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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.

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