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Archive for May 25th, 2010

Republicans get right on this!

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 25th, 2010 4:51 am by HL

Republicans get right on this!
Combining the free market and the Second Amendment explosively.

I submit to you it has become clear what must be done to preserve the ‘Murican Way’ of life for at most the next generation and a half (note: “way of life” not available south of 31 degrees latitude).

Several experts have suggested that the way to end the flow of oil from the sea floor, is not junk shots or fashionable hats, but dropping the BIG ONE on the true evildoer — the Gulf of Mexico. First, it took out the dinosaurs, now it wants us!

The Russians have set off a nukes on bad wells before…and I ask you who this side of Union Carbide has a better environmental record?

Also, the government has proclaimed that regardless of how ineffective BP’s efforts have been to this point, the latter possesses more technology for the task than the government.

More technology available for the task, except one, that is.

Michelle Bachman, you know what to do.

Introduce a bill allowing, in the name of the free market, to allow a true American success story – British Petroleum– to have its own stockpile of nuclear weapons.

And then you can put in a rider, mandating that we immediately begin preparations for bombing Iran, or maybe Citgo. Ah hell, why not both?



British Petroleum—Here to Help You

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 25th, 2010 4:50 am by HL

British Petroleum—Here to Help You

By Monte Wolverton, Cagle Cartoons

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Menachem Rosensaft: Patrick Buchanan: Poster Boy for Anti-Semitism (or What Else Is New?)

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 25th, 2010 4:49 am by HL

Menachem Rosensaft: Patrick Buchanan: Poster Boy for Anti-Semitism (or What Else Is New?)
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Linda R. Monk, J.D.: Stop Calling It a Spill!
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Fox’s “$165 billion” “union bailout” is neither

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 25th, 2010 4:48 am by HL

Fox’s “$165 billion” “union bailout” is neither

Fox News and Fox Business personalities have claimed that a bill dealing with union-administered pension funds is a “$165 billion bailout for unions.” In fact, the bill is not a “bailout for unions,” and its sponsor reportedly said it would cost the federal government $8 billion to $10 billion.

Cavuto, Willis falsely claim bill is a “union bailout” that rewards unions’ “bad behavior”

Cavuto: Bill is a “big union bailout.” On the May 24 edition of Fox News’ Your World, host Neil Cavuto called the federal corporation that insures private pension plans and takes over insured plans that go into default, such as when a company goes bankrupt. PBGC is not funded by general tax revenues; instead, it collects insurance premiums from employers that sponsor insured pension plans, earns money from investments and receives funds from pension plans it takes over. For instance, when appliance maker Whirlpool Corp. closed a plant, PBGC took over the pension plan for workers at the plant and negotiated an $11.7 million payment from Whirlpool to help fund the plan.

Multi-employer funds — and the companies that pay into them — are weighed down by companies that went bankrupt. A March 24 Journal of Commerce article on Casey’s unveiling of his bill at a facility of trucking firm YRC Worldwide reported that multi-employer pension funds “have been weakened” by “the failure of many unionized companies that once supported them,” which forces the remaining companies whose workers are part of the fund to pay “the benefits of pensioners who never worked for them”:

In addition to YRC officials, representatives from ABF Freight System, Kroger and the Teamsters union attended the event. The companies belong to dozens of regional Teamster multiemployer pension funds, including the Central States Pension Fund.

Those plans have been weakened not only by the economic downturn, but the failure of many unionized companies that once supported them — including major companies such as Consolidated Freightways. UPS paid $6.1 billion to withdraw from the plans in 2008.

That’s left YRC and ABF paying for the benefits of pensioners who never worked for them, but for businesses that may have closed years ago, making them “orphans.”

YRC suspended contributions to its pension plans last year under an agreement with the Teamsters, but will have to resume payments in January, and the company supports reform that would lower pension costs before those payments kick in next year.

Casey’s bill would tackle the orphan problem by allowing multiemployer plans to partition off those benefits in separate accounts, overseen by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., an independent agency of the federal government. Within five years, the PBGC would take over those accounts.

Bill does not “bail out” unions — it separates out employees of defunct firms and guarantees part of their benefits. Casey’s bill would allow pension funds to “partition” former employees of defunct firms from those of active employers within the fund, helping to preserve solvency for the fund and preventing employers paying into the fund from having to pay for the benefits of workers they never employed. PGBC would then separately guarantee benefits for those former employees of bankrupt companies. From a March 22 Casey press release announcing the unveiling of the bill:

“Pension plans across the country have taken major losses because of the near economic collapse and the decline in the stock market,” said Senator Casey. “Multi-employer plans face unique challenges that are overburdening pension plans and the bottom lines of companies. My legislation would help correct these problems to protect the pensions of workers and unburden companies stuck paying a crippling expense that threatens its existence and the jobs of its employees.”

Multi-employer plans face additional challenges as many firms in these plans have shut down during the recession without funding their pension obligations. Many multi-employer pension plans now run the risk of insolvency.

As more companies leave the pension plan, the costs left to the remaining companies increase to cover the pension benefits of all employees covered by the plan. Companies still contributing to the plans also run the risk of bankruptcy because of the additional burden of being forced to pay for the pensions of the employees of other companies.

Senator Casey’s legislation would make a number of changes to help ensure solvency of multi-employer pension plans and protect current and future retirees.

Specifically, Senator Casey’s Create Jobs and Save Benefits Act would strengthen the funding status of multi-employer plans by making the following changes:

  • Mergers and Alliances — The language in the bill would enable multi-employer funds to combine resources for purposes of reducing administrative costs.
  • Partition (ERISA Section 4233) — If a plan satisfies certain requirements, the plan will transfer to a separate account all benefit liabilities attributed to orphans (participants of employers who withdrew from the plan without paying withdrawal liability) and assets equal to a maximum of 5-years of projected benefit payments. The PBGC will handle the initial application, drafting of partition agreement and monitor financial assistance to the plans. PBGC does not provide notices, calculate benefits or in any other form administer the plan. The orphans benefit will be fully guaranteed as if the orphan was still receiving benefits from the multi-employer plan.
  • Order the Department of Labor and Department of Treasury to prepare a report on whether the qualified partition program has strengthened the financial condition of the original plans and improved the ability of the contributing employers to these plans to remain in business.

Fox repeatedly pushes false claim that bill will cost $165 billion

Willis: “[W]e’re talking possibly $165 billion.” On Your World, Cavuto asserted that the bill “could leave taxpayers for upwards of north of $160 billion, and that could be just the start of it.” Cavuto was joined by Willis, who said that “it could be as much as $165 billion.” On Fox Business’ Cavuto, Willis said that “we’re talking possibly $165 billion. That’s the pension obligations of these multi-employer pension funds for unions.” Cavuto later added that “this would amount to a $165 billion bailout for unions.”

On-screen text: “Approx Price Tag: $165 Billion Dollars.” From the May 24 Your World:

pension

FoxBusiness.com: “[T]he bill could put another $165 billion in liabilities on the shoulders of American taxpayers.” From a May 24 FoxBusiness.com article:

A Democratic senator is introducing legislation for a bailout of troubled union pension funds. If passed, the bill could put another $165 billion in liabilities on the shoulders of American taxpayers.

[…]

Although right now taxpayers could possibly be on the hook for $165 billion, the liability could essentially be unlimited because these pensions have to be paid out until the workers die.

Laffer: $165 billion figure “a huge amount of money just gone.” On Your World, following Cavuto’s interview with Willis, he hosted economist Art Laffer who said, “What you just looked at in the last five minutes was a huge amount of money just gone in five, seven minutes.” Cavuto replied: “That’s right. I think it’s about $20 billion a minute here.”

Hoenig: Bill “a $165 billion minimum — could be potentially even unlimited bailout.” On Cavuto, Jonathan Hoenig of CapitalistPig Asset Management said, “The Create Jobs and Save Benefits Act is a $165 billion minimum — could be potentially even unlimited bailout by taxpayers.”

Bill does not cost $165 billion

Casey: Bill would cost federal government $8 billion to $10 billion. A March 24 Journal of Commerce article reported that “Casey said the bill could cost the federal government between $8 billion and $10 billion.”

Willis, FoxBusiness.com ignored Casey’s estimate. While Willis noted on Your World that Casey “disagreed with our analysis” and said, “Some have outrageously said that this is a ‘bailout that would cost $165 billion. That is totally false” — a quotation also repeated on Cavuto — Willis did not note Casey’s cost estimate on either Your World or Cavuto. The FoxBusiness.com article also failed to report Casey’s cost estimate.

$165 billion figure represents total underfunding of all multi-employer pension funds. The $165 billion figure cited by Cavuto, Willis, and others is an estimate made in a September 2009 report by Moody’s Investor Service of the total underfunding of multi-employer pension funds, not the underfunding of such funds related to former employees of defunct companies. As the Capital Research Center summarized:

Last September Moody’s Investor Services seconded [the Hudson Institute’s Diana] Furchtgott-Roth in warning about the perilous funding condition of multiemployer defined benefit plans. Its report, Growing Multiemployer Pension Funding Shortfall is an Increasing Credit Concern looked at the Labor Department’s Form 5500 for 126 multiemployer plans in 2007. With 2008 information yet unavailable, the data represented the best look at the majority of assets and obligations for all multiemployer plan. Moody’s remarked, “despite the limitations in the data a very stark picture emerges.” The 2007 data showed the plans overall were only 77 percent funded and had a total underfunding of $87 billion. By contrast, comparable single employer defined benefit plans were funded at 101 percent.

But what about the condition of defined benefit pension plans after the financial meltdown at the end of 2008? Moody’s estimated that funding levels for the single employer plans it examined had fallen and now were only at 75 percent. As for multiemployer plans, Moody’s warned that “when data for year end 2008 is finally released, it will probably show substantial deterioration in asset values during 2008.” It estimated that the multiemployer plans surveyed from 2007 would be only 56 percent funded. In other words, they would be underfunded by about $165 billion dollars.


Presented By:

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 25th, 2010 4:47 am by HL

Presented By:

Far-Right Extremists Gather At ‘Liberty Convention’
A star-studded lineup of right-wing extremists — including a “tax protester” with ties to white supremacists, and a “Patriot” movement favorite — graced this weekend’s “Liberty Convention” in Montana.

Arpaio Slams Mexican Tourism Ad That Appears To Reference Immigration Law
Sheriff Joe Arpaio is up-in-arms about an unusual newspaper ad placed by the Mexican Tourist Board, which appears to reference Arizona’s controversial new immigration law.


House bill would eliminate federal income tax on first $35K of all Americans’ earnings

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 25th, 2010 4:42 am by HL

House bill would eliminate federal income tax on first $35K of all Americans’ earnings
Excerpt: A bill was introduced in the House last week that would eliminate the federal income tax on the first $35,000 of all Americans’ earnings. The bill proposes to compensate for the loss in revenue by cutting $159 billion in supplemental war funding. H.R. 5353, known as the War is Making You Poor Act, is sponsored by […]


Simmons Will Step Aside for McMahon

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 25th, 2010 4:41 am by HL

Simmons Will Step Aside for McMahon
Rob Simmons (R) will hold a press conference this morning to announce he’s leaving the U.S. Senate race in Connecticut, the Hartford Courant reports.

He lost the Republican convention’s endorsement last weekend to former World Wrestling CEO Linda McMahon (R).

“Throughout the increasingly bitter campaign between Simmons and McMahon, Simmons had said he would abide by the convention’s choice and not force a primary. However on Friday he announced a change of heart and said he would primary McMahon for the party’s nomination after all.”

Murray Holds Small Lead over Rossi
A new University of Washington poll shows Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) holding a slight edge over challenger Dino Rossi (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 44% to 40%.

Rossi is expected to officially jump into the race tomorrow.


Is the Mean-Spirited, Ignorant, Tearful Glenn Beck Going to Have an Impact on America?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 25th, 2010 4:40 am by HL

Is the Mean-Spirited, Ignorant, Tearful Glenn Beck Going to Have an Impact on America?
In his new book, journalist Alexander Zaitchik examines the character and career of the shock jock at the center of the far-right’s always-churning cultural storm.

In his new book, journalist Alexander Zaitchik examines the character and career of the shock jock at the center of the far-right's always-churning cultural storm.

Elected Officials Arrested Protesting DC’s Inaction on Immigration Reform
The civil disobedience in New York was one of several nationwide.

The civil disobedience in New York was one of several nationwide.


Obama’s West Point Speech Shows Signs of Smart “National Security Strategy”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 25th, 2010 4:39 am by HL

Obama’s West Point Speech Shows Signs of Smart “National Security Strategy”
President Barack Obama’s speech at West Point on Saturday may be among the most important he has yet made during his sixteen month old presidency. The speech intimates a number of the key themes likely to appear in the National…


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Steele Sides With Israeli Settlers At Central Park Rally: Obama Has ?Left Israel To Fend For Herself?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 25th, 2010 4:38 am by HL

Steele Sides With Israeli Settlers At Central Park Rally: Obama Has ?Left Israel To Fend For Herself?
On Saturday, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele appeared at a right-wing pro-Israeli settler rally in New York’s Central Park, trashing the Obama administration’s policy toward Israel, and rejecting further Israeli “concessions” to the peace process. “It grieves me to the core,” said Steele, “to have to admit that today the American government has abdicated her […]

On Saturday, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele appeared at a right-wing pro-Israeli settler rally in New York’s Central Park, trashing the Obama administration’s policy toward Israel, and rejecting further Israeli “concessions” to the peace process.

“It grieves me to the core,” said Steele, “to have to admit that today the American government has abdicated her traditional solidarity with Israel”:

Today, Israel truly stands alone among governments. Facing existential threats more dangerous and more imminent than ever before. That’s not to say that Israel has been abandoned, however, by the American people. But there is no denying that the current administration and its Congressional collaborators have left Israel to fend for herself.

Watch it:

It would be interesting to hear Steele explain how the Obama administration’s request for — and its Congressional “collaborators’” approval of — an additional $205 million in assistance for Israel for the “Iron Dome” short-range missile defense system squares with his assertion that the U.S. is “leaving Israel to fend for herself.”

Furthermore, as the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month, despite tensions over Israeli settlements, under the Obama administration the U.S. and Israel “actually have undertaken a broad effort at military and strategic cooperation — including supplying Israel with sophisticated American military equipment — to counter threats from Iran and Hezbollah fighters armed by Syria.”

Accusing the Obama administration of having an “appeasement-first mentality,” Steele went on to insist that “For the sake of Jerusalem, we must not be silent”:

For the sake of Jerusalem, we must no longer allow this or any administration to second-guess the relationship between Israel and America. For the sake of Jerusalem, the world can longer demand that Israel sell out the security of her people, and make every concession in the book just on the off-chance that a Palestinian leadership might show up at the bargaining table willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

Steele shouldn’t have to be reminded of this, but pressuring Israel to honor its own past commitments to cease settlement construction does not in any sense qualify as a “concession.” These commitments were made as part of agreements brokered by the United States and its partners, whose credibility is negatively impacted by the refusal of the parties to meet their obligations. This doesn’t seem to bother Steele.

And, just in point of fact, the Palestinians already showed up at the bargaining table willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist, and did so — back in 1993.

As was noted in a previous post, this rally was sponsored by some of the most hardcore pro-settler organizations in the country, groups that actively support the takeover of Palestinian land by violent Jewish religious extremists. It’s disgraceful that Steele would even appear at such an event in the first place, let alone go and tell transparent, pandering lies about the Obama administration’s policies and encourage the most rejectionist elements in Israeli politics in the interest of getting a few more votes for Republicans.