Obesity has been on the rise in the United States for years and it has now become America's costliest disease: U.S. hospitals are ripping out wall-mounted toilets and replacing them with floor models to better support obese patients. The Federal Transit[...]
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Job growth last month was disappointingly weak according to new jobs numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfarm payroll employment rose by only 115,000. The is well below the 154,000 jobs added in March according to the revised estimates.[...]
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In 2007, amid intense debates about the war in Iraq, MoveOn.org placed an ad in the New York Times criticizing General David Petraeus for some of the arguments he was making about the war. In a not-so-clever bit of punning, they referred to him as "General Betray Us." The response was furious. The controversy dominated the news for days, and both houses of Congress passed resolutions condemning the ad, with many Democrats joining Republicans to express their outrage at MoveOn's action (there's a good summary here, if you want to remind yourself of the details).
I raise the MoveOn ad because of a new billboard campaign from the Heartland Institute, one of the foremost climate change denial outfits in existence. Behold:
It's just one of a series that includes Charles Manson and Fidel Castro. As Heartland reasonably explains, "Of course, not all global warming alarmists are murderers or tyrants." Well, not all, sure, but maybe most? Yeah, probably.
The Heartland Institute billboards and the 2007 MoveOn ad are not the same in every way, but they do illustrate some important differences between the right and the left. You can bet there will be no congressional resolutions passing by wide majorities condemning Heartland. There will be no Republicans rushing to distance themselves from the organization. It isn't that the left isn't capable of stirring up outrage, but it doesn't cast its net as wide as the right, and it doesn't have such a direct line to people in power who take that outrage and use whatever institutional means they have to amplify it. And the right just doesn't get spooked by people on their side saying things that are controversial or even crazy.
Struggling to raise enough money for the Democratic National Convention after rejecting contributions from lobbyists and corporations and limiting individual donors to $100,000 contributions, the Democratic party is looking to unions to close the funding gap. There's a big problem with that expectation, though: From the moment the DNC's location in Charlotte, North Carolina was announced, unions have made clear their displeasure at the Democratic party holding its biggest event in a state with anti-union laws and the lowest percentage of unionized workers in the country.
In addition to their reluctance to fund an event held in an anti-union state, unions don't want to divert money from their organizing and GOTV efforts:
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers gave $1 million in 2008, but it isn't planning to contribute this year. It cites North Carolina's "right to work law" that is opposed by unions, as well as labor's need to spend money on grass-roots campaign work. "Registration drives, get-out-the-vote drives and leafleting?that's where we can make our best contribution," said spokesman Jim Spellane. [...]This leaves the DNC's host committee in a bit of a bind, though, reportedly having raised less than half of its $36.7 million goal. Raising another $20 million in donations of no more than $100,000 per person is a big lift in this economy and with so much competition for the dollars of political donors. And the Democratic party absolutely earned this struggle?if you're going to slap unions in the face with your location choice, it's offensive to go back to them asking to be bailed out when you run into trouble.
One top AFL-CIO official said: "We are going to be spending our resources on membership education, not skyboxes."
Republicans, of course, have not imposed constraints on themselves with regard to contributions from corporations, lobbyists, or individuals.
Ahead of President Obama?s visit to Ohio tomorrow, Mitt Romney is out with a new editorial in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where he lays out his economic case against the president, and presents himself as uniquely well-suited to strengthening the recovery:
Mr. President, forgive me for being blunt, but when it comes to economic affairs, you?re out of your depth. Unlike you, I am not a career politician. Unlike you, I?ve spent more than two decades working in the private sector, starting new businesses and turning around failing ones. Undoing the damage you?ve done will be a daunting challenge. But I?ve learned a thing or two about how government policies can kill private investment and stifle job creation and I have a plan to get government out of the way. [?]
I have spent much of my life in business, turning around troubled enterprises. I can do the same for the most troubled of all enterprises: our federal government.
As Greg Sargent points out, this is actually dangerous for Obama. If Romney can pass a threshold of basic competence, voters will be open to supporting his ?solutions,? even if they?re nothing of the sort. The task for Obama is twofold; first, he needs to tout his own accomplishments. It?s important to highlight the scale of the disaster at the beginning of his term, and the degree to which we are on a path to recovery. The campaign is already doing this with web videos and rhetoric from the president, and you should expect it to continue.
The second, arguably more important thing, is to knock Romney off his pedestal of competence. Already, with its use of Osama bin Laden, the Obama campaign has wounded Romney with regards to foreign policy. The task is more difficult with regards to domestic policy, and requires a full Democratic effort to tie Romney with the broader Republican Party, and President Bush in particular.
It helps that Romney is actually proposing a beefed up version of George W. Bush?s economic policy, with fewer regulations and new tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans. He admits as much in the op-ed:
Our taxes are too high, and our government is too big. I will cut individual tax rates by 20 percent across the board to jump-start job creation, grow the economy and help Americans keep more of their hard-earned dollars. I will reform a corporate tax system that drives American jobs overseas. I will slash the needless regulations that crimp our energy supply and inhibit so many different kinds of businesses.
In order to present Romney as uniquely unqualified to help the economy, the Obama campaign needs to draw a direct line from those policies to the Great Recession.
The depression we?re in is essentially gratuitous: we don?t need to be suffering so much pain and destroying so many lives. We could end it both more easily and more quickly than anyone imagines?anyone, that is, except those who have actually studied the economics of depressed economies and the historical evidence on how policies work in such economies.
The truth is that recovery would be almost ridiculously easy to achieve: all we need is to reverse the austerity policies of the past couple of years and temporarily boost spending. Never mind all the talk of how we have a long-run problem that can?t have a short-run solution?this may sound sophisticated, but it isn?t. With a boost in spending, we could be back to more or less full employment faster than anyone imagines.
The newly out of the closet Missouri Republican legislator, who came out to oppose the state's "don't say gay" bill and may be the only openly gay Republican state legislator in the country, talks to TPM about his big week.[...]
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Hard to believe it's been 4 years since Conrad Black went off to prison. He's a free man today. [...]
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Among this morning's new jobs numbers, this one: The labor force participation rate fell to 63.6 percent, the lowest level since 1981.[...]
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Does Nancy Pelosi stand with Steny Hoyer against Social Security?
We recently reported that Nancy Pelosi is fully on board with the Simpson-Bowles "Catfood-for-Granny" proposal. Among our recommendations:
? Don't trust Nancy Pelosi. She's trying to sell out the safety net. All that verbal obfuscation simply means she's also protecting her "San Francisco liberal" brand in the process. She can't have both, but she's trying.We are therefore so glad to see Russ Feingold making the same point, and the same linkage (my emphasis and some reparagraphing):
GP's rule for dealing with Dems:
If you want something from them, threaten what they're desperate to keep.This usually means their jobs (primaries anyone?), but in a few cases it's their "brand" ? their "unique selling point" ? the persona (the mask) that allows them to fund-raise.
What does Pelosi want? To be the "liberal" face of the Pelosi-Hoyer axis. Threaten to take that away and you get her attention.
Russ Feingold, the former senator from Wisconsin, said in an email to supporters that Pelosi "has signaled a disturbing potential willingness to adopt a plan that could slash these benefits. And it follows a pattern: Too many House Democrats, including Steny Hoyer, are already on board."Exactly right, as I see it. We need more of this boldness. If you're inclined toward action, here's that CREDO Action link again.
Feingold's challenge, sent to backers of his group Progressives United, comes after Pelosi has repeatedly said that she would vote in favor of the Simpson-Bowles plan, a deficit cutting project that slashes Social Security and Medicare, while raising revenue and cutting defense spending. The progressive online organization CREDO Action will also be sending an email to its supporters backing up Feingold's challenge.
Eric Kingson, co-director of Social Security Works, said last week he was worried that Pelosi was making a dangerous gamble: By publicly backing Simpson-Bowles, she is able to make Republicans look that much more intransigent for not meeting her in the middle. ... But the consequence is that Pelosi is on record in favor of drastic cuts, a difficult position to defend in an election year [sic][.]Catch that? "A difficult position to defend in an election year." I'll translate ? "Impoverishing the elderly is totally bad for appearances."
"Cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits are unacceptable, and they shouldn't be put on the table by Democrats for any reason -- including cynical, political ones," he said. "Leader Pelosi must stand up for these crucial programs."Pelosi and Hoyer, together at last. How is that not true?