Don’t Fall for the GOP Lie

Don’t fall for the GOP lie: There is no budget crisis. There’s a job and growth crisis.

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog

Don’t fall for the GOP lie: There is no budget crisis. There’s a job and growth crisis.

“A friend who’s been watching the absurd machinations in Congress asked me “what happens if we don’t solve the budget crisis and we run out of money to pay the nation’s bills?”

It was only then I realized how effective Republicans lies have been. That we’re calling it a “budget crisis” and worrying that if we don’t “solve” it we can’t pay our nation’s bills is testament to how successful Republicans have been distorting the truth.

The federal budget deficit has no economic relationship to the debt limit. Republicans have linked the two, and the Administration has played along, but they are entirely separate. Republicans are using what would otherwise be a routine, legally technical vote to raise the debt limit as a means of holding the nation hostage to their own political goal of shrinking the size of the federal government.

In economic terms, we will not “run out of money” next week. We’re still the richest nation in the world, and the Federal Reserve has unlimited capacity to print money.

Nor is there any economic imperative to reach an agreement on how to fix the budget deficit by Tuesday. It’s not even clear the federal budget needs that much fixing anyway.

Yes, the ratio of the national debt to the total economy is high relative to what it’s been. But it’s not nearly as high as it was after World War II – when it reached 120 percent of the economy’s total output.

If and when the economy begins to grow faster – if more Americans get jobs, and we move toward a full recovery – the debt/GDP ratio will fall, as it did in the 1950s, and as it does in every solid recovery. Revenues will pour into the Treasury, and much of the current “budget crisis” will be evaporate.

Get it? We’re really in a “jobs and growth” crisis – not a budget crisis.

And the best way to get jobs and growth back is for the federal government to spend more right now, not less – for example, by exempting the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes this year and next, recreating a WPA and Civilian Conservation Corps, creating an infrastructure bank, providing tax incentives for small businesses to hire, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, and so on.

But what happens next week if Congress can’t or won’t deliver the President a bill to raise the debt ceiling? Remember: This is all politics, mixed in with legal technicalities. Economics has nothing to do with it.

One possibility, therefore, is for the Treasury to keep paying the nation’s bills regardless. It would continue to issue Treasury bills, which are our nation’s IOUs. When those IOUs are cashed at the Federal Reserve Board, the Fed would do what it has always done: Honor them.

How long could this go on without the debt ceiling being lifted? That’s a legal question. Republicans in Congress could mount a legal challenge, but no court in its right mind would stop the Fed from honoring the full faith and credit of the United States.

The wild card is what the three big credit-rating agencies will do. As long as the Fed keeps honoring the nation’s IOUs, America’s credit should be deemed sound. We’re not Greece or Portugal, after all. We’ll still be the richest nation in the world, whose currency is the basis for most business transactions in the world.

Standard & Poor’s has warned it will downgrade the nation’s debt from a triple-A to a double-A rating if we don’t tend to the long-term deficit. But, as I’ve noted, S&P has no business meddling in American politics – especially since its own non-feasance was partly responsible for the current size of the federal debt (had it done its job the debt and housing bubbles wouldn’t have precipitated the terrible recession, and the federal outlays it required).

As long as we pay our debts on time, our global creditors should be satisfied. And if they’re satisfied, S&P, Moody’s, and Fitch should be, too.

Repeat after me: The federal deficit is not the nation’s biggest problem. The anemic recovery, huge unemployment, falling wages, and declining home prices are bigger problems. We don’t have a budget crisis. We have a jobs and growth crisis.

The GOP has manufactured a budget crisis out of the Republicans’ extortionate demands over raising the debt limit. They have succeeded in hoodwinking the public, including my friend.”

Robert Reich is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written thirteen books, including “The Work of Nations,” “Locked in the Cabinet,” “Supercapitalism” and his latest book, “AFTERSHOCK: The Next Economy and America’s Future.” His ‘Marketplace’ commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

Emphasis mine


The 6 Biggest Lies About the U.S. Debt

As Congress nears a vote on the various debt ceiling deals, let’s look at the lies and misinformation that got us into this mess.

From Alternet, by Arun Gupta

“There is one simple truth about the discussion of the looming U.S. debt crisis: it is largely a compendium of half-truths, distortions, myths and outright lies.”

“For example, is it true that the U.S. debt is unsustainable, which is spurring the budget-cutting fever? Far from it. While U.S. debt is at one of its highest levels ever in terms of gross domestic product, the interest payments in 2011 on the  $14.3 trillion public debt will be a mere $386 billion. This is barely more than the $364 billion paid way back in 1998. In real terms, the U.S. economy has grown nearly 30 percent since then. Rock-bottom interest rates on U.S. government debt account for the low payments today, but the practical effect is that servicing the debt as a percentage of GDP is the lowest it’s been in decades.

Or what about hysterical headlines like “U.S. Debt Default Looms” (courtesy of NPR) unless Democrats and Republicans agree to raise the debt ceiling? They are completely untrue. Richard Wolff, professor of economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, says, if there is no agreement by Aug. 2 to allow the U.S. Treasury to borrow more funds, then “the government instead would choose among cutbacks on various expenditures such as state and local aid, medical aid, for war, for infrastructure. It would extraordinarily unusual for a government in such a situation to attack its creditors.”

If no deal on the debt ceiling is reached this sucks for the rest of us, such as the millions depending on their portion of the $23 billion in Social Security payments scheduled for Aug. 3. A short delay would do no serious harm, but a longer delay, perhaps just a week or two, would be devastating.

For one, removing income support payments would have a major ripple effect in our consumer-based economy. Spending would drop precipitously on items like food, medicine, transportation, clothing and household goods. Peter Bratsis, a professor of Political Theory at the University of Salaford in England and a Greek-American, says his home country is a cautionary tale. Speaking from Greece, Bratsis said since the debt crisis hit last summer many people’s income have dropped up to 25 percent as wages, pensions and social welfare have been sacrificed to please the banks. As a result “Greece is in an economic depression. In Athens, on every block, you have shuttered bakeries, cafes, shoe stores, plumbers and other small businesses that are closed because either people don’t have the money to spend or are afraid to spend.”

Second, says Wolff, “The U.S. Government is one of the largest buyers, if not the largest purchaser of commodities in the world of oil, of computers, of weapons. In an already shaky global economy, the biggest buyer of goods would be making cutbacks. This would be stupefyingly dumb.” He adds that by playing chicken with the national debt, Washington has already irreparably wounded the economy. “The world depends on the U.S. economy running smoothly. A default would lead governments and companies to rethink their relation to the United States, and this has already happened.”

The point is while the dangers are rife in a delay in raising the debt ceiling the doomsday scenario of a government default on debt is not going to occur. The creditors will be kept happy and there will be no default because that is how government works in a capitalist economy. And even if the impasse dragged on, the Fed could dip into its $550 billion in reserves, including more than $400 billion in gold at current prices, to keep making debt payments.

One blatant lie is that Republicans and Democrats, the Congress and the White House are serious about reining in budget deficits to reduce the long-term debt. They are not. The Congressional Budget Office calculates that the deficit from 2011 to 2013 will be $3.5 trillion. Over the decade it will be $8.5 trillion. Now, lots of numbers are being thrown about on spending cuts over a 10-year period, but they keep dropping – the Senate Democrats are proposing $2.2 trillion in cuts and costs savings while the Republicans weigh in at $915 billion.

Cutting one or two hundred billion dollars a year is meaningless. Wolff says, “Even if you cut the debt $300 billion, you are left with an enormous annual deficit that adds hugely to the national debt they all claim to care so much about. It gives lie to the idea that the Republicans and Democrats are interested in trying to cut the national debt.”

If you really believe shrinking the debt is an imperative, then there are easier ways to do it then stealing grandma’s meds. The Bush wars and tax cuts – which are still going – cost $3.3 trillion from 2002 to 2009. Cutting the trillion-dollar war budget in half, ending the Bush tax cuts (which Obama could have done with no sweat when he was bursting with political capital in early 2009 or by calling the GOP bluff before or after the 2010 midterm elections) and raising tax rates on corporations would pretty much wipe out the deficit over the next decade. In the case of corporate taxes, during the last decade it averaged only 10.7 percent of federal revenues – and since 2008 it’s shrunk to barely 5 percent – versus 29.8 percent in the 1950s.

Of course, the stand-off is based on another lie: that Congress and Obama administration can enforce cuts over a 10-year period. The budget process is an annual exercise. There is no provision whatsoever to make cuts permanent because they can always be undone by Congress, and taxes can always be lowered or costly new wars started, both of which always seem to happen, widening the deficit once more.

There is no end to the falsehoods and fantasies from the chattering classes. “We are in recovery.” So says Ben Bernanke – since 2009 no less. Obama has been saying the same since 2010, while hedging that it is “painfully slow.” Really? Tell that to the 25 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed or have dropped out of the labor force. This amounts to an unemployment rate of16.2 percent, but the real rate is probably closer to 20 percent after factoring in youth unable to enter the workforce or those who have taken early retirement. Or try telling the 100 million Americans who are effectively caught in poverty (using far more realistic measures than the government does) or the 6.5 million households with mortgages that are delinquent or in foreclosure that we are in recovery.

The notion we are in recovery is based on believing the downturn was “the Great Recession,” a distortion the New York Times helped spread. Paul Krugman is one of the few mainstream commentators saying that not only is there no end in sight to the four-year-long slump, let’s give it a more accurate label such as, “the Lesser Depression.” Suppose the corporate media had been saying “Depression” for the last few years. It would have bolstered support for extraordinary measures to dig out of an extraordinary crisis, such as policies that did work during the last depression: jobs programs, infrastructure, social welfare, stronger labor rights and aid to local governments. But this would mean redistribution of wealth downwards instead of upwards. Therefore, saying recession makes it sound part of the normal boom-and-bust cycle, one we will overcome through the magic of the market as we have so many times before.

We can then move on to the recovery phase, which means getting our economic house in order by reducing the debt, a lie told by Serious People whether pundits, politicians or experts. We are being led to think the wisest course is repeating the major mistake of the Great Depression – enforcing austerity in a deep economic funk. When the New York Times backs huge cuts to social spending, you can be sure the rest of the media assumes squeezing the poor and middle class harder is the tonic for economic health. Sure, the Times may sniffle that Obama’s stunning offer to hack $650 billion from Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security was “overly generous” to Republicans but that is just code for “we in the liberal penthouse support it with mild reservations.” On the other side of the media aisle, the Wall Street Journal endorsed the Republican sadism, saying that none of the critics on the right offer “anything nearly as fiscally or politically beneficial as Mr. Boehner’s plan.”

This is what passes for the range of opinion in the two most esteemed newspapers in the country. That’s because we are still in thrall of the biggest lie of all – market fundamentalism. An eternity ago, in 2009, Newsweek declared, “We Are All Socialists Now.” They were right, but only in the way America has always been socialists: we socialize the rich when they lose money, and then we socialize their ability to profit. (The esteemed economic historian Karl Polanyi argued “laissez-faire was planned.” By that, he meant profit-making depends on government regulation of land, labor, finance and the environment. On top of that, there are outright transfers of wealth that occur during wars, infrastructure building and as part of social reforms, such as the railways, the Cold War, Medicare, the internet, and the bank bailouts.)

Thus, the debate is about differing Democratic and Republican visions on which parts of the welfare state should be sent to the glue factory. “We all must sacrifice,” is the mantra. Never mind that the effect on the national debt will be laughably small. Slashing $650 billion from entitlements – Obama’s burnt offering – will nick a miniscule 3 percent off the national debt by 2020, while the suffering will be enormous. But we must do it to appease the markets.

Pleasing the markets means pleasing the credit rating agencies – Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch – an example of cult-like devotion in which the elite command us to drink the Kool-Aid. Like a death watch, the media turn anxiously to the rating agencies to ask the condition of U.S. government debt. Are they going to downgrade it, which would mean higher interest rates and an even bigger debt problem? This is one more big lie as Japan’s huge debt – more than twice the size of U.S. debt as a percentage of GDP – was downgraded in January and “there was no negative impact at all,” according to one analyst.

But first let’s go to the tape and review how the big three credit rating agencies inflated the mortgage bubble. The bubble was driven by the banking industry’s insatiable appetite for debt, the repackaging of dicey mortgages into profitable securities. The agencies, especially Moody’s and S&P, gave investment-grade ratings to almost any sack of residential mortgage backed securities (RMBS) and collateralized debt obligations (CDO) that passed across their desks. By law, banks, pension funds, insurance companies and other institutional investors need investment-grade ratings on these securities to hold them. Since the rating agencies were paid by the issuers, they were raking in the cash by gold-plating shit. Moody’s revenue on these securities quadrupled from over $61 million in 2002 to over $260 million by 2006. For S&P, it went from $64 million to $265 million for CDOs in the same four years and from $184 million in 2002 to $561 million in 2007 for RMBSs.

Don’t think they didn’t know exactly what they were doing. At S&P, one manager emailed a co-worker in December 2006, “Let’s hope we are all retired and wealthy before this house of cards falters.” Then, according to a U.S. Senate report, the ratings firm triggered the financial collapse by downgrading huge amounts of these securities from AAA to junk. In one day, on Jan. 30, 2008, S&P downgraded an astonishing 6,300 ratings. In 18 months the two firms downgraded more securities than they had done in their entire 90-year histories. Once the securities turned to junk, the big players could no longer hold them, which burst the bubble as they were sold in a panic and losses began mounting on the bank’s balance sheets.

We know the rest of the story – the financial collapse, the trillions in bailouts and credit lines, the lack of punishment for executives at any of these firms, the return to obscene profits a year later, the de-fanging of any credible reform. But now, we are being told, the rating agencies word on debt is the word of God.

This time, S&P is not so much looking for a fast buck as nakedly pushing an agenda. In a blatant lie, S&P President Deven Sharma, who was summoned to testify before a House subcommittee on financial oversight on July 27, said his firm was “misquoted” in demanding $4 trillion in cuts and unctuously preached that ratings should be free of politics.

What happened is two weeks earlier, on July 14, S&P issued a detailed statement, explaining that it was placing both long-term and short-term U.S. debt “on CreditWatch with negative implications.” It explained that “there is an increasing risk of a substantial policy stalemate enduring beyond any near-term agreement to raise the debt ceiling.”

It did offer a safe passage. S&P said that if “an agreement would be enacted and maintained throughout the decade” to realize “budget savings of $4 trillion,” then “other things unchanged” it could affirm the stellar ratings on both short- and long-term U.S. debt. But, it warned, any “credible” agreement “would require support from leaders of both political parties.”

S&P knew exactly what it was saying. The only budget number it mentioned (three times) was $4 trillion. By saying both parties needed to sign on to an agreement to be credible, it knew the Republican agenda of strangling the last of social welfare would triumph. And by issuing the statement in the heat of negotiations, it threw its lot in with the Tea Party mob.

S&P was telling Capitol Hill to drive a stake through the heart of the welfare state. To let us peasants know we must till the corporate fields until the day we die. Otherwise, the credit rating deities will rain downgrades upon our heads, blighting the land for future generations.

We must pay now and forever. That is the truth, a truth so crude and cartoonish it seems comical. Which is why we need so many lies.

Arun Gupta is a founding editor of The Indypendent newspaper. He is writing a book on the decline of American Empire for Haymarket Books.

Emphasis Mine


RootsCamp 2010 ( That’s Twentyten)

The 2010 Ohio Rootscamp – a grassroots convention – was  attended by about 160 people at the OCSEA Union Hall on Saturday 6 March 2010.

Erin Upchurch, Social Worker at Columbus AIDS Task Force. provided the welcome, and then introduced Ohio Treasurer Kevin Boyce .

Mr. Boyce reviewed his life and its motivation for getting into politics: he was raised in a housing project, and his Dad – a Vietnam Vet –  was murdered. He was the first in his family to attend college , went on to a career in public service, and observed that being a good politician requires being a good person . Success, he learned, is a product of much hard work, and it also brings responsibility.

An outstanding Candidate.

Doug Kelly of the ODP then talked about “The Knockout in 2010 ”, and motivated us that we must elect Democrats to keep the Apportionment Board.

Lauren Wargo , also of the ODP, told us: the GOP is organized and energized , but the ODP is strong, where we have been, and where we need to go, and that we need to hold OH in 2010 .

We then had our first breakout session.

N.B.: a breakout session is what happens to an adolescent on the day of the big dance.

In the first breakout session I attended we discussed Niccolo Machiavelli and his influence on politics.

Of his two works – “The Prince “ and “Discourses” – the former is better known. It is from it that most of what we term “ Machiavellian” originates, while the latter was a more general political treatise which introduced terms such as “checks and balances”, anticipating some of the political philosophy of the 17th and 18th centuries. From Bertrand Russell: “The doctrine of the Prince makes no attempt at giving pious advice on how to be a virtuous ruler. He recognizes that there are evil practices which are conducive to the acquisition of political power. Machiavellian takes on a sinister and derogatory meaning. He did not advocate villainy – his field of enquiry lies outside of good and evil. He should not be attacked for documenting practices common at the time in Italy.”

One cannot understand modern politics while remaining ignorant of Machiavelli.

We then had a union provided lunch, and heard a keynote from Gov. Ted Strickland .

Ted has an honest, upbeat handle on what is happening. His perception of where we are:

o In Jan 09, when the Obama administration took office:

– that month we had lost 700,000 jobs

– auto industry in dire straights

– we were on the verge of a great depression

o Now

– new leaders at GM said 3rd shift 1200 jobs in lordstown and 59mill $ in Defiance, Oh

– will pay back loans and $700 Mil interest (e.g. ‘bailout’)

– the stimulus has pulled us out of free fall

+  it has provided $2 billion in OH used to provide essential services to people in need &

+ 1/3 more in infrastructure in OH than any time in history

– we must focus on jobs

o funding from feds at same level as 2003

o positives:

– steel seeing increases in orders

– US Steel investing 400mil in Leipzig and 250 in Lorain

– wind component company from Germany may locate in Toledo

– Solar companies in Toledo

o we need a manufacturing policy

– on our way

– need to remember those in need

o DNC,DCCC,ODP size rank -the ODP is third

o we can win again in 2012 with OH

o other side is energized

o our base is not as energized

o Grassroots org is our trump card

o John Kasich

– Lehman Bros

– Fox news

– eliminate estate tax (80% goes to local gov)

– eliminate SIT TS says most irresponsible policy ever

o take this across the state

o From John Lewis (D-GA): we should never give up, never give out, and never give in

o we must be prepared for the toughest campaign in our memory.

Ted shared with us that in the 2008 campaign, he would tell supporters that at about 11:30 on election night of 2008, Bill O’Reilly of Fox would – tears streaming down his face – announce that Barack Obama had been elected President of the United States.  I was wrong, he admitted: It was 9:45.

N.B.: in “Sleep Walking Through History”, author Hayes Johnson notes that when he wishes to know what is happening, he listens to the Governors.

Breakout session on Republican crimes: Cliff Arnebeck (Atty)

o first victim of Republican crime was John McCain

o committed treason against US in 2000: Rove & Blackwell & Tom Donahue

o prongs of Conspiracy: steal states and us courts

o Blackwell didn’t say: he brought into state office gov tech, smart tech, triad

o same team that was involved in election theft of FL 2000

o Iraq war: election theft cover & reelection prop

o made war go on to secure election

o we must issue new emancipation proclamation.

Brian Rothenberg

o organize online to off line, and you may use

o twitter and facebook

tea party

o Who are they?

o should we worry?

o where will there supporters come from: D’s or R’s?

o Thus far, their election success has been almost nil

Brian Rothenberg spoke on closing, and introduced David Pepper – an excellent candidate for auditor of state .

an election

It was not a referendum on Barack Obama,

Frank Rich, NY Times.

“It was not a referendum on Barack Obama,who in every poll remains one of the most popular politicians in America. It was not a rejection of universal health care, which Massachusetts mandated (with Scott Brown’s State Senate vote) in 2006. It was not a harbinger of a resurgent G.O.P., whose numbers remain in the toilet. Brown had the good sense not to identify himself as a Republican in either his campaign advertising or his victory speech.

And yet Tuesday’s special election was a dire omen for this White House. If the administration sticks to this trajectory, all bets are off for the political future of a president who rode into office blessed with more high hopes, good will and serious promise than any in modern memory. It’s time for him to stop deluding himself. Yes, last week’s political obituaries were ludicrously premature. Obama’s 50-ish percent first-anniversary approval rating matches not just Carter’s but Reagan’s. (Bushes 41 and 43 both skyrocketed in Year One.) Still, minor adjustments can’t right what’s wrong.

Obama’s plight has been unchanged for months. Neither in action nor in message is he in front of the anger roiling a country where high unemployment remains unchecked and spiraling foreclosures are demolishing the bedrock American dream of home ownership. The president is no longer seen as a savior but as a captive of the interests who ginned up the mess and still profit, hugely, from it.

That’s no place for any politician of any party or ideology to be. There’s a reason why the otherwise antithetical Leno and Conan camps are united in their derision of NBC’s titans. A TV network has become a handy proxy for every mismanaged, greedy, disloyal and unaccountable corporation in our dysfunctional economy. It’s a business culture where the rich and well-connected get richer while the employees, shareholders and customers get the shaft. And the conviction that the game is fixed is nonpartisan. If the tea party right and populist left agree on anything, it’s that big bailed-out banks have and will get away with murder while we pay the bill on credit cards — with ever-rising fees.


Health Care Insurance reform

“Last month the Senate voted to pass the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the most meaningful improvement to our health care system since enactment of Medicare and Medicaid four and a half decades ago.

From Sherrod Brown:

“Last month the Senate voted to pass the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the most meaningful improvement to our health care system since enactment of Medicare and Medicaid four and a half decades ago.

The Senate and House of Representatives are now merging their respective bills and expect to deliver a final piece of legislation to President Obama in the coming weeks. While the negotiations continue, I wanted to provide an update on how health reform would help Ohioans.  The bill passed by the Senate, with my support, would lower costs for middle-class families with insurance, while providing help to 31 million Americans who lack it – including the 1.4 million Ohioans who are currently uninsured.

It would eliminate the $1,100 hidden tax that Ohioans with insurance now pay to help cover the costs of caring for the uninsured. It would also prohibit insurance companies from using huge portions of your premium dollars for advertising, corporate retreats, executive salaries, and unheard-of profits instead of providing coverage for your medical care. And it would give more than 118,000 Ohio small businesses an immediate tax credit to help them afford health benefits for their workers.

The bill would curb insurance company abuses – like denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, charging women more than men for the same policy, and imposing arbitrary annual and lifetime caps on benefits.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would end the shameful insurance practice of rescission, which retroactively cancels your insurance when you get sick. It would close the prescription drug coverage gap (the “donut hole”) for seniors and provide them with free annual checkups and preventive services for the first time. The bill would also extend the financial security of Medicare by nearly a decade.

This bill means insurance companies will have to play by a new set of rules – that will lower costs and expand coverage. It means you will no longer be denied medical care because of a pre-existing condition, age, gender, or medical history. It means health security for you and your family, whether you’re uninsured or have health insurance that could be eliminated with a job loss or illness. It means Ohio’s seniors will be able to afford prescription drugs and access much needed medical care. And, this bill means Ohio small business owners can do right by their employees and no longer face double-digit premium increases year after year after year.

Once President Obama signs this important bill into law, I’ll be certain to provide you an update on this historic step toward a health care system that works for all Americans. ”

Sherrod Brown

(Emphasis Mine).

Understanding Movement Conservatives

Terrorist Attack: ” Something that can only occur during a Democratic Administration.”

Movement Conservative Vocabulary

Big Government: ” Spending taxpayer money on the less fortunate.”

Death Tax: ” The Estate tax, which applies only to the wealthiest Americans.”

Tax Relief: ” Reduced taxes for the wealthiest several percent of Americans.”

Taxes: “A burden to waste money on roads, schools, and the infrastructure which a modern society requires.”

Terrorist: “Almost any person whose religion is not Christian – particularly Islam – and who disapproves of US middle East  policies.”

War on Terrorism: ” An excuse to suppress civil liberties, expand the military,  and give government funds to your friends by attacking countries whose people look different, and whose religion is non Christian.  Since the attacks create hostility, we can declare the victims ‘terrorists’, and self perpetuate this situation.”

Terrorist Attack: ” Something that can only occur during a Democratic Administration.”

Pro-Life: ” Its fine to kill innocent people of another country, or execute innocent victims for crimes they never committed, or let 45,000 die each year because they don’t have access to health care, but it is a crime to cause an abortion of a pre-human.”

Deficit spending: “Something that only Democrats cause” – see Big Government.

Family Values: ” Oppose gays; venerate guns; legislate morality; and vote Republican”.

Global Warming: “A commie conspiracy dis proven every winter in the Northern Hemisphere”.

Scientists: “People who think facts are superior to ancient dogma – often inconvenient.”

Only A Theory: “A label to use for inconvenient facts – see scientists. ”

Worst GOP Cash Flow in a Decade

From RawStory:

By Daniel Tencer

“In recent months pollsters have been pointing to softening support for Democrats as a sign that the GOP may make a big comeback in the 2010 elections. But the party’s historically poor financial position means it has more of an uphill battle than many political observers realize.

Having spent large amounts of cash winning the New Jersey and Virginia governor’s races in 2009, the Republican National Committee ended 2009 with $8.7 million in the bank, down from $22.8 million at the start of 2009, when Michael Steele took over as party chairman. It marks the lowest amount of cash on hand going into an election year in a decade, The Hill reports.

The NRC spent $90 million through November, or $20 million more than its Democratic counterpart, leading some observers to wonder whether the GOP has been wasting money. The Hill reports:

“They’re spending money at 2002 levels when they are not raising money at those levels,” said a GOP operative. “That kind of thing worked when RNC was awash in money, but you can’t do that in this environment.”

Off-years like 2009 are generally a time for committees to get their financial house in order. … The RNC, though, made huge investments in New Jersey and Virginia, betting on the momentum created by those gubernatorial races to spur more giving. Both were big GOP wins, but the question for many in the party is whether they were worth such a dent in the party’s coffers….”

“They’re spending money at 2002 levels when they are not raising money at those levels,” said a GOP operative. “That kind of thing worked when RNC was awash in money, but you can’t do that in this environment.”

Writing at Newsweek, Suzy Khimm suggests that the GOP’s fundraising woes may have something to do with the rift between the Tea Party movement and the Republican Party leadership.

[L]ast year’s elections also revealed the significant rift between the grassroots movement and the Republican apparatus. The right-wing base revolted against the NRCC when it poured money into moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava’s campaign in New York’s 23rd District, backing third-party challenger Doug Hoffman instead. As more mainstream conservative politicians joined the revolt, Scozzafava dropped out of the race─but Hoffman lost the general election. The election was both a stinging rebuke to the conservative activists who skewered Scozzafava and the national Republican leadership who failed to handle a revolt from their right flank.

Such rifts point to a more fundamental problem that’s plaguing the GOP: the party’s leadership vacuum. If the GOP proves unable to unite the right-wing populist base with moderates and independents, Republicans might not be able to channel public frustration into all the results it wants to see at the ballot box─or in its campaign coffers.

Politico reported over the weekend that the National Republican Congressional Committee, the main instrument for fighting congressional elections, raised one-third as much money last year as its Democratic counterpart. While the DCCC has $15.3 million going into 2010, with $2.6 million in debt, the NRCC has $4.3 million left, with $2 million in debt.

Politico suggests that this is in part due to “tightfisted” Republican incumbents who aren’t donating to the party’s coffers in nearly the numbers that Democrats are donating to their party’s coffers.

But conservative commentator Matt Lewis told The Hill that individual donors are also staying away from the GOP leadership, instead sending their money to conservative activist groups or specific candidates.

“I think conservatives have decided it’s better to donate to groups like the Club for Growth — or to the candidates themselves,” Lewis said.

That lack of enthusiasm for the GOP has many inside the party taking a hard look at the leadership of Michael Steele, The Hill reports.

Steele has endured a series of questions about the committee’s finances and his stewardship. The committee spent heavily on a new website, and Steele has drawn heat for renovating his office, awarding high salaries for close associates and accepting speaking fees.

Earlier this year, a group of RNC officials headed by Treasurer Randy Pullen presented Steele with a resolution asking for more checks and balances on his ability to award contracts and spend money.

(Emphasis mine)

Who is Obama?

When I hear Obama criticized, I state that one who journeyed from food stamps to editor of the Harvard Law Review must be both very intelligent and politically adept.

N.B.: When I hear Obama criticized, I state that one who journeyed from food stamps to editor of the Harvard Law Review must be both very intelligent and politically adept.

Ross Dothat, NY Times:

“Every presidency is the subject of competing caricatures. But almost a year into his first term, there’s something particularly elusive about Barack Obama’s political identity. He’s a bipartisan bridge-builder — unless he’s a polarizing ideologue. He’s a crypto-Marxist radical — except when he’s a pawn of corporate interests. He’s a post-American utopian — or else he’s a willing tool of the national security state.  The press has churned out a new theory every week,…

Obama baffles observers, I suspect, because he’s an ideologue and a pragmatist all at once. He’s a doctrinaire liberal who’s always willing to cut a deal and grab for half the loaf. He has the policy preferences of a progressive blogger, but the governing style of a seasoned Beltway wheeler-dealer.

This is a puzzling combination, for many, because we expect our politicians’ principles to align more neatly with their approach to governing. Our deal-making Machiavels are supposed to be self-conscious “centrists” (think Ben Nelson or Arlen Specter). Our ideological liberals and conservatives are supposed to be more concerned with being right than with being ruthlessly effective.

It’s also puzzling because Obama promised exactly the opposite approach while running for the presidency. He campaigned as a postpartisan healer who would change the cynical ways of Washington — as a foe of both back-room deals and ideology-as-usual. But he’s governed as a conventional liberal who believes in the existing system, knows how to work it and accepts the limitations it imposes on him.

In hindsight, the most prescient sentence penned during the presidential campaign belongs to Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker. “Perhaps the greatest misconception about Barack Obama,” he wrote in July 2008, “is that he is some sort of anti-establishment revolutionary. Rather, every stage of his political career has been marked by an eagerness to accommodate himself to existing institutions rather than tear them down or replace them.”

Both right and left have had trouble processing Obama’s institutionalism. Conservatives have exaggerated his liberal instincts into radicalism, ignoring the fact that a president who takes advice from Lawrence Summers and Robert Gates probably isn’t a closet Marxist-Leninist. The left has been frustrated, again and again, by the gulf between Obama’s professed principles and the compromises that he’s willing to accept, and some liberals have become convinced that he isn’t one of them at all.

They’re wrong. Absent political constraints, Obama would probably side with the liberal line on almost every issue. It’s just that he’s more acutely conscious of the limits of his powers and less willing to start fights that he might lose than many supporters would prefer. In this regard, he most resembles Ronald Reagan and Edward Kennedy. Both were highly ideological politicians who trained themselves to work within the system. Both preferred cutting deals to walking away from the negotiating table.

The upside of this approach is obvious: It gets things done. Between the stimulus package, the pending health care bill and a new raft of financial regulations, Obama will soon be able to claim more major legislative accomplishments than any Democrat since Lyndon Johnson….The downside, though, is that sometimes what gets done isn’t worth doing….

At the same time, Obama doesn’t enjoy the kind of deep credibility with his base that both Reagan and Kennedy spent decades building. When Kennedy told liberals that a given compromise was the best they could get, they believed him. Whether the issue is health care or Afghanistan, Obama’s word doesn’t carry the same weight.

This leaves him walking a fine line. If Obama’s presidency succeeds, it will be a testament to what ideology tempered by institutionalism can accomplish. But his political approach leaves him in constant danger of losing center and left alike — of being dismissed by independents as another tax-and-spender, and disdained by liberals as a sellout.”

(Emphasis Mine.)


On The Bill: Politics is the Art of the Possible

Politics is the Art of the Possible

Krugman, 25 Dec 2009, the New York Times:

“…”…the legislation that passed the Senate on Thursday and will probably, in a slightly modified version, soon become law will make America a much better country.

So why are so many people complaining? There are three main groups of critics.

First, there’s the crazy right, the tea party and death panel people — a lunatic fringe that is no longer a fringe but has moved into the heart of the Republican Party

A second strand of opposition comes from what I think of as the Bah Humbug caucus: fiscal scolds who routinely issue sententious warnings about rising debt. By rights, this caucus should find much to like in the Senate health bill, which the Congressional Budget Office says would reduce the deficit, and which — in the judgment of leading health economists — does far more to control costs than anyone has attempted in the past.what really motivates them is “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, is receiving social insurance.”

Finally, there has been opposition from some progressives who are unhappy with the bill’s limitations. Some would settle for nothing less than a full, Medicare-type, single-payer system. Others had their hearts set on the creation of a public option to compete with private insurers. And there are complaints that the subsidies are inadequate, that many families will still have trouble paying for medical care.

Unlike the tea partiers and the humbuggers, disappointed progressives have valid complaints. But those complaints don’t add up to a reason to reject the bill. Yes, it’s a hackneyed phrase, but politics is the art of the possible.

The truth is that there isn’t a Congressional majority in favor of anything like single-payer. There is a narrow majority in favor of a plan with a moderately strong public option. The House has passed such a plan. But given the way the Senate rules work, it takes 60 votes to do almost anything. And that fact, combined with total Republican opposition, has placed sharp limits on what can be enacted.

If progressives want more, they’ll have to make changing those Senate rules a priority. They’ll also have to work long term on electing a more progressive Congress. But, meanwhile, the bill the Senate has just passed, with a few tweaks — I’d especially like to move the start date up from 2014, if that’s at all possible — is more or less what the Democratic leadership can get.

And for all its flaws and limitations, it’s a great achievement. It will provide real, concrete help to tens of millions of Americans and greater security to everyone. And it establishes the principle — even if it falls somewhat short in practice — that all Americans are entitled to essential health care.  (N.B.: This is what I call a ‘beachhead’.)

Many people deserve credit for this moment. What really made it possible was the remarkable emergence of universal health care as a core principle during the Democratic primaries of 2007-2008 — an emergence that, in turn, owed a lot to progressive activism. (For what it’s worth, the reform that’s being passed is closer to Hillary Clinton’s plan than to President Obama’s). This made health reform a must-win for the next president. And it’s actually happening.

So progressives shouldn’t stop complaining, but they should congratulate themselves on what is, in the end, a big win for them — and for America.”

(Emphasis mine)


Fox ‘News’? NOT!

From AlterNet: “Eight Reasons Fox is Not a news Organization.

Even before Barack Obama was elected to the presidency, Rupert Murdoch had declared war on him via the personalities of Fox News Channel, a subsidiary of Murdoch’s media conglomerate, News Corp.

Since Obama’s election, the cable channel’s hosts and paid analysts have launched a full frontal assault on the president, smearing his nominees, calling him a racist and suggesting that his administration was trying to persuade disabled veterans to off themselves.

Now the fearmongers at Fox are crying foul since the president and his aides declared Fox not to be a news organization. Earlier this month, White House Communications Director Anita Dunn called Fox an “arm” of the Republican Party. Obama went even further, suggesting this week that Fox “is operating basically as a talk-radio format,” and we know what that means: A format in which the most provocative opinions dominate the discourse and facts are optional.

Yet that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Setting Fox apart from the two other cable news networks is its ownership by a corporation whose CEO and major shareholder is a mogul with an ideological agenda — who operates his News Channel as a propaganda machine for his anti-government cause.

He even has his own community organizer, a fellow named Glenn Beck, who can turn out a mob on a dime at your local town-hall meeting. His big ratings-getter, Bill O’Reilly, is a professional bully, handsomely paid to physically intimidate progressive commentators — on video — and to vilify others.

Murdoch’s agenda is simple: He’s against regulation of any kind. Famous for smashing the unions at his U.K. properties, Murdoch also has a pronounced disdain for labor.

In essence, Murdoch’s agenda tracks closely with that of the current GOP, that far-right rump of a party that once claimed to embrace a range of views under the canvas of a big tent. So he uses the Fox airwaves to raise funds for Republican political action committees…

Why Fox News is not a news operation:

1. Glenn Beck, the community organizer — No other news operation in memory has ever hired its own community organizer, at least not one tasked with the mission of organizing paranoid people to march through the streets of the nation’s capital with signs depicting the president of the United States as a mass murderer.

Through his 9-12 Project, which he promotes on his Fox News Channel program, that’s exactly what Beck did, organizing with other right-wing organizations the 9-12/Tea Party march on Washington — AlterNet reported marchers sported signs comparing Obama to Hitler and Stalin.

Beck was also instrumental in turning out angry mobs to disrupt this summer’s town hall meetings, where members of Congress attempted to discuss health care reform with their constituents. After participants in a scuffle at a Tampa, Fla., town hall named their local 9-12 Project site as their inspiration, the national 9-12 Project site stopped accepting comments.

Despite the loss of some 80 advertisers from The Glenn Beck Show, thanks to a campaign by Color of Change, which targeted the show’s sponsors after Beck claimed the president had “a deep-seated hatred for white people and white culture,” Beck remains on the air at Fox. Could that be because he’s more valuable to his boss-daddy as an organizer than as a conduit for advertising dollars?..

2. Fox’s alliance with the corporate-funded astroturf group Americans for Prosperity — We’ve scratched our heads trying to come up with an analogous relationship between a cable news channel and a corporate-funded group that organizes fearful people to disrupt public meetings, but we came up empty.

Americans For Prosperity, a group that received funding from Koch Industries, an oil-and-energy company and major polluter, also organized this summer’s town hall disrupters. Although they kicked off their rabble-rousing campaign by galvanizing opposition to health care reform, their real target appears to be energy reform, especially the cap-and-trade provision that will make dirty industries pay a pretty penny to pollute.

3. On-air fundraising for Republican PACs — Fox News personalities encourage viewers to contribute money to, and visit the Web sites of, specific Republican-affiliated political action committees. We can’t find a single instance of either CNN or MSNBC doing anything of the kind for Democratic causes.

Oh, sure, Keith Olbermann raised money for free health clinics for the uninsured, but it’s our understanding that there are uninsured Republicans. And Rachel Maddow raised money for jerseys for an Iraqi baseball team (who learned the game from American troops), but last time we looked, baseball was the Great American Bipartisan Pastime.

4. Bill O’Reilly, stalker of those whose opinions he doesn’t like — We exhausted all avenues of research trying to find a news show host at another cable news channel who pays his producer to stalk people whose opinions he or she doesn’t like. Came up with bupkus. Nor could we find one who locked the media out of remarks she or he was delivering in acceptance of an award from a nonprofit group.

At the annual conference of the religious-right political group, Family Research Council Action, O’Reilly received an award for his vilification of Dr. George Tiller. Tiller was an abortion provider who was gunned down in his church by a man who obviously took to heart references by O’Reilly and others, “Tiller the baby-killer.”

5. Sunday talk-show host who promotes Republican falsehoods — Once upon a time, Chris Wallace, son of the aforementioned Mike, was a real journalist, just like his dad. Then he joined the Fox team, as host of Fox News Sunday, which airs on the Fox’s broadcast network.

6. Fox News anchors, show hosts and pundits parrot GOP press releases, or just make up stuff — Promoting the notion that their organization is on some sort of Nixonian White House “enemies list,” Fox News personalities first trotted out the “enemies list” theme in August, when they suggested that the White House, asking for Americans to send the administration any unsolicited e-mails they received that promoted false information about health care reform legislation, was actually compiling an “enemies list.”

7. Fox News hosts urge viewers to join a particular political group — During the run-up to the big right-wing 9-12/Tea Party march on Washington, Fox News entities and personalities repeatedly flogged viewers to join the Tea Party Express, a bus tour of anti-Obama activists.

Advising viewers on “how you can join” the tour, Fox and Friends hosted Tea Party Express organizer Mark Williams, vice chairman of the Our Country Deserves Better PAC, who is a part of the birther conspiracy movement of people who contend that Obama wasn’t born in America. At the Fox Nation Web site, viewers were treated to a promotional piece that asked, “Will You Join the Tea Party Express?” We don’t see the other cable news outlets soliciting members for, say,

8. Glenn Beck, deranged inventor of paranoid conspiracies — Here’s a Beck exclusive you won’t hear on any of the other cable news networks: OnStar, the GPS/emergency-alert system available in General Motors cars, is being indirectly funded by the auto-industry bailout so the government can spy on you.

To be fair, Beck said this on his radio program, which is not a Fox News product, which is also where he compared the situation of Fox News to that of Jews during the Holocaust (with other news outlets acting as silent bystanders). In the same segment, he cast Obama as a “brutal dictator.”

But statements such as these seem to serve no detriment to his Fox News career. (Compare this to MSNBC, where David Shuster got sidelined for a month during the height of campaign season for a bad choice of words regarding Chelsea Clinton stumping for her mom.) And there’s no shortage of outrageous and paranoid material to choose from from Beck’s television show, much of it reported, blogged or cataloged by AlterNet.”