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Chernynkaya On March - 7 - 2011

 

“Monday. “ Etymology: ·  Old English mōnandæġ (“day of the moon”), from mōna (“moon”) + dæg (“day”), a calque of the Latin word dies lunae

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BUDGET

 

FactCheck Gets It Wrong on Social Security and the Deficit

Dean Baker:

FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenburg Public Policy Center, wrongly attacked a number of prominent Democrats for correctly pointing out that Social Security does not contribute to the deficit. The people attacked included New York Senator Charles Schumer, Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, and President Obama’s Budget Director Jacob Lew.

This point should be pretty straightforward. Under the law, Social Security is financed by a designated tax, the 12.4 percent payroll that workers pay on their first $107,000 of income each year. The money raised through this tax is used to pay benefits. Any surplus is used to buy U.S. government bonds. All funding for the program comes either from this tax or from the bonds held by the program’s trust fund. (The Social Security system is also is credited with a portion of the income tax paid on Social Security benefits.)

Social Security is prohibited from spending any money beyond what it has in its trust fund. This means that it cannot lawfully contribute to the federal budget deficit, since every penny that it pays out must have come from taxes raised through the program or the interest garnered from the bonds held by the trust fund.

The one exception to this rule is the roughly $120 billion being credited to the Trust Fund in 2011 to offset the lost payroll tax revenue due to the 2 percentage point reduction in the payroll tax. Apart from this special 1-year exception approved by Congress at the end of last year, Social Security is literally prohibited under the law from adding to the deficit.

FactCheck argues that Social Security will contribute to the deficit because it will be drawing on the interest on the bonds that it holds beginning in 2016 and later will begin selling these bonds. This would be like claiming that Peter Peterson, the Wall Street investment banker and vociferous proponent of cutting Social Security, is contributing to the deficit if he sells a billion dollars in government bonds to finance his anti-Social Security agenda.

More>>>

 

Top Democrat draws line in sand in budget fight

Durbin, one of President Barack Obama’s top allies in Congress, said he opposed going beyond the $10.5 billion in domestic, non-defense discretionary spending cuts that Democrats have backed.

Republicans want $61 billion in spending reductions.

“I think we’ve pushed this to the limit,” Durbin told the “Fox News Sunday” television program as Congress and the White House prepared for another week of showdowns that threaten a government shutdown.

“To go any further is to push more kids out of school,” Durbin said. “It stops the investment of infrastructure, which kills good-paying jobs right here in the United States.’

“I’m willing to see more deficit reduction, but not out of domestic discretionary spending,” Durbin said.

Putting further cuts in non-defense, domestic discretionary spending off limits would force lawmakers to focus instead on areas such as the Pentagon, foreign aid and so-called entitlements, such as the Social Security retirement program.

[…]

Votes are expected in the Senate this week on the House-passed bill along with a Democratic alternative. Both appear certain to fail, which would increase pressure for a compromise to avoid a government shutdown before a stopgap funding measure expires on March 18.

While most of the criticism of the House budget bill has come from Democrats, some Republicans have criticized it.

 

How Boehner is playing the Democrats

E.J. Dionne Jr.:

Richard Nixon espoused what he called “the madman theory.” It’s a negotiating approach that induces the other side to believe you are capable of dangerously irrational actions and leads it to back down to avoid the wreckage your rage might let loose.

House Republicans are pursuing their own madman theory in budget negotiations, with a clever twist: Speaker John Boehner is casting himself as the reasonable man fully prepared to reach a deal to avoid a government shutdown. But he also has to satisfy a band of “wild-eyed bomb-throwing freshmen,” as he characterized new House members in a Wall Street Journal interview last week by way of comparing them fondly to his younger self.

Thus are negotiators for President Obama and Senate Democrats forced to deal not only with Republican leaders in the room but also with a menacing specter outside its confines. As “responsible” public officials, Democrats are asked to make additional concessions just to keep the bomb-throwers at bay.

This is the perverse genius of what the House Republicans are up to: Nobody really thinks that anything like their $57 billion in remaining proposed budget cuts can pass. It’s unlikely that all of their own members are confident about all of the cuts they have voted for. But by taking such a large collection of programs hostage, the GOP can be quite certain to win many more fights than it would if each reduction were considered separately.

[…]

But here is where the Republicans’ strategy works so brilliantly. Let’s assume that neither the administration nor Senate Democrats – even the most timid among them – can allow the Head Start or Pell Grant cuts to go through. That still leaves a lot of other truly worthy programs to be defended. By heaping cut upon cut, Republicans get advocates of each particular cause fighting among themselves.

And with so many reductions on the table, voters who would actually oppose most of them if they knew the details don’t get to hear much about any individual item because the media concentrate almost entirely on the partisan drama of the shutdown fight, not the particulars.

More>>>

 

Dem Budget Message: Should be True, Aggressive and Easy

When it comes to the budget fight, the Republican message is obvious. It’s backwards, bogus, and blind, but it’s also as clear as day, and every GOP official know how to repeat it.

As is too often the case, the Democratic message is all over the place. That said, if the party is looking for a rhetorical template, they could do a whole lot worse than Sen. Jeff Merkley’s (D-Ore.) remarks yesterday.

“The GOP budget plan will destroy 700,000 jobs. The last thing our nation can afford right now is further job losses. We need to be creating jobs, not destroying jobs.

“There are common-sense budget cuts that could reduce our deficits without wrecking the economy or attacking working families. We can start by cutting back on the bonus tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires that Republican leaders insisted on just ten weeks ago. We could end tax subsidies for oil companies and save tens of billions of dollars in the process.

“Republican House Speaker John Boehner summarized his perspective on the Republican budget as follows: if people might lose their jobs, ‘So be it.’ You might think the House Republican leaders would show some humility after their failed agenda turned record surpluses into massive deficits in 2001, or after their policies reduced the wages of working Americans during the modest expansion in the middle of the decade, or after they burned down the economy with unregulated derivatives and predatory mortgage securities in 2008.

“Apparently not. Their proposals are exactly the same: give massive tax cuts to the wealthiest, shred the safety net, and eliminate investments that would help restore American economic leadership.”

This certainly doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker, and it’s not a six-second soundbite, either. But it’s a straightforward assessment, which is (a) true; (b) aggressive; and (c) easily repeated.

 

Battle Over Budget Cuts Moves To Senate

The partisan feud over federal budget cuts moves this week from the House of Representatives to the Senate where lawmakers are set to vote on two competing proposals.

One is the bill passed by House Republicans last month. It cuts more than $60 billion this year from domestic programs and foreign aid. The other is a White House-backed measure that trims $6.5 billion. Neither is expected to pass

The federal government would have to start shutting down Monday had Congress not passed a continuing resolution last week, keeping federal programs in business until the end of next week. For congressional Republicans, that stopgap measure was a victory, because it’s a two-week version of what they’d like done the rest of this fiscal year, which is to cut about $2 billion a week from current funding levels.

This has put Democrats on the defensive. They don’t want to be accused of ignoring this year’s $1.5 trillion deficit, and they don’t want to be held responsible if there’s a government shutdown. Democrats sound ready to make more concessions.

[…]

McConnell made clear he and his fellow Republicans will vote against what the Democrats are proposing; Reid called the bill with $60 billion in cuts that Republicans are backing, “probably one of the worst pieces of legislation ever drafted.” Neither proposal, he added, will garner the 60 votes needed to move forward.

“We have to acknowledge that the answer that will allow us to move forward lies somewhere between our two positions, perhaps, and we have to recognize that digging in one’s heels threatens our fiscal footing,” Reid said. “If one side stubbornly demands victory, everybody loses.”

But Republicans are not in a mood to compromise.

[…]

Democrats, meanwhile, are divided. Those who are more conservative or facing re-election next year seem ready to go along with more budget cuts. Others such as Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa feel betrayed.

“I’m disappointed in the White House, I’m greatly disappointed, so far, in what they have been advocating, which basically is sort of buying into we got to cut everything out of discretionary,” Harkin said. “The White House is wrong on that.”

 

ECONOMY

 

Why employee pensions aren’t bankrupting states

From state legislatures to Congress to tea party rallies, a vocal backlash is rising against what are perceived as too-generous retirement benefits for state and local government workers. However, that widespread perception doesn’t match reality.

A close look at state and local pension plans across the nation, and a comparison of them to those in the private sector, reveals a more complicated story. However, the short answer is that there’s simply no evidence that state pensions are the current burden to public finances that their critics claim.

Pension contributions from state and local employers aren’t blowing up budgets. They amount to just 2.9 percent of state spending, on average, according to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College puts the figure a bit higher at 3.8 percent.

[…]

Nor are state and local government pension funds broke. They’re underfunded, in large measure because — like the investments held in 401(k) plans by American private-sector employees — they sunk along with the entire stock market during the Great Recession of 2007-2009. And like 401(k) plans, the investments made by public-sector pension plans are increasingly on firmer footing as the rising tide on Wall Street lifts all boats.

Boston College researchers project that if the assets in state and local pension plans were frozen tomorrow and there was no more growth in investment returns, there’d still be enough money in most state plans to pay benefits for years to come.

[…]

States having the biggest problems with pension obligations tend to be struggling with overall fiscal woes — New Jersey and Illinois in particular. Many states are now wrestling with underfunding because they didn’t contribute enough during boom years.

Most state and local employees government across the nation have defined-benefit plans that promise employees either a percentage of their final salary during retirement or some fixed amount. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 91 percent of full-time state and local government workers have access to defined-benefit plans.
More>>>

 

A Plan to Phase Out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

A PROPOSAL to phase out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-controlled enterprises that for decades have underpinned the American housing industry, is in draft form right now. But industry experts say the plan will most likely affect borrowers even before it is finalized.

Consumers could see higher borrowing costs in the next year or so, along with a more limited number of financing choices, the experts say, because some of the proposed changes do not require Congressional approval and appear to already be in the works.

[…]

The plan, which calls for winding down Fannie and Freddie over the next five to seven years, was drafted by the Treasury Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the White House, and was sent to Congress on Feb. 11. It proposes three options.

The most extensive of these options makes banks and other private lenders responsible for the entire mortgage industry, with the government helping only veterans, rural consumers and the neediest of borrowers.

More>>>

 

MERS? It May Have Swallowed Your Loan

Mortgage brokers hip deep in profits handed out no-doc mortgages to people with fictional incomes. Wall Street shopped bundles of those loans to investors, no matter how unappetizing the details. And federal regulators gave sleepy nods.

That world largely collapsed under the weight of its improbabilities in 2008.

But a piece of that world survives on Library Street in Reston, Va., where an obscure business, the MERS Corporation, claims to hold title to roughly half of all the home mortgages in the nation — an astonishing 60 million loans.

Never heard of MERS? That’s fine with the mortgage banking industry—as MERS is starting to overheat and sputter. If its many detractors are correct, this private corporation, with a full-time staff of fewer than 50 employees, could turn out to be a very public problem for the mortgage industry.


The Chasm Between Consumers and the Fed

INFLATION in the United States is low, and seems to be going down if it is moving at all. The Federal Reserve thinks it will be years before there is any significant inflation.

But that is not the way many Americans see it. Gasoline prices are on the rise as the Libyan fighting intensifies, and some food items have risen. The high price of gold — more than $1,400 an ounce — is viewed by many, including some in Congress, as proof that rampant inflation is near.

[…]

The inflation rate most closely monitored by the Fed is one few noneconomists have ever heard of — the personal consumption expenditure deflator. In concept, it is similar to the Consumer Price Index, but it is based on changes in prices of items that are actually used during a period, rather than on a fixed basket of purchases. This week, the Fed announced that the index level for January was up just 1.2 percent from a year earlier.

The increase in the core rate — the rate excluding volatile food and energy prices — was only 0.8 percent. As can be seen in the accompanying chart, it has never been lower in the years since the government began keeping the figure in 1959.

The Fed’s goal is to keep the inflation rate at or near 2 percent, and it does not expect a significant increase for at least a few years.

More>>>

 

If It Sounds Too Good … What You Need to Know, but Don’t, About Privatizing Infrastructure

“States and cities are being told that they can fix their budgets and have money left over by leasing their infrastructure for 50, 75 or even 99 years. It sounds great, even miraculous. But we all need to slow down and do our homework, because the rule ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it is’ still applies, and there are good reasons why state and local governments should not want any part of these deals. The truth is that, rather than making money on just tolls and fees, private contractors make their money through big tax breaks and by squeezing state and local governments for payments for the life of the contracts.”

More>>>

 

EDUCATION

 

The Scopes Strategy: Creationists Try New Tactics to Promote Anti-Evolutionary Teaching in Public Schools

Scientific American:

Under the guise of “academic freedom” creationists are co-opting some old heroes of the fight to teach evolution in the classroom for their anti-science campaign.

[…]

On the surface, the language looks like something that all scientists would gladly embrace: Promote critical thinking? Certainly! But opponents of the legislation say that the bills’ backers intent is instead designed to undercut the teaching of evolution and open doors to creationism and intelligent design.

More>>>

 

HEALTH

 

Talk Doesn’t Pay, So Psychiatry Turns Instead to Drug Therapy

Many psychiatrists, in large part because of how much insurance will pay, no longer provide talk therapy.

 

Flowers For PTSD

Try calling a florist and saying, “I need a nice pick-me-up bouquet for a friend who’s been diagnosed with a spinal tumor.” They’ll get on it right away. But then call and say, “I need a nice pick-me-up bouquet for a friend who’s been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.” They’ll think it’s a prank call. Or go to your local cozy little Hallmark store and say “I’m looking for a card for a friend who’s been in bed all week with the flu.” They’ll have rows and rows of cards expressing the perfect sentiment I’m sure. But then say “Now I’m looking for a card for a friend who’s been in bed all week with post-traumatic stress disorder.” They’ll probably call security.

There’s a word for this attitude. Actually, there are two words for it. It’s fucked up.

 

IMMIGRATION

 

On immigration, momentum shifts away from Arizona

A year ago, a revolution on immigration enforcement seemed underway, with legislators in at least 20 states vowing to follow the lead of Arizona’s tough new law targeting illegal immigrants.

These days, the momentum has shifted.

In at least six states, the proposals have been voted down or have simply died. Many of the other proposals have not even made it past one legislative chamber.

The most-discussed provision in the Arizona law requires police to investigate the status of people they legally stop whom they also suspect are illegal immigrants.

But even in Arizona, several tough immigration proposals have been stalled in the Senate, with business leaders and some Republicans arguing that the state does not need more controversy.

The one state whose Legislature has passed an Arizona-style law, Utah, only approved a diluted bill accompanied by another measure that goes in a dramatically different direction.

More>>>

 

MEDIA

 

The Fading Power of Beck’s Alarms

But a funny thing happened on the way from the revolution. Since last August, when he summoned more than 100,000 followers to the Washington mall for the “Restoring Honor” rally, Mr. Beck has lost over a third of his audience on Fox — a greater percentage drop than other hosts at Fox. True, he fell from the great heights of the health care debate in January 2010, but there has been worrisome erosion — more than one million viewers — especially in the younger demographic.

He still has numbers that just about any cable news host would envy and, with about two million viewers a night, outdraws all his competition combined. But the erosion is significant enough that Fox News officials are willing to say — anonymously, of course; they don’t want to be identified as criticizing the talent — that they are looking at the end of his contract in December and contemplating life without Mr. Beck.

[…]

Many on the news side of Fox have wondered whether his chronic outrageousness — he suggested that the president has “a deep-seated hatred for white people” — have made it difficult for Fox to hang onto its credibility as a news network. Some 300 advertisers fled the show, leaving sponsorship to a slew of gold bullion marketers whose message dovetails nicely with Mr. Beck’s end-of-times gospel. Both parties go to some lengths to point out that that the discussion has nothing to do with persistent criticism from the left.

 

WHERE’D BECK’S MINIONS GO?

This is all pretty persuasive, but there’s another way of looking at this. Adam Serwer argued yesterday:

I think the answer may be in this Pew poll Ben Smith flagged yesterday showing that the number of people “angry at the federal government” has declined by 9 percent. According to Pew, “much of the decline” comes from “Republicans and Tea Party supporters.” Republicans have calmed down, and Beck has stayed high-strung.

The whole Republican narrative is based on the idea that conservatives are the “real Americans” and that liberals and Democrats are illegitimate democratic actors who only gain power through illicit means. Beck and his chalkboard met the need conservatives had to persuade themselves of this in the aftermath of political losses in 2006 and particularly 2008. Republicans, having regained control of the House and excised the existential crisis caused by losing the presidential election, feel like things are “getting back to normal.” So they simply don’t have the same appetite for the kind of cathartic insanity Beck provides. It’s not really that Beck has really changed; it’s that Republicans don’t really need him anymore.”

I agree with most of this, but not quite all of it. Looking at the numbers, Beck’s decline occurred throughout 2010, before Republicans had a successful midterm cycle, and during a period of ambitious Democratic policymaking. Things hadn’t quite gotten “back to normal” when Beck’s audience moved on.

But I agree that the larger societal developments have very likely had a real impact. There were times in early 2009, with the threat of a global economic collapse a little too real, that plenty of folks were thinking, “Oh God, oh God, we’re all going to die. Time to stock up on canned goods and ammunition.” Beck’s madness spoke to those anxieties quite effectively.

And yet, we’re not there anymore. The economy’s growing; Democrats didn’t eliminate capitalism; there are no secret messages in the clouds implanted by Islamic gay communists. The country is slowly exhaling after a period of tumult.

It’s not just that Republicans don’t really need Beck anymore; it’s that Americans don’t really need Beck anymore, now that the intensity of the anxiety has passed.

More>>>

{Also, please check out a story about Beck on Morning Blog today}

 

POLITICS

 

Racketeer Rabbit Republicans

KO’s FOK:

When the country has rejected, one-by-one, the antiquated principles of the Republican party; when two cops at the ballgame in Clearwater today come up to me and say “we’re Conservatives but this crap with our unions here and in Wisconsin has gotta stop”; when enough Republicans have already rejected Scott Walker that if another election were held today he’d be voted out of office two months after he assumed it – how does the Right Wing/Media/Industrial Complex continue to throw around so much weight?

[…]

The latest evidence to support a brilliant but heinous effort to forcibly swing public opinion via the use of phony advocates? A remarkable piece by a website on Jewish faith called The Tablet nonchalantly reveals that the same company that syndicates the shows of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity has also employed actors to call in to those shows and pretend to be real people with real opinions and real problems.

[…]

Need a plan to overwhelm a liberal or just a news site with outraged computer-generated Conservative personas to make up for the ones who don’t actually exist? “How ’bout me, Boss?”

Or to stir up a perception of violence at a non-violent protest in Wisconsin (or anywhere else, perhaps), without even using palm tree video? “And me, Boss.”

Or to literally buy smiling supporters for Newt Gingrich’s idiotic presidential exploration campaign site when there aren’t any (and even convert old Ted Kennedy supporters in the process)? “And me, Boss!”

Or to make it seem like there is no liberal point of dissent on a given issue by simply knocking protest sites off the air. “And me, Boss?”

Or to create a web sock-puppet to deliberately abuse in order to gain the trust of a Liberal site? “And me, Boss?”

Sigh.

More>>>

 

Things to Come: the Next Big Occupation Could be Boomers Taking Over the Capitol Building

The dramatic and inspiring occupation of the Wisconsin Statehouse in Madison by angry public workers and their supporters over the past few weeks is an exciting preview of what we can expect to see in the halls of Congress before long, as right-wing forces, funded by corporate lobbies and corporate-funded think-tanks push hard for cutbacks in Social Security and Medicare.

The drive to undermine these two critically important social programs is moving into high gear as the 79-million Baby Boomers this year start to reach eligibility, even as their other assets–their homes and their investment portfolios–are still shriveled by the Wall Street heist known as the “fiscal crisis” and Great Recession.

For years, the right has been gravely warning of the supposedly looming “bankruptcy” of Social Security and the even more imminent “bankruptcy” of Medicare, as though these twin disasters for the elderly were an actuarial imperative. In fact, both programs are political creations, whose problems have political causes and political solutions.

[…]

But here’s the big point: Corporate America, and its political lackeys in the Republican and Democratic Parties, know that they are about to confront a dramatically more powerful protagonist in their campaign to kill Social Security and Medicare: the Boomer Retirees.

The so-called Senior Lobby is already enormously powerful. That’s why Social Security has so far largely defied concerted efforts by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush to undermine it, and it’s why Republicans and conservative Democrats running for national office always hasten to claim they are not going to threaten Social Security or Medicare, or at least that they won’t threaten “current beneficiaries.” It’s why they call Social Security the “third rail” of American politics: touch it and you die (for those of you unfortunate enough to live where there are no subways, the third rail is the “hot” rail that carries the electricity to power the electric trains).

But a Boomer retiree population will be two times the size of the current retiree population.

More>>>

SCIENCE

 

Kilauea Lava spews 65 feet high after crater collapse

Kilauea has been in constant eruption since Jan. 3, 1983.

A new vent has opened at one of the world’s most active volcanoes, sending lava shooting up to 65 feet high, scientists at Kilauea volcano said Sunday.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said the fissure eruption was spotted shortly after the floor at the Pu’u O’o crater collapsed around 5 p.m. Saturday. It occurred along the middle of Kilauea’s east rift zone, about 2 miles west of Pu’u O’o.

VIDEO

 

SCOTUS

 

Clarence Thomas’ dangerous conceit

Jonathan Turley:

Thomas used the friendly audience to finally address a chorus of criticism over his alleged conflicts of interest and violation of federal disclosure rules concerning his wife’s income. Rather than answer these questions, however, Thomas denounced his critics as “undermining” the court and endangering the country by weakening core institutions.

In January, Common Cause released documents showing that Thomas had attended events funded by conservative billionaires David and Charles Koch. Thomas was even featured in Koch promotional material — along with Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and others — for events that sought financial and political support for conservative political causes.

Worse yet, Common Cause discovered that Thomas had failed to disclose a source of income for 13 years on required federal forms. Thomas stated that his wife, Virginia, had no income, when in truth she had hundreds of thousands of dollars of income from conservative organizations, including roughly $700,000 from the Heritage Foundation between 2003 and 2007. Thomas reported “none” in answering specific questions about “spousal non-investment income” on annual forms — answers expressly made “subject to civil and criminal sanctions.”

In the interests of full disclosure, I was consulted by Common Cause before the release of the Thomas documents. I found the violations regarding Virginia Thomas’ income particularly alarming.

[…]

A justice is expressly required by federal law to recuse himself from any case “in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” This law specifically requires recusal when he knows that “his spouse … has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding, or any other interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding.”

The financial disclosure forms are meant to assist the public in determining conflicts of interest. Though Thomas clearly could argue that his wife’s ties to these organizations were not grounds for recusal, he denied the court and the public the ability to fully evaluate those conflicts at the time. Instead, Thomas misled the public for years on the considerable wealth he and his wife were accumulating from ideological groups.

More>>>

 

UNIONS

 

Democrats to End Union Standoff

Playing a game of political chicken, Democratic senators who fled Wisconsin to stymie restrictions on public-employee unions said Sunday they planned to come back from exile soon, betting that even though their return will allow the bill to pass, the curbs are so unpopular they’ll taint the state’s Republican governor and legislators.

[…]

Mr. Miller declined to say how soon the Democratic senators, who left for Illinois on Feb. 17, would return. He said the group needed to address several issues first—including the resolution Senate Republicans passed last week that holds the Democrats in contempt and orders police to detain them when they return to Wisconsin.

Amid the public demonstrations and Democratic walk-out, the two sides have been negotiating. Mr. Fitzgerald said the governor is negotiating through two staff members with two Democrats, Sen. Bob Jauch and Sen. Tim Cullen. And last week, Mr. Fitzgerald met ago with Mr. Jauch and another Democrat in Kenosha.

[…]

“I think we have to realize that there’s only so much we can do as a group to make a stand,” Mr. Jauch said. “It’s really up to the public to be engaged in carrying the torch on this issue.”

More>>>

The Above Story May be a Lie: Dems downplay Miller comments

Senate Dems late tonight sought to downplay Minority Leader Mark Miller’s comments that they plan to return to the Capitol soon for a vote on the budget repair bill to put their GOP colleagues on record in the face of polls that show the legislation is not sitting well with the public.

Miller told the Wall Street Journal that moving forward with a vote on the budget repair will would give Dems more leverage in seeking changes to the 2011-13 budget the guv released earlier this week.

But a Miller spokesman and two of his Dem colleagues insisted nothing has really changed for the caucus and Dems continue to seek alterations to the repair bill.

Sen. Bob Jauch, who along with Sen. Tim Cullen has been part of the negotiations with the governor’s staff, said Dems have known all along they would have to return to Wisconsin at some point. That position hasn’t changed in the past two weeks, and he said Dems want to force their Republican colleagues to show the public whether they stand with the governor or with workers when it comes to the proposed changes.

“I think he’s speaking the truth that at some point – and I don’t know when soon is – at some point we have to say we’ve done all we can,” Jauch said.

Cullen declined comment, saying Miller didn’t speak with him before making the comments, while Sen. Jon Erpenbach, who’s been the lead contact with media during the standoff, said Dems are not preparing to return.

Miller spokesman Mike Browne insisted there was nothing really new in Miller’s comments and that Dems continue trying to keep the lines of communication open in what has been a fluid situation.

“The bottom line is that Democrats would still like to see a reasonable negotiated settlement,” Browne said.

Jauch said even though the repair bill was engrossed by the Senate, he knows from his more than 25 years in the Legislature there are ways changes could still be made.

 

AND IN OTHER NEWS…

 

Arianna Huffington And Wendi Murdoch Celebrate Kathy Freston And ‘Veganist’

Celeb guests included Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, media heavyweights Les Moonves, Brian Grazer, and Bob Iger, environmental activists James Van Der Beek and Kimberly Brook, and vegan adherent Moby. The event was also sprinkled with a healthy dose of AOL employees, including CEO Tim Armstrong, and HuffPost staffers and bloggers.

Halfway through the evening, Huffington took the floor to honor her friendship with both Murdoch and Freston, saying, “Basically, it proves that girlfriends transcend politics!”

[That’s what being a whore means. It transcends EVERYTHING.]

 

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing

because he could do only a little.

– Edmund Burke

Written by Chernynkaya

I am an artist and have lived in Los Angeles all of my life, except for a brief hippie period when I lived in SF. I am currently (semi-unwillingly) retired, but have had several careers.

143 Responses so far.

Click here to leave a comment
  1. escribacat says:

    Questinia says:
    03/07/2011 at 8:27 PM

    e-cat, shall I send you my bill?! :)

    ————————————

    Q--That post of yours down below about being afraid of one’s thoughts is worth a bit!

  2. chasethis says:

    Jeebus. Yous guys write some really long posts. One of these days (real soon) I’d like to address addressing issues in 30, 45, 90 and 180 word or fewer word comments. A short post challenge. Think of it as an homage to tidy, conservative Lutheran English Majors.

  3. Chernynkaya says:

    escribacat says:
    03/07/2011 at 8:20 PM (Edit)

    Q–Interesting fact about being in the process of something keeps away panic attacks. I’ve noticed that I’m quite content as long as I’m working on a juicy project. If I don’t have something like that going, I start drifting sideways and suffering existential angst.
    ___________________________

    Ahem. Why I blog. And paint.

    • kesmarn says:

      It would be interesting to do a survey on the number of us who’ve battled the Panic Attack Monster.

      Count me in. Like you, Cher, initially the treatment was Valium. But I had a smart doc who sensed the truth that I could so learn to love Valium! And after 3 weeks, luckily for me, he cut me off.

      I battled them on and off for years after that until nurses’ training, when I took a psych class taught by a fabulous clinical psychologist who looked exactly like Roseanne Barr and was just about as funny. She had successfully used a behavioral approach to treat panic attacks and taught the whole class how to “self-talk” our way through these things.

      She said to start out (when anyone felt an attack coming on) by saying to ourselves that no one ever died of a panic attack (who knows if that’s true; it worked). And that panic attacks virtually never last more than about ten minutes. Then we were supposed to remind ourselves that we had been through this whole thing many times before and we were still alive. And that if we could manage to just wait for about ten minutes, this would be history.

      I know that sounds simplistic, but honest to God, it cured me.

      Still, painting and blogging are on-going therapy, too!

    • escribacat says:

      Why I write books (publishable or not).

    • Questinia says:

      Sublimation is a good thing!

  4. chasethis says:

    Good evening, everyone. I’m just checking in after days and days of subterranean ad writing blues. Ad writers’ motto: We make shit up. Please believe us.

    Tell me something good.

  5. Chernynkaya says:

    kes, a mean nurse is akin it an abusive parent to my mind. Grrr! I had one once--during that meningitis episode. But all the others were saints.

    I’ve told my family that if and when I need long-term care, I want Philippine nurses. At every retirement home or convalescent hospital I’ve seen, they take wonderful and respectful care of the elderly. Must be cultural.

    • escribacat says:

      Hmm. Maybe the Philippines would be a nice place to retire.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        e’cat-- before you do, scroll down to WTS reply to me below.

        • escribacat says:

          Cher, So they’re all in this country ! But I remember seeing a program about Americans retiring to nursing homes in Mexico. The hispanic culture also has much warmer feelings toward the elderly. Seems like the American “throw-away” society not only pertains to “thingies” but people too.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Philippine doctors and nurses are on their way to becoming the world’s healers. And as they do, I think a worldwide chakra may just open. It will be one of those moments (in fact, perhaps the first) when the West realizes they have a LOT to learn from other cultures.

      • escribacat says:

        That sounds wonderful, wts. I think the hospital environment here could use some serious improvement as well. When my mom was dying in 2006, I remember what a relief it was to get her out of the hospital and to hospice. In hospice, she became a person again, not The Patient in Room B. The nurses were different — so gentle and kind they literally made me weep when I watched them get her settled in bed. Kes — I know you are a nurse in a hospital and I hope I don’t hurt your feelings when I say this. I think nursing must be an incredibly difficult job and I know I couldn’t do it. But when my mom got to wear regular pyjamas again and there weren’t any beeping machines or tubes and they weren’t dragging her off for more tests all the time…wow. I don’t know how it was for her because she was already out of it, but for me and the rest of my family it was such a huge difference.

        • kesmarn says:

          No offense taken at all, e’cat! Truthfully, if I could move to hospice nursing from the hospital, I would do it in a heartbeat. But with the terrible economy in this area, there are no openings, believe it or not. This is one part of the country where there is actually a glut of nurses.

          The beautiful part of hospice nursing is the gift of time. There is horrific pressure in the hospital setting to get people in and out quickly. They are now literally looking at ways to shave seconds off of peoples’ lengths of stay. Every hour means dollars. And it’s always and eternally about the dollars — even at the non-profits.

          In hospice you have all the time in the world. And no chest tubes, dialysis, stat EKGs, IV piggybacks, heart monitors, etc., etc. I’ve had two friends in hospice care and it was like stepping into heaven after having been in the purgatory that is the hospital setting these days.

          • escribacat says:

            Wow, kes. Exactly like the article about psychiatry.

            Now that you mention it, the personality differences in the hospice nurses certainly had a lot to do with the fact that they were less stressed — even though they were dealing with the dying.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        Whats--i am so glad you validated that. I thought it was just me.

        • whatsthatsound says:

          oh, it’s real. But the sad thing is so many doctors leave their own country, and take jobs as nurses in the U.S. because they make perhaps ten times more as stateside nurses than doctors in their own country. But they probably send half of that home. That country is totally dependent on the income flow from its diaspora of maids, nurses, entertainers, etc. And it is made even sadder by how devoted to family Philippinos are. It’s heartbreaking for most of them to have to leave, I’d guess. But the country has been so smart to develop its medical industry so well. The world will always need healers.

    • kesmarn says:

      Yes, I’ve had mean ones, too, Cher. And you’re right; they are like abusive parents. And, of course, as a patient you’re so darned vulnerable. You wouldn’t be in the blasted hospital if you weren’t relatively helpless. For anyone to take advantage of that is despicable.

      I think Asian culture in general is more respectful toward the aged. You’d be amazed at the numbers of younger nurses here who harbor feelings bordering on hatred for patients over — say — fifty. They seem to really believe that they’ll never age themselves.

      Or there’s the other approach of the patronizing condescension, complete with “elderspeak.” (The sing-song delivery of chipper, dimwitted platitudes.)

      I won’t even get in to what texting is doing to damage patient care. You’d hardly believe it. Part of the problem is people going into nursing who despise the work but love the paycheck. They are the bane of the profession.

      Sorry…end of rant!

      • Chernynkaya says:

        Kes-- I have witnessed the patronizing sort. They call their elderly patients “grandma” or “mommy.” So clueless. I can’t wait ’til they age. It is frightening to me to think of bad nurses. They are our line of defense.

        • kesmarn says:

          It is scary, Cher. (See my reply to e’cat below.) Some of them don’t even seem to “get” the basic, simple fact that not every older patient is senile!

          How about looking a patient in his/her eyes, with a pleasant look (not open disgust) on one’s face, and actually having a conversation before passing judgment? “But old people are sooo boring…” Grrrrrr…

          • escribacat says:

            Kes, My niece’s friends are ALL like that. For years, everyone over 30 was clearly invisible to them. Now that they’re over 30, I think it’s been bumped up to 40 or 50. I do hope I live long enough to see them get old and ugyly!! Truly, they all seem narcissistic and shallow — even though they’re not particularly stupid.

            • kesmarn says:

              Whew…and I thought I was the only one!

              Honest to God, e’cat, you’ve made my evening. I was thinking I was starting to go paranoid!

          • Chernynkaya says:

            Kes, from my perspective, young nurses are soooo boring! :-)

      • escribacat says:

        Kes--What do you mean about the texting?

        • kesmarn says:

          A percentage of younger nurses (sorry to be ageist, but there is a division here) carry their cell phones in their pockets, e’cat. And — I swear — it is like an addiction with them. They have to text constantly. They will text during report. They’ll dash through their duties so they can run back to the nurse’s station and text. They’ll duck into empty rooms and text. It’s ridiculous.

          There’s been a long-standing tradition in nursing that nurses help each other when one of them is particularly burdened. But these “girls” don’t. They give minimal attention to their own tasks and everyone else can go to hell as far as they’re concerned.

          Can you tell it’s a pet peeve? :-(

          • Chernynkaya says:

            Call Dr. Cuddy! Fire their asses.

            • kesmarn says:

              Oh Cher! I wish! This subject comes up with management all the time. But it’s so hard to catch them in the act. They’re good at duck and cover; I’ll give them that much!

          • escribacat says:

            Kes, I don’t blame you for being peeved. That would drive me bananas. I’m not a texter and really don’t get that need to be constantly giving and getting updates. I mean, what the hell are they texting about? “Taking a break in ten minutes!” “On break now!” “Staying longer on my break now!”

            • kesmarn says:

              I almost never text, e’cat. And I would say never at work. For starters, the patients themselves are a lot more interesting than a little flat screen with words on it.

              But I’m weird that way…

              And — if only they were texting such benign comments — but I gather most of it is about the stupid people they have to work with and the stupid patients they have to take care of. Some of them radiate that attitude. Not all, mind you…but a fair percentage!

    • escribacat says:

      Cher/Kes, I had a Nurse Ratchet when I broke my arms (both) in college in a bike accident. I later got a staph infection in one of the elbows and had to go back into the hospital abruptly. This awful nurse kept yelling at me when I didn’t remember to keep the elbow elevated. She had me in tears she was so nasty about it. All these years later, I still remember that old bitch vividly. She liked having power and abused it.

      • kesmarn says:

        e’cat, I hear you!

        I’ve always said that the people who go into nursing or teaching can be divided into two groups. The ones who do it because they love their patients/kids and the ones who do it because they love to bully people. Both occupations — unfortunately — give ample opportunity for both approaches.

        Now, though, there’s a stronger emphasis on “customer service” (thank God) and all you have to do in most places is to say: “I want to talk to the nursing supervisor on duty,” and you will see an amazing change in attitude pronto. Heh-heh-heh…

  6. escribacat says:

    That’s an interesting link, Cher, about psychiatrists giving up on talk and just prescribing meds. What’s really interesting is that the author quotes psychiatrists as saying they are unfulfilled because they don’t even know their patients’ names any more. Yet, it appears that it’s purely a matter of choice that the psychiatrists don’t talk any more. And here’s why:

    Recent studies suggest that talk therapy may be as good as or better than drugs in the treatment of depression, but fewer than half of depressed patients now get such therapy compared with the vast majority 20 years ago. Insurance company reimbursement rates and policies that discourage talk therapy are part of the reason. A psychiatrist can earn $150 for three 15-minute medication visits compared with $90 for a 45-minute talk therapy session…

    …Of course, there are thousands of psychiatrists who still offer talk therapy to all their patients, but they care mostly for the worried wealthy who pay in cash. In New York City, for instance, a select group of psychiatrists charge $600 or more per hour to treat investment bankers, and top child psychiatrists charge $2,000 and more for initial evaluations.

    They quote a doctor as saying that the $90 per 45 minutes was not “economically viable.” Wow.

    • Questinia says:

      Certain disorders like Generalized Anxiety Disorder have been shown to do better with talk. I see meds as re-booting and creating a platform from which to learn. I try to get people off meds, but many want to remain, as often they should.

      Social Workers earn 150 and more an hour in Manhattan. Ninety dollars/hour is not viable there.

      I’m a throwback. I can’t see anyone for less than 30 minutes and even with “just meds” people i do a lot of talk, mainly education, but I try to expedite the efficacy of the meds with talk.

      It’s probably cause I just LIKE TO TALK!! Seriously, I am privileged to be the witness of so many lives in the way I am. I never take that for granted.

      • KillgoreTrout says:

        Q, are you a psychiatrist or a psychologist? Do you have an MD?

      • escribacat says:

        Q — I’ve always thought that would be interesting, but I think I’d have trouble with “toxic” people. I’ve always wondered why some people feel toxic to me — maybe I make it up.

        • Questinia says:

          They’re toxic to you cause they are toxic! Most toxic people, imo, are NOT in therapy. It’s generally the people in the toxic people’s lives who are.

          Otherwise, if in therapy, in the room they are not toxic but hurting and confused, scared, and ill-equipped.

          If they remain toxic and abusive (toward me) I “yell” at them. Either they leave or they stay. Ninety-nine percent stay and we get on great after that. I consider it a zen slap. But, they need to know they are sincerely cared for first.

        • Chernynkaya says:

          Trust me--you don’t.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        Q, in my 20’s I had two serious illnesses (meningitis and a pulmonary embolism. And in between a bad acid trip.) For a decade I suffered panic attacks. The only thing that helped (and this was 35+ years ago) was Valium as needed. Therapy would have been, I think, less efficacious without it. The attacks diminished but lingered over that period, and eventually I just needed to have a Valium nearby to prevent a full-blown attack. I can wholeheartedly attest to the benefits of both talk and drugs.

        Q-- I imagine you are an amazing doc.

        • Questinia says:

          Cher, if you weren’t having panic attacks after all that, I’d be more worried for you!

          • Chernynkaya says:

            Q-- I guess. But what ended them? When I found out I was pregnant. I knew I had to kiss Valium goodbye. And I remember this vividly: I said to myself, “Look,you’re gonna feel a lot of new sensations. They might trigger a panic. But you have to wait until you give birth and then you can resume the attacks. For the next 7 months you cannot have any more panic attacks.” Now, if anyone had suggested I could do that, I’d have stomped out the door.

            • Questinia says:

              Suffering existentialist angst and being afraid of one’s own thoughts keep me in business, e-cat.

              Keep it coming!!

            • escribacat says:

              Q--Interesting fact about being in the process of something keeps away panic attacks. I’ve noticed that I’m quite content as long as I’m working on a juicy project. If I don’t have something like that going, I start drifting sideways and suffering existential angst.

            • Questinia says:

              People tend not to have panic attacks while they are in the process of something.

              The hormones of pregnancy, evolutionarily speaking, make the expectant mom not panic.

            • Chernynkaya says:

              E’cat--Oh yes. Immediately. The attacks resumed after about 2 years, and then went away entirely.

            • escribacat says:

              Cher -- Did it work?

        • escribacat says:

          Cher, I agree there are uses for both. I’ve used both at times as well. Actually, I take Sam-E now and works better than prescription meds I tried in the past. I think I got a lot out of the talk therapy I’ve tried in the past. Actually, I think everyone could use a good dose of talk therapy!

          • KillgoreTrout says:

            I think it really depends on the illness being treated.
            Clinical depression, at least in my case is largely a matter of brain chemistry and certain drugs are essential.
            I know that many therapists consider a mix of drugs and talk therapy to be the most effective. Especially with PTSD.
            AA is, in essence, talk therapy, without the therapist. Group therapy is also effective for many.
            In my case, I need the drugs I take. I once got very tired of taking them, and decided to stop. Big mistake.

            • KillgoreTrout says:

              e’cat, that is just sooo sad. Especially sad because of the children.
              I have considered suicide several times in the past, but the thought of what it would do to my daughter always prevented me from carrying it out.
              A parent’s suicide is extremely hard on the children of such cases.

            • KillgoreTrout says:

              Thanks cher. I think in any stressful situation talk is good. Constructive talk, I mean.
              Having gone through as many alcohol treatment programs as I have, I have hundreds of hours of group therapy, and also many, many hours of AA meetings. It does help greatly.
              I am what doctors refer to as a dual diagnosis case. Meaning that I have clinical depression/anxiety disorder and PTSD as well as alcoholism.
              A long strange trip indeed.

            • escribacat says:

              Kilgore — I am sure you are right about that. I’ve told some here that I’m a victim advocate. A couple weeks ago I went to the scene of a suicide — 25 year old mother of two toddlers shot herself in the head. She’d been taking her meds sporadically — the worst thing she could have done. The results were obviously catastrophic.

            • Chernynkaya says:

              KT-- I know from experience with someone very close that what you say is indisputable.

          • Chernynkaya says:

            Absolutely, e’cat.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      E’cat I wish QUESTINIA would weigh in on this. it seems to me these psychiatrists could be replaced by psycho-pharmacologists, and cheaper.

      I believe in talk therapy and this is very discouraging to me. And yes, they don’t HAVE to do it.

      • Questinia says:

        I do mostly talk therapy and meds together. Ninety percent are one hour appointments. I do not take insurance. I practice in NYC. I see investment bankers, corporate lawyers, teachers, business people, moms, sports figures, actors, artists, students. I don’t advertise.

        The rich subsidize the not as rich. I’m up front about it.

        These psychiatrists are unwitting drug pushers and caught up in the insurance racket. This is incompatible with care. I know not only my patient’s names, but I know their dreams from five years ago. I also know their children, parents, siblings, spouses, in-laws. Why? because I treat them too. I’m a family psychiatrist.

        There is NO substitute for hands-on care. None.

        • kesmarn says:

          Q, it’s such a relief to hear that you do old-school psychiatry. We have a regular psych unit, a geriatric psych unit and a psych ICU at our hospital and the docs only prescribe meds-- no talk therapy. Social workers do group therapy and there are activities on the units.

          I’ve been in rooms on the regular floors when the psychiatrists do rounds (if it’s a patient with a psych issue as well as medical/surgical ones) and the average visit/assessment lasts less than 2 minutes. Tweak the meds, then on to the next one. It feels very “assembly line.”

          Good on ya!

          • Questinia says:

            Oh k’es. It’s horrible! The patients, as you know, don’t know better many times and let’s face it, some psychiatrists can be the most sadistic and mean bunch of folk. Put them in a position of authority and…. yikes!

            • jkkFL says:

              Once again- how much of insurance intolerance are we dealing with? There is a strict limit on psych care- and the Docs are under the gun to fix and release. Ten days is normally the limit; further treatment requires their case be transferred to a mental healthcare provider. Getting approval is nearly impossible, and the number of coverage days is extremely restricted- even under Medicare.
              Some Doctors may be buttheads, but some are just pragmatic -they have been there before..

            • Questinia says:

              k’es, not caring at work tends to contaminate the rest of one’s life. If you care at work, I think it’s easier to leave your work behind, so then you can care better for yourself at home.

              I never take my work home with me. If I do then I know it’s my issue with a particular type (see “toxic people” above) or the patient needs to be re-evaluated somehow.

            • kesmarn says:

              That’s an extremely interesting take on the question, Q. I think you’re on to something there.

            • Questinia says:

              K’es, no. I think it’s more difficult not to care. That takes the real toll!

            • kesmarn says:

              Some nurses, too, Q! (Nurses Diesel and Ratchet aren’t always only in the movies.)

              Our psychiatrists seem less ornery than totally disengaged. But then, it must take a toll to actually care, no?

        • escribacat says:

          I am glad to hear it, Q! I don’t know if you read the article, but the psychiatrist they interviewed talked about how his office was just like a bus station and they were just cranking people through and doing instant diagnoses and tweaking drug cocktails. And the weird thing was the doctor and his wife, who worked there, made it sound like it was beyond their control.

          • Chernynkaya says:

            E’cat, as psychiatrists you’d think they’d understood the phenomenon of rationalization!

          • Questinia says:

            I should read the article. I worked in a clinic setting like that once. At one point i just wanted to throw Prozac capsules out my door into the waiting room. But, I learned that people need to wait so a thorough job can be done.

            My patients wait. I see people often for longer than an hour because sometimes it’s necessary or just “organic”. They understand because they know they’ll receive the same amount of time in kind.

            The clinic made money ultimately because I had a very high rate of “shows”. They showed up and waited. Sometimes I’d pop out and sing ’em a song to entertain them 😉

            I said sometimes!!

            • Chernynkaya says:

              I love that, Q!!!

            • Questinia says:

              You gotta make them laugh, Cher. I make it a point to crack people up. If that don’t work I try to crack myself up. Interestingly, many people don’t crack up until they see me crack up.

              Sometimes we double over.

              I said sometimes!!

            • Chernynkaya says:

              Q, I envision you throwing Prozac on the wooden floor like sand and then doing a little soft-shoe while you sang and twirled your cane. What a waiting room! Indeed--what therapy!!

              (oh!- Dancing With Prozac R us.)

        • Chernynkaya says:

          Brava, Q! I thought as much. I was subsidized for several years by a great therapist. I find these docs who just write scripts to be breaking their oath of ‘do no harm’ even if they make no mistakes.

          And thanks for answering our call!

          • Questinia says:

            The worst is when patients (not only in psych) get transferred to other doctors with a diagnosis that never gets challenged. I can’t tell you how many “schizophrenics” I have seen who were mislabeled. Every person deserves a complete reconsideration and thorough evaluation. Even if they stay with you.

            The worst thing in the world is a rigid doctor. Make that, a rigid doctor who only writes Rx’s and has them pre-written as you enter the door.

            • Questinia says:

              e~cat, DO NOT GET ME STARTED!!

              And… good going! Orthopods can be the worst. That you were “punished” as well is odious.

              See “toxic people” above.

            • escribacat says:

              I had an ugly battle with a doctor over a herniated disc. He kept insisting I needed surgery. I researched the surgery he was proposing and found out that the results were the same five years down the road with and without surgery, and the risks were high. So I refused. He didn’t like me arguing with him and refused to refill my pain med prescription. The day I told that asshole off was the day my back started feeling better.

  7. jkkFL says:

    Cher- since there is a time difference, (I live on the other side)! I now read my morning news about noon :)
    But I am here faithfully every day- waiting for it to pop up!
    I Know how much work this is and I just want to tell you every sentence is appreciated!
    Now, if we could just get PW to have HRH MsMaggie to stand with a sign saying ‘Read The Daily Planet’ my day would be started off just right!!

  8. SequimBob2 says:

    Cher,

    Thanks for your usual great collection of informative articles. I have a couple of questions for you or other members orbiting nearby.

    The article on Social Security says SS is not part of the Deficit. Here is the 2010 budget / spending as presented by Wikipedia. Social Security is roughly 20% of spending and a definite contributor to the $1.2T deficit. What am I missing?

    2010 US Federal Budget Outlays……..$3,552,000,000,000
    2010 US Federal Budget Tax Receipts…$2,381,000,000,000
    Projected 2010 Deficit ……………$1,171,000,000,000

    80% of spending consumed by the following:

    Social Security ……..19.63%….$697,257,600,000
    Dept. of Defense……..18.74%….$665,644,800,000
    Unemployment, Welfare…16.13%….$572,937,600,000
    Medicare…………….12.79%….$454,300,800,000
    Medicaid, SCHIP …….. 8.19%….$290,908,800,000
    Interest on Debt………4.63%….$164,457,600,000

    ——

    Re: Dem Budget and other messages. Why aren’t the Dems messaging more? The Republicans come out en masse before the cameras at least twice a day, but Obama and the Senate Dems seem oddly quiet considering the various critical debates going on. Is this a strategy or a reflection of a cowed party?

    • Chernynkaya says:

      I’m so glad you read this, Bob! I hope I can answer this--not my strong suit:

      I think that you might only be looking at what goes OUT from the SS fund and not considering the income that goes into it. The number you provided represents the payments to recipients, but not the money that workers pay into the fund, nor the interest from the bonds that also pay into the SS fund.

      As Baker points out, by law, SS is financed by a designated tax and those monies cannot be used for any other purpose. (Except for the one year he mentions.) The money raised through this tax is used to pay benefits. Any surplus is used to buy U.S. government bonds.

      FactCheck argues that Social Security will contribute to the deficit because it will be drawing on the interest on the bonds that it holds beginning in 2016 and later will begin selling these bonds. But those bonds that are sold-well, some entity will BUY them--with money. That’s deficit neutral.

      FactCheck’s confusion probably stems from its reliance on figures for the “unified budget.” This budget adds in the annual surplus or deficit from Social Security.

      However, every single budget document put out by the government also includes the “on-budget” budget that treats Social Security as the distinct program it is under the law. This budget would show that Social Security has no effect on the deficit (except due to the payroll tax cut for 2011), since it is a self-financed program.

      I think this explanation might be clearer:

      http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business/july-dec10/schakowsky_11-22.html

      • 2garden says:

        Thank you for clarifying for Sequim Bob.
        Lots of people think the SSI is coming out of income tax not out of their pay checks that is a separate entity.

  9. ghsts says:

    It’s a roller coaster with Dick Durbin but the man is gracious in person, spouts a great line and knows when to seize the moment, here is hopping he can inspire the silent minority.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      ghsts-- tomorrow I am publishing ways to goose the AWOL Dem party! Shit! I am seething at their attitude about the budget. This is as important a battle as ANYTHING-- and no one is watching.

      • SequimBob2 says:

        Republicans at war and Dems are AWOL — or so it seems.

        Never thought I’d see the day when teachers were considered Public Enemy Number One.

        The world has changed and there will be a price
        We understand and will support the need for sacrifice
        But what about the rich? Will they contribute, too
        Or will all the pain be borne by just me and you

        Will CEO’s, billionaires & Republicans call the shot
        While working class Americans are abandoned to rot
        Will Teachers and Unions simply be cast aside
        And the only voice remaining be a Governor’s pride

        Common sense has been replaced by rote ideology
        So that a clear path forward is not plain to see
        But in 2012, Americans will face a clear choice
        Dems, best find your backbone and use your voice

  10. ADONAI says:

    This is still my favorite section on the site. I don’t have to search everywhere for all this stuff.

    Once again Cher, thank you so much for all the work. It is greatly appreciated on this end.

  11. AdLib says:

    I need to begin by telling you how fantastic the Daily Planet is and that I am a daily “subscriber”!

    All due respect to Dionne, it is not a new or brilliant strategy for the Repubs to throw everything including the kitchen sink into budget cuts then be happy that some get through because the Dems have to defend too much. Very old school stuff and if the Dems have some brains, they will turn the tables and highlight all the cruelty and destruction the Repubs would wreak if they had the Senate and Presidency too.

    You mean the Murdoch-owned WSJ might be putting lies and propaganda out there to fool people into thinking the Dems will return to WI? Shocking!

    As for Arianna and Murdoch, “Slime of a feather oozes together.”

    • choicelady says:

      Hi AdLib -- thanks for calling out E.J. Dionne on this. I thought he was unnecessarily alarmist about what the GOP is doing and the Dem response. The Goopers ALWAYS do this -- they’d toss their gradma into the junk heap if she cost ’em somthing -- but the way to respond is to figure out what they REALLY want, then horse trade with them. Even as the minority party, the Dems have leverage. I think Dionne is alarmist over this.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        CL-- But what if what they really want-- and I honestly believe this to a great extent--is for the economy to tank and for Obama to fail? Then where is the common ground?

        And Boehner has a bunch o’Baggers in the House now--we know what they really want. He might realize that their day is over, or he might still have to cater to them. Either way, the Repubs have to dig in.

        My issue with all of this is that the Dems need to come out and say what THEY want--specifically. All I am certain of (and this is HUGE) is that they will NOT touch SS. Don’t you think?

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Hey, AdLib-- thank you so much!

      Yeah, Dionne was hyperbolic about the “brilliance” of the strategery, but it is still effective. And there’s this tactic too. From Steve Benen:

      I hope everyone, especially congressional Democrats, haven’t forgotten this. Right now, the Republican message is, “Give us all of the cuts we want, or we’ll shut down the government.” And next month, the Republican message will be, “Give us more cuts we want, or we’ll block the debt limit and destroy the economy on purpose.” And later this year, as the debate over next year’s fiscal budget heats up, the Republican message will again be, “Give us all of the cuts we want, or we’ll shut down the government.”

      This is, in other words, a multi-tiered process. Dems are already prepared to give the GOP all kinds of cuts this year — the current White House offer is over $10 billion in cuts — but does the party have a plan for the next round of demands? And the one after that?

      If the Democratic goal is to block the $61 billion in cuts, which would likely cut 700,000 American jobs, that’s obviously a worthwhile objective. But if Republicans succeed in reaching their target incrementally — plenty of drastic cuts in March, plenty more in April, plenty more still in the fall — the consequences for the country will be just as severe.

      http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2011_03/028309.php

      About Ariana “Eris” Whoreington--I thought she couldn’t pal around with worse than Newt/Issa. I was wrong.

      CHEERS!

  12. Truth says:

    Thanks, Cher, I got your message on MB. For once AH did something intelligent…. yet the article I plan is not really meant to put her in any kind of favorable light…
    Thanks anyway, I appreciate your support as well as today’s quote.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Truth-- yes the vegan thing is nice-- but did you read the part that her co-host was a MURDOCH!!

      • Truth says:

        I hoped it was not one of those Murdochs… in that case I may have to add that tidbit somehow. Argg -- I’m getting sick even thinking of her. Glad you put up this quote today…. I have to put it a bit into the spotlight…


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