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Archive for March 17th, 2009

Krugman Is Worried About Europe

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 17th, 2009 4:43 am by HL

Krugman Is Worried About Europe

Krugman

The American economy is certainly a cause for concern at the moment, but Paul Krugman is more troubled by issues abroad, declaring in his New York Times column on Monday that “the situation in Europe worries me even more than the situation in America.” Uh-oh.

The New York Times:

Just to be clear, I’m not about to rehash the standard American complaint that Europe’s taxes are too high and its benefits too generous. Big welfare states aren’t the cause of Europe’s current crisis. In fact, as I’ll explain shortly, they’re actually a mitigating factor.

The clear and present danger to Europe right now comes from a different direction — the continent’s failure to respond effectively to the financial crisis.

Europe has fallen short in terms of both fiscal and monetary policy: it’s facing at least as severe a slump as the United States, yet it’s doing far less to combat the downturn.

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Norm Stamper: Police Brutality Part II

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 17th, 2009 4:42 am by HL

Norm Stamper: Police Brutality Part II
After coming to grips with my behavior as a rookie, I set out to reclaim the values I thought I’d brought to the job–and turned myself into a hydrophobic gasbag of a police reformer.

Laura Ingraham Calls Meghan McCain A “Useful Idiot”
Fresh off her feud with controversial conservative author Ann Coulter, Meghan McCain is in a spat with another prominent female conservative and media personality: Laura…

Carlos Watson: America’s Skin-Deep Crush on Michelle Obama
America has fallen for Michelle Obama. Fashionistas love her style. Ivy Leaguers love her class. Moms love her priorities. Even white guys are crushing on her. The First Lady is everywhere.


Politico , AP forward GOP small business falsehood

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 17th, 2009 4:41 am by HL

Politico , AP forward GOP small business falsehood

In March 15 articles, the Politico and the Associated Press forwarded the false Republican talking point that President Obama’s proposals to let the Bush tax cuts for wealthy taxpayers expire and reduce the tax rate at which families making more than $250,000 could take itemized deductions to 28 percent would increase taxes on a large percentage of small businesses. Politico staff writer Carrie Budoff Brown reported, “Whenever Republican criticize [sic] Obama’s tax-hike plans, the group they push front-and-center as bearing the brunt is small-business owners.” She later wrote: “Republicans, in turn, say that it’s Obama’s tax-plan that is providing a double-whammy to these businesspeople, not just the recession but policies that would roll back the Bush tax cuts in 2011 and fall heavily on business owners who earn more than $250,000 a year.” Likewise, the AP’s Hope Yen reported, “Republicans say Obama’s budget proposal to raise taxes, starting in 2011, on individuals earning more than $200,000 and on households earning more than $250,000 will hurt small businesses which face higher dividend taxes and limits on itemized deductions.”

Neither Brown nor Yen pointed out, as Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented, that according to the Tax Policy Center’s table of 2007 tax returns that reported small business income, 481,000 of those returns — about 2 percent — are in the top two income tax brackets, which include all filers with taxable incomes that would be affected.

From the March 15 Politico article:

President Barack Obama is looking for some sector of the economy to lead the nation out of recession, and he’s putting down a $730 million dollar bet Monday on small businesses.

Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will announce a plan Monday to make it easier for these entrepreneurs to tap into billions of dollars in federal lending aid to fight a credit crunch that has brought business borrowing to a standstill.

The plan includes $730 million from the economic stimulus bill to cut small-business lending fees. They’ll also raise the government guarantee on some Small Business Administration loans to 90 percent, which they hope is enough to get reluctant banks back in the lending business.

[…]

There’s a political component too. Whenever Republican criticize Obama’s tax-hike plans, the group they push front-and-center as bearing the brunt is small-business owners.

So between Obama and the Republicans, it’s a tussle for the hearts and minds of everyone from the Mom-and-Pop store owner to the entrepreneurs with dozens of employees struggling through the economic recession.

But right now, they’re suffering from the same credit crunch as consumers and homeowners. As credit has dried up, so has businesses’ ability to seek capital, leading to layoffs, scuttled expansion plans and downsizing.

“The market for credit to small businesses is completely frozen in an already terrible credit crisis,” Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee said on Fox News Sunday.

“This has been one of the most devastating aspects for job growth — is that small businesses, which previous to this crisis had the funding they needed to grow jobs, have completely lost that. And so we’re trying to reignite through direct intervention the small business credit market so that they can — so that they can expand.”

Republicans, in turn, say that it’s Obama’s tax-plan that is providing a double-whammy to these businesspeople, not just the recession but policies that would roll back the Bush tax cuts in 2011 and fall heavily on business owners who earn more than $250,000 a year.

In addition, Obama’s budget proposal would limit itemized deductions for wealthier taxpayers and raise dividend taxes — also two things that Republicans say hit small-business owners, one of the GOP’s more reliable constituencies.

From the March 15 AP article:

Amid misgivings over his spending blueprint, President Barack Obama has decided to provide billions of dollars in federal lending aid aimed at struggling small business owners.

The broad package of measures to be announced Monday includes portions of the $730 million from the stimulus plan that will be used to immediately reduce small-business lending fees and increase the government guarantee on some Small Business Administration loans to 90 percent. The government also will take aggressive steps to boost bank liquidity with more than $10 billion aimed at unfreezing the secondary credit market, according to officials briefed on the plan who demanded anonymity to avoid pre-empting the president’s announcement.

[…]

Obama will announce the new measures with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at the White House.

They come as Republicans have sought to build on some bipartisan misgivings over Obama’s ambitious spending blueprint. In particular, Republicans say Obama’s budget proposal to raise taxes, starting in 2011, on individuals earning more than $200,000 and on households earning more than $250,000 will hurt small businesses which face higher dividend taxes and limits on itemized deductions.

The administration’s proposals to improve worker access to health care and address climate change also could add higher health and energy costs to small businesses. The Obama administration maintains that revenue from auctioning off carbon emission allowances would offset much of the higher energy costs for many Americans.”


What Was I Going To Say?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 17th, 2009 4:40 am by HL

What Was I Going To Say?
The Daily Telegraph brings welcome news — “Old age begins at 27 as mental powers start to decline, scientists find.” It seems that the University of Virginia conducted mental acuity tests on 2,000 adults over the course of seven years. The results: Your steel-trap brain is at its best around the age of 22. By the time 27 rolls around, you’ve already begun to depreciate. Those of us who are well past 27 can smile smugly as the younger set takes in the fact of its relative senescence. A 30-year-old may feel pretty immune to the ravages of time, but aha! we now know that he or she is taking just a smidge longer to factor those square roots than someone fresh from college.

651,000 Reasons to Cut Tax Rates
heritagefoundation.jpg President Obama pledged to create 3.5 million new jobs by 2010. He has also repeatedly emphasized accountability and measuring his presidency by results. The President’s jobs promise means total employment should be at least 138.6 million by 2010. Unfortunately, though, his policies will more likely decrease employment than reach his target. The Growing Jobs Deficit Perhaps reflecting his focus on accountability, President Obama’s jobs target was chosen carefully. The original target, set earlier in the fall of 2008, was 2.5 million jobs, but as employment fell by 1 million at the end of 2008, the President increased the employment target by 1 million in December 2008 to 3.5 million.


Madoff’s Statement

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 17th, 2009 4:39 am by HL

Madoff’s Statement
Here’s the full text of Bernad Madoff’s statement made in court this morning, in which he admitted his crimes and described them in detail. Madoff pleaded guilty to all 11 counts on which he was charged, in connection to a…

Congress Probing Merrill For Obstructing Bonus Investigation
The House Oversight Committee has launched an investigation into whether Merrill Lynch misled it when the firm told the committee, in a letter sent last November, that no decisions had been made on bonuses. As we noted earlier today, New…






Suze Orman’s New Book

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 17th, 2009 4:36 am by HL

Suze Orman’s New Book


Hutchison Leads Perry in Texas Primary

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 17th, 2009 4:35 am by HL

Hutchison Leads Perry in Texas Primary
A new UT Poll shows Sen. Kay Baily Hutchison (R-TX) leading Gov. Rick Perry (R) in a Republican gubernatorial primary, 37% to 29%.

Meanwhile, Roll Call reports Hutchison “now appears likely to stay in the Senate even as she runs for governor, counter to what was originally expected when she began preparing to seek her state’s top post last year.”


Chimps R Us: How Much Longer Are We Going to Keep Our Cousins as Pets?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 17th, 2009 4:34 am by HL

Chimps R Us: How Much Longer Are We Going to Keep Our Cousins as Pets?
A life of captivity is too cruel for chimpanzees and dangerous for their owners. We should give them the freedoms we grant ourselves.

Immigration Officials Try to Deport Dead Man
Seven months after his death, the federal government is still proceeding with the deportation case against Nasin Rivera.

10 Reasons Why Facebook Now Sucks
The Facebook staff really have no idea what they are doing, where they are taking the site, and what branding means.


Moving The Movement

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 17th, 2009 4:33 am by HL

Moving The Movement
Was Roe vs. Wade, once seen as a great victory for reproductive freedom, actually the beginning of the end for the women’s movement? In her review of Jeanne Flavin’s Our Bodies, Our Crimes, in Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, former…





Cramer and Stewart
If you want to watch Jim Cramer self-destruct on live TV, watch here. Stewart is the truth squad this country needs. That the rest of the MSM ignores this story, that we have been trying to expose for a long…


McCain flips on AIG bailout one more time: We never should have rescued them.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 17th, 2009 4:32 am by HL

McCain flips on AIG bailout one more time: We never should have rescued them.
Last fall, as AIG teetered on the edge of collapse, then-Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) came out against using government resources to rescue the firm. Less than 24 hours later, McCain decided that a bailout was necessary because, as he put it, “there are literally millions of people whose retirement, whose investment, whose […]

Last fall, as AIG teetered on the edge of collapse, then-Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) came out against using government resources to rescue the firm. Less than 24 hours later, McCain decided that a bailout was necessary because, as he put it, “there are literally millions of people whose retirement, whose investment, whose insurance were at risk here.” But today — after learning of the AIG’s plans to award $165 million in bonuses to its employees — McCain apparently decided that saving “literally millions of people” from financial ruin wasn’t worth it:

mccain_tweet.jpg

While McCain seems to believe that the only way to deal with AIG’s misuse of its bailout funds is to not to offer such bailouts in the first place, other options exist. As Pat Garofalo explains, nationalizing AIG and giving the Treasury Department “outright control over the hiring and firing of executives and the payment of bonuses and dividends” could be a better strategy.