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Archive for July 20th, 2011

Moody’s: Eliminate Debt Ceiling

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 20th, 2011 4:47 am by HL

Moody’s: Eliminate Debt Ceiling
The ratings agency Moody’s suggested Monday that the United States should eliminate its statutory limit on government debt to reduce uncertainty among bond holders. “The United States is one of the few countries where Congress sets a ceiling on government debt, which creates ‘periodic uncertainty’ over the government’s ability to meet its obligations,” Moody’s said in a report. “We would reduce our assessment of event risk if the government changed its framework for managing government debt to lessen or eliminate that uncertainty.”



Late Late Night FDL: Minnie the Moocher

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 20th, 2011 4:46 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: Minnie the Moocher
Cab CallowayMinnie the Moocher.

Cab CallowayMinnie the Moocher.

What’s on your mind?

Not much of a comfort
In terms of the sanity of our politics, just another day ending in “Y”.

In today’s classy representation of the modern Republican Party we have Allen West who sent what he or Steve King say to themselves in the mirror every morning to Deborah Wasserman-Schultz:

You are the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives.

Strong words from a guy who barely avoided a dishonorable discharge and prison time.

Oh well, let’s see if we can get worse, if you’re Michele Bachmann you can give a reporter the kind of beating that Glenn Beck has to pay for.

Well, at least we’ve got a a Democrat in the White House. Never-mind and sigh.

I only wish throwing pies around was our biggest problem.



‘The Double Life of Alfred Buber’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 20th, 2011 4:45 am by HL

‘The Double Life of Alfred Buber’
By David Schmahmann In David Schmahmann’s new novel, Alfred Buber is a respected man with a secret. Telling his boss and colleagues that he’s going to Paris, he regularly travels instead to Southeast Asia to go whoring in the squalid back alleys. And then on one of his trips to Bangkok, he falls in love.

By David Schmahmann

In David Schmahmann’s new novel, Alfred Buber is a respected man with a secret. Telling his boss and colleagues that he’s going to Paris, he regularly travels instead to Southeast Asia to go whoring in the squalid back alleys. And then on one of his trips to Bangkok, he falls in love.

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Robert Scheer: Sorry Elizabeth, Wall Street Said No

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 20th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

Robert Scheer: Sorry Elizabeth, Wall Street Said No
So much for the meritocracy. Despite an elite education, effusive charm and brilliant wit, Barack Obama, like Bill Clinton before him, has ended up betraying…

House Passes Tea Party’s ‘Cut, Cap And Balance’ Fiscal Plan
WASHINGTON — House Republicans easily passed their “Cut, Cap and Balance” fiscal plan on Tuesday, a proposal that boosts their standing among Tea Party supporters…

Jeffrey Abelson: Crowdsourcing for the Common Good
What if there were a way to neuter ideological extremists, and zero out the oversized influence of lobbyists and big money and all the corruption that follows? And do it pretty damn quick.

Democrat Defeats GOP Challenger In Recall Race
By Brendan O’Brien GREEN BAY, Wis, July 19 (Reuters) – A Democrat who opposed Republican-backed curbs on public-sector collective bargaining that became Wisconsin law…

Alan Grayson: Devil Take the Hindmost
Medicare helps to heal people who are old and sick. Medicaid helps to heal people who are poor and sick. These are not things that I want to cut. But some people do.


Hannity Wrongly Blames Debt-Ceiling Crisis On Obama Policies

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 20th, 2011 4:43 am by HL

Hannity Wrongly Blames Debt-Ceiling Crisis On Obama Policies

Sean Hannity claimed that the United States is “going to lose our AAA bond rating because [President Obama] spent us into oblivion.” In fact, most of the current deficit and projected deficits can be attributed to a decrease in revenue due to the economic downturn, as well as policies already in place when Obama took office.

Hannity Blames Possibility Of U.S. Credit Downgrade On Obama Spending “Us Into Oblivion”

Hannity: “Look At Standard And Poor’s And Moody’s. We’re Going To Lose Our AAA Bond Rating Because [Obama] Spent Us Into Oblivion.” From Fox News’ Hannity:

HANNITY: Look at these numbers. Look at Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s. We’re going to lose our AAA bond rating because he spent us into oblivion. The IMF says China takes over our economy in five years.

We’ve given him — he’s got everything he wanted, and every promise he made, he has driven this economy — to use his analogy — in a ditch, and we can’t get out of it. Why wouldn’t you support Cut, Cap, and Balance?

[…]

HANNITY: If we become Greece, it’s because they have spent too much money and they cannot — it’s like crack cocaine for these guys in Washington. They’re addicted to it. They get their power from it. [Fox News, Hannity, January 2009 and January 2010]

CAP: “Single Most Important [Cause Of The Deficit] Is The Legacy Of President George W. Bush’s Legislative Agenda.” In an August 2009 analysis, the Center for American Progress (CAP) concluded that about two-thirds of the then-projected budget deterioration for 2009 and 2010 could be attributed to either Bush’s policies or the economic downturn:

The report explained:

As for the deficit’s cause, the single most important factor is the legacy of President George W. Bush’s legislative agenda. Overall, changes in federal law during the Bush administration are responsible for 40 percent of the short-term fiscal problem. For example, we estimate that the tax cuts passed during the Bush presidency are reducing government revenue collections by $231 billion in 2009. Also, because of the additions to the federal debt due to Bush administration policies, the government will be paying $218 billion more in interest payments in 2009.

Had President Bush not cut taxes while simultaneously prosecuting two foreign wars and adopting other programs without paying for them, the current deficit would be only 4.7 percent of gross domestic product this year, instead of the eye-catching 11.2 percent–despite the weak economy and the costly efforts taken to restore it. In 2010, the deficit would be 3.2 percent instead of 9.6 percent.

The weak economy also plays a major role in the deficit picture. The failure of Bush economic policies–fiscal irresponsibility, regulatory indifference, fueling of an asset and credit bubble, a failure to focus on jobs and incomes, and inaction as the economy started slipping–contributed mightily to the nation’s current economic situation. When the economy contracts, tax revenues decline and outlays increase for programs designed to keep people from falling deep into poverty (with the tax impact much larger than the spending impact). All told, the weak economy is responsible for 20 percent of the fiscal problems we face in 2009 and 2010.

President Obama’s policies have also contributed to the federal deficit–but only 16 percent of the projected budget deterioration for 2009 and 2010 are attributable to those policies. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, designed to help bring the economy out of the recession is, by far, the largest single additional public spending under this administration. [CAP, 8/25/09]

CBPP: “[V]irtually The Entire Deficit Over The Next Ten Years” Due To Bush Policies, Economic Downturn.” The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) published an analysis of federal deficits in December 2009, which was most recently updated on June 28, 2010, titled, “Critics Still Wrong on What’s Driving Deficits in Coming Years: Economic Downturn, Financial Rescues, and Bush-Era Policies Drive the Numbers.” The report noted:

Some critics continue to assert that President George W. Bush’s policies bear little responsibility for the deficits the nation faces over the coming decade — that, instead, the new policies of President Barack Obama and the 111th Congress are to blame.  Most recently, a Heritage Foundation paper downplayed the role of Bush-era policies (for more on that paper, see p. 4).  Nevertheless, the fact remains: Together with the economic downturn, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years.

The report also graphed the effects of Bush’s policies and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on the deficit. From the report:

[CBPP, updated 6/28/10, emphasis in original]

Harvard Business Review Group Director: “[T]he Giant Deficit Is Mainly The Result Of The Collapse In Tax Receipts Brought On By The Recession.” In an October 2010 post on his Reuters blog, Justin Fox, editorial director of the Harvard Business Review Group, analyzed the deficit and concluded that it was “mainly the result of the collapse in tax receipts brought on by the recession”:

The Treasury Department reported on Oct. 15 that the deficit in fiscal 2010, which ended Sept. 30, was $1.294 trillion. That’s less than FY 2009’s $1.416 trillion, but it’s still really really big. Why is it so big, though? Is it because of all that stimulus and bailout spending? Or is something else going on?

To find out, I created a fantasy world. I figured out how fast federal spending and revenue grew over the last business cycle, from 2000 through 2007, and calculated where we’d be today if those growth rates had continued through 2010. I was originally motivated to do this for a commentary that’s supposed to air tomorrow night on Nightly Business Report. But I’m thinking there’s not a huge overlap between Felix Salmon readers and Nightly Business Report viewers, so I’ll go ahead and share what I learned.

In my no-financial-crisis, no-bailout, no-recession, no-stimulus scenario, spending kept growing at 6.22% a year, and revenue kept growing at 3.45%. You can see from the difference between the two numbers that this was an unsustainable path. But it clearly could have been sustained for a few more years.

Where would it have left us in fiscal 2010? With $2.843 trillion in federal revenue and $3.270 trillion in spending, leaving a deficit of $427 billion. The actual revenue and spending totals for 2010 were $2.162 trillion and $3.456 trillion. So spending was $186 billion higher than if we’d stuck to the trend, and revenue was $681 billion lower. In other words, the giant deficit is mainly the result of the collapse in tax receipts brought on by the recession, not the increase in spending. Nice to know, huh? [Justin Fox, blogs.reuters.com10/25/10, emphasis added]


FBI Raids Homes Of Suspected ‘Anonymous’ Hackers

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 20th, 2011 4:42 am by HL

FBI Raids Homes Of Suspected ‘Anonymous’ Hackers
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has raided several homes and made arrests as part of their investigation into the ‘hackivist’ group Anonymous.

Murdoch Attacked With Shaving Cream During Hearings
The hearings over the News Corporation phone hacking scandal were briefly suspended after a man attacked Rupert Murdoch with a plate of shaving cream….

Murdochs At The Phone Hacking Hearings: We Didn’t Even Know There Was Anything To Know
Though the substance of the Parliamentary hearings over the News Of The World phone hacking scandal threatened to be overshadowed by Rupert Murdoch’s plate of shaving cream to the face, the upshot of the almost three-hour session was the Murdochs’…



Elizabeth Warren: We Can Do It!

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 20th, 2011 4:40 am by HL

Elizabeth Warren: We Can Do It!


Kasich’s Approval Slips Further

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 20th, 2011 4:38 am by HL

Kasich’s Approval Slips Further
A new Quinnipiac poll in Ohio finds Gov. John Kasich (R) “is sinking slowly into the quicksand of voter disapproval,” with a 50% to 35% disapproval rate.

Wisconsin Democrats Survive First Recall Attempt
Wisconsin state Sen. Dave Hansen (D) was the first of nine state senators to face a final recall election, and he easily survived Tuesday, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.

The remaining recall attempts — two Democrats and six Republicans — will be held on August 9.


ABOVE ALL, ACT

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 20th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

ABOVE ALL, ACT
In wake of Friday’s dismal jobs data, it is past time to stick into any Congressional vehicle moving at any speed at all the following authorization: The Treasury shall auction the right to repatriate one trillion dollars of offshore profits,…

If It’s Not Different This Time, Why Do We Have Economists?
Two prominent medical researchers reviewed hundreds of thousands of records on infant and childhood mortality dating back over the last eight centuries. They discovered that over the vast majority of this 800-year period, only around half of newborns survived to…

Prevention as the Best Defense
President Obama and key members of Congress have finally acknowledged that any deal on the deficit must include reductions in Pentagon spending. The figures being discussed are far too small, but the principle has been accepted. But the underlying question…



President Of Nauru Calls On Security Council To Respond To Climate Change

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 20th, 2011 4:36 am by HL

President Of Nauru Calls On Security Council To Respond To Climate Change
The United Nations Security Council, the most powerful body within the international diplomatic assembly, will discuss climate change tomorrow. In 2007, when the council debated climate policy for the first time, it did so over the objections of many nations, who believed that the issue should be handled by the general assembly and the UN […]

The United Nations Security Council, the most powerful body within the international diplomatic assembly, will discuss climate change tomorrow. In 2007, when the council debated climate policy for the first time, it did so over the objections of many nations, who believed that the issue should be handled by the general assembly and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Because of the frustrating record of attempts in Copenhagen and Cancun to build a successor to the Kyoto Protocol and the rising impacts of global warming pollution around the world, this time the most vulnerable nations are supporting the Security Council’s involvement. In an impassioned New York Times op-ed, Marcus Stephen, the president of the small island nation of Nauru, called for strong action by the council:

First, the Security Council should join the General Assembly in recognizing climate change as a threat to international peace and security. It is a threat as great as nuclear proliferation or global terrorism. Second, a special representative on climate and security should be appointed. Third, we must assess whether the United Nations system is itself capable of responding to a crisis of this magnitude.

Nauru’s economy is in tatters, as the tiny island, smaller than Manhattan, was denuded for phosphate mining. The planet, he warns, is headed towards a future of resource collapse like his own nation’s, “with the relentless burning of coal and oil, which is altering the planet’s climate, melting ice caps, making oceans more acidic and edging us ever closer to a day when no one will be able to take clean water, fertile soil or abundant food for granted.”