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Archive for January 26th, 2011

77% Say Raise Taxes for Social Security

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 26th, 2011 5:47 am by HL

77% Say Raise Taxes for Social Security
A new Public Policy Polling/Daily Kos poll finds 77% of Americans would rather pay Social Security taxes on salaries above the current cap of $106,800 than see their benefits cut and the retirement age increased to 69. Even 67% of self-identified Tea Partiers would rather raise the tax cap than cut benefits and hike the retirement age. “[O]utside of the punditry, the DC political class, and a tiny fringe, no one wants benefits cuts,” writes Daily Kos publisher Markos Moulitsas.



There are better rituals

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 26th, 2011 5:46 am by HL

There are better rituals
It wouldn’t really bother me much if we went back to submitting the thing in writing.

You know I bet the only guy crying more than John Boehner in the District of Columbia right now is Paul Ryan. Poor Ryan, he spent all day lifting quotes from The Fountainhead and shellacking his hair to a Reagan-like density only to be undercut by some discount magic-mirror lady from Romper Room. Hey, Michelle, at least Obama can read a teleprompter. Someday perhaps, Ryan will have his revenge.

And there, in a nutshell, is why the actual presentation of SOTU’s suck. Quick name a really memorable one? The best part is seeing which “promising” Republican is going to crash and burn like Jindal vs. the Volcano. This year, we got two. Bonus!

Here’s this year’s SOTU in summary, you may recognize it next year when the only thing that changes is who is sitting next to the First Lady.

“Here’s something almost half-way decent for the base — psych! And here’s a little something for the Washington Post Editorial Page. Now to demonstrate I’m not as crazy or dangerous as the other side — though I’m also not nearly as entertaining. Oh, and the State of the Union is strong. See ya’ in 2012!”



Sony Makes a Play for Apple’s Online Music Empire

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 26th, 2011 5:45 am by HL

Sony Makes a Play for Apple’s Online Music Empire
The seeming stranglehold that Apple’s iTunes has had on the online music market could be challenged, or at least loosened, by the imminent release of a competitor from Sony this quarter. Author, scholar and Truthdig contributor Aram Sinnreich …

The seeming stranglehold that Apple’s iTunes has had on the online music market could be challenged, or at least loosened, by the imminent release of a competitor from Sony this quarter. Author, scholar and Truthdig contributor Aram Sinnreich …

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If Only We Had More Sarge Shrivers
If Americans had really understood what was happening with the Peace Corps, we might be a much greater country today and the world might be a better place as well. By Richard Reeves

If Americans had really understood what was happening with the Peace Corps, we might be a much greater country today and the world might be a better place as well.


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Congress Members Tangle Over Saved SOTU Seats

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 26th, 2011 5:44 am by HL

Congress Members Tangle Over Saved SOTU Seats
The cross-party-dating tradition that began tonight did not go off as smoothly as it appeared from the television screens. Much like in the legislative tussles…

Michael Likosky: Obama’s Economic Philosophy
President Obama reaffirmed his economic philosophy in the State of the Union address — a government that works, invests, delivers opportunity, and that we can believe in. It is a lean government, not a big government.

Presidential Name Dropping
When Barack Obama stood on the dais for his State of the Union address on Tuesday, he didn’t mention Daniel Hernandez, the intern who rushed…

Gabrielle Giffords’ Condition Upgraded From Serious To Good
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ condition has been upgraded from serious to good, NBC News reports. Giffords, who was shot in the head during an alleged assassination…


Did Steve Moore Read The NABE Survey He Discussed On Fox?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 26th, 2011 5:43 am by HL

Did Steve Moore Read The NABE Survey He Discussed On Fox?

Responding to a NABE survey anticipating improvements in employment, Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal said on Fox News that the tax cut extension was a major factor in the recovery and that the stimulus had a “negative” effect. But the NABE survey itself found that most respondents do not think the tax cut extension will spur hiring, and independent economists have said the stimulus boosted GDP and employment.

Moore Responds To NABE Survey By Crediting Tax Cut Extension

Moore Points To “Tax Cut Extension” When Asked Why Companies Are Hiring. During the January 24 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now, host Jenna Lee reported on a National Association for Business Economics (NABE) survey finding that “more companies are ready to begin hiring again.” When asked by Lee why companies feel like they can start hiring, Moore said “one of the real trigger points for the turnaround in the economy was when President Obama finally signed that tax cut extension”:

JENNA LEE (host): Well let’s talk a little bit about the economy now. A new report suggesting job seekers may have some reason for hope and that would really be good for all of us. The National Association for Business Economics suggesting more companies are ready to begin hiring again and at least that question of why now and what’s really driving this optimism. Is it something we can really hang on to? Stephen Moore is senior economic writer for the Wall Street Journal. So Stephen, are you as optimistic as this survey suggests?

MOORE: Yeah, Jenna. Isn’t it wonderful to finally have some good news on the economy?

SCOTT: We’ll take it.

MOORE: It seems like it’s been about three years since we’ve been able to say anything really very favorable, but the report indicates what a lot of other signs are suggesting, which is for the first time in about two and a half years employers are starting to put out signs that they need new workers — which is a very good piece of news, especially in areas like retail. Banks are starting to make loans again to small businesses, which means that they can start expanding. You know, it’s amazing, Jenna, but even manufacturers are hiring again and that’s — it’s been an even longer time since that’s happened. So I’m optimistic. I think 2011 is looking like a really pretty, pretty positive year.

SCOTT: What’s driving that? What would be driving the demand or that optimism to go ahead and hey, hire someone and get them on your payroll?

MOORE: Well first of all, there’s just the natural economic cycle. You know, this has been one of the deepest recessions that we’ve had in decades. And so you just naturally expect employment to start picking up after you’ve seen such a massive decline in 14 and a half million people unemployed. Look — I think one of the real trigger points for the turnaround in the economy was when President Obama finally signed that tax cut extension. I think it both had a real effect but also kind of just a psychological effect that Washington was going to stop this kind of assault against business. It’s interesting isn’t it, by the way, that the expansion is really starting after all that stimulus money was spent. So I don’t think the stimulus really had much effect at all; in fact, I’d say it was probably a negative. [Fox News’ Happening Now, 1/24/11]

Lee: Tax Cuts “Might Have Played In” Since Survey Was Taken After The Deal Was Reached. Responding to Moore’s answer, Fox News host Jenna Lee stated, “Just wanted to mention that the survey that we’re talking about was taken just after the tax cut compromise was reached. So, to your point, that might have played in.” [Fox News’ Happening Now, 1/24/11]

NABE Survey Found Majority Do Not Think Tax Cut Extension Will Spur Hiring

NABE Survey: 60% “Do Not Anticipate Any Increase” In Employment “In Response To New Tax Policies.” During the segment, Fox reported that 42 percent of respondents in the NABE survey said they will be adding jobs. The January 24 survey of 84 NABE members also found that while respondents said the tax package will improve their sales, most “do not anticipate any increase or decrease” in employment due to the tax deal. From the report:

As for the expected impacts of the proposed 2011 tax package, more than half (53%) of the panelists, especially those from the goods-producing sector, anticipate a favorable impact on their firm’s sales. In contrast, a majority of the respondents (60%) said they do not anticipate any increase or decrease in investment spending or employment in response to new tax policies. [NABE, 1/24/11]

Independent Economists: Stimulus Has Raised GDP And Increased Employment

Moore Claimed Stimulus “Was Probably A Negative” On The Economy. During the Fox News segment, Moore stated, “It’s interesting isn’t it, by the way, that the expansion is really starting after all that stimulus money was spent. So I don’t think the stimulus really had much effect at all; in fact, I’d say it was probably a negative.” [Fox News’ Happening Now, 1/24/11]

CBO: Unemployment Would Be Up To 2 Percentage Points Higher Without The Stimulus. A November 2010 report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that as of the third quarter of 2010, the stimulus lowered the unemployment rate “by between 0.8 percentage points and 2.0 percentage points,” compared to what would have happened in the absence of the stimulus. From the report:

CBO estimates that ARRA’s policies had the following effects in the third quarter of calendar year 2010:

  • They raised real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 1.4 and 4.1 percent,
  • Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.8 percentage points and 2.0 percentage points,
  • Increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.6 million, and
  • Increased the number of full-time-equivalent jobs by 2.0 million to 5.2 million compared with what would have occurred otherwise (see Table 1). (Increases in FTE jobs include shifts from part-time to full-time work or overtime and are thus generally larger than increases in the number of employed workers). [Congressional Budget Office, 11/2010

Private Analysts Estimate That Stimulus Increased GDP By 2.1 To 3.5 Percent. In its fifth quarterly report on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) estimated that the stimulus “has raised the level of GDP as of the third quarter of 2010, relative to what it otherwise would have been, by 2.7 percent.” CEA also provided a chart showing that private analysts estimate that the stimulus boosted GDP between 2.1 and 3.5 percent:

Table of GDP effects of ARRA[Council of Economic Advisors, 11/18/10]

Private Analysts Estimate That Stimulus Increased Employment By 2.1 To 2.5 Million. In its report, the CEA provided the the following chart showing that private forecasters estimate that as of the third quarter of 2010, the stimulus increased employment between 2.1 and 2.5 million:

Table of employment effects of ARRA[Council of Economic Advisors, 11/18/10]

WSJ: Economists Said Economic Recovery Has Been Driven By Stimulus. The Wall Street Journal reported on January 14:

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal are increasingly optimistic about the pace of the recovery, predicting the U.S. will grow at better than a 3.2% annual rate in each quarter this year.

“The U.S. economy appears to have successfully navigated the adjustment from a recovery driven primarily from economic stimulus and inventory rebuilding to one driven by private domestic demand and rising exports,” said economists at Wells Fargo & Co. “Three percent growth looks pretty good, particularly with housing stuck in low gear.” [Wall Street Journal, 1/14/11]


Montana GOPer Pushes Sheriff Supremacy Bill

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 26th, 2011 5:42 am by HL

Montana GOPer Pushes Sheriff Supremacy Bill
Montana state Sen. Greg Hinkle (R) is sponsoring a bill to give local sheriffs supreme authority in their counties, and requiring “that federal employees shall obtain the county sheriff’s permission to arrest, search, and seize.”

Don’t Touch My Junk! Jesse Ventura Sues The TSA
Former Minnesota Governor, ex-professional wrestler and current TRU TV host Jesse Ventura is suing the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA over the new airport security measures instituted last year. In a complaint filed in Minnesota district court on Monday, Ventura alleges that body scans and enhanced pat downs at airports violate his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The suit even claims that pat downs “meet the definition for an unlawful sexual assault.”


High Marks for Obama’s Speech

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 26th, 2011 5:38 am by HL

High Marks for Obama’s Speech
A CBS News poll found 91% of those who watched President Obama’s State of the Union speech approved of the proposals he put forth during his remarks. Only nine percent disapproved.

A CNN/Opinion Research survey indicated that 52% of speech watchers had a very positive reaction, with 32% saying they had a somewhat positive response and 15% with a negative response.

Reactions to the State of the Union Address
Mark Halperin: “The president’s speech made a down payment on the two biggest political challenges he faces in 2011 and 2012, including his own re-election. First, he delivered one of the strongest efforts yet at explaining his rhetorical theory of the case for how his policies will create jobs in America. And, second, he laid even more of a trap for Republicans, whose challenge to cut spending without damaging valuable programs or raising taxes grows more difficult by the day (and the president knows it).”

Jonathan Chait: “The substance of Obama’s speech was moderate liberalism — we like business, but government has a role too, neither too much nor too little, etc. It’s hard to attach that kind of case-by-case pragmatism to an overarching theme. But I do think Obama pulled it off pretty well. He took a fairly hackneyed idea — the future — and managed to weave it into issue after issue, from infrastructure to energy to deficits to education and even foreign policy.”

Matt Yglesias: “I thought it was a good speech; an example of trying to govern from the White House. I would say that zero percent of the speech was dedicated to building support in congress for concrete pieces of legislation that the President hopes to sign into law. And it’s too bad that the president’s not in a position to promise to shepherd big bills through congress. But the reality is that he’s not. So he’s wisely floating above the fray, issuing “sounds good but hard to do in practice” calls for smart infrastructure investments, tax reform, less oil subsidies, etc. Most likely none of it will happen. But it will definitely sound good, and if the president’s lucky some of it will happen!”

Does Obama’s Budget Math Add Up?
The AP has done a fact-check on key points that President Obama made during his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

“Obama spoke ambitiously of putting money into roads, research, education, efficient cars, high-speed rail and other initiatives in his State of the Union speech. He pointed to the transportation and construction projects of the last two years and proposed ‘we redouble these efforts.’ He coupled this with a call to ‘freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years.’

“But Obama offered far more examples of where he would spend than where he would cut, and some of the areas he identified for savings are not certain to yield much if anything.”


We Can’t Let the Banksters Walk Away from Their Crimes

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 26th, 2011 5:38 am by HL

We Can’t Let the Banksters Walk Away from Their Crimes
Although the financial crisis that swept the world may have started on Wall Street, it has brought down governments and shredded economic security worldwide.

Michele Bachmann’s ‘Rogue’ Response to Obama Is a Reminder to GOP Leaders of Tea Party’s Clout
There was a media squabble that Republican luminaries were competing to go after Obama’s speech, but the message was the same, and the Tea Party barons are smiling.

Vision: Bringing Our Culture into Progressive Politics Is a Winner
Culture is where people make sense of the world, where ideas are introduced and emotions are attached to concrete change. Let’s bring it into our political cause.


Obama: Reset Your Middle East Policy Before It’s Too Late

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 26th, 2011 5:36 am by HL

Obama: Reset Your Middle East Policy Before It’s Too Late
Things are looking up in Israel. On Saturday night, close to 20,000 people took to the wintry streets of Tel Aviv to demand peace. It was the first major demonstration in years, and was an indication that, particularly among the…

The Real Battle With China: Goldman Sachs versus American Workers
When China’s President Hu Jintao came for his state visit last week the White House press corps completely ignored almost all the substantive issues raised by Mr. Hu’s visit. The domestic policy issues raised by this trip were altogether invisible…


Minneapolis Tea Party Slams Bachmann: ?One Person Has No Right To Speak For The Whole Organization?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 26th, 2011 5:35 am by HL

Minneapolis Tea Party Slams Bachmann: ?One Person Has No Right To Speak For The Whole Organization?

In addition to the official GOP response from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Rep. Michele Bachman (R-MN) is going to give an alternative response to President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight on behalf of the Tea Party Express, a national group that has heavily promoted her speech. But a major Tea Party group in her own state is strongly criticizing Bachmann’s plans. The Tea Party Patriots of the Twin Cities sent out an e-mail last night saying that Bachmann “does not speak for the Tea Party“:

Please call Michele Bachmann’s Office and tell her that she does not speak for the Tea Party. Michele has announced she will be giving the ‘Tea Party Response’ to the President’s State of the Union Address. The Tea Party Patriots Organization is a grass roots organization. One person has no right to speak for the whole organization.

Aside from this Tea Party split, there is a noticeable rift in the Republican Party over Bachmann’s address. During a breakfast with reporters today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) called Bachman’s rebuttal-after-the-rebuttal “a little unusual.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), on the other hand, said Bachmann’s Tea Party response is “legitimate.

Originally, Bachmann’s rebuttal was set to only air on Tea Party Express’ web page, but then CNN announced that they would air both Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) speech and Bachmann’s. GOP aides are reportedly not happy with the decision, claiming “CNN is basically inventing a conflict that doesn’t really exist,” and that “it’s not responsible journalism.” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) also questioned why Bachmann’s address is being televised.

Paul Breer