Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sequester Blame Game, Conservatives Ignore Obama's Long-Standing Offer To Avert Sequestration With Revenue And Cuts

Sleazebags of the Week: Conservative Blogs, Radio Broadcast Media, Sequester Blame Game, Conservatives Ignore Obama's Long-Standing Offer To Avert Sequestration With Revenue And Cuts

Fox News hosts cited a widely criticized Bob Woodward column to falsely claim President Obama's proposal to avert looming government spending cuts -- known as sequestration -- "moved the goalposts" because it offsets some of the cuts with new revenue. In fact, the administration's proposal to avert the sequestration has always included a balanced deficit reduction plan that included additional revenues.

Woodward Pushes Myth That Revenue Is New To Obama's Proposal To Avert Sequestration

Bob Woodward: When The President Asks For New Revenue, "He Is Moving The Goal Posts." In a Washington Post opinion piece, Bob Woodward accused the Obama administration of "moving the goal posts" with its proposal to replace the sequester with an alternative plan to reduce the deficit, falsely claiming that they had not asked for additional revenue in previous proposals:

    Lew testified during his confirmation hearing that the Republicans would not go along with new revenue in the portion of the deficit-reduction plan that became the sequester. Reinforcing Lew's point, a senior White House official said Friday, "The sequester was an option we were forced to take because the Republicans would not do tax increases."

    In fact, the final deal reached between Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2011 included an agreement that there would be no tax increases in the sequester in exchange for what the president was insisting on: an agreement that the nation's debt ceiling would be increased for 18 months, so Obama would not have to go through another such negotiation in 2012, when he was running for reelection.

    So when the president asks that a substitute for the sequester include not just spending cuts but also new revenue, he is moving the goal posts. His call for a balanced approach is reasonable, and he makes a strong case that those in the top income brackets could and should pay more. But that was not the deal he made. [The Washington Post, 2/22/13]

Fox Cites Woodward To Call Obama's Sequestration Replacement Proposal 'Fraudulent'

Steve Doocy: "Bob Woodward Says [Obama] Moved The Goalposts Because He Wants To Go Ahead And Raise Taxes." On Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy claimed that the president promised not to raise taxes and cited Bob Woodward to claim Obama has "moved the goalposts" on replacing the sequestration cuts with other deficit reduction measures:

    Bob Woodward is taking a little heat from the left and the White House as well because he pointed out in an editorial, writing over the weekend, that this president, while they're not owning up to it right now, this is an idea of the president. And he also talks about how the president and his team are moving the goalposts. In the original deal what they said was, the president wanted to kick the debt ceiling down the road, you know, past the election. In return, the president promised, "I won't raise taxes." Well now Bob Woodward says he's moved the goalposts because he wants to go ahead and raise taxes. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/26/13]

O'Reilly Claims Obama Is Defrauding Republicans By Including Tax Increases. On his Fox News show, Bill O'Reilly responded to senior political analyst Brit Hume, who noted that Woodward might not have evidence for his claims, by insisting that Obama had committed fraud by asking for increased revenue in any proposal to avert the sequestration...

But Obama's Proposal To Avert Sequestration Has Included Additional Revenue From The Beginning

White House: "President Will Demand That The Committee Pursue A Balanced Deficit Reduction Package ... With Revenue-Raising Tax Reform." A 2011 fact sheet produced by the White House after an agreement to reduce deficits was first reached in mid-2011 described how the sequestration was intended as an "enforcement mechanism" to ensure deficit reduction of $1.2 trillion in the event that Congress failed to agree on a plan to reduce the deficit by at least an equivalent amount. The fact sheet makes clear that the president was committed to reducing the deficit in part by generating additional revenue. From the fact sheet's section on the debt deal's mechanics:

    Enforcement mechanism established to force all parties - Republican and Democrat - to agree to balanced deficit reduction. If Committee fails, enforcement mechanism will trigger spending reductions beginning in 2013 - split 50/50 between domestic and defense spending. Enforcement protects Social Security, Medicare beneficiaries, and low-income programs from any cuts.


    The Deal Sets the Stage for Balanced Deficit Reduction, Consistent with the President's Values: The deal is designed to achieve balanced deficit reduction, consistent with the values the President articulated in his April Fiscal Framework. The discretionary savings are spread between both domestic and defense spending. And the President will demand that the Committee pursue a balanced deficit reduction package, where any entitlement reforms are coupled with revenue-raising tax reform that asks for the most fortunate Americans to sacrifice. [, via Business Insider, 7/31/11]

TPM's Brian Beutler: Law That Created Sequestration "Unambiguously" Allows Revenue In Sequestration Replacement. Talking Points Memo's senior congressional reporter Brian Beutler explained how Woodward "is just dead wrong" that Obama is moving the goal posts by calling for revenue in any deal to avert the sequestration:

    Obama and Democrats have always insisted that a balanced mix of spending cuts and higher taxes replace sequestration. It's true that John Boehner wouldn't agree to include new taxes in the enforcement mechanism itself, and thus that the enforcement mechanism he and Obama settled upon -- sequestration -- is composed exclusively of spending cuts. But the entire purpose of an enforcement mechanism is to make sure that the enforcement mechanism is never triggered. The key question is what action it was designed to compel. And on that score, the Budget Control Act is unambiguous.

    First: "Unless a joint committee bill achieving an amount greater than $1,200,000,000,000 in deficit reduction as provided in section 401(b)(3)(B)(i)(II) of the Budget Control Act of 2011 is enacted by January 15, 2012, the discretionary spending limits listed in section 251(c) shall be revised, and discretionary appropriations and direct spending shall be reduced."

    Key words: "deficit reduction." Not "spending cuts." If Republicans wanted to make sure sequestration would be replaced with spending cuts only, that would have been the place to make a stand. Some of them certainly tried. But that's not what ultimately won the day. Instead the, law tasked the Super Committee with replacing sequestration with a different deficit reduction bill -- tax increases or no.

    "The goal of the joint committee shall be to reduce the deficit by at least $1,500,000,000,000 over the period of fiscal years 2012 to 2021," according to the BCA. The bill even provided the House and Senate instructions for advancing a Super Committee bill if it included revenue. This couldn't be clearer. [Talking Points Memo, 2/23/13]

Wash. Post's Ezra Klein: "Everyone Was Perfectly Clear That Democrats Were Going To Pursue Tax Increases In Any Sequester Replacement." Ezra Klein wrote at The Washington Post's Wonkblog that he didn't agree with Woodward that the administration moved the goalposts and that he remembered, in 2011, that "everyone was perfectly clear that Democrats were going to pursue tax increases in any sequester replacement":

    I don't agree with my colleague Bob Woodward, who says the Obama administration is "moving the goalposts" when they insist on a sequester replacement that includes revenues. I remember talking to both members of the Obama administration and the Republican leadership in 2011, and everyone was perfectly clear that Democrats were going to pursue tax increases in any sequester replacement, and Republicans were going to oppose tax increases in any sequester replacement. What no one knew was who would win. [The Washington Post, Wonkblog, 2/23/13]

Slate's David Weigel: Woodward Contradicts His Own Book. Slate's David Weigel noted that Woodward's column contradicted Woodward's book that described early deals between the White House and Republicans including "a mixture of cuts and spending increases":

    This is just a highly redacted reintrepretation of the long, long negotiations. And it doesn't even appear this way in Woodward's book, The Price of Politics. Early (but shadowy) versions of deals between the White House and Republicans included a mixture of cuts and spending increases. At one point, the negotiators seemed to agree on $800 billion of new revenue from tax increases.


    To argue that the White House is "moving the goal posts" when it now asks for revenue in a sequestration replacement, you have to toss out the fact that the White House always wanted revenue in the supercommittee's sequestration replacement. This isn't confusing unless reporters make it confusing. [Slate, 2/23/13, emphasis in the original]

So Woodward is lying. Conservative media - as usual is shoving ridiculously obvious lies down America's throat like the Anti-American wackos they are. And of course the spineless weasel Republicans in Congress are lying.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Six Crazy Tyrannical Laws Conservatives have Purposed This Month

 Six Crazy Tyrannical Laws Conservatives have Purposed This Month

3. Birth control is poison

The full state Senate in Oklahoma will take up a measure to allow companies to strip birth control and abortion coverage from employer healthcare plans under a bill that unanimously cleared the committee level last week.

“Notwithstanding any other provision of state or federal law, no employer shall be required to provide or pay for any benefit or service related to abortion or contraception through the provision of health insurance to his or her employees,” the bill reads.

That would put the law in conflict with the Obamacare provision that mandates contraception coverage in employee group insurance plans, unless the company in question meets the religious organization that qualifies for an exemption.

The state senator who proposed the bill said the idea came from one of his constituents, identified as Dr. Dominic Pedulla. The Tulsa World calls him “an Oklahoma City cardiologist who describes himself as a natural family planning medical consultant and women’s health researcher.” He told the paper he stopped offering his insurance plan because it required contraception coverage.

“Part of (women’s) identity is the potential to be a mother,” Pedulla said. “They are being asked to suppress and radically contradict part of their own identity, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they are being asked to poison their bodies.”

Why am I not surprised that Republicans subscribe both to voodoo economics and voodoo medicine. The other five laws are at the link.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Republican Theories About Poverty, and the Real Reason Americans Can’t Make Ends Meet

Republican Theories About Poverty, and the Real Reason Americans Can’t Make Ends Meet
When is a secret not at all secret? Consider the fact that one in three Americans are poor, if we define it as struggling to cover the basic necessities of life. That's according to a Census Bureau analysis, and it was reported in the New York Times, but I have yet to hear a politician or pundit make reference to this eye-opening reality of our vaunted “new economy.”

In 2011, the Census Bureau took a new look at the “near-poor” – Americans with incomes between 100 and 150 percent of the poverty line. They found that this group, most of whom earn paychecks and pay taxes, represented a whopping one in six U.S. households – a figure that was almost twice as high as had previously been thought.

When those under the poverty line are added, Census found that a stunning 33 percent of the population was struggling to make ends meet in 2010. Analyzing the Census data, the Working Poor Project suggested [3] that the number of near-poor, which they define as those making between 100 and 200 percent of the poverty line, continued to inch up in 2011 as many returning to work in this sluggish recovery have been forced to settle for lower-paying service jobs.

Nearly four years after economists tell us the “recovery” began, almost half of all American households [4] lack enough savings to stay above the poverty line for three months or more if they should find themselves out of work. Another third are living paycheck to paycheck, teetering on the brink with no savings at all.

It would require a lengthy sociological treatise to fully explain why this isn't considered a huge national crisis. But one part of the equation is the existence of a long-standing and ideologically informed project by the right to portray the burden of living in or near poverty as a liberal delusion. In these narratives, which come in a variety of forms, the poor have it pretty darn good – good enough that we really shouldn't spend much time thinking about them.

For these conservative think-tankers, pundits and politicians, obscuring America's grinding poverty and spiraling inequality is an exercise in service of a status quo that works pretty well for them, but not for most families.

1. But the poor have color TVs.

Consider the boilerplate conservative column [5] about how many wondrous household appliances the average low-income household owns. Back in the 1930s, this argument goes, poor people didn't have running water, but now they have color TVs, so life is good.

As I write this, my local Craigslist [6] offers multiple televisions, a dining set, several treadmills, a mountain bike, an oven (with hood), a blender, a coffeemaker, a slew of couches and beds, a piano, a hot-tub (needs repair) and a complete stereo system, all free to anyone who will pick them up. We live in a consumer economy that creates an abundance of surplus and rapidly obsolete goods, and people who struggle to put food on the table can nonetheless get their hands on all manner of electronics for nothing.

2. The poor have lots of room to enjoy poverty.

A similar argument holds that in the United States, poor people have more living space, on average, than low-income households in other developed nations. As the Wall Street Journal was eager to point out [7], “The average living space for poor American households is 1,200 square feet. In Europe, the average space for all households, not just the poor, is 1,000 square feet.”

Perhaps that's true, but it's also divorced from context. There is a simple matter of population density at work: in the core states of the European Union, there are 120 people per square kilometer; in the United States, we only have 29 people per kilometer. And the average is a bit misleading as it includes the rural poor – low-income households in tightly packed urban centers don't tend to have 1,200-square-foot apartments.

3. The poor are actually rolling in money.

A new and equally distorted argument entered the conservative discourse just recently. It holds that poor families receive $168 per day in government benefits – more than the median weekly income in this country. If that were true, low-income households in the United States would enjoy quite comfortable living standards.

But as I noted last month, that number is inflated by around eight-fold [8]. The claim originated with Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation and then underwent some revisions on its journey to Republican congressional staffers, and finally to the conservative media. It gets to that number by counting things like federal aid to rebuild communities after natural disasters as “welfare,” including programs that assist the middle class and the wealthy and then dividing the costs of all these programs by the number of households under the poverty line, despite the fact that many more families benefit from them.

4. It’s just how they are.

And then there are the ever-popular cultural explanations for poverty. This is a storyline based on confusing correlation with causation – a rookie mistake in any introductory college class.

The Heritage Foundation, for example (it's Robert Rector again), sees a lot of poor, single-parent households, and would have you believe [9] that “the main causes of child poverty are low levels of parental work and the absence of fathers.”

But this gets the causal relationship wrong. The number of single-parent households exploded between the 1970s and the 1990s, more than doubling, [10] yet the poverty rate remained relatively constant. In fact, before the crash of 2008, the poverty rate was lower than it had been in the 1970s. So, as the rate of single-parent households skyrocketed, poverty declined a little bit. Saying single-parent homes create poverty is like claiming the rooster causes the sun to rise.

As I've noted [11] in the past, this is an essential piece of the “culture of poverty” narrative, and it is nonsense. Jean Hardisty, the author of Marriage as a Cure for Poverty: A Bogus Formula for Women, cited a number of studies showing that poor women have the same dreams as everyone else: they “often aspire to a romantic notion of marriage and family that features a white picket fence in the suburbs.” But low economic status leads to fewer marriages, not the other way around.

In 1998, the Fragile Families Study looked at 3,700 low-income unmarried couples in 20 U.S. cities. The authors found that 90 percent of the couples living together wanted to tie the knot, but only 15 percent had actually done so by the end of the one-year study period. And here’s the key finding: for every dollar that a man’s hourly wages increased, the odds that he’d get hitched by the end of the year rose by 5 percent. Men earning more than $25,000 during the year had twice the marriage rates of those making less than $25,000.

Writing up the findings for the Nation, Sharon Lerner noted that poverty itself “seems to make people feel less entitled to marry.” As one father in the survey put it, marriage means “not living from check to check.”

Why People Are Really Poor

During a period of less than 20 years beginning in the early 1980s, the American economy underwent dramatic changes. It was a period of policy-driven de-unionization and the offshoring of millions of decent manufacturing jobs. The tax code underwent dramatic changes, as CEO pay sky-rocketed and the financial sector came to represent a much larger share of our economic output than it had during the four decades or so following World War II.

And our distribution of income changed dramatically as well. During the 35 years prior to Ronald Reagan's election, the top one percent of U.S. households had taken in an average of 10 percent of the nation's income. When Reagan left office in 1988, those at the top were grabbing 15.5 percent of the pie, and by the time George W. Bush took office in 2000, they were taking over 20 percent of the nation's income.
Corporate America has discovered that it can make most of it's goods in Asia and pay Americans less than a living wage, all the while making record profits. They have no incentive to change because corporate America has lost any sense of patriotic responsibility to the country.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Will Radical Conservative Pete Peterson Plunge Middle-Class Americans Into a New Recession

Will Radical Conservative Pete Peterson Plunge Middle-Class Americans Into a New Recession

The “sequester” – mindless, across-the-board spending cuts designed purposefully to be abhorrent to both political parties – now seems likely to go into effect on March 1. If not reversed, we will see the degrading of all government services from food inspection to airport controls, as mass furloughs – 20-30 day forced absences without pay – shudder agencies.

The sequester cuts added to spending cuts and tax increases already scheduled will slow growth and cost jobs, according to the Congressional Budget Office and most economic analysis. Government austerity has already contributed to the worst recovery in post-World War II history. In Europe, austerity has driven the economies back into recession, with the countries enforcing the harshest cuts suffering the most.

Why would the U.S. repeat this folly, despite warnings from the International Monetary Fund and Federal Reserve officials? Every calamity has many authors – Obama’s premature turn to deficit reduction in 2009, the Tea Party zealots, a hapless and clueless Republican congressional leadership and more.

Pete Peterson’s Mighty Wurlitzer

One major contribution comes from the money and monomania of Pete Peterson, a Wall Street billionaire who has committed about half a billion bucks rousing hysteria about deficits and debt. On Thursday, The Nation magazine and the Center for Media and Democracy are releasing an expose of Peterson and his latest front, the Fix the Debt coalition, with a new resource detailing the background at the center’s

Ironically, Peterson never raised a murmur about the housing bubble or the Wall Street wilding or the global trade imbalances that eventually blew up the economy, led to the Great Recession.

Peterson, Nixon’s former Secretary of Commerce, says that he “has been wailing about this (debt and deficits) since 1980.”

Peterson made his billions on Wall Street, taking the private equity firm Blackstone Group public, after benefiting from the obscene “carried interest tax deduction” that allows hedge fund billionaires to pay lower tax rates than their chauffeurs. (His former partner, Stephen Schwartzman, famously labeled the effort to end this obscenity as a war, the equivalent of “when Hitler invaded Poland.”)

Peterson has three relentless harangues. First that the pillars of family security – Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – pose a “catastrophic threat” to the country must be cut deeply. Peterson scorns Social Security and Medicare as providing “a publicly subsidized vacation” for “the last third or more of one’s adult life.”

Second, Peterson wants to move from income and corporate taxes to far more regressive consumption taxes. If he could, he’d eliminate corporate and income taxes and replace them with sales and gas and sin taxes, with adjustments to “protect the poor.” At a time of extreme Gilded Age inequality, this is a recipe for hiking taxes on the middle class while lowering them on the rich.

Finally, Peterson has been warning that deficits and debt would cause a “Pearl Harbor moment” for years. Ironically, he never raised a murmur about the housing bubble or the Wall Street wilding or the global trade imbalances that eventually blew up the economy, led to the Great Recession. (He got his money out early.) Nor did the fact that the collapse came when the deficit was less than 2 percent of gross domestic product and the debt to GDP ratio was falling cause any change in his views. Instead, he has sought to use the crisis to force through his utterly unpopular views.

Peterson has thus far committed about $500 million of his fortune to the campaign on deficits, paying for a mighty Wurlitzer of propaganda.

He has funded ersatz national “town meetings,” sprinkled think tanks right, center and left with grants, sponsored national conferences and events. He’s seeded what the National Journal calls “a loose network of deficit hawk organizations that seem independent but that all spout the Peterson-sanction messages” on deficits – including the Concord Coalition, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, America Speaks, and Comeback America.

He launched his own news service – The Fiscal Times – feeding articles to increasingly cash-strapped newspapers. He purchased both ad campaigns and the tendentious “I.O.U.S.A” documentary that received national screening. He sponsored bipartisan commissions to develop debt reduction plans, including partnering with and helping to staff and promote the President’s “bipartisan commission,” known for the co-chairs, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles.

The Drumbeat $500 Million Can Buy

Bowles and Simpson serve as co-chairs and co-founders of Peterson’s latest front, the Fix the Debt Coalition, which rounded up 127 CEOs and a $60 million budget, retaining at least four major public relation firms, to drive the campaign for a “grand bargain.”

Despite the consultants, “Fix” has exhibited a hilariously tin ear. They trotted out Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein to lecture Americans on “lowering their expectations” and accepting less in Social Security and Medicare. Who better to argue for “shared sacrifice” than the head of a Wall Street firm that helped blow up the economy and got bailed out by taxpayers while its leaders pocketed the millions they made along the way?

Blankfein was followed by David Cote, the CEO of Honeywell, calling on Americans to be responsible about funding our public pension plan. Who more qualified, as the Institute for Policy Studies pointed out in a scathing report, than a CEO with $78 million dollar personal retirement plan tucked away, while his company’s employee pension plan is underfunded by $2.8 billion?

But the egregious gaffes aren’t as telling as the incessant drumbeat that $500 million can buy. So last week, Fix the Debt helped trot out the tireless minstrels of austerity, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, to issue dire warnings once more of the damnation to come from deficits, while peddling a new “bipartisan” plan on deficit reduction.

This plan called for even more deficit reduction over 10 years than the last plan the co-chairs promoted. (There was never a Simpson-Bowles commission plan, since the co-chairs’ draft was rejected by the commission.) Instead of a one-to-one ratio of new revenue to spending cuts, the co-chairs now call for three times as much in spending cuts than in increased revenue.

But they stayed true to the Peterson principles. They would raise the eligibility age for Medicare and the retirement age for Social Security, reducing that “paid vacation.” They’d cut Medicare and Social Security benefits. Tax reform would close loopholes – no doubt hitting employer-based health care plans – but use the money largely to lower top tax rates for individuals and corporations. And they call for deeper ceilings for cuts in domestic and military spending, ducking the question of what programs would take the hit.

Get The Focus Right

Following this advice would surely weaken the already faltering recovery and cost jobs. It could easily drive the economy back into recession. Simpson and Bowles and the Peterson claque ignore the fact that the deficit is already falling faster than any time since the demobilization after World War II. They admit that soaring health care costs are what drive the scary long-term debt projections. But they fail to note that the rise of these costs has already slowed. The Congressional Budget Office has already reduced the projected costs of Medicare over the next decade by more than the cuts demanded in the original Simpson-Bowles report.

What we need is a focus on putting people back to work, and a strategy to make this economy work for working people. And continued efforts to fix our health care system – starting with using Medicare’s purchasing power to lower prescription drug prices, or by setting up a public option in Obamacare to compete with private insurers and limit their rip-offs.

Instead, Pete Peterson’s $500 million has helped to focus America on how to “fix the debt” rather than how to fix the economy and put people to work. And he’s redoubling his efforts to make America’s most vulnerable – its seniors, its disabled, and its retired veterans – pick up the tab for cleaning up Wall Street’s mess. And if he gets his way and forces a “grand bargain” and even harsher austerity, his $500 million just may end up purchasing a new recession.
© 2013 Campaign for America's Future

Robert L. Borosage is the founder and president of the Institute for America’s Future and co-director of its sister organization, the Campaign for America’s Future.

Yet another billionaire telling working class Americans they have to sacrifice more so that billionaires like Peterson will have even more money.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

13 Radical Conservative Governors Screwing Over the Uninsured

13 Governors Screwing Over the Uninsured. Meet the Republicans rejecting Medicaid expansion in their states.

Thirteen state governors are refusing to implement Medicaid expansion, despite the fact that it's being offered with cherries on top: The Affordable Care Act's timeline guarantees that the federal government would pay for 100 percent of the expansion in its first three years, tapering down to 90 percent of the paycheck by 2020. According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report [3], expanding Medicaid to cover more low-income groups hovering above the federal poverty line in all states would cut the number of uninsured by nearly half nationwide, provided other features of the ACA are implemented.

Most of these governors argue the expansion would be too expensive, even though including the poor would only increase these states' Medicaid spending by an average of 3 percent over the next decade, and taxpayers will be paying for the federal program anyway [4]. Several of the governors rejecting Medicaid expansion ran for office on anti-Obamacare or Tea Party platforms, preaching austerity and less federal meddling. Maine's Governor Paul LePage, whose state would actually see its portion of Medicaid spending reduced by expanding the program, argued that Maine would not be "complicit in the degradation" of the country's health care.

Not all GOP governors are rejecting Medicaid expansion—earlier this month, Michigan's Rick Snyder and Ohio's John Kasich agreed to let newly eligible groups onto their Medicaid rolls, joining GOP governors from Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and North Dakota who support the program's expansion. Pressure for other governors to concede is mounting—even Florida governor Rick Scott now appears [5] to be keeping the state's options open. Here are the players still holding out:
As long as you're a zygote, conservatives will even gun down doctors to save you. Once you're a human being, they want you to drop dead and decease the surplus population.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Minimum Wage: Popular With the Public, But Not the Donor Class

The Minimum Wage: Popular With the Public, But Not the Donor Class

One of the best proposals to come out of the State of the Union was the President's proposal to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour, phased in over three years, and tie it to the cost of living so it automatically adjusts. If anything, the proposed minimum wage is still too low. If the minimum wage had kept up with the rate of inflation, it would now be over $10. Still, Congress hasn’t raised the minimum wage in four years so $9 is an improvement over the current $7.25 and ensuring that it will adjust automatically will bring millions of workers out of poverty.

Raising the minimum wage benefits more than just low-wage workers. When people make more money, they spend more money and businesses benefit. The Economic Policy Institute estimated that raising the minimum wage to $9.80 would actually create jobs because more people could spend more money. Low-wage workers are more likely than any other income group to immediately spend any extra income on previously unaffordable basic needs or services. The increase in consumer spending increases demand, which in turn, results in new hiring.

On top of the economic benefits, raising the minimum wage has strong public support. A recent poll found that 73 percent support raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour in 2014 and indexing it to inflation—both a higher wage and a shorter time line than the President’s proposal. Another poll found that 78 percent of the general public believes the minimum wage should be high enough so that no family with a full-time worker falls below the official poverty line.

So, if it’s good for the economy and it has strong public support, why is raising the minimum wage such an uphill fight? Because wealthy and corporate interests would rather keep the wage low. In contrast to the broader public, only 40 percent of the wealthy support a minimum wage high enough to keep families out of poverty. When the minimum wage was last raised in 2007, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which strongly opposes raising the minimum wage, spent $53 million on lobbying. In short, raising the minimum wage is not a priority for wealthy and corporate interests, and as a result, it is not a priority for Congress.

We see this dynamic even more clearly when we look at the capital gains tax rate. In contrast to the minimum wage, the capital gains tax rate impacts a small, yet wealthy, percentage of the population. Over 70 percent of capital gains are estimated to go to just the top one percent of households in 2012. Yet, from 1997-2003, the capital gains tax rate was cut four times. While the maximum rate was increased to 20 percent as part of the “fiscal cliff” deal, polling shows that the majority of Americans think capital gains should be taxed at the same rate as ordinary income--39.6 percent for the top income bracket.

There is already opposition forming against raising the minimum wage, but it’s not just political ideology that will prevent it from being raised. Wealthy and corporate interests often set political and policy priorities and raising the minimum wage is not their priority-- regardless of the economic and social benefits.

Mijin Cha is a Senior Policy Analyst for the Sustainable Progress Initiative at Demos

What the corporate overlords are afraid of is that instead of getting a million dollar bonus for seating at a desk and reading e-mails all day is that they'll only get a $900k bonus. Which means they might have to cut back on the antique gold caviar dishes and drink one less bottle of imported champagne a month.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Why Does Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) Hate America and Sympathize With Terrorists

Why Does Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) Hate America and Sympathize With Terrorists
Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced on Wednesday that he will delay the committee’s vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Secretary of Defense. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a committee member, wants Hagel to hand over the texts of private speeches and to disclose the financial dealings of private companies he’s associated with. There’s one problem, however, Hagel says he doesn’t have complete records of the speeches and, as he told Cruz and the committee Republicans regarding the companies’ business dealings, “the information you seek is legally controlled by the individual entities and not mine to disclose.”

Norman Ornstein, an expert on congressional procedure at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, called Cruz’s tactics “unprecedented.” “You could say that there’s been requests for detailed information [in the past],” Ornstein told the Daily Beast, “but this goes even beyond the intrusive questionnaires candidates fill out during the vetting process.” Ornstein also specifically called out Cruz. “That a Freshman senator would ask for that level of information says more about Ted Cruz than about anything else,” he said. “I’ve never heard of anything like that before,” adding, “but you could say that Ted Cruz in the Senate is unprecedented too.”

Cruz would prefer that America not have a qualified Secretary of Defense because he would rather give America's enemies the upper hand while he pursues his wacky conspiracy theories.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Obama's Call to Raise the Minimum Wage Met by Republican Howls and Disinformation

Obama's Call to Raise the Minimum Wage Met by Republican Howls and Disinformation

During his State of the Union address, President Obama called for raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour [3], up from its current $7.25, and indexing it to inflation so that it rises as the economy grows. If the increase were to happen, it would give the minimum wage its highest purchasing power since 1981, lifting millions of families above the poverty line.

But top Republicans are already coming out against it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Why Does Fox's Conservative Propagandist Megyn Kelly Keep Giving Fox Viewers The Shaft

Why Does Fox's Conservative Propagandist Megyn Kelly Keep Giving Fox Viewers The Shaft

Fox News host Megyn Kelly used a he-said-she-said partisan frame to characterize a discussion about increases in non-defense discretionary spending before President Obama's State of the Union address. But the majority of economists agree that previous stimulus programs have successfully aided job creation.   ( note charts; the stimulus or Recovery Act increased both employment and GDP)                   

Kelly touted a Fox News poll on the popularity of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as well as future stimulus spending. According to the  poll, the public perception is that the stimulus did not work. And although Kelly noted that Democrats like President Obama and Nancy Pelosi have argued that federal stimulus spending was responsible for the creation of three million jobs, she failed to point out that this isn't just the opinion of political partisans -- it's the opinion of most economists. A 2010 Wall Street Journal poll of economists showed that 70% of economists agreed that the stimulus was good for the U.S. economy.
 Reality keeps having a liberal bias. Which in turn makes conservative zealots all the more determined to lie, and lie often. Honor is the first thing that becomes disposable on becoming a conservative.

 Esquire article wrongly claims SEAL who killed Bin Laden is denied healthcare

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Conservative Sleazebags at Fox Finds New Way To Twist Panetta's Benghazi Testimony

Conservative Sleazebags at Fox Finds New Way To Twist Panetta's Benghazi Testimony

Fox News contributor Byron York suggested that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's congressional testimony on Benghazi indicated that President Obama failed to order the military to protect Americans under attack. However, Panetta testified that Obama explicitly directed him to take military action to protect American lives.

On Fox's America's Newsroom on Friday, guest host Rick Folbaum aired clips of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) questioning Panetta during Thursday's hearing about the attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya. York described Panetta's testimony as confirming that "[a]fter having a prescheduled meeting in the afternoon on that day, Secretary Panetta spoke to [President Obama] no more." York then said, "I think what became clear with Lindsey Graham's questioning about possible military activity is that nobody in the Pentagon would have ordered military action without a specific order from the president. And the president wasn't around."

But Panetta's very testimony refutes York's accusation: Panetta made it clear that Obama ordered Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and himself to take all necessary action to protect Americans under attack.

During the hearing, when Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) asked Panetta about conversations he had had with the president during the attack, Panetta testified, "We had just picked up the information that something was happening, that there was an apparent attack going on in Benghazi. And I informed the president of that fact, and he at that point directed both myself and General Dempsey to do everything we needed to do to try to protect lives there." Panetta later reiterated, "[Obama] basically said, 'Do whatever you need to do to be able to protect our people there.' "

As the Associated Press reported, "Panetta said he and Dempsey were meeting with Obama when they first learned of the Libya assault. He said the president told them to deploy forces as quickly as possible."
Indeed, Panetta did deploy forces. The AP stated: "Between midnight and 2 a.m. on the night of the attack, Panetta issued orders, telling two Marine anti-terrorism teams based in Rota, Spain, to prepare to deploy to Libya, and he ordered a team of special operations forces in Central Europe and another team of special operations forces in the U.S. to prepare to deploy to a staging base in Europe."

While a six-member quick reaction team already in Benghazi and reinforcements from the U.S embassy in Tripoli did help defend the Benghazi consulate, the AP article went on to note that unfortunately "[d]efense officials have repeatedly said that even if the military had been able to get units there a bit faster, there was no way they could have gotten there in time to make any difference in the deaths of the four Americans."

The independent Accountability Review Board, which was set up by the State Department to investigate the Benghazi attack, determined there was "no evidence of any undue delays in decision making or denial of support from Washington or from the military combatant commanders," and continued, "Quite the contrary: the safe evacuation of all U.S. government personnel from Benghazi twelve hours after the initial attack ... was the result of exceptional U.S. government coordination and military response and helped save the lives of two severely wounded Americans."

There is reality and then there is the projections of the sick demented fantasies of plastic patriot conservatives.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Warning Sleazy Conservative Spin Ahead: The Blame Righty mob falls silent By Michelle Malkin

The text below is from a blog post by pathological liar and regular conservative pundit, on Fox News propaganda, Michelle Malkin, Warning Sleazy Conservative Spin Ahead: The Blame Righty mob falls silent By Michelle Malkin

Question: What will this rabid Blame Righty mob do now that an alleged triple-murderer has singled out prominent lefties in the media and Hollywood for fawning praise as part of his crazed manifesto advocating cop-killing?

Answer: Evade, deflect, ignore and whitewash.

This week, former Los Angeles Police Department Officer Christopher Dorner allegedly shot and killed three innocent people in cold blood. He was the subject of a massive manhunt as of Thursday afternoon. Dorner posted an 11,000-word manifesto on Facebook that outlined his chilling plans to target police officers.

CNN headlined its story on the rant: “Alleged cop-killer details threats to LAPD and why he was driven to violence.” MSNBC reported: “Manifesto: Alleged Revenge Shooter Named Targets.” KTLA-TV in Los Angeles went with: “Christopher Dorner’s Manifesto (Disturbing Content and Language).”

There was a curious, blaring omission in both the headlines and the stories from these supposedly objective outlets, though. Dorner expressed rather pointed, explicit views of news personalities and celebrities who have influenced, entertained and uplifted him.

First of all, when have real journalist ever taken the words of a murderous wacko at face value and printed them as THE TRUTH, rather than what they are in this case, mostly incoherent nonsense. Though if we are to take Dorner's words as proof of something, how come Malkin, who has a long history of sleazy news spin, did not include this,    

Oddly enough, Hannity left out Dorner’s support for Republican Chris Christie (“You’re America’s no s*** taking uncle. … Your leadership is greatly needed.”), how Dorner said that the only presidential candidate he supported in 2012 was Republican Jon Huntsman, and how George H.W. Bush was “always one of my favorite presidents.”

Malkin can save the false outrage, crooked account of news events and her notorious lies for her sycophant readers, no one with any self respect would have anything to do with her.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The National Right To Kill Children Association. Known as The NRA, Endorsement Actually A Curse For Candidates

The National Right To Kill Children Association. Known as The NRA, Endorsement Actually A Curse For Candidates

Endorsements from the National Rifle Association might be doing political candidates more harm than good, according to a new poll from Public Policy Polling.

In a national survey, 39 percent of voters said that they are less likely to vote for a politician whose candidacy has garnered NRA backing. Only 26 percent believe they’re more likely to support such a candidate.

But more importantly, the number of independent voters — those who are really up for grabs in any election — are far less likely to see the NRA nod as a good thing: 41 percent say they’re inclined not to support a candidate who’s backed by the NRA.

This information serves to bust the myth that the NRA is an all-powerful lobbying group that dictates political outcomes. While the organization may enjoy wide support among those politicians whose campaigns it bankrolls, soon there may be few of such politicians left; in 2012, only .81 percent of the group’s spending went to politicians who won. And if the NRA is having a negative influence on swing voters as well, then it really has no sway on political elections overall.

If there was really a threat to basic gun ownership rights, the NRA might make sense as an organization. The only issue on the line today are some modest gun safety regulations and bringing back the Bush Sr. assault weapons ban. Hardly a threat to some who owns five hunting rifles and five hand guns. Frankly if you need more fire power than that, gun regulation is the least of your problems.

Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement

Monday, February 4, 2013

Conservatives eat their own, Karl Rove launches initiative to keep tea party candidates out of elections

Conservatives eat their own, Karl Rove launches initiative to keep tea party candidates out of elections

The organizers of American Crossroads hope to bring electoral victory to the Republican Party by defeating unelectable tea party candidates in GOP primary races. The new super PAC, called the Conservative Victory Project, will be run by American Crossroads president Steven Law and is supported by former Bush political adviser Karl Rove.

“There is a broad concern about having blown a significant number of races because the wrong candidates were selected,” Law told the New York Times on Saturday. “We don’t view ourselves as being in the incumbent protection business, but we want to pick the most conservative candidate who can win.”

The Victory Project plans to oppose candidates like Christine O’Donnell, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. Though running in places where Republicans were favored, the tea party-backed candidates lost the general election after defeating moderate Republicans in the primary. Many tea party candidates who were victorious in 2010, such as Allen West and Joe Walsh, also ended up being defeated by Democratic challengers in 2012.

Victory Project spokesman Jonathan Collegio told CNN that Republicans lost six Senate races in the last two election cycles because they nominated “undisciplined candidates” rather than Republican veterans.

The group favors William F. Buckley’s dictum to nominate “the most conservative candidate in the primary who can win the general election,” over Ronald Reagan’s commandment, “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”

Collegio insisted the Victory Project wanted to elect conservatives.

“But we have to win general elections,” he added.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who has a history of incendiary comments about immigrants, could be one of the organization’s first targets, according to Law. The ultra-conservative Republican indicated last month that he was seriously considering running for the U.S. Senate in 2014.

Conservative groups have blasted the new initiative, and were quick to note that moderate Republicans fared no better than tea party candidates in 2012.

“The Conservative Defeat Project is yet another example of the Republican establishment’s hostility toward its conservative base,” said Matt Hoskins of the Senate Conservatives Fund said. “Rather than listening to the grassroots and working to advance their principles, the establishment has chosen to declare war on its party’s most loyal supporters. If they keep this up, the Republican Party will remain in the wilderness for decades to come.”
 The far Right conservative base has principles? Who knew. They seem to hate everyone, workers who make under $200k a year, women, gay Americans, anyone of color, secularized Christians...the list goes on and on. They love government contracts and benefits, but say they are against government.