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Friday, August 31, 2012

It's Like He Thinks We're Not Paying Attention

This post has been updated - see below

Four days before Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States, Rush Limbaugh said:

"I disagree fervently with the people on our side of the aisle who have caved and who say, 'Well, I hope he succeeds. We've got to give him a chance.'

"I've been listening to Barack Obama for a year-and-a-half. I know what his politics are. I know what his plans are, as he has stated them. I don't want them to succeed.

"Okay, I'll send you a response, but I don't need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails."

On the night of Inauguration Day, Congressional Republicans from the House and Senate met over dinner. Robert Draper, in his book "Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the US House of Representatives," described the dinner meeting:

During a lengthy discussion, the senior GOP members worked out a plan to repeatedly block Obama over the coming four years to try to ensure he would not be re-elected.

Attending the dinner were House members Eric Cantor, Jeb Hensarling, Pete Hoekstra, Dan Lungren, Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan and Pete Sessions. From the Senate were Tom Coburn, Bob Corker, Jim DeMint, John Ensign and Jon Kyl. Others present were former House Speaker and future – and failed – presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and the Republican strategist Frank Luntz, who organised the dinner and sent out the invitations.

The session lasted four hours and by the end the sombre mood had lifted: they had conceived a plan. They would take back the House in November 2010, which they did, and use it as a spear to mortally wound Obama in 2011 and take back the Senate and White House in 2012.

"If you act like you're the minority, you're going to stay in the minority," said Keven McCarthy, quoted by Draper. "We've gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign."

Did the Republicans challenge the Administration on every single bill? The evidence is absolutely clear: yes, they did:

Consider this tidbit: cloture was invoked 63 times in 2009 and 2010, which isn't just the most ever, it's more than the sum total of instances from 1919 through 1982. That's not a typo.

Yes, obstructionism is proving to be far less severe in this Congress (2011-2012), but that's not because Senate Republicans have suddenly become more responsible — it's because there's a right-wing House majority and there's now far less for the Senate to do.

Now comes Mitt Romney, GOP candidate for President and leader of his party. And he says:

"Four years ago, I know that many Americans felt a fresh excitement about the possibilities of a new president. That president was not the choice of our party but Americans always come together after elections.

"I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed"

Governor Romney, I have a question: just where the heck have you been for the past three years?

UPDATE - from Taegan Goddard's Political Wire:

"I want liberal policies to fail. I want him to fail in trying to put in place a health care plan that takes away the private sector from health care. I want him to fail in this cap and trade program as long as China and Brazil and Indonesia are not going to play in it. But I want him to succeed as a president, meaning, I want him to succeed in strengthening our economy, keeping us free, bringing our troops home in success from Iraq and Afghanistan. But I don't want his liberal policies to succeed."

Mitt Romney, on Larry King Live, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chris Christie: More Rhetoric Than Truth

"All right… all right… but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order… what have the Romans done for us?" - Monty Python's Life of Brian

At the beginning of his speech, when recounting his family's background, Governor Christie may have slipped up a bit: on "We Built That" night at the Republican National Convention, he allowed as to how his father benefited from the GI Bill, and how his grandmother relied heavily on public transportation:

They both lived hard lives. Dad grew up in poverty. After returning from Army service, he worked at the Breyers Ice Cream plant in the 1950s. With that job and the G.I. bill he put himself through Rutgers University at night to become the first in his family to earn a college degree. Our first family picture was on his graduation day, with Mom beaming next to him, six months pregnant with me.

Mom also came from nothing. She was raised by a single mother who took three buses to get to work every day. And mom spent the time she was supposed to be a kid actually raising children – her two younger siblings. She was tough as nails and didn't suffer fools at all. The truth was she couldn't afford to. She spoke the truth – bluntly, directly and without much varnish.

Later in his speech, the Governor says:

"We are demanding that our leaders stop tearing each other down, and work together to take action on the big things facing America."

Was Christie referring to this?

Democrats have rounded on revelations about a private dinner of House Republicans on Inauguration Day in 2009 in which they plotted a campaign of obstruction against newly installed president Barack Obama.

During a lengthy discussion, the senior GOP members worked out a plan to repeatedly block Obama over the coming four years to try to ensure he would not be re-elected.

Sadly, no. According to another of the evening's speakers, Gov. Scott Walker, "elections have consequences." But that only holds true if the election results favor the GOP, it seems.

Next, the Governor reminded us that we are "the brothers and sisters of everyday heroes; the neighbors of entrepreneurs and firefighters, teachers and farmers, veterans and factory workers and everyone in-between who shows up not just on the big days or the good days, but on the bad days and on the hard days." What does he do next? Point out with pride how he took on those very same firefighters and teachers: the men and women who belong to public sector unions. He pointed out with pride how he "spoke the truth to the teachers union." What does it take to celebrate the examples of everyday heroes in one sentence, only to take them on in the next?

He was just getting warmed up. Here comes the big one:

"We believe in telling hard working families the truth about our country's fiscal realities. Telling them what they already know – the math of federal spending doesn't add up."

It's true: it doesn't add up. When we went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, did the President encourage us to buy war bonds? Did he address the nation, and tell us that patriots need to share the sacrifice of our brave men and women, by paying a little more in taxes to support the troops?

No. The President put those costs on the national credit card.

When the Administration voted to create the Medicare Part D program, did it come with a plan to pay for the additional costs?

No. The President put those costs on the national credit card.

When the Administration voted on tax cuts, not once, but twice, were those cuts offset by any cuts in spending to keep things in balance?

No. The President put those costs on the national credit card, too.

Were those the fiscal realities Chris Christie was talking about? Sadly, no.

The Governor talked about Democrats "whistl(ing) a happy tune while driving us off the fiscal cliff, as long as they are behind the wheel of power." What he forgot to say is that the GOP created and supported the idea in the first place (as part of the debt ceiling agreement). What he also forgot to say is that the GOP is more than happy to admit that they have used the U.S. economy as a hostage to their own demands for political power.

The Governor said that "We believe it's possible to forge bipartisan compromise and stand up for conservative principles." What he left unsaid was what other Republicans have said before him: that "compromise" means that the Democrats side with the GOP.

According to Governor Christie, "We have a nominee who will tell us the truth and who will lead with conviction." According to Mitt Romney, "I stand by what I said, whatever it was." Some conviction.

Finally, when Governor Christie asserted "Tonight, our duty is to tell the American people the truth," I can only wonder how many people asked "Okay - so when are you gonna start?"

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Why It's Hard To Take The Right Wing Seriously

Part 1:

Part 2:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Up With Chris Hayes: Paul Ryan Defended Stimulus in 2002, When George W. Bush Wanted It

This morning's Up With Chris Hayes has an amazing segment featuring Rep. Paul Ryan defending the stimulus... in 2002, when George W. Bush was advocating for it:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The full writeup is a must-read piece.

MoveOn: Revealed: The GOP Strategy

Saturday, August 18, 2012

World War II Veteran Ralph Maxwell says 4 More Years!

Voting is a right, not a privilege

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

How Caterpillar Is Helping to Destroy the Middle Class

"The strikers often insisted that it was wrong for Caterpillar to call for a six-year wage freeze when the company, the world’s leading producer of earth-moving equipment, had record profits of $4.9 billion last year and forecasts stronger earnings this year. Moreover, many strikers bristle at a pay freeze because compensation for Caterpillar’s chief executive, Douglas R. Oberhelman, jumped by 60 percent in 2011, to $16.9 million." (source)

On one hand, a six-year wage freeze for its employees. On the other hand, record profits for the company, and a 60 percent raise for its chief executive.

Greed is not an American value, but it does seem to be a Caterpillar corporate policy.

Update: Caterpillar and the striking workers have agreed to a deal, and it's a horrible one. Under the new deal:

  • Caterpillar breaks the link between profits and pay;
  • Health care premiums will be doubled;
  • Pensions are eliminated.

Why did Caterpillar do this? Because they could. Remember that, the next time you hear someone argue in support of "job creators."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Timothy Noah: Paul Ryan Hearts Unemployment

Timothy Noah, writing in The New Republic:

"Ryan's opposition to Fed stimulus is so pronounced that he's been accused of trying to sabotage the economy to help the GOP win back the presidency. That's a hard case to make, considering that he was pushing to repeal Humphrey-Hawkins before Obama was even elected. The more mundane truth is that he's an ideologue who thinks the government shouldn't lift a finger to reduce unemployment."

He's not alone - we've chronicled the numerous examples of callous Republican indifference towards the unemployed.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Romney-Ryan 2012: Grifting on Jobs

From Greg Sargent's Plum Line:

"The current Moody's Analytics baseline forecast is for payroll employment to increase by 12 million jobs from the start of 2013 to the end of 2016 (134 million to 146).

"However, the economic assumptions embedded in our forecast include only an extension of Bush-era tax rates for those under 250K, which is more closely aligned with the Obama administration's position. We also assume a bipartisan deal to scale back sequestration and achieve a long-run fiscally sustainable path, with Democrats accepting reforms to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for the increase in top tax rates.

"In effect, therefore, Romney is essentially promising no more jobs than we currently expect to gain under proposals similar to those advanced by the Obama administration. There's not enough in Romney's plan to estimate how many jobs it would create. If he's saying the net change will be 12 million jobs, that's exactly what we're estimating without Romney's plan."

David Frum: The Coming Democratic Attack Barrage

David Frum, writing in The Daily Beast:

"The likely script of the next attack ad. A woman in her later 40s, looking worried at a kitchen table. She's probably vaguely Latino; the photos on her refrigerator (kids, no dad) suggest a single mom.

"A woman's voice over. 'You've worked hard all your life. You've paid Medicare taxes for almost 30 years. But under the Republican plan, Medicare won't be there for you. Instead of Medicare as it exists now, under the Republican plan you'll get a voucher that will pay as little as half your Medicare costs when you turn 65—and as little as a quarter in your 80s. And all so that millionaires and billionaires can have a huge tax cut.'

"That ad will draw blood and will — as Henry Kissinger used to say — have the additional merit of being true."

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan: Back to the Failed Top-Down Policies

Quote of the Day, Ayn Ryan Edition

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."
John Rogers

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Daily Intel: Why Washington Accepts Mass Unemployment

Jonathan Chait, writing in New York magazine:

"In the years since the collapse of 2008, the existence of mass unemployment has stopped being something the economic powers that be even pretend to regard as a crisis. To those directly impacted, the economic crisis is an emergency, a life-altering disaster the damage from which will endure for years. But most of those in a position to address it simply have not seen it in such terms. History will record that the economic elite has viewed the economic crisis from a perspective of detached complacency."

"For millions and millions of Americans, the economic crisis is the worst event of their lives. They have lost jobs, homes, health insurance, opportunities for their children, seen their skills deteriorate, and lost their sense of self-worth. But from the perspective of those in a position to alleviate their suffering, the crisis is merely a sad and distant tragedy."

Friday, August 3, 2012

Your Daily Mr. Pierce

From Charlie Pierce, on today's jobs report:

"...the numbers are moving, and the president is committed, for good or ill, to creating measured progress back from a precipitous crisis. His is the slow and steady pace.

"It's Willard Romney who is the get-rich-quick huckster now. He is making the fundamentally radical proposal — a radicalism limned precisely by the analysis of his tax plan — that we return to the policies that created the debacle in the first place, that we abandon patience for the quick-fix nostrums of supply-side theory and for the even more profound poisons being peddled by Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny-starver from the state of Wisconsin, that we abandon the ant for the grasshopper. Rommey is the candidate of the unlimited credit card, of the magic asterisk, of the underpants gnome. He's the candidate of crazy risk and unlikely reward. You want to look at a radical, don’t look at the Tax Policy Center. Look at the guy with the dancing horse."

BLS Measures of Labor Underutilization since the start of the Great Recession

This chart illustrates the six measures of labor underutilization that the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes every month in their Employment Situation report.

Everyone is familiar with the highlighted row: UNRATE is the official unemployment rate. The other five are defined as follows:

MeasureDefinition
U-1Persons unemployed 15 weeks or longer, as a percent of the civilian labor force
U-2Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs, as a percent of the civilian labor force
U-4Total unemployed plus discouraged workers, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus discouraged workers
U-5Total unemployed, plus discouraged workers, plus all other persons marginally attached to the labor force, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force
U-6Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force

Why chart the numbers this way? To provide a visual representation of the job market: when the current numbers in each bar move to the left, that signifies that the job market is returning to its pre-Recession levels.