Obama Extends Hand – Republicans SLAP It

GOP signals little willingness to meet Obama, Democrats halfway

Despite White House overtures for congressional Republicans to work with Democrats, GOP leaders indicated Sunday they were unwilling to accept much of what President Barack Obama and the Democrats are proposing.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell showed little willingness on CNN’s “State of the Union” program to seek common ground with Democrats on top legislative priorities such as health care, a jobs bill or creating a bipartisan statutory commission to come up with plans to reduce the federal deficit.
His counterpart in the House, Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, was more blunt.

Look, the Republican strategy is to block everything and then campaign saying “Democrats can’t get anything done.”
The question is, why do Senate Dems fall for it? There are lots of things that they could pass with 51 votes, but they claim that would be mean to the Republicans.

NYT Propels Anti-ACORN Propaganda

The NY Times ran a story today about the “high jinks” of the right-wing smear artist O’Keefe, repeating the smears on ACORN, without mentioning the investigations that concluded his ACORN videotapes were doctored and that ACORN employees did nothing wrong.

High Jinks to Handcuffs for Landrieu Provocateur – NYTimes.com

Mr. O’Keefe made his biggest national splash last year when he dressed up as a pimp and trained his secret camera on counselors with the liberal community group Acorn — eliciting advice on financing a brothel on videos that would threaten to become Acorn’s undoing.

There is a problem with this NY Times report of the ACORN affair: O’Keefe was not dressed as a “pimp” when visiting the ACORN office, instead representing himself as a candidate for Congress trying to save girls from exploitation. He only dressed as a “pimp” when publicizing his videos, using the racist stereotype to amplify his false claims.

Compare the impression left by this NY Times story with : ACORN Report Finds No Illegal Conduct, which describes former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger’s investigation of the accusations. Among the investigation’s conclusions,

The videos that have been released appear to have been edited, in some cases substantially, including the insertion of a substitute voiceover for significant portions of Mr. O’Keefe’s and Ms. Giles’s comments, which makes it difficult to determine the questions to which ACORN employees are responding. A comparison of the publicly available transcripts to the released videos confirms that large portions of the original video have been omitted from the released versions.

I located this information after using The Google for maybe two minutes. I propose that the New York Times consider offering Google Training to its “reporters.”

Cato: Don’t Blame Obama for Bush’s 2009 Deficit

m4s0n501

Republicans like to claim that Obama “tripled the deficit” and point to the huge 2009 budget deficit. They use charts that show the 2009 deficit was, indeed, huge and about triple the prior year’s borrowing. But the 2009 budget was the last year of BUSH budgets.
When you look at charts or hear descriptions from Republicans, they always say that this was Obama’s deficit. This is just propaganda- lies intended to deceive. For example, when Obama spoke at the Republican caucus retreat yesterday, GOP Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas said that Obama had “tripled the deficit.” A CNN fact check addresses this,

Obama was essentially correct when he said he inherited a budget deficit of $1.3 trillion. Though the budget deficit for 2008 was a then-record $458.6 billion, the CBO issued a projection in January 2009, just days before Obama took office that the budget deficit would reach $1.2 trillion that year, before the cost of any new stimulus plan or other legislation was taken into account.

So again, Republican claims that Obama has somehow increased the deficit are just lies intended to trick people. This massive increase that was reported after the fiscal year ended Sept. 20 occurred under Bush.
Don’t believe me? See the conservative Cato Institute on this: Don’t Blame Obama for Bush’s 2009 Deficit | Cato @ Liberty,

Listening to a talk radio program yesterday, the host asserted that Obama tripled the budget deficit in his first year. This assertion is understandable, since the deficit jumped from about $450 billion in 2008 to $1.4 trillion in 2009. As this chart illustrates, with the Bush years in green, it appears as if Obama’s policies have led to an explosion of debt.
[chart]
. . . But there is one rather important detail that makes a big difference. The chart is based on the assumption that the current administration should be blamed for the 2009 fiscal year. While this makes sense to a casual observer, it is largely untrue. The 2009 fiscal year began October 1, 2008, nearly four months before Obama took office. The budget for the entire fiscal year was largely set in place while Bush was in the White House.
[corrected chart]

Please click through to see the charts. And then look at Cato: Who’s To Blame for the Massive Deficit? for an even better explanation,

What about the so-called stimulus, they will ask, with its $787 billion price tag? Or the omnibus fiscal-year 2009 appropriations bill? And how about Cash for Clunkers and Obama’s expansion of the children’s health insurance program? Didn’t these all boost spending in 2009?
The answer is yes. But these boondoggles amounted to just a tiny percentage of FY2009 spending — about $140 billion out of a $3.5 trillion budget — as the pie chart nearby illustrates.

Here are some examples of how this propaganda is applied. keep in mind as you read these and look at the charts that the 2009 budget was Bush’s last budget, and began before Obama even took office.
Heritage Foundation: Bush Deficit vs. Obama Deficit in Pictures. Look at how the chart tricks you into think that 2009 is an Obama budget year.
Here is Heritage directly labeling the 2009 budget as Obama’s in a chart.
Here is a similar use of deception in charts, by right-wing blogs.
More: Federal budget triples under Obama – yes TRIPLES, and After Tripling The Deficit, Obama To Try And Create Jobs With More Government Spending, and Obamanomics: Deficit Tripled in One Year
Fox News: Obama Triples Budget Deficit to $1.4 Trillion (they have since changed the headline but here is it as it appeared:) fox nation clip
Here’s a good one, using a Heritage propaganda chart: Obama’s Tripling of the National Debt in Pictures
The right’s noise maching is good, though, there are 18,200 websites listed if you search for “obama tripled the deficit” in quotes, another 1,790 searching for “Obama triples deficit” in quotes

Dem Leadership Please Read This

The Washington Monthly: SCREAM BLOODY MURDER…. ,

Let’s say Democrats ran the government for several years, and ran the country into a ditch. Disgusted, voters elected a Republican president with a huge mandate, gave Republicans the biggest House majority either party has had in 20 years, and the biggest Senate majority either party has had in 30 years.
Then imagine that, despite the overwhelming edge, Democrats decided — during times of foreign and domestic crises — that they simply would not allow the GOP majority to govern. Dems ignored the election results and reflexively opposed literally every bill, initiative, and nominee of any consequence, blocking anything and everything.
In this hypothetical, despite two wars, Democrats rejected funding for the troops. Despite a terrorist plot, Democrats rejected the qualified nominee to head the TSA. Despite an economic crisis, Democrats rejected economic recovery efforts, a jobs bill, and nominees to fill key Treasury Department posts.
Now, in this hypothetical, what do you suppose the political climate would look like? Would the huge Republican majority simply wring its hands? Would GOP officials decide it’s time to try “bipartisan” governing? Would Republicans shrink from pursing their policy agenda?

Go read the rest.

America’s Competitors Will Use Supreme Court Ruling To Block Our Green Jobs Effort And Close Our Factories

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.
It’s not personal, it’s business.
The Supreme Court recently ruled 5-4 that George Bush will be President corporations can spend unlimited amounts to support or oppose candidates. Corporations! Since there are no restrictions on the citizenship of the owners of corporations foreign companies and governments now have a direct way to manipulate our laws and regulations.

Outside interests have been influencing American opinion for decades, but have not before this been able to directly support or oppose candidates. The Washington Times, Fox News, and other corporations with significant foreign ownership already work full-time to turn American public opinion against our own government. “Free trade” advocacy groups with funding from outside our borders work to get us to open our markets to imports that close our factories, outsource our jobs, lower our standard of living and drive us into ever-increasing debt. We have seen this with “grassroots” lobbying on important issues like climate change, trying to make people think that the science is a “hoax”: see Grassroots’ Opposition to Clean Energy Reform Bankrolled by Foreign Oil, Petro-Governments.
But this new ability to directly support or oppose candidates offers a vastly more effective and immediate way for America’s competitors to achieve their goals. What will they go after first? Of course a top goal of our competitors is to take down our manufacturing capacity — the foundation of a country’s economic power.
And, of course, this is exactly what is happening. Oil countries are already planning strategies to use this ruling to block our alternative energy and green jobs efforts. According to Think Progress:

For instance, Saudi Arabia has already signaled that the progressive effort to build a clean energy American economy is its “biggest threat”:

Saudi Arabia’s economy depends on oil exports so stands to be one of the biggest losers in any pact that curbs oil demand by penalizing carbon emissions. “It’s one of the biggest threats that we are facing,” said Muhammed al-Sabban, head of the Saudi delegation to U.N. talks on climate change and a senior economic adviser to the Saudi oil ministry. [...] Climate talks posed a bigger threat, Sabban said, and subsidies for the development of renewable energy were distorting market economics in the sector, he said.”

Presumably because of the Citizens United ruling, Saudi Arabian-owned subsidiaries operating in the United States can now spend unlimited amounts advocating the defeat of candidates who support clean energy legislation. According to a ThinkProgress investigation, foreign-oil backed lobbyists in America are already instigating efforts to kill clean energy legislation.

What are we doing about it? What is our plan? Every other country has economic/industrial policies, but for one reason or another the American public has been persuaded that America should not have an economic/industrial policy of our own. We’re bombarded with propaganda that says having a plan would be government – that We, the People thing – “interfering” with “the market.” This ideology is like an anchor on our country, holding us back from progress.
We must rally and take back control of our democracy and our future. This Supreme Court decision must be countered with immediate legislation or it means the loss of so many things that we value. And we must develop an economic/manufacturing policy for our country’s future. This time it’s personal.

This Week in Banking: Root Canals, Rhetoric or Real Reform?

Guest Post by Mary Bottari.
The debate over banks and banking came front and center this week. In his toughest language yet, President Barack Obama vowed to veto financial reform legislation that is not tough enough on Wall Street. “The lobbyists are already trying to kill it,” Obama told Congress in his State of the Union address. “Well, we cannot let them win this fight. And if the bill that ends up on my desk does not meet the test of real reform, I will send it back.”
The President’s rhetoric offers an important measure of progress. Now we can be assured that the political elite are paying attention to the poll numbers showing an unprecedented anger at the big banks and the Wall Street bailouts. Democrats are starting to figure out if they don’t take up this populist message and run with it in November, the Republicans will.
But the rest of the President’s speech and the other dramatic developments in the banking world this week indicate that Democratic actions are falling far short of their rhetoric, a pattern that voters are sure to notice.
First, the speech. Many had anticipated a big announcement on jobs. With jobless rates in the double digits and a projected 5-10 year haul to get employment back to normal levels, workers were hoping for something big and bold. Instead, Obama proposed $30 billion in TARP funds to get credit flowing to small businesses. $30 billion to put 16 million Americans back to work? $30 billion when the Wall Street bonus pool for a few thousand bankers was $140 billion this month? Democrats will live to regret this missed opportunity.
Also on Wednesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was called on the carpet once again by irate members of the House for his mishandling of the AIG bailout. To their credit, several Democrats asked the toughest questions. But Geithner bobbed and weaved and no knock-out punches were landed. This is a problem for the Democrats. The whole incident paints an ugly picture of the federal response to the financial meltdown, best described by Representative Edolphus Towns (D-NY): “The taxpayers were propping up the hollow shell of AIG by stuffing it with money and the rest of Wall Street came by and looted the corpse.”
On Thursday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was reconfirmed by the Senate for another four year term. His nomination had been in trouble and a record number of senators voted no, but Obama stood by his man and pushed him through. The problem with Bernanke is best summarized by economist Simon Johnson: “Bernanke is an airline pilot who pulled off a miraculous landing, but didn’t do his preflight checks and doesn’t show any sign of being more careful in the future – thank him if you want, but why would you fly with him again (or the airline that keeps him on)?” While Bernanke may have saved Wall Street, he has shown little interest in using his power as Fed Chairman to aggressively aid Main Street. He is not the man for the job in these tough economic times and that will soon be apparent to the detriment of the Democrats who secured his confirmation.
Ultimately, however, the most important developments of the week were played out behind closed doors in the Senate. Senate Banking Chairman, Chris Dodd, made the decision some time ago to try to devise a bipartisan financial reform package. His package of reforms was then handed over to four bipartisan working groups. With thousands of bank lobbyists swarming the hill, it is no surprise that these groups are busily making the Dodd bill worse.
The derivatives language is being weakened and bankruptcy is emerging as the preferred method of unwinding financial institutions, which could leave taxpayers to foot the bill for this expensive procedure. To truly end the “too big to fail” problem and crack down on the reckless behavior of the biggest banks, we need strong, specific preventative measures such as leverage limits, capital and margin requirements, limits on counterparty exposures, a ban on proprietary trading and limits on bank size through a low cap on total liabilities. Even Obama’s signature reform, an independent consumer agency is in danger of being whittled down to a corner desk in a failed federal agency.
The President understands that the Wall Street bailout was “about as popular as a root canal.” But if Democrats continue to peddle this type of rhetoric while neglecting meaningful reform as they have done this week, the Republicans will run away with the anti-bailout message and with the election in November.

Banker Hardship

Read about why bankers are claiming “hardship” because of England’s new tax on banker bonuses:

…it’s a hardship,” Gary Goldstein, who runs Whitney Group, a financial-services job-search firm in New York, told the paper. What with multiple residences, private school tuitions, domestic employees, and various membership fees, a banker’s expenses can demand a lot of cash.

They have to:
1) Maintain multiple residences
2) Pay hundreds of thousands in tuition for exclusive private schools
3) Pay all the servants
4) Pay membership at all the exclusive clubs to hang out with the other rich fucks.
May I suggest:
1) Live in only one house.
2) The kids can go to the same schools everyone else goes to.
3) Answer your own door drive your own car, clean your own house and cook your own dinners.
4) Quick the clubs and go to the pubs. Expose yourselves to some of the people whose lives you ruined.

Very High Top Tax Rates Are Very Good For Business

Very high taxes at the top force executives into thinking and acting for the long-term interest of their business and surrounding community. If they can’t get wealthy from a quick windfall then they have to run a sustainable business, and that depends on the health of the surrounding community.
Today executives can pocket a windfall in a short time and take off, leaving the mess behind for the rest of us to clean up. For example, the executives at Lehman Brothers got rich by destroying the firm and kept the money after it collapsed, while the employees were all laid off and the economy destroyed.
If high tax rates on the highest incomes mean it takes a decade to get rich, then the executives must do their part to keep the business and surrounding community healthy for that decade.