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Archive for July 20th, 2009

Not All Scandals Are Equal

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 20th, 2009 4:44 am by HL

Not All Scandals Are Equal

Bill Maher compares the letters of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who fell in love in Argentina, with the texts of former Rep. Mark Foley, who fell for congressional pages.

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Michael Brenner: The Blame Should Be Placed Squarely Where It Belongs: The Oval Office

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 20th, 2009 4:43 am by HL

Michael Brenner: The Blame Should Be Placed Squarely Where It Belongs: The Oval Office
Obama, for all the razamataz, is a conventional thinker, instinctively deferential to the powers that be.

Pentagon Seeks To Overhaul Afghan Prison Where Detainee Abuse Occurred
A sweeping United States military review calls for overhauling the troubled American-run prison here as well as the entire Afghan jail and judicial systems, a…

Shannyn Moore: It’s Not Sarah’s Fault…Just Ask Her
When it comes to taking responsibility for her failures, Sarah Palin is completely unaccountable. Her finger is always pointed at the most convenient scapegoat. Last…

Jackson: Black Leaders Want To Engage More With Obama
A longtime civil rights leader called Sunday for the nation’s first African-American president to be more engaged with the black community and for greater…

Obama’s Approval Rating On Health Care Falls Below 50 Percent: WashPost/ABC Poll
Heading into a critical period in the debate over health-care reform, public approval of President Obama’s stewardship on the issue has dropped below the 50…


CBS’ Smith advanced falsehood that Dems are taxing small businesses to fund health bill

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 20th, 2009 4:42 am by HL

CBS’ Smith advanced falsehood that Dems are taxing small businesses to fund health bill

During the July 19 edition of CBS’ Face the Nation, guest host Harry Smith misrepresented the health care reform bill introduced by House Democrats, saying that one idea to fund the bill will result in “putting a very tough tax on small business owners.” Smith then asked Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) whether that, coupled with “taxing the rich,” will “fly with the Republicans.” Hatch responded, in part, “You know, tax the rich — well, if you tax the rich, that means that you’re going to push small business into 45.7 percent top tax rate, which is like 10 percent more than corporations pay; and it’s gonna kill a lot of jobs.” Smith did not challenge Hatch’s claim that small businesses will be pushed into a higher top tax rate as a result of the bill.

In fact, as Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) explained later in the segment, “It’s just wrong to say that this is a tax on small businesses. We exempt small businesses from a lot of the penalties. We give tax credits, so that they’re able to hire and get people health care in small businesses. This is a tax on less than 1 percent of the wealthiest people in the United States of America, and so, to say that this is a penalty on small businesses just isn’t so.”

Smith followed other media figures in suggesting that the House bill — America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 — levies taxes on all small businesses. In fact, companies with annual payrolls of less than $250,000 would pay no penalty for failing to provide health insurance for employees, and only a small percentage of small businesses owners would be affected by the proposal to levy a surcharge on high-earning individuals.

As Media Matters for America has noted, the House Democrats’ bill would establish a 2 percent payroll penalty for employers with combined payroll between $250,000 to $300,000 that don’t offer health insurance to employees; a 4 percent penalty for employers with $300,000 to $350,000 in payroll; a 6 percent penalty for employers with $350,000 to $400,000 in payroll; and an 8 percent penalty for companies with annual payrolls exceeding $400,000. Under the House bill, small businesses with combined annual payrolls of less than $250,000 would not face a penalty for failing to providing health insurance; only businesses with payroll exceeding $400,000 annually would pay that penalty. Additionally, the bill establishes tax credits for small business employers that do provide health care.

Additionally, the legislation would establish a 1 percent tax on taxpayers filing joint returns if income exceeds $350,000 but not $500,000 per year; a 1.5 percent tax if income exceeds $500,000 but not $1 million per year; and a 5.4 percent tax if income exceeds $1 million per year, with single filers subject to the surtax starting at $280,000 per year. In a July 15 Huffington Post piece, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) stated that, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, this would affect “only 4.1 percent of all small business owners”:

Before you adopt their rhetoric, remember that nearly half of the cost of the House Democrats’ health plan would be paid by tight cost controls and forcing down the expense of the health care system. That’s a top priority. And as for who will pay higher taxes and who won’t under our plan, here are the cold facts.

Only the highest earning 1.2 percent of American households will pay a surcharge for health care reform. That leaves 98.8 percent of American households who will not pay any surcharge at all.

As for small businesses, according to the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation, only 4.1 percent of all small business owners will be affected by the health care surcharge. The remaining 95.9 percent of small business owners will be completely unaffected by the surcharge.

Under our bill, a family making up to $350,000 in adjusted gross income (AGI) will not owe any surcharge at all, as President Obama has promised. A family making $500,000 in AGI will contribute $1,500 to help reduce costs and provide access to affordable health care for all Americans — 0.3 percent of their annual income. And a family making $1 million in AGI will contribute $9,000, or 0.9 percent of their annual income.

Who are the highest earning 1.2 percent of all households? They are the same households who over the past 20 years have seen a massive shift in wealth in their favor and who over the last 8 years received the lion’s share of President Bush’s tax cuts.

From the July 19 edition of CBS’ Face the Nation:

RANGEL: At the end of the day, we will be getting together, and we will have national health insurance. We have to have it for our country.

SMITH: Senator, let me ask you this: A couple of the ideas — taxing the rich, the other one is especially putting a very tough tax on small business owners — are either of those going to fly with the Republicans?

HATCH: Well, we’re talking about more government, more taxes, more spending. You know, tax the rich — well, if you tax the rich, that means that you’re going to push small business into 45.7 percent top tax rate, which is like 10 percent more than corporations pay; and it’s gonna kill a lot of jobs, a lot of opportunities.

I don’t follow why we’ve got to spend another $1.5 to 2 trillion, most people estimate, on top of the $2.5 trillion we’re already spending in this country, and yet, still have, under one estimate, of at least 33 million people without health insurance. I mean, these are things that are real serious problems. And I think if Charlie and I can sit down together, we’d get it done. He’s — I have a lot of confidence in his ability, and we’re good friends.

But it’s become so political. The House bill’s total — total partisan bill; the HELP committee in the Senate, the Senate bill is total partisan bill. And our only hope maybe is to have Senator [Max] Baucus [D-MT] be able to put something together in the Finance Committee in the Senate.

SMITH: The president really wants these bills before the recess so they can be dealt with after the recess. Is this all going too fast?

[…]

RANGEL: It’s just wrong to say that this is a tax on small businesses. We exempt small businesses from a lot of the penalties. We give tax credits, so that they’re able to hire and get people health care in small businesses. This is a tax on less than 1 percent of the wealthiest people in the United States of America, and so, to say that this is a penalty on small businesses just isn’t so.


Tapper Responds: We Didn’t Know About Sanford Affair When I Sent That Email*

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 20th, 2009 4:41 am by HL

Tapper Responds: We Didn’t Know About Sanford Affair When I Sent That Email*
It looks like Jake Tapper doesn’t feel like his network’s response to the news that he sucked up to Mark Sanford’s office by denigrating NBC’s coverage of the missing gov story — that Tapper was just “carrying some water” for…





Lanny Davis Now Lobbying In Support Of Honduran Coup
It seems like just yesterday that Lanny Davis was making the rounds of every news outlet that would have him, talking up Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House — and/or pushing the Reverend Wright story. Not too long after,…


Sarah Palin: Resigners Never Give Up, Either

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 20th, 2009 4:38 am by HL

Sarah Palin: Resigners Never Give Up, Either


Obama Approval Slips on Key Issues

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 20th, 2009 4:37 am by HL

Obama Approval Slips on Key Issues
“Heading into a critical period in the debate over health-care reform, public approval of President Obama’s stewardship on the issue has dropped below the 50% threshold for the first time,” according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

“Obama’s approval ratings on other front-burner issues, such as the economy and the federal budget deficit, have also slipped over the summer, as rising concern about spending and continuing worries about the economy combine to challenge his administration.”

However, the president’s overall approval rating remains higher than his marks on particular domestic issues, with 59% giving him positive reviews and 37% disapproving.

Another Sex Scandal Brewing?
The New York Daily News reports that a “high-end escort” who claimed to work for former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) also says she has three “dates” with another governor.

However, the only clues we’re given is that the man was not from New York and had a “prominent” wife.


My Son Was Taught to Believe in Jesus by His Mother — How Do I Help Him Become a Free Thinker?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 20th, 2009 4:36 am by HL

My Son Was Taught to Believe in Jesus by His Mother — How Do I Help Him Become a Free Thinker?
Panicked by his son's Jesus references, an agnostic dad discovers a skeptic's reading list for kids. But is counter-indoctrination really the answer?

Did Anti-Drug Propaganda Help Bring About a Psychedelic Renaissance?
As the anti-drug program spread into 3/4 of all school districts by the '90s, America's youth enjoyed a psychedelic renaissance.

Everything That Happens in Afghanistan Is Based on Lies or Illusions
"Fixer", a new documentary about Afghanistan, tells stories of duplicity and self-delusion that are the political currency of the embattled country.

Everything That Happens in Afghanistan Is Based on Lies or Illusions
"Fixer", a new documentary about Afghanistan, tells stories of duplicity and self-delusion that are the political currency of the embattled country.


Israel: On The Occupation, It Is All By Itself

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 20th, 2009 4:35 am by HL

Israel: On The Occupation, It Is All By Itself
It had to happen. Once the right wing of the pro-Israel community in the United States–and their Israeli allies–realized that President Barack Obama was serious about pursuing peace, they would go on the attack. Fortunately, the most virulent attacks have…


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Orszag: Some who are advocating delay on health care are just trying to kill it.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 20th, 2009 4:34 am by HL

Orszag: Some who are advocating delay on health care are just trying to kill it.
Late this week, a group of Blue Dog Democrats in the House and six “centrist” Democrats urged their leadership to delay action on health care reform. The White House has been insisting that Congress send him health care legislation by August, a deadline that seems to be fading. CNN’s John King asked White House budget […]

Late this week, a group of Blue Dog Democrats in the House and six “centrist” Democrats urged their leadership to delay action on health care reform. The White House has been insisting that Congress send him health care legislation by August, a deadline that seems to be fading. CNN’s John King asked White House budget director Peter Orszag about these developments:

ORSZAG: We have to remember: there are some who are advocating delay simply because they don’t have anything to put on the table. The typical Washington bureaucratic game of — ‘if you don’t have a better alternative, just delay in the hope that that kills something’ is partly what’s playing out here.

Orszag clarified that he wasn’t speaking about Blue Dog members or other “members of Congress and Senators who are actually actively participating in the debate.” But, he cautioned, “there are those who are advocating delay just as a desperation move to try to kill this.” Watch it:

A strategy memo authored by GOP consultant Alex Castellanos suggests that “it is crucial for Republicans to slow down what it calls ‘the Obama experiment with our health.’” The memo concludes, “If we slow this sausage-making process down, we can defeat it, and advance real reform that will actually help.”

Krugman: White House treatment of Stiglitz reveals lack of respect for ?progressive-economist wing.?
Newsweek’s Michael Hirsh reports that progressive economist Joseph Stiglitz, “the man who predicted the global financial meltdown,” is not getting his due respect from the Obama administration. Hirsh writes that the Nobel Prize-winning economist has “heard barely a word from the White House.” For his part, Stiglitz has been critical of the Obama administration: Stiglitz had […]

Newsweek’s Michael Hirsh reports that progressive economist Joseph Stiglitz, “the man who predicted the global financial meltdown,” is not getting his due respect from the Obama administration. Hirsh writes that the Nobel Prize-winning economist has “heard barely a word from the White House.” For his part, Stiglitz has been critical of the Obama administration:

stigStiglitz had been hammering at Obama’s economic team for its handling of the financial crisis. He wrote that the stimulus program was too small to be effective—a criticism that has since swelled into a chorus, though Obama says he’s not adding more money. Stiglitz also had called the administration’s bailout plan a giveaway to Wall Street, an “ersatz capitalism” that would save the banks’ investors and creditors and screw the taxpayers. […]

Despite the Obama team’s occasional efforts to reach out to him, Stiglitz remains deeply unhappy about the administration’s approach to the financial crisis. Rather than breaking up or restructuring the big banks that failed, “the Obama administration has actually expanded the notion of ‘too big to fail,’” he says.

Paul Krugman, himself a Nobel Prize-winning economist who has had his differences with the Obama administration, writes that “the real story is more about excluded points of view than excluded people.” Krugman observes “the absence of a progressive-economist wing” in White House economic discussions.


Obama Heads to the Front to Do Battle on Health-Care Reform

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 20th, 2009 4:33 am by HL

Obama Heads to the Front to Do Battle on Health-Care Reform
Six months into his presidency, Barack Obama may have no greater test of his ability to translate personal popularity into a successful legislative agenda than the upcoming two weeks.

As Communications Media Grow, FCC’s New Chief Envisions an Updated Agency
Julius Genachowski, President Obama’s pick to lead the Federal Communications Commission, has a soft spot for the little guy.


With Health Reform, Waxman Takes On Another Tall Order
For his first feat this legislative session, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) staged a coup and deposed a sitting chairman and dean of the House. He followed that up with a nail-biter victory in the House for his beloved climate change bill.

Approval Ratings Drop for Obama on Health Care, Other Issues
Heading into a critical period in the debate over health-care reform, public approval of President Obama’s stewardship on the issue has dropped below the 50 percent threshold for the first time, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.