TIME's Jay Newton Small is telling liberals they should shut up about the debt-ceiling deal and be happy with the scraps that could have been worse in it. She says that there are five things we should all be cheering over.
The first is just incomprehensible:
The 2012 budget: At one point in the negotiations, the 2012 budget was to be slashed by $36 billion. The final number of cuts: just $7 billion. And just to ensure we don?t have another bruising government shutdown fight over cuts in September, the deal deems and passes the 2012 budget. Yes, that?s right, the old Gephardt Rule or Slaughter Solution, is back. What?s deem and pass? It?s a legislative trick that essentially means that Congress will consider the budget passed without ever actually having to vote on it.
Maybe we should be thankful that we don't have to go through another budget fight in which we see Democrats fold on all of the progressive principles we're supposed to hold sacred, but it's hard to see how "deem and pass" is a victory for liberals, much less the nation. Better would be an actual, transparent fight. Which Congress apparently doesn't do any more.
She has a better argument on this one:
The trigger: This is counterintuitive, but the trigger is actually pretty good for Democrats. For all that MoveOn thinks that it would force benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, it actually wouldn't trigger benefit cuts to any entitlements. The only cuts it would force would be a 2% or more haircut for Medicare providers. And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, along with most Democrats, has never opposed provider cuts. Not only that, most progressives actually want the Pentagon cuts. So if the committee deadlocks and the trigger is pulled, Democrats won?t be miserable.
That's, of course, assuming that the Republicans actually accept this deal and proceed as if it were in effect. There's nothing to stop them from introducing separate defense spending to reverse those automatic cuts. Think they won't pull the "support the troops" card to force the Senate and White House to go along with it? Me neither. Of course, that's also assuming the Catfood Commission II doesn't act, and with the mood they're in now, good luck protecting the social insurance programs. On this, I think Economic Policy Institute president Lawrence Mishel's analysis is more on point:
House Speaker Boehner has already suggested that the Republican delegation will be unwilling to support tax increases or revenue-raising tax reform. If so, this would simply continue the one-sided approach to deficit reduction, and would place Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits at great risk. This is all the more true since domestic spending will already have been substantially reduced as part of the initial cuts. Consequently, this new process is likely to lead to a very unbalanced fiscal policy approach.
That holds true for the triggers and for her next point, the Catfood Commission II, which she says we need to stop "carping" about. She says revenues will be increased. She apparently hasn't been paying attention thus far.
Her fourth point is that the cuts that are happening immediately aren't as bad as they could be. Which is indeed a silver lining if you have to have cuts, and ignore the fact that we have high long-term unemployment and a stalled recovery. Somewhat tied into this is her fifth point, that we avoid default and lift the debt ceiling without having to have the fight again before 2013. Except, as David Dayen points out:
The deal sets discretionary spending caps to achieve deficit reduction. Those are ceilings; they?re not floors. When we get to the end of the fiscal year on September 30, House Republicans are going to want to go below the cap. They will have another hostage-taking event on the FY2012 budget. I don?t see why they won?t take it.
We're not avoiding a hostage-taking situation by once again giving into the terrorists. It'll only bring them back to the well. But, ultimately, the larger loss is to the long-term economy and to the larger argument for government. As dday says, this shifts the playing field "away from a sober, factual telling of our economic problems and toward a fantasyland scenario, where deficits are the big problem the economy faces and business confidence will bring it back." It shifts the argument away from the idea that the government can and does do good things for the nation.
None of that should be celebrated by liberals. "Not as bad as it could have been" isn't the measure by which to judge this deal.
There is a chance, if the economy slows, that a $2.1 trillion debt ceiling increase won't be large enough to take us past the 2012 election. Even if this deal passes, we may see a repeat of this debt ceiling fight right in the middle of the election[...]
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Mitt Romney has been very quiet on the debt ceiling farce even though he's running for the GOP presidential nomination and many have asked him for comment. Some might say he's not leading on the issue. Some might say he's been trying to protect himself from the tea party faction of the GOP since many Conservatives don't trust him at all, but he finally was forced to weigh in on the issue...since it's been the #1 news story of the last few weeks.
Here's what he had to finally say.
Republican presidential primary front-runner Mitt Romney rejected the debt ceiling deal reached over the weekend, saying it will lead to tax increases and cuts in military spending.
"As president, my plan would have produced a budget that was cut, capped and balanced -- not one that opens the door to higher taxes and puts defense cuts on the table," Romney said in a statement.
"President Obama's leadership failure has pushed the economy to the brink at the eleventh hour and 59th minute. While I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation President Obama's lack of leadership has placed Republican Members of Congress in, I personally cannot support this deal," Romney said.
Romney's statement came after critics -- including fellow Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman -- assailed the former Massachusetts governor for not weighing in sooner on the debt negotiations. Romney advisers said they were taking a cautious approach to avoid commenting before the contours of a deal became clear.
Romney could have spoken out a long time ago and staked a position on it instead of hiding behind a wall of silence all this time. Michele Bachmann, Mrs. "Pray away the Gay" wasn't afraid be attacked by the GOP gurus like BIll O and Krauthammer to say that she wanted the US to default on its commitments and would never vote to raise the debt ceiling. Even Herman Cain commented on it - even though he flopped around like Mitt usually does. In reality, Romney would never go for the Cut, Cap and Balance lunacy either, but it costs him nothing since that will be defeated and he doesn't have to vote for it.
Here's a video from C&L's most excellent archives back in Dec, 2007 from Meet The Press when Timmeh put together a mash up of many of Mitt's flip flops. This is going to be a tough hurdle for him to overcome in the Republican primary although his competition shouldn't be too difficult to defeat if we were dealing with normal people.
RUSSERT: Let me talk to you about your campaign. This is how it has been described in numerous cartoons, editorials, news articles: "A Changed Man. Many candidates change. Romney seems to have given himself a makeover. Which has prompted more than a few people to ask: Who is this guy?" Some of your opponents passed out these flip-floppers, that Romney flips and flops on the various issues. And it's become a real issue for you in Iowa. The Des Moines Register asked Republicans who aren't supporting you what's the major factor for not supporting Romney? And look at this: Shifting his position on issues like abortion, 51 percent of Republicans say that's why they haven't embraced your candidacy.
I want to take abortion first. I participated in your debate in 2002 when you ran for governor of Massachusetts. I asked you about that issue, and this was your response. Let's watch.
ROMNEY: My position has been the same throughout my political career, and it goes back to the days of 1970. There was a woman who was running for political office, U.S. Senate. She took a very bold and courageous stand in 1970, and that was in a conservative state. That was that a woman should have the right to make her own choice as to whether or not to have an abortion. Her name was Lenore Romney, she was my mom. I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose and am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard.
RUSSERT: "Devoted and dedicated" to honoring your word. When you ran for the Senate against Ted Kennedy, you were asked the same question. This was your response.
ROMNEY: Many, many years ago I had a dear close family relative that was very close to me who passed away from an illegal abortion. It is since that time my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter.
Offscreen Voice: Thank you, Mr...
ROMNEY: And you will not see me wavering on that.
RUSSERT: You--will not see you wavering on that issue. You now have said you support the 2004 Republican Party platform, which says this: "We say the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We" suggest "a human life amendment to the Constitution." Such amendment would ban abortions all across the country. Why such a dramatic and profound change after pledging never to waiver on a woman's right to choose?
It's an excellent piece. Worth reading the entire thing. David Frum, on CNN.com:
I see some things I don't believe in:
Forcing the United States to the verge of default.
Shrugging off the needs and concerns of millions of unemployed.
Protecting every single loophole, giveaway and boondoggle in the tax code as a matter of fundamental conservative principle.
Massive government budget cuts in the midst of the worst recession since World War II.
I am not alone.
Only about one-third of Republicans agree that cutting government spending should be the country's top priority. Only about one-quarter of Republicans insist the budget be balanced without any tax increases.
Yet that one-third and that one-quarter have come to dominate my party. That one-third and that one-quarter forced a debt standoff that could have ended in default and a second Great Recession. That one-third and that one-quarter have effectively written the "no new taxes pledge" into national law.
Ex-gay Watch reports that the IRS has revoked the tax-exempt status from Peter LaBarbera’s Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) after the group failed to file the necessary forms. LaBarbera has previously claimed there is ?a disproportionate incidence of pedophilia? among gay men and the group routinely repeats bogus and debunked claims about gay people. The Southern Poverty Law Center considers AFTAH a “hate group.”
A majority of the deficit reduction in the plan being proposed to resolve the debt ceiling crisis is supposed to come from the recommendations of a special commission. And to create an incentive for the commission to write a proposal that passes congress, there’s a “trigger” mechanism leading to automatic spending cuts if the commission proposal isn’t adopted. Half of those cuts come from defense, and half come from the non-defense side. But the sequestration mechanism “would exempt Social Security, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, programs for low-income families, and civilian and military retirement. Likewise, any cuts to Medicare would be capped and limited to the provider side.”
So what’s left? Here are Matt Cameron’s calculations:
Basically the “education, employment, and training” category of spending is going to get the largest share of the cuts. The State Department will also be really hit.
As ThinkProgress’s Lee Fang has reported, a handful of right-wing front groups and billionaires have engineered a political consensus that trumpets reducing U.S. debt rather than tackling unemployment. But unfortunately, these front groups have had some assistance from the mainstream media outlets who seem obsessed with covering deficit reduction and debt debates in Washington, while ignoring the other problems plaguing the economy as it recovers from the Great Recession.
For instance, a ThinkProgress media analysis of the coverage of three major cable news networks — CNN, MSNBC, and Fox — over the last week finds that these outlets gave a much larger portion of their coverage to U.S. debt rather than the unemployed. ThinkProgress scanned media coverage at these outlets for the words “unemployed,” “unemployment,” and “debt.” The first two phrases put together still got 15 times less coverage than the debt:
Mentions of the word over last week’s cable news media coverage on MSNBC, Fox, and CNN:
Of course, it makes sense that the media dedicated time to the debt ceiling debate last week, as the U.S. was inching closer and closer to an unprecedented default on its obligations. However, by failing to cover the other problems in the economy — continued high unemployment, mounting foreclosures, and record corporate profits that are not translating into job creation — the media does a disservice to those who are struggling with a slew of economic problems that have nothing to do with the federal budget or congressional negotiations.
And while the mainstream press has obsessed over U.S. debt, the American people appear to have different priorities. A Gallup poll taken last month finds that only 16 percent of Americans see the federal budget deficit as the “most important problem facing the country.” Meanwhile, 27 percent of American see “unemployment/jobs” as that problem, while 31 percent name the “economy in general” as that concern.
I was flipping through Amazon’s gift guides, and it turns out they have a Geek category of suggestions for what to get your friendly neighborhood enthusiast. The subcategories include:
-Cult Movies on DVD (a little Doctor Who and Star Wars heavy, and I have mixed feelings about seeing rape revenge flick I Spit On Your Grave here, but I appreciate the inclusion of the Man With No Name trilogy)
-High-end Espresso Machines
-Freestanding Beverage Chillers
-Gags and Practical Jokes
-Caffeinated Energy Drinks
-Manga (someone more versed than me in both this genre and Anime would have to assess the lists)
-Blu-ray Disc Players
I’m surprised there isn’t a comics category. But otherwise, this is kind of a perfect distillation of how corporate America sees the range of geekdom. No matter how much Amazon may claim “Gone are the days of floods and pocket protectors. High-tech brainiacs now rule the world,” there’s still that suspicion that geeks are the kind of people who don’t want to work out with their shirts off.
In the 19th century, there were 150 glaciers in Glacier National Park, and now there are just 25. By 2020, even those will be gone, says Daniel Fagre, coordinator of climate change and glacial geology studies in the park.
In order to see some of the last glaciers left in the lower 48 before they're gone forever, Stephen P. Nash of the New York Times took to the trails of Glacier National Park, where he had hilarious encounters with the locals, like this one:
I responded [to a group of hikers coming up the trail] in superlatives, and asked whether folks here talk much about what?s happening with the glaciers.
There was a pause and the temperature seemed to decline a degree or two. ?God will take care of everything we need,? one said.
Health insurance plans must cover birth control as preventive care for women, with no copays, the Obama administration said Monday in a decision with far-reaching implications for health care as well as social mores.
The Obama administration is debating the inclusion of a conscience clause that would allow some insurers not to cover contraception on religious grounds, POLITICO has learned.
Rumor has it that a bipartisan compromise will be reached whereby insurance companies are prohibited from covering birth control and we can declare victory. Stay tuned.
Last week we learned from Pew Research that Republican voters who are paying attention seem to favor undeclared candidate Rick Perry over fragile frontrunner Mitt Romney. Today, via Rasmussen polling, we're continuing to see the Texas governor breathing down the neck of the more-jobs-or-bust candidate. According to the polling outfit's nationally representative survey of likely primary voters, 22 percent favor Romney and 18 percent favor Perry. But as The Hill's GOP 12 points out, Perry is in command of the important Tea Party bloc: "He's at 28% with [Michele] Bachmann trailing at 22% and Romney at 16%."
But six months after widespread protests erupted in the Middle East, the Qatar-based Al Jazeera has not gained distribution on any major cable or satellite systems in the United States. The channel?s supporters say they feel it has been blacklisted; the distributors say they have to contend with limited channel space.
Undeterred, Al Jazeera English executives say they are making headway. On Monday, the channel will be carried in New York City for the first time, though only by subletting space from a channel owner. The channel has a foothold in Washington through a similar arrangement.
On Friday, President Barack Obama spoke to a gathering of stakeholders to announce his plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase fuel efficiency standards and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
Convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich will face sentencing at a hearing beginning Oct. 6, a federal judge in Chicago said Monday.
The sentencing hearing could last two days, U.S. District Judge James Zagel said in setting the sentencing date, depending on the number of witnesses Blagojevich?s lawyers call to testify to his character and his accomplishments as governor. [...]
Blagojevich could face a sentence of up to 300 years behind bars for crimes including his effort to sell or trade an appointment to the U.S. Senate to fill the seat vacated by President Barack Obama.
But legal observers says it?s likely Blagojevich will be sentenced to somewhere between the six-a-half-year prison term given to his predecessor, former Gov. George Ryan, and 15 years.
The FBI says it has a "credible" lead in the D.B. Cooper case involving the 1971 hijacking of a passenger jet over Washington state and the suspect's legendary parachute escape.
The fate and identity of the hijacker dubbed "D.B. Cooper" has remained a mystery in the 40 years since a man jumped from a Northwest Orient Airlines 727 flight with $200,000 in ransom. [...]
Federal investigators have checked more than 1,000 leads since the suspect bailed out on Nov. 24, 1971, over the Pacific Northwest. The man who jumped gave his name as Dan Cooper and claimed shortly after takeoff in Portland, Ore., that he had a bomb, leading the flight crew to land the plane in Seattle, where passengers were exchanged for parachutes and ransom money.
The flight then took off for Mexico with the suspect and flight crew on board before the man parachuted from the plane.