Before they can face Scott Walker in a recall election, Democrats in Wisconsin must battle each other -- with little time to prepare. [...]
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Durbin challenges Romney on entitlements: “Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Sunday that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has no plan to deal with the millions of seniors reaching retirement. “In terms of the role of government, 10,000 people reached the age of 65 today. And yesterday. And tomorrow. And for the next 18 years, these men and women who have paid into Medicare and Social Security are now reaching retirement,” Durbin said on NBC’s Meet the Press. [Politico]
Another health law faces court challenge: “Two weeks after fighting for the survival of its signature healthcare reform law before the Supreme Court, the Obama administration will be back in court Tuesday to defend another part of the president’s agenda to make Americans healthier.” [The Hill]
Arizona to expand health coverage to kids: “Nearly 22,000 poor kids in Arizona will gain health insurance coverage under a Medicaid deal the state has reached with the Obama administration, federal officials said Friday.” [Kaiser Health News]
Michigan health officials seek to create long-term care system for elderly: “The state of Michigan plans to seek federal approval this month to create a managed care system for elderly patients needing long-term medical care who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid insurance coverage.” [The Detroit News]
Patients urged to ask about cost of health care: “Most people have little idea what a doctor or lab will charge before they slip on a patient gown for an examination or roll up a shirtsleeve for a blood sample. But as the cost of health care continues to spiral, that is changing.” [Tuscan Citizen]
Welcome to Justiceline, ThinkProgress Justice?s morning round-up of the latest legal news and developments. Remember to follow us on Twitter at @TPJustice.
Want the scoop on hot races around the country? Get the digest emailed to you each weekday morning. Sign up here.Leading Off:
? ME-Sen, ME-01, ME-02: I can't do any better than David Jarman's brilliant headline about this new poll from the Maine People's Resource Center: "Angus King Begins March to Coronation." Of course, there's still seven months until election day?meaning King may yet face obstacles along his journey to the Senate?but Maine's independent former governor has a dominant 56-22 lead over Republican Secretary of State Charlie Summers, with Democrat Matt Dunlap (a former SoS) all the way back at 12. As an added bonus, the MPRC also tested the state's two House contests, and find both Dem Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud leading their respective races. There are many more numbers available at the link, including Senate primary results for both parties and our full analysis of the whole poll. There's just too much to summarize here, so I'd encourage you to click through.
For now, at least, there?s not going to be a voter ?protection? ballot measure on Missouri’s November 2012 ballot, and that?s good news for voters. But this is not a local story, and it’s far from over. It’s just the one that I live closest to. And it’s emblematic of what’s happening in many states. [...]Related posts:
Balkinization: Justice Department states soothing platitudes to a deeply troubled Fifth Circuit Judge.
Single Dad Laughing: A teen's brave response to "I'm Christian, unless you're gay."
Bob Cesca: Mike Wallace, 1918?2012.
Guest post by Batocchio. Email tips to mbru AT crooksandliars DOT com.
A variety of links to articles/interviews/speeches on current issues that may be of interest.[...]
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Visual source: Newseum
Doyle McManus says even the hawks aren't ready to fly yet on Syria, but they're headed in that direction:
The interventionist liberals of the Obama administration were a doleful bunch last week. It was the 20th anniversary of the siege of Sarajevo, when a Bosnian Serb army battered a city full of civilians with artillery while the United States issued ineffective cries of alarm. The comparison with this year's massacres in Syria was painfully apt.Eyal Press:
Now, as then, the United Nations Security Council has asked both sides to stop shooting, to no great effect. Now, as then, the United States and its allies are rejecting the idea of military intervention as too difficult, too risky, too likely to add to the violence instead of ending it.
In Bosnia, it took the United States more than three years and many massacres to decide that diplomatic measures and sanctions weren't enough.
In the two decades since [the shooting started in Sarajevo], attention has understandably focused on the deeds of the architects and perpetrators of the Balkan wars. Confronting the truth about how the violence was planned and orchestrated, many have argued, is an essential step in getting formerly warring factions to reckon honestly with their responsibility for what transpired.The New York Times:
But this point should apply no less to the conduct of those who behaved honorably during the war, daring to cross the lines of ethnic division that too many of their fellow citizens chose not to traverse.
As Friday?s jobless numbers showed, the economic recovery has been listless and fragile, but its upward trajectory has been clear enough that Republicans have been forced to acknowledge it. To avoid giving President Obama the slightest bit of credit for the improvement, however, they have come up with increasingly convoluted explanations that have little relationship to reality.Paul Krugman gives a huzzah to President Obama and a bullseye smackdown of alleged "centrists" who can't bring themselves to admit that Paul Ryan is a dangerous extremist, albeit a polite one.
Harold Meyerson believes the reasons erstwhile hedge-fund managers have abandoned Obama is because they don't think he understands how extraordinarily special they and their 15 percent tax rate is.
But there?s more to this anti-Obama animus than mere hedge-hoggery. What leaps out from the bankers? indictments of the president, even more than their affronted amour propre, is their insularity, their complete cluelessness about how their fellow Americans see them and their effect on the U.S. economy. Who besides Wall Street?s more benighted denizens is affronted by legal action against what looks to be securities fraud? Who besides the very rich and Republican political candidates thinks the very rich don?t have enough political clout? Who believes that making Warren Buffett pay taxes at rates as high as his secretary?s constitutes defecating on the rich? (Buffett certainly doesn?t.)E.J. Dionne Jr:
As for class warfare?no one has waged it with the skill and relentlessness of Wall Street.
Perhaps conservative pundits couldn?t stand the fact that Obama called them out explicitly. ?I?d just remind conservative commentators,? he said, ?that for years what we?ve heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint ? that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well, this is a good example.? Yes, it is.Ed Quillen:
Of relevance here is the Deep South. There, little has changed in four centuries, even if its oligarchs are now Republicans instead of Democrats. They want "a compliant, poorly educated, low-wage workforce with as few labor, workplace safety, health care, and environmental regulations as possible."Criminitly, Peggy Noonan's soft-nosed diatribe puts her in the running for at least the silver medallion in the contest for world's worst case of upsidedownism.
One thing has changed, though. For 250 years they lived in mortal fear of a slave revolt. These days, they don't need armed patrols. If high unemployment doesn't keep Americans from getting uppity, the oligarchs can always hire some lackey to go on TV and prattle about "values."
Dr. Kevin DeJesus, Kmareka’s Mideast policy expert, sends this post on the relationship between profits for corporations and austerity for the rest of us...
Indeed no one intellectually, politically, or humanistically
interested in the Middle East, nor in the situation of common
Americans who struggle to keep out of the recession’s manifold black
holes, while simultaneously caring for kin who are both young and
aging, can elide questions concerning the role of big oil in the
making of war and economic morass. Nowhere is this connection clearer
than in the current soar in gas prices consumers are dealing with
across the globe. Big Oil’s field day on the American pocketbook must
come to an end, while our need for far more nuanced energy policies
and practices, as well as for continually more sophisticated policy
approaches to the Middle East increases exponentially day by day.
One means by which common America can begin to reclaim its political
power, while contribute to re-structuring our economic landscape is to
contact your US Senator, no matter where you are located across this
vast union, and tell them you expect their support of US Senator
Patrick Leahy’s (D-Vermont) efforts to pass S.2204, the “Repeal Big
Oil Tax Subsidies Act.” Simply state, you need money for medical
co-pays, and by reducing Big Oil’s grab at the pump vis-a-vis this
legislation, average Americans can begin to meet day to day expenses
more easily. Gratefully, both Senator Reed and Senator Whitehouse are
strong supporters of this legislation. You can also email your Senator
using the Open Congress Website, here.
Remember, those with hands in Big Oil’s pockets will indeed be
contacting legislators. Those tightly grasping pen and checkbook with
fear and dread may yet to realize how much power they have. It’s time
to use it!
Here is Senator Leahy’s recent statement on this legislation:
Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act
Statement As Prepared For Delivery
March 28, 2012
Mr. President, it is long past time to close the wasteful tax
loopholes for Big Oil. Over the past 10 years, the five biggest
private sector oil companies — BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and
ConocoPhillips — have amassed combined profits of almost $1 trillion.
Last year was no different. Due to skyrocketing prices for oil,
these same five corporations raked in a record-breaking $137 billion
in profits. Despite this massive windfall, Big Oil continued to
receive billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies ? subsidies that are
unnecessary and, in my opinion, unconscionable. The Repeal Big Oil
Tax Subsidies Act will eliminate these harmful subsidies and level the
playing field for all Americans.
Big Oil does not need these big tax breaks, and the prices they set
for consumers at the pump suggest that they don?t appreciate them. As
of March 22, the national average price of regular gasoline is over
$3.88 per gallon ? up almost $0.34 from a year ago. I need look no
further than the prices at the pump in Vermont, where the average
price for a gallon of gasoline is $3.85 ? up approximately $0.30 from
the average price in March 2011. This price increase is especially
burdensome in rural states like Vermont, where people must often rely
on cars to get around, and heating fuel is a life-or-death necessity
in the winter. For every penny that the price of gasoline increases,
big oil companies make an additional $200 million per quarter.
In spite of their ever-increasing profits and unneeded subsidies, the
five major oil companies have done absolutely nothing to bring down
prices for average consumers. Instead, they have padded their own
pockets, using the vast majority of their net profits to pay
exorbitant dividends, repurchase stock, lobby government officials,
and buy radio and newspaper advertising to fight this bill. These
actions benefit elite oil company executives and the companies?
largest stockholders, but do nothing whatsoever to ease the pain of
hardworking Americans who trying to commute to their jobs every day or
heat their homes during the long winter months.
This bill will halt the transfer of money from hardworking middle
class families to oil company fat cats by ending more than $2 billion
in annual tax breaks. It is a watershed moment for both energy policy
and deficit reduction, and I support it whole heartedly. Eliminating
these wasteful tax breaks that benefit a few, undeserving companies
will allow us to reinvest in clean energy technologies that will
benefit everyone. These investments will improve our national
security by making the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil. They will
also strengthen our economy and create new green jobs for the large
number of Americans who are currently out of work and facing hard
Specifically, the Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act would renew
incentives for clean energy technologies and put America on the path
to energy independence. In order to break free from our unhealthy
addiction to oil, we must choose the President?s ?all-of-the-above?
energy strategy which will grow clean energy industries, including
alternative fuel vehicles, advanced manufacturing, biofuels, and
solar, to name just a few. Savings from repealing these tax subsidies
for Big Oil will help continue important incentives for alternatives
to oil and usher in a bright new future of energy independence.
In addition to the benefits that we will receive from investing in
clean energy technology, the remaining savings from this bill will be
dedicated to reducing the national deficit, a goal shared by both
Democrats and, supposedly, Republicans. Time and again we have heard
seemingly impassioned rhetoric from Republicans about the need to
balance the budget and reign in spending. And yet, when given the
chance to end more than $2 billion per year in unnecessary tax breaks,
Republicans have stood with Big Oil. Instead of standing with Big
Oil, we need to stand up to Big Oil.
For years, Republicans have opposed efforts to end taxpayer subsidies
to the major oil companies. However, lavishing these giant
corporations with incentives they do not need merely deepens our
deficit and takes money out of the pockets of hard working families,
money which could be spent growing the economy and hastening our
recovery. The Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act is precisely the
action we should take to ensure that oil companies pay their fair
share to help lower the deficit, just as working class taxpayers do.
It is important to note that cutting these subsidies will not result
in less oil production or an increase in prices. Expert analysis has
revealed that it costs the big five oil companies only about $11.00 to
produce a single barrel of oil. This amount is dwarfed by the current
price of a barrel of oil, which has consistently hovered around $110
per barrel. At today?s prices, oil companies regularly earn $100 in
pure profit from each barrel of oil that they sell. In fact, the
former Chief Executive Officer of Shell Oil Company, John Hofmeister,
has admitted that, in his point of view, high oil prices made
subsidies unnecessary. Therefore, it is highly improbable that a
small change in tax subsidies would reduce their output. Furthermore,
because oil is a global commodity, any incremental change in
production that might result from changing oil subsidies in the United
States will likely have no impact on world oil prices and, therefore,
no impact on the price of oil.
The Senate should also go one step further and once again pass the No
Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act (NOPEC), which I have filed as
an amendment to today?s bill, along with Senator Kohl and others. We
must do everything we can to ensure that oil prices are not
artificially inflated, driving up gas prices at the pump. Our NOPEC
amendment will hold accountable those who engage in collusive behavior
that artificially reduces supply and increases the price of fuel by
allowing the Justice Department to crack down on illegal price
manipulation by oil cartels. This illegal manipulation affects us
all. As long as OPEC?s actions remain sheltered from antitrust
enforcement, OPEC?s member-governments will continue to have the
ability to wreak havoc on the American economy and their destructive
power will remain unchecked.
The benefits of the Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act should be obvious
to all Senators. An overwhelming majority of the Americans, 66
percent, have said that repealing tax subsidies for Big Oil is an
acceptable way to help reduce the deficit. I would go further. Not
only is this an acceptable way to reduce the deficit, but in these
lean times when so many are struggling to make ends meet, it is an
essential way to bring the budget back in line. It is time to end Big
Oil?s free ride at the expense of taxpayers.
Going forward, our focus should be on 21st Century clean energy that
powers a jobs boom and fuels our economy. If these tax breaks were
ever justified, that day has long passed. The Repeal Big Oil Tax
Subsidies Act will end the unjustified federal subsidies for the
biggest oil companies that are enjoying record profits at the expense
of working families. It will propel us into the future by investing
the savings in clean energy technologies and reducing the federal
Senators must make a choice: stand with the American people and stand
up to Big Oil or continue business as usual? I think the choice is
clear, and strongly support this bill.
Kevin M. DeJesus, PhD
It's not much of a surprise that Assad is a liar and will continue the bloodshed in Syria. The only surprise is that anyone believed Assad would live up to his word. The Guardian:
Hopes for a peaceful end to the Syrian crisis were fading rapidly on Sunday after President Bashar al-Assad refused to meet Tuesday's deadline for withdrawing his forces from flashpoints across the country without guarantees from the opposition to stop fighting first.
Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general, had called for a pullout to be completed by Tuesday morning with a ceasefire taking effect 48 hours later as the first stage in a six-point international plan for political negotiations between the Assad regime and its opponents.
Amid evidence of continuing government operations, Syria's foreign ministry said it was demanding written guarantees that "armed terrorist groups" would lay down their weapons.