The fact that a whole bunch of Republicans in Washington suddenly said, this is a tax -- for six years he said it wasn't, and now he has suddenly reversed himself. So the question becomes, are you doing that because of politics? Are you abandoning a principle that you fought for, for six years simply because you're getting pressure for two days from Rush Limbaugh or some critics in Washington?As Sam Stein points out, Romney actually still supports the individual mandate in Massachusetts?the thing he's flip-flopped on is whether the mandate should be taken nationwide and now most recently on whether it should be described as a penalty or a tax. He's now decided it's a tax?but only at the national level. It's not a tax, according to Romney, in Massachusetts, even though it's the same thing.
But regardless of the little details, the larger point remains: Mitt Romney is an extraordinarily calculating and malleable politician. When he speaks, his goal isn't to communicate what he believes, it isn't to inform the public of his convictions?his goal is to convince people to give him what he wants. He's a sleazy salesman. And given that he doesn't think voters are smart enough to figure out that he's trying to bamboozle them, he's a sleazy salesman who doesn't respect his customers.
I like to win.
I don?t think that makes me very different from most people. But, it?s not often that I get to declare a win-win-win though. Which is why today?s announcement in Michigan is so exciting!
Read The Full Article:
I'm not sure I realized how dramatic an effect that Obamacare's expansion of Medicaid is projected to have in reducing the ranks of the uninsured, especially in Southern states ... where refusenik conservative state governments are poised to block the[...]
Read The Full Article:
With birtherism so thoroughly debunked, what's a right-of-center conspiracy junkie to do? Evan McMorris-Santoro counts the ways. [...]
Read The Full Article:
Can a sitting President carry an 8%+ unemployment rate into the general election and still win? Looks like we're about to find out. [...]
Read The Full Article:
Another step forward in man's effort to better predict the weather ... in space. [...]
Read The Full Article:
I've had property rights on the brain for a while, far longer than my recent Fourth of July post. Bottom line ? only the owner-class, led by the aristocracy (Our Betters), considers property rights god-given. The rest is a sell-job, which most of us have bought.Here's Benjamin Franklin on property rights. I'll let him speak, then I'll say in modern terms what he means (my emphasis and...
Anderson Cooper on CNN, October 2011
Hmmm....can you say "conflict of interest"?
Between January 1996 and June 2008, Countrywide Financial, the scrapped mortgage arm of Bank of America, exercised its influence by handing out hundreds of discounted VIP loans to key Congressional members, White House employees, Fannie Mae executives, and other high-ranking government officials and staffers.
Traditionally, Countrywide used its VIP Loan program to process loans for company executives and their friends, but a new report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform shows the program was also used to incentivize members of Congress, including former Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, Former Republican California Rep. Tom Campbell, New York Democrat Rep. Edolphus Towns and California Republican Rep. Elton Gallegly.
"Countrywide's VIP unit processed loans for key senators and Senate staff who could be helpful when legislation that affected the company was drafted or up for a vote," the report explains.
The report reveals Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo, along with a number of lobbyists, often connected members of the Senate Committee on Banking and the House Committee on Financial Services to the company's VIP program in California, which handled the company's favored clients. In some cases, the report says lawmakers and executives saved thousands of dollars on their loans through the program.
So while economists like Paul Krugman warned that serious consequences would be felt if nothing was done to constrain the insanity of the housing bubble, Congress went blithely along, ignoring all the warning signs and doing nothing.
Nothing but cashing in on sweetheart deals of their own, while the economy went down the toilet and impoverished millions of Americans.
by Kate Gordon
It’s been a hard couple of weeks for those who deny the existence of climate change. As storms rage on the East Coast, cutting out power to hundreds of thousands of consumers, and as wildfires threaten huge swaths of the Western states, new evidence has emerged that sea levels are steadily rising and will continue to — albeit more slowly — even if we take strong action to cut emissions.
With these facts at hand, it seems like folly to continue denying that the planet is warming and that we need to do something about it. You’d think the country would be running, not walking, toward a smart energy strategy — a new course that diversifies our energy base, reducing the impact of blackouts, and produces energy with far fewer carbon emissions so we’d at least begin to address the long-term impacts of climate change.
Unfortunately, as I wrote in my last blog post, many of our national politicians have yet to hear the call to action, even as their D.C.-area homes are battered by heat waves and thunderstorms.
But the fact that Congress is reluctant to curb climate change today doesn’t mean there’s nothing to learn from Washington when it comes to smart energy policy. Three years ago, Congress did move forward with an historic bill to cap carbon emissions, known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act, or ACES.
Those of you who follow the ins and outs of energy legislation know that ACES, which passed the House in an historic vote on June 26, 2009, failed to get traction in the Senate, and we haven’t seen an alternative climate bill in Congress since. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t lessons to be learned from the work that led to the final House vote.
Now that California is moving forward to implement its own historic climate bill, known as AB32, it’s the perfect time to look back to the lessons learned in 2009 and see how those might play out in California. Of particular importance in California is the question of how to spend the anticipated revenue from the program, which will be anywhere from $660 million to more than $3 billion in the 2012-13 budget cycle alone. For guidance, we need some idea of how the federal bill allocated revenues to different sectors of the economy, including consumers, carbon-intensive industries, and innovators.
With this in mind, I went to D.C. last week to meet privately with some of the critical negotiators on ACES from the political, advocacy, and business worlds. I wanted to get a sense of how those negotiations played out — what alliances were made, what surprised the negotiators, and what lessons could be gleaned for our work implementing AB32.
What ensued was a spirited discussion of the best way to use AB32 revenues to ensure implementation of the law that’s efficient, smart, equitable and effective. Here’s what I learned:
1. Energy Efficiency, Energy Efficiency, Energy Efficiency: One theme that echoed throughout the meeting was the need to spend as much revenue as possible on energy efficiency, to maximize greenhouse gas reductions, minimize impact on consumers and create the most positive benefits for consumers and industry. In particular, industrial efficiency — making industrial facilities, like manufacturing plants, more energy efficient — saves significant money and makes those industries more competitive in the long run.
2. Support Emerging Technology: After energy efficiency, participants were most focused on the need to spend some of the AB32 revenue on technology development — both early research and development and also deployment. There was a lot of discussion about the right kind of program to implement here, but everyone agreed that in California, in particular, it’s very important to support emerging clean tech industries.
3. Don’t Forget About Low-Income Consumers: A number of participants emphasized the critical importance of helping consumers with their energy bills. This is one area that’s harder in California than it was under ACES, because in California we’re constrained by the so-called “Sinclair Paint” test, which requires that the revenues must be spent on activities that directly advance the original purpose of the bill — in this case, lowering carbon emissions. One way to stay within the test but still provide targeted help to consumers might be to give vouchers for energy efficient appliances or vehicles. Whatever the mechanism, helping consumers is a critically important piece of the puzzle.
4. Keep it Local: Finally, there was a constant refrain in the room that funds should be spent as locally as possible, so Californians can see the benefits of the legislation in their communities.
I boarded my plane back to California with renewed excitement, that out here, we’re actually implementing an historic climate bill, not just talking about how to pass one. I’m also even more aware of just how important it is that we do it right — not just for Californians, but for everyone else who’s watching and waiting and counting on California to get it right.
Kate Gordon is Director of Advanced Energy and Sustainability at The Center for the Next Generation and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. This piece was originally published at the Huffington Post and was reprinted with permission.
The United Nations Human Rights Council yesterday for the first time backed the right to free expression on the internet. “This outcome is momentous for the Human Rights Council,” said U.S. ambassador Eileen Donahoe, adding, “It’s the first ever U.N. resolution affirming that human rights in the digital realm must be protected and promoted to the same extent and with the same commitment as human rights in the physical world.” China and Cuba joined the council’s consensus, despite the fact that authorities in both countries regularly limit internet freedom.