Serendipity SOUL | Friday Open Thread

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54 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Friday Open Thread

  1. Ametia says:

    REPORT: As Their States’ Bridges And Roads Crumble, GOP Leaders Remain Opposed To Infrastructure Investment

    By Travis Waldron and Tanya Somanader on Sep 9, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    President Obama’s plan to kickstart the economy and put the American people back to work includes investing in the nation’s rapidly deteriorating infrastructure, which, as studies have shown, is in need of as much as $2 trillion in immediate investment just to bring it up to date. In the past, Republicans have agreed that infrastructure improvements are needed, but in the context of economic stimulus and in their effort to remain opposed to anything Obama offers, they have chosen to ignore the nation’s infrastructure and jobs crises. Unfortunately, that approach doesn’t mean either crisis will go away.

    Republican leadership has continually blocked efforts by Obama and Congressional Democrats to invest in infrastructure improvements, and as a result, bridges and roadways in their states are crumbling. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, about 12 percent of the nation’s bridges are considered “structurally deficient,” the same rating given to the Minneapolis bridge that collapsed in 2007, killing 13 people. Roughly another 12 percent are considered “functionally obsolete.” In four of the five states represented by Republican congressional leadership, the rate of structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges outpaces the national average. ThinkProgress compiled a breakdown of the status of roads and bridges in each of those five states and, where applicable, individual congressional districts:

    OHIO: 27 percent of the bridges Speaker John Boehner’s home state of Ohio are either “structurally deficient or functionally obsolete,” while one-fourth of its roads are considered poor or mediocre. At the heart of the Midwest, Ohio’s share of the national highway system has 171 highway bridges that are structurally deficient. 10 of those bridges are located in Boehner’s own district. Indeed, Obama singled out the Brent-Spence bridge connecting Ohio and Kentucky as “one of the busiest trucking routes in North America.” A recent Cincinnati Enquirer investigation into the bridge noted that it “is one of only 15 major interstate bridges in the country labeled by the federal government as ‘functionally obsolete’ for failure to meet safety or traffic flow standards.”

    KENTUCKY: More than one-third (34 percent) of the bridges in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home state are structurally deficient or obsolete, including the Brent-Spence Bridge. Of those bridges, 108 are located on the national highway system, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Nearly one in five of Kentucky’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition.

    VIRGINIA: In House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s home state, 26 percent of bridges are considered structurally deficient or obsolete, 104 of which are on the national highway system. Nearly one in four of the state’s roads are considered to be in poor or mediocre condition. In Cantor’s congressional district, 11 national highway bridges are considered deficient.

    ARIZONA: In Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl’s home state, 12 percent of the bridges are “structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.” Of those in the national highway system, 25 are structurally deficient. Indeed, a recent report found that the poor rural roads and bridges in Arizona, where 21 percent of roads are considered poor or mediocre, have earned the state the eighth highest rural traffic fatality rate in the nation.

    CALIFORNIA: Home to House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, California is perhaps most in need of infrastructure improvement. Thirty percent of its bridges are “structurally deficient or fundamentally obsolete.” Though a well-traveled state, California has a whopping 976 bridges on its national highways that are structurally deficient; 24 of those bridges are in McCarthy’s district. California ranks 19th in the nation for percentage of rural bridges that are structurally deficient, and two-thirds of its major roads are in poor or mediocre condition.

  2. Ametia says:

    What Have We Learned So Far About Rick Perry?
    By Hrafnkell Haraldsson

    Rick Perry revealed himself to be just as shallow and uninspired of thought as the last Texas governor to run for president, a George W. Bush redux in the making
    What did we learn about Rick Perry at the Republican debate this past week? Did he show us anything of himself he had not already revealed in statements and interviews? The answer is no, he did not. The answer is that Rick Perry is apparently as dishonest as the Staked Plains are dry and as elusive as a greased pig at the Texas State Fair.

    We also learned that like Sarah Palin, Rick Perry doesn’t know how he knows certain things. Like her, he just seems to know them. Intellectually, he did not come across as any more of a powerhouse than his Texas predecessor, George W. Bush, who most of the time looked like a deer caught in headlights.

    We also learned that like all Republican candidates, Rick Perry has never met a question he wants to answer. Watching Perry at the Reagan Library was like watching a replay of John McCain and Sarah Palin in ’08. He was going to talk about what he wanted to talk about and no efforts to pin him down were going to have any effect: Intellect is for losers. He wanted to emote, dammit!

    A few examples from the debate Wednesday night in Simi Valley, California should suffice:


    In discussing the “Massachusetts plan”, the moderator, John Harris of Politico, turned to Perry and said, “about a quarter of the people don’t have health insurance. That’s 50 out of 50, dead last. Sir, it’s pretty hard to defend dead last.”

    Stuck like a bug on flypaper, Perry should have been squirming but he was ready for this one. His brief answer was that apparently folks in Texas don’t want no damn health insurance

  3. Ametia says:

    Worn Ohio River span stars in Obama jobs speech
    By BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press – 7 hours ago
    President Obama takes his jobs planon the road to Columbus< OH. Saturday.

    CINCINNATI (AP) — Outdated and overcrowded, the Brent Spence Bridge linking Ohio and Kentucky carries hundreds of thousands of vehicles a day and billions in goods a year — 4 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, by some estimates.

    On Thursday night, it also became part of President Barack Obama's pitch for his plan to create jobs, an example of a lagging infrastructure fix plucked from the states of Republican leadership in Congress.

    "There are private construction companies all across America just waiting to get to work," Obama said in his address to Congress urging support for his jobs plan. "There's a bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that's on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America."

    With a few well-chosen words, Obama made the bridge a top priority for replacement and, perhaps, a subtle jab at House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

    The bridge carries traffic from Interstates 75 and 71, along with substantial amounts of freight, over the river. Overhaul is expected to cost well over $2 billion and take years, but despite years of planning, the project still lacks all the funding needed from the federal government and the two states.

    "This is a huge project for us," Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory said Friday. "The replacement of this bridge is really very important and critical."

    Mallory, who attended Obama's speech Thursday as a White House guest, said: "We're hoping this will move up the priority list."

    Local officials say 4 percent of the nation's gross domestic product gets carted across the bridge, named for a former Kentucky congressman. They also note that I-75 runs all the way from northern Michigan to southern Florida.

    Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who also sees Obama's attention as a good sign for the project, last month gathered representatives of companies such as Kroger Co., the nation's largest grocery store operator, and the United Parcel Service, as well as union leaders in Cincinnati, to voice support for the bridge project.

    Besides its importance to commerce, Brown said, there are growing safety concerns about the bridge, which on most days is more than double its capacity of 80,000 vehicles a day when it opened nearly five decades ago.

    Heavy traffic turns to miles-long backups when accidents occur, and a Cincinnati man was knocked into the river and died after a crash in June. Chunks of concrete fell onto the lower level this year.

    "It's ridiculous," Cincinnati native Ronald Parham said of the traffic. He said he travels two to three times a week over the bridge between Cincinnati and Covington, Ky., and said Obama's speech could signal the project will get moving.

    "I hope so," he said. "They need to do something."

    Patrick Pugh, who crosses the river to buy supplies for the Happy Days Tavern, which he runs in Covington, said he "hates the traffic."

    "If they can do something, that will bring jobs, and that would be cool," Pugh said.

    "When you break down on this bridge, your life is in danger," said Steve Arlinghaus, a judge-executive in Kenton County, Ky. The Republican official said the federal government needs to take responsibility to get the bridge fixed.

  4. Ametia says:

    43 House Members Slam Justices Scalia, Thomas, And Alito For Ethics Scandals

    As ThinkProgress previously reported, Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT) circulated a letter calling upon the House Judiciary Committee’s leadership to hold a hearing his bill ending the Supreme Court’s immunity to key judicial ethics laws. Murphy’s bill is inspired by numerous recent ethics scandals involving the Court’s most conservative members:

    There have been alarming reports of justices – most notably Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito – attending political events and using their position to fundraise for organizations. These activities would be prohibited if the justices were required to abide by the Judicial Conference Code of Conduct, which currently applies to all other federal judges.

    Recent revelations about Justice Thomas accepting tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts from individuals and organizations who often have an interest in matters before the courts calls into question the Court’s impartiality. Canon 4D of the Code of Conduct incorporates regulations providing that “ judicial officer or employee shall not accept a gift from anyone who is seeking official action from or doing business with the court.” Yet Justice Thomas received a gift valued at $15,000 from an organization that had a brief pending before his Court at the very moment they gave him the gift. Incidents such as these undermine the integrity of the entire judiciary, and they should not be allowed to continue.

    Forty-three Members of Congress have now joined Murphy’s call to end the Supreme Court’s ethics immunity.

    Read more:… /

  5. rikyrah says:

    Here are the numbers: 31.5 million watched our President’s jobs speech.

  6. rikyrah says:

    Washington vs. D.C.
    By Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Sep 9 2011, 10:00 AM ET 114
    Adam Serwer sketches a tale of two cities:

    Washington, D.C., has always been two cities. Washington spills out of downtown Metro stations at 8 A.M.; D.C. huddles on crowded buses at 6 A.M. On Sundays, when Washington goes to brunch, D.C. is in church. Washington clinks glasses in bars like Local 16 in its leisure time, while D.C. sweats out its perm at dance clubs like Love or DC Star. Washington has health-insurance benefits, but D.C. is paying out of pocket. Washington just closed on a condo; D.C. is in foreclosure. Washington is making money. D.C. never recovered from the 2001 recession.

    Matt feels the focus on black unemployment, minus national context, is obscuring:

    I think that much as claims about the economic vibrancy of the DC area are rightly tempered by the observations that conditions are much worse for the city’s working class residents than for affluent professionals, claims about the city being “a city divided” need to be tempered by the reality that these divisions exist all over the place.

    The five percentage point increase in the unemployment rate for black residents in the city is bad. But nationwide African-American unemployment hit a low of 7.7% in August of 2007, rising to 10.7% in August 2008, 15% in August 2009, 16.2% in August 2010, and all the way up to 16.7% in August 2011. In other words, the nationwide increase in black unemployment was larger than the DC-specific increase in black unemployment. Similarly, while for DC the Hispanic unemployment rate may have “nearly doubled,” nationwide it hit a low of 5.1% in March 2007, much more than doubled to 13.2% by November 2010, and has slowly oozed downward to 11.3% today.

    I don’t l know about that. Ward 7 (96 percent black) has the highest unemployment rate in the country. Second highest? Ward 8, which is 94 percent black. I haven’t been able to find the unemployment rate for African-Americans in Washington, D.C. proper (not the metro area.) Perhaps the middle class is balancing those numbers out.

    But nevertheless, you still have essentially the most unemployed population in the country, living in the same city with one of the most employed populations, if not the most employed population outright:

    Yglesias’ analysis is missing an obvious data point: Namely for DC to be pretty much the same as the rest of the country in terms of racial disparities and unemployment ratios, white people in DC would have to have be similarly “slightly better off” than their counterparts nationally when it comes to unemployment. Except they’re not. They’re MUCH better off.

    In 2009 in DC white unemployment went up to 4.1 percent from 3 percent, while nationally white unemployment peaked in 2009 at about 8.3 percent. Now THAT’s “insulated from the recession.” There’s a reason for this–more than 80 percent of white residents in the District have college degrees, compared to 30 percent of whites nationally. That’s pretty much how it goes in general–if you have a college degree you’re more likely to have kept your job or found a new one.

    The starkness in terms of wealth — by which I mean literal, educational, social etc. — and race in Washington has always been striking. D.C. is pretty accurate economic portrait of black America — poor, working class, middle class and upper middle class. But as a portrait of white America, it’s really airbrushed. I’ve always thought that too many of our wonks live in Washington and Manhattan — places where “white and poor” is an extinct species.

  7. rikyrah says:

    A City Divided
    September 11 was good for Washington, D.C.’s economy, but the expansion has not helped many on the bottom.

    You don’t have to look at the buildings or the people in Washington, D.C.’s historically black Petworth neighborhood to see that things have changed. Some say you just need to look at the dogs. “It used to be nothing but pit bulls and Rottweilers around here,” says a longtime resident who gives his name as Lattimore Jenkins. He sits on a blue cooler across from a new condominium building. “Now you got them little baby dogs, Jack Russells, Chihuahuas.”

    The community has undergone other changes, of course. The tony apartments squatting over the Petworth Metro station where a vacant lot used to be. The bright red bikes, available to rent, lined up along a rack on the corner. The organic supermarket down the street from a decaying Safeway.

    Maybe the biggest change is that now there are almost as many types of police officers in the neighborhood as there are breeds of dog: city police, park police, transit police. When development came in, patrols shifted their twice-a-week sweeps—on Tuesdays and Thursdays—to seven days a week. “You don’t have the drug traffic around here no more,” says J.R., an elderly man who leans forward on his cane and tips his Nationals cap when he speaks.

    “You don’t got the drive-by shootings no more,” Jenkins adds. “You still have them, but you don’t got ’em like it was. Ninety-Four, ’95, wasn’t nothing for someone to come up here in an old Caprice and shoot up the whole neighborhood.”

    Petworth’s transition from a working-class, largely black neighborhood to one packed with young, college—educated professionals reflects trends that have transformed Washington, D.C., from the nation’s murder capital to a post-September 11 boomtown. Combined with a drop in crime and generous tax incentives, the expansion of the federal government after 9/11 has made the District much more attractive to investors. Neighborhoods have traded open-air drug markets for farmers markets, while upscale restaurants and chain stores have bloomed in areas once scarred by riots. Newcomers, who otherwise would have decamped to suburbs in Virginia and Maryland, have started filling up the expensive new rentals that replaced dilapidated buildings.

    But not everyone has been living in boom times. The federal government’s expansion as well as the growing university and health—service sectors offered employment to those with college degrees. Meanwhile, many low-wage jobs disappeared. As a result, the boom exacerbated the city’s expanding gap between rich and poor. It was this divide that brought down Mayor Adrian Fenty, just four years after he was swept into office on a wave of post-racial harmony.

    The District has also become less black, as African Americans flee to greener, less expensive suburbs. In the past decade, the black population dropped at a rate of about 1 percent a year. The District, which once boasted a flourishing black middle class built on its historical status as a freedmen’s haven, lost its black majority in February 2011.

    Washington, D.C., has always been two cities. Washington spills out of downtown Metro stations at 8 A.M.; D.C. huddles on crowded buses at 6 A.M. On Sundays, when Washington goes to brunch, D.C. is in church. Washington clinks glasses in bars like Local 16 in its leisure time, while D.C. sweats out its perm at dance clubs like Love or DC Star. Washington has health-insurance benefits, but D.C. is paying out of pocket. Washington just closed on a condo; D.C. is in foreclosure. Washington is making money. D.C. never recovered from the 2001 recession.

    A decade after September 11, Washington has metastasized from the suburbanish enclaves hugging Rock Creek Park to overwhelm most of the city’s Northwest quarter. Some hard lines of de facto segregation still exist; the phrase “east of the river,” a euphemism for the poorest and most destitute neighborhoods across the Anacostia, has the same meaning it did in 1990. But in neighborhoods like Petworth and Columbia Heights, the two cities are no longer separate but parallel, close enough to smell each other’s breath but distant enough to avoid eye contact as they pass each other on the street.


    THE STORY OF HOW this happened is simple enough. While most of the country was chuckling about Mayor Marion Barry’s troubles with crack in the 1990s, the city was reeling from mismanagement of its finances and services. In 1995, the newly elected Republican majority in Congress curtailed the District’s spending authority by establishing a control board to help rein in its half a billion-dollar deficit. Essentially a fiscal baby sitter, the board’s chief financial officer, Anthony Williams, was able to overrule the city council’s spending decisions. At the time, District residents recoiled against what they saw as an infringement against home rule, an issue that even now unites Washington and D.C. (Although the control board was eliminated in 2001, Congress still oversees the city’s budget.)

    Williams, though, helped rescue the city from financial ruin and won over enough of the District that it elected him to succeed Barry in 1998. As mayor, Williams streamlined city services and lured developers with tax breaks and subsidies. The crack era receded. Downtown became a place tourists wanted to visit. All this brought in new residents who no longer feared living, working, and playing within the city itself.

    The earliest areas to see development—Penn Quarter, Capitol Hill, Chinatown—were low-hanging fruit for developers, says Eric Price, the deputy mayor for planning and economic development under Williams. “Some would ask how did it ever become so derelict, given its proximity to so much foot traffic and so many tourists,” Price says. “You have 20 million people coming here every year, and you couldn’t buy a hamburger downtown.”

    The changes, however, exacerbated the city’s underlying racial tensions, reinforcing a sense that Washington was counting its cash while D.C. found it harder and harder to pay rising rents. The development was so uneven that many of the new restaurant and retail-sector jobs were also out of reach for much of D.C.—for people east of the river, the commute was so long that the jobs might as well have been in another county. “I mean, no one ever said it, no one would say, ‘We don’t want to go to this part of the city because it’s blacker than the other part of the city,’” Price says. “But that’s the challenge you face in every urban area, in terms of how developers choose. It’s how banks choose, how equity investors choose.”

    When the economic crisis hit in 2008, white unemployment increased 1.1 percent. For black residents, it went up 5 percent, and for Hispanics, it nearly doubled. There was no housing crisis in Washington, where home prices remained stable. But for D.C., foreclosure rates went as high as 35 percent. As neighborhoods gentrified, housing prices rose, and more and more of the city’s black residents sold their homes and fled—some because they had a chance to cash in, some because they couldn’t afford to stay. Whether it’s a flight of the black middle class or an exodus of the poor is hard to say, says Benjamin Orr, a research analyst at the Brookings Institution. Either way, he says, “the African American population is shrinking.”

  8. rikyrah says:

    September 09, 2011
    The battle lines of 2012

    The two passages below reflect Congress’ pronounced shift to the right which, it seems to both me and a small warehouse of recent polling data, runs profoundly counter to the electoral majority’s perceptible shift to the left.

    From the NY Times:

    Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill expressed a willingness to wring savings from the long-untouchable programs [of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid] during the first meeting of the special committee that is charged with recommending $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions over the decade.

    From The Hill:

    [S]everal Republicans said they would seek to block legislative triggers that could force massive defense cuts over the next decade…. [Sen. Jon Kyl’s and others’] comments cleared up whether the Pentagon and defense industry have a strong ally on the high-level panel.

    Such is the stuff of an unrepresentative democracy that justifiably infuriates the left.

    Savings need not be wrung from Social Security. Simple mathematics brutally and rather incontrovertibly suggests that we could, for example, merely lift the income cap to which S.S. payroll taxes are subject. “Crisis” resolved.

    Medicare? Its administrative costs are a fraction of private insurance. So what idea does Congress toy with? Why of course: reduce the number of Americans covered less expensively by Medicare by raising the age eligibility. Brilliant.

    And Medicaid? Its 50-fiefdom dismemberment and consequent race to the bottom is a stain on America’s once-honorable commitment to the poor. Placing a noble program like Medicaid in the ignominious hands of a Gov. Perry is an invitation to feudalistic degradation.

    Perhaps, though, a bit of Pentagon- and Plutocrat-wringing could help.

    And there you have it, in large part: the battle lines of 2012.

  9. rikyrah says:

    Rev. Al (about these voter laws)- James Crow, Jr, reminiscing of your daddy, Jim Crow!


  10. rikyrah says:

    Rev. Al is doing a segment on the Voter Suppression bills.

  11. rikyrah says:

    Sebelius Endorses Obama’s Jobs Plan, Announces Job-Creating Community Health Grants

    By Igor Volsky on Sep 9, 2011 at 10:15 am

    HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius endorsed President Obama’s jobs bill in today’s Huffington Post, writing that the plan would “provide an immediate boost to America’s economy.” She argued that the Affordable Care Act will also improve job growth and touted a new round of community health care grants: “the availability of $700 million in new funding to support the renovation and construction of community health centers — an investment that will create thousands of good jobs in construction and health care while enabling more Americans to get the kind of affordable primary care that can keep them healthy and out of the hospital.”

    Indeed, investing in CHCs — one area of health reform both Democrats and Republicans can agree on — totals $11 billion over 5 years and could “generate $54 billion in economic activity in 2015, with $33 billion of this a direct result of the additional investment in the new law” — that’s 457,300 jobs by 2015. The additional dollars will set off a job spiral: 1) health centers directly employ people in their communities, including key entry-level jobs, training, and other community-based opportunities and 2) health centers then purchase goods and services from local businesses and expand and build new locations. Thus, every dollar spent and every job created by health centers has a direct impact on local economies.

    Republicans have long supported CHCs as a means of expanding health care coverage — despite proposing massive cuts to centers in the last year. Former President George W. Bush doubled U.S. financing for community health centers and Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) has described CHCs as “essential,” regularly touting new federal funds for CHCs in his district.

  12. rikyrah says:

    Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 09:52 AM PDT
    BRILLIANT! IDIOT GOP dives right into Obama’s trap!+*

    by MinistryOfTruth

    It’s a trap!

    And, predictably, Republicans are falling for it.

    Just hours ago, Eric Cantor (R-Palookaville) went on the official Republican propaganda outfit and badmouthed jobs spending as something Republicans can’t agree to. Citing his wish to work with the White House on only the tax cuts side of the President’s new jobs proposal, Cantor is signaling that the GOP has taken the bait hook line and stinker.

    Like an idiot.

    The GOP is screwed. If he does this the right way Obama is about to eat their lunch.

    I DARE Republicans to vote against the American Jobs Act. I double dare them.

    But Republicans are not that stupid, they are stupid, for the most part, the way most greedy people are. They can’t see farther ahead than the next quarter, they don’t realize that their greed and unflinching assholery might cost them in the long run. The GOP thinks they can whittle down the President’s bold proposal into smaller bills specifically targeted at the tax cut provisions the GOP likes while leaving the spending side of this second stimulus bill on the side of the road.

    What they are forgetting at their own peril is that Barack Hussein Obama can run one hell of a campaign, and the President has developed quite a knack for beating Republicans in elections.

    Now, remember that basically every piece of the proposal President Obama laid out yesterday has been supported at one time or another by the GOP, because this is key/

    When Republicans balk at parts or all of of Obama’s jobs plan, as they predictably will, because in about 2 hours Eastern Time Friday today Rush Limbaugh is going to badmouth it and every Republican will be forced to agree with him, when that happens the trap will be set. And every idiot Republican that goes along with Rush will have fallen into a brilliant trap.

    Oppose President Obama’s jobs plan at your own peril, Republicans. But you can’t help yourself, hating this President is the only thing they are good for.

    Because if Obama takes this to the public with the message that the Republican party doesn’t care about jobs, if Obama takes a powerful message to the American people that Republicans are against the Obama jobs plan because they want to go back to the George W. Bush way of doing things, if Obama makes the case to the American public that the only way to pass Obama’s jobs plan is to get rid of the do-nothing Republicans in Congress and elect Democrats, then the 2012 elections will become a battle held on Democratic turf for once, and it will boil down to a simple message; Democrats care, Republicans don’t.

    If you are a “Job creator” the Republicans care, if not, they don’t.

    If you are a military contractor or a Oil company Republicans care, if not, they don’t.

    And on and on.

    Because if Republicans show ANY opposition to the American Jobs Act in any way it gives the President a BIG STICK. Obama will be able to tell America that Republicans won’t even support their own ideas if the President does. Obama will be able to tell the public that Republicans hate Obama more than they love their country. I doubt Obama says it like that, he will more likely say they choose party over country, the party of “Country first” is anything but that, and they will have proven it by proving once again that they are the party of NO, even when it comes to jobs.

    This is just brilliant. If Republicans put up a fight at all over this jobs bill they will be digging their own political graves. Even better, given a strong hand, if Obama takes the fight to the GOP he will be able to prove to independents and disaffected Dems that he is willing to fight for working class people while Republicans can only fight against them. You want jobs? Vote for Democrats, because Republicans don’t care.

    And Eric Cantor has already taken the bait, already he is showing GOP leadership is in opposition to any spending on jobs, even if it is offset by cuts elsewhere, even if these proposals are ideas that the GOP already supports. Republicans only care about one thing, defeating Obama, and if that means standing in the way of a jobs bill so they can make things worse and blame it on Obama they will do that. By standing in the way, as they will surely do, Republicans are falling right into that trap.

    And we all know that there are at least 60 new teabagger Freshman in the House who will never support this jobs proposal, and that makes things even worse for Cantor and Boehner, it guarantees that this “divide the GOP and conquer them” plan will work, because if GOP House leadership wants to avoid this trap they will have a hard time rounding up the votes in their own caucus, which means that even with Minority Leader Pelosi’s help to pass the bill the teabagger house caucus will almost certainly ensure that Republicans will look bad by opposing this plan, that’s what makes this so brilliant, the GOP CAN NOT WIN, they are going to fight this tooth and nail and they are going to look bad doing it with everyone who isn’t already a dittohead, and between that and the GOP Presidential primary frontrunners messages of attacking social security and defending corporations, the President has them in a corner.

    So I tip my hat to our President. His message was loud and clear, “Pass the whole bill as soon as possible”

    And Republicans have fallen for the trap.

    What’s more, do we actually have message consistency? W00T W00T

    Today, the White House offered its answer: Sorry, we want the whole bill passed. Nothing less.

    With the spin war over the speech now shifting to a phase where Republicans are telegraphing a desire to compromise, even as Obama hits the road to sell his whole plan to the American people, this exchange on MSNBC this morning between Chuck Todd and White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer struck me as important:

    TODD: The bill gets sent to Congress next week. Are you guys assuming that it gets sort of piecemealed, that at the end of the day you’re going to get some of what you want but not all of what you want?

    PFEIFFER: No, we’re not assuming that. The president said it 16 times, I’ll say it a 17th time today. He wants them to pass the American Jobs Act. That’s the piece of legislation he’s sending up. It’s a simple thing. Puts the Americans back to work and puts more money into the pockets of working families. Our belief is that everything in this bill is reasonable. Everything in the bill has bipartisan support. Everything will have an effect right now. And so we want them to pass it.


    But this time — for now, at least — the usual dynamic seems to be reversed. It’s Republicans who want to be seen signaling a desire to compromise at the outset, while Obama and White House are the one’s insisting they won’t budge — and are even prepared to take their case to the American people to prove it, whether Republicans like it or not.!-IDIOT-GOP-dives-right-into-Obamas-trap!?via=siderec

  13. rikyrah says:

    September 09, 2011 4:55 PM
    The GOP ‘response’

    By Steve Benen

    A couple of readers asked this afternoon about the unofficial Republican response last night, delivered by none other than Michele Bachmann. There’s a very good reason I haven’t mentioned it today: I forgot it existed.

    For whatever reason, the congressional GOP decided it didn’t want to deliver an official response to President Obama’s jobs speech, which was probably a pretty good strategy. But the right-wing Minnesotan, who annoyed Republican leaders with her own freelance State of the Union response earlier this year, announced late yesterday that she wanted to weigh in after the president’s joint session speech.

    In case it wasn’t already obvious that Bachmann’s schtick has worn thin, the GOP presidential hopeful — who just three weeks ago looked like she might actually compete for the nomination — spoke in a Capitol Hill studio to a small audience. How many networks covered her remarks live? None. Bachmann spoke for a little while, took a few questions, and left.

    Reclaiming the momentum this wasn’t.

    As if this wasn’t quite enough, Bachmann used her time to complain that President Obama was mean to Congress.

    In his speech, the president said, “The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities. The question tonight is whether we’ll meet ours. The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy. The question is whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning.”

    Bachmann apparently found this offensive.

    Did you catch it? Bachmann said contained in that early paragraph was a direct attack on the fine men and women of the House.

    “It was interesting to me that if you look at the president’s remarks, almost out of the gate, the president began by insulting members of Congress,” she said. “He invited them to be a part of this address this evening…. And yet he began with an insult — for a circus tent.”

    “That isn’t what this is. I don’t consider the greatest, most deliberative body in the United States, the House of Representatives, a circus, a political circus,” Bachmann continued. “It isn’t at all.”

    First, Obama didn’t call Congress, as an institution, a “political circus”; he was commenting on the larger dysfunction that’s plagued the political system of late.

    Second, Obama would have been perfectly justified if he had criticized Congress this way, because the institution has become farcical — thanks in part to ridiculous members like Michele Bachmann.

    Third, I would love to do a poll, asking which of these two approaches is more appealing to the American mainstream: Obama’s call to “stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy,” or Bachmann’s insistence that Congress is a really terrific institution.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Fla. passes up over $100 million in federal grants

    Associated Press

    MIAMI — Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-led Legislature have rejected or declined to pursue more than $106 million in federal grant money and returned another $4.5 million for programs linked to federal health care initiatives, including cancer prevention, leading critics to say he is putting his conservative agenda ahead of residents’ needs.

    Scott ordered state agencies to reject any money tied to President Barack Obama’s health care plan, which Florida is challenging in court, but Scott kept more than $13 million for a four-year abstinence education grant and for another program coordinating background checks for long-term care workers.

    The figures, which are totals of funds that could have been obtained over five years, were provided by the governor’s office.

    Critics have accused the governor of cherry-picking which programs he will accept grants from. The Legislature rejected $11.1 million that would have been paid out over four years to educate teens about pregnancy and HIV rates.

    “It’s not only disappointing, it’s a huge health threat. These are real people’s lives at stake,” said Judith Selzer, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood.

    Florida returned $2 million to fund centers linking elderly and disabled residents with services and another $500,000 to counsel patients on long term care options, according to the Department of Elder Affairs. Another $2 million was returned that would have covered implementation and planning costs for the federal health program.

    “Things that are simply implementing the Affordable Health Care Act, or Obamacare, I’m not going to support because I believe this: It’s the biggest job killer in our state, we can’t afford it and it’s going to be bad for patients,” Scott said. “If you look at the things that we are supporting, it’s the things that implement what we are already trying to do in health care.”

    Lawmakers in several other states have also have been reluctant to accept money associated with the federal health overhaul, not wanting to be perceived as supporting the measure.

    Still, regardless of political stance, every state has accepted some funding attached to the federal health overhaul, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announced last month he would return a $31.5 million grant to help lay the groundwork for national health insurance reform, citing uncertainty that the federal government will be able to meet its financial commitments. Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Louisiana and Florida also returned their funding, according to The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

    Alaska did not to apply for federal funds to establish a health insurance exchange and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker returned a $637,000 federal “consumer assistance” grant.

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been an outspoken critic of the federal health law, calling it “overreaching and harmful legislation,” but his state has accepted tens of millions of dollars in federal grants tied to the law for programs including community health centers and long term care, according to the NCSL.

    Florida’s Legislative Budget Commission initially rejected a $31.5 million grant over five years for a home visitation program for at-risk families that would help curb child abuse and work with pregnant women. But after strong criticism from health and education advocates, the commission approved a budget amendment Wednesday allowing the state to spend the federal funds.

    Read more:

  15. rikyrah says:

    Why Hospitals Are Urging Congress To Raise The Medicare Eligibility Age

    By Igor Volsky on Sep 9, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Politico’s Susan Jaffe reports that just as progressives are trying to pressure President Obama to back off his support for raising the Medicare eligibility age, the American Hospital Association will be lobbying Congress to do just that — gradually raise the age to 67 and push more seniors to “buy their own health insurance through state insurance exchanges starting in 2014″:

    Nevertheless, some state hospital officials traveled to Capitol Hill during the recess to pitch the idea to one House Democrat, ignoring a staffer’s stern warnings that the boss was firmly against it. “Every week we hear from someone who is just hanging on, waiting for Medicare coverage,” the staffer said.

    The message was clear, the staffer says: “If you’re going to cut money out of Medicare, cut them, not us.” If budget negotiators don’t come up with $1.2 trillion in alternative cuts, Medicare payments to health care providers would be automatically reduced by two percent. AHA estimates that its members would lose an estimated $45 billion over nine years. And that’s on top of the $155 billion in Medicare cuts hospitals are facing under the health law.

    You can read why raising the Medicare age is such a bad idea here, but the AHA’s push for the measure goes beyond simply avoiding painful cuts — the industry is also looking to make more money. The truth is, pushing 65 to 66 year olds off of Medicare — which can negotiate far lower reimbursement rates with providers — means that hospitals can score higher reimbursements from private payers in the exchange and earn more for providing the same services to the same patients.

  16. rikyrah says:

    Florida Continues To Cherry-Pick Federal Health Care Grants

    By Igor Volsky on Sep 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    On Wednesday, responding to strong criticism, Florida’s Legislative Budget Commission approved Gov. Rick Scott’s request to accept millions of dollars it initially rejected from the Affordable Care Act to fund a home visitation program to help curb child abuse. The state has also kept more than “$13 million for a four-year abstinence education grant and for another program coordinating background checks for long-term care workers.”

    But it is still turning a lot of money down, the Associated Press is reporting, declining to pursue more than $106 million in federal grant money and returning another $4.5 million “for programs linked to federal health care initiatives.” Republicans claim that they are rejecting funds to implement provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which the state is challenging in court, but critics are accusing lawmakers of cherry-picking programs that further their ideological goals. For instance, while accepting abstinence funding, the the state turned down:

    – $875,000 over five years for a program that aids in cancer prevention and increases access to quality care for cancer patients

    – $8.3 million allowing Osceola County Health Department to expand community health centers

    – $500,000 to counsel patients on long term care options

    – $2.1 million federal grant that would have fully paid for administrative costs to pave the way for an additional $35.7 million in Medicaid funding to pay for nursing home diversions of disabled and elderly patients over the next five years

    – $50 million over five years for community health programs focusing on disease prevention

    Florida is also refusing to accept federal funds to establish a health insurance exchange, despite having already established a similar structure in 2008 that could easily be converted to meet federal requirements. That marketplace, which had been championed by then state House Speaker Marco Rubio, is not yet operational. Meanwhile, the state has the country’s fourth-highest unemployment rate, second-highest rate of people without insurance, and a $3.7 billion budget gap this year.

  17. rikyrah says:

    GOP Policy Chairman Tom Price: Obama’s Payroll Tax Cut For Working Families Is ‘Class Warfare’

    By Lee Fang on Sep 9, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Last night, President Obama unveiled his new jobs agenda, which includes an extension of the payroll tax holiday for workers and employers, as well as a temporary payroll tax reduction as an incentive for businesses to hire more people. As the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and other experts have found, payroll tax cuts are far more stimulative than many of the other tax cut proposals currently on the table.

    Many Republicans are already voicing their opposition to the proposal. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), chair of the House Republican Policy Committee, spoke with NPR last night and revealed that his party’s opposition to the tax cut is rooted in class. The payroll tax cut, Price explained, is a “good nugget from a rhetorical standpoint, for the class warfare that [Obama] seems intent on fighting”:

    SIEGEL: Well, let’s pick apart some of what he asked for today. Continuing the payroll tax holiday, both for employers and employees, Republicans on board with that possibly?

    PRICE: Well, it’s a tax reduction in his eyes. In fact, it’s just a shift of the money to pay for Social Security. So, from a policy standpoint, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s a good nugget from a rhetorical standpoint, for the class warfare that he seems intent on fighting. But, you know, whether or not that survives, I don’t know. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense from an economic standpoint because the money to pay Social Security recipients has to come from somewhere. If it’s not going to come from the payroll tax, then it’s going to come from the general fund. And so, then you’re just borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.

    Obama’s plan to pay for the working class tax cuts is to end wasteful tax loopholes for corporations and wealthy investors. Price, who touts himself as a pro-growth tax cutter, is waging his own class warfare: protecting tax subsidies for billionaires to prevent substantive tax cuts for working families.

  18. rikyrah says:

    eptember 09, 2011 3:45 PM

    ‘Lift your voice’

    By Steve Benen

    Last night, President Obama’s jobs speech was mainly directed at challenging Congress, but towards the end, it included a public appeal: “I also ask every American who agrees to lift your voice and tell the people who are gathered here tonight that you want action now. Tell Washington that doing nothing is not an option.”

    The president took his message to the University of Richmond this morning, and again, aggressively pushed for public action.

    For those who can’t watch clips online, the video shows the final three minutes of a half-hour speech, during which Obama urges the public to get engaged.

    Here’s a transcript of the relevant portion:

    “So I’m asking all of you to lift up your voices, not just here in Richmond — anybody watching, listening, following online — I want you to call; I want you to email; I want you to tweet; I want you to fax; I want you to visit; I want you to facebook; send a carrier pigeon. I want you to tell your congressperson, the time for gridlock and games is over. The time for action is now. The time to create jobs is now.

    “Pass this bill. If you want construction workers on the worksite — pass this bill. If you want teachers in the classroom — pass this bill. You want small business owners to hire new people — pass this bill. If you want veterans to get their fair share of opportunity that they helped create — pass this bill. If you want a tax break — pass this bill.

    “Prove you will fight as hard for tax cuts for workers and middle-class people as you do for oil companies and rich folks. Pass this bill. Let’s get something done.

    “We are not a people that just look and watch and wait to see what happens. We’re Americans. We make things happen. We’re tougher than these times. We are bigger than the smallness of our politics. We are patriots and we are pioneers, and innovators and entrepreneurs, who through individual effort and through a common commitment to one another will build an economy that is once again the engine and the envy of the world. And we will write our own destiny. It’s within our power. But we’ve got to seize the moment.”

    For what it’s worth, my sense is the president is entirely sincere about this. Obama genuinely seems to believe an engaged electorate, fighting for a just cause, can persuade recalcitrant congressional Republicans to do the right thing — not because they want to, but because the public will tolerate nothing less.

    I am, alas, skeptical. It strikes me as far-fetched to think frustrated, disillusioned Americans will get engaged in large numbers, and it’s even harder for me to believe Republicans will care.

    That said, GOP leaders care deeply about the polls, and are desperate to do well in 2012. The president apparently hopes to use the American public to give him the leverage he’ll need to boost the economy. It’s a long-shot, but I wish him well.

  19. rikyrah says:

    Deadbeat Dad Rep. Joe Walsh Wants Ex-Wife To Pay His Legal Bills

    | The House GOP’s resident deadbeat dad Rep. Joe Walsh (IL) owes his ex-wife and three children over $117,000 in child support. While slamming President Obama and GOP leaders for placing “debt upon the backs of my kids and grandkids,” Walsh decided to loan his own campaign $35,000 (and even pay himself back at least $14,200 in loans) before paying child support. His defense? He “had no money.” Six days after this story broke, Walsh filed a motion demanding that his ex-wife Laura pay his attorney’s fees. In a “possible effort to slow down the case,” Walsh’s lawyers demanded that Laura Walsh provide “extensive documentation, including records of her employment, salary, bank statements, tax returns and expense reports.” Laura Walsh’s attorney called the request “harassment” and noted that Laura had “no corresponding obligation to pay Joe Walsh any support, and so the extensive requests for documents were inappropriate.” Nonetheless, the hypocritical Tea Party freshman continued to make his incessant media rounds yesterday without one single question on his negligence of his children.

  20. rikyrah says:

    Anti-Immigrant New Mexico Governor Reveals Her Grandparents Were Undocumented Immigrants

    By Marie Diamond on Sep 9, 2011 at 9:40 am

    New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) has long been known for her vitriolic rhetoric against undocumented immigrants. Just this week, she slammed presidential contender Rick Perry (R-TX) for once supporting the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform. “It is not comprehensive reform to put people who are here illegally, who violated the law, and put them in front of the line for those folks who have been waiting and doing all the right things to come to the United States,” she said.

    But on Wednesday, Martinez surprised many when she admitted that her own grandparents were among those “people…who violated the law” when they came to the U.S. as undocumented immigrants:

    New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has acknowledged her paternal grandparents came to the U.S. illegally, amid national attention and protests over her ongoing efforts to bar illegal immigrants from getting driver’s licenses.

    “I know they arrived without documents, especially my father’s father,” the Republican said Wednesday in an interview in Spanish with KLUZ-TV, the Albuquerque Univision affiliate. […]

    Martinez has made headlines recently for her push to repeal a state law that lets illegal immigrants get a New Mexico driver’s license. She has added the issue to the agenda for a special session on redistricting that opened Tuesday.

    This is the first time Martinez has definitively answered questions about her grandparents’ immigration status, and admitted that she would not be in this country — let alone be a governor — if they had not entered the U.S. without papers. At a rally yesterday against Martinez’s effort to repeal the driver’s license law, protesters held placards that read, “Dear Susana. Do you know your history? Did you forget your roots?”

    Martinez’s office was quick to preemptively denounce anyone who would “personally attack the governor” for this revelation. But given her hard-line stance and willingness to separate other families who are undocumented, many activists hope she will keep her own roots in mind when issues like the DREAM Act come up.

    This week, Martinez reiterated, “I don’t support piecemeal legislation such as the DREAM Act.” However, Martinez should know better than anyone that we don’t control our parents’ or grandparents’ actions, and shouldn’t be punished for them.

  21. rikyrah says:

    Paul Ryan Mocks Senior Citizen Handcuffed At His Town Hall: ‘I Hope He’s Taking His Blood Pressure Medication’

    By Marie Diamond on Sep 9, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), the author of the House GOP plan to phase out Medicare, does not like it when constituents publicly challenge him. In fact, people who disagree with Ryan have a habit of getting arrested for it. A few weeks ago, several of Ryan’s unemployed constituents staged a peaceful sit-in at his Kenosha, Wisconsin office to protest his unpopular decision not to hold any free public town halls during the August recess. These constituents didn’t think they should have to pay to ask their elected representative a question. Instead of meeting with them, Ryan’s staff called the police.

    So it should come as no surprise that this week, three people who paid to see Ryan speak were arrested and charged with trespassing for protesting the event. One constituent, a 71-year-old retired plumber from Kenosha, Wisconsin, was handcuffed and pushed to the ground by security:

    Video footage taken by an attendee at the event shows that one of them, Tom Nielsen, received particularly harsh treatment — he was pushed to the ground and handcuffed. Nielsen received an additional charge of resisting arrest.

    Ryan was speaking Tuesday afternoon at the Whitnall Park Rotary Club. Protesters gathered both outside his event and inside, standing up and disrupting the congressman’s remarks.

    According to Oak Creek Patch, as many as a dozen protesters were escorted out of the event. Another dozen or so left willingly.

    Ryan seemed supremely undisturbed that a senior citizen worried about receiving the Medicare he’s paid into his whole life was treated so brutally. Indeed, Ryan made light of the arrest and quipped to the audience, “I hope he’s taking his blood pressure medication.”

  22. rikyrah says:

    Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 12:33 PM PDT
    Pelosi to GOP: Pass the bill+*

    by Jed Lewison

    Nancy Pelosi says Eric Cantor and his fellow Republicans shouldn’t try to dilute the impact of President Obama’s jobs proposal by breaking it up in to several smaller pieces.

    “He introduced it as one bill,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Friday, raising one finger for emphasis.

    “It doesn’t mean that every piece of what the president was saying, that everybody was saying ‘oh my gosh, I’m so glad about that,’” she said during her weekly press conference. “But this is, again, a compromise.”

    While Pelosi is on the same page as the White House, Cantor has been saying that Republicans should attempt to “peel off” the elements of the President Obama’s jobs bill that they like while tossing aside the stuff they don’t like.

    Of course, given that they don’t like the parts of the bill that would actually create jobs, Cantor’s proposal is obviously just an effort to scuttle the bill without getting blamed for killing it. Whatever happens, the fact that it’s this hard to get Republicans to even consider maybe possibly doing something about jobs is about as good an argument as you’ll find for why House Democrats should—and probably will—retake the majority in 2012.

  23. rikyrah says:

    Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 10:15 AM PDT
    Congress appears ready to pass three-month FAA extension+*

    by Laura ClawsoN

    With unions already mobilizing, it appears that another FAA shutdown will be averted, at least until the end of the year:

    House Republicans are unveiling another funding extension for the Federal Aviation Administration as early as Friday, this time to Dec. 31, that also includes back pay for federal workers who were furloughed for two weeks in August when lawmakers failed to extend the agency’s funding.

    The measure also includes minor cuts to the funding levels of FAA, consistent with agreed-upon deficit reduction agreements and House appropriators’ funding levels. The overall authorization levels reflect roughly a 5 percent reduction from current level, according to congressional and lobbying sources.

    Crucially, this extension does not appear to include the provision to strip union rights from airline workers that caused the summer’s FAA shutdown. There’s still a lot of work to be done to get to a long-term bill, and it’s extremely unlikely that Republicans are giving up on their proposal to count people who don’t vote in union representation elections as having voted against unionizing, they’re not trying to force the issue into another FAA shutdown … just yet. Maybe they’re not eager for a repeat of the damage Rep. John Mica whined about in the wake of the last one.

    Imagine that. Democrats refused to cave to Republicans demanding an anti-democratic, anti-worker bill and won at least a short-term victory. Imagine if they did that more often and on more issues.

  24. rikyrah says:

    Setting Their Hair on Fire
    Published: September 8, 2011

    First things first: I was favorably surprised by the new Obama jobs plan, which is significantly bolder and better than I expected. It’s not nearly as bold as the plan I’d want in an ideal world. But if it actually became law, it would probably make a significant dent in unemployment.

    Of course, it isn’t likely to become law, thanks to G.O.P. opposition. Nor is anything else likely to happen that will do much to help the 14 million Americans out of work. And that is both a tragedy and an outrage.

    Before I get to the Obama plan, let me talk about the other important economic speech of the week, which was given by Charles Evans, the president of the Federal Reserve of Chicago. Mr. Evans said, forthrightly, what some of us have been hoping to hear from Fed officials for years now.

    As Mr. Evans pointed out, the Fed, both as a matter of law and as a matter of social responsibility, should try to keep both inflation and unemployment low — and while inflation seems likely to stay near or below the Fed’s target of around 2 percent, unemployment remains extremely high.

    So how should the Fed be reacting? Mr. Evans: “Imagine that inflation was running at 5 percent against our inflation objective of 2 percent. Is there a doubt that any central banker worth their salt would be reacting strongly to fight this high inflation rate? No, there isn’t any doubt. They would be acting as if their hair was on fire. We should be similarly energized about improving conditions in the labor market.”

    But the Fed’s hair is manifestly not on fire, nor do most politicians seem to see any urgency about the situation. These days, the best — or at any rate the alleged wise men and women who are supposed to be looking after the nation’s welfare — lack all conviction, while the worst, as represented by much of the G.O.P., are filled with a passionate intensity. So the unemployed are being abandoned.

    O.K., about the Obama plan: It calls for about $200 billion in new spending — much of it on things we need in any case, like school repair, transportation networks, and avoiding teacher layoffs — and $240 billion in tax cuts. That may sound like a lot, but it actually isn’t. The lingering effects of the housing bust and the overhang of household debt from the bubble years are creating a roughly $1 trillion per year hole in the U.S. economy, and this plan — which wouldn’t deliver all its benefits in the first year — would fill only part of that hole. And it’s unclear, in particular, how effective the tax cuts would be at boosting spending.

  25. rikyrah says:

    Obama’s Angry, Direct, and Eloquent Defense of Government
    Barack Obama gave the best speech of his presidency tonight. It was angry, direct, and entirely appropriate to the occasion—an “economic crisis,” which, as he said, has been made worse by a “political crisis.” He spoke to the Congress, but also over their head to their constituents, and appealed to them to put pressure on their representatives. His proposal to help the economy was not perfect—too much consisted of tax cuts and not spending—but for once the scale of the proposal, $450 billion, fit the crisis, and if enacted, would help and not damage the economy. That’s in marked contrast to the spending cuts he has agreed to make this year.

    He eloquently defended government against those who want to dismantle it. Americans, he reminded the audience, are not just “rugged individualists” but “all connected” and “there are some things we can only do together, as a nation.” “Ask yourselves—where would we be right now if the people who sat here before us decided not to build our highways and our bridges, our dams and our airports?” He made the case for government by making the case for collective action rather than for “big government.” That’s an essential distinction.

    But, look, fulsome praise is boring. What would a column by me on Obama be without some criticisms? There were definite limits to what he tried to accomplish in the speech. Some important points were left unsaid. And some logical connections were not made that must be made if Obama is to finally persuade Americans of the need for public spending. Here are some of the missing notions and links:

    1. Obama spoke of an “economic crisis,” and of the plight of the unemployed, but he didn’t make the one point that lies the center of his own program: that the nature of this crisis is such that if the government doesn’t spend money, the economy will not recover. It won’t recover on its own, but it will continue to shed jobs, as it has. And if the government cuts spending, as Obama and the super committee are preparing to do, during this downturn, it will deepen and prolong it. Obama steered clear of making this point, saying instead that his spending and tax cuts will be fully paid for. (And he mentioned “changes” to Medicare and Medicaid, which he should leave to Paul Ryan.) That’s fundamentally misleading, and opens the door to the Republican budget cutters.

    2. Obama’s case for government as national action—his communitarian approach, if you like—was the strongest moment of his speech, but in terms of justifying his program, it was ambiguous. Yes, what would the United States be without highways and dams, but that’s not the point right now. It’s that in order to put people to work in this downturn, where demand and investment are throttled, you need government spending. As Keynes once argued, it could consist of burying bottles in the ground and digging them up. And spending is far better than tax cuts, which can be saved rather than spent. And spending on public enterprises is probably better for getting jobs soon than funding private concerns.

  26. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 09:14 PM ET, 09/08/2011
    Obama’s bold effort to shift the conversation to jobs
    By Greg Sargent

    Obama’s jobs speech tonight was one of the most aggressive of his presidency, at a moment where a show of strength — given his badly weakened political state — was an absolute imperative. Anyone who wanted Obama to show that he’s ready to mount a sustained fight to create jobs, to give an aggressive defense of the idea that government can and must act to fix the economy, to make a serious effort to break the Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop and shift the conversation to job creation, and to offer an expansive moral and big-D Democratic critique of the conservative economic vision, should be very satisfied by what they heard.

    Yes, it was just a speech. Yes, Republicans will likely oppose just about everything in it. Yes, we don’t know what Obama and Dems will ultimately agree to on entitlements and on the Congressional super-committee. Yes, Dems have been playing on GOP turf for far too long. But we simply needed to hear a genuine and ambitious effort to get Washington talking about jobs in a serious way, and this speech was just that. If this is the template for what lies ahead, it’s encouraging indeed.

    Ezra Klein has the rundown on the speech’s policy proposals. He notes that it represents a serious challenge to Congress, in that everyone should be able to find job-creation ideas in it that they should like. I’ll stick to the politics.

    Obama didn’t just urge Congress to pass his jobs plan; he repeatedly hectored Congress to do it. He demanded that Congress pass his plan — often demanding that they do so “right away” — no less than 15 times. And he vowed to barnstorm the country if Congress doesn’t pass the plan. The tone of urgency bordered on overkill — which is a good thing: “You should pass it. And I intend to take that message to every corner of this country.” Aides had promised he would challenge, rather than beseech, Congress to act. That turned out to be an understatement.

    With public pessimism about government running high, the pressure was on Obama to make a strong case that government can create jobs and fix the economy, as a way of breaking the toxic cycle created by Washington’s deficit obsession. And he made a real effort to do that. Indeed, he cast this current moment as a referendum on whether government is even capable of helping its citizens at a time of national economic calamity. “The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy,” Obama said. “There are steps we can take right now to improve people’s lives.”

    Those who feared Obama would offer more tacit validation for the conservative economic vision — with a moratorium on regulations or something along those lines — were treated to the opposite spectacle. Yes, Obama did seem to leave the door open to some form of entitlements cuts, and he did target the straw man of Democrats who supposedly oppose doing nothing at all in the way of entitlement reform. But he defended an activist role for government by putting it in its historical context, linking it to the G.I. bill and to Abraham Lincoln’s mobilization of “government” to build the transcontinental railroads. Crucially, he also went out of his way to challenge the conservative worldview that government and regulations are an impediment to restoring prosperity, arguing that the crisis musn’t be a pretext to sweep away regulatory protections the American people have come to rely on: “Thats’s not who we are.”

    Obama has given fiery speeches like this before — perhaps not quite this fiery — only to end up trading away liberal priorities to a degree unacceptable to the left. And as Ezra notes, when the topic turns to deficit reduction, liberal excitement will rapidly wane. But this is a speech liberals and Dems really needed to hear from their Democratic president, and if it is an indication of what’s to come, things could get very interesting. He drew a strong contrast with the conservative vision, and offered a strong opening bid towards an effort to make it increasingly difficult for Congress not to act. There’s been an ongoing argument over whether the bully pulpit matters, and over whether speeches can actually shift public opinion. Whatever the answer to that question, Obama made a pretty ambitious effort to prove tonight that the bully pulpit still matters a great deal indeed.

  27. rikyrah says:

    Time to Go on Offense

    by BooMan
    Fri Sep 9th, 2011 at 10:24:09 AM EST

    I suppose I should check around to see if, as is his wont, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas reacted to the president’s speech by suggesting that he take a valium. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor reacted more with cowering fear, which might be explained by the fact the president’s first stop on his tour will be on Cantor’s turf today at the University of Richmond.

    The independent economic consultancy Macroeconomic Advisers predicts the president’s plan would give a “significant boost” to GDP and lead to 1.3 million new jobs through 2012.

    “This plan is the right thing to do right now,” Obama said. “I intend to take that message to every corner of this country. I also ask every American who agrees to lift your voice and tell the people who are gathered here tonight that you want action now. Tell Washington that doing nothing is not an option.”

    Moody’s predicts 2% growth in GDP and 2 million jobs. The Economic Policy Institute is even more optimistic.

    President Obama’s jobs plan, if implemented, would boost employment by around 4.3 million jobs (yes, 1.6 million of those jobs would come from continuing temporary policies that are already in place and supporting the economy today, but the new initiatives alone would generate 2.6 million jobs).

    How do we judge such large figures? Here’s a benchmark: right now the gap in the U.S. labor market is around 11 million jobs when you take into account both the number of jobs we are down since the start of the recession and the number we should have gained to keep up with normal growth in the working-age population. Eleven million is the number of jobs we need — and Obama has just proposed a plan that could take a big bite out of that gap. This plan is a vital step in the direction of providing a solution that matches the scale of the ongoing crisis.

    Even Krugman has temporarily stopped his grumbling. This jobs proposal is the first thing that has put the GOP on its heels since the health care and financial reforms passed. It has definitely perked up progressive morale. It gives us something to fight for and allows us to go on offense for the first time in over a year.

    For me, it’s a welcome relief. How about you?

  28. rikyrah says:

    September 09, 2011 10:40 AM

    What the focus group thought

    By Steve Benen

    I’ve largely given up trying to guess how the public will respond to political speeches; I can think of too many instances in which my expectations were backwards.

    When it comes to President Obama’s jobs speech last night, it certainly seemed like the kind of address that would connect with the American mainstream, and time will tell if it affects the polls at all (and how long those effects last). But while we wait, Geoff Garin, a pollster for Hart Research Associates, conducted a focus group in Richmond last night, gauging the responses from 32 swing voters in House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) congressional district.

    Priorities USA, which is aligned with Democrats, released a report on the dial test this morning. The swing voters, apparently, were pretty impressed.

    Substantively, these swing voters liked the President’s proposals. They came to the speech with deep concerns about the economic situation and came away from the speech persuaded and encouraged that Obama has good ideas for improving America’s economy.

    The dial ratings stayed high throughout virtually all of the President’s proposals — with particularly strong responses to his proposals to invest in America’s infrastructure, modernize America’s schools, continue the payroll tax break for middle-class Americans, provide new tax breaks for small businesses, and put teachers who have been laid off back to work.

    The dials also reflect a very positive reaction to President Obama’s discussion of the budget and the fact that his jobs proposals would be paid for. Indeed, the section of the speech in which the President laid out the “simple arithmetic” of the choice between maintaining tax breaks and subsidies or spending on basic priorities scores particularly well. In the discussion afterward, respondents said they liked the simplicity, clarity, and realism of this section.

    It’s worth emphasizing that the focus group were not reflexive allies of the White House — many respondents “came into the room feeling discouraged, dispirited, and disappointed.” Before the speech, fewer than half the participants believed the president’s economic agenda was better than congressional Republicans’. After the speech, nearly three-quarters trusted Obama over the GOP on creating jobs.

    It’s just one focus group, of course, but it’s a preliminary hint that the White House’s message is the right one, at least as far as the public is concerned. Now all the president and his team have to do is figure out a way to communicate this same message to the millions of Americans who didn’t bother tuning in last night, convincing a fair number of them to pressure members of Congress to pass it, and figuring out a way to convince Republicans it’s in their (and the country’s) interests to do the right thing.

    Piece of cake, right?

  29. rikyrah says:

    September 09, 2011 12:30 PM

    White House rebuffs preemptive concessions

    By Steve Benen

    I think they’re learning.

    We’ve seen, on more than a few occasions, this White House negotiating poorly, entering a political fight by aiming low in the hopes that Republicans will be receptive. What happens, of course, is that GOP officials invariably hate the administration’s plan anyway, make far-right demands, and end up with a “compromise” that’s too far to the right because President Obama and his team started too far from the left.

    With the American Jobs Act, the West Wing is, so far, playing it smarter. Greg Sargent flagged this interesting exchange this morning between MSNBC’s Chuck Todd and White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer.

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    For those who can’t watch videos online, the host told Pfeiffer, “So, the bill gets sent to Congress next week. Are you guys assuming that it gets sort of piecemealed, that at the end of the day you’re going to get some of what you want but not all of what you want?”

    The typical response would be something like, “We’re willing to work on a compromise plan” or “We hope to find common ground.”

    Instead, the White House communications director said, “Well, no, we’re not assuming that. As the president said last night — he said it 16 times, I’ll say it a 17th here today — he wants them to pass the American Jobs Act. That’s the piece of legislation he’s sending up. It’s a simple thing. Puts the Americans back to work and puts more money in the pockets of working families. And so our belief is that everything in this bill is reasonable. Everything in the bill has bipartisan support. Everything will have an effect right now. And so we want them to pass it.”

    Good for him. As Greg explained, “In the debt ceiling fight, the White House at first demanded a “clean” extension, only to quickly concede to the GOP demand that it be accompanied by spending cuts. In the days leading up to the construction of the Congressional deficit super-committee, Democrats immediately signaled an openness to negotiate on their core priorities, even as Republicans drew a hard line and said they wouldn’t budge on their principles. But this time — for now, at least — the usual dynamic seems to be reversed.”

    Obviously, no one seriously expects Congress to simply take the American Jobs Act and pass it, word for word. If there were Democratic supermajorities in both chambers, that still wouldn’t happen, and in 2011, we see a House led by a radicalized Republican Party, and a dysfunctional Senate that blocks every bill of significance.

    But when it comes to setting the stage for a fight, the White House finally seems to realize that firm stands lead to better results, and preemptive concessions don’t.

  30. rikyrah says:

    Political Animal
    September 09, 2011 1:55 PM

    Is there a plan behind the plan?

    By Steve Benen

    It’s pretty easy to game out what happens next when it comes to Washington and the economy. President Obama has presented the American Jobs Act and urged Congress to pass it. Republicans will say, “No.” The economy will struggle; the White House will accurately blame the GOP; Republicans will falsely blame Dems; and the media will foolishly blame everyone.

    We can talk about the merits of the American Jobs Act, what it would do for the economy, and why the public likes it, but so long as (a) Republicans don’t want to act; and (b) Republicans really don’t want to hand Obama a victory, the political process is likely to spin its wheels.

    In theory, if American politics still operated by traditional rules, the White House would try to overcome these hurdles by presenting a bipartisan plan, filled with ideas from both parties, to help expand the base of support. This no longer works — Republicans no longer support their own policies, at least not the ones Obama is inclined to go along with.

    So, what’s the plan? The White House strategy appears to have two parts: persuasion and blame.

    On the first, the president vowed last night to take his message “to every corner of this country,” and urged the public to contact lawmakers in support of the American Jobs Act. Obama made a similar pitch in Richmond this morning, staying very much on the offensive. The point is to try to move public opinion and change the political landscape.

    Republicans don’t want to lift a finger to boost the economy? The White House hopes to create the conditions that won’t give the GOP much of a choice — the public demand would be so intense, inaction wouldn’t be a viable option. Republicans aren’t just opponents of the White House, the argument will go, they’re also opponents of an economic recovery.

    On the second, the president has positioned himself as the one in Washington fighting for jobs. Republicans, according to the pitch, can either get on board or face the blame. As Jonathan Cohn noted this morning:

    Then Obama has at least given the public a clear sense of who stands for what. And make no mistake: That’s a worthwhile endeavor. The approaching presidential election will offer voters stark choices about the country’s future. The best thing Obama can do — not only for the sake of his own candidacy but for the sake of the public discourse — is to make sure the voters understand those choices.

    It’s probably worth noting that the GOP response was quite muted last night. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was cautious in his critique, saying the ideas presented by the president “merit consideration.” Similarly, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) added there are “things in the package that we both can agree on.” It’s extremely unlikely GOP leaders are sincere about any of this, but Republicans at least know not to help make Obama’s point for him — last night probably wasn’t the time for GOP officials to immediately refuse to even consider helping the economy.

    But in the coming weeks, any semblance of success is still a long shot. I can imagine House Republicans approving some smaller, uncontroversial provisions and saying, “See? Look how responsible we are!” before balking at the most important measures. I can also imagine the House GOP passing a right-wing version of a jobs bill and then pretending to be outraged when the Senate and White House disapprove (see “Cut, Cap, and Balance Act”).

    Can I imagine Boehner, Cantor, and Mitch McConnell actually working in good faith to approve an ambitious jobs bill, concluding that it would improve their own standing and make the wildly unpopular Republican Party look better and more mature? No, I really can’t — so long as these guys have a to-do list that ranks destroying the president and undermining faith in public institutions near the top, serious policymaking is probably impossible.

    To my mind, it would take a dramatic shift in the polls, accompanied by a major public outcry, and the widespread perception that Republicans are now the Party of the Status Quo to change the equation. That means the White House and progressives in general have an enormous lift ahead of them.

  31. rikyrah says:

    Perry Hypocrisy Watch

    In Wednesday’s debate, the Texas governor attempted to distance his HPV vaccination mandate from Obamneycare. Will Saletan calls him out:

    Perry said his vaccine order “allowed for an opt-out. I don’t know what’s more strong for parental rights than having that opt-out.” But the opt-out procedure specified in the order is cumbersome. It says parents can “submit a request for a conscientious objection affidavit form via the Internet.” And the opt-out clause doesn’t distinguish Perry’s mandate from Romney’s or Obama’s. The Massachusetts law exempts from its insurance mandate anyone who “files a sworn affidavit with his income tax return stating … that his sincerely held religious beliefs are the basis of his refusal to obtain and maintain creditable coverage.” The federal law excuses anyone who obtains a religious exemption because “he is conscientiously opposed” to accepting health insurance benefits.

    Perry may be right that good health and fiscal policy sometimes require mandates. He’s entitled, as he puts it, to err on the side of saving lives. He’s just not entitled to deride his opponents when they do the same thing.

    Pareene points to another area:

    Perry has spent this entire disastrous year berating the feds for not spending enough time, attention and — most important — money on helping his fire and drought-ridden state, at one point claiming the president had a personal vendetta against the state of Texas. (The U.S. Forest Service and National Interagency Fire Center are currently commanding firefighting efforts near Bastrop.)

    Of course Rick Perry doesn’t want to see Texas burn, so it is rational of him to ignore his rhetorical distaste for the federal government and demand that it help. And Texas could use the help, because Perry and the Republicans who control all three branches of Texas government have severely slashed the budget of the Texas Forest Service.

  32. rikyrah says:

    GOP Derides Obama Jobs Plan As ‘Second Stimulus,’ Ignoring Success Of The First

    By Pat Garofalo on Sep 9, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Last night, President Obama rolled out a $450 billion job creation package before a joint session of Congress, calling for a plan that includes a payroll tax reduction, money for infrastructure and school modernization, as well as help for homeowners and reforms of the unemployment insurance program. “This plan is the right thing to do right now. You should pass it,” Obama said.

    But while the GOP leadership has made some conciliatory comments — with Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) saying that “the proposals the President outlined tonight merit consideration” — many Republicans have derided the plan by calling it another stimulus, along the lines of the 2009 Recovery Act:

    REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN): “More stimulus? Do we really need ‘son of stimulus’? We passed a trillion dollars in stimulus. Will billions more do the job? There is nothing new here…I hope Congress doesn’t pass this plan.”

    REP. DARRELL ISSA (R-CA): “The failed stimulus and its successor policies have proven that massive government deficit spending is not the solution — it is the problem.” Issa also “poo-pooed the president’s job package, saying it sounds like a ‘second stimulus.’”

    SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK): “Although the plan we heard tonight sounds a lot like a replay of his 2009 stimulus bill, even the President has now come to realize what Americans have known for some time, it simply didn’t work. $800 billion in federal spending got us where we are today.”

    SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL): “This seems to be nothing more than a son of stimulus proposal that will generate more political rhetoric than jobs. If that is the case, I will firmly reject it.”

    REP. ANDY HARRIS (R-MD): “We didn’t hear a whole lot new. This is basically ‘stimulus two.’”

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): “Two and a half years after the President’s signature jobs bill was signed into law, 1.7 million fewer Americans have jobs. So, I’d say that Americans have 1.7 million reasons to oppose another stimulus.”

    REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN REINCE PREIBUS: “Despite one failed stimulus, the President wants even more deficit spending.”

    Of course, all of this criticism is based on the incorrect assumption that the 2009 Recovery Act didn’t work. But as the Congressional Budget Office has continually found, the Recovery Act created or supported millions of jobs, keeping the unemployment rate up to two points below where it otherwise would have been. At its height in the third quarter of 2010, Recovery Act funds were supporting up to 3.6 million jobs.

  33. rikyrah says:

    Moody’s: Obama plan will add 1.9M jobs
    By: Mackenzie Weinger
    September 9, 2011 06:21 AM EDT

    A top economist says President Barack Obama’s job plan will likely add 1.9 million jobs and grow the economy by 2 percent.

    Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, also said Obama’s $447-billion plan would likely cut the unemployment rate by a percentage point, United Press International reported on Friday.

    Unemployment stands now at 9.1 percent and there are 14 million Americans currently out of work.

    In his Thursday night jobs speech, Obama laid out the details of his proposed American Jobs Act and called on Congress to pass it right away.

    “There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation,” he said. “Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans – including many who sit here tonight. And everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything.”

    The package offers a mix of tax cuts, state aid, jobs programs and construction projects.

    Obama promised he would take his message around the country to build support for the plan, and he kicks off his tour at Virginia’s University of Richmond today.

    The president will release a detailed deficit reduction plan a week from Monday.

  34. Ametia says:

    Racial Resentment and the Tea Party
    —By Kevin Drum
    | Wed Sep. 7, 2011 2:47 PM PDT

    Hey, did you know that Adam Serwer now writes for Mother Jones? Now you do! He’s blogging over at the mothership MoJo blog, and today he highlights a new Brookings/PRRI survey of American attitudes toward—how to put this? The official title is “Attitudes in an Increasingly Diverse America Ten Years after 9/11,” but the blunter version is “attitudes toward people who aren’t like me.”

    Adam focuses on the retrograde attitudes of Fox News viewers, but before we get to that, I think the most interesting part of the survey is that it explicitly breaks out the views of self-described tea partiers. Here’s a sampling of attitudes among tea party followers:

    ■63 percent believes that discrimination against whites is as big a problem as discrimination against minority groups.
    ■66 percent believes that the values of Islam are at odds with American values.
    ■54 percent believes that American Muslims are trying to establish Sharia law in the U.S.
    ■56 percent believes that newcomers from other countries threaten traditional American customs and values.
    ■72 percent believes we should deport all illegal immigrants back to their home countries.
    This is apropos because there’s been a wee bit of discussion lately about whether tea partiers are a bunch of stone racists hiding behind the Constitution, or whether that’s just another offensive “race card” canard dreamed up by the usual suspects on the left. This survey probably won’t change any minds, and I happen to think the term “racist” conceals more than it explains anyway. Still, what this survey does show is that tea partiers clearly harbor a pretty strong set of racial resentments. That doesn’t make them all racists, but it is a simple descriptive fact, and it’s something that’s perfectly kosher to discuss openly as it relates to public policy.

    As for Fox News, I think it’s safe to say that Fox considers tea partiers to be its core audience. And so its programming needs to appeal to that audience. This explains why Fox put Jeremiah Wright on virtually 24/7 rotation during the 2008 campaign, and why, over the past year or so, they’ve spent so much air time on Shirley Sherrod, anchor babies, Common’s invitation to the White House, birtherism, the Ground Zero mosque, Glenn Beck and “liberation theology,” Van Jones, the New Black Panthers, various reverse discrimination outrages, the D’Souza/Gingrich/Huckabee “anti-colonialism” meme, minority preferences from the CRA as the cause of the housing bubble, the general panic over Shariah law, and much, much more. Any one or two of those could be a coincidence. Put them all together and you’d have to be pretty gullible to believe that they were just randomly chosen topics.

  35. Good Morning 3 Chics, Friends & Visitors!

    Happy Friday!

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