Thursday, June 30, 2011

Andrew Breitbart's Liar For Hire Lila Rose Pushes Falsehood That Abortion Is How Indiana Planned Parenthood "Makes Money"

Andrew Breitbart's Liar For Hire Lila Rose Pushes Falsehood That Abortion Is How Indiana Planned Parenthood "Makes Money"

Appearing on Fox News to push her most recent attack on Planned Parenthood, Lila Rose claimed that abortions are how Planned Parenthood of Indiana "makes money." In fact, abortions account for only an estimated 16 percent of its total annual revenue in 2010.

Rose Claims Indiana's Planned Parenthood Relies On Abortions To Generate Its Revenue

Rose: Abortions Are "How [Planned Parenthood] Makes Money" In Indiana. From Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

LILA ROSE: I think a fundamental point here is the fact that the state of Indiana told Planned Parenthood, if you suspend your abortion practices -- they do over 50 percent of abortions in Indiana, this is how they make money -- if you suspend those practices, you can receive as much Medicaid money as you want. But they refused. They are using Medicaid services, serving less than one percent of women of Indiana as a front for an abortion business that is cornering the market in Indiana. That's what this is about. It's about abortion. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 6/29/11]

Abortions Accounted For A Mere 16 Percent Of Planned Parenthood Of Indiana's Total Revenue

Abortions Account For 3.56 Percent Of Planned Parenthood Of Indiana's Total Services. Planned Parenthood of Indiana reported that it performed 5,580 abortions out of 156,549 total "procedures provided" in 2010, meaning that 3.56 percent of its procedures were abortions.


Abortions Account For Only About 16 Percent Of Planned Parenthood Of Indiana's Revenue.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana performed 5,580 abortions in 2010. [Planned Parenthood of Indiana Annual Report, 2010]
Planned Parenthood of Indiana's total revenue in 2010 was $15,670,306. [Planned Parenthood of Indiana Annual Report, 2010]
According to Live Action's own figures, which Politifact-Florida deemed reasonable in this case, Planned Parenthood charges an average of $450 per abortion. [Politifact-Florida, 4/21/11]
This means that Planned Parenthood of Indiana's total revenue from abortion was approximately $2,511,000 or about 16 percent of its total revenue of $15,670,306

Anti-Abortion Activist Lila Rose Consistently Pushes Falsehoods To Attack Planned Parenthood

Rose Pushes Falsehoods Such As The Claim That Planned Parenthood Abets Sex Trafficking Of Children. As Media Matters has documented, Rose is an anti-abortion activist who has repeatedly attacked Planned Parenthood with falsehoods and hoax videos. In particular, she has pushed the falsehood that Planned Parenthood abets child sex trafficking. [Media Matters, 4/6/11, 3/2/11, 2/18/11, 2/8/11, 2/1/11]
Rose wants to use big government to force her personal point of view on women's personal health care decisions. In Lila Rose's world women do not own their bodies the government does. Sounds like a nightmare remeneisent of dozens of history's worse despots. Abortion is a legal medical procedure and the women who use Planned Parenthood frequently have nowhere else to turn. Thus Rose's agenda is another element of the rabid Right's class warfare.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Republican Governors Who Slashed Spending and Gave Away Big Corporate Tax Cuts Lost The Most Jobs

Republican Governors Who Slashed Spending and Gave Away Big Corporate Tax Cuts Lost The Most Jobs

Republican governors have touted spending cuts as both fiscally responsible, and economically prudent. But a new analysis casts doubt on that narrative.

In recent months, Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) and Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) both claimed their budgets, heavy on the spending cuts, would pave the way for job growth in their states, as Think Progress notes.

Yet according to research performed by Think Progress, it seems states that cut the most funding lost the most jobs. And according to the site, in fact, the country is split pretty evenly between the 24 states that cut spending between 2007 and 2010, and the 25 that expanded government outlays.

On average, states that increased spending performed significantly better than cost-cutting states, with their unemployment rates actually dropping by 0.2 percent (as opposed to 1 percent increase in cost-cutting states), private-sector employment increasing by 1.4 percent (as opposed to a 2.1 percent loss) and 0.5 percent "real economic growth" since the start of the recession (as compared to a 2.9 percent economic contraction relative to the national economic trend).

Says Think Progress:

This graph (top) shows that state spending is not just about jobs for public service workers, but also has far reaching consequences for private businesses and their workers... States that cut spending are seeing significantly more job losses in the private sector than states maintaining or increasing spending levels. For every 10 percent cut in state spending, state economies lost 1.6 percent of their private-sector jobs.

The analysis comes as Congressional Republicans have demanded trillion dollar budget cuts as the price for their votes to raise the debt ceiling. Republicans have also balked at the notion of raising taxes as part of any debt ceiling agreement.
The economy began to tank and unemployment begin to rise during the Bush administration. Obama stabilized the economy and business begin to make pre-recession profits ( pretty good for a supposed socialist). Along come this new crop of crazy tea nut right-wing govenors who slashed public sector jobs and gave away huge tax breaks to coporations - many of which were not even paying taxes after all the deductions and loopholes. Then they cut public sector jobs. Those people who had jobs were buying stuff like toothpaste, shoes, TVs and cars. Public workers helped the economy in ways the corporate plutocracy that Republicans love would not. The corporations simply put their new windfall of money under their mattress.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lessons for Modern Conservatives Ronald Reagan Increased Taxes and the Economy Picked Up

Lessons for Modern Conservatives Ronald Reagan Increased Taxes and the Economy Picked Up
In 1982, with the economy struggling badly and unemployment pushing 11%, President Reagan agreed to a tax increase. Under the thinking that dominates Republican thought in the 21st century, such a policy would, of course, represent true insanity. After all, “everyone knows” tax increases “kill jobs.” If there was already a jobs crisis, why would Reagan dare do such a thing?

At the time, the right was livid, and made all kinds of drastic predictions about the consequences of this misguided policy. Bruce Bartlett, a former official in the Reagan administration, this week flagged a letter U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Richard Lesher sent to Congress in August 1982, analyzing the proposed tax increase:

“If H.R. 4961 is passed in these troublesome economic times, we have no doubt that it will curb the economic recovery everyone wants. It will mean a lower cash flow as more businesses pay more taxes, with a depressing effect on stock prices. It will reduce incentives for the increased savings and investment so badly needed to improve productivity and create more jobs. It will mean higher prices for many products and services. It will increase government costs in caring for those who, because the economy is held down, cannot find employment.”

As Bruce noted in his column, “It would be hard to find an economic forecast that was more wrong in every respect.” He added that it wasn’t the Chamber that had it backwards.

Economist Arthur Laffer told his clients on July 26, 1982, that the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which raised taxes by about one percent of GDP, “will stifle economic recovery,” “retard economic growth,” and undercut “the economy’s ability to enter into a period of expansion.” On August 20, 1982, he told his clients that TEFRA “will tend to lengthen and deepen the recession.” Writing in the New York Times on September 12, 1982, economist Norman Ture said the administration’s claim that TEFRA would promote economic growth was “bizarre.” He said it would “weaken the impetus for economic growth” and make the economic recovery “less certain and less vigorous.”

All of this, we now know, wasn’t even close to being right. Almost immediately after Reagan raised taxes by quite a bit, the economy began to soar.

This isn’t just some historical footnote. This is worth keeping in mind because the basics of modern Republican economic thought are, quite literally, always wrong. It’s not a matter of ideological or philosophical differences — these questions have been put to the test, repeatedly for decades, and the tenets of conservative economic policy have an unyielding track record of failure.

It’s awfully embarrassing, or at least would be if they were called on it more.

Perhaps the only good thing about modern Republican economic thought is how easy it is to recite its pillars: tax increases always make the economy worse, tax cuts always make the economy boom, and public investment will always make the economy worse.

But pesky facts keep getting in the way.

In 1982, Reagan raised taxes and the right assured Americans this would be a disaster. The right was wrong, and the economy boomed.

OK, the economy did not "boom" but we did start to climb out of the recession. Taxes are not bad for economic growth. No matter how much right-wing zealots say so. Tax cuts only make people who are doing very well even richer as the working class takes a beating, education takes a beating and cuts to Medicaid hurt seniors. Taxes help pay for roads, fire departments, good teachers, science research and lots of other things that serve as a basic for the economy.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Communists Like Mao Would Have Loved The Fox News Propaganda Network

Fox Panel Teams Up To Promote A Bushel Of Misinformation On Health Care ReformLink

A seven-minute segment on Fox News' America Live featured a deluge of falsehoods and distortions about President Obama's health care reform record, including the false suggestion that PricewaterhouseCoopers found that health care reform is responsible for rising costs. In fact, Pricewaterhouse found that reform is "expected to have minimal impact on [the] medical cost trend in 2012."

Camerota: "We've Told You About A McKinsey Report." Guest host Alisyn Camerota began the segment by stating, "President Obama's health care law facing more heat today. We've told you about a McKinsey report saying nearly a third of American employers could drop their health care plans." [Fox News, America Live, 6/21/11]

Research Expert Likened McKinsey Survey To "Push Polling." Floyd Fowler, "a Senior ResearchFellow at the Center for Survey Research at University of Massachusetts, Boston, and author of the book Survey Research Methods," said of the McKinsey survey:

"There is no doubt that the answers one would get after priming respondents the way they did would be expected to include more expressed interest in the possibility of not insuring employees than a question asked in a nonprimed context."


"[T]he fact that someone spent time thinking up, then outlining to corporations, ways to circumvent the law in such amazing ways seems like a pretty good story all by itself," Fowler says. "... What is intriguing to me is whether in fact they may have increased corporation interest in exploring ways to avoid providing insurance to their employees by the act of suggesting these possible approaches. In the political polling world, as you probably know, push polling is used to plant ideas in voters' heads: If I told you that CANDIDATE A has had two abortions and stopped going to church at an early age, who would you be most likely to vote for: A or B? Such a question will change the distribution of answers, but also may disseminate ideas about candidate A." [Talking Points Memo, 6/23/11]

In Fact, PricewaterhouseCoopers Found Reform Is "Expected To Have Minimal Impact On Medical Cost Trend In 2012." From a PricewaterhouseCoopers report on medical cost trends for 2012:

Health reform expected to have minimal impact on medical cost trend in 2012

Most of the major provisions under the PPACA are in the future. The Medicaid expansions, health insurance exchanges, subsidies to buy private insurance, mandates for employers to offer insurance, and mandates for individuals to buy it -- all of these take place in 2014 or later.

TNR's Cohn: Health Care Reform Law Includes Cost Controls. New Republic senior editor Jonathan Cohn wrote:

The Affordable Care Act represents a serious and realistic approach to controlling the cost of medicine -- one that would be even more serious and realistic if the long-term budget changes President Barack Obama just recommended become law.


Like [Rep. Paul] Ryan's plan, the Affordable Care Act attempts to restrict the federal government's contribution toward health care expenses, via constraints limiting the growth in Medicare (although not Medicaid) costs as well as the tax subsidy working-age Americans get for employer-sponsored insurance. But the constraints are looser. For example, unlike Ryan's plan, which uses a fixed-value voucher to set Medicare spending, the health law sets less restrictive growth targets (which the president's debt plan would further tighten) and then calls upon an independent commission -- the Independent Payment Advisory Board -- to recommend reforms when Medicare costs exceed those targets. IPAB's recommendations can change what Medicare pays the providers of care, but the board, by law, cannot alter Medicare benefits or eligibility.

In addition, the health law's formula doesn't attempt to reduce spending by focusing exclusively on direct cuts to individual beneficiaries. On the contrary, the law distributes spending reductions across the health care system, affecting virtually everybody -- whether it's reducing Medicare payments to hospitals, eliminating extra subsidies for private Medicare Advantage plans or demanding greater rebates from pharmaceutical companies that contract with government insurance programs.

Most important, the Affordable Care Act doesn't merely limit health care spending, in the faint hope that consumers, on their own, will produce a more efficient market. The law also introduces reforms that will put in place technological infrastructure and financial incentives to promote higher quality care. To some extent, that means sweeping, system-wide changes like the introduction of electronic medical records or the creation of an institute that will determine which treatments work better than others. But it also means dozens of more narrowly focused efforts, like a new public-private partnership to promote quality care or pilot programs in "smart malpractice reform." The idea is to experiment with virtually every payment reform experts have tried successfully on a small scale, in the hopes of replicating the successful ones across the country. [The New Republic, 4/14/11]

Fox's Siegel Portrays Comparative Effectiveness Initiatives As "Rationing," Ignores That Rationing Is Already Happening

But U.S. Insurance Companies Already Ration Care. WellPoint chief medical officer Dr. Sam Nussbaum said that "where the private sector has been far more effective than government programs is in limiting clinical services to those that are best meeting the needs of patients." [NPR, Morning Edition, 7/15/09] Moreover, in Senate testimony, Wendell Potter, a former senior executive at the health insurance company CIGNA, detailed ways in which the insurance industry makes cost-based coverage decisions, including how "insurers routinely dump policyholders who are less profitable or who get sick" and "also dump small businesses whose employees' medical claims exceed what insurance underwriters expected." [Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, 7/24/09]
Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong would be proud of Fox News they do exactly the same job for the far Right what Mao's ministry of information did for the communists. Fox News considers what it knows are lies as permissible because they are supposedly lies told for the greater good. This is the same rationale that communist propagandist used.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jon Stewart Was Correct. Fox News Viewers Are The Most Misinformed

Jon Stewart Was Correct. Fox News Viewers Are The Most Misinformed

I have a lot of respect for political fact checking sites. I think they play a critical role, especially in our misinformation-saturated political and media environment.

However, sometimes these sites fall for the allure of phony bipartisanship. In other words, in an environment in which conservatives are more inaccurate and more misinformed about science and basic policy facts, the “fact checkers” nevertheless feel unduly compelled to correct “liberal” errors too—which is fine, as long as they are really errors.

But sometimes they aren’t. A case in point is Politifact’s recent and deeply misguided attempt to correct Jon Stewart on the topic of…misinformation and Fox News. This is a subject on which we’ve developed some expertise here…my recent post on studies showing that Fox News viewers are more misinformed, on an array of issues, is the most comprehensive such collection that I’m aware of, at least when it comes to public opinion surveys detecting statistical correlations between being misinformed about contested facts and Fox News viewership. I’ve repeatedly asked whether anyone knows of additional studies—including contradictory studies—but none have yet been cited.

Stewart, very much in the vein of my prior post, went on the air with Fox’s Chris Wallace and stated,

"Who are the most consistently misinformed media viewers? The most consistently misinformed? Fox, Fox viewers, consistently, every poll."

My research, and my recent post, most emphatically supports this statement. Indeed, I cited five (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) separate public opinion studies in support of it—although I carefully noted that these studies do not prove causation (e.g., that watching Fox News causes one to be more misinformed). The causal arrow could very well run the other way—believing wrong things could make one more likely to watch Fox News in the first place.

Polifact provides a great service and they are right most of the time. Sometimes they bend themselves into a pretzel trying to be fair and end up being, to use their jargon, mostly wrong.

Some corporations spending more on executive pay than income taxes
As has been amply documented, income inequality in the United States has soared to historic (in a bad way) levels, with the richest 1% getting 24% of the income. If numbers like that don't convince you that corporations are doing their best to increase income inequality, consider this:

According to a new report called “S.& P. 500 Executive Pay: Bigger Than …Whatever You Think It Is,” put together by the independent research firm R. G. Associates, there are currently 32 companies that actually spent more on compensation for their top executives in 2010 than they paid in corporate income taxes
No wonder no one is hiring. If corporations can rake in profits without hiring they will. Obviously they do not need more tax cuts to encourage them to do more hiring.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Florida's Criminal Republican Governor Rick Scott Encourages Cronies to Send fake Letter of Support

Florida's Criminal Republican Governor Rick Scott Encourages Cronies to Send fake Letter of Support

Even for Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), this is just embarrassing.

For a guy who claims not read newspapers — or care what the polls say or the public thinks — Rick Scott sure is putting a lot of effort into trying to score some good publicity.

In fact, if regular old rank-and-file Floridians won’t write nice things about him in letters to the editor, Scott has decided to write the words for them.

One of the newest features on is a page where Scott supporters can send pre-written letters of praise for Scott … written by Scott’s campaign team. Just pick the newspaper you want to contact. And then you can add your name.

Wait, it gets worse. Here’s the message Scott’s team wants Floridians to send to local newspapers:

“When Rick Scott ran for Governor he promised to create jobs and turn our economy around. I voted for Rick because he’s always been a businessman, not a politician. While politicians usually disappoint us and rarely keep their promises, Rick is refreshing because he’s keeping his word.

“His policies are helping to attract businesses to our state and get people back to work. Some of the special interests are attacking the Governor for making tough decisions, showing leadership, and doing what he told us he would do.

“Rick Scott deserves our unwavering and enthusiastic support. How can we expect to elect leaders who will keep their word and do what’s right for our state if we don’t stand up for those with the courage to set priorities, make difficult choices, and actually deliver on their promises made?” [emphasis added]

That’s right, Rick Scott’s staff believes Rick Scott “deserves” Floridians’ “unwavering and enthusiastic support.” Wow.

I have to wonder, did the governor’s office not realize that the media would see the pre-scripted letters, mock them, and not publish them?

Update: On a more substantive note, Scott is also this week “rejecting millions in federal health aid for senior citizens, children, and the disabled,”inspired solely by partisan spite.

Electing a right-wing criminal to the governor’s office really wasn’t a good idea.
Criminal Rick is about as popular as New Jersey Thug-in-chief Chris Christie(R). Both of them have been very brave - they have taken money from education, the elderly and children to pay for even more tax breaks for corporations who are enjoying their highest profits in a decade. They have created no jobs. They've appointed unqualified political cronies to nice paying jobs with health care benefits subsidized by tax payers and they claim they are making "brave" choices.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How Conservative Republican Economic Policies Are Robbing Workers to Reward the Wealthy

How Conservative Republican Economic Policies Are Robbing Workers to Reward the Wealthy

S. Robson “Rob” Walton, Walmart chairman, has a net worth of about $19.7 billion. And he's only number 9 on the list of 2010's top 20 richest Americans.

Walmart workers, meanwhile, make around $8.75 an hour—about $18,000 a year. They'd have to work over a million years to approach what the chairman of Walmart Stores is sitting on. Alice and Jim Walton each have about $20 billion, and Christy Walton has $24 billion.

Last year Jonathan Turley noted that the CEO of Walmart, Michael Duke, makes his average employee's yearly salary every hour.

A new report by the Washington Post on “Breakaway Wealth” contains new research by economists Jon Bakija, Adam Cole and Bradley T. Heim, who analyzed tax returns from the top 0.1 percent of earners in the U.S. That top percentile takes home more than 20 percent of the personal income in the country, and their average income is $5.4 million. The average income of the bottom 90 percent, according to the Post, is just $31,244.

The news that the income gap is growing in the United States is probably not news at all to most working people. But this data throws the trend into sharp relief. Surprise, surprise, they're mostly not media personalities or athletes (just 3 percent). They're chief executives and managers (41 percent), and of course they work in finance (18 percent)--the same executives who are benefiting nicely from policies that have favored the rich and tilted the playing field in their favor, maintaining low personal and corporate tax rates and in some cases actually bailed their companies out with government funds.

Executive pay has been heading sharply upward since the 1970s, but at the moment the gap looks especially ugly as unemployment stagnates and real wages decline, as conservatives attack union pay and benefits and Congress has Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare in its sights.

Moreover, it's not an inevitable result of the invisible hand of the free market. The Post writes:

“What the research showed is that while executive pay at the largest U.S. companies was relatively flat in the ’50s and ’60s, it began a rapid ascent sometime in the ’70s.

As it happens, this was about the same time that income inequality began to widen in the United States, according to the Saez figures.

More importantly, however, the finding that executive pay was flat in the ’50s and ’60s, when firms were growing, appears to contradict the idea that executive pay should naturally rise when companies grow.

This is a 'challenge for the market story,' Frydman said.”

The Post offers one other possible explanation. Economists theorize that the “social norms that once reined in executive pay” are gone. A dairy executive the Post lovingly describe from the 1970s turned down raises several times, saying that he made enough money. There are few such protestations from today's multimillionaires.

We got the New Deal during the Great Depression, let's not forget, less because we had benevolent overlords than because the wolves were at the door. Communism had come to Russia; unions were strong and many run by socialists themselves. The New Deal was a compromise position between the threat of communism, organizing by progressive and socialist activists aligned with labor, and the pushback from business. And during the '50s and '60s, while executive pay was less exorbitant, those New Deal programs were still strong and unions had organized over 30 percent of the workforce. (Even now, the median wage for union workers is more than $10,000 a year more than non-union.)

Those “social norms” started to change in the 1970s as union density dropped and business fought back hard against the New Deal. They began to change fast in the '80s, with Reagan's deregulation-first agenda—in 1980, CEOs made 42 times what workers made; now it's 343 times. This, coupled with the failures of communism in practice, led to what British author Mark Fisher calls “capitalist realism” -- the idea that there is no alternative and so we're stuck with what we've got. It might not be fair that the company CEO makes hundreds of times your salary, but that's the way the system is, and it's the best system we've got.

In practice, that means what we get is corporations making the rules, corporate executives making the money, and the rest of us making, in real terms, less than ever. To suggest there might be anything wrong with corporations paying CEOs millions is treated like heresy.

Other countries have seen their income inequality rise, but none of the so-called developed countries have seen a spike like that here in the States—the Post notes that we belong in the company of Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Uganda and Jamaica in terms of raw wealth disparity.

Another new report, this one in Mother Jones, points out some more maddening statistics. Productivity is up 80 percent since 1979, but workers' wages have hardly risen at all. The number of people working more than 50 hours a week has steadily increased, and workers are now expected to be available and responsive to email communications when not at the office. The report charts the return of growth in gross domestic product (GDP), but not jobs to match. And those multinational corporations with multimillionaire CEOs are hiring more people overseas than they are at home.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that companies with billions held offshore—including companies we all know and use, like Google, Apple and Microsoft—are asking for a “repatriation” tax holiday to bring that money back to the U.S. In other words, they want to drop the rate they'd pay on that money--$29 billion from Microsoft alone—to 5.25 percent from the 35 percent it is normally, as a reward to them for bringing their money back home.

The kicker to that is that even 5 percent of that cash would be a much-needed jolt of revenue for the U.S. economy, but the last time such a deal was offered, companies shipped money home only to return it to shareholders, lay off workers, close plants, and make plans for the next time the government would reward them for pretending to be patriotic. Merck, the Times notes, “brought back $15.9 billion in October 2005. The next month, it unveiled a restructuring plan to cut 7,000 jobs.”

Once again, then, we see companies seeking a reward for doing a tiny bit of what they should have done all along—in this case, paying their taxes here at home. They claim, over and over again, that they'll create jobs, if only this or that bit of money is conceded to them. Meanwhile the jobs are not being created, and the ones that exist are paying less and less.

Since 1987, research has found that 60 percent or more of Americans agree that “differences in income in America are too large.” The Post's very non-scientific user poll asks: “Business executives make up the largest slice of top earners in the U.S., more than 40%, according to a new study. Should their pay increases be capped at the level of increases awarded to their firms' workers?” At the time I took it this morning, 85 percent of respondents had voted yes.

And poll after poll has found that Americans want taxes raised on the richest Americans in order to balance the budget, rather than cuts to social programs.

Another Post reporter notes that this year's executive pay packages are especially high because it's the last year before new regulations take effect, mandating “say-on-pay” shareholder votes on executive salaries. Brandon Rees of the AFL-CIO's office of investment told the Post that executives have been able to profit nicely off the stock options they received back in 2008, when the market was, of course, way down. “The stock options they received in 2008 have allowed many CEOs to profit for simply getting share prices back up to where they were.”

“Say-on-pay” votes may be nice, but they're hardly enough on their own to serve as equalizers. Of 2061 votes taken, only 33 have resulted in what the Post calls “sizable 'nay-on-pay'” votes. Executives aren't going to be reined in by stockholders, and both parties in Congress seem more likely to give them more tax breaks than take any significant action.

Whether it's social norms or political decisions that have changed, the system that we've got is working everyday people harder and harder for a smaller and smaller share of the pie. There may not be an obvious alternative yet, but how long will 90 percent of Americans be content with the squeeze?

Sarah Jaffe is a a freelance writer.
Republicans are not solely to blame. In order to get these big corporate donations some conservative Democrats have joined in the promotion of conservative class warfare.

Monday, June 20, 2011

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s Conservative Culture of Corruption

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s Conservative Culture of Corruption

And why not? Even before she moved into the governor’s mansion five months ago, the three-term state legislator had charmed the national press, earning hagiographic coverage in many of the nation’s leading magazines. Newsweek put Haley on its cover before her election as “The Face of the New South.”

But Haley has been navigating a series of land mines—IRS disputes, questionable business deals and appointments, multiple adultery allegations—any one of which threatens to blow up her political career. “I believe she is the most corrupt person to occupy the governor’s mansion since Reconstruction,” declared John Rainey, a longtime Republican fundraiser and power broker who chaired the state’s Board of Economic Advisers for eight years. A 69-year-old attorney, Rainey is an aristocratic iconoclast who never bought the Haley myth. “I do not know of any person who ran for governor in my lifetime with as many charges against him or her as she has had that went unanswered,” he told me on a recent afternoon at his sprawling horse farm outside the small town of Camden. “The Democrats got Alvin Greene; we got Nikki Haley. Because nobody bothered to check these guys out.”

Inside the Favor Factory

When Haley took office in January, her backbencher status gave her no support structure in state government. Since then she’s appointed a surprising number of cronies and loyalists to bureaucratic functions in order to construct such a network. Many state boards have staggered terms to prevent unilateral decimation of institutional knowledge, but because former Governor Mark Sanford left so many appointees in place when their terms expired, there was a glut of personnel for Haley to dispense with as she pleased. At an early stage in the bloodbath, the capital city daily newspaper, the State, pointed out that of the fifty-nine she had already replaced, twenty-six were donors to her campaign.

Such wholesale housecleaning was not only sharply at variance with what the last GOP governor had done when taking over from a member of the same party; it also reeked of the kind of favor trading Haley had run against on the stump. “She was the Tea Party candidate, and she was gonna sweep the good old boys out,” Clemson University political scientist David Woodard said about Haley’s appointments at the time. Woodard is also a Republican consultant who wrote Why We Whisper: Restoring Our Right to Say It’s Wrong with South Carolina senator and Tea Party darling Jim DeMint. “In effect, she does the same sort of cronyism that is characteristic of previous governors,” said Woodard.

Meanwhile, Haley’s approach to the process offended the state’s genteel Southern traditions. In March, without announcing it, Haley quietly excised the most generous benefactor of the University of South Carolina, billionaire financier and philanthropist Darla Moore, from the school’s board of trustees, replacing her with a campaign contributor and little-known lawyer from Haley’s district. When the alternative weekly Free Times broke the news of the move—which led to student protests and a broader public backlash—Haley was deceptive about her reasons for having made the change.

Haley’s office initially said she had wanted a “fresh set of eyes” on the board; Haley later told Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker that she’d ousted Moore—who’d given $70 million to the university whose business school bears her name—for not returning Haley’s phone calls and postponing a meeting. E-mails and correspondence from Haley’s office, later made public, revealed, however, that Haley had chosen Moore’s replacement a month before trying to meet with her.

If her university board pick was tone deaf, Haley’s choices for top political positions were outrageous. To chair the state’s revenue-projecting Board of Economic Advisors—one of the highest positions in state government that doesn’t require Senate confirmation—Haley appointed Chad Waldorf, co-founder of a barbecue chain called Sticky Fingers. Waldorf also happens to be co-founder of a group that paid for a $400,000 pro-Haley ad buy during her gubernatorial primary campaign; the ads were pulled off the air by a judge who said the group appeared to have improperly coordinated with her campaign.

Meanwhile, after Haley lifted a hiring freeze set by Sanford, the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism created a job for the wife of Haley’s chief of staff, Tim Pearson. Pearson, who is being paid $125,000—$27,000 more than the man who held the post in Sanford’s office—is a former Sanford aide who managed Haley’s campaign.

Haley has ended up on Think Progress’s list of pay-to-play governors who solicited money to fund inaugural parties from corporations with vested state interests. One of them was Boeing, which last year moved an expansion from unionized Washington State to South Carolina, a right-to-work state, which earned the airline manufacturer a lawsuit (still pending) from the National Labor Relations Board. Haley has lately made national news by asking the GOP presidential candidates to stick up for Boeing.

Perhaps most disturbing, however, is her hiring of Christian Soura, 32, who moved to South Carolina to take an unannounced job in the Haley administration at a salary of a dollar a year. The former secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Administration under Democratic Governor Ed Rendell, Soura, whom Haley calls “Mr. Fix It,” is tasked with setting up a similar department in the Palmetto State.

A bill currently moving through the state legislature would make the department a cabinet agency under the governor, allowing a governor-appointed director to oversee much of state administration. In early June, after the legislature adjourned without passing it, Haley ordered legislators back to Columbia for an emergency special session, without pay, in an attempt to bully them into passing the bill. It was a strident power play that offended legislative leaders in both parties and led the Senate president, a fellow Republican, to sue her in order to block it. The State Supreme Court quickly sided with him, ruling that Haley had acted outside her constitutional authority.

While the dollar-a-year arrangement gives Soura access to state government, he’ll draw his real compensation from a newly created think tank, the South Carolina Center for Transforming Government, which doesn’t have to disclose its funding.

The murky nature of Soura’s presence has caused headaches for the new state treasurer, Republican Curtis Loftis. Loftis accuses Soura of undermining his authority, violating established protocols and circumventing the treasurer’s office by contacting services that determine the state’s credit rating behind Loftis’s back. “We don’t have any knowledge of who’s paying him or what his motives are,” a frustrated Loftis said recently. “We have an unknown dollar-a-year man.”

The Minefield

During her gubernatorial campaign, Haley ran on a platform of transparency and accountability, but since taking office she’s refused every sit-down interview request with the State, one of South Carolina’s largest newspapers. Print and TV reporters throughout the state have complained about her administration’s press relations. Like her mentor Sarah Palin, Haley avoids the local press but frequently appears on Fox News. And she used a legislative exemption to keep private her taxpayer-funded e-mails after reporters requested them in the wake of allegations that she’d had an extramarital affair.

On the stump, Haley campaigned for more income disclosure laws, saying the public has a right to know what special interests are paying lawmakers. In a speech before Palin endorsed her on the Statehouse steps, Haley said, “When you see who’s paying your legislators, you will start to see why policies move the way it has [sic].” However, Haley failed to report in her own ethics filings that she had accepted more than $40,000 in consulting income from an engineering firm with business before the legislature. Neither Haley nor the firm will say what she did to earn the money. “She is a well-connected person who knows different things and different people, and that’s why we hired her, and I’m going to leave it at that,” Robert Ferrell, the man who hired her, told me. Ferrell is the firm’s southeast region business development manager.

Then there’s the $110,000 fundraising job that the CEO and president of a hospital in Haley’s district created for her while she was a sitting lawmaker, despite her lack of fundraising experience. The job came during a time when the hospital was looking for approval from state lawmakers to build a heart surgery center. To make matters worse, on a routine 2008 application for the post, Haley wrote that she’d been earning $125,000 from her family’s clothing store, Exotica International. That’s drastically more than what she told the IRS that year, when she reported earning only $22,000 from Exotica. Haley denies that she filled out that particular page of the application. But the hospital says no one on its end did, and it would have been incredibly hard for a third party to have done it because of the personal information involved.

Though not a certified CPA, in her campaign Haley frequently cited her skills as an accountant. Yet she consistently blew the April 15 deadline on her family income taxes, racking up more than $4,000 in penalties since 2004. More curious, in 2006 Haley and her husband, Michael, claimed only $40,269 in combined income. This was while the couple was paying a $289,000 mortgage, driving a luxury SUV and raising two children.

Affairs of State

Two men have signed sworn affidavits alleging they had sexual affairs with the married mother of two, stemming from 2007 and 2008, respectively. She has denied them and has agreed to resign as governor if either is proven. Questions about her private life might best remain a family matter except that both men have high political profiles, and one is writing a tell-all book about his relationship with Haley. Will Folks, a former spokesman for then–Governor Sanford who worked for Haley in 2007, is a political consultant who runs a popular South Carolina blog, FITSNews. He is coy about his book contract but has released a steamy excerpt on his website. “If she were to appear on a national ticket, it would be the end of that ticket,” Folks told me.

Still, like so many Palmetto State chief executives before her, Haley seems to be angling for a spot on a national ticket. She is already penning her memoir. “Every governor we’ve had since Carroll Campbell has had national aspirations, but with her it’s more naked and obvious,” says Brad Warthen, a Columbia advertising man who until 2009 was the longtime editorial page editor of the State. Warthen endorsed Haley in two legislative elections and chronicled her rise beginning about seven years ago. In that time, he says, she has morphed from a na├»ve newcomer, to a politician he thought could become a good force in the legislature, to something approaching megalomania.

“I think she’s had her head turned by discovering where demagoguery will get you,” Warthen told me. “I don’t think that’s totally who she was before. I think she has developed in this direction. It’s a B.F. Skinner behavioral reinforcement thing; she has been rewarded and rewarded and rewarded. This has worked for her. And she continues to charm the national media. Because you know what? They don’t care. It’s just a story.”

But the story that’s been told nationally has a different tint in Dixie, one that belies any claim that white voters in South Carolina, which is nearly one-third black, have cast aside hang-ups over race by electing Haley. During her campaign, she embraced the most conservative ideas right down the line: laissez-faire capitalism, hostility to social programs and labor unions, cutting taxes, starving government.

“Nikki Haley could have been perceived as a black person in South Carolina because of her skin color and her eyes and so on, but she’s gone out of her way to say indirectly, ‘I’m not black, I’m white. I dress white, I talk white, I have white friends, I have white ideology,’” says John Crangle, a retired lawyer and political science professor who has run the state chapter of Common Cause for twenty-five years. “The subtext of everything she says is that we need to do less for black people in South Carolina, and that appeals to your traditional white Southerners—the same people who voted for Nixon and the same people who are the base of the Republican Party now. But it also appeals to all these retirees that come in because they don’t want to pay taxes.” In the Palmetto State, it seems, an antigovernment stance that by default is anti-black still plays well at the polls—especially when peddled by a minority politician. (In November, in the same election that sent Haley to the governor’s mansion, ultraconservative Tea Partier Tim Scott became the first black Republican elected to Congress from South Carolina since Reconstruction.)

At a roundtable for reporters before the first GOP presidential debate of 2012, held in Greenville on May 5, the Canadian magazine Maclean’s asked Haley if she was interested in being vice president. “No, everybody wants to talk about VP with me, and what I tell them [is] they need to be focused on the top of the ticket,” she said. “We don’t have the luxury of talking about VP right now.”

But one day soon they will, and Haley’s name will continue to come up. “She’s in the South, and she’s a female governor,” says Woodard, the political scientist. “She has to be mentioned when you talk about ticket balancing. I’m sure she knows that.” He adds that her national libertarian backers are probably helping to push for it.

In late April, at a stop in Florence, during a series of speeches Haley was giving to commemorate her first 100 days, she told the small crowd, “There really are no mistakes we have made.” It was an astonishing claim, given the nearly daily reports of infidelity, dishonesty, conservative cronyism and pay-to-play politics. But the people of South Carolina are beginning to realize they’ve been duped. The question is whether the rest of the nation will get that same privilege.

Written by Corey Hutchins.
In 2009 far Right conservative Republicans reinvented themselves as the tea party. In hopes that they could avoid blame for a disastrous unnecessary war and running up the worse deficit in the nation's history. Haley was part of that reinvention. Masks come off eventually and it looks like the new tea party conservatives such as Haley are just as arrogant and corrupt as the old conservatives.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Vote Mitt Romney . He is Just Like Everyday Average Americans

The Mittster is just an average American. You can tell. Here are some tell-tale signs,

Among the more comical episodes of the 2008 presidential campaign was the failed effort by Republicans to paint Barack Obama as "elitist" and "out of touch." Sadly for the GOP, that attack backfired hilariously when John McCain couldn't remember how many homes he owned, said a $5 million income made someone rich, and advocated tax cuts that would save he and his heiress wife hundreds of thousands annually.

Now three years later, Mitt Romney appears poised to fall into the same gold-plated trap. After decrying President Obama for referring to the sluggish economic recovery as a "bump in the road," GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney joked with jobless Floridians that "I'm also unemployed." Of course, one feeble attempt at humor doesn't make Mitt out of touch; that takes a lifetime of experience.

Here are just some of the ways you know Mitt Romney is out of touch:

You know Mitt Romney is out of touch when the $250,000,000 son of an auto magnate jokes about being unemployed.

You know Mitt Romney is out of touch when he stages a photo-op with an unemployed single mom in Michigan - who also happens to be the mother of a paid campaign staffer.

You know Mitt Romney is out of touch when he won't release his tax returns during any of his runs for office.

You know Mitt Romney is out of touch when decides he will not seek donations to repay $45 million in personal loans he made to his failed presidential bid -- "the biggest ever made by a candidate in a primary campaign."

You know Mitt Romney is out of touch when he responds "I'm not concerned about the voters" after Tim Russert asked him "why not tell the voters of Florida and across the country how much of your own wealth you're spending?"

You know Mitt Romney is out of touch when his wife Ann jokes that "Mitt doesn't even know the answer to that" when asked how many dressage horses she owns.

You know Mitt Romney is out of touch when he sells two of his four multimillion dollars mansions because he and his wife are, according to an aide, "downsizing and simplifying."

You know Mitt Romney is out of touch when he apparently forgets which state he lives in, votes in and pays taxes in - twice.

You know Mitt Romney is out of touch when he says Democrats are "the party of the monarchists."

You Mitt Romney is out of touch when he claims his five sons serve their nation by "helping me get elected because they think I'd be a great president."

You know Mitt Romney is out of touch when he avoided combat duty in the rice fields of Vietnam by getting multiple deferments to perform his Mormon mission in the vineyards of France.
More of Mitt's qualifications at the link.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tea Bagger Hypocrite Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY). Are There Any Other Kind of Conservative Tea Nuts

Tea Bagger Hypocrite Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY). Are There Any Other Kind of Conservative Tea Nuts

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), a freshman who won last year with Tea Party backing, campaigned vigorously against President Obama’s stimulus plan, a legislative package backed by his opponent, former Rep. Mike Arcuri (D-NY). Hanna’s ads pounded Arcuri for voting for the “failed stimulus.”

But on Tuesday, Hanna seemed to be celebrating a successful stimulus program. Starting in 2009, workers funded by the stimulus refurbished a jobs placement and innovation facility, called the REACH Center, in downtown Rome, NY. Owned by a nonprofit called Rome Up and Running, the REACH Center won the stimulus grant to employ several dozen local youth to make renovations to the building. The investment paid off. Now, the REACH Center is open for business and has landed two tenants.

As the first tenant for the REACH Center moved in this week, Hanna was on-hand for the celebration. In fact, the Rome Observer snapped a picture of Hanna attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony. No word though if he gave thanks to the “failed stimulus” for making it possible.
A tea bagger is a conservative desperately trying to make themselves and America believe they had nothing to do with voting for the economic policies that caused the great recession and causing the nation to lose $17 trillion dollars in wealth. A tea bagger is someone who believed and repeated the lies about Iraq and WMD and now wants to pretend they had nothing to do with sending over 4000 Americans to their deaths over a lie.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Why the Republican War on American Workers’ Rights Undermines the American Economy

Why the Republican War on American Workers’ Rights Undermines the American Economy

The battle has resumed in Wisconsin. The state supreme court has allowed Governor Scott Walker to strip bargaining rights from state workers.

Meanwhile, governors and legislators in New Hampshire and Missouri are attacking private unions, seeking to make the states so-called “open shop” where workers can get all the benefits of being union members without paying union dues. Needless to say this ploy undermines the capacity of unions to do much of anything. Other Republican governors and legislatures are following suit.

Republicans in Congress are taking aim at the National Labor Relations Board, which issued a relatively minor rule change allowing workers to vote on whether to unionize soon after a union has been proposed, rather than allowing employers to delay the vote for years. Many employers have used the delaying tactics to retaliate against workers who try to organize, and intimidate others into rejecting a union.

This war on workers’ rights is an assault on the middle class, and it is undermining the American economy.

The American economy can’t get out of neutral until American workers have more money in their pockets to buy what they produce. And unions are the best way to give them the bargaining power to get better pay.

For three decades after World War II – I call it the “Great Prosperity” – wages rose in tandem with productivity. Americans shared the gains of growth, and had enough money to buy what they produced.

That’s largely due to the role of labor unions. In 1955, over a third of American workers in the private sector were unionized. Today, fewer than 7 percent are.

With the decline of unions came the stagnation of American wages. More and more of the total income and wealth of America has gone to the very top. Middle-class purchasing power depended on mothers going into paid work, everyone working longer hours, and, finally, the middle class going deep into debt, using their homes as collateral.

But now all these coping mechanisms are exhausted — and we’re living with the consequence.

Some say the Great Prosperity was an anomaly. America’s major competitors lay in ruins. We had the world to ourselves. According to this view, there’s no going back.

But this view is wrong. If you want to see the same basic bargain we had then, take a look at Germany now.

Germany is growing much faster than the United States. Its unemployment rate is now only 6.1 percent (we’re now at 9.1 percent).

What’s Germany’s secret? In sharp contrast to the decades of stagnant wages in America, real average hourly pay has risen almost 30 percent there since 1985. Germany has been investing substantially in education and infrastructure.

How did German workers do it? A big part of the story is German labor unions are still powerful enough to insist that German workers get their fair share of the economy’s gains.

That’s why pay at the top in Germany hasn’t risen any faster than pay in the middle. As David Leonhardt reported in the New York Times recently, the top 1 percent of German households earns about 11 percent of all income – a percent that hasn’t changed in four decades.

Contrast this with the United States, where the top 1 percent went from getting 9 percent of total income in the late 1970s to more than 20 percent today.

The only way back toward sustained growth and prosperity in the United States is to remake the basic bargain linking pay to productivity. This would give the American middle class the purchasing power they need to keep the economy going.

Part of the answer is, as in Germany, stronger labor unions — unions strong enough to demand a fair share of the gains from productivity growth.

The current Republican assault on workers’ rights continues a thirty-year war on American workers’ wages. That long-term war has finally taken its toll on the American economy.

It’s time to fight back.

Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton.
Imagine if the Democratic party tried to take away the first amendment rights of freedom of speech, freedom to assemble and freedom to petition. There would be cries by the extreme right heard from coast to coast, those mean Democrats are trying to take away basic rights guaranteed in the Constitution. Well conservative Republicans are the ones trying to take away those basic rights. Republicans are saying the average American worker has the right to shut-up and do as they are told. Did the Founders really envision an America where most Americans were mere serfs for powerful corporations. The US Constitution says no, we are not serfs, we are workers with rights. Conservatives continue to be the single greatest threat to freedom and individual dignity.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Republican Jerk of the Week - Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) Deflects Rather Than Answer Questions About Medicare and Taxes

Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) Deflects Rather Than Answer Questions About Medicare and Taxes

At a town hall in Westfield, NJ last Thursday, Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) faced a torrent of critical questions from constituents. CranfordPatch reporter John Celock described the event, where Lance was quizzed on his support for reducing funds to Planned Parenthood, his vote to end Medicare, and on health reform.

One audience member ripped Lance for supporting Bush-era tax cuts for upper income families, and even volunteered to pay more:

“I pay a lot of taxes this year and I don’t have a problem paying more taxes,” an attendee said. “People who make a lot of money should make a contribution back to society.” He and other attendees proposed raising taxes for high-income earners and repealing the Bush-Era Tax Cuts.

As town hall attendees lobbed policy questions, Lance simply replied at times with political rebuttals. Asked about GE’s corporate tax avoiding, all Lance rebutted with a reminder that GE chairman Jeff Immelt has an appointment to a White House advisory board:

One attendee pointed to General Electric, the subject of a New York Times investigative story in March that revealed that G.E. paid no taxes in 2010 and claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion. “Those guys don’t pay a goddamn dime,” the attendee said to loud applause. “I apologize for swearing.”

Lance deflected the question, stating it would be better referred to Obama, who appointed G.E. chairman Jeffrey Immelt to lead an economic policy advisory board. He added that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., plans to hold hearings on corporate tax issues soon.

Lance’s dodgy responses sometimes lacked a factual basis. Asked why members of Congress are privileged with a health system protected with a regulated exchange and generous subsidies, Lance mocked the audience member and accused them of being in favor of “single-payer option”:

Members of the audience asked Lance about the health care coverage he receives as a member of Congress, arguing that all Americans should have access to similar medical benefits. “From a time an American is born, why can’t that person get the exact same benefits as a member of Congress?” one attendee said. “If you tell us what you get, why can’t we get it?”

Lance replied that it sounded like the attendee favored a single-payer or government-run option for healthcare – a response confirmed by loud applause from members of the gallery. The congressman went on to argue that health insurance should be provided by employers, not the government.

Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) has shown what he really is - a blockhead ideologue who stands for the atrocious polices be votes for simply because those are what he has been trained to believe. Like so many modern conservatives thinking seems to hurt his pointed head. So he thinks single-payer insurance is bad? That would be Medicare - the closest thing the USA has to single-payer. The government subsidized his health care plan - n correction, the tax payers in his district subsidize his health care. Lance is also a deficit peacock on the deficit. he says it is a problem, but refuses to admit that one of the single biggest contributors to the deficit is not ordinary spending, it is the Bush tax cuts.

Is Race Baiting Part of Eric Bolling’s Fox News Audition?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Wisconsin Conservative Republicans Batters Democracy With Sleazy "Fake Candidate" Strategy

Wisconsin Conservative Republicans Batters Democracy With Sleazy "Fake Candidate" Strategy

One of the great contributions that the progressive reformers of a century ago made to the politics of Wisconsin and the nation was the open primary.

Before Robert M. La Follette and the Wisconsin progressive movement placed the issue of how candidates were nominated for partisan offices at the forefront of the national agenda, the designation process was controlled by political bosses who took money from the robber barons of the Gilded Age and then nominated Republican and Democratic candidates who owed their allegiance to the bosses and the political paymasters rather than the people.

La Follette decried “the menace of the political machine” and detailed the corruption of the American political system by corporations, wealthy individuals and their stooges.

Why were the commands of the corporations heard and obeyed in the capitals of the state and nation”?

“It is because today there is a force operating in this country more powerful than the sovereign (citizenry) in matters pertaining to the official conduct. “The official obeys whom he serves. Nominated independently of the people, elected because there is no choice between candidates so nominated, the official feels responsibility to his master alone, and his master is the political machine of his party. The people whom he serves in theory, he may safely disobey; having the support of his political organization, he is sure of his re-nomination and knows he will be carried through the election, because his opponent will offer nothing better to the long suffering voter. ..”

To change this dire circumstance, La Follette championed the open primary, which gave power to the people – not the bosses.

Open primaries could not be controlled by bosses because anyone could enter them, no matter what their ideology or past partisanship.

If a candidate aligned with the corporations wanted to be nominated, he would have to face the voters in an open primary. That meant that the corrupt politician could not be imposed on the process by the political bosses. As La Follette said when Wisconsin legislators embraced his proposal for open primaries in 1904: “The people shall rule.”

Now, more than a century after the state enacted the nation’s first open primary law, Wisconsin still makes it very easy for anyone to enter the primaries of the Democratic and Republican parties.

This has frustrated some Wisconsinites in recent weeks, as Republicans have announced plans to recruit “fake” Democrats to run in the primaries to nominate Democratic challenges to Republican state senators who are being recalled. The Republicans hope to create confusion among the voters, to force Democrats to spend precious campaign money and to delay the eventual day of reckoning for the legislative allies of Governor Scott Walker.

The recruitment drive is a sleazy stunt, and Wisconsinites will see through it.

In fact, it will do severe damage to Republican prospects – so long as Democrats do not climb into the gutter with the GOP.

Some critics of the governor and his agenda have proposed that Democrats might want to mimic the GOP stunt of recruiting fake candidates.

For instance, the group “We Are Wisconsin,” which brings together community, environmental, farm and labor groups that oppose Walker and his allies, has suggested that:

“Given the situation Republicans have so despicably concocted to manipulate these recall elections, it is the opinion of We Are Wisconsin that it would be in the interest of Democrats to run candidates in the Republican primaries to ensure the dates of the general election are predictably on August 9th, and that Republicans are forced to win a primary election instead of diverting their unlimited resources to back their “fake” candidates against 'legitimate' Democrats. To that end, it would be in the interest of flipping the Wisconsin Senate that interested Democrats contact the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

“This opinion is not rendered lightly. This is the most cynical manipulation of the Wisconsin electoral process in our state’s history, and is being done by a Republican party that has demonstrated no respect for the rule of law and our state’s tradition of clean elections and good governance. Unfortunately, however, after evaluating the strategic implications of their despicable tactics, to simply stand idly by would amount to unilateral disarmament and would almost certainly thwart the will of the hundreds of thousands of voters who support recalling Republican Senators in the upcoming elections.”

After initially sending some mixed signals, Democratic Party leaders seem to be rejecting this suggestion. And rightly so.

The "We Are Wisconsin" proposal embraced the “two-wrongs-make-a-right” theory of politics.

That may work in Chicago or Louisiana. But it won’t work in Wisconsin.
One can hardly blame Democrats for doing onto others as is being done to them. It is one of the great comic ironies of the last fifty years of US politics that Republicans from Watergate to Reagan's Iran-Contra scandal to the Supreme Court appointing Bush president in 2000, that Republican use so many dirty tricks and are so intrinsically corrupt. If once in a while Democrats turned the tables it would not be a good thing, but it would be understandable. Democrats may not be perfect, but at least they play by the rules most of the time. It may be a hundred years before conservatives can claim the same.

Why Does Looney Conservative Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum hate Women: Doctors Providing Abortions To Rape And Incest Victims Should Be Criminally Charged

All Are God's Children: On Including Gays and Lesbians in the Church and Society

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Republicans Believe Things About the Economy That Just Are Not True

Deficit cutting has become the common 'wisdom' of economic policy wonks in DC. But it can't muster one rational argument

Sometimes, it can be fun to get inside a crazy worldview to ask how it deals with contradictory evidence. For example, how do creationists reconcile their view that all plants and animals were created in their current form around 10,000 years ago, with fossil evidence of life forms dating back hundreds of millions of years?

Treasury Secretary Geithner Outlines President's Plans For Job Creation And Economic Growth

In this vein, it's worth asking how the proponents of deficit reduction think that lower deficits will lead to increased growth and job creation in an economy mired in a severe slump? There is not an easy answer.

There is a standard "econ 101" story about how reducing deficits can boost the economy. The theory goes that if the government reduces its deficit, and therefore borrows less, it will reduce interest rates. Lower interest rates will, in turn, give firms incentive to invest more.

Lower interest rates should also cause the dollar to decline, since it will make US government bonds and other dollar assets less attractive to foreign investors. If the dollar falls in value, then our goods will be more competitive on world markets. This will cause us to import less and export more, thereby creating jobs.

However, is this what the deficit hawks believe will happen now? The interest rate on 10-year Treasury bonds is already down to 3.0%. Assuming a 2% inflation rate, this translates into a real rate of about 1%. How much lower do the deficit hawks think interest rates will fall if we were to sharply cut the deficit? Furthermore, how much more investment do they think we can induce even if we got a large reduction (for example, 0.5 percentage point) in real interest rates?

Do they think that this sort of decline in interest rates will send the dollar tumbling and thereby improve our trade balance? Against which currencies will a lower interest rate cause the dollar to fall sharply?

Neither of these stories really passes the laugh test. At best, we may hope to see modestly lower interest rates if cutting the budget deficit slows growth further. But there is no reason to expect any future decline to have any more impact than the recent decline in the 10-year Treasury rate from 3.6% in the winter to near 3.0% present this month.

There is another story that the deficit hawks occasionally push. This one says that if we lay off workers in the public sector, that will increase employment in the private sector. The story here is, presumably, that mass layoffs of public sector workers will depress the wages of workers further, thereby making it more profitable for employers to hire them. There's a simple problem in this picture. In order for wages to actually fall, the additional employment in the private sector must not be as large as the job loss in the public sector.

In other words, if we lay off 500,000 public sector workers, then the private sector must increase employment by less than 500,000 workers; otherwise, wages would rise, not fall, and businesses would then not have any incentive to hire more workers. This means that this route of economic stimulus through government cutbacks can, at best, get us close to where we were before the layoffs. It is not a way to add jobs to the economy. And even in a best case scenario, it would take a considerable period of time to get close to that situation, since wages do not fall quickly.

Neither of these channels sounds very promising, as almost any serious person would have to acknowledge. This leaves the mystery channel of bad feelings. This story goes that businesses feel bad about the deficit. They are worried that they might pay higher taxes in the future, there could be inflation, or the government could collapse. For these reasons, businesses that would otherwise be investing their hefty profits are, instead, sitting on them.

There are two problems with the bad feelings story. First, businesses actually are investing at a pretty healthy rate. There was huge overbuilding of structures in the real estate boom, but investment in equipment and software as a share of GDP is almost back to its pre-recession level. Given the excess capacity in this sector, we really should be asking why investment is so high, not why it is low.

The second problem with this story is that the fear of higher taxes in the future is a good reason for businesses to try to invest and earn profits now. When the congressional budget office used various models to examine the impact of Bush-type tax cuts, the ones that showed the most positive effects were ones that assumed the tax cuts would be temporary. This effectively pulled investment and work effort forward into the low tax period. The point is that if people really believed they would pay much higher taxes in the future, then they should be working hard and investing today – the opposite of the deficit hawk story.

So, finally, we don't have a coherent story as to how reducing the budget deficit will boost growth – just as the creationists don't have a coherent explanation for what we know about the plant and animal kingdoms. The big difference is that the deficit hawks are determining economic policy.

Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
Republicans policies - conservative economic policies - whether they were implemented by Republicans and sometimes Democrats are largely responsible for shifting and redistributing most of America's wealth into the top 10%. Anyone really believe the richest ten percent of America does 90% of the work. We live a reward wealth punish work conservative economy. It did not benefit the middle-class or working poor in the 1980s or from 2000 to 2008. No matter how they package it, the same old disproved policies will not work now. We do not have a deficit problem in America we have a revenue problem. We need to have the people who benefit the most pay more in revenue so we have have a civilized economy that grows jobs for everyone, not just the wealthy elite.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fox News and Anti-American Zealot Michelle Malkin Call Jobs Initiative a Boondoogle

Fox News and Anti-American Zealot Michelle Malkin Call Jobs Initiative a Boondoogle

Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin mocked a new Obama-endorsed job training initiative, saying it was part of "the usual federal job training boondoggle" that only serves to "redistribute unemployment." However, many employers in multiple industries have said they need more trained applicants for their skilled labor positions.

Obama Endorsed "Manufacturing Skills Credentialing" Program

Obama Endorsed Efforts To Get 500,000 Community College Students Credentialed For Manufacturing Jobs. During a speech at Northern Virginia Community College, Obama endorsed jobs training initiatives at community colleges and called on Congress to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act of 1998:

So we've got to do everything we can, everything in our power, to strengthen and rebuild the middle class. We've got to be able to test new ideas, pull people together, and throw everything we've got at this challenge. So we're going to have to have all hands on deck.

And that's why, last year, we brought together major companies and community colleges to launch a new campaign, led by business leaders from across the country, called Skills for America. And the idea was simple. If we could match up schools and businesses, we could create pipelines right from the classroom to the office or the factory floor. This would help workers find better jobs, and it would help companies find the highly educated and highly trained people that they need in order to prosper and to remain competitive.

So today, we're announcing several new commitments by the private sector, colleges, and the National Association of Manufacturers, to help make these partnerships a reality. Through these efforts, we're going to make it possible for 500,000 community college students -- half a million community college students -- to get industry-accepted credentials for manufacturing jobs that companies across America are looking to fill. Because the irony is even though a lot of folks are looking for work, there are a lot of companies that are actually also looking for skilled workers. There's a mismatch that we can close. And this partnership is a great way to do it.

So if you're a company looking to hire, you'll know exactly what kind of training went into a specific degree. If you're considering attending a community college, you'll be able to know that the diploma you earn will be valuable when you hit the job market. [Remarks by the President at a Skills for America's Future Manufacturing Event, 6/8/11, via]

Fox & Friends: Job Training Initiative Is A "Boondoggle"

From the July 9 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

DOOCY: So there he is, Michelle, announcing a job training program to create jobs, retrain people. Isn't that what the stimulus was supposed to do? We were going to create all these job, people were going to work for years. That didn't pan out. Now this?

MALKIN: Yes, the same old tired, trite response to economic crisis, which is to grow government even more and grow the usual federal jobs training boondoggle. Since the '70s, these things have turned out to be nothing but make-work jobs that redistribute unemployment, and if you actually scrutinize the way that the stimulus job training programs have worked over the last couple of years, what you'll see is people who get trained for jobs that don't exist. Heck of a job, Obama.

DOOCY: No kidding. And think of how much we saw some of those facts in the last year or so, some of those jobs, each one, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to create and to work for a little while, but they don't exist anymore.

MALKIN: Right. And in some cases, and I've scrutinized some of these job training programs over the last couple of years, what you have is most -- what he's trying to do is pander to the youth demographic. But the summer youth job training programs in one case, I believe it was philadelphia, were used to pay young people to lobby for more job training money! [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/9/11]
The only research Malkin and Fox have ever done is how to be a fascist-lite Anti-American imbecile. Malkin and Fox are on record as calling anyone that belongs to a union - teachers, police, firefighters - as socialist thugs. Malkin apparently didn't call any manufacturing group and see what they thought.

But Employers And Industry Leaders Say They Need More Trained Applicants

WSJ: "Manufacturers are scrambling to find enough skilled workers." From the May 6 edition of The Wall Street Journal:

U.S. manufacturing companies, long known for layoffs and shipping jobs overseas, now find themselves in a very different position: scrambling for scarce talent at home.

Large and small manufacturers of everything from machine tools to chemicals are scouring for potential hires in high schools, community colleges and the military. They are poaching from one another, retraining people who used to have white-collar jobs, and in some cases even hiring former prisoners who learned machinist skills behind bars.

Even with unemployment near 9%, manufacturers are struggling to find enough skilled workers because of a confluence of three trends.

First, after falling for more than a decade, the number of U.S. manufacturing jobs is growing modestly, with manufacturers adding 25,000 workers in April, the seventh straight month of gains, according to payroll firm Automatic Data Processing Inc. and consultancy Macroeconomic Advisers. The Labor Department's jobs report on Friday is expected to show moderate employment growth in the overall economy.

Second, baby-boomer retirements are starting to sap factories of their most experienced workers. An estimated 2.7 million U.S. manufacturing employees, or nearly a quarter of the total, are 55 or older.

Third, the U.S. education system isn't turning out enough people with the math and science skills needed to operate and repair sophisticated computer-controlled factory equipment, jobs that often pay $50,000 to $80,000 a year, plus benefits. Manufacturers say parents and guidance counselors discourage bright kids from even considering careers in manufacturing. [The Wall Street Journal, 5/6/11]

Plastics Trade Publication: "Concerns About Finding Skilled Workers" Are Stifling Industry Recovery. From Plastics News:

After years of cutbacks, layoffs and scraping for work, business is finally picking up for the tooling industry, but early signs of recovery are bringing with them concerns about finding skilled workers to handle more work today and training a future workforce.

At the same time, fears the economy could slow again are keeping many firms from plunging head first into new hiring.

"Everyone's a little gun-shy," said Gary Chastain, consulting and training manager for RJG Inc. "When the big downturn happened, people cut back, and they've continued to do as much as possible with as few employees as possible."

Chastain, who runs training sessions focused on tooling for the Traverse City-based consulting company, said in a May 31 telephone interview that he is busier than he has been in years, running on-site classes for firms that cannot afford to take employees off the job for classroom training. Both mold-making companies and workers need to fine-tune capabilities to keep up with the increasing demands on the tooling industry from original equipment manufacturers and molders alike.

"Most companies are [anorexic] because everyone is afraid to staff up," he said.

And just behind the concerns about current staffing and a shortage of skilled workers are long-term worries about where the next generation of toolmakers will come from. [Plastics News, 6/6/11]

President Of The Association For Manufacturing Technology: "Public-Private Collaboration" Plays "Crucial Role" In Revitalizing Industry.
Why does Fox and Malkin hate America. Why do these conservatives want America to fail.