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Chernynkaya On November - 23 - 2011

You can access all the past editions of The Daily Planet on the green Category bar on the top of each page under the heading PlanetPOV.

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BUSINESS

 

 

Associated Press: Bank earnings at highest levels in four years

 

 

 

Study: corporations with owners from countries with more corruption engage in higher amounts of tax evasion in the U.S.

This paper studies how cultural norms and enforcement policies influence illicit corporate activities. Using confidential IRS audit data, we show that corporations with owners from countries with higher corruption norms engage in higher amounts of tax evasion in the U.S. This effect is strong for small corporations and decreases as the size of the corporation increases. In the mid-2000s, the United States implemented several enforcement measures which significantly increased tax compliance. However, we find that these enforcement efforts were less effective in reducing tax evasion by corporations whose owners are from countries with higher corruption norms. This suggests that cultural norms can be a challenge to legal enforcement.

 

 

 

ECONOMY

 

 

CBO: Obama stimulus helping economy

The Hill:

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Tuesday that President Obama’s 2009 stimulus package continues to benefit the struggling economy.
The agency said the measure raised gross domestic product by between 0.3 and 1.9 percent in the third quarter of 2011, which ended Sept. 30. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that GDP in that quarter was only 2 percent total.
CBO said that the stimulus also lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.2 and 1.3 percentage points and increased the number of people employed by between 0.4 million and 2.4 million.

“CBO estimates that, compared with what would have occurred otherwise, [the stimulus] will raise real GDP in 2012 by between 0.1 percent and 0.8 percent and will increase the number of people employed in 2012 by between 0.2 million and 1.1 million,” a Tuesday report adds.
By CBO’s numbers, the $800 billion stimulus added up to 0.9 million jobs in 2009, 3.3 million jobs in 2010 and 2.6 million jobs in 2011. As the effects of the stimulus wind down, Obama has been pushing Congress to enact a $447 billion jobs bill that includes infrastructure spending and tax cuts.

 

 

 

Americans are being lied to about the deficit

Heather (digby) Parton, Al Jazeera:

[…]And yet, no deal means “sequestration” (also known as “the triggers”) will kick in, which will mean brutal cuts to discretionary spending and defence starting in 2013. If the goal is to cut $1.2tn in order to set the country’s fiscal house in order, why should all these deficit hawks care how the government gets there? Well, it turns out that this isn’t really about deficit reduction at all. The entire exercise is about gutting the social safety net, thus giving the markets “confidence” in the United States’ ability to govern itself.

Ironically, this was considered to be so important that our democratic government had to convene a secretive committee to meet behind closed doors and enact policies that go against the explicit desires of a vast majority of American citizens. In fact, among the chattering classes, defying the citizens has become the defining act of political courage. Nearly all of them have demanded that the Democrats brutally slash their signature social safety net programmes to prove their seriousness while assuming that Republicans could never agree to substantial tax increases.

[…]

The polls have been clear and solid over time: The public cares far more about jobs than deficits and a majority of Americans are opposed to cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Even a majority of Republicans believe that the wealthy should pay more and that the “entitlements” should be left alone. Considering that the world is in the midst of an epic economic slowdown, this should not be surprising. At a time when average working families are feeling intensely vulnerable, the last thing they want is for the government to kick out another leg of the wobbly stool of their financial security. One can only wonder what would happen if the powers that be cared as much about the confidence of the citizen consumers as they do about the confidence of the markets.

But what about those triggers? Well, because they require large cuts in defence, which everyone knows the Republicans will never actually sign off on, it’s highly likely that congress will find a way to scrap them too. After all, any agreement congress makes, it can also break. And it certainly appears that the Republicans have no intention of following through.

What about the threat of another downgrade, which has been furiously floated at the last minute? Well, it could happen. There’s nothing stopping any of these unaccountable credit rating institutions from dispensing another dire warning. The problem is that the more they do that, the less anyone seems to pay any attention to them. When S&P dropped their ominous declaration after the debt-ceiling agreement, the Beltway had a collective case of the vapours, but the markets yawned. (Perhaps smart investors have figured out that institutions that gave triple-A ratings to sub-prime mortgage securities might not be the most reliable analysts.)

Does this mean that there will be no deficit reduction ever, and the country will careen off the cliff burdened by unending debt no matter what? No. In fact, if deficits are one’s most immediate concern, there is another looming “trigger” out there that doesn’t require anyone to do anything. If congress does nothing but name airports after Ronald Reagan and congratulate winning sports teams for the next year, the Bush tax cut legislation will expire in December of 2012 and most of the deficit will be magically gone. If they do the smart thing and put together a real economic recovery programme that works and fully wind down Bush’s wars as well, it will be completely gone.

Obviously, those Bush tax cuts include tax cuts for the middle class, the expiration of which both parties have been unwilling to allow. And it may be unwise to do it at a time when there is already a lack of demand. But citizens have a right to some honesty from their leaders about what they are being asked to give up long-term in exchange for keeping those taxes below what they were during the Clinton years. And that is essentially what we are talking about here.

Perhaps they will agree that it’s worth it to slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on top of a whole host of other government functions rather than pay the same taxes they paid in the year 2000. Or they might say that they would rather the government turn its attention to getting the economy back on track by raising taxes on the wealthy to fund it. They might just say that they want the government to ignore the deficit for a time until the economy is working again and see what happens. (Certainly interest rates don’t indicate that the markets are particularly worried, in spite of non-stop fear-mongering for months on end.)

The point is that the American people are being lied to about the deficit and their choices for fixing it (or not fixing it). And this dishonest campaign is being led by people with a long-standing animus towards the social safety net, who are seizing this moment of confusion to push through something without the permission of the people. This bait-and-switch is happening because financial and political elites insist on demanding “sacrifice” from ordinary people in order to preserve an unsustainable financial system, not an unsustainable debt.

Among those few politicians and economists who are not licking their chops over this unique opportunity to finally destroy any vestige of a welfare state, it is acknowledged that the economic slump and runaway healthcare costs are the main drivers of future debt, neither of which will be fixed by slashing government spending and health benefits. They will, instead, make both of those problems worse, in both the short and the long term. It is exactly the wrong thing to do at the wrong time.

But austerity is the new black plague expanding across the globe, and there seems to be no stopping it. In the US in 2011, gridlock is the only medicine, we have to fight it. If we are lucky, this Supercommittee failure will break the fever and refocus the government where the people want it to be – on jobs, economic justice and financial reform. If they don’t, there’s a little election coming up about a year from now, and the people may decide to find some representatives who will.

 

 

GOP Super Committee Co-Chair: We failed because Democrats wouldn’t privatize Medicare 

ThinkProgress:

[…] Democrats on the committee made it clear that the new spending called for in the president’s health law was off the table” and pretends that the spending in the Affordable Care Act added to the deficit (it actually reduces it). “Republicans offered to negotiate a plan on the other two health-care entitlements—Medicare and Medicaid—based upon the reforms included in the budget the House passed earlier this year,” he continues and lays out the premium support proposal offered by Alice Rivlin and Pete Domenici:

The Medicare reforms would make no changes for those in or near retirement. Beginning in 2022, beneficiaries would be guaranteed a choice of Medicare-approved private health coverage options and guaranteed a premium-support payment to help pay for the plan they choose….These seniors would be able to choose from a list of Medicare-guaranteed coverage options, similar to the House budget’s approach—except that Rivlin-Domenici would continue to include a traditional Medicare fee-for-service plan among the options.

This approach was also rejected by committee Democrats.

The Congressional Budget Office, the Medicare trustees, and the Government Accountability Office have each repeatedly said that our health-care entitlements are unsustainable. Committee Democrats offered modest adjustments to these programs, but they were far from sufficient to meet the challenge. And even their modest changes were made contingent upon a minimum of $1 trillion in higher taxes—a move sure to stifle job creation during the worst economy in recent memory.

Hensarling doesn’t mention that the Rivlin-Domenici premium-support proposal doesn’t so much lower national health care spending as it shifts it to the beneficiary. The plan reduces the federal contribution to Medicare by capping costs for each beneficiary and offering premium support credits that won’t keep up with actual health care spending. The federal government spends less, but seniors will pay more out of pocket for health care benefits every year. The proposal also breaks up the market clout of traditional Medicare and rather than ratcheting up some of efficiencies and payment reforms in the Affordable Care Act, it sets the nation on an untested path of private competition — leaving seniors vulnerable to the manipulations of for-profit health insurers.

Democrats, for their part, offered rather substantial concessions on Medicare spending. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argued, the Democrats’ $3 trillion deficit proposal to the super committee “stands well to the right of plans by the co-chairs of the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson commission and the Senate’s ‘Gang of Six,’ and even further to the right of the plan by the bipartisan Rivlin-Domenici commission.” The plan contained “substantially smaller revenue increases than those bipartisan proposals while, for example, containing significantly deeper cuts in Medicare and Medicaid than the Bowles-Simpson plan.” For instance, Bowles-Simpson offered $383 billion in Medicare and Medicaid, while Democrats put $475 billion on the table.

President Obama introduced $320 billion in health care savings, mostly from the pharmaceutical industry and other providers, including rural hospitals, teaching hospitals, and biotechnology firms. But the plan even incorporated the GOP’s push for greater means testing in Medicare, asking some wealthier beneficiaries to pay more for coverage and sought to give beneficiaries “skin in the game” — as the GOP puts it — to discourage over treatment.

All of these are significant concessions — as are the health cuts included in the trigger mechanism — but Hensarling and Republicans aren’t interested in bipartisan agreement. They’re not accepting anything short of Medicare privatization.

 

 

Wonkbook: In supercommittee, Dems moved right and Republicans moved righter

Ezra Klein:

[…] If by “at fault” we mean “unwilling to compromise,” we can do better than listen to the self-serving remarks of the players. We can look hard at the movement in the actual plans. Before the supercommittee, there were the Obama-Boehner negotiations. And we have a pretty good idea of the plan that almost — but didn’t quite — clear those discussions. We also have the deals on the plans that were offered in the supercommittee. And if you look at the numbers, it’s pretty easy to see which party moved further towards a compromise.

Hint: It’s the one that named Sen. Max Baucus as one of its six key negotiators.

The final Boehner plan envisioned tax reform that would generate $800 billion in new revenues and bring the top rate down to 35 percent. In the supercommittee, the highest Republicans ever got on taxes was the Toomey plan’s $300 billion, with envisioned a top rate of 28 percent. So on taxes, it’s fairly clear: The supercommittee Republicans were far to the right of Boehner.

On the Democratic side, Obama eventually insisted on somewhere near $1.2 trillion in tax reform or, if the revenues were to move lower, on much less in entitlement cuts. In the supercommittee, the Democrats offered a plan (pdf) with less than a trillion dollars in tax reform — and more entitlement reforms than Obama was willing to agree to.

Boehner had about $150 billion in Medicare beneficiary cuts in his opening bid in the negotiations with the president, and he went down from there. In the supercommittee, Baucus offered $200 billion in Medicare beneficiary cuts. Supercommittee Republicans were far beyond that, however. If you read Hensarling’s op-ed today explaining why the committee failed, he complains that Democrats were too focused on tax increases but also that they refused to gut the Affordable Care Act or embrace “architectural changes” like turning Medicare into a premium-support system. You can support those policies or oppose them. They’re not exactly compromise plans, however.

Frankly, it’s hard to find even one area in which supercommittee Republicans offered a substantially new compromise — or even matched what Boehner offered Obama. Which perhaps makes sense. A Pew poll(pdf) earlier this month asked whether, “on the federal deficit, lawmakers who share your views should stand by principles, even if no progress is made,” or “be willing to compromise, even if it means a deal you disagree with.” Among Democrats, 74 percent chose compromise. Among independents, 67 percent chose compromise. Among Republicans, only 52 percent chose compromise. And the 38 percent who chose principles amassed a pretty good record in 2010 of primarying politicians who betrayed them.

One can argue whether the supercommittee truly failed. Perhaps you like the trigger and August’s discretionary cuts, or you think it would be better to address the deficit problem after the next election. But if the question is whether the Democrats or the Republicans moved further in the direction of a compromise, there’s no doubt that compared to the last set of negotiations, the Democrats moved right and the Republicans moved further right.

***

 Supercommittee failure puts the payroll tax cut in jeopardyreports Jia Lynn Yang: The failure of the ‘supercommittee’ raises the chance that working Americans will see their paychecks cut in January, and many economists say that could weaken an already vulnerable U.S. economy. Last year’s payroll tax cut saved the average U.S. household more than $900, according to the Tax Policy Center. But because the supercommittee could not agree on a budget plan, the tax cut, as well as unemployment benefits, could expire at the end of the year…Estimates vary on the extent that growth in the gross domestic product could suffer. Goldman Sachs economic forecaster Alec Phillips estimated that allowing the payroll tax cut to expire would reduce growth by as much as two-thirds of a percentage point in early 2012. Macroeconomic Advisers estimates that it would reduce GDP growth by 0.5 percent.”

The trigger will hit domestic spending very hard, reportsBrad Plumer: “Third Way has provided examples of what would happen if the the trigger’s 7.8 percent cuts were spread evenly, across the board, in 2013. We’d have 608 fewer food-safety inspectors, which would likely lead to some 49,000 more cases of Salmonella, E. coli, and other food-related diseases. We’d have 1,200 fewer FAA air-traffic controllers, which could lead to an estimated 205,527 more flight delays. There’d be 2,326 fewer IRS agents, which would likely lead to $4.5 billion less in tax revenue collected. Indeed, the IRS example illustrates why many observers (see David Leonhardt here) think that cutting domestic spending is so short-sighted — and could, in some cases, worsen our deficit problems down the way…Gutting the IRS makes tax evasion easier, which means less revenue coming in.”

 

 

Struggling small businesses say customers “who have no money” more harmful than government regulations

 

 

 

We Are the One Per Cent

John Kenney, The New Yorker:

Average wealth of the top 1 percent was almost $14 million in 2009, according to a 2011 report from the Economic Policy Institute.
—Washingtonpost.com.

“Shit is fucked up and bullshit.”
—Sign seen at the Occupy Wall Street protest in lower Manhattan.
We, too, have mobilized.

We come from near and far, by any means necessary, some on private jets, others on extremely large private jets.

But you will not find us sleeping in a park and waiting in line at a Burger King to urinate. Have you heard of Mustique? Because that’s where we have mobilized. Don’t bother trying to Google Earth us, though, because we have proprietary military software that prevents you from doing so.

Our numbers may be smaller than those demonstrating in New York and other cities, but we are still a movement, coalesced around a cause, sleeping two and sometimes three people to a villa.

Perhaps you are wondering what our cause is. Perhaps you’re wondering why we, the richest people on the planet, have come together. Perhaps you’re curious whether what we’re undertaking couldn’t technically be called a vacation. These are all good questions.

We’re angry. We’re angry at something we’re calling “imagined frustration.” By this we mean that, except for Congress, the White House, banks, major lobbyists, and the editorial boards of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, no one is listening to us. And we’re tired of it.

You claim to know something about us. You think we are rich beyond comprehension, that we can do anything we please at any time, go anywhere we want at a moment’s notice, wander the earth in a state of constant bliss, enjoying abundant and fabulous sex. Perhaps you do know us.

There are those in the more liberal press who have questioned whether the wealthiest one per cent truly understand how difficult life is for so many Americans right now, and to that we would say— Oh, look, someone just brought in lobster and a Bollinger Grande Année.

Except for money and the almost unnatural flawlessness of my skin, we are no different, you and I. I don’t know who you are or what you look like or how much money you have in the bank. Nor does it matter. Because we’re just men. Unless you are a woman. Or a child. Or a pony. But ponies don’t read magazines, do they? Unless they’re precocious ponies, like Mister Ed. And he wasn’t real. But I think you get my point. And that is: we are the same, except for the coarseness of the skin on your elbows. Do you know that feeling, upon waking at 4 A.M., heart racing, your mind looking twenty, thirty years down the road, wondering how you are going to make ends meet? Worrying about what would happen if you lost your job, asking yourself how you’re going to pay for your kids’ college or retire? Well, I don’t. But I read a story about it once and remember thinking, I’m so glad that’s not me.

What do we want?

Here is our manifesto, still very much a work in progress, as it’s cocktail hour and several of our protesters are out at the pool:

All wealth should be shared equally among the wealthy.

Eradicate poverty. (Note: Maybe a clearer way to say this would be “Eradicate the poor.” Need to discuss.)

End business as usual. (Note: Several members like the sound of this, but they don’t know what it means. A suggestion has been made to add the word “hours” after “business.”)

Implement a rule whereby the public cannot look at us and must keep a distance of at least twenty feet at all times.

Yes, I have more things—more homes and cars and planes and art and underground passages and satellites and private militias and a person whose only job is to grow hair that is genetically identical to my own. But when you take off your pants and I take off my pants and we stand facing each other as naked as the day we were born, except for socks, all I would ask is that you feel my skin and tell me it’s not the softest skin you’ve ever felt on a man. And also realize that we are the same, except for the fact that I have four submarines.

Shit is fucked up and bullshit.

We agree.

Except that we would substitute “money” for “shit,” “awesome” for “fucked up,” and “squash courts” for “bullshit,” and add the words “cannot be used for more than ninety minutes. Please respect club rules. Thank you.” ♦


 

 

ENERGY

 

 

Debate Factcheck: President Obama is reducing our dependence on foreign oil

UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA, OIL IMPORTS ARE DOWN AND ARE PROJECTED TO DECLINE FURTHER THANKS TO THE ADMINISTRATION’S NEW EFFICIENCY STANDARDS AND INCREASED DOMESTIC PRODUCTION

According To The International Energy Agency, U.S. Oil Imports Are Expected To Decline Significantly Because Of New Fuel Efficiency Standards And Increased Domestic Oil And Gas Production, And By 2015, The U.S. Is No Longer Expected To Be The World’s Biggest Oil Importer. [International Energy Agency, 11/9/11]

In 2010, U.S. Dependence On Foreign Oil Fell Below 50% For The First Time Since 1997. [Energy Information Administration, 6/2/11]

As Domestic Demand For Oil Has Decreased, U.S. Exports Of Gasoline And Other Refined Petroleum Products Have Increased By Over 130% Between 2007 And 2010. [Energy Information Administration, 9/7/11]

Fuel Efficiency Standards Established By The Obama Administration For Model Year 2012-2016 Cars Will Conserve About 1.8 Billion Barrels Of Oil. [Joint NHTSA and EPA Press Release, 4/1/10]

  • Fuel Efficiency Standards Proposed For Model Year 2017-2025 Cars Will Save Approximately 4 Billion Barrels Of Oil Over The Lifetime Of Cars And Light Duty Vehicles Sold In That Time Period. [The White House, 7/29/11]

In 2010, Crude Oil Production In The U.S. Reached Its Highest Annual Level Since 2003.[Energy Information Administration, accessed 10/11/11]

Natural Gas Production Is At Its Highest Level In More Than 30 Years. [Energy Information Administration, accessed 11/11/11]

PRESIDENT OBAMA CONTINUES TO CALL FOR THE SAFE AND RESPONSIBLE EXPANSION OF DOMESTIC OIL PRODUCTION, INCLUDING ENCOURAGING OIL COMPANIES TO UTILIZE THE LAND THEY’VE ALREADY LEASED

President Obama Has Called For The “Safe And Responsible” Expansion Of Domestic Oil Production And Has Worked To Speed The Leasing Process In Order To Give Oil Companies More Time To Implement Safety Measures To Prevent Spills.[CNN, 5/14/11]

Since President Obama Took Office, The Bureau Of Land Management Has Held 92 Oil And Gas Lease Sales, Leasing A Total Of More Than 2.5 Million Acres Of Land.[Bureau of Land Management, accessed 11/22/11]

The Number Of Oil And Gas Rigs Operating In The United Stated Has Increased 19% In The Past Year. [Bloomberg, 11/18/11]

The Obama Administration Released Its Oil And Gas Leasing Plan For 2012-2017, Expanding Areas Available For Drilling In The Gulf Of Mexico And Off The Coast Of Alaska. [Bureau Of Ocean Energy Management, accessed 11/8/11]

  • The Plan Makes More Than 75% Of Undiscovered Oil And Gas Resources Available. [Bureau Of Ocean Energy Management, accessed 11/8/11]

President Obama Pledged To Speed Up Environmental Reviews So That Seismic Studies Of Areas Off The Atlantic Coast Can Be Surveyed For Oil And Gas Development. [Associated Press, 5/14/11]

The Obama Administration Will Hold Lease Sales For Oil And Gas Exploration In Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve (NPR-A) Every Year. [New York Times,6/16/11]

In 2010, The Department Of Interior Offered 190 Tracts Of Land Covering 1.8 Million Acres For Lease In The NPR-A. [Department of Interior, 7/9/10]

President Obama’s Energy Plan Includes Incentives Aimed At Encouraging Oil And Gas Companies To Utilize The Millions Of Acres They Already Have Leased For The Production Of Oil And Natural Gas. [Remarks by the President on America’s Energy Security, 3/30/11]

The Department Of Interior Found That More Than Two-Thirds Of Leases In The Gulf Of Mexico And More Than Half Of Leases Onshore Were Idle As Of March 2011. [Department of Interior, 3/29/11]

  •  70% Of Offshore Leases Are Neither Producing Oil Nor Awaiting Approval Of Exploration Or Development Plans. [Department of Interior, 3/29/11]
  • 45% Of All Onshore Leases And 57% Of All Leased Acres Are Inactive. [Department of Interior, 3/29/11]

AT THE SAME TIME, PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS INVESTED IN NEW AND INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES THAT ARE GENERATING ENERGY RIGHT HERE IN AMERICA

President Obama Has Proposed A Clean Energy Standard With A Goal Of Generating 80 Percent Of The Nation’s Electricity From Clean Energy Sources By 2035. [The White House, “Blueprint For A Secure Energy Future,” 3/30/11]

Under President Obama, The Department Of Interior Has Approved 22 Major Renewable Energy Projects On Public Lands, Including 13 Solar Projects Could Produce Enough Power For Approximately 1.5 Million American Homes.[Department of Interior, 8/10/11]

The Obama Administration Is Supporting The Development Of The World’s Largest Wind Farm In Oregon, A Facility That Will Avoid Greenhouse Gas Emissions Equivalent To More Than 212,000 Cars. [Greenwire, 10/11/10]

 

 

 

HEALTH CARE

 

 

I am ObamaCare


I am ObamaCare. Thanks to President Obama’s Health Care Reform, I was able to get PCIP Insurance after I was diagnosed with a uterus full of tumors in the ER. This insurance allowed me to get the surgery I needed to get well.

Thank you President Obama.

Common questions:
Who’s the girl in the photo? Me, Miss M. Turner

Were you paid for this picture? Seriously? *snort* I can’t believe people actually think that. No, no one paid me anything. I’m not affiliated with any campaign or group.

Why did you make this? Because I’ve seen all the “I am 99%” pictures lately and thought I’d do my spin on it because this is what is going on in MY life.

Uterine fibroid tumors are typically benign and common. Why surgery? It’s true that they are VERY common and almost always benign, however, hysterectomy because of fibroids is one of the most common surgeries, period. Fibroids can cause not only severe bleeding, extreme pain, anemia infertility, and sexual pain and discomfort, but can cause bladder issues as well as bowel issues. I had FIVE fibroids of massive size (over 1,200 grams when this started or 2.6 pounds) that made my uterus the size of a woman 4-5 months pregnant. The pain was extreme and they pressed on nerves in my back as well. The ONLY cure for fibroids is uterus removal – hysterectomy. In ALL other treatments they can (and do) grow back. Given the quick growth and massive amount of tumors, it made sense to go with the permanent option rather than remove the tumors only because in 3-5 years, I’d have to do it again. My fibroids were everywhere in my uterus; inside, in the lining and even outside the uterus. I was never going to be able to have children because of the damage that would be done removing them, so I opted for a hysterectomy to cure me of the problem. […]

If it was an emergency, the hospital would have done surgery anyway, so this isn’t true/you could have gotten Medicaid/hospitals don’t turn away people/whatever version there were other options people “think” they know exist. Actually, it was this or cash. And this is a HELL of a lot better. I went into the ER Memorial Day weekend. We couldn’t do the surgery right then and there because I needed more pre-op testing. The hospital discharged me. While it’s true they don’t turn people away in the ER, they most certainly do NOT have to give me surgery. I applied for every single charity/state assistance program there is in Florida. I got denied for all of them. In Florida, it’s all tied into the Department of Children and Families and if you are not pregnant and do not have kids, you do not qualify. Period. How ironic is it that here I was, unable to have kids because of tumors and denied for assistance? My ER stay was $13,347 and was “discounted” down to “$8,008″ for being a “cash” payment. That’s not exactly a manageable number either. On top of that, I also have $1,200 to the ER physician and $250 to the ER radiologist that were billed separately. And that was just a single overnight ER trip! Can you imagine the cost of surgery and inpatient follow-up care?? As a cash payingpatient? It’s utterly impossible.

You know it’s not actually called “ObamaCare” right? Uh, yeah. That’s kinda the point. I’m using the negative term in a positive light. It helps draw attention to it in a more polarizing way. It’s like an intentional irony.

Well, I rather have Single Payer system – what we did get isn’t that great you know! Yeah, I do know. And I too wish we had gotten MORE reform passed. As long as health care is allowed to be a for-profit system, it only works if people stay sick. And that’s fundamentally wrong. Like I said, PCIP isn’t perfect, but it’s something.

I thought the Reform didn’t take effect until 2014? In 2014, regular insurance companies won’t be able to drop you or turn you away or disqualify you if you get sick. (Pre-existing conditions are already eliminated for children; adults have to wait a few more years.) UNTIL THEN, PCIP is the gap program between now and then. It gives people access to medical insurance when they normally wouldn’t be able to get it. For details: http://pciplan.com/

I don’t want to pay your handout! PCIP isn’t a handout and it isn’t free. It’s insurance no different from yours, except mine is probably more expensive since I’m paying all the premium instead of splitting it with an employer. I pay $237/month just in premiums, had $1,000 deductible to meet and I pay 20% of all services as well in co-pay.

 

 

 

Obama signed a “fix” of health reform’s Medicaid provisions into law

The Hill:

President Obama on Monday signed into law legislation making it harder for people to qualifyfor Medicaid and insurance subsidies under the healthcare reform law. Republicans pounced on the provision after discovering that the law would have let some middle-income people qualify for Medicaid because it didn’t count Social Security earnings when determining eligibility. Legislation to change the income definition passed with strong bipartisan support in both chambers. Advocates for people with disabilities however criticized the change. Some 1.8 million people who receive Social Security disability payments are stuck in a two-year waiting period before they can qualify for Medicare, and many of them would have been eligible for Medicaid under the original income definition.

 

 

 

The economic downturn is reducing the growth of health spending

Politico:

The economic slump has put the brakes on health spending, which may bolster a conservative truism: When consumers become more sensitive to the cost of health care, they cut back. Or maybe it supports a progressive one: Forcing consumers to have more ‘skin in the game’ means they will cut back on needed care, not just elective or unnecessary care. And neither side can tell for sure yet whether people have changed spending patterns for good or just postponed seeing doctors or getting tests or treatment until the economy improves or they get too sick to wait any longer…The annual rate for health spending growth was 6 percent in late 2007, according to the Altarum Institute. By 2009, the growth rate had bottomed out at around 3.5 percent.

 

 

 

The administration is using its power to condemn rate increases for the first time

WSJ:

The Obama administration publicly called out an insurance company for making what it deemed an ‘unreasonable’ increase in health premiums–its first use of a new power received under the health-care overhaul passed last year. The Department of Health and Human Services said it examined Everence Insurance of Pennsylvania’s 11.6% average increase for small group plans, and found it to be excessive… The health-care law gave the federal government and the states the power to review rate increases of 10% or more, starting in September. The federal government carries out the review for states whose insurance regulator doesn’t have the authority to prevent the increase.

 

 

 

 

IMMIGRATION


JUSTICE

 

 

When Noncompliance Becomes The Crime Of The Century

In These Times:

A protest led by students from City University of New York against tuition hikes was violently broken up by police Monday evening after protesters ignored orders to disperse.

For the crime of occupying a lobby in a building at Baruch College where the university’s trustees were meeting, police pushed protesters to the ground, beat them with batons, and arrested 15 people.

Carlos Pazmino, 21, a City College student who helped organize the protest told the New York Times, “I saw two people knocked down by cops…They were arrested and one guy’s head was bleeding.”

 

Following the pepper-spraying of peaceful student protesters at UC Davis, the university placed its police chief and two other officers on administrative leave in order to restore calm to the campus. UC Davis Chancellor Katehi recently spoke to students following the police assault and said, “It is my responsibility to earn your trust.”

Last Tuesday, police attacked Occupy Seattle with pepper spray, including a pregnant woman named Jennifer Fox who told The Stranger that she miscarried following the attack. (The Stranger has asked for medical records confirming this and will post an update when they can verify Fox’s claim).

IowaBoyDave posted this video of Fox taken just after she was pepper-sprayed and before medics had arrived:

These recent Occupy Wall Street and student protests around the country have showcased a disturbing police trend of treating noncompliance as a grave crime worthy of being beaten with batons, pepper-sprayed, tear-gassed, or shot with rubber bullets. In fact, noncompliance is the most peaceful way to protest, and police weaponry used to be reserved for violent criminals who attacked officers and posed a very real, serious threat to their physical safety.

Time and time again, police prove that they — not the students or occupiers — are the ones prone to violence.

Attacks by police are often framed as “clashes” by the media, which is highly misleading and creates the illusion of two oppositional forces, equally armed and evenly matched for some kind of physical conflict. In fact, what often happens in these cases is students peacefully assemble (for example at UC Davis,) then police arrive and violently break up the assembly. “Clashes” implies the students are also armed with pepper spray and tasers, and gee, they just happened to lose this one on the field of battle.

Punishment for crimes in America has been inverted with police treating the most petty offenses (noncompliance, property damage) as the Crimes Of The Century, while really bad crimes (bankrupting the world’s economies, launching illegal wars) are given a free pass because the latter crimes are committed by our society’s elite.

The rigged system guarantees police will always fall on the wrong side of showdowns at places like CUNY and UC Davis. If students arrive to protest injustice aspects of our society’s economy perpetrated by the very “one percenters” who have bought and rigged the justice system in their favor, you can probably guess who is going to lose that battle.

The saddest part about all of this is watching citizens cheer on sick police behavior. Some of it, of course, is a response to cartoon cultural relics from the 60s of “dirty hippies,” but more often it seems as though certain individuals have been conditioned to believe that the proper punishment for sitting on a sidewalk is being doused in the face repeatedly with a chemical weapon by police.

Much like in the case of the beloved underwear gnomes, there’s a huge chunk of logic missing. Protester breaking window + _____________ = Shoot them in the head with a tear gas canister. Sure, we can all agree breaking windows is wrong — foolish, even! — and definitely worthy of some kind of punishment. Maybe the protesters should pay for the window, or go work off his/her debt at the business he/she wronged. But since when is damaging property on par with harming a human life?

And there certainly isn’t a logical, coherent defense of officer Pike pepper-spraying innocent, totally peaceful students. And no, “I don’t like hippies” doesn’t count.

 

 

Two OWS Protesters Sue NYPD For False Arrest & Use of Excessive Force at Citibank Protest in October

 

 

AP: All the judges in Penn State’s home county recuse themselves from the criminal case against Jerry Sandusky

 


Texas Supreme Court suspends judge seen in Internet video beating daughter with belt in 2004. 

 

 

Health benefits: Governments can’t break promises, court rules

L.A. Times:

Health benefits for government retirees may not be eliminated if state and local governments had clearly promised workers those benefits, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday.

In a unanimous decision, that state high court said retired Orange County employees may be able to show they had an implied contract that prevented the county from changing a healthcare plan in a way that caused the premiums of many retirees to skyrocket.

Retirees sued the county in 2007  after it revamped the health benefit program to save money.  A federal trial court sided with the county. An appeals court, which is now considering the case, asked the California Supreme Court to clarify state law in the case.

The California high court sided with employees in its ruling, but said there must be clear evidence that the county promised lifetime health benefits.

“This decision says that when you are in the process of doing public employee pension reform, you have to respect the rights of current retirees,” said Ernest Galvan, who represents more than 5,000 Orange County retirees and their family members.

“If you promised them a particular benefit when they were working and promised that would be part of their retirement, then that is a promise you have to keep.”

Lawyers for cities and counties said they were pleased that the court established a hurdle for showing that such promises were made.

“The good news for cities and counties is that the court made it clear that you need very strong evidence that the Legislature intended to create a lifetime benefit,” said Jon Holtzman, who represented associations of California cities and counties.

The case will now return to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and will turn on whether the evidence showed the county made clear promises in its health-benefit program.

 

 

U.S. Justice Dept. says Merck to pay $950 million to resolve allegations of illegal marketing over Vioxx

 

MEDIA

CNN Demolishes Mitt Romney’s ‘Misleading’ New Campaign Ad: It’s ‘A New Low’

Mediaite:

[…] When CNN asked Romney’s team about the error, they cheerfully responded that they did it on purpose.

This appears to have really ticked some folks at the news network off as CNN just did a segment on the ad that was one of the most blistering things we’ve ever seen.

From moment one, the CNN segment makes it clear that the Romney team is making a strikingly and depressingly cynical move. And, really, you can’t argue with that description seeing that the campaign has issued a press release confirming that they know about the error and that Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul cheerfully told CNN that they purposefully “turned Obama’s attack back on him.” However, while regular folks can be offended by such sleazy tactics, it’s rare to see Wolf Blitzer’s voice when he called the ad a “new low.” Perhaps there was something in Saul’s smile that really got under everyone’s skin.

Paul Begala explained the reason why news outlets may be taking this so personally, pointing out that the strategy of the Romney team seems to be to get use the ad to trick the media into reporting on a fight between their candidate and the President.

“In that sense, it’s extraordinarily cynical because now they’re manipulating the media because we want to cover the fight. We have to cover the fight. ‘The Obama campaign says it’s a lie, the Romney campaign says it’s not.’ But there’s an objective reality here. It’s like if they said the moon was made of green cheese and the Obama campaign said ‘No, it’s a rock’ and we’d say ‘Candidates Clash On Lunar Landscape.’ No! It’s a rock! This is a lie and I think we should say so!”

The message is clear; candidates lie to America all the time, however, if you make it clear that you know you’re lying, you put the media in an awkward position and that pisses them the hell off.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zXi_AZv14A

 

 

 

People who think Shepard Fairey has “recanted” his Obama support should read his statement about his OWS poster:


 

 

 

Media Matters: SEVEN surveys showing the more one watches Fox News, the less they know should be a trend worth acknowledging.

 

 

 

Media Consolidation: The Illusion of Choice (CHART)

Save the News:

Big broadcasters want to expand their market influence, cut jobs and slash local news coverage. They have an opening — the Federal Communications Commission is currently reviewing all of its media ownership rules. These rules determine how many media outlets a corporation can own, and broadcasters are angling for fewer restrictions at the expense of our communities’ need for vital news and information. Just as the fight is heating up, blogger the Frugal Dad reminds us just how much power and influence broadcasters already have:

(See enlarged chart here.)


MILITARY

 

 

Republican Senator Proposes Torture Amendment To Defense Bill

Mother Jones:

The defense spending bill currently under consideration in the Senate would authorize the indefinite military detention of Americans suspected of terrorism, mandate indefinite militarydetention for non-citizens apprehended in the US, and make it almost impossibleto transfer detainees in Afghanistan out of US custody. The Obama administration has already threatened to veto the legislation.

But the proposed law could still get worse: on Friday, a Republican senator proposed repealing Obama’s ban on torture.

Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), who won her seat in the 2010 GOP wave, has spent much of her time in the Senate trying to militarize all counterterrorism operations and reinstitute Bush-era interrogation policies. Last week, backed by Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ayotte proposed an amendment to the defense bill that would legalize torture.

The amendment, which purports to authorize “lawful interrogation methods,” actually rescinds Obama’s 2009 executive order banning torture. It directs the secretary of defense, attorney general and director of national intelligence to adopt a “classified annex” to the Army Field Manual, complete with a list of interrogation methods that could be used by the inter-agency High Value Interrogation Group (HIG). A coalition of civil liberties and human rights groups has called on the Senate to reject the amendment, stating it would “revive the use of torture and other cruelty in U.S. interrogations.”

Key here is that although Ayotte’s amendment states the methods must “comply with all applicable laws,” including laws against torture, the methods under consideration are classified. Republicans reject the idea that the Bush-era interrogation techniques were illegal, and the Obama administration’s obstruction of accountability for Bush-era abuses means that there is no definitive ruling from the courts on which methods actually constitute torture. The amendment thus leaves a gaping loophole allowing for the return of Cheneyesque torture policies should a torture-friendly Republican administration take office. Ayotte endorsed Mitt Romney over the weekend, and Romney has mentioned her as a possible vice presidential pick. 

Ayotte’s fixation on returning to Bush-era interrogation techniques isn’t shared by current national security officials. Ayotte attempted to prod Defense Secretary Leon Panetta during his June confirmation hearings into suggesting there was something inadequate about the HIG’s methods (which don’t involve torture), Panetta argued “It’s working pretty well.” In July, JohnDempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed pride in having helped craft the Army Field Manual standards, and said they reflected “the nexus of the importance of gaining intelligence with the importance of preserving our values as a nation and as an army.” The current head of the CIA, David Petraeus,has said the “techniques that are in the Army Field Manual that lays out how we treat detainees, how we interrogate them. Those techniques work.” Ayotte wants to give national security officials authority they haven’t asked for to use techinques they don’t need.

The Senate is set to take up the defense spending bill the week after Thanksgiving. It’s unclear whether Ayotte’s amendment has the votes to pass, but if it does that’s just another reason for the administration to veto the bill. As if they didn’t have enough already.

 

 

 

OCCUPY

 

 

Image as interest: How the Pepper Spray Cop could change the trajectory of Occupy Wall Street

Neiman Journalism Lab:


In his Times column this morning, David Carr wonders about the future of the Occupy Wall Street movement and, specifically, its fate as an ongoing topic of mass-media conversation. “Occupy Wall Street left many all revved up with no place to go,” he writes. Which is a problem, traditional-press-coverage wise, because: “In addition to the 5 W’s — who, what, when, where and why — the media are obsessed with a sixth: what’s next? Occupy Wall Street, for all its appeal as a story, is very hard to roll forward.” […]

It’s worth returning, for a moment, to the idea of trending topics algorithms, which reward discrete events over ongoing movements, favoring spikes over steadiness, effectively punishing trends that build, gradually, over time. (Which is to say: effectively punishing the notion of a “movement” itself.) This bias toward the spiky over the sticky is a defining feature, as well, of the daily workings of the traditional media (and of their great organizational mechanism, the Epiphanator): Occupy’s much-discussed lack of a singular identity has been not only kind of the whole point, but also, to some extent, the result of the way the movement has been mediated by a press that tends to reward newness over endurance. Occupy’s story — like all stories of ongoing political movements that are told by traditional producers of daily journalism — has been told episodically, in staccato rhythms that emphasize explosive ruptures in expectation. (“Expectation,” of course, being defined by the Epiphanator itself.) Occupy is, like so many other movements, subject to “the tyranny of recency.”

But that may well have just changed. This weekend, a series of photographs — images of a riot-gear-wearing cop shooting a group of students in the face with pepper spray — made their transition from journalistic documents to sources of outrage to, soon enough, Official Internet Meme. Perhaps the most iconic image (taken by UC Davis student Brian Nguyen, and shown above) isn’t explicitly political; instead, it captures a moment of violence and resistance in almost allegoric dimensions: the solidarity of the students versus the singularity of the cop in question, Lt. Pike; their steely resolve versus his sauntering nonchalance; the panic of the observers, gathered chorus-like and open-mouthed at the edges of the frame. The human figures here are layered, classified, distant from each other: cops, protestors, observers, each occupying distinct spaces — physical, psychical, moral — within the image’s landscape.

As James Fallows put it, “You don’t have to idealize everything about them or the Occupy movement to recognize this as a moral drama that the protestors clearly won.”

Exactly. The image — and its subsequent meme-ification — marked the moment when the Occupy movement expanded its purview: It moved beyond its concern with economic justice to espouse, simply, justice. It became as much about inequality as a kind of Platonic concern as it is about income inequality as a practical one. It became, in other words, something more than a political movement.

The image itself, I think — as a singular artifact that took different shapes — contributed to that transition, in large part because the photo’s narrative is built into its imagery. It depicts not just a scene, but a story. It requires of viewers very little background knowledge; even more significantly, it requires of them very few political convictions, save for the blanket assumption that justice, somehow, means fairness. The human drama the photo lays bare — the powerless being exploited by the powerful — has a universality that makes its particularities (geographical location, political context) all but irrelevant. There’s video of the scene, too, and it is horrific in its own way — but it’s the still image, so easily readable, so easily Photoshoppable, that’s become the overnight icon. It’s the image that offers, in trending topic terms, a spike — a rupture, an irregularity, a breach of normalcy. It’s the image that demands, in trending topic terms, attention.

And it also demands participation. A key feature of the Epiphanator, the mechanism of press-mediated storytelling that defined our sense of the world for so long, is its impulse to organize time itself into discrete artifacts. Journalists tend to be obsessed with beginnings and, even more importantly, endings. This is how we make sense of things. What’s notable about the Lt. Pike image, though, is how dynamic its path has been — this despite the defining stillness of still photography — by way of the complementary filters of social media and human creativity.

The image of Pike (nom de meme: the Pepper Spray Cop) isn’t the first to reach a kind of iconic status when it comes to Occupy Wall Street. (It’s not even the first to involve pepper spray. See, for example, the horrific image of 84-year-old Dorli Rainey, her face dripping with burn-assuaging milk after being sprayed in Seattle.) But it is the first whose implicit narrative — one of struggle, one of outrage — offers viewers a kind of ethical, and tacitly emotional, participation in Occupy Wall Street. A moral drama that the protestors clearly won. Images, Susan Sontagargued, are “invitations” — “to deduction, speculation, fantasy.” They invite empathy, and, with it, investment.

It remains to be seen whether Pepper Spray Cop, as a singular image and a collection of derivatives, will prove enduring in the way that previous iconic photos — Phan Thi Kim PhúcTank Man — have done. But Pepper Spray Cop, and his ad hoc iconography, is a telling case study for observing what happens when political images become, in the social setting of non-traditional media, de- and then re-politicized. And it will be interesting to see whether the image’s viral life will affect David Carr’s question of “what’s next” for Occupy Wall Street in the world of traditional media. “Just a week ago,” NPR noted this morning, “it was starting to seem like the Occupy movement might be running short of fuel.” But “now that movement seems to have fresh energy after a week of police crackdowns across the country.”

 

 

Obama responds to Occupy protesters in N.H.

WaPo:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNH3TRENKVQ

MANCHESTER, N.H. — President Obama was confronted Tuesday by protesters from the Occupy Wall Street movement, prompting him to again offer an endorsement of sorts of the still-nascent movement’s message.

Using the “human microphone” that has become common at Occupy Wall Street demonstrations across the country, a group interrupted Obama as he prepared to deliver a speech at a high school hereassailing Republicans for inaction on the economy.

“Mr. President,” the group said, “over 4,000 peaceful protesters have been arrested. . . . ”

Audience members, mostly high school students, booed, but Obama quieted them, saying, “It’s okay.”

Then he directly addressed the protesters.

“For a lot of the folks who have been in New York and all across the country in the Occupy movement, there is a profound sense of frustration about the fact that the essence of the American dream, which is if you work hard, if you stick to it that, you can make it, feels like that’s slipping away,” Obama said. “And that’s not the way things are supposed to be. Not here. Not in America.”

Obama has come under fire from some conservatives for appearing to embrace the movement, which critics charge is made up of a ragtag group of leftists who hate capitalism. Some Occupy demonstrators have expressed frustration at times with the Obama administration’s close ties to Wall Street banks.

But many Democrats see the message of the movement as one that could help excite liberal voters in next year’s elections — particularly at a time when Obama has adopted a more populist tone as he attacks Republicans on the economy.

In his speech Tuesday, largely devoted to slamming the GOP resistance to Obama’s urging that lawmakers extend a 2-percentage-point payroll tax cut, the president returned on several occasions to the Occupy themes pitting the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans against the other 99 percent.

“We are not going to have an America in which only a sliver of folks have opportunity,” Obama said. “We’re going to have an America where everybody has opportunity. And it’s going to take time.”

The demonstration was an unusual moment in the world of highly orchestrated presidential events.

Obama, as is typical, stood before two huge American flags, with a big blue banner to his left that read “American Jobs Act.” But shortly after he introduced dignitaries and prepared to settle into his speech, the packed gym was suddenly silent.

The silence was broken not by Obama, but by a demonstrator who yelled, “Mike check,” the Occupy movement’s signature phrase for invoking the collective microphone.

“We must stop the assault our First Amendment rights,” the group said. “Your silence sends a message that police brutality is acceptable.”

First, there was stunned silence. Obama paused. Gradually, as the crowd booed and then began to chant, “Obama, Obama.” The president responded, “It’s okay.”

Tom LaValley, 23, who described himself as a member of Occupy New Hampshire, told reporters later that about 20 demonstrators had stood in line Monday to obtain tickets. He was complimentary of Obama’s response.

He looked us in the eye, let us speak,” LaValley said. “He didn’t drag us out, didn’t have security come get us.”

Still, LaValley, who said he voted for Obama in 2008, said he was undecided on how he would vote next year. He said he was too busy to pay attention to the rest of Obama’s speech — eager to get the word out as to what the demonstrators had done.

“I was amped up on Twitter,” he said. “And I got an e-mail from Occupy Wall Street telling me to get video up.

Pic of protesters handing Obama the note they “mic checked” and they seem pretty good-natured!




Martin Luther King Explains Non-Violent Protest In 1960. (AUDIO)

Crooks and Liars:

Sometimes history in retrospect has a habit of skipping over the slow evolution and jumping straight to the struggle, conflict and resolution. There is a desire to encapsulate history and events into a sort of “now it’s here and now it’s not” approach, not realizing the overwhelming obstacles that were faced during the times of insurmountable odds and how those times seemed terminal, the odds against change just seemed too high.

In the case of this interview, the panel program Meet The Press from April 17, 1960, the method of non-violent protest was just evolving and, much like the Occupy Movement of today, was met with a goodly degree of skepticism and incredulity on the parts of mainstream media. Much as we are led to believe, and told repeatedly, that mainstream media is a bastion of Liberalism, it is simply and historically not true. Never has been and never was. What’s important to realize is that Dr. King knew this was, not just a change of laws and attitudes, but this was a change of spirit and morals. And he knew such an inside job wasn’t going to happen at the snap of a finger.

Dr. Martin Luther King: “This doesn’t come overnight. The non-violent way doesn’t bring about miracles in a few hours, in a few days, or in a few years for that matter. I think at first, the first reaction of the oppressor when the oppressed people rise up against the system of injustice is an attitude of bitterness. But I do believe that if the non-violent resisters continue to follow the way of non-violence, they eventually get over to the hearts and souls of the former oppressors. And I think it eventually brings about that redemption that we dream of. Of course I can’t estimate how many people we’ve touched so far. This is impossible because it’s an inner process. But I’m sure something is stirring in the minds and the souls of people. And I’m sure that many people are thinking anew on this basic problem of human relations.”

And that’s what it’s really all about.

Relevant then – imperative now.

 

 

POLITICS

Messina memo aims at Romney in advance of CNN GOP debate

Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times:

Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina writes a ten-page memo taking down GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney in advance of Tuesday’s CNN debate.

From Messina:

“WHICH OF GOV. ROMNEY’S POSITIONS
WILL HE ADAMANTLY DENY TONIGHT?
The main question about tonight’s debate is not whether the Republican candidates demand the President remove the trigger compelling Congress to act to reduce the deficit – we know they will. The main question is which of Governor Romney’s positions will he adamantly deny?”

Messina-Memo-on-CNN-Foreign-Policy-Debate.pdf

 

 

The anatomy of a Republican distortion

TPM:

This is how bad information spreads. Channeling Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson, Mort Zuckerman — the billionaire real estate and media mogul — claimed on MSNBC Tuesday that Republicans on the super committee had broken with their anti-tax orthodoxy and proposed to increase taxes, modestly, on upper income Americans.

Here’s Zuckerman:

He pins this on Samuelson, who seems to take his cues directly from super committee Republicans. “Sen. Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania proposed a tax “reform” that would raise income taxes by $250 billion over a decade,” Samuelson writes. “First, he would impose across-the-board reductions of most itemized deductions and use the resulting revenue gains to cut all tax rates. Next, he would adjust the rates for the top two brackets so that they’d be high enough to produce the $250 billion. All the tax increase would fall on people in the top brackets.”

This is a funny way of saying the burden of the Toomey plan would fall largely on the middle class, and would constitute an effective tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. There’s no white paper on Toomey’s plan and no CBO analysis. But based on what Republicans and Democrats have provided the press, we know it would have raised tax revenue from the current Bush-era baseline by $250 billion. However, it did this by first lowering the current rates across the board, including for the super-rich, and then wiping out or scaling back tax deductions, expenditures, credits, etc. in order to make up for the lost revenue. According to Democrats, the GOP wasn’t willing to entertain raising capital gains taxes at all — which suggests logically that the incidence of Toomey’s plan would be quite regressive.

That’s what Democrats concluded. That’s what the Center on Budget and Policy Prioritiesconcluded. And to boot, it would have locked in the sub-Bush tax rates permanently, to make it nearly impossible to yield higher tax revenues for future deficit reduction.

Republicans on the Super Committee claim otherwise, and that’s why you’re seeing the claim repeated in the press. But that doesn’t mean the math backs it up.

 

 

 

The very first sentence Romeny uttered in last night’s debate was a stupid lie

“I’m Mitt Romney and yes, Wolf, that’s also my first name,” he said.

 

 

 

Romney camp: Misrepresenting opponent’s words is completely fair game

Greg Sargent:

As you know, the Romney campaign is airing an ad in New Hampshire that plucks Obama’s words out of context in a comically dishonest way. Obama is shown seeming to acknowledge that talking about the economy is a political loser for him, when in reality, he was quoting a John McCain adviser making that claim. The ad is now being widely pilloried as false.

Now CBS News has gotten a new response from the Romney camp justifying the ad:

Romney senior New Hampshire adviser Tom Rath tells CBS News the ad is “exactly what we want.”

They were using McCain’s words to make fun of McCain. And we’re using the exact same technique,” he said.

Pressed on whether it was unfair to lop off the top of Mr. Obama’s comments — which would show the president was quoting the McCain camp — Rath said, “He did say the words. That’s his voice.”

He then suggesting that the more people discuss the ad, the better it is for the Romney campaign.

This is a truly remarkable response. The Romney camp is explicitly saying it’s totally fair game to take an opponent’s words out of context in a way that completely changes their meaning, simply because the actual words in question did come out of the speaker’s mouth. As many have noted today, the Romney ad’s decontextualizing of Obama’s words is so egregious that it amounts to a lie. Yet here a Romney adviser is claiming that this is fair game, because he said those words.

Today Think Progress released a new video lampooning the Romney ad with footage of Romney himself torn out of context. It shows Romney saying things like “we should just raise everybody’s taxes,” and “there’s nothing unique about the United States.” Obviously Romney was really saying the opposite of those things. But as Think Progress notes, those depictions are “accurate, according to the Romney standard of accuracy.”

This was meant as a joke. But now a Romney adviser has confirmed that this is, in fact, the Romney standard of accuracy.

Still, WMUR, where the ad is running, won’t be pulling the ad, because ads aired by Federal candidates can’t be pulled by TV stations under Federal law, the way issue ads can be yanked, according to Jeff Bartlett, the general manager at WMUR.

We don’t have the right to pull any advertisement by a candidate for federal office,” Bartlett tells me. “We have no right to censor it in any manner whatsoever.”

One other point. As Jed Lewison notes today, it won’t matter that Romney’s ad is broadcasting a blatant lie, because media outlets have not been willing to come right out and call Romney a liar. Here you have a Romney adviser basically confirming this, claiming that the media attention to the ad is a positive. One wonders whether this open and explicit admission that the Romney camp is using the media will be enough to prompt more aggressive coverage of its pattern of mendacity.

 

 

A Blueprint for Winning the White House in 2012

Ron Brownstein, The Atlantic:

A new report will detail the major demographic and political currents Barack Obama and his GOP opponent will face next year.

Electoral analysts Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin of the liberal Center for American Progress will publish tomorrow a comprehensive demographic and geographic roadmap to the 2012 presidential campaign that political junkies of all ideological stripes will want to keep close at hand.

In their new paper, The Path to 270, the two correctly lay out, I believe, the critical dynamics that will likely tip the balance in both the Electoral College and popular vote next year. President Obama’s biggest headwind, they argue, will be disappointment in his handling of the economy; his biggest tailwind will be ongoing demographic change that continues to bend the electorate in his direction.

After Obama’s victory in 2008, I argued that he had assembled a “coalition of the ascendant”: that is, he ran best among groups that were themselves growing in society, like minorities, the Millennial generation and college-educated whites, especially women.

Teixeira and Halpin draw on that concept to argue that the unbroken wave of demographic change makes it likely that these groups, which remain the most favorable to Obama, will constitute an even larger share of the vote in 2012 than they did last time. They project that the minority share of the vote will rise from 26 percent in 2008 to 28 percent in 2012, an increase commensurate with the average election to election rise since 1992 (National Journal reached a similar conclusion in its analysis, The Next America). And they project that college-educated whites will increase their share of the vote from 35 percent in 2008 to 36 percent in 2012. (Overlapping with both those trends, they calculate that 16 million more Millennials will be eligible to vote in 2012 than in 2008.) Whites without a college degree, the most solidly Republican component of the electorate, they expect to continue their generation-long decline, from 39 percent of the vote last time to 36 percent in 2012. (In 1992, when Bill Clinton was first elected, those non-college whites alone constituted an absolute majority of the electorate, 53 percent.)

By contrast, some Democrats fear (and Republicans hope) that even if more minorities and college-plus whites turn out to vote in 2012, they won’t increase as a share of the overall electorate because so many older and blue-collar whites will turn out to vote against Obama in 2012, just as they did in 2010. That will be a critical variable. As this paper shows, even small changes in the electorate’s composition could have huge impacts on Obama because amid such long-standing economic discontent it will be difficult for him to match his 2008 showings with any of the three big blocks in the electorate: minorities (who gave him 80 percent of their votes last time), college educated whites (47 percent) and non-college whites (40 percent).

Obama could more easily survive reduced margins among his most favorable groups if those same groups cast a larger proportion of all the votes. For instance, Teixeira and Halpin reasonably project that Obama’s support among minorities (many of them suffering badly in the slowdown) will decline from his cumulative 80 percent in 2008 to about 75 percent in 2012, a figure just above the 73 percent Democrats won among them in the 2010 mid-term elections, according to exit polls. But if the minority share of the vote increases as much as they anticipate, Teixeira and Halpin project, Obama could withstand that decline and still win the popular vote by as gaping a margin as in 2008 if he captures as much of the white vote as he did last time.

That’s a big if, though: It’s highly unlikely that Obama will run as well among whites in 2012 as in 2008. Assuming the minority vote unfolds as they project, Teixeira and Halpin calculate that Obama could still win a popular vote majority if he maintains his 47 percent share among college educated whites, even if non-college whites stampede toward the GOP as overwhelmingly as they did in 2010 (when Republicans captured 63 percent of them, up from 58 percent in 2008). Alternately, they argue, Obama could still maintain a narrow popular vote majority if he attracts three-fourths of minorities and loses college whites and non-college whites by the same margins John Kerry did against George W. Bush in 2004. (Kerry’s deficit with each group was about five percentage points larger than Obama’s against John McCain in 2008.)

“In summary,” they write, “given solid, but not exceptional, performance among minority voters, Obama’s re-election depends on either holding his 2008 white college-graduate support, in which case he can survive a landslide defeat of 2010 proportions among white working-class voters, or holding his slippage among both groups to around 2004 levels, in which case he can still squeak out a victory.”

The losing scenario for Obama, they acknowledge, would be if Republicans replicate their 2010 “landslide margins” among non-college whites and also make meaningful inroads among the college-plus whites. That’s exactly what the GOP did in the 2010 House races (winning not only 63 percent of non-college whites but also 58 percent of college whites). Unless the economy improves, Democrats face a real risk that the GOP could replicate that formula in 2012. As I noted in this post, recent polls suggest that at least on first impression, Mitt Romney has a much stronger chance than his GOP rivals of peeling off significant numbers of those upscale whites, who probably represent Obama’s last line of defense in 2012.

As for the Electoral College, Teixeira and Halpin see the two parties approaching the competition with a roughly equal number of votes locked down: 186 for the Democrats and 191 for the Republicans. (They assume that four of the states in the “blue wall” – the 18 states that have voted Democratic in at least the past five presidential elections – are up for grabs.) They see the remaining swing states dividing into two broad clusters. One is a group of six older, heavily white, Midwestern and Rust Belt states that are growing slowly in population if at all: Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The second is a bucket of diverse, younger and rapidly growing Sunbelt states, three of them in the Southeast (North Carolina, Virginia and Florida) and three in the Southwest (Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico). Obama won all 12 of those states last time, but economic discontent means that none of them are a sure thing for him next year.

As Teixeira and Halpin conclude: “The stage is set for a showdown of demographics versus economics in the 2012 election. Each side has clear strengths but also very serious weaknesses as they move into this showdown. Victory will likely go to the side most willing to acknowledge their weaknesses and attack them boldly. This will be no election for the faint-hearted.”

 

 

I am NOT Disappointed in President Obama

The Black Liberal Boomer Blog:

This 6-minute video is a MUST-SEE! This gentleman quietly, decisively, and succinctly sums up why President Barack Obama is the epitome of “Promises Made and Promises Kept” and why some progressives and liberals are misguided in their expectations and criticisms of the POTUS.

Please forward this to every Democrat, Progressive, and Liberal person you know.

 

 

WaPo: Occupy Wall Street and conservative leaders: No love lost

[…] The response from Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips, whose group’s conference in Washington earlier this month was met with unruly demonstrations by Occupy protesters:

“I think the Occupy Wall Street movement is doing us, candidly, a favor. It’s good for the American people to have a crystal-clear choice between competing visions. That’s a good thing. And when you see not just the policy proposals – of raising taxes and breaking our country, bankrupting our country, the same old tax-and-spend, the same class warfare and envy and hatred – the American people are rejecting that.”

“And when you see the manner in which they’re already breaking the law – violence at their events, violence at the Americans for Prosperity event just a few weeks ago that the Washington, D.C., police confirmed occurred – they’re doing us a favor. It’s a good thing to have a tea party movement that’s non-violent, that is broad-based, literally millions upon millions upon millions of Americans acting. And you have the opposite of that with this group.”

The comments by Phillips and other conservative leaders marked the latest move in the fight to politically define the Occupy Wall Street movement – a battle about which congressional leaders have shown increasing ambivalence.

Democratic leaders such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) have praised the movement, but recent reports of attacks and arrests at the Occupy protests have given some Democrats pause.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in a speech last month criticized the protests as “a growing mob.” He later retreated from the comment and told reporters he believed the protesters are “justifiably frustrated.”

[…]

While leaders on Capitol Hill have been of two minds on Occupy Wall Street, activists in both parties have been less reserved in their efforts to characterize the movement.

Some of the conservative leaders at Tuesday’s event mocked the Occupy protesters, arguing that they could best help the economy by working and paying taxes.

“They should get jobs and they would increase the tax base of America,” ForAmerica President Brent Bozell said.

Citizens United President David Bossie called the Occupy movement “an organized effort on the left” that is “not going to sleep until they’ve won.” He also took issue with those who would liken the Occupy protesters to the conservative tea party movement.

“I get offended when the members of the tea party — who came out organically, just basically out of the woodwork over the last couple of years, and took to the streets and organized in their local communities and came together to fight for hope, growth and opportunity for all Americans — that they get put into the same category or compared to this Occupy Wall Street socialist movement, that they want to destroy America,” Bossie said.

He added: “These people – you know, I agree with Brent – I wish they would all wake up one day and get a job because that’s one way that they could actually change America. They could actually increase our tax base by paying taxes instead of living off all of us in this room and all of you watching on TV.”

 

 

 

POLLS

 

 

 

 

New polls showing it won’t be a slam dunk for Romney

National Journal:

The New Hampshire and South Carolina Republican presidential primaries are separated by just 11 days on the calendar, but two polls released on Tuesday show that those states are far apart when it comes to their preference in the general election; the results suggest that the trajectory of the race in the early primary states remains uncertain despite Mitt Romney’s hopes for an early resolution and a short primary season.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, has a solid lead in New Hampshire, with 35 percent support, although former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is riding a wave of recent momentum into second place, with 18 percent. In South Carolina, Gingrich tops the field; Romney ties embattled businessman Herman Cain for second place.

The New Hampshire primary will be on Jan. 10, and South Carolina holds its nominating contest on Jan. 21. Both will be preceded by the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3. The polls were conducted simultaneously, Nov. 18-21, by the polling co., a Republican firm with offices in Washington and New York City. The same firm released an Iowa poll last week, showing a wide-open race in that state. Taken together, the three polls present a more muddled picture of the primary season than a simple Romney-as-front-runner storyline.

Romney is leading in New Hampshire despite trailing Gingrich narrowly among tea party supporters, who made up a third of respondents, 33 percent to 26 percent. Among voters who described themselves as “very conservative,” Gingrich and Romney ran neck and neck, with 32 percent and 31 percent respectively. But among those voters who said they are “somewhat conservative,” Romney led 39 percent to 17 percent. And among those who said they are “not very” conservative, Romney led with 36 percent. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman was second among this group, at 18 percent.

Pollster Kellyanne Conway says it is a two-man race in the Granite State, evidenced by the fact that among Romney supporters, more said that their second choice was Gingrich than picked any of the other candidates, and more Gingrich supporters chose Romney as their second choice than cited any other candidate.

But Conway cautions that while Romney leads, his 35 percent share of the vote means that about two-thirds of GOP primary voters favor another candidate or are undecided. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, came in third, with 11 percent, followed by Cain and Huntsman, who each had 8 percent. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., were tied with 4 percent, and former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., was at 2 percent. Ten percent of likely Republican primary voters were undecided.

Romney’s lead in New Hampshire echoes two other surveys released on Monday by the American Research Group and Suffolk University.

Meanwhile, Gingrich is leading in South Carolina, with 31 percent of the vote. Cain was second, with 17 percent, followed by Romney with 16 percent. The other candidates were in the single digits: Perry at 6 percent, Paul and Bachmann at 5 percent each, Huntsman at 3 percent, and Santorum at 1 percent. Fifteen percent were undecided.

Gingrich had a wide lead among tea party supporters, outpacing Cain among this group 37 percent to 20 percent. Gingrich also had a big lead among those GOP voters aged 65 and over, with 40 percent support among that group. His strength in South Carolina and Romney’s relative weakness point to an uphill climb for the latter. The winner of the South Carolina primary has captured the GOP nomination in every nominating cycle since 1980.

Romney’s “fiction of electability is oversold,” Conway wrote in an e-mail.

“The 2010 elections were the intervening, superseding factor. Republican primary voters will not be deprived of their right to choose their nominees. They are willing to buck so-called inevitability for ideas and ideological agreement. Look at all the failed candidates in 2010 who had the backing and funding of the establishment and those three magic words, ‘He can win!’ Hard-core GOP primary voters do not ask themselves ‘Who can win?’ but rather ‘Who can lead?’ ”

The New Hampshire poll surveyed 500 likely primary voters, and the South Carolina poll surveyed 505 likely primary voters. The margin of error for each survey is plus or minus 4.4 percent.

 

 

 

Pew Poll Finds Mormon Faith Is Early Drag on Romney

Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith will most likely cost him support in the primaries, but even Republicans with reservations about his religion would rally to his side in a general election against President Obama, according to a poll released Wednesday.

 

 

 

Are the attacks on Occupy Wall Street going bust?

Gallup finds only a slight increase in disapproval of its methods, while overall views of the movement and its goals remain roughly the same.

Caveat: Large numbers have no opinion, meaning the movement still has tons of work to do to persuade Americans it represents mainstream concerns.

 

 

Americans blame all sides for debt committee failure: poll

 

 

John McCain continues to be most unpopular Senator in country of 87 we’ve polled- 34/55 approval

 

 

 

WEDGE ISSUES

 

 

Dealing with conservative family members

Listen to Citizens’ Radio

 

 

 

TAKE ACTION

 

 

Tell DOJ to Block Discriminatory Voter ID Laws

 

 

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate.

~~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

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.

4 Responses so far.

Click here to leave a comment
  1. Khirad says:

    I loved the Shepard Fairey quote. He’s spot on and not at all the EmoProg I thought he was in that statement.

    Great media consolidation chart.

    New Yorker nailed it. Reminded me of these:

    [img][/img]

    http://www.intoon.com/cartoons.cfm/action/browse/startdate/04-01-2006/id/16149

    And in that spirit the piece on the Pepper Spray Cop meme echoed my impressions of it.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Khirad, I like your cartoon much better! I knew you’d appreciate that piece on the cop meme even though it was terribly academic and over-written, IMO. It’s the first analysis of that meme from a scholarly perspective and I like stuff like that. It talks about how filtered the OWS stories are. We knew that, of course, but it still made me realize how MUCH that is the case. And those funny phototshopped images kind of cut through all of that. I think the image has legs.

      I don’t know why, but I couldn’t C&P the Shepard Fairey article--computer refused. I’m glad you took the time to click--he’s articulate and a clear thinker! I get it but he’s nuanced so he will be misunderstood.

      The media consolidation chart made me depressed! That should NEVER have been allowed to happen in free country.

  2. KQuark says:

    Cher so glad you put those examples in for what the ACA is doing already.

    On of the huge things in the ACA is indeed how HHS can reject excessive premiums. Of course the right will call this a guvment takeover but insurers are losing nothing except taking a little dent in profits. In 2014 it will be even better. EVERY state when they set up the healthcare insurance exchanges can set up a non-profit option using several mechanisms from NGO’s to full single payer. CL is working on just that for CA now I think.

    Probably the biggest myth attacking the ACA from the left is that it will be an unmitigated boon for private healthcare insurers. Private insurers will make more revenue but lower profit margins and they will even be forced to lower overhead if they want to be in an exchange.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Cheers, KQ. I have to admit that there is really a lot even I--who follows the news--still don’t know about the ACA. That particular story from the woman clarified it for me. I mean, sure, I know enough to go to the HHS website and find out about ACA if I need to, but I don’t know it automatically in the way I knew what my insurance policy covered. Over time this will change of course and everyone will begin to know what the ACA does but it’ll take years--I don’t know any way around that. I guess HHS could send pamphlets to everyone explaining what ACA does for us--and maybe they will by 2014--and maybe they are waiting until after the SCOTUS decides about the mandate, but I hope they do. It’s expensive, but I think we all need something we can read--on paper.

      As an aside to that, I just signed up for early SS. The woman from SS who helped me asked if I’d gotten one of those yearly statements that SS sends out before retirement telling you how much SS credits you’ve earned. I told her I hadn’t gotten on this year. She said, “Oh, yeah. We haven’t sent those out since they cut our budget and staff.” (Not payment cuts--cuts to the agency.) It may be a little thing, not getting yearly statements, but shows one way cutbacks impact the services of the government. It means there are fewer SS workers available to answer questions too.


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