Batman Forever is a 1995 American superhero film produced by Tim Burton and directed by Joel Schumacher. Based on the DC Comics character Batman, the film is a sequel to Batman Returns (1992), with Val Kilmer replacing Michael Keaton as Batman. The plot focuses on Batman trying to stop Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and the Riddler (Jim Carrey) in their villainous scheme to drain information from all the brains in Gotham City. He gains allegiance from psychiatrist Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman) and orphaned ward Dick Grayson (Chris O’Donnell).
The film had a change in tone compared to the previous installments, becoming more family-friendly since Warner Bros. considered that the previous film, Batman Returns, underperformed at the box office due to its violence and dark overtones. Production was troubled, with many actors considered for the main roles. Batman Forever received mixed reviews upon release, but was a success with audiences, out-grossing Batman Returns with over $336 million worldwide and becoming the sixth-highest grossing film of 1995.[2
See also: Batman Forever (score) and Batman Forever (soundtrack)
Elliot Goldenthal was hired by Schumacher to compose the film score months before production of Batman Forever began. In discussions with Schumacher, the director wanted Goldenthal to avoid taking inspiration from Danny Elfman, and requested an original composition.
The soundtrack was commercially successful, selling almost as many copies as Prince’s soundtrack to the 1989 Batman film. Only five of the songs on the soundtrack are actually featured in the movie, the rest are allegedly ‘inspired by’ Batman Forever – a curious claim, since most, if not all, of the tracks were recorded before the film was even completed. Hit singles from the soundtrack include “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” by U2 and “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal, both of which were nominated for MTV Movie Awards. “Kiss from a Rose” (whose video was also directed by Joel Schumacher) reached #1 in the U.S. charts as well. The soundtrack itself, featuring additional songs by The Flaming Lips, Brandy (both songs also included in the film), Method Man, Nick Cave, Michael Hutchence (of INXS), PJ Harvey, and Massive Attack, was an attempt to (in producer Peter MacGregor-Scott’s words) make the film more “pop”.
Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me -U2
KISS FROM A ROSE- SEAL
Dr. Michael Dyson and The Grio’s Sophia Nelson debate gay marriage.
A word from Japa: Sound and Fury
Full of Sound and Fury. Signifying Nothing.
No, this post is not about Chip’s reaction to recent events on the football pitches of Europe (Chips “Oi”)
Instead, this post is about polls and the media that promotes them. There has been a lot of anguish on this site of late about this poll or that poll. Furious checking of cross-tabs, analyzing of the composition of the respondents. Incredulity that President Obama can have 50% favorability rating but be behind Romney who has a 37% favorability rating.
Folks, let’s get a grip on ourselves and relax. Both the polls and the media represent what the Bard was referring to in Macbeth. They represent “a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”
Let’s talk about polls for a moment. It is not that they don’t have some meaning. They do. And right now they tell us more about the people doing the polling than they do about the public at large. It is largely because polling has turned into a real science over the past few decades that we can, to some degree, ignore them at this point in the campaign. Because polling is very precise, pollsters can get just about any response they want based upon how they set up the poll, based upon the respondents they choose and based upon how questions are phrased.
Polls are accurate representations of the people that are polled, nothing more, nothing less. Change who you poll, you change the results, and this can be done very precisely and accurately by the pollsters. And keep in mind that most of the most publicized polls are being paid for by the media outlets, such as ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and Fox.
Why is that important? Simply because the media has a vested interest in making sure that the upcoming election is viewed as a close race. It drives revenues and it drives viewership/readership. If you still believe that the media is composed of honest, high integrity, journalists, I am sorry to tell you that you are mistaken. Perhaps that is the way it should be, but that isn’t the way it is. That is the reality we have to deal with.
But, you may ask, why do I say that all this is a bunch of noise that doesn’t mean anything? Don’t polls become self-fulfilling prophecies? Shouldn’t we be worried by these polls?
Well, first of all, today is May 16, not November 5. People don’t really become involved in the politics of all this until after the conventions. And, believe it or not, Romney is still an unknown quantity to the vast portion of the population. Keep in mind, probably the lowest Romney can go come election time is 45%. The more important question is what his ceiling is, and polls today don’t tell us anything about that.
Secondly, studies have shown that polls can affect and influence people. In fact, they may influence maybe ½ of 1% of people. And that is a pretty minute number. But what polls can do is inspire people or depress people. And that is what we need to focus on.
Let ask you a question. If you see, going into late October that President Obama is down 1-2% in the polls (and remember those polls are more important) are you going to be more determined or less determined to get out there and get people to the polls? The answer, I hope, is obvious. We already know that the Democrats this year have the higher enthusiasm level. Being down a couple points is likely to increase that enthusiasm. At the same time, being up a couple points is not likely to dampen the enthusiasm.
For Republicans, the exact opposite is the case. If they see Romney losing by a couple points, they are more likely to write him off and not be as enthused to get out there, specially since he has virtually no ground game. And if he is up by a couple points, they are more likely to few it as a done deal and not push themselves to get to the polls. Of course, this can change depending on local races and if there are special issues on the ballot.
Should we be worried? No, not now. Concerned, perhaps. But let us use these polls to our advantage. Like I said, what polls can tell you is how specific groups of people feel about the race. Find out those groups that are not as strong for the President. Target them, convince them and then get them to the voting booth come November. Some of course are beyond redemption. But not all.
Let us not waste energy or put money into dentists’ wallets by doing too much gnashing of teeth. As I have mentioned before, fear can debilitate if we let it. Let’s step back and use the information these polls give us, not panic or scream in anguish if a poll doesn’t show the results we want to see. Let us work to prove these polls really do, right now, signify nothing and that the media is telling a tale full of sound and fury but little substance.
Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Secretive Big Money Campaign Donors
Posted by Linda H on 2:43 PM
By Steven Rosenfeld | Posted at May 15, 2012, 10:18 am
A federal appeals court in Washington has ruled that some big-money contributors to some of 2012’s most secretive electioneering efforts must reveal who they are and the size of their contributions, which is a victory for public interest advocates.
“This is a huge victory for voters, for disclosure, and for democracy because Americans deserve to know who is trying to buy results in our elections,” said Trevor Potter, Campaign Legal Center President. “This decision is an important step towards fulfilling the Supreme Court’s promise in Citizens United that all spending in our elections will be fully disclosed — disclosure that has been frustrated until now by the FEC.”
You would think that people are willing to put up big money behind candidates or on issues — whether to support them or attack opponents — would be willing to stand by their words and checkbooks. But that’s not so in American politics today, and the result is that many fictitious campaign organizations are created that are willing to say all kinds of negative and often intentionally incorrect things, with little or no accountability accorded to these effort’s financiers.
This federal court victory may pry open the books of several of the so-called independent groups, mostly on the GOP side of the aisle, that have been raising tens of millions of dollars to monopolize the broadcast airwaves in perhaps a dozen states that are considered in play for the presidential race.
Walker Dislikes Job Numbers, So He’ll Put Out His Own
By Tim Jones – May 15, 2012 11:01 PM CT
When Wisconsin job numbers compiled by the U.S. government were on the upswing last year, Governor Scott Walker traveled to Milwaukee to tout them as proof that he was turning around the state’s economy.
Now that the Bureau of Labor Statistics figures have shown for months that the state is losing more jobs than any other, Walker, a Republican who faces a June 5 recall election, will release his own.
Wisconsin lost 23,900 jobs between March 2011 and 2012, according to the bureau, which will release fresh estimates tomorrow. Walker, who promised to create 250,000 jobs by the end of his first term in 2014, says the state is performing better than that. He said while campaigning this week that he would release his own figures as early as today, the Associated Press reported.
“The governor set himself up,” said Andy Feldman, director of BadgerStat, a nonpartisan statistical website that measures Wisconsin’s governmental performance. “The 250,000- jobs promise was a ploy, and he’s set himself up by creating the focus on a goal over which he has very little control.”
Walker’s spokesman, Cullen Werwie, didn’t respond to e- mails and telephone messages seeking comment.
War Over Work
Job-creation has become the dominant issue for Democratic critics led by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who will face the governor in next month’s election. The recall, which grew out of protests against curbs on collective bargaining for most public employees, is a replay of the 2010 contest that Walker won by about 125,000 votes.
LMBAO Go Jaden!
Posted at 12:59 PM ET, 05/16/2012
How Mitt Romney gets away with his lying
By Greg Sargent
Yesterday, Mitt Romney gave a big speech in which he accused Obama of lighting a “prairie fire of debt.” It’s a good line, and it has received widespread media coverage.
Romney’s speech has already been dissected by Jonathan Chait and Steve Benen. They note that it’s entirely at odds with conventional understanding of how deficits work, and utterly disconnected from context, rendering it almost unquantifiably misleading.
But I wanted to make another point. If you scan through all the media attention Romney’s speech received, you are hard-pressed to find any news accounts that tell readers the following rather relevant points:
1) Nonpartisan experts believe Romney’s plans would increase the deficit far more than Obama’s would.
2) George W. Bush’s policies arguably are more responsible for increasing the deficit than Obama’s are.
Oh, sure, many of the news accounts contain the Obama campaign’s response to Romney’s speech; the Obama campaign put out a widely-reprinted statement arguing that Romney’s plans would increase the deficit and that he’d return to policies that created it in the first place.
But this shouldn’t be a matter of partisan opinion. On the first point, independent experts think an actual set of facts exists that can be used to determine what the impact of Romney’s policies on the deficit would be. And according to those experts, based on what we know now, Romney’s policies would explode the deficit far more than Obama’s would.
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has taken a close look at this question. It has determined that relative to current policy — that is, if you keep the Bush tax cuts in place, as Romney wants to do — Romney’s tax cutting plans would increase the deficit by nearly $5 trillion over 10 years. That’s on top of keeping the Bush tax cuts for the rich. Romney has promised to close various loopholes to pay for his tax cuts, but he hasn’t specified which ones. Until he does, the Tax Policy Center concludes, his plan would cost $5 trillion — which would be added, yes, to the deficit.
By contrast, Obama’s plans would not increase the deficit by anything close to that amount. Relative to current policy, the Tax Policy Center has found, Obama’s plan would reduce the deficit by approximately $2 trillion over the next decade. Now, under Obama, the deficit would still increase. That’s because current policy means we’re forgoing the $4.5 trillion in revenues we’d gain if we let all the Bush tax cuts expire. But neither candidate is going to do that. Obama, however, would end the Bush tax cuts for the rich and bring in revenues through a variety of other tax increases. Bottom line: relative to current policy, Obama’s plan would reduce the deficit by bringing in $180 billion or more in revenues a year, or approximately $2 trillion over 10 years; Romeny’s plan would increase the deficit by nearly $500 billion a year — $5 trillion over ten years.
The Tax Policy Center’s Roberton Williams summed it up perfectly in a quote to me:
“The bottom line is that whatever baseline you use, until Romney makes good on his promise to pay for his tax cuts, he would increase the deficit far more than Obama would.”
On the second point, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has determined that the policies put in place under Bush are the main driver of the deficits that are projected over the next decade.
The two bullet points above could not be more central to the debate over the debt that Romney’s big speech set in motion yesterday. Yet the vast majority of news consumers who now know that Romney has accused Obama of lighting a “prairie fire of debt” that threatens to engulf our children and our future haven’t been told about either of them.
THE NETWORKS ARE CARRYING H20 for the MITTSTER!
Musician Chuck Brown, ‘Godfather of Go-Go,’ dies at 75
Chuck Brown, the gravelly voiced bandleader who capitalized on funk’s percussive pulse to create go-go, the genre of music that has soundtracked life in black Washington for more than three decades, died Wednesday at the Johns Hopkins University hospital in Baltimore. He was 75.
Read more at:
CAPTION THE PIC
President Obama holds up a hoagie sandwich at Taylor Gourmet after holding a roundtable discussion with small business owners at the restaurant in Washington, DC, May 16
2 minute video PBO at Taylor Goumet
Obama picks up hoagies at Taylor Gourmet
May. 16, 2012 – President Obama picked up Philly-style hoagies at Taylor Gourmet in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.(The Washington Post
PBO to Romney: “THIS, RIGHT HERE…. YE- AH!
LOL Loving this…
Obamacare repeal would cost insurers $1 trillion
Posted by Sarah Kliffat 03:53 PM ET, 05/15/2012
Next month, America’s health insurance plans may lose $1 trillion in revenue.
It won’t have anything to do with a business deal gone awry, or
No Obamacare? That would cost health insurers $1 trillion. (Alex Wong – Getty Images) Americans dropping health coverage during the recession. Instead, $1 trillion is the amount of revenue that health insurance plans can expect to lose if the Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act. The Court is expected to issue its opinion in late June
The figure comes from Bloomberg Government, where number crunchers have taken a look at what happens if the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act and its expected expansion of health care coverage to 32 million Americans. They find that, should the Affordable Care Act be found unconstititional, insurance companies will lose $1 trillion in revenue between 2013 and 2020.
To put that in perspective, $1 trillion accounts for about 9 percent of all revenue that health insurers are expected to earn in the same period. It’s one-half of a percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Add up the annual revenues of America’s five largest banks – Bank of America, J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo, Wachovia and U.S. Bancorp- and you’re still about $500 billion short of what health plans can expect to lose if the Supreme Court decides against Obamacare.
“It’s the sheer size of the number that was startling,” says Bloomberg Government health care analyst Matt Barry. “I don’t know if people fully appreciate the stakes involved here. It’s not just politics – there’s a lot of money, and a lot to lose.”
The majority of that loss – $880 billion – would be from the 16 million Americans expected to purchase coverage on the individual market. Two-thirds of that revenue would be in the form of federal subsidies, for low- and middle-income Americans to purchase coverage. The rest would come from individuals, responsible for whatever part of the premium subsidies do not cover.
Volcker To Dimon: Just Give Up Your Banking License And We’re Cool (VIDEO)
Brian Beutler-May 16, 2012, 1:22 PM2104
How’s this for serendipity?
Just a couple weeks before Jamie Dimon announced publicly that his banking firm JPMorgan had lost a stunning $2 billion betting with depositor funds, he took to Fox News to criticize the Volcker Rule, meant to ban federally backstopped banks from engaging in proprietary trading.
Bill Moyers invited former Fed chairman Paul Volcker — the architect of the rule — to respond:
You’ve got great advantages if you’re a government regulated bank,” Volcker explained. “Take the two big remaining investment banks — used to call them investment banks — Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Both during the crisis got a banking license. Why’d they get a banking license? They wanted the protection of the government in the middle of the crisis. Now the crisis is over, if they want to do proprietary trading, they want to do a lot of other things, it’s very simple: give up their banking license.”
This was back in April, but takes on greater significance now. JPM’s losses appear small enough that they won’t need the government to step in and cover them. But the idea behind the Volcker Rule is that federally insured banks shouldn’t be making these kinds of bets at all — because when the bets go spectacularly bad, it falls to taxpayers to cover them.
File this under:
NOBODY IS PLAYING WITH YOU, WILLARD.
Mitt’s Miami vice
By Steve Benen
Wed May 16, 2012 12:30 PM EDT.
The first hint of trouble came early this morning, when Mitt Romney’s campaign team told journalists there would be no questions for the candidate today. (One reporter responded, “Isn’t that our decision?”)
But the problem intensified when the Republican appeared in Miami, and relied on staff and volunteers to physically prevent reporters from approaching a rope line and asking the candidate questions.
As a rule, media professionals don’t respond well to heavy-handed tactics that prevent journalists from doing their jobs.
It’s worth noting that some reporters were able to work their way to the candidate anyway — Romney ignored all questions — but why in the world would the campaign suddenly get so aggressive about shielding the candidate? Perhaps because of headlines like this one, which ran on the Miami Herald’s website this morning.
Welcome to FL, Mitt. Now why did Bain Capital lay off so many people in Miami?
As Mitt Romney returns to Florida on Wednesday for two days of campaigning and money-raising, Democrats are trying to ensure Floridians keep two words in mind: Dade Behring.
Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/05/welcome-to-fl-mitt-now-why-did-bain-capital-lay-off-so-many-people-in-miami.html#storylink=cpy
Of course, if I had a private-sector background like this, I might not want to take questions from reporters, either.
In advance of Mitt Romney’s fundraising swing through Florida [Wednesday], Democrats are highlighting one of the business ventures of Bain Capital while Romney was in charge: Dade Behring, which, saddled with debt, wound up shuttering two medical technologies facilities in Miami. Some 850 jobs were lost, while Bain walked away with $242-million — an 800 percent return on its investment
The Dade Behring case has been well-documented, but here’s a new wrinkle: The company under Bain’s leadership sought and received millions of dollars in tax breaks for creating jobs in Puerto Rico – shortly before closing it’s facilities, costing nearly 300 jobs.
The company in 1997 received a $3-million federal tax break aimed to promoting job creation in Puerto Rico. It also received a $4.1-million tax exemption from Puerto Rick in 1997 in the name of job creation. Dade ceased its operations in Puerto Rico in the first quarter of 1998.
WILLARD actually THOUGHT he’d be SHEILDED from his SHADINESS. That’s some BITCHASSNESS Priviledge right here.
Trying to rationalize bigotry
By Steve Benen
Wed May 16, 2012 1:32 PM EDT
As Rachel explained on the show last night, Tracy Thorne-Begland was set to become a Virginia judge before state Republican lawmakers rejected him. Thorne-Begland is a state prosecutor, a father, and a former Top Gun fighter pilot, and his nomination enjoyed bipartisan sponsorship, but the GOP rejected him anyway.
By all appearances, this was as plain an example of bigotry towards a judicial nominee as we’ve seen in a while: Thorne-Begland is gay, so Republicans blocked him from becoming a state judge.
But Virginia Republicans can explain this. The GOP didn’t reject Thorne-Begland because he’s gay, they argue; the GOP rejected Thorne-Begland because he believes in gay rights.
“He holds himself out as being married,” said Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William), who is running for U.S. Senate. Noting that gay marriage is not legal in Virginia, he said that Thorne-Begland’s “life is a contradiction to the requirement of submission to the constitution.” […]
Marshall, the Family Foundation of Virginia and others who raised concerns about Thorne-Begland’s nomination said they did not object to him because he is gay, but because of his outspokenness on the subject of gay rights.
Ah, I see. Because Thorne-Begland has stated opinions about civil rights issues, he’s necessarily unqualified to be a judge.
Or as Adam Serwer put it, “[I]t’s not, strictly speaking, correct to say Thorne-Begland was rejected because he was gay. He was rejected because he believes being gay entitles him to the same rights as people who aren’t.”
If Thorne-Begland had been gay and remained silent on whether other gays should be treated as first-class citizens in the Commonwealth, he’d presumably be fitted for his judicial robes today.
Jennifer Lopez Named World’s Most Powerful Celebrity By Forbes, Beats Oprah
rbes Profile Reveals Glenn Beck Is Highest-Paid Pundit This Year At $80 Million
For a While Glenn Beck has been keeping a comparatively low profile since his meteoric rise on Fox News in 2009, but that doesn’t mean he’s doing all that badly– in fact, he’s doing better than ever before in terms of income– and better than any other political celebrity. Forbes‘ Power 100 reveals today that, while in overall ranking including influence in the media, Beck is in 23rd place, he outshines Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump and Alec Baldwin in the income department.
It cost money to showcase a former alcoholic, Mormon convert, racist, bigot on the airwaves!
Posted at 08:49 AM ET, 05/16/2012
The Morning Plum: Obama’s high risk strategy
By Greg Sargent
If there is one word that sums up the Obama campaign’s strategy in attacking Mitt Romney’s economic credentials, it’s this: “risk.”
Risk is the theme that runs through the two key interwoven themes that the Obama team is trying to establish with its storytelling about Romney, Bain, and the middle class.
It’s often assumed that attacks on Bain are about hitting Romney’s wealth and character. But they are about something larger: about sowing doubts and fears among swing voters about Romney’s vision of our economic future. By invoking a Bain deal in which executives made millions while the bottom fell out from under workers, the Obama team is painting a vision of an economy under President Romney that’s built on a flimsy foundation of unbridled corporate profiteering and risk-taking — the same type of Wall Street recklessness that led to the crisis and untold economic suffering. That’s one way “risk” is a key theme.
The second way “risk” is central to the Obama strategy will be related: changing leadership right now is too risky a gamble with the recovery, which is underway but remains fragile — an argument you’ll be hearing more of soon enough. The basic problem for Obama is that while economic confidence is rising, Americans remain unhappy with his stewardship of the economy, and appear open to Romney’s argument that his success in turning around troubled companies equips him to turn around an entire country faster than Obama has.
Obama needs to persuade Americans that the current recovery, while unacceptably slow, is moving us towards a secure economic future (hence the slogan “an economy built to last”), and that Romney’s aura of economic competence is basically a ruse. It masks the fact that Romney’s actual policies, priorities, and ideas about the economy would represent a backward lurch that would line the pockets of the very rich but imperil and upend progress for the rest of us. That’s also key to attacks on Romney’s secrecy on tax returns, offshoring, big bundlers, and what government program’s he’d cut. Risky.
The message: Obama = long term economic security based on a strong middle class. Romney = a risky gamble for everyone but the very rich, and more middle class insecurity.
ROMNEY WOULD MAKE PERMANENT THE BUSH TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHIEST AND ADD TRILLIONS TO THE DEFICIT
Romney’s Tax Plan Includes An Extension Of The Bush Tax Cuts.“Governor Romney would permanently extend all the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts now scheduled to expire in 2013.” [Tax Policy Center, The Romney Plan (updated),3/1/12]
• Economic Policy Institute: “Bush-Era Tax Cuts Conferred Disproportionate Benefits On Those At The Top Of The Earnings Distribution,” “The Top 1% Of Earners (i.e., Tax Filers Making Over $645,000) Received 38% Of The Breaks.” [Andrew Fieldhouse and Ethan Pollack, Economic Policy Institute, 6/1/11]
EconomistJoe Barro: Romney’s Tax Plan Would Cost $5 Trillion Over A Decade.Joe Barro, afellow at the Manhattan Institute, wrote for Forbes,“Before base broadening, the plan could be expected to cut federal revenues by about $5 trillion over a 10-year period, compared to a policy of extending 2012 tax policy (except the payroll tax holiday) into the future. On a static basis Romney’s corporate tax cuts would cost about $1 trillion, a 20 percent across-the-board cut in personal income tax rates would run about $3 trillion, and then sundry other proposals (most notably, abolishing the AMT and giving capital gains tax relief to lower- and middle-income households) would cost about another $1 trillion.” [Forbes,2/22/12]
I think the FACTS speak for itself. Romney’s peddling the same old tired Bush & Co. policies that assist the rich and saddle the middle class!
Washington post: SAYING ROMNEY RAISED $700m in taxes and new fees is “too conservative” of an estimate
Washington Post: Santorum Was “Too Conservative” With His Claim That Romney Raised $700 Million In Taxes And Fees In Massachusetts Because “We’ve Noted Before” That Romney “Added Hundreds Of Millions” In Fees And Closed What He Called “Tax Loopholes Worth $1.5 Billion.”Santorum in the CNN Arizona GOP debate claimed “‘Governor Romney raised $700 million in taxes and fees in Massachusetts.’ Santorum may be too conservative here with his figures. We’ve noted before that Romney as Massachusetts governor added hundreds of millions of dollars in fees and closed what he called tax loopholes worth $1.5 billion.” [Fact Checker, Washington Post,2/22/12]
Washington Post: Romney Closed 22 Tax Loopholes Worth Between As Much As $1.5 Billion. “Romney also raised new revenue with more than just fee hikes. He closed 22 tax loopholes worth between $850 million and $1.2 billion, according to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, an independent watchdog group. A recent New York Times article reported an even higher estimate of $1.5 billion in loophole closures.” [Fact Checker, Washington Post,10/31/11]
Washington Post: Romney “Created Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars Worth Of New Fees And Closed As Much As $1.5 Billion Worth Of Corporate Loopholes.”“Romney paints only a partial picture of his Massachusetts fiscal policies when he says he didn’t raise taxes. He fails to mention that he created hundreds of millions of dollars worth of new fees and closed as much as $1.5 billion worth of corporate tax loopholes.” [Fact Checker, Washington Post,10/31/11]
ROMNEY RAISED TAXES AND FEES BY $750 MILLION ANNUALLY ON MASSACHUSETTS’ MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES AND BUSINESSES
Romney: “We Raised Fees On All Sorts Of Things In Massachusetts.” ROMNEY: “We raised fees on all sorts of things in Massachusetts. Fees hadn’t been touched, in some cases, for decades, and we said, look, we’re going to raise the fees… we’re not going to raise the fees on things that are broad based like driver’s licenses and license plates because everybody gets hit with that. But on those things that are done by a minority of people and where the state provides a service, we did raise fees, yeah.” [Howie Carr, 12/21/11]
Romney Raised Fees As Governor; Romney Increased Fees By $400 Million And Raised Corporate Tax Revenue By $300 Million. “Mitt Romney has the fever, the George Herbert Walker Bush no-new-tax fever. Read his lips. No new taxes. But what about new fees? On the presidential campaign trail, Romney brags about a $3 billion budget shortfall he said he closed as governor, without any tax increases. He doesn’t mention the more than $400 million in fees he raised instead. He also raised more than $300 million by closing so-called corporate loopholes, a revenue-raising measure the business community calls a tax increase.” [Boston Globe, 10/11/07]
Hey FOLK, JUST POSTING THE FACTS!
Factcheck.org: Romney’s Fee And Tax Increases Were “Between $740 And $750 Million Per Year.” “As we’ve noted before when the subject of Romney’s fee vs. tax increases has come up, the Massachusetts Department of Administration and Finance says that fee increases during Romney’s tenure added up to $260 million per year, with another $174 million raised from closing some corporate tax “loopholes.” The independent Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation puts the revenue total of fee hikes and tax loophole-closings at between $740 and $750 million a year.” [Factcheck.org, 1/31/08]
· National Conference of State Legislatures: Massachusetts Imposed More Fee Hikes Than Any Other State in the Nation In 2003. [Congress Daily, 8/28/03]
· Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation: Fee And Tax Increases In Romney’s First Budget “Will Surely Hit Taxpayers’ Pocketbooks As Hard As Any Tax Increase And, Many Would Argue, Less Fairly As Well.” [Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation 8/11/2003]
· Cato Institute On Romney’s Claims He Stood By A No-New-Taxes Pledge As Governor: “Mostly A Myth.”[Cato Institute’s Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors: 2006, 10/24/06]
· Club For Growth: Romney’s “Fee Hikes And ‘Loophole’ Closures Are Troubling.”[AP, 8/28/07]
New York Times: By The End Of Romney’s Term Loophole Closures Required Companies To Pay About $370 Million A Year In Additional Taxes, A Nearly 20 Percent Increase From The Period Before He Took Office.“By the end of, Mr. Romney’s term, the loophole measures required companies to pay about $370 million a year in additional taxes, a nearly 20 percent increase from the period before he took office, according to an analysis of government data by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a nonprofit research group that receives financing from corporations. The impact of closing the loopholes, which produced a relatively small fraction of state revenues, is an open question. ‘It cost us jobs,’ said David G. Tuerck, an economist at Suffolk University in Boston, though others say that is difficult to measure and subject to debate. During Mr. Romney’s tenure, Massachusetts ranked near the bottom – 47th out of 50 states – in new job creation.” [New York Times,10/2/11]
· New York Times: The Romney Administration Relentlessly Scoured The Tax Code For Loopholes, Extracting Hundreds Of Millions Of Corporate Dollars To Help Close Budget Gaps.“For the next three years, the Romney administration relentlessly scoured the tax code for more loopholes, extracting hundreds of millions of corporate dollars to help close budget gaps in a state with a struggling economy. It was only after Mr. Romney was gearing up in 2005 for a possible White House bid that he backed away from some of his most assertive tax enforcement proposals amid intensifying complaints from local companies and conservative antitax groups in Washington. Mr. Romney’s campaign against the tax loopholes, like no other period in his career, put him at odds with the values and expectations of the corporate world from which he came.” [New York Times,10/2/11]
· President Of The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation: “It’s Straightforward… He Raised Corporate Taxes.” “‘It’s straightforward,’ said Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a Boston-based research group, without hesitation. ‘He raised corporate taxes.’” [Bergen County Record, 12/7/07]
· Romney’s Third Round Of Business Tax Hikes Were Cut In Half After Democrats Balked “Amid Protests From Some Of The State’s Leading Business Groups.” “But Romney’s claim that he balanced the state budget ‘without raising taxes’ needs plenty of caveats. Romney and his revenue chief, Alan LeBovidge, presided over a steady series of what they referred to as measures to close “tax loopholes” for companies. To many of the companies that had to pay more taxes, those loophole closings sure felt like tax increases. The Democrats who run the state Legislature went along with the first two rounds. But they started to balk when Round 3 arrived in 2005 amid protests from some of the state’s leading business groups, forcing the Romney administration to cut the proposed tax changes in half that year.” [Patriot Ledger, 1/26/08
If it’s Obama’s job to explain Bain, they can’t complain
By Kay May 16th, 2012
I’ll start with what the Obama campaign looks like on the ground in Ohio today, on Bain:
President Obama’s re-election campaign pressed its attack on Mitt Romney as a cold-hearted capitalist Tuesday by saying that he helped drive into bankruptcy a chain of department stores that used to be located in 26 Ohio cities, including Bowling Green.State Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern and national Obama campaign co-chair Ted Strickland said that Bain Capital in the 1980s bought up small clothing stores and organized them into Stage Stores, expanded the company, borrowed heavily against it with junk bonds, and sold its remaining shares at a profit in 1997, three years before the company went bankrupt in 2000.More than 5,000 workers lost jobs.
“Mitt Romney’s business record isn’t one of growing companies and creating jobs. It’s one of broken promises and shattered dreams for thousands of hardworking Americans,” Mr. Strickland said in a telephone conference call with Mr. Redfern.
I assume the plan is to get specific like this in state after state and city after city, because Mitt Romney claims he created 100,000 jobs while at Bain, so the Obama surrogates are talking about (surprise!) jobs.
Here are the attacks on the Obama strategy, and some both sides do it analysis, from this week:
On “Morning Joe” today, former Obama “car czar” Steve Rattner denounced a new campaign ad that attacks Mitt Romney for business decisions he made during his tenure at Bain Capital.
Specifically, the ad targets Romney and Bain Capital for the private equity firm’s decision to acquire GST Steel and the jobs that were lost under their control.
Rattner called the ad “unfair” and defended Romney’s decision at Bain Capital. Rattner says Romney’s job was to make profits for the firm’s investors, not save jobs.
“I think the ad is unfair. Mitt Romney made a mistake ever talking about the fact that he created 100,000 jobs. Bain Capital’s responsibility was not to create 100,000 jobs or some other number. It was to create profits for his investors, most of whom were pension funds, endowments and foundations.
Really? Romney made a “mistake” claiming Bain was about job creation? That’s a big mistake for the person who was running the joint to make. Mitt Romney doesn’t know what they do at Bain? And, it’s Obama’s job to correct the record and explain what Bain does? Why? Why isn’t that Mitt Romney’s job?
Financial analysts might have been perplexed as to why Romney made that assertion. Private-equity firms aren’t intended to create jobs; their goal is to make money for investors. And Romney’s claim itself was dubious — the companies he pointed to that added thousands of jobs did so after he left the firm. His campaign today stands by taking credit for those jobs, even as it says Romney isn’t responsible for jobs that were lost after 1999, like those at the shuttered steel plant in Missouri that’s the focus of Obama’s new ad.
“During Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital, the firm invested in or helped start up over 100 companies,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in an email. “If you look at just four of the startups alone, they add up to more than 120,000 jobs – Bain’s help under Gov. Romney led to the existence of those companies and, thus, the jobs.”
Why wasn’t Romney called on the original lie? We all know why Mitt Romney didn’t explain private equity. Because it was better for Mitt Romney to breeze by the facts and claim he “created 100,000 jobs”. The Obama campaign are simply attacking on the grounds of the original Romney claim, which was jobs. Romney had months to tell the truth. He didn’t.
And look what’s happened! Romney is no longer claiming he created 100,000 jobs, and has seemingly dropped jobs and moved on to debt. Debt is something he might actually understand, due to his experience loading up companies with debt while at Bain.
In its effort to sell Mitt Romney as someone who understands the economy and knows how to create jobs, one of his campaign’s early talking points was that he helped create 100,000 jobs during his tenure at Bain Capital.
Romney eventually stopped repeating the talking point, which advisers had difficulty defending under pressure, and now it seems Boston has completely Etch A Sketched the number and severely lowered the number of jobs Romney is supposed to have created at Bain.
BuzzFeed’s Zeke Miller reports that, in the wake of the Obama campaign’s new ad attacking Romney’s record at Bain, the “new Romney jobs math” is significantly more modest than the old. This time, the campaign is asserting that Romney created a meager and vague “thousands of jobs” at Bain and “tens of thousands” of jobs as governor of Massachusetts.
This is nothing less than an admission from the Romney campaign that their 100,000 jobs claim was entirely bogus, and acceptance that Romney created vastly fewer jobs than he claimed he had just a few months ago.
Romney Courts Hispanic Vote With Animated Sombrero-Wearing Parrot
Posted at 11:39 AM ET, 05/16/2012
The four reasons the Nebraska Senate race matters — a lot
By Jonathan Bernstein
You wouldn’t know it from watching the cable networks, but what happened yesterday in Nebraska’s Republican Senate primary, where no-name State Senator Deb Fischer defeated state Attorney General Jon Bruning, is a major story, with several nationally important implications. Here are four of the most critical.
1. Start from the beginning: it put a very likely pickup for the GOP in some jeopardy. I would have made Bruning an overwhelming favorite over former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey. Deb Fischer? Who knows? She certainly starts with a solid advantage, given the partisan tilt of the state, but there’s really no way of knowing yet what kind of candidate she’ll be, what kind of vulnerabilities she has, and how she’ll handle her first-ever statewide campaign.
Remember, she mainly won because outside money destroyed the frontrunner, not because of any particular thing she did or said. She may prove to be a solid campaigner, but we won’t know either way for some time. And don’t forget — this is just one of a series of primaries that, overall, are tilting the Senate playing field towards the Democrats.
2. Even if Fischer ends up losing the general election, this already marks another victory for Jim DeMint, the Club for Growth, and other national conservative and Tea Party groups. They backed Don Stenberg, who finished a poor third. Yet what matters to them most, I’d say, isn’t whether they have hand-picked allies in Congress; it’s that Republican Members of Congress are terrified of them. The defeat of Bruning accomplishes that, even if someone else benefitted.
3. Yesterday’s primary significantly contributes to an emerging problem: expect more recruitment problems for Republicans in the next election cycles. Jon Bruning, the Nebraska Attorney General, was exactly the kind of candidate the national party committees drool over. And yet he was unable to close the deal. More to the point, the sorts of people who want strong general election candidates were unable to do much to help him. Professional politicians watch things like that, and make calculations based on it. Candidates matter in Congressional elections, and on balance this could mean weaker GOP general election candidates in the future.
4. This outcome reveals a key fact about the post-Citizens United landscape. We are going to see a lot more outcomes like this one. Outside money matters more in Congressional races than presidential, and more in primaries than general elections. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but for better or worse it’s the world that we live in now. And as we’ve just discovered, a single donor can be responsible for the election of a general election Senate candidate — or even, if Fischer wins, a Senator.
Two, three, or even five years from now, the Senate is likely going to look very different than it does today. Perhaps Democrats will be firmly in control of the Upper Chamber. Or perhaps a far more conservative Republican Party than today’s will dominate it. Everyone will be trying to explain the change. What happened in Nebraska yesterday — along with the defeat of Dick Lugar in Indiana, and other primary elections still to come — are going to be a big part of that explanation.
EVEN MORE FACTS:
PRESIDENT OBAMA DELIVERED ON HIS PROMISE TO CUT TAXES FOR MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES, WHOSE TAXES ARE NEAR HISTORIC LOWS UNDER HIS LEADERSHIP, AND CUT TAXES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES 18 TIMES
PRESIDENT OBAMA PASSED 18 TAX CUTS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
President Obama Has Signed 18 Tax Cuts For Small Businesses, Including Recently Passed Tax Credits For Hiring Unemployed Veterans. “Obama writes that his administration has promoted the growth of small businesses by signing into law 18 tax cuts, including the recently passed tax credits for hiring unemployed veterans. He also touted the work of the Small Business Administration in promoting easier access to capital.” [ABC News, 11/23/2011]
Over The Last Three Years, President Obama Signed Into Law $200 Billion In Tax Relief And Incentives For America’s Businesses. “The President has signed into law $200 billion in tax relief and incentives for America’s businesses to encourage them to make new investments and create new jobs – relief that was paid out over the last three years. This includes provisions that directly benefit those businesses that did the most to boost investment and hiring.” [White House Fact Sheet,1/25/2012]
UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA TAXES FOR MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES ARE NEAR HISTORIC LOWS NOT SEEN SINCE THE 1950s
Center On Budget And Policy Priorities: Federal Taxes On Middle-Income Americans Are Near Historic Lows Not Seen Since The 1950s, According To The Latest Available Data.“Federal taxes on middle-income Americans are near historic lows according to the latest available data. That’s true both for federal incometaxes and total federal taxes. Income taxes: A family of four in the exact middle of the income spectrum will pay only 5.6 percent of its 2011 income in federal income taxes, according to a new analysis by the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center. Average income tax rates for these typical families have been lower during the Bush and Obama Administrations than at any time since the 1950s, as Figure 1 shows. (As discussed below, 2009 and 2010 were particularly low because of the temporary Making Work Pay Tax Credit.) Overall federal taxes: Overall federal taxes — which include income as well as payroll and excise taxes — on middle-income households are near their lowest levels in decades, according to the latest data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).” [Center On Budget And Policy Priorities,4/2/2012]
A TYPICAL FAMILY MAKING $50,000 A YEAR HAS SEEN THEIR TAXES CUT BY $3,600 DURING PRESIDENT OBAMA’S FIRST TERM IN OFFICE THROUGH THE MAKING WORK PAY TAX CREDIT AND THE PAYROLL TAX CUT
· “A Typical Working Family Making $50,000 Per Year Would Have Gotten $1,600 In Relief” From The Making Work Pay Tax Credit In 2009 And 2010. [“Keeping America’s Women Moving Forward: The Key To An Economy Built To Last,” White House Council On Women And Girls, April 2012]
· The Payroll Tax Cut Saves The Average Household Earning $50,000 A Year $1,000 In Taxes Annually, Or $40 Per Pay Period. “If you’re an average taxpayer, making $50,000 a year, you’ll pay an extra $1,000 in Social Security tax next year. That’s about $20 a week, or about $40 a pay period for those who get paid every other week.” [MSN Money,12/20/2011]
PRESIDENT OBAMA SUCCESSFULLY FOUGHT TO EXTEND A PAYROLL TAX CUT BENEFITTING 160 MILLION AMERICAN WORKERS
Bloomberg Headline: “Obama Delivers On Tax Cut Promises” [Bloomberg, 4/17/2012]
President Obama Signed Legislation To Extend The Payroll Tax Cut For 160 Million Workers Through 2012.“The Internal Revenue Service today released revised Form 941 enabling employers to properly report the newly-extended payroll tax cut benefiting nearly 160 million workers. Under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, enacted yesterday, workers will continue to receive larger paychecks for the rest of this year based on a lower social security tax withholding rate of 4.2 percent, which is two percentage points less than the 6.2 percent rate in effect prior to 2011. This reduced rate, originally in effect for all of 2011, was extended through the end of February by the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011, enacted Dec. 23.” [I.R.S. Press Release,2/23/2012]
· The Payroll Tax Cut Saves The Average Household Earning $50,000 A Year $1,000 In Taxes Annually, Or $40 Per Pay Period. “If you’re an average taxpayer, making $50,000 a year, you’ll pay an extra $1,000 in Social Security tax next year. That’s about $20 a week, or about $40 a pay period for those who get paid every other week.” [MSN Money,12/20/2011]
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S MAKING WORK PAY TAX CREDIT PROVIDED BILLIONS IN RELIEF FOR WORKING FAMILIES
The Recovery Act Included The Making Work Pay Tax Credit, Which Provided A Refundable Tax Credit Of Up To $400 For Individuals And $800 For Married Joint Filers. Making Work Pay” Tax Credit (Sec. 1001, Page 195). In tax years 2009 and 2010, the Making Work Pay provision will provide a refundable tax credit of 6.2 percent of earned income up to $400 for individuals and up to $800 for married taxpayers filing joint returns.” [PolitiFact,2/2/2010]
· According To The White Council Of Economic Advisors, The Making Work Pay Tax Credit Boosted Disposable Income By Roughly $50 Billion And $57 Billion In Calendar Years 2009 And 2010, Respectively. “Consumer spending has also been sustained by other policies such as the Making Work Pay (MWP) tax credit… For the economy as a whole, MWP lowered tax liabilities (and boosted disposable income) by roughly $50 billion and $57 billion in calendar years 2009 and 2010, respectively.” [Economic Report Of The President, Chapter 2,2011]
SPENDING UNDER ROMNEY INCREASED BY 6.5% ANNUALLY, AND HE PROPOSED EVEN HIGHER SPENDING INCREASES
State Spending Under Romney Increased By 6.5% Annually. “So under Mr. Romney, state spending went from $22.3 billion to $28.1 billion, an annual increase of 6.5 percent. Adjusted for inflation, spending went from $20.7 billion to $21.6 billion, or a 1.1 percent increase.” [New York Times, 12/31/07]
· Factcheck.org: It’s “Correct” That Romney Proposed 8% Higher Spending Per Person In Massachusetts. It “would have been correct to say, ‘Governor Romney proposed 8 percent higher spending per person in Massachusetts.’” [Factcheck.org, 10/12/07]
ROMNEY RAISED MASSACHUSETTS’ DEBT BY $2.6 BILLION – A 16 PERCENT INCREASE IN JUST 4 YEARS
Under Romney, Massachusetts’ Long-Term Debt Increased By 16.4% Or $2.6 Billion. According to Massachusetts Information Statement Supplements attached to bond offerings, the Commonwealth had $16,063,162,000 in long-term debt as of January 1, 2003. As of October 1, 2006, shortly before Romney left the Governor’s Office, Massachusetts had $18,697,240,000 in long-term debt. This was an increase of $2,634,078,000 or 16.4%. [Massachusetts Office Of The Treasurer, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Information Statement Supplement, 2/28/03, p. A-22; Massachusetts Office Of The Treasurer, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Statement Of Information Supplement, 11/10/06, p. A-24]
2007: Massachusetts Was First In The Nation In Net Tax Supported Debt Per Capita.”Nevertheless, the Commonwealth’s debt burden remains among the highest in the nation by certain measures. Moody’s Investors Service ranks Massachusetts fourth in total net tax-supported debt, fourth in total gross tax-supported debt (down from third in 2007), second in net tax-supported debt as a percentage of personal income, and second in net tax-supported debt per capita (down from first in 2007).” [Governor’s Five Year Capital Investment Plan, accessed 4/22/11]
Geithner rains on Boehner’s parade
By Steve Benen
Wed May 16, 2012 11:39 AM EDT.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) yesterday said he would do in 2013 exactly what he did in 2011: use the debt ceiling to hold the nation hostage. As Boehner sees it, Democrats have to give in, or he’ll trash the full faith and credit of the United States and crash the economy on purpose.
And why did Boehner declare his intentions in mid-May? Because the Speaker is trying to shape upcoming tax-policy negotiations, applying leverage to get what he wants. The problem, as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner noted yesterday, is that Boehner’s calendar doesn’t quite work.
At the end of this year, an enormous fight is looming over taxes and revenue, when all of the Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire, just as major spending cuts from the debt-ceiling agreement are set to begin. This doesn’t directly relate to the debt-ceiling fight, but Boehner wants it to — yesterday was partly about sending a signal to the White House. The Speaker was effectively saying, “I’m holding a gun to the nation’s head; if you don’t want me to pull the trigger, don’t push for any tax increases.”
But Geithner spoke at the same fiscal summit, and said something interesting
“[O]n the current estimates … we’re likely to hit the debt limit sometime before the end of the year, but Congress has given the executive branch a set of tools that buy [administration officials] some time. And those tools will probably take us into the early part of 2013, thus separating somewhat the timing of the expiry of the tax cuts and the sequester with the ultimate need for Congress to act on the debt limit. You know, they should do it as soon as they can, but that’s the basic sequence in this context.”
That may sound a little clunky, but in everyday terms, the Treasury Secretary was explaining that policymakers will be dealing with expiring tax cuts and triggered spending cuts in December, but won’t be dealing with the debt ceiling until January and February.
Boehner wants to tie the debt limit to the December discussion, but the administration has no reason to play along. Indeed, at this point, we don’t even know who’ll be the President or the House Speaker the next time the ceiling needs to be raised.
To be sure, the variables may change, and as Brian Beutler noted, if federal receipts slow, the deadline for the debt-ceiling vote may come much sooner.
But for now, Boehner has a strategy that he probably won’t be able to execute
Karl Rove today is out with a $25 Million ad buy against President Obama:
Another Deceptive Karl Rove Ad
DNC STATEMENT ABOUT ROVE-ROMNEY PRO-SUPERPAC AD
Karl Rove’s most recent deceptive ad can’t hide the reality that, unlike Mitt Romney, President Obama has proposed a plan to reduce our deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade while creating an economy built to last through investments in education, infrastructure, and research. Nor can it hide that, as promised, the President has cut taxes for every working American and cut taxes for small business 18 times, bringing federal taxes for middle class households near historic lows. The facts are that, as Governor, Mitt Romney increased state spending by 6.5 percent each year and increased Massachusetts long-term debt by 16 percent in just four years, leaving it with the largest per-capita debt of any state in the nation. And he refuses to say what spending cuts or tax increases he’d make to cover the cost of giving $5 trillion in tax breaks weighted towards millionaires and billionaires. Despite Karl Rove’s distortions, Mitt Romney simply wants to return to the same policies that caused the economic crisis and weakened the middle class in the first place: budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that do nothing to grow our economy and letting Wall Street write its own rules. America can’t afford Romney Economics.
PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS PUT FORTH A PLAN TO REDUCE OUR DEFICIT BY $4 TRILLION OVER THE NEXT DECADE, DESPITEENTERING OFFICE FACING THE LARGEST DEFICIT RELATIVE TO THE ECONOMY SINCE THE END OF WORLD WAR IIWHILE FOCUSING ON GETTING THE ECONOMY GOING AGAIN, THE PRESIDENT HAS WORKED TO GET THE NATION’S FISCAL HOUSE IN ORDER BY PROPOSING A PLAN TO REDUCE THE DEFICIT BY $4 TRILLION OVER THE NEXT DECADE
The President’s Budget, Incorporating Deficit Reduction Enacted In 2011, Would Cut The Deficit By More Than $4 Trillion Over The Next Decade. “That is why in this Budget, the President again has put forward a plan that will, together with the deficit reduction enacted last year, cut the deficit by more than $4 trillion over the next decade. This would put our Nation on the right course toward a level of deficits of below 3 percent of GDP by the end of the decade.” [FY2013 Budget, White House Office Of Management And Budget, p.2,February 2012]
President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Calls For $4 Trillion In Deficit Reduction. [Los Angeles Times, 2/10/12]
President Obama’s Budget Would Bring Discretionary Spending To Its Lowest Level As A Share Of The Economy Since President Eisenhower Was In Office.“In August 2011, the President signed into law the BCA, which put in place a down payment toward deficit reduction and a structure to accomplish even more. The BCA included a cap on discretionary spending that would achieve approximately $1 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade. In 2012, the Congress worked in a bipartisan way to meet the caps that were agreed to in the BCA. As we turn to 2013, the caps, in combination with the drawdown in overseas contingency operations proposed in this Budget, would bring discretionary spending to its lowest level as a share of the economy since Dwight D. Eisenhower sat in the Oval Office.” [FY2013 Budget, White House Office Of Management And Budget,February 2012]
The President’s FY2013 Budget Would Reduce The Deficit To Three Percent Of GDP Over The Next Decade.“The President’s budget request specifies spending and revenue policies for the 2013–2022 period and also includes initiatives that would have budgetary effects in fiscal year 2012.3CBO estimates that enactment of the President’s proposals would have the following consequences for the budget: …The deficit would decline further relative to GDP in subsequent years, reaching 2.5 percent by 2017, but then would increase again, reaching 3.0 percent of GDP in 2022.” [“An Analysis Of The President’s 2013 Budget,” Congressional Budget Office,March 2012]
Fifty Nine Percent Of The Shift From Surplus To Deficit By 2011 Is Directly Attributable To Bush Administration Policies, While Only Twelve Percent Is Attributable To The Obama Administration’s Policies. According to the Department of Treasury, in January 2001, CBO projected cumulative surpluses would total $5.9 trillion through 2011. Instead, cumulative deficits have totaled $6 trillion. A U.S. treasury analysis based on CBO data shows that fifty-nine percent of the shift from surpluses to deficits is attributable to Bush administration policies including Bush-era tax cuts, the wars in Iran and Afghanistan, changes to Medicare Part D, and other spending. Twenty nine percent of the shift from surpluses to deficits is attributable to conditions unrelated to legislation, including updated economic and demographic projections. Twelve percent is attributable to Obama administration policies, including the Recovery Act, the December 2010 tax law, and other spending and tax cuts. [U.S. Department Of Treasury Calculations Based On Congressional Budget Office Data, U.S. Department Of Treasury,2/19/12]
PRESIDENT OBAMA IS COMMITTED TO RESTORING FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY WHILE CREATING AN ECONOMY BUILT TO LAST BY INVESTING IN EDUCATION, INFRASTRUCTURE AND RESEARCH
New York Times: “What Makes Mr. Obama’s Effort Stand Out Is The Sheer Size Of The Proposed Deficit Reduction As The Nation Emerges From The Worst Economic Crisis Since The Great Depression…” “Presidents of both parties typically do much the same, going into great detail about the budget’s winners and leaving the losers vague or unspoken. What makes Mr. Obama’s effort stand out is the sheer size of the proposed deficit reduction as the nation emerges from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, a crisis that resulted in lower revenue for the Treasury and large doses of temporary spending and tax cuts to keep the economy from collapse.”[New York Times, 2/12/12]
The President’s FY2013 Budget Calls For Investment In Infrastructure, Education, And Manufacturing While Keeping Discretionary Spending Essentially Flat. “President Obama will call for new spending on infrastructure, education and manufacturing research, as well as higher taxes on top earners… Officials said the budget would abide by spending caps set by Congress in the August budget deal, keeping discretionary spending levels essentially flat in fiscal 2013. Over the decade, discretionary spending would drop from 8.7% of gross domestic product to 5%, officials said.” [Los Angeles Times,2/10/12]
THE DEFICIT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2009, WHICH BEGAN MORE THAN THREE MONTHS BEFORE PRESIDENT OBAMA’S INAUGURATION, WAS THE LARGEST DEFICIT RELATIVE TO THE ECONOMY SINCE THE END OF WORLD WAR II, WITH BUSH ERA TAX CUTS, TWO WARS AND THE RECESSION DRIVING INCREASES
The Deficit For Fiscal Year 2009, Which Began More Than Three Months Before President Obama’s Inauguration, Was The Largest Deficit Relative To The Economy Since The End Of World War II. “The deficit for fiscal year 2009 — which began more than three months before President Obama’s inauguration — was $1.4 trillion and, at 10 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the largest deficit relative to the economy since the end of World War II. At $1.3 trillion and nearly 9 percent of GDP, the deficit in 2010 was only slightly lower. If current policies remain in place, deficits will likely resemble those figures in 2011 and hover near $1 trillion a year for the next decade.” [Center On Budget And Policy Priorities,5/10/2011]
Bush-Era Tax Cuts, War Spending In Iraq And Afghanistan, And The Effects Of The Recession Largely Took The United States From Healthy Surpluses To Nine Straight Years Of Deficits. “With President Obama and Republican leaders calling for cutting the budget by trillions over the next 10 years, it is worth asking how we got here — from healthy surpluses at the end of the Clinton era, and the promise of future surpluses, to nine straight years of deficits, including the $1.3 trillion shortfall in 2010. The answer is largely the Bush-era tax cuts, war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, and recessions.” [Teresa Tritch, Editorial, New York Times,7/23/11]
John Edwards’ defense team rests case in his corruption trial without calling him to the stand.
GOOD NEWS! THE MEDIA IS NOT SHARING
In good news for Obama, housing markets improve in key states
Reuters) – Kathleen and Brett Sache are building a six-bedroom, six-bathroom home of their dreams in a sought-after corner of northern Virginia after taking encouragement from a robust local market.
Their confidence was rewarded when their old house sold in just five weeks, allowing them to purchase a plot of almost two acres (0.8 hectare) in Vienna, Virginia, where they are breaking ground this month on a property they hope to live in for the next 30 years.
“We would not have put in a contract to build had we not been confident we could sell our current home,” said Kathleen Sache, a physician who voted Republican in the 2008 presidential election but would not say who she supports this time around.
The November 6 U.S. presidential election between President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican challenger Mitt Romney may be decided by a small number of “swing” states – those that could go to either man – where the health of the housing market looms large for voters as they weigh their choice.
A Reuters examination of the latest housing data in 10 states that may determine the election’s outcome shows signs of hope in even the most battered real estate markets, notably Florida, with some other key battlegrounds doing much better.
BWA HA HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
I throw fucking BOLDERS! LMBAO
2 Shareholder Suits Filed Alleging CEO Jamie Dimon Misrepresented Risk To Investors
Source: Huffington Post/WSJ
Shareholders have filed 2 suits against JPMorgan Chase, over the $2 Billion trading loss the company suffered last week.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the suits allege that CEO Jamie Dimon misrepresented the risk involved in the trades to investors.
Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/16/jpmorgan-trading-loss-shareholder-suits_n_1520904.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003
A peek into an alternate reality
By Steve Benen
Wed May 16, 2012 9:23 AM EDT.
Romney’s magic act in Iowa yesterday.
Mitt Romney delivered a curious speech in Iowa yesterday, presenting his thoughts on the budget deficit, the debt and debt reduction, which is worth reading if you missed it. We often talk about the problem of the left and right working from entirely different sets of facts, and how the discourse breaks down when there’s no shared foundation of reality, and the Republican’s remarks offered a timely peek into an alternate reality where facts have no meaning.
Even the topic itself is a strange choice for Romney. If the former governor is elected, he’ll inherit a $1 trillion deficit and a $15 debt, which he’ll respond to by approving massive new tax cuts and increasing Pentagon spending. How will he pay for this? No one has the foggiest idea.
In other words, the guy who intends to add trillions to the debt gave a speech yesterday on the dangers of adding trillions to the debt.
More importantly, though, Romney presented a vision of the last few years that bears absolutely no resemblance to reality at any level. Jon Chait had a good piece on the remarks.
Mitt Romney delivered a speech today about the budget deficit. It’s hard to wrap your arms around Romney’s argument, because it’s an amalgamation of free-floating conservative rage and anxiety, completely untethered to any facts, as agreed upon by the relevant experts.
In the real world, the following things are true: The budget deficit was projected to top $1 trillion even before President Obama took office, and that was when forecasters were still radically underestimating the depth of the 2008 crash. Obama did propose temporary deficit-increasing measures, an economic approach endorsed in its general contours, if not its particulars, by Romney’s economists. These measures contributed a relatively small proportion to the deficit, and their effect is short-lived. Obama instead focused on longer-term measures to reduce the deficit, including comprehensive health-care reform projected to reduce deficits by a trillion dollars in its second decade. Obama put forward a budget plan that would stabilize the debt as a percentage of the economy. Obama has hoped to achieve deeper long-term deficit reduction by striking bipartisan deals with Congress, and he has tried to achieve this goal by openly endorsing a bipartisan deficit plan in the Senate and privately agreeing to a more conservative plan with John Boehner, both of which were killed by Republican opposition to any higher revenue.
The story told by Romney is one in which all of these things are either untrue or could not possibly be true.
I don’t think Mitt Romney is stupid. I do think Romney is operating from the assumption that voters are stupid
May 16, 2012 8:01 AM
Barney Frank: Chance now for stronger bank rules
CBS News) The recent losses at JPMorgan Chase have have strengthened the case of Democrats pushing for tougher regulation of the banking sector aimed at preventing a repeat of the 2008 financial and economic meltdown, the author of the 2010 rewrite of Wall Street rules said Wednesday.
“I think we now have a stronger argument for a Volcker rule that says no to a bank, your main job is lending and managing the money of your clients. You should not put your own money at risk,” Rep. Barney Frank said in an interview with “CBS This Morning.”
Named after former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, the Volcker rule essentially would have banned the banks from using their own money to invest in the financial markets.
JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon has been one of the most vocal opponents of the rule and his firm has spent millions of dollars on lobbyists and lawyers trying to get the rule watered down as it is finalized.
The rule was passed as part of the 2010 legislation overhauling the rules of Wall Street, but the details were not set in the legislation and instead left to regulators who had two years to finalize details of precisely what would and would not be prohibited.
May 15, 2012 6:15 PM
Partisan Trump Card
By Ed Kilgore
Oh, brother. Today has brought unavoidably provocative columns from not one but two of my favorite conservatives-to-combat, the New York Times’ David Brooks and WaPo’s Michael Gerson.
In an earlier post I happily piggy-backed onto Ezra Klein’s demolition of Brooks’ column on Obama’s “ESPN masculinity.” But I can’t seem to find anyone similarly dealing with Gerson, who has compared recent religious remarks by the president with Mitt Romney’s Liberty University commencement address, and came up with the counter-intutive claim that Mitt’s a subtle and stylish theologian while Obama’s a ham-handed Bible-thumper.
Like I said: Oh, brother.
I’ve already recorded my impressions of Romney’s Liberty speech, and while I’ll agree with Gerson that it “gave evidence of creative, lively intelligence somewhere near the center of the Romney campaign machine,” I would strongly disagree with his conclusion that Mitt was expressing some restrained, respectful attitude towards those who examine the mysteries of faith and reach different conclusions than his own about the political implications. Indeed, the “creative, live intelligence” in the Romney speechwriting shop was mainly exhibited by Mitt’s ability to make subtle but unmistakable appeals to those who think there is a clear, absolute religious obligation to wage perpetual culture wars by voting for conservative political candidates—regardless of differences in theology.
I mean, really: much of Romney’s brief speech was a paen to Liberty’s patron, the late Jerry Falwell. Was there anything restrained about his willingness to draw a straight line from the Bible to the ballot box? Then there’s Chuck Colson, touted by Romney as the very model of someone who ignored theologicial differences in the pursuit of what Gerson hilariously calls a “moral ideal” that is “ethically rich.” Colson’s great political project was the relentless pursuit of an evangelical-Catholic alliance to wage partisan war on legalized abortion and the legitimacy of same-sex relationships.
I personally think there’s a strong case that what Gerson calls Romney’s “deft references to evangelical heroes” were actually shrewd dog-whistles to those who equate legalized abortion to slavery, the liberal “regime” with Nazi Germany, and church-state separation with persecution of Christians. But even if you disagree, I just don’t see any appeal to broad-minded tolerance in Mitt’s peroration that goes any further than asking evangelicals to ignore his entire LDS belief system in order to make common cause with him in the culture-wars and the 2012 elections.
Still, it’s Gerson’s attack on Obama as some sort of grinning, witless left-fundamentalist that leaves me in awe:
Agree or disagree with the policies Obama recommends, his arguments can’t be called sophisticated. They are the liberal political application of a “What Would Jesus Do?” wristband. In a mirror reflection of the religious right, Obama has a tendency to engage in partisan proof texting — which is divisive in service to any ideology. Saying “I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount” is a claim of divine authority that short-circuits democratic debate. Even when Obama changes his political views, Jesus somehow comes around to agreeing with him.
No, Michael, Barack Obama emphatically does not have a “tendency to engage in partisan proof texting” of scripture. He is famed for, and in fact has been frequently attacked by conservatives because of, his “tendency” to stress doubt as the proper attitude of faithful people confronted with political and cultural conflicts.
That was a major focus of his famous 2009 Notre Dame commencement address (compare it to Romney’s Liberty speech, BTW), in which he said:
Mon May 14, 2012 at 01:03 PM PDT.
More than 230,000 lose unemployment benefits in eight states due to cuts
More than 230,000 people stopped being eligible for unemployment insurance benefits over the weekend—not because they got jobs, but because the emergency extended benefits program providing their benefits was cut as part of the payroll tax deal earlier this year. The number of weeks of benefits available in states drop as unemployment drops, which hit California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas on Saturday.
While “as unemployment drops” may make this sound like good news, consider that California, where 100,000 jobless people will no longer be getting unemployment insurance, has an unemployment rate of 11 percent. Nationally, more than 5 million people have been unemployed for six months or longer, and there are 3.4 job-seekers for every job opening.
That makes things especially hard for people like Jennifer Moss, a divorced mother of three who has been unemployed since October 2010:
Since losing her job, Moss said she’s applied for countless jobs and had maybe 10 job interviews, but nothing has worked out.
“There are many sleepless nights where at 2 or 3 in the morning I might be on a website … applying for jobs,” said Moss, who is 40.
Living in South Carolina, her last unemployment payment was May 1. A federal mortgage benefit she receives will expire this summer. South Carolina’s unemployment rate is 8.9 percent.
Now multiply her story by 409,000, the number of people to lose unemployment benefits since Congress struck its deal, and think too about all the businesses at which those 409,000 people are no longer spending their money.
Report: Sexual abuse of female farmworkers common
By Tracie Cone, Wednesday, May 16, 7:48 AM
FRESNO, Calif. — Female farmworkers across the United States are commonly sexually harassed and assaulted, in part because their immigration status makes them fearful of calling police, according to a report being released Wednesday by Human Rights Watch.
The survey by the international rights group mirrors two previous reports on the risks facing women and girls that had focused on California, where most of the nation’s farmworkers reside.
Our research confirms what farmworker advocates across the country believe: sexual violence and sexual harassment experienced by farmworkers is common enough that some farmworker women see these abuses as an unavoidable condition of agricultural work,” the report said.
An estimated 630,000 of the 3 million people who perform migrant and seasonal farm work are female. The federal government estimates that 60 percent of them are illegal aliens.
“It’s easiest for abusers to get away with sexual harassment where there’s an imbalance of power, and the imbalance of power is particularly stark on farms,” the report’s author, Grace Meng, said.
Tue May 15, 2012 at 09:26 PM PDT.
How John Roberts orchestrated the Citizens United decision
Jeffrey Toobin writes in the current issue of The New Yorker about Money Unlimited: how Chief Justice John Roberts orchestrated the Citizens United decision. Toobin’s article explains how Roberts, by having the case reargued, expanded the scope of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission from that of a narrow focus of “modest importance” to a wholesale, systemic destruction of our democracy by the hands of moneyed interests. He writes:
Citizens United is a distinctive product of the Roberts Court. The decision followed a lengthy and bitter behind-the-scenes struggle among the Justices that produced both secret unpublished opinions and a rare reargument of a case. The case, too, reflects the aggressive conservative judicial activism of the Roberts Court. It was once liberals who were associated with using the courts to overturn the work of the democratically elected branches of government, but the current Court has matched contempt for Congress with a disdain for many of the Court’s own precedents.
The responsibility for America’s post-Citizens United elections were shaped by Roberts and “the credit or the blame goes mostly to him”. Toobin explains how the chief justice signaled to conservatives in 2003 that the Supreme Court was actively looking for a case to declare the McCain-Feingold law unconstitutional.
That case came with Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Then-Deputy Solictor General Malcolm Stewart argued the FEC’s position for the government. His “appearance was an epic disaster”; thanks, in part, to a trap set by the conservatives on the bench. While McCain-Feingold regulated “electronic communications” shortly before an election, Roberts, Samuel Alito, and the other conservatives on the bench wanted to expand the law’s interpretation into other mediums.
Alito wanted to push Stewart down a slippery slope. Since McCain-Feingold forbade the broadcast of “electronic communications” shortly before elections, this was a case about movies and television commercials. What else might the law regulate? “Do you think the Constitution required Congress to draw the line where it did, limiting this to broadcast and cable and so forth?” Alito said. Could the law limit a corporation from “providing the same thing in a book? Would the Constitution permit the restriction of all those as well?”
Yes, Stewart said: “Those could have been applied to additional media as well.”
House VAWA bill draws Obama veto threat
By Steve Benen – Wed May 16, 2012 8:35 AM EDT.
A few weeks ago, the Senate approved the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act fairly easily, with a 68 to 31 vote. Though all 31 opponents were Republican men, the measure enjoyed at least some bipartisan support.
But the measure still has to get through the Republican-led House, which will vote on its own, watered-down version of VAWA today. The White House, hoping to make matters clear to the lower chamber, issued a veto threat yesterday, saying the House GOP version is unacceptable.
The House GOP bill is stripped of expanded protections included in the Senate-passed version, which extends coverage to gay, bisexual, and transgender victims of domestic abuse.
“For instance, H.R. 4970 fails to provide for concurrent special domestic-violence criminal jurisdiction by tribal authorities over non-Indians, and omits clarification of tribal courts’ full civil jurisdiction regarding certain protection orders over non-Indians,” the White House said in a statement.
“The bill also fails to include language that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT victims in VAWA grant programs. No sexual-assault or domestic-violence victim should be beaten, hurt, or killed because they could not access needed support, assistance, and protection.”
The Violence Against Women Act has been a bipartisan success story for nearly two decades, and this year’s reauthorization was not expected to be one of the year’s more contentious disputes. But the Senate version, co-written by a liberal Democrat (Vermont’s Pat Leahy) and a conservative Republican (Idaho’s Mike Crapo), is apparently too much for the House.
So, the Republicans have gutted the Senate version. Indeed, the House proposal “adds burdensome, counter-productive requirements that compromise the ability of service providers to reach victims, fails to adequately protect Tribal victims, lacks important protection and services for LGBT victims, weakens resources for victims living in subsidized housing, and eliminates important improvements to address dating violence and sexual assault on college campuses. Among the most troubling components of this bill are those that jettison and drastically undercut existing and important, long-standing protections that remain vital to the safety and protection of battered immigrant victims.”
House Republicans are likely to pass their version anyway, sending VAWA to a conference committee. Time will tell how that turns out. But in the meantime, when it comes to assessing the GOP’s efforts to undermine women’s interests in 2012, the fact that Republicans are putting the Violence Against Women Act in jeopardy clearly deserves a place on a very long list.
Taking the Brink out of Boehner’s Brinksmanship
Posted on 05/15/2012 at 5:30 pm by JM Ashby
Speaker of the House John Boehner is threatening to hold the debt-ceiling hostage again this coming fall in an attempt to prevent the Bush Tax Cuts from expiring.
Under the current baseline agreed to in the Budget Control Act, the debt-ceiling deal wherein Boehner claims he received “98 percent of what he wanted,” every bracket of the Bush Tax Cuts will expire at the end of fiscal 2012. The only way any bracket, whether at the low-end or high-end, will be extended beyond fiscal 2012 is through an act of congress. If congress and the president simply do nothing, they will automatically expire.
Boehner was clearly hoping that the debt-ceiling would provide him the leverage, again, to force the issue. Unfortunately for him, the Treasury has already prepared to go beyond the new year and possibly even into the next session of congress without another congressional act to increase the current limit.
Treasury officials note — and Secretary Timothy Geithner made clear Tuesday — that the administration expects to be able to manage its accounts in such a way that the true deadline for raising the debt limit won’t actually come until early next year — after the fiscal cliff on January 1, and possibly after the new Congress is sworn in. Which means it’s unclear if Boehner’s threat has any teeth to it.
Speaking in Washington Tuesday at the Peterson Foundation Fiscal Summit, Geithner acknowledged that he can delay running up against the debt limit, just as he did in the debt limit showdown last summer, when he bought the administration several additional weeks of wiggle room to continue budget negotiations. “On the current estimates — and these are going to change — you know, we’re likely to hit the debt limit sometime before the end of the year,” Geithner said in remarks delivered before Boehner’s. “But Congress has given the executive branch a set of tools that buy them some time. And those tools will probably take us into the early part of 2013, thus separating somewhat the timing of the expiry of the tax cuts and the sequester with the ultimate need for Congress to act on the debt limit.”
Somehow I doubt this devilishly clever chess-move was part of the 98 percent Boehner claims he was asking for.
This not only nullifies any and all leverage the Republicans thought they had to renew the Bush Tax Cuts, it also means the Republicans will have one less weapon to run with in the waning days of the 2012 election. And come election day, the Bush Cuts will have already expired.
I expect the first piece of legislation introduced during the next session of congress will be a new middle-class tax cut designed to replace the previous middle-income bracket of the Bush Tax Cuts. One that will leave the higher income brackets at a higher rate. And the Republicans can filibuster it if they dare.
Sorry Boehner, no brinksmanship for you
22 May 2011 07:07 PM
A Drug Against Free Will
Burundanga, a drug containing the chemical scopolamine, may target the part of your brain that controls free will. The drug is used by criminals to rob and rape victims:
The key seems to be that scopolamine blocks acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter essential to memory. Scans also reveal the drug affects the amygdala, a brain area controlling aggression and anxiety. This would explain scopolamine’s pacifying effect. Evidence also suggests [robbery and sexual assault] victims tend to be confused and passive rather than unable to resist commands. Yet, until scopolamine’s role in the chemistry of free will is fully explored, we can only speculate that the criminal underworld has unwittingly stumbled upon one of the greatest discoveries of 21st-century neuroscience.
TRENDING: Obama to accept on night of MTV awards
CNN) – President Barack Obama plans to deliver an acceptance speech on the night of the MTV Music Video Awards in September.
Obama’s speech, however, won’t be for a statuette of one of the moonmen.
– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
Instead, he is planning to accept the Democratic presidential nomination at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 6, the same evening that greats of the pop, hip hop, and top 40 music industry will accept MTV’s moonmen statuettes at Los Angeles’ Staples Center.
A source close to MTV told CNN the station would air the awards from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern, rather than their usual 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. “to avoid conflict with the Democratic National Convention proceedings that evening.” The source commented to CNN on the condition of anonymity.
The Obama campaign had no comment.
Obama accepted the 2008 Democratic nomination at Denver’s Mile High Stadium, and this year’s venue can hold up to 80,000 people.
Major winners at last summer’s Music Video Awards included Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Tyler the Creator, Britney Spears, and Justin Bieber.
– CNN’s Michelle Jaconi contributed to this report
15 The Rise of Deb Fischer and the Grifter Conservative
By Charles P. Pierce at 10:58AM
Tonight is primary night in Nebraska. When last we left this episode of Who’s More Wingnutty?, it looked like state attorney general Jon Bruning seemed to have an edge on state treasurer Don Stenberg, who had the support of the organized national Tea Party puppeteers like the Club For Growth, and on state senator Deb Fischer, who was casting herself as the most insurgent-y insurgent of them all, perhaps since she was lower on the state political food chain than Bruning and Stenberg were. However, since then, Bruning has found himself entangled in a whole mess of conflicts of interest, and he has had a hard time explaining how he got so rich on his government salary. He also has been the target of some seriously vicious attack ads on that very topic launched on behalf of Fischer by native Nebraskan Joe Ricketts, who needed a happy distraction since he also owns the Chicago Cubs….
In addition, Fischer has scored the endorsement of Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods, and of the entire Dumbass Royal Family. Yeah, you laugh. You don’t live amid primates who take this sort of thing seriously and, in a tight primary, the grifter-support vote can be absolutely critical. In short, Fischer’s taken off, Stenberg’s fallen off a cliff, and it looks as though Bruning’s fading as well. An independent poll taken this week has Fischer winning, 39-34, over Bruning, with Stenberg stumbing around in third place.
A Fischer win, of course, would be an act of cannibalism on a par with the nomination of Richard Mourdock in Indiana, and a further indication that there is very little room within the party in which Willard Romney can “pivot to the center.” On the state level, the party is a tight, hard crystal of pure crazy. Given the right combination of circumstances, any Republican can fashion any other Republican as being of “the Left” or “the Establishment.” If done successfully, this can render the targeted candidate unelectable in a primary. In this case, she would demonstrate that a candidate endorsed by the Club For Growth (Stenberg) and another one backed by both the Tea Party Express and Citizens United (Bruning) can be rendered insufficiently conservative. This leaves the state party on the ideological scale somewhere to the right of an Uzi. It’s also a great indication that “conservatism” is more performance than principle, more intellectual style than actual substance, and more dogwhistling than ideology.
Read more: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/deb-fischer-nebraska-primary-8865621#ixzz1v2LiHXtp
Ads that work so long as you don’t think
By Steve Benen – Tue May 15, 2012 5:00 PM EDT.
The Obama campaign unveiled its first salvo against Mitt Romney’s controversial private-sector background yesterday, an offensive the Republican campaign surely knew was coming eventually. This morning, the former governor released a two-minute clip in response, which had almost certainly been prepped and was ready to go.
The point of the video is to show three unemployed Iowans who are clearly struggling, and whom Romney hopes to use as proof the “Obama economy” not working. (Presumably, by this logic, if the president’s economic policies were worthwhile, unemployment would be zero percent, and Republicans wouldn’t be able to find anyone who could appear on camera.)
There’s nothing to connect the president to the plight of the individuals in the video — unlike, say, the plight of those who got laid off because Romney’s vulture capital firm threw them out of work — but we’re supposed to blame Obama anyway. What’s more, there’s nothing in the clip to explain why these struggling folks would be better off under a Romney administration that intends to cut taxes for the wealthy while slashing public investments that benefit working families, but we’re probably not supposed to think too much about that, either.
What’s more, as Jamelle Bouie explained, What stands out about this video is that the Romney campaign has moved away from acknowledging any roots to the crisis, which would require a nod to the previous, Republican president, and treating the Great Recession as a random event — like a bad hurricane or tornado — for which no one is responsible. In this narrative, the GOP didn’t mismanage the economy into the deepest downturn since the Great Depression. Rather, the economic crisis simply happened, ex nihilo, and Obama did nothing to stop or mitigate it.”
Romney’s video, in other words, is powerful just so long as you have a very short memory, no understanding of current events, and no interest in the candidates’ backgrounds, platforms, or ideas.
Romney’s target demographic, in other words, is uninformed amnesiacs.
But there’s another catch: the Republican’s video highlights a closed Frigidaire plant. In 2012, Frigidaire is … hiring.
Greg Sargent explained that Frigidaire, which is owned by Electrolux, first started the process of shifting manufacturing jobs to Mexico in 2006, which, if memory serves, predates Obama’s election. Blaming the president for Bush-era economic trends isn’t just foolish; it’s dishonest.
But complicating the story further is that Romney would have voters believe Obama deserves blame for an Electrolux plant closing, but doesn’t deserve credit for an Electrolux plant opening.
Those Obama ads are EFFECTIVE, because the folks in those ads look like MITT Romney = white men.
Debtpocalypse 2.0 Cometh: GOP Unites Behind Boehner’s Debt Ceiling Demand
Sahil Kapur- May 16, 2012, 4:52 AM
Senate Republicans quickly united behind House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on Tuesday after he telegraphed his intention to use the debt limit as leverage to avoid a scheduled tax increase. Democrats balked at his demand that raising the debt ceiling — which is set to max out this December — be paired dollar-for-dollar with spending “cuts and reforms.” The widening rift foreshadows another self-inflicted battle, the likes of which nearly collapsed the U.S. economy last fall.
“A request of the President to ask us to raise the debt ceiling ought to generate a significant response to deal with the problem of deficit and debt,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told a handful of reporters Tuesday afternoon in the Capitol.
In a Tuesday speech, Boehner said, “I will again insist on my simple principle of cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase” — something his conference did last summer. Further hinting at chaos, he scoffed at the idea of raising taxes, even as Democrats insist they won’t agree to another major debt-reduction deal that excludes new revenues.
McConnell wasn’t the only Republican senator who backed up Boehner’s stance.
“I think we need to take responsible action here and now on all of these issues,” retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) told TPM. “Because until we deal with the essential questions at hand — on the debt, on the debt ceiling, on taxes and regulation — we’re going to continue to have a very precarious economic environment. … Americans are fearful right now. That’s the one word I hear consistently. They’re fearful about the future and they’ve never been fearful before as they are now. Why? Because we’re not addressing the issues. And the more we postpone, obfuscate, it severely impacts the well-being of our country, and that’s a travesty. So we need to take concerted action.”
She said the debt ceiling is “absolutely” a good opportunity to address these issues. But tellingly, even Snowe, arguably the most moderate Senate Republican, didn’t budge from the party line in resistance to new revenues. “Well, you know, I would look at tax reform first because I don’t think this is a great time to be raising taxes,” she said.
Snowe defended Boehner against the Democrats’ charge that he’s putting the economy at risk, saying, “I don’t know that that’s what he was intending.” She said the demand was “his decision, but I think the problem is we’re not addressing anything. So I don’t know what his rationale is, but we’re not dealing with anything, which is my major concern.”
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), a rising GOP star, unequivocal endorsed the speaker’s view.
“I firmly believe that we need to make sure we do have spending cuts with any increase in the debt limit,” Ayotte told TPM. “I think it’s really important that — I felt very strongly last time that we shouldn’t increase the debt limit without addressing the underlying issues that have brought us to this position of $15 trillion in debt, soon to be $16 trillion.”
Senate Democratic leaders immediately rejected Boehner’s demand as irresponsible, especially, they said, in light of the House GOP reneging on the debt limit agreement from last August.
It’s unclear whether the moment of action will come in December during the 2012 lame-duck session, or early 2013, as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner signaled may be the case Tuesday. If Treasury finds a way to keep from maxing out the nation’s borrowing authority into 2013, it could alter the political dynamics depending on the results of the November elections.
One way or another, Congress will have to raise the debt limit again, and Republicans are likely to demand spending cuts when that happens. And the Democrats’ response to the prospect of another deficit-reduction package devoid of new tax revenues? Dream on.
“Republicans can grandstand all they want,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters Tuesday. “The fact is any agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff facing us at the end of this year must not gut programs that support the middle class, like Medicare and Social Security and education. It must be balanced with policies that ask millionaires to pay their fair share.”
May 15, 2012, 1:38 pm
Thing Falls Apart
And the center not only did not hold, it couldn’t seem to get any attention whatsoever. Americans Elect, a lavishly funded “centrist” group that was supposed to provide an alternative to traditional political parties, has been a ridiculous flop. Basically, about seven people were actually excited about the venture — all of them political pundits. Actual voters couldn’t care less.
What went wrong? Well, there actually is a large constituency in America for a political leader who is willing to take responsible positions — to call for more investment in the nation’s education and infrastructure, to propose bringing down the long-run deficit through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. And there is in fact a political leader ready and willing (maybe too willing) to play that role; his name is Barack Obama.
So why Americans Elect? Because there exists in America a small class of professional centrists, whose stock in trade is denouncing the extremists in both parties and calling for a middle ground. And this class cannot, as a professional matter, admit that there already is a centrist party in America, the Democrats — that the extremism they decry is all coming from one side of the political fence. Because if they admitted that, they’d just be moderate Democrats, with no holier-than-thou pedestal to stand on.
Americans Elect was created to appeal to this class of professional centrists — which meant that it was doomed to go nowhere. Because outside that class, the large number of people who believe in all the good stuff the centrists claim to favor are, you know, going to vote for Obama. The large number of people who don’t believe in any of that are going to vote for Romney. All AE could ever have been was a distraction; and it turns out not to have managed even that.
High stakes in Romney-Obama battle over Bain, economy
By Dan Balz, Published: May 15
The Washington Post
President Obama’s Chicago-based campaign team has been waiting months to launch a real attack against Mitt Romney’s experience at Bain Capital. Even before Romney’s Republican presidential rivals started going after him, Obama’s campaign was preparing for the moment that arrived this week.
There is no mystery to the strategy underway: define Romney before he can fully pivot to general-election voters after a nomination battle that went on longer than expected and that kept the presumptive GOP nominee pinned to the right of the political spectrum as he fought off more conservative challengers.
Obama advisers in Chicago and the West Wing believe that attacks on Romney’s record in both private business and state government could disqualify the former Massachusetts governor in the eyes of voters. Although the initial Obama campaign ad will run in just a few markets in a few states, an Obama-backed super PAC will amplify the message with its own advertisement on the same theme. No doubt there is much more coming from both.
In Boston, Romney advisers believe they see a bit of panic in their rival’s moves. They believe the softness of the economy, the slow pace of job creation, and the pain still felt by the unemployed and the underemployed imperil Obama’s chances for reelection — a view shared by analysts not attached to Romney’s campaign. They further believe that the political cognoscenti undervalue Romney as a candidate and therefore his chances of winning.
The engagement has brought the campaign quickly back to the core issue before the voters: the state of an economy that, although no longer in recession, is still not healthy. Same-sex marriage dominated the political world last week, but the attack-counterattack on the economy this week will begin to set the real terms of the debate for November.
When Romney’s Republican opponents went after Bain and the role of private equity in buying and selling businesses and, in the process, sometimes laying off workers and downsizing operations, there was an outcry from within the party: Don’t attack the free-enterprise system. Romney complained that his rivals, principally former House speaker Newt Gingrich, were trying to penalize success. He said he would not apologize for having been good at what he did.
Romney was very good at destroying companies and their workers for profit.
GOP establishment pick fails in Nebraska
By Steve Benen – Wed May 16, 2012 8:00 AM EDT.
For months, the Republican U.S. Senate primary in Nebraska has been a bitter proxy fight, pitting the GOP establishment’s choice, state Attorney General Jon Bruning against the even-more-far-right state Treasurer Don Stenberg. The two waged a bruising battle for nearly a year, but as recently as two weeks ago, it looked like Bruning would get the nod.
Who won? Oddly enough, neither of them.
In a dramatic, come-from-behind dash to the finish line late Tuesday evening, state Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine laid claim to the Republican Senate nomination.
Her late surge, perhaps unprecedented in modern-day Nebraska political history, upended a Senate race that appeared to be settled as recently as 10 days ago with the GOP prize within the grasp of Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning.
One almost needed a scorecard to keep up with the competing contingents. First there was Bruning, an experienced and well-funded statewide candidate recruited by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, backed by the party establishment at the state and national level. Then there was Stenberg, who enjoyed the support of Jim DeMint, Rick Santorum, the Club for Growth, and FreedomWorks.
And finally there was Fischer, who had Sarah Palin’s backing, and financial support from Joe Ricketts, the wealthy AmeriTrade founder, who paid for some late attack ads targeting Bruning’s character.
As the dust settled last night, Fischer beat Bruning by four points, 40% to 36%, with Stenberg finishing a distant third, despite $2 million in spending from right-wing groups. Fischer will face former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D), who’s trying to make a comeback after several years away from his native Nebraska. Fischer is arguably the favorite in this “red” state, but in light of the GOP primary results, Democrats are more optimistic about the race than they were a few days ago.
In terms of the larger lessons from this primary fight, we learned that Jim DeMint and the Club for Growth aren’t nearly the kingmakers they thought they were, but more importantly, we also learned that the Republican establishment, after losing badly in Indiana last week, and suffering a series of embarrassments in 2010, is far weaker than many realized.
Indeed, in 2014, how much sway will the NRSC have when it tries to recruit candidates? Given its recent track record, very little.
Glenn Greenwald, contributing writer for Salon, talks with Rachel Maddow about Fox News partnering with the national finance co-chair of the Mitt Romney campaign, Frank VanderSloot, to manufacture a fake scandal to paint President Obama as a “terrorist” and solicit donations to a Romney-aligned Super PAC.
If you can’t stand Greenwald, like me, it’s still worth watching for the first 2/3rds of the segment in order to see the creation of this new fake scandal on Fox.
Saw the segment,, and we’ll be posting on Romney and any connections he has to his attempts at buying the presidency.
Good Morning, Everyone :)
Good Morning, and Happy HUMP day, rikyrah & Everyone! :-)