Bernie’s Most Valuable Lesson: The Democratic Party Does Not Do Enough to Represent the Values of Progressive Americans

Sanders has laid bare for all to see the political expediency that drives the Democratic establishment.

Source: AlterNet

Author:Conor Lynch/Salon

Emphasis Mine

Over the past year, the insurgent political campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders has revealed quite a bit about the reasoning of partisan Democrats, and thus separated the progressives from the liberals. As a populist candidate who has refused support from Super PACs and big monied interests, Sanders has shined a light on the unpleasant reality that the Democratic party — and its likely presidential nominee — is almost as reliant on funding from billionaires and Wall Street as the detested Republican party is.

Now, when it comes to criticizing Republicans, progressives and establishment Democrats generally see eye to eye. The Republican party is shamelessly anti-democratic and under the thumb of special interests; there is no debate about that. However, the other major party in American politics, while less shameless, is certainly no paragon of virtue. This has become increasingly evident as the 2016 primaries have progressed — and many Democrats are furious that the Sanders campaign has exposed this truth.

In recent weeks, the Sanders campaign has been increasingly vocal about the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s many troubling positions and her ties to Wall Street and other industries. Sanders has criticized Clinton’s high-prices speeches for Goldman Sachs (for which she has flatly refused to release the transcripts), the $15 million raised from Wall Street by one of her Super PACs, and the fact that top donors throughout her career have been individuals working at banks like Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase.

Clinton and her supporters have defended these connections with a simple retort: You can’t prove quid pro quo. International Business Times reporter David Sirota recently mocked this argument on Twitter: “Logic I learned from Clinton: nobody should worry [about] oil cash going to the climate-denying GOP, unless theres proof of a clear quid pro quo.”

If the quid pro quo defense sounds familiar, it’s because it is the exact same reasoning that right-wing Supreme Court justices make when striking down campaign finance laws, as in the 2014 case, McCutcheon v. FEC, which eliminated limits on how much an individual can donate to national parties over a two year period. Justice John Roberts wrote in the decision:

“Any regulation must instead target what we have called ‘quid pro quo’ corruption or its appearance. That Latin phrase captures the notion of a direct exchange of an official act for money.”

Of course, when it comes to climate change-denying Republicans, Clinton and her supporters realize that the influence of big money corrupts and is a threat to democracy. In fact, Clinton makes the point herself:

We have to end the flood of secret, unaccountable money that is distorting our elections, corrupting our political system, and drowning out the voices of too many everyday Americans. Our democracy should be about expanding the franchise, not charging an entrance fee.”

As with money in politics, Democrats rightly condemn Republicans for voter disenfranchisement. But at Tuesday’s primaries in New York — one of the bluest states in America — franchise was not expanded, but narrowed, and many partisan Democrats quickly dismissed concerns about possible voter suppression as bitterness from Sanders supporters after Clinton won a decisive victory. Almost 30 percent of New York’s registered voters, including Erica Garner, a Sanders surrogate and the daughter of Eric Garner, could not participate in the primaries because they were not registered with either of the two major parties, and missed the deadline to switch six months earlier (the longest such deadline in the country).

Conor Lynch is a writer and journalist living in New York City. His work has appeared on Salon, The Hill, AlterNet, and openDemocracy. Follow him on Twitter.

 

 

 

See:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/bernies-most-valuable-lesson-democratic-party-does-not-represent-values-progressive?akid=14191.123424.T6930e&rd=1&src=newsletter1055175&t=6

Welcome to the GOP’s Age of Rage: Shocking New Study Shows How Anger Is Fueling the Republican Party

Source: AlterNet

Author: Heather Digby Parton/Salon

Emphasis Mine

According to the latest Pew poll, Republicans are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. They are, as usual, deeply confused about what government does and what they want it to do, but whatever it is, they’re very angry about it. Thirty-two percent of GOP voters say they are mad at the government, while only 12 percent of Democrats say the same. According to Pew, among the truly engaged (like those, say, who go to a political rally a year before an election), 42 percent of Republicans are angry compared to 11 percent of Democrats.

Both sides say you cannot trust the government, but Democrats’ views don’t change depending on who is in the White House while Republicans are far more trusting of government when one of their own is president:

In Barack Obama’s six years as president, 13% of Republicans, on average, have said they can trust the government always or most of the time – the lowest level of average trust among either party during any administration dating back 40 years. During George W. Bush’s presidency, an average of 47% of Republicans said they could trust the government. By contrast, the share of Democrats saying they can trust the government has been virtually unchanged over the two administrations (28% Bush, 29% Obama).

It doesn’t appear, then, that despite their constant bleating about the predations of big government, this mistrust is truly a matter of principle with Republicans. Republican voters simply believe that government is the enemy unless Republicans are in charge of every bit of it. This famous quote by Grover Norquist in the wake of the 2004 GOP victory perfectly expresses how they believe government is supposed to work:

“Once the [Democratic] minority of House and Senate are comfortable in their minority status, they will have no problem socializing with the Republicans. Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant, but when they’ve been fixed, then they are happy and sedate. They are contented and cheerful. They don’t go aroundpeeing on the furniture and such.”

And while one might think that having majorities of governors and state legislatures, running both houses of Congress and a majority on the Supreme Court would make them hate the government less, without having control of every branch, they are convinced that they are an aggrieved minority who are losing at every turn: “large majorities of both conservative Republicans (81 percent) and moderate and liberal Republicans (75 percent) say their political side loses more often than it wins.” And heaven forbid they might compromise to get some of what they want. If they can’t have it all, it’s not worth anything.

None of this is really news to anyone who’s been watching the presidential race unfold this year. The Trump phenomenon alone is enough to convince observers that while a large chunk of the Republican base is ticked off at just about everything — especially immigrants, Muslims and President Obama. But what really makes them see red, and what Trump (and to some extent Carson) articulates the best, is the visceral loathing for what they call “political correctness.” (That’s what what people used to call “good manners” or “basic human decency.”) The social disapprobation against being rude and demeaning completely enrages them.

Some conservatives openly defy any restriction on their God-given right to be puerile jerks:

(Helen Keller jokes were considered gross and out of bounds even when I was a kid and that was long before the term “political correctness” existed.)

Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham come to mind as similarly infantile and crude. But mostly they are screaming mad. They are the leaders of the angry right who have been stoking the discontent of their audiences for many years, creating the subculture of right wing rage that is finding its political expression in the candidacy of Donald Trump.

No less than the Wall Street Journal made note of their influence and how they’ve managed to turn it against the very establishment that helped create them:

Consider the folks who regularly tune in to conservative talk radio. These listeners expect a steady diet of Obama-bashing, so it’s hardly surprising that not one surveyed for a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in late October approved of the job Barack Obama is doing as president.

That anger translates to how these Americans view the country as a whole. Some 98% think the country is headed in the wrong direction, a view regularly reinforced on the airwaves by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and other talk-radio hosts who don’t have much nice to say about GOP leaders in Washington, either.

A decade ago, Republicans touted conservative talk radio as a foolproof medium to communicate directly with their most ardent supporters. Democrats and liberal groups tried to replicate that success by building their own left-leaning television and radio stations, with far less success.

Now, the tables have turned. Republican leaders in Washington are under siege from their own activists, in part, because conservative radio hosts are almost as likely to rail against the party brass in Congress as they are to lament Mr. Obama’s failings in the Oval Office.

This is a switch from the days when Rush would have the whole Bush family on his show in 2008 so they could kiss each other’s rings:

RUSH: What are…? (interruption) Interrupting for what?

THE PRESIDENT: Hello!

RUSH: Oh, jeez. The president?

THE PRESIDENT: Rush Limbaugh?

RUSH: Yes, sir, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: President George W. Bush calling to congratulate you on 20 years of important and excellent broadcasting.

RUSH: Well, thank you, sir. You’ve stunned me! (laughing) I’m shocked. But thank you so much.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s hard to do.

RUSH: (laughing) I know, it is.

RUSH: Well, thank you, sir. You’ve stunned me! (laughing) I’m shocked. But thank you so much.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s hard to do.

RUSH: (laughing) I know, it is.

THE PRESIDENT: I’m here with a room full of admirers. There are two others that would like to speak to you and congratulate you, people who consider you friends and really appreciate the contribution you’ve made.

RUSH: Thank you, sir, very much. Put ’em on.

THE PRESIDENT: How you doing? This is my swan song? If this is all you got for me, I’m moving on.

RUSH: (laughing) No! The show’s yours; take as much time as you want.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m just calling along with President 41 and the former governor of Florida. We’re fixing to have lunch here, and I said, “Listen, we ought to call our pal and let him know that we care,” for you. So this is as much as anything, a nice verbal letter to a guy we really care for.

RUSH: Well, thank you, sir, very much. I’m overwhelmed. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this and how much you’ve surprised me.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, that was the purpose of the phone call.

RUSH: You succeeded.

THE PRESIDENT: Good. There was trouble in paradise even then, however, although the Bush family may not have been aware of it. You may recall that President Bush had tried to pass immigration reform and was thwarted by one of the earliest exercises of right wing muscle in Congress. Former Senate majority leader Trent Lott left no uncertainty as to who and what was to blame:

Comments by Republican senators on Thursday suggested that they were feeling the heat from conservative critics of the bill, who object to provisions offering legal status. The Republican whip, Trent Lott of Mississippi, who supports the bill, said: “Talk radio is running America. We have to deal with that problem.”

There’s nothing they can do about it. That “problem” continued on unmolested and ended up empowering the Tea Party right to create an obstructionist bloc in the House, destroyed the political career of the House Majority Leader last year and is now fueling the angry crowds who are showing up to cheer on Donald Trump as he eschews all human decency to “tell it like it is” in exactly the terms these talk radio folks are used to hearing it. And today, as then, racism and xenophobia are their main motivators.

Like Limbaugh, Levin, Savage and Ingraham, Trump channels their anger and feeds it back to them. The Pew Poll reported:

Donald Trump is viewed more favorably by the nearly one-third of Republicans and leaners who are angry at government (64% favorable) than by those who are frustrated or content with government (48%). Other GOP presidential candidates (Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson) also get higher favorable ratings among Republicans who are angry at government than among non-angry Republicans, in part because they are better known among the “angry” group.

And if you want to know why establishment Republicans are so unwilling to challenge talk radio’s toxic spew and the political virus that grows from it, the Journal explains:

Republican presidential contenders would be unwise to write off this bloc; roughly a third of Republican primary voters strongly identify with conservative talk radio, about 10 percentage points higher than the share of GOP primaryvoters who consider themselves moderate or liberal, according to the survey conducted by the Democrats at Hart Research Associates and the Republicans at Public Opinion Research.

There are way more of these talk radio acolytes than there are any other kind of Republican. They run things now. And they are livid — at least until the Republicans manage to control all of government and enact their agenda precisely as talk radio tells them it must be enacted. Then they might calm down. But I wouldn’t count on it. Rage is their life blood now. They can’t live without it.

Heather Digby Parton, also known as “Digby,” is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

 

 

See: http://www.alternet.org/welcome-gops-age-rage-shocking-new-study-shows-how-anger-fueling-republican-party?akid=13706.123424.EYfW1-&rd=1&src=newsletter1046254&t=12

Republicans Reeling After ObamaCare Enrollment Surges To 17.6 Million

Source:Politics USA

Author: Jason Easley

Emphasis Mine

President Obama’s signature health care law is surging past 2015 expectations as 17.6 million Americans have signed up under Obamacare.

HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced the new numbersduring a speech at Howard University today:

According to a study we are releasing today, as the ACA’s coverage provisions took effect, an estimated 17.6 million Americans have gained coverage. And this progress has been even bigger for people of color: The uninsured rate among African-American adults has declined by more than 10 percentage points, compared to about 7.7 for the total population.”

….

The ACA is about more than the Marketplace. People are beginning to understand that the ACA is improving their care no matter where they buy their insurance. With new protections and required benefits, like preventive services at no extra cost, it’s improved the quality of coverage for all Americans. 

The promises made by Republican presidential candidates to repeal and replace Obamacare are looking like a political suicide mission as ACA enrollment continues to grow. By Election Day 2016, it is possible that the Republican nominee will be running on a platform of taking health care away from 20 million Americans.

President Obama’s health care law has not only been a political victory, but the President has changed health care delivery in a historic way. Thanks to the election of Barack Obama to the White House tens of millions of people have access to healthcare that they didn’t have before.

Hundreds of millions of Americans are benefiting from the protections offered to consumers under the ACA. Obamacare has been a raging success, and Republicans are reeling as they to figure how to reconcile their repeal and replace rhetoric with the real life outcome of taking access to health care away from 17.6 million people.

Republicans have been captured in their own Obamacare trap, and the biggest winners aren’t Democrats, but the 17.6 million people who now have access to affordable health care.

See: http://www.politicususa.com/2015/09/22/republicans-reeling-obamacare-signups-surge-17-6-million.html

Republicans’ Deep Hatred for Teachers Cannot Be Denied

John Kasich wants to take lounges away from teachers. He is just the latest Republican to make an enemy of America’s educators.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Steven W. Thrasher

Emphasis Mine

It’s August, the heat is miserable, kids are going back to school and that means one thing for America’s conservatives: it’s the perfect time to take a cheap shot at the nation’s teachers.

John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio – who is generally considered less extreme than Texas Senator Ted Cruz, less dynastic than former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and less crazy than professional troll Donald Trump – recently said: “If I were, not president, if I were king in America, I would abolish all teachers’ lounges where they sit together and worry about ‘woe is us’.” 

Kasich addressed a New Hampshire “education summit” sponsored by the 74 Million, an education “news site” which Huffington Post points out is run by failed CNN host Campbell Brown “despite having little to no training in education, and never having taught students herself.” Many other Republican presidential hopefuls, including Governors Bush, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Chris Christie of New Jersey, addressed the gathering.

Republicans love to hate teachers and imply that all the ills of US society are the result of their laziness. If only schools could be turned over to market forces and not held back by greedy teacher unions, conservative logic goes, everything would be fine – even though charter schools perform no better than traditional schools. Trying to bust unions in general (and those of teachers in particular) turns conservatives on as much as trying to deny climate changedefend the NRAdefund Planned Parenthood or battle for a check from the Koch brothers. 

But trying to deny teachers a place to rest for a few minutes between classes, as Kasich is fantasizing about, is ludicrous. What’s wrong with having a place to eat a snack between classes or talk to other teachers about lesson plans and their common students without 30 children within ear shot?

According to Politico’s analysis of Kasich’s 45 minute conversation with Brown, the Republican hopeful wants to remove teachers’ lounges to keep educators from complaining to one another and, presumably, to keep them from colluding in greed to protect their benefits and working conditions. Imagine the possibilities. Without a place to meet, teachers – who already work alone in most classrooms – could be even more isolated. Sure, they’d be unable to exchange teaching techniques or ideas for improvement, but they’d also be working with more alienation.

Politico notes that Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (which has already endorsed Hillary Clinton), asked Kasich on Twitter: “after u get rid of places teachers eat lunch, what’s next -getting rid of teachers’ chairs so they stand all day?”

But this has already happened long ago at least at one non-unionized charter school I know. Years ago, I reported about the Imagine Me Leadership Charter School in Brooklyn – a publicly funded, privately managed school housed in a church complex in Brooklyn – where teachers were not allowed to have desks in their rooms. 

As the principal told me in 2011: “We believe teachers need to be on their feet, working with the kids.” Every minute of every day. So forget the lounges: sitting has become stigmatized for teachers, even at a desk. The idea that a teacher might need to sit – say, to grade a paper, write down attendance or give their feet a moment’s rest during a long day – was recast as a potential cause for poor student performance.

Republicans have always hated teachers’ unions for obvious reasons. They reliably support the Democratic party, even though Democratsroutinely go to war against teachers as well, particularly alumni from the Obama administration. Teachers’ unions are made up of groups Republicans always love to bash: government workers with lady parts. Often, when school closure fights happen between unions and austerity politicians, it is black teachers who are the most likely to lose their jobs. 

So teacher unions and Republicans are natural enemies. Indeed, all year Republican presidential hopefuls have gleefully slashed education budgets, with Walker eroding tenure and some $250m from public colleges in Wisconsin and Jindal cutting $300m from Louisiana’s state college system.

Cutting teachers’ lounges would have the “benefit” of saving a little money – another classroom could go in that wasteful space, Kasich might argue. But more importantly, it could deplete camaraderie and morale for instructors at the same time. That’s what Republicans would call a win-win.

Still, the rhetoric about their hatred of teachers is getting more violent, heated and punitive. Christie, who has been yelling at teachers for a while, recently said teachers unions deserved a “political punch in the face” for being the “single most destructive force” in education. 

The real “most destructive force” in American education right now is not teachers. It is the fact that many of the top contenders for the country’s highest office, running in one of the nation’s two major political parties, are against science, against immigrants, against women – and against supporting the workforce which teaches our children.

 

See: http://www.alternet.org/education/republicans-deep-hatred-teachers-cannot-be-denied?akid=13419.123424.Pu3EoP&rd=1&src=newsletter1041491&t=14

Benghazi Interview: Pickering Dissects Congressional Follies, Media Coverage, And ‘Cover-Up’ Charges

Source: National Memo

Author: Joe Conason

No doubt the degraded quality of congressional oversight astonishes Thomas Pickering, the distinguished American diplomat who oversaw the State Department’s Benghazi review board — although he tries not to say so too directly. For his demanding and difficult effort  – only the most recent in a long history of public service under both Republican and Democratic administrations — Pickering has found himself under sustained attack by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the excitable partisan who chairs the House Government Reform Committee.

Last Friday, Issa subpoenaed Pickering to deliver a taped deposition to the committee behind closed doors, without offering a public chance to answer the charges already lodged by Republicans against the Accountability Review Board report authored by Pickering and retired admiral Mike Mullen.

Immediately prior to this latest skirmish, Pickering spoke with The National Memo about the ARB report, political maneuvering by the administration’s adversaries, and media coverage of the Benghazi “scandal.”  Asked whether he had ever experienced or seen anything resembling Issa’s conduct, Pickering said, “No, I haven’t.…I suspect that on this particular issue, this guy [Issa] is driven by whatever will maximize his capability to be tough on the administration. This seems to be one effort he’s kind of landed on to make that happen. But I’m only guessing here,” he added.

Meanwhile, Pickering hasn’t noticed much attention being given on Capitol Hill to the extensive recommendations that he and Mullen made to improve security in dangerous posts around the world. “I can’t tell you whether anyone [in Congress] has sat down and examined them and wanted to have hearings on [the recommendations]” – instead of the notorious “talking points” developed by the White House last September. “So far I haven’t seen any evidence of that.”

For Pickering, the subpoena issued by Issa must be especially confusing. Ever since the Government Reform committee announced its planned hearings on Benghazi last winter, its leadership has repeatedly failed to establish a time when the review board chairman  — perhaps the most important witness – could testify. Although at first Pickering says he thought they were “genuinely interested” in getting his testimony, he became “increasingly less inclined” to appear before the committee “as the thing became more politicized.”

Before the May 8 hearing, he made a final effort to arrange to testify publicly. But via the White House and the State Department, he learned that his presence was not desired. Before Issa issued his subpoena to Pickering on Friday, he and Mullen had sent a letter requesting an opportunity to testify publicly – and said that they are “not inclined to give testimony in a closed hearing before that [happens].”

Having listened to Issa and others take potshots at him, Mullen, and their report for several weeks, Pickering wants to rebut some of the misinformation they have propagated, for the record.  He wants to address claims that the military “could have relieved or in fact changed the situation by sending men or equipment or both the night of the event” – and specifically assertions by Gregory Hicks, the former Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya, that four Special Forces soldiers should have been dispatched to Benghazi from Tripoli. Pickering says those four officers would have arrived in Benghazi too late to help and were needed in Tripoli anyway to treat the wounded, who were brought there after the Benghazi attack.

“The third question that has come up,” said Pickering, “is why we didn’t investigate the Secretary of State” and her deputies. The “simple and straightforward answer” is that “they played no role in the decision making which was relevant to the preparations for meeting the security crisis in Benghazi,” and the role they did play on the night of September 11 “was fairly clearly portrayed to us by other people who attended the meetings, and we had no questions about it. We thought that what they did made sense and fit exactly what should have been done.”

What Pickering may mention, if and when he does testify in public, is the role of Congress, which he considers primarily responsible for underfunding the protection of diplomatic posts abroad. Fortunately, legislative idiocy has not prevented the redirection of almost $1.5 billion in funds to improve security in dozens of posts, both physically and with additional security officers and Marine guards.

Aside from the weak oversight of Congress, Pickering also seems critical of the media coverage of Benghazi.  In preparing to chair the Accountability Review Board, Pickering said, he “asked for, received, and read all of the press reporting that the State Department could find and put together for me, covering the events in Benghazi and the aftermath, from the initial attack right through to the day we submitted our report.”

He undertook this required reading because “I thought there would be useful ideas, leads, analyses that had to be taken into account.  What I found in general was a very significant amount of wild, and I think fictionalized, made-up kind of information…

And in effect much of this alleged a kind of betrayal of those people, in one way or another, all of which I thought bordered on Pulitzer Prize creative fiction but didn’t bear any relationship to what we were able to determine, both from the documentary evidence, from the extensive film footage that we had an opportunity to review carefully, and of course the interviews we had with people who were on the spot.” Indeed, Pickering believes that the ARB report is “the best compilation I’ve seen of what actually took place.”

Pickering won’t comment on the “talking points” controversy, which wasn’t relevant to the ARB investigation. But he resents broader allegations by the Republicans and their allies in the media — in particular “the allegation that I would be engaged in a cover-up…I hope people feel that I’m a more honest and hopefully more dedicated public servant than that. “

“Our interest was to do everything we could to find out what happened,” Pickering said, “and then on the basis of that [investigation] to make as clear recommendations as we could to help the State Department and other agencies so that it wouldn’t happen again. That was our motive, that was the driver, and that’s where we went. Any effort to cover up would have been a betrayal… We did everything we could in terms of the national interest in saving future lives.”  He believes it is vital to defend the credibility of the report and prevent it from being undermined. “That’s why I’m interested in talking to the American public now, because I think the report is a good report. And so far I haven’t heard anything that I believe we didn’t consider carefully.”

As for his critics, “I would hope they would read the report. If they have, maybe they need to read it again.” He laughed. “Both Mike Mullen and I believe that it’s important that we have this opportunity, either through Chairman Issa or some other committee, to deal with the people who have concerns about the report and tell them how we were thinking and why we reached the conclusions we did.”

Audio of the interview can be heard here.

Emphasis mine

see:http://www.nationalmemo.com/benghazi-interview-pickering-dissects-congressional-follies-media-coverage-and-cover-up-charges/

 

What’s actually in Simpson-Bowles

From: the Washington Post, via NewsObserver

By: Erza Kline

“An important fact to keep in mind in the coming days: The “Bowles plan” that House Speaker John Boehner endorsed is not the same as “the Simpson-Bowles plan.” Indeed, it’s not even the plan supported by its apparent namesake, Erskine Bowles, who insists that he was simply sketching out the evident middle ground between the members of the “supercommittee.”

The Simpson-Bowles plan– which Erskine Bowles, the former University of North Carolina president, does actually support – occupies strange territory in Washington: Almost every politician professes to admire it, almost none of them is willing to vote for it and almost none of its supporters know what’s in it. So here, with an assist from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, are a few facts to keep in mind about the Simpson-Bowles plan. And while you’re reading this list, remember: Simpson-Bowles is a centrist proposal.

1. Simpson-Bowles ends the George W. Bush tax cuts for income over $250,000. And note that it does that before it reforms the tax code. The expiration of the tax cuts is built into its baseline. That way, its reform of the tax code starts from a revenue level that includes the revenue from those upper-income tax cuts.

2. There are a lot of tax increases in Simpson-Bowles: $2.6 trillion over 10 years, to be exact. That’s more than President Barack Obama ever proposed. It’s way more than the Republicans have ever proposed. It’s $1.8 trillion more than in the “Bowles plan” that Boehner is proposing. Think about that: To follow the Simpson-Bowles recommendation on taxes, you’d have to take the $800 billion Boehner is proposing and then raise taxes by more than the $1.6 trillion Obama is asking for.

3. There are so many tax increases that the plan’s ratio of spending cuts to tax hikes is nearly 1-to-1. According to CBPP calculations, Simpson-Bowles includes $2.9 trillion in spending cuts and $2.6 trillion in tax increases. That’s 1.1-to-1. If you add the $800 billion in projected interest savings to the spending side, then it’s 1.4-to-1.

4. Simpson-Bowles taxes capital gains and dividends as normal income. The key difference between Simpson-Bowles tax reform and the reform plans we heard about through the election is that Simpson-Bowles eliminates the preferential rate on capital gains and dividend income. That amounts to a huge tax increase on the rich, and it’s how Simpson-Bowles manages to lower rates while raising revenue and retaining progressivity.

5. Charities, homes, health care and states. Simpson-Bowles turns the deductions for charitable contribution and mortgage interest into non-refundable tax 12 percent credits. It caps the tax exclusion for employer-provided health care and then phases it out entirely by 2038. It eliminates the exemption for state and local bonds.

6. Simpson-Bowles raises the gas tax by 15 cents. Just saying.

7. Congress has already passed 70 percent of the discretionary cuts. Under the Budget Control Act, discretionary spending will be $1.5 trillion lower from 2013 to 2022 than was projected in the Congressional Budget Office’s 2010 baseliner. That means that 70 percent of Simpson-Bowles’s cuts to discretionary spending are done.

8. Simpson-Bowles cuts national security spending by $1.4 trillion, not including drawing down the wars. That’s far deeper than what’s in the law now, far deeper than anything the White House or the Republicans have proposed, and deeper, I believe, than the sequester cuts that so many think would devastate the military.

9. The Social Security changes. Simpson-Bowles makes three main changes to Social Security. It increases the taxable maximum on income to 90 percent of all income, which raises $238 billion over the next decade. It uses a different measure of inflation to slow cost-of-living adjustments. It raises the retirement age to 68 in 2050 and 69 in 2075.

10. Paul Ryan voted against Simpson-Bowles. And so, for the record, did Dave Camp and Jeb Hensarling, the other two House Republicans on the commission. Of the House Democrats, John Spratt voted for the proposal, and Xavier Becerra and Jan Schakowsky voted against. Among the senators, it was just the reverse: All three Republicans (Tom Coburn, Judd Gregg and Mike Crapo) voted for it, as did two of the three Democrats (Dick Durbin and Kent Conrad). Max Baucus voted against it.

11. Simpson-Bowles went down in the House, 382 to 38. In March, Reps. Jim Cooper and Steve LaTourette brought a modified version of Simpson-Bowles to the floor. This incarnation of the proposal was actually quite a bit to the right of the original, including smaller tax increases and defense cuts. It failed, and failed big.

These 11 facts should shed light on a couple of Washington’s enduring mysteries.

First, it should be fairly clear why the White House figured Simpson-Bowles was a nonstarter. The Obama people thought that if they endorsed it, Republicans would oppose it en masse, and hang every unpopular tax increase and spending cut around the White House’s neck. In retrospect, I think the White House miscalculated here, but it’s easy to see why it made the decision it did. The proposal that the White House ultimately released included far fewer tax increases and security spending cuts than Simpson-Bowles.

Second, as popular as Simpson-Bowles is among the CEO community and on Wall Street, most of those folks don’t know what’s in it. Wall Street, for instance, doesn’t tend to be hugely supportive of taxing capital gains as normal income.

Third, Republicans may want to associate themselves with Erskine Bowles, and they may want to attack Obama for not doing enough to support Simpson-Bowles, but they want nothing to do with Simpson-Bowles itself. After all, Boehner could have endorsed the Simpson-Bowles plan rather than the “Bowles plan,” and that would have won him huge plaudits in the media, and many more friends in the CEO and Wall Street communities, at least at first. But he didn’t, and, from his perspective, for good reason.”

The Washington Post

Ezra Klein is a columnist at The Washington Post.

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/12/08/2531318/whats-actually-in-simpson-bowles.html

 

5 Fraudulent Election Claims by Religious Right Leaders Exposed

Like other conservatives, many religious-right activists predicted [3] a big victory for Romney and Republicans in the U.S. Senate, based on five myths they hold about the electorate:

Source: Alternet

By:Brian Tashman

“The religious right took a drubbing at the polls yesterday as voters rejected not only Mitt Romney but also some of the most extreme Republican candidates, even those in races that should have been easy Republican victories. Like other conservatives, many religious-right activists predicted [3] a big victory for Romney and Republicans in the U.S. Senate, based on five myths they hold about the electorate:

Myth #1: Americans want a ‘True Conservative’

The Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody called [4] the results a “nightmare for the GOP” and a “colossal disaster.” Of course, right-wing activists will be quick to declare that Mitt Romney, like John McCain, wasn’t conservative enough [5] for voters, and that the self-described “severely conservative” Romney couldn’t effectively articulate or sell conservative principles. Their solution is that the next nominee must be a pure right-wing ideologue who emphasizes social issues, like Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum. Of course, if voters were seeking to support ultraconservative politicians, then Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock wouldn’t have lost their Senate races in the red states of Missouri and Indiana, Tea Party hero Allen West wouldn’t have lost re-election and Michele Bachmann wouldn’t have merely eked out a tiny win in her heavily Republican district.

Myth #2: Blacks will Defect from Obama over Gay Rights

Black conservative activists such as Harry Jackson, E.W. Jackson, William Owens, Patrick Wooden and Star Parker continue to tell the largely white religious right leadership that African Americans are defecting en masse [6] from the purportedly demonic [7], Baal worshiping [8], anti-Christian [9] and anti-God [10] Democratic Party and will turn against Obama over the issue of marriage equality [11]. Pat Robertson even said that Democratic support for marriage equality is a “death wish [12]” and Mike Huckabee said the move “may end up sinking the ship [13].” According to exit polls [14], however, Obama won African Americans 93-6 percent. African Americans also turned out in strong numbers and didn’t stay home, with the same high turnout rate (13 percent of all voters) as 2008 [15]. In addition, marriage equality had victories in the four states it was on the ballot.

Myth #3: Hispanics are ‘Natural Allies’ of the Religious Right

Conservatives claimed that Hispanic voters, especially those who identify as evangelical and Pentecostal, are ripe for supporting Republicans. Samuel Rodriguez [16] of the conservative National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and [17] others [18] continue to argue that Hispanics are strongly opposed to abortion rights (not true [19]) and gay rights (also not true [20]), and therefore “natural allies” of the religious right. Romney actually fared worse (27 percent) than McCain (31 percent) among Hispanics.

Myth #4: Catholics Abandoning Obama for ‘Declaring War’ on the Church

Heavy [21] politicking [22] from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and growing [23] outreach [24] to Catholics by traditionally evangelical religious right groups didn’t stop Obama from once again carrying the Catholic vote. Republicans consistently claimed that Obama declaredwar on religion [25]” and specifically “attacking the Catholic Church [26],” and hoped Paul Ryan’s use of Catholicism to justify his draconian budget plan would bring Catholics into the GOP fold. Obama led 50-48 percent in exit polls, down slightly from his 54 percent total in 2008.

Myth #5: Evangelical Wave Waiting in the Wings

New groups such as the Faith and Freedom Coalition [27] and United in Purpose/Champion the Vote [28] boasted of grand plans to turn out a wave of evangelical Christians upset about health care reform and marriage equality. But according to exits, Protestant (not all of whom identify as evangelical) turnout remained about the same this year (53 percent) as the last president election (54 percent). Christianity Today notes [29] that in swing states, self-described evangelical turnout was approximately identical or merely slightly larger as it was in 2008, and Romney’s support among evangelicals compared to McCain’s decreased in states like Ohio and Nevada.”

emphasis mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/print/news-amp-politics/5-fraudulent-election-claims-religious-right-leaders-exposed