actress, “has—literally—nothing left to show us.” In an exceptionally gross piece, Taylor Bigler, the Caller’s Entertainment Editor (Entertainment, in Caller parlance, apparently means surfing Mr. Skin and publishing clickbait trash gossip)
You knew this was coming. It is fine for conservatives such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, right-wing libertarian Bruce Willis and former Senator Scott Brown (R) to take take off their clothes, use profanity, be generally crude, smoke whatever they like on screen and conservatives cheer them on, without suddenly having an attack of Puritan self-righteous hypocrisy.
Mitt and Ann Romney were the only guests on Fox News Sunday today. During a mostly lapdog interview, Wallace asked a few tough questions, including about those infamous “47%” remarks – which Romney said he regretted. And yet he did not apologize to anyone he may have offended. Even more telling, when asked about his remarks, shortly after the campaign, that President Obama won because he gave away “free stuff” to his “base coalition,” Romney replied, “ObamaCare was very attractive, particularly to those without health insurance.” Oh, and Romney also suggested he didn’t mean it when he said he’d turn down $10 in spending cuts if they included $1 in tax hikes.
Like the rest of the elites in the conservative movement, Romney seems genuinely clueless, out of touch with economic realities. Romney ran on a platform that would take more of the capital produced by workers and put it in the pockets of the very wealthy. Reward wealth, punish work. That credo has been part of every economic initiative proposed by conservatives since Reagan.
3. Romney added he has a “five-point plan … that’ll get this economy going.”
The five-point plan — oil drilling, trade, privatizing K-12 education, vague assertions about debt reduction, and ambiguous promises about doing nice things for small businesses — is a rehash of Bush/Cheney promises. No credible analysis of the vague agenda has found it capable of boosting the economy.
4. At a campaign event in Doswell, Virginia, Romney said “Obamacare” is “crushing small businesses across America.”
There is literally no evidence to support this claim in any way. Indeed, a a significant portion of the ongoing cost of the Affordable Care Act is to give small businesses a tax break.
5. In the same speech, Romney also argued, “The president wants to raise taxes on small business.”
In reality, Obama has repeatedly cut taxes on small businesses — by some counts, 18 times — and if given a second term, his tax plan would have no effect on 97% of small businesses.
6. Romney also vowed, “I will not raise tax on … middle-class America.”
There’s ample reason to believe the exact opposite — independent budget analysts have concluded that once Romney slashes taxes on the wealthy, increases defense spending, increases entitlement spending, and cuts corporate tax rates, all while promising to balance the budget, he’ll have no choice but to ask more from the middle class. Indeed, there’s no other way for Romney to keep his other promises.
There is so much to choose from in Romney’s buffet of morally corrupt beliefs that it is difficult to pick the worse. One strong contender is that he believes – maybe because he never cheated on his wife – and good for him – that makes him a moral person. Romney and his ilk cannot see through the fog of self delusion. That living a good life, going beyond of simplistic prescription, involves doing good. Romney has never asked himself if what he does negatively affects millions of Americans. There is something sinister and darkly comic about the conservative world view and economics. If someone steals a pedestrian’s wallet they start crying about the decline of Western Civilization. If the Romneys, Kochs, Sheldon Adelsons, Karl Rove and friends steal billions from American families, they are not only fine with that, they cheer it on and call it freedom.
That gulf helps explain why stock markets are thriving even as the economy is barely growing and unemployment remains stubbornly high.
With millions still out of work, companies face little pressure to raise salaries, while productivity gains allow them to increase sales without adding workers.
“So far in this recovery, corporations have captured an unusually high share of the income gains,” said Ethan Harris, co-head of global economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “The U.S. corporate sector is in a lot better health than the overall economy. And until we get a full recovery in the labor market, this will persist.”
The result has been a golden age for corporate profits, especially among multinational giants that are also benefiting from faster growth in emerging economies like China and India.
These factors, along with the Federal Reserve’s efforts to keep interest rates ultralow and encourage investors to put more money into riskier assets, prompted traders to send the Dow past 14,000 to within 75 points of a record high last week.
How can profits be so high when Republicans claim American business is suffering from high taxes and too much regulation. Reality really does bite for conservatism.
Romney has been running for president for about 12 years or so. During that time he has struggled to define himself. he has confused the whole process by reinvented himself multiple times, shifting back and forth between what passes for a moderate and panderer extraordinaire to the radical right. There are probably several reasons for a grown adult having such momentous problems of self discovery. The number one reason seems to be that what Mitt is, the essential Mitt is ultimately a shallow individual. His business career is what defines him. He mastered the art of the leveraged buyout – a modern-day form of theft via spreadsheet. Minimal effort, maximum profits. From the insular bunker of his office he ruined lives and claimed he was an unappreciated knight in shining armor. He claimed he did it all on his own as he benefited from government subsidies and loopholes in the law that allowed him to make a profit regardless of how badly he and Bain screwed up. The essential Romney is a cold calculating machine wearing blinders to issues of morality, community and simple good citizenship. From the outside it looks as though he asked himself what a patriot would do and done the opposite. Does that remind you of anyone, say George W. Bush. To say that Romney is like Bush is so obvious it is like commenting the sky is blue. Much of what Romney promises to bring to his role as King Mitt of Amerika is a replay of Bush ( same foreign policy team, much of the same economic advisers or carbon copies). Until they feel another craving for historical revisionism and decide that Bush was an unappreciated angel, for now the Right has generally decided that the Bush-Cheney era was an apparition ( during six of those years conservatives like Paul Ryan, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) controlled all three branches of government). When they look back on those years and the decisions that were made – like not paying for anything they put on the national credit card, they see a failure of personalities. They still believe that we can use tax cuts and deregulation to pave the way to the promised land of gold-plated toothbrushes and pixie dust pudding. Conservatives do not believe, and certainly Mitt Romney does not believe that Bush-Cheney failed because of conservative policies. Romney, Ryan and the conservative movement will never blame conservative orthodoxy. Conservatism is never wrong, never has to correct course. Unless upping the dosage of the same failed medicine is considered a correction. Certainly from Nixon to Reagan to Bush 43 and all the conservative federal officials in between, conservatism has been one massive institutional failure. Never mind that says the conservative psyche, some personnel changes will right the ship. So if Mitt Romney comes out in a debate, sprouts wings and flies, well that makes for an interesting performance, but what about substance. Why is he allowed to put some fresh paint on the rotten zombie of conservatism and call it a winning strategy for governing. And why is so much of the media calling this morbid rehash of failure the revival. At Last Night’s Debate: Romney Told 27 Myths In 38 Minutes. Romney, like Bush thinks deceit is a contest and is determined to be among the champions. Facts Matter and Mitt Romney Didn’t Deliver. Some of the media actually did its job, “CNBC Fact Check: “Romney again tonight did not say specifically how he would pay for his proposed across the board tax cut.” As some other observers have already noted, performance, appearances always play a role in debates, but that does not mean that trying for an Oscar in mendacity and shameless hubris should win any accolades, The First Debate: Mitt Romney’s Five Biggest Lies. Not the entire public obviously, but much of the public and how they take measure of what is best for the nation is bewildering. They’ll test a watch to see if its real gold, they’ll send a badly cooked meal back and they’ll insist on a written warranty for their new car, yet so many of these same people will not raise one finger of objection to being victimized by another unctuous miscreant.
Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers
— @jack_welch via Twitterrific
Jack Welch’s secretary says the former chairman and CEO of General Electric is in meetings for the rest of the day and unavailable to discuss his Tweets.
In regards to today’s Jobs report—I agree with former GE CEO Jack Welch, Chicago style politics is at work here… http://t.co/…
— @AllenWest via web
I don’t think BLS cooked numbers. I think a bunch of Dems lied about getting jobs. That would have same effect.
— @conncarroll via web
The extremely bad news is that I don’t believe a word of the unemployment rate. Sad. The numbers are too illogical and don’t make sense.
— @stevelemois via TweetDeck
Ezra Klein gets it exactly right:
Let’s get one thing out of the way: The data was not, as Jack Welch suggested in a now-infamous tweet, manipulated. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is set up to ensure the White House has no ability to influence it. As labor economist Betsey Stevenson wrote, “anyone who thinks that political folks can manipulate the unemployment data are completely ignorant of how the BLS works and how the data are compiled.” Plus, if the White House somehow was manipulating the data, don’t you think they would have made the payroll number look a bit better than 114,000? No one would have batted an eye at 160,000. […]
Mitt Romney of course – who had one of the worse records ever as a job creator while governor, said they he could do better. We need more jobs and better paying jobs as corporate America continues to bring in massive wealth, but the voices from the tin foil chamber just can’t stick to being sane. US jobless rate falls to 7.8 pct., 44-month low
President Obama’s $447 billion jobs package appears to be headed nowhere fast in Congress, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is suggesting that’s exactly what the president wants.
In a statement Tuesday, McConnell said the White House’s “explicit strategy” is to “make people believe that Congress can’t get anything done.”
“The political operators over at the White House seem to believe that they benefit from the appearance of gridlock,” McConnell said. The GOP leader’s statement came after Mr. Obama sent Congress three long-anticipated free trade agreements. McConnell said the administration’s interest in gridlock explains both why it took so long to pass the trade agreements and also the status of the American Jobs Act.
McConnell is a walking PowerPoint presentation of Chapter One in the right-wing conservative play-book: Lie and Lie Big. Repeat lie as often as someone has a microphone in your face. McConnell(R-KY) is one of the conservatives who admitted he and his co-conspirators took the country hostage during the debt ceiling debate – risking another economic crash – and will take the country hostage again if their demands are not met without compromise. One of the reasons President Obama is struggling in the polls is that he has reached out to compromise with Republicans so often. Republicans are not responsible for the poll numbers – they never have approved of Obama even when he has implemented policies which Republicans had previously supported (for example the right-wing Heritage Foundation had supported Romney-care in Massachusetts, the plan that the health care reform bill was modeled on). Steve Bennen has some more examples where the conservative idea of compromising with Obama has been that they get everything they want.McConnell also goes on to claim that there is no use Republicans supporting the Jobs Bill because a couple of Democratic senators don’t support the bill. yea, that’s right McConnell and a dozen other Republicans would vote for the Jobs Bill, but only if it gets every Democratic vote. And the stork delivers babies.
There is always a reason for the Big Lie. McConnell and conservatives are scared that President Obama is gaining traction with the public. Oh and one other thing, the Jobs Bill will create jobs and lower the deficit – CBO: Obama jobs bill reduces budget deficit
The Congressional Budget Office on Friday confirmed that President Obama’s jobs bill would be fully paid for over ten years and also gave its seal of approval to Senate Democrats’ version that includes a surtax on millionaires.
The CBO said that the original Obama stimulus bill would involve $447 billion in tax cuts and new spending—the same estimate given by the administration. It said the bill would raise $450 billion over ten years. The result is a $3 billion decrease in deficits over ten years.
The Senate Democrats’ bill, which replaces Obama’s taxes on the upper middle class with a 5.6 percent surtax on those with annual incomes above $1 million, raises $453 billion over ten years and reduces deficits by $6 billion. The tax kicks in 2013.
Once again conservatives show they have no real interests in creating jobs or lowering the deficit. It’s all about making the conservative movement look good. Conservatism before patriotism.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday announced a team of dozens of foreign policy and national security advisers, tapping an array of Bush administration veterans and former lawmakers to help him shape his defense, intelligence and counterterrorism proposals.
[ ]…“America and our allies are facing a series of complex threats,” Romney said in a statement. “To shape them before they explode into conflict, our foreign policy will have to be guided by a strategy of American strength. I am deeply honored to have the counsel of this extraordinary group of diplomats, experts, and statesmen. Their remarkable experience, wisdom, and depth of knowledge will be critical to ensuring that the 21st century is another American Century.”
This list of advisors is the rise of the zombie neocons. Romneys tea includes torture cheerleader and former CIA director Michael Hayden, Robert Kagan – who has never heard of a war that didn’t sound like a swell idea, former aid to Darth Cheney Eric Edelman, the Heritage Foundation’s Kim Holmes who advocates another preemptive war – this time against Iran and Eliot Cohen who was on the nefarious Defense Policy Advisory Board Member (2001-2009) – so he can be relied on to send your sons and daughters to die for some very serious reasons that only rabid ideologue can truly understand but will be draped in the kind of blood drenched fake patriotism for which the neocons have become famous. So much for Romney being the moderate.
I’m traveling and can’t stop to comment, but check out Charlie Savage’s New York Times story describing a secret DOJ memo, reportedly principally authored by David Barron and Marty Lederman, that provided the justification for putting Anwar Al-Awlaki on the targeting list in the first place. Crucial reading on the targeted killing and drone debate.
One thought, however. As Jack Goldsmith and Ben Wittes have argued at Lawfare, and I have argued here and at Opinio Juris, although it is certainly helpful to have a summary in the press about the issues discussed in the secret memo and their resolution, the fact that it is merely leaked, quite apart from not making available the actual text, is a grave part of the problem here. If it can be shown to press people and written about at length, then it should be made available publicly, as official policy and part of the process of defending the policy. Leaks de-legitimize policy over the long run, and reforms to the accountability and oversight of “covert” actions that are not truly covert need to provide some mechanism for releasing information on their legal justifications. It’s good that this information is out there; it is bad that it was put out there through leaks.
I’m not sure it is “bad” that we know because of leaks. It is mostly about appearances. I don’t have some poll numbers to cite, but my general take on reactions to policy regarding Al Aulaqi in particular is that the public wants to know the legal reasoning up front even if their mind is already made up about the legal reasons pro or con. It is not as though letting citizens in on the legal justification for killing an American enemy combatant will compromise national security. Still under debate is the use of drones for what appears to be what some have called targeted “assassinations”. Al Aulaqi death was justified under the circumstances, but that does not mean to me that the policies surrounding his death should be secret.
Panini and Company Cafe normally sells sandwiches to tourists in Lower Manhattan and the residents nearby, but in recent days its owner, Stacey Tzortzatos, has also become something of a restroom monitor. Protesters from Occupy Wall Street, who are encamped in a nearby park, have been tromping in by the scores, and not because they are hungry.
Ms. Tzortzatos’s tolerance for the newcomers finally vanished when the sink was broken and fell to the floor. She installed a $200 lock on the bathroom to thwart nonpaying customers, angering the protesters.
There is no excuse the behavior documented in this article. The protesters or some of their sympathizers need to compensate these businesses for any damages and loss of business. It only takes a few bad apples and a few incidents to undermine the message of OWS. It may not be fair that talking about banks cheating people on foreclosures or other abhorrent behavior being over shadowed by abusing a public restroom, but it works like that. Some businesses report brisk sales in coffee, t-shirts and other items. Still we have the businesses that are being abused, nearby residents putting up with the noise and not being able to use the park, and apparently some sanitation issues in the park. OWS should be going out of its way to make sympathizers, not antagonize people.
– Cain traveled to Wisconsin in support of the Koch-funded union-busting bill: During the apex of the fight in Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) union-busting bill this spring, Cain traveled to the Badger State to support the conservative power-grab, speaking at a rally in February. The Koch brothers were major players in Wisconsin’s anti-union push.
Despite Insisting State Was ‘Broke,’ Gov. Scott Walker Spent $60,000 On iPads | Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) infamously used his state’s budget gap as pretext to strip collective bargaining rights from public sector workers, insisting that “Wisconsin is broke” and thus extraordinarily measures were required. But the state is apparently not that broke, as the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. just dropped “about $60,000? on brand new iPads for every person on their staff, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Actually, they bought more than enough, purchasing 73 tablets for only 63 employees (they say the are in the middle of hiring more people). The agency is a public-private hybrid, but a spokesperson said the iPads were purchased with state dollars.
For better or worse the debt ceiling debate has turned into a horse race story. The closer any political event can be framed into a horse race context the better most of the media likes it … Boehner has a plan, talks break down, Reid has a compromise, tea toddler Republicans pull back. So ABC’s report of a tentative debt ceiling compromise might mean something for the next few hours and then disappear into the news ether, Congressional Sources: Republicans and Democrats Reach Tentative Debt Deal
Here, according to Democratic and Republican sources, are the key elements:
A debt ceiling increase of up to $2.1 to $2.4 trillion (depending on the size of the spending cuts agreed to in the final deal).
They have now agreed to spending cuts of roughly $1.2 trillion over 10 years.
The formation of a special Congressional committee to recommend further deficit reduction of up to $1.6 trillion (whatever it takes to add up to the total of the debt ceiling increase). This deficit reduction could take the form of spending cuts, tax increases or both.
The special committee must make recommendations by late November (before Congress’ Thanksgiving recess).
If Congress does not approve those cuts by December 23, automatic across-the-board cuts go into effect, including cuts to Defense and Medicare. This “trigger” is designed to force action on the deficit reduction committee’s recommendations by making the alternative painful to both Democrats and Republicans.
A vote, in both the House and Senate, on a balanced budget amendment.
Democrats won’t like the fact that Medicare could be exposed to automatic cuts, but the size of the Medicare cuts is limited and they are designed to be taken from Medicare providers, not beneficiaries.
Keep the concept of the “triggers” in mind and that most of the immediate cuts are going to come from savings on Iraq and winding down Afghanistan. Whether any future decreases in the deficit are from revenue increase is debatable as of today. Other sources are reporting that new taxes are off the table, but we have to put on our special decoder rings to parse even that aspect of the deal – Outlines of Debt Compromise Emerge
Other component parts of the tentative deal include:
$2.8 trillion in deficit reduction with $1 trillion locked in through discretionary spending caps over 10 years and the remainder determined by a so-called super committee.
The Super Committee must report precise deficit-reduction proposals by Thanksgiving.
The Super Committee would have to propose $1.8 trillion spending cuts to achieve that amount of deficit reduction over 10 years.
If the Super Committee fails, Congress must send a balanced-budget amendment to the states for ratification. If that doesn’t happen, across-the-board spending cuts would go into effect and could touch Medicare and defense spending. No net new tax revenue would be part of the special committee’s deliberations.
I do not see Democrats in the House agreeing to some kind of Rube Goldberg switch which automatically sends a balanced budget amendment to the states – with the possibility that spending would freeze and we’d be right back to defaulting on the debt ceiling. Since we’re playing the horse race game I wouldn’t bet on that provision being part of any final deal. I’ll get back to the balanced budget amendment bunk in a minute. Republicans like this deal. So that means there is some element of crazy about it. Conservatives like to be thought of as serious. They know everything there is to know about economics, wars, culture, the Constitution. Combine that with a complete lack of humility and their uncanny knack for turning the things they are experts on into boondoggles and you have one of the reasons The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert never run out of material. Republicans both ran up historic deficits and increased the debt ceiling 7 times during the Bush administration. The economy tanks, Obama becomes President, he increase spending slightly as a response to the recession, but also because of the spending programs that Republicans had already voted for in 2008. 2010 the tea fanatics come to the House. The tea fanatics are the adult conservatives who like to pretend they were too busy to notice that Republicans were running up trillions in debt with two wars and not paying for them, passing Medicare part D – again not paid for until Obama in 2009, cutting taxes again for millionaires and were letting Wall Street run wild with the nation’s wealth. To prove how really really serious they are now, those same conservatives decide to hold the economy hostage using the debt ceiling because of all this spending that they voted for years before. These very serious nutters have rejected President Obama’s Grand Bargain even though it cuts twice as much as the compromise as reported today. These ever so astute and intellectual honest have rejected the plan worked out on by Republican House leadership and Vice President Biden which put us closer to a balanced budget sooner with about the same cuts. One of the reasons Cantor walked away from the Biden talks was pressure by farm state tea nutter Congress reps to preserve ethanol subsidies. House majority leader Eric Cantor once demanded that all the cuts – meaning all the sacrifices come from things like student loans, Medicaid and veterans benefits. he stood there with his serious straight face claiming his was a great proposal. No mention of tax reform for corporate jets and other write-offs used by millionaires, instead asking only sacrifices from those who have nothing to sacrifice. So the debt ceiling zealots were not asking for diamond ransoms from millionaires, they were asking for hip replacement surgery for grandma as ransom. They were asking that disabled veterans living from pay check to pay check find ways to cut back, not that the Koch brothers chip in a few million for the society that made their billions possible. The new improved conservatives are serious all right. They seriously lacking a moral compass.
So what’s the truth? I’ve written about this before, but here’s another take.
The fact is that federal spending rose from 19.6% of GDP in fiscal 2007 to 23.8% of GDP in fiscal 2010. So isn’t that a huge spending spree? Well, no.
First of all, the size of a ratio depends on the denominator as well as the numerator. GDP has fallen sharply relative to the economy’s potential; here’s the ratio of real GDP to the CBO’s estimate of potential GDP:
A 6 percent fall in GDP relative to trend, all by itself, would have raised the ratio of spending to GDP from 19.6 to 20.8, or about 30 percent of the actual rise.
That still leaves a rise in spending; but most of that is safety-net programs, which spend more in hard times because more people are in distress.
This table from the Office of Management and Budget is also helpful by way of putting the spending bump of 2009 in perspective:
Larger version. The yellow shows spending outlays as a percentage of GDP from the Bush years until the projected 2012 budget. Spending shot up a few percent in 2009 and went back down to historical averages in 2010. Did that happen because president Obama, who has submitted a deficit reduction plan so far to the Right it that makes Ronald Reagan look like Karl Marx. No. It happened because of the economy serious conservatives helped trash and because of spending programs that Republicans voted for – Republican Leaders Voted for Debt Drivers They Blame on Obama
Yet the speaker, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell all voted for major drivers of the nation’s debt during the past decade: Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts and Medicare prescription drug benefits. They also voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, that rescued financial institutions and the auto industry.
Together, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News, these initiatives added $3.4 trillion to the nation’s accumulated debt and to its current annual budget deficit of $1.5 trillion.
So welcome to the crisis conservatives created and the B-movie sequel in which they try to convince the audience and the media they are the good guys. Jonathan Chait gets into how the press, especially the WaPo, helped sell the debt ceiling drama. The Debt Ceiling Crisis And The Failure Of The Establishment
Beyond the economy, the balanced budget amendment would raise other problems. That’s due to its requirement that federal spending in any year must be offset by revenues collected in that same year. Social Security could not draw down its reserves from previous years to pay benefits in a later year but, instead, could be forced to cut benefits even if it had ample balances in its trust funds, as it does today. The same would be true for military retirement and civil service retirement programs. Nor could the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation respond quickly to bank or pension fund failures by using their assets to pay deposit or pension insurance, unless they could do so without causing the budget to slip out of balance.
[ ]…Over the years, leading economists have warned of the adverse effects of a constitutional balanced budget amendment. For example, in congressional testimony in 1992, Robert Reischauer — then director of the Congressional Budget Office and one of the nation’s most respected experts on fiscal policy — explained: “[I]f it worked [a constitutional balanced budget amendment] would undermine the stabilizing role of the federal government.” Reischauer noted that the automatic stabilizing that occurs when the economy is weak “temporarily lowers revenues and increases spending on unemployment insurance and welfare programs. This automatic stabilizing occurs quickly and is self-limiting — it goes away as the economy revives — but it temporarily increases the deficit. It is an important factor that dampens the amplitude of our economic cycles.” Under the constitutional amendment, he explained, these stabilizers would no longer operate automatically.
I have gotten into the habit of calling the Great Recession the second largest downturn in our history. The current economic train wreck is probably worse just in terms of the nation’s lost wealth. The reason it does not look as bad as the Great Depression is because of programs like Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicaid and Medicare. Even the Republicans who should be most acutely aware of this are not. They are like the Republicans at the health care reform protests with the signs that said keep the government’s hands off my Medicare.
One last excerpt from the same report on a balanced budget amendment:
The potential effects on the banking system also are cause for concern. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) holds substantial reserves, in the form of Treasury securities, to insure the savings of depositors. These reserves are called upon when banks fail. Similarly, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) has assets to draw upon if a corporation’s defined-benefit pension plan goes bankrupt.
Here, too, the balanced budget amendment would make it unconstitutional for the FDIC and the PBGC to use their assets to pay deposit or pension insurance since doing so generally would constitute “deficit spending.” Such payments could be made only if the rest of the budget ran an offsetting surplus that year (or if Congress achieved the necessary three-fifth supermajorities to override the balanced budget requirement).
Who can predict what crazy will think. But having just had three years of bank closing do Main St Republican really want to cripple the The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). A situation where you show up one day to take money out of the bank where your entire or even half your liquid assets are in checking and savings accounts; and hey tough luck they went out of business. There is no insurance for your accounts because Republicans had bizarre fantasies about the sugary cream filled goodness of a balanced budget law. If conservatives are so sure that a balanced budget amendment is perfection on wheels, than I for one will agree to support it if they support a an amendment that average Americans will never have to suffer through a another recession.