Obama means the safety net programs, as the following speech makes clear.
This is Obama's 2006 speech at the launch of the Brooking Institute's "Hamilton Project" ? a NeoLiberal "think tank" created by Robert Rubin, Bill Clinton's Treasury secretary, and former Treasury deputy secretary Roger Altman. Obama addresses them as "Bob" and "Roger" at the start.
As Politico put it in 2010:
The [Hamilton Project's] research, so far, would be familiar to students of the first Clinton administration: creative, wonky proposals for softening the impact of globalization without interfering with international trade, most of them crafted with an eye to fiscal austerity and a balanced budget.The stuff of Clintonion NeoLiberal dreams.
"The forces of globalization have changed the rules of the game."
"The coming baby boomer retirement will only add to the challenges."
"Too many of us [on the left] have been interested in defending programs the way they were written in 1938[.]"
"Most of us are strong free-traders."And that in just the first few minutes or so. Do listen to the end.
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In Tennessee politicians continue to try and legislate morality, instead of making reality-based decisions to address social problems such as teen pregnancy and STDs, with depressing if predictable results: Tennessee ranks 8th worst in the nation for teenage pregnancy. In fact, states with abstinence-only policies ranked dead last.
Legislation banning teachers from promoting or condoning ?gateway sexual activity? is headed to the governor?s desk after approval by the state House of Representatives on Friday.
The bill, which passed the full Senate earlier this month, would require all state sexual education classes to ?exclusively and emphatically? promote abstinence while banning teachers from promoting any form of ?gateway sexual activity.? The latter term, which has garnered national media attention and been lampooned by comedian Stephen Colbert, is not specifically defined in the bill.
The vote was 68-23, with all but one Republican for it.
Here is the Stephen Colbert segment ("Gateway Hug") from his April 18th show.
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by Kiley Kroh and Rebecca Leber
Two years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP is reporting profits of $5.9 billion for the first quarter of 2012.
That’s an 18.5 percent dip compared to the first quarter of last year; however, it’s a major reversal from 2010. After claiming a loss that year, BP quickly rebounded in 2011, recording a profit of $25.7 billion.
Even as the company sells off assets to pay billions in damages for the 2010 disaster, it is already pursuing drilling plans again in the Gulf of Mexico:
The company is continuing to sell assets to reach its goal of raising $38 billion by the end of next year. It is also seeking to gain access to new deepwater exploration acreage. BP said it was selling some assets in the Gulf of Mexico, including the Marlin, Horn Mountain and Holstein fields, which do not have any strategic importance for the company. BP said it was on track with its plan to start six exploration projects in 2012, including in Angola and in the Gulf of Mexico in the second quarter.
BP has also returned to pre-disaster levels for campaign contributions. It has nearly surpassed 2010 spending with $122,410 in political contributions so far this cycle, 65 percent of which has gone to Republicans. Its lobbying is much more expansive, with $8.1 million in 2011, and nearly $2.2 million so far this year.
Meanwhile, CEO Bob Dudley received a raise of $6.8 million in compensation, while BP paid out $1.1 million in shares to former CEO Tony Hayward, who resigned in the wake of the Gulf disaster.
With new exploratory wells in the Gulf, BP is on track to increase offshore production. The company is sitting on cash reserves of over $14 billion as of January 2012, even while litigation over the spill continues with billions of dollars for damages unpaid.
We take a closer look at the ongoing damage from the disaster:
Since taking control of the House, Republicans have pushed to offset the costs of everything from emergency disaster relief to unemployment benefits and tax cuts for the middle class. Their singular goal, they have said, is to cut the deficit and debt, and their willing to gut social safety net programs, including Medicare, to do it.
When it comes to the budget-busting Bush Tax Cuts, however, the story changes. Both the 2001 and 2003 versions of the Bush Tax Cuts expire at the end of 2012, and when the House GOP attempts to permanently extend the cuts later this year, they won’t offer a plan to pay for them, The Hill reports:
House Republicans say they have no plans to pay for the extension of the Bush-era tax rates, a move that could erase the deficit reduction they have achieved since winning their majority in the chamber in 2010.
The lawmakers also said that Republicans had always intended for the rates on income and capital gains, enacted during former President George W. Bush?s first term, to be permanent.
?From my perspective, you?re setting tax policy on a permanent basis, long-term basis,? said Rep. Tom Reed (N.Y.), a freshman Republican and member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. ?It?s not a pay-for situation. It?s just strong policy that needs to be adopted.?
As The Hill notes, “It is Republican Party orthodoxy that tax cuts do not need to be offset because of the additional tax receipts they spur through economic growth.” As history has shown us, the Republican Party orthodoxy is wrong. The Bush tax cuts — at a 10-year cost of $2.5 trillion — did not inspire economic growth and instead blew a massive hole in the federal deficit, adding trillions of dollars to the debt. Without the Bush tax cuts, the dire debt situation Republicans insist is their top concern would actually be sustainable:
Aside from the debt, the economic costs of the Bush Tax Cuts were astronomical. With the money spent, the U.S. could have provided better health care, more student aid, and hired more teachers and public safety officials — thousands of which lost their jobs when federal and state budgets were crunched during the Great Recession. Even top Republicans have admitted that the GOP’s justification for the cuts — that they would create millions of jobs — was wrong.
Far from learning from their mistakes, though, Republicans are doubling down. The House GOP budget, passed last month, contains tax cuts that are even more heavily slanted toward the wealthy and would blow an even bigger hole in the federal budget.
The New York Assembly has approved a bill “banning discrimination based on gender identity and expression, but its prospects in the Senate are uncertain,” the Advocate reports. “This is the fifth time the Assembly has passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, according to the Empire State Pride Agenda, the statewide LGBT rights group. However, it has stalled in the Senate every time.”
– Top national security Democrats in the Senate rejected the account of a former top CIA official that torture led to the eventual capture of Osama Bin Laden.
– John Brennan, President Obama’s top counter-terrorism adviser, used the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death to explain the necessity of drone strikes, telling Fox News, “we conduct targeted strikes because they are necessary to mitigate an actual ongoing threat ? to stop plots, prevent future attacks, and save American lives.”
– A new report from he Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction says that reconstruction efforts remain severely hampered even after nearly $100 billion in spending over the last 10 years, mainly that the Afghan government insists that locals replace private security firms to protect ongoing projects.
– The Department of Defense warns that the Afghan War faces “long-term acute challenges” from militants in neighboring Pakistan and “widespread corruption” in the Afghan government, according to a semi-annual report sent to Congress today.
– Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said yesterday that negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program do ?not fill me with confidence” and reiterated that an Israeli attack remains an option.
– The U.S. deployed an unknown number of high-end F-22 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, a confederation of sheikhdoms closely aligned with Iran’s chief Persian Gulf rival Saudi Arabia.
– On Friday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will warn troops at Fort Benning, GA, that lapses in judgement and unwisely publicized photos can inflict harm on the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. “We live in a world where these kinds of isolated incidents can become a headline in 15 seconds,” Panetta said in an interview on Monday.
British lawmakers ruled Rupert Murdoch, head of News Corporation, unfit to lead his own company in a report from Parliament today. Murdoch, founder of News Corp’s vast media empire, claimed he was unaware of any phone hacking happening at his news properties. NPR reports, “The legislators said if that was true, ‘he turned a blind eye and exhibited willful blindness to what was going on in his companies.’”
The agency that oversees Medicare reports that reforms in the Affordable Care Act saved seniors a total of $3.4 billion in prescription drug costs in the two years since the law’s passage, with savings resulting from a combination of discounts on Medicare prescription drugs and rebates for seniors who fell under a coverage gap.
Even after three years of campaigning against the Affordable Care Act, House Republicans remain divided about what replace the law with, if they successfully repeal it. They have only managed to agree about a few basic tenets, like requiring insurance companies to accept all applicants, but even that main idea has been ignored in a replacement plan put forward.
The federal court monitor tracking reforms in the Oakland Police Department issued a report yesterday criticizing the police force’s handling of Occupy protests last October. The report concludes that Oakland police inappropriately used “an overwhelming military-type response” against Occupy Oakland demonstrators.
Showing that they care more about tax cuts for the rich than balancing the budget, House Republicans say that they have no plans to offset an extension of the Bush tax cuts with spending cuts.
The Office of Congressional Ethics board voted 6-0 against recommending an Ethics Committee probe of Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Bachus had been accused of insider trading, but the board found no substantial reason to believe he violated House rules.
The rate at which Americans set up their own homes dropped by at least half during the recession, and the growth of new households has continued to lag through the recovery, slowing the rest of the economy as well. Now, there are an estimated 2 million fewer occupied homes than there would have been if household creation had continued at the pre-recession rate.
Mitt Romney’s advice to students was to borrow money from their parents, and that’s his own family’s way of doing things, it seems. The New York Times reports today that Tagg Romney launched a start up hedge fund with money from the donors to his father’s 2008 presidential campaign. Mitt Romney and his wife gave $10 million, and the start up raised a total of $244 million from 64 investors.
And finally: Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum was caught snapping a photo of, not with, Lindsay Lohan at the White House Correspondents Dinner this weekend.
Seventeen LGBT activists were arrested for carrying rainbow flags during a May Day parade in compliance with St. Petersburg’s new anti-gay propaganda law. “LGBT activists were marching as part of a larger “democratic” column, consisting of various democratic and civil society groups of St. Petersburg,” Polina Savchenko, the general manager of the organization Coming Out informs ThinkProgress. Five minutes into the march, “police requested removal of rainbow flags. When activists refused, they were forcefully detained and are now facing charges of ‘propaganda of homosexuality’ and non-compliance with the police. One activist was detained for holding a sign ‘homophobia is illegal.’” Several people have already been arrested under the measure, which bans the “promotion” of homosexuality among minors.
Daniel Ray Carter and Robert McCoy were deputies in the Hampton, Virginia sheriff’s office. Were, that is, until they made the mistake of “liking” their boss’ opponent’s Facebook page during a contested sheriff election. They were both fired shortly after their boss won reelection.
As government employees, Carter and McCoy are protected by the First Amendment. Nevertheless, a federal judge in Virginia denied their claim that they were unconstitutionally fired for expressing their political view on the unusual theory that “liking” a Facebook page does not constitute a form of expression protected by the First Amendment:
It is the Court’s conclusion that merely “liking” a Facebook page is insufficient to merit constitutional protection. In cases where courts have found that constitutional speech protections extended to Facebook posts, actual statements existed within the record. . . . These illustrative cases differ markedly from the case at hand in one crucial way: Both [precedents] involved actual statements. No such statements exist in this case. Simply liking a Facebook page is insufficient. It is not the kind of substantive statement that has previously warranted constitutional protection. The Court will not attempt to infer the actual content of Carter?s posts from one click of a button on Adams? Facebook page. For the Court to assume that the Plaintiffs made some specific statement without evidence of such statements is improper. Facebook posts can be considered matters of public concern; however, the Court does not believe Plaintiffs Carter and McCoy have alleged sufficient speech to garner First Amendment protection.
As Eugene Volokh points out, this is not correct. The First Amendment does not simply shield “actual statements,” it shields a long list of expressive activity, including “saluting a flag (and refusing to do so), wearing an armband to protest a war, displaying a red flag, and even ?[m]arching, walking or parading? in uniforms displaying the swastika.” If passively wearing a black armband speaks clearly enough to convey a First Amendment protected message, than surely clicking a button that indicates approval of a political candidate or his message speaks just as clearly.
Indeed, it’s difficult to find any meaningful distinction between Carter and McCoy’s actions here and any number of activities protected by the First Amendment beyond the fact that they used a new method of communication to convey their message. But this cannot be a constitutionally relevant distinction. The First Amendment didn’t stop functioning with the invention of the telephone, the instant message, the text message or the email. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t apply to social media.
Additionally, there is always something perverse about court decisions which prevent career employees from speaking out about how their boss is doing their job. Few people are better suited to judge the current sheriff than his deputies, and they should not be discouraged from sharing their views with the public.
The Associated Press has learned that the U.S. led coalition forces in Afghanistan are under-reporting the number of times that Afghan soldiers and police open fire on American and coalition troops. In recent weeks, an Afghan soldier opened fire on a group of Americans and was shot to death by the Americans. The incident, which resulted in no injury to U.S. forces, was never reported by coalition authorities at the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), says the AP. ISAF also said nothing about an attack last week in which two Afghan policemen in Kandahar fired on U.S. soldiers, wounding two.