Taking On The Lobbyists – President’s Weekly Address

After a month in office President Obama talks about his upcoming budget, and the battle ahead. “It also represents a threat to the status quo in Washington.”
This is a big deal. Watch this weekly radio address:

Here is a call to action: Get friends and family to watch this and future Presidential weekly addresses, and ask them to get their friends and family to do so as well.
Transcript, from the Whitehouse.gov blog:

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Senator calls Obama ‘world’s best salesman of socialism’

For the second time in as many days, a prominent Republican has likened Pres. Obama’s policies to socialism.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Another prominent Republican told the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday that the president’s spending plans are pushing the country to the brink of socialism.
Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, the only member of the senate to earn a perfect rating from the American Conservative Union, called President Obama “the world’s best salesman of socialism” on Friday in describing his prime time speech earlier this week.

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Socialism is the new GOP meme word for the successful execution of democracy in America by the people.
The strategy is brilliant and the Dems are clueless as to how to respond, and in fact have been caught flat footed.
The GOP machine has won another important battle on another important front in the war to control the terms of the discussion.

How They Win

The Fairness Doctrine was a policy on use of the broadcast airwaves that said that since the public owns the airwaves we have a right to demand that companies we license to profit from them support democracy by presenting news and information that is in the public interest and present a diversity of opinion. The idea was that big corporations cannot buy up and use the public airwaves to spew right-wing corporate propaganda.
In 1969 the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the Fairness Doctrine.
Ronald Reagan got rid of the Fairness Doctrine, saying that “markets” should decide what information, news and opinions people are presented with. The Congress immediately voted to bring back the fairness rules, but Reagan vetoed this.
Under George Bush the Congress again voted to restore these rules, but Bush vetoed it.
Under Clinton a majority of the Congress again voted to restore these rules, but the Republicans in the Senate filibustered.
So today they had a chance to bring back rules of fairness and democracy. What happened? DEMOCRATS cut their own throats and overwhelmingly voted to back corporate control of what we are allowed to know. “Democrats cave again.” Does this sound familiar?
Do they think the corporate media is now going to say good things about Democrats and unions and democracy? Do they think Rush Limbaugh is going to praise them for backing him?
Senate Backs Amendment to Prevent ‘Fairness Doctrine’ Revival,

The Senate approved an amendment Thursday that would outlaw the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” an off-the-books policy that once required broadcasters to air opposing viewpoints on controversial issues.
Republican Sen. Jim DeMint’s amendment passed by a wide margin of 87-to-11.

THIS is how Republicans win. They don’t give up. They deny the popular will. And eventually they wear down the Democrats until they just cave.

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Unions

I asked a friend if she thought people would join a union where she works. She said “I think everyone would be too scared.” But a recent survey found that 60% of all workers would choose to join a union if they could.
The Employee Free Choice Act is coming to the Congress one of these days. Keep that name in mind for when it comes up. This law would protect workers from being fired for talking about unions, and would allow workers to organize without the boss finding out using a method called “card check.” Once a majority of workers in a company or at a location sign up for a union, the union is recognized as the bargaining agent and laws protecting organized workers take effect.
The current methods of organizing a union, where the workers have a day when they all vote in a secret ballot,will also still be available. The Employee Free Choice Act, though, lets them choose to have card check instead. The problem with the current method is that it happens entirely on management’s terms, often delayed and delayed, and with the manager calling workers into the office one at a time to “explain” what will happen to the worker if a union comes in.
It would be nice if our economic system didn’t have the kind of outcomes that make unions so necessary. But they are.

Who Is Our Government For?

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California
dday, writing in Giving Away The Tax Argument at Digby’s Hullabaloo blog, asks why so many California newspapers have “tax increase calculators” but no calculators that show people how much the budget cuts affect them.

In my life, I have never seen a “spending cut calculator,” where someone could plug in, say, how many school-age children they have, or how many roads they take to work, or how many police officers and firefighters serve their community, or what social services they or their families rely on, and discover how much they stand to lose in THAT equation. Tax calculators show bias toward the gated community screamers on the right who see their money being “taken away” for nothing. A spending cut calculator would actually show the impact to a much larger cross-section of society, putting far more people at risk than a below 1% hit to their bottom line.

[. . . The media already highlights the tax side of the equation over spending, dramatically portraying tax increases while relegating spending cuts to paragraph 27. It feeds the tax revolt and distorts the debate. And it's completely irresponsible.

In Why Are Public Assets Being Cut Right When We Need Them Most? Jay Walljasper, of OnTheCommons.org wonders why public transit, libraries and other things the government does for us are all being cut at exactly the time people need them? As the economy turns downward more people need to take the train or bus, or use the library. Jay makes the connection,

Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, one of the leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, proposes closing the state’s budget gap by reducing corporate taxes and slashing state aid to local governments. This will mean painful cuts in public assets, such as transit and libraries.

. . . This loss of our public assets is an alarming threat to our society. The things we all own in common and depend upon–libraries, transit, parks, water systems, schools, public safety, infrastructure, cultural programs, social services–are being gradually but steadily undermined.

For many years I have been blogging at Seeing the Forest, often coming back to a question, “Who is our economy for?” For some time now regular incomes have stagnated, while incomes at the very top just go up and up. The GDP keeps rising, productivity keeps going up, but regular people see less and less of the benefit of this increase. In fact, if you look at charts and data, the stagnation of incomes started almost exactly at the same time as President Reagan took office and started implementing the corporate agenda of anti-tax and anti-government policies. So is this a coincidence?

Throughout human history we have seen one scheme after another wherein a few people seize power and devise a system to hold it and use it to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else. This is human nature and through history we have seen it happen over and over.

America formed in reaction to the British monarchy’s exploitation of its people. We, the People formed our government to band together and protect each other from attempts by the powerful few to exploit us. Our Constitution was supposed to be include a system of checks and balances to account for the nature of power.

It is time for the people to take back that power and use it to again benefit each other. And it is time for California’s newspapers to do something for We, the People and include a “budget cuts calculator” as well as tax increase calculator. It is just as important, maybe more so, that we all understand how we’re injuring and jeopardizing our future with the budget cuts the Republicans required in this year’s budget negotiations.

Click through to Speak Out California

Social Security and Taxes

Someone wrote to me the following. You have heard a thousand variations of the same thing:

“Starting in 2012, Social Security won’t take in enough to cover the benefits it is paying. So either we cut other federal programs to pay for Social Security, or we cut Social Security benefits.”

Actually, the shortfall in 2012 has nothing to do with paying back Social Security in particular. Reagan and then Bush used the Social Security surplus to give huge tax cuts to the rich (further concentrating wealth at the top.) The government owes Social Security a lot of money, but — and this is the thing – it also owes all the other bond holders.
Social Security might need to start cashing in some of its bonds in 2012 or so.
Other bond holders need to cash in their bonds at other times. We never ask other bondholders to accept less when they ask for their money for their bonds. That would be called “defaulting.”
So why does this bondholder, Social Security, get special treatment in our thinking? Why do we think that people who get Social Security should get less?
The answer to this and a lot of other problems is to raise taxes on the wealthiest. History shows that our economy does better when there is a VERY high tax rate on the very top incomes. It used to be 93% on money made after you hit a few hundred thousand. And that money was used to build infrastructure, educate kids, and all the things that made this a country that could compete. That is part of what got us out of the depression.
Let me add that a very high tax rate at the top removes the incentive to go for quick-buck schemes, and makes business owners plan for the long term.
Think of it this way — if we had a 90% top tax rate hedge fund managers would only bring home a hundred million or so a year, but the rest of us would have health insurance and good roads and better schools.

Washington Post — Own Up To It

File this under Why People don’t Bother With Newspapers and their Aging Conventional-Wisdom Columnists Anymore
George Will must have a new client: Exxon. He wrote a column denying global warming, filled with stuff that was just wrong. Some of the “sources” he cited have demanded that the Post print corrections, because Will flat-out misrepresented their positions and reports.
The Washington Post and George Will refuse to print a correction to the misinformation.
Go read Think Progress: When will the Washington Post issue a correction for George Will’s error-filled global warming denial column? They show that the aging Will is now recycling 1992 columns.
TPM Muckraker: Hiatt, Will, On Global Warming Misinformation: Talk To The Hand
Hilzoy at Washington Monthly, The Washington Post’s “Multi-Layer Editing Process”,

If Will actually read these two articles, it’s hard to see how he’s not being deliberately deceptive by citing them as he did. If, as I suspect, he just got them from some set of climate change denialist talking points and didn’t bother to actually check them out for himself, he’s being irresponsible.

Matthew Yglesias, Washington Post Stands By Climate Change Denialism,

This started as a problem for Will, his direct supervisors, and the Post’s ombudsman. But now that the Post as a paper is standing behind Will’s deceptions, I think it’s a problem for all the other people who work at the Post. Some of those people do bad work, which is too bad. And some of those people do good work. And unfortunately, that’s worse. It means that when good work appears in the Post it bolsters the reputation of the Post as an institution. And the Post, as an institution, has taken a stand that says it’s okay to claim that up is down. It’s okay to claim that day is night. It’s okay to claim that hot is cold. It’s okay to claim that a consensus existed when it didn’t. It’s okay to claim that George Will is a better source of authority on interpreting the ACRC’s scientific research than is the ACRC. Everyone who works at the Post, has, I think, a serious problem.

Ezra Klein at American Prospect: GEORGE WILL EMBRACES PALIN-ISM and WHERE DOES GEORGE WILL GET HIS GLOBAL WARMING FACTS?
And just out from Think Progress’ Wonk Room: George Will’s ‘Global Cooling’ Column Is Almost Old Enough To Vote with Matter of Fact — a PDF fact sheet from Think Progress

Chris Matthews — Voice of the Village — Says

Chris Matthews says that the stock market is a “scorecard” for how Obama is doing. And he says Americans are going to be really mad at Obama because “their” stocks are just going down and down.
Barack Obama didn’t elect George Bush, and then elect him again even after it was obvious that a criminal conspiracy was dismantling the government and was looting the treasury. And it was the corporate media that enabled this, not Barack Obama.
So now the problems are really bad. Really bad. And not just the economic problems, the climate problem might be even worse than the economic problems.
Barack Obama has been in office one month now. We are all going to have to grow up, make sacrifices, stop being consumers and start getting involved, and pitch in to solve the country’s problems.
And you, with your million-plus-dollar paycheck, if you can’t grow up, just shut up. Really.