With the economy beginning to improve and the electorate showing no interest in the GOP war on contraception, tax cuts and the deficit are the only issues left for the GOP to fight on. Kos has a great run down of Washington punditry on the looming tax fight.
Unsurprisingly absent from the establishment account is the rather obvious fact that reducing taxes will reduce revenues, the same way tax cuts reduced revenues under Reagan and Bushes I and II, and that further tax cuts will only make the budget problem worse. This is only to be expected from people who seem believe that policies are like neckties: The candidate can change them as often as he likes as they serve no purpose other than decoration.
For an example of the establishment discourse on the budget, this piece by Candy Crowley at CNN is typical. We are told that the $50 billion raised by the Buffett rule will do little to balance the budget, but the fact that the GOP House proposal to lower the corporate tax by 20% would be a budget buster goes without mention.
The current fight over the Buffett rule is being seen as a preliminary skirmish to the real fight over extending the Bush tax cuts. There we can expect the GOP to stage a repeat of their earlier ultimatum: No extension of the tax cuts for the 99% unless the 1% get theirs. The GOP is the party of the 1% and for the 1%. The whole point of the Bush tax cuts was that they were a shell game in which the 1% would take enormous tax cuts, then return the budget to a massive deficit that could only be funded by stealing your pension and your Medicare.
And so we come to the hidden genius of the Buffett rule. With the Buffett rule in place, the Koch Brothers and Mitt Romneys of the world will be paying a tax rate of 30% on their income above $1 million no matter what is done to change the tax code for the not-so wealthy. The only way to deliver tax cuts for the Romney class would be to carve exceptions in the Buffett rule, and that would call the lie to the usual claim that tax cuts for Romney were really intended to help 'small businesses'.
The Buffett rule does not look like it will pass this year, but there is a very real chance that the Democrats might be able to pass something similar in the next Congress. They would first have to take back control of the US House, of course, but that is pretty much a precondition for anything constructive or worthwhile being achieved. Once passed, the Buffett rule would be very difficult to repeal.
This is not only a great pick for this award, it's also an education in our sometime-topic ? how to read the media.
First, the "great pick" ? this award goes to the Fred Hiatt for collecting the "world['s] greatest gaggle of wankers" ? the whole Washington Post editorial page (my emphasis):
Krauthammer. Broder. Hoagland. Kristol. Novak. Cohen. Lane. Cupp. Thiessen. Kurtz. Samuelson. Diehl. Kelly. Noonan. Will. Ignatius. Parker. Marcus. Milbank. Gerson.But do not miss this, students of media. Great catch by Atrios:
Some of these people are no longer with us, and I have no idea which ones Hiatt is really responsible for, but I'm a lazy blogger so I'll just throw them all in his column. Imagine assembling this collection of horrors, and being proud of it. ... It's an award for individual achievement in wanking, and an award for the highest achievement in group wanking. Congratulations, Fred!
Some years back I had a wee epiphany when I realized that, for the most part, we aren't supposed to to read the WaPo editorial page. It isn't actually for us. It's a means for certain elites to send messages to each other, a way for the "Gang Of 500" to take their battles public, to signal their interests and priorities. There are some exceptions to this, some columnists who write for readers, but for the most part it's simply a conversation by and for elites. ... On his page is where the Washington Consensus is defended daily, truth be damned.I've heard it said (by Sam Seder I think) that Morning Joe is not for you either; it's the first conversation the Beltway has with itself. Very nice epiphany, a tad more than "wee" in my humble etc.
I knew Florida state Rep Scott Randolph's name because he was Alan Grayson's campaign manager. Grayson told me "he was the mastermind behind our 2008 victory." But the last time-- before this week-- he was in the national spotlight was in March of 2011 when Republicans in the sate legislature were passing out the smelling salts when the intrepid Orlando defender of women's rights said this to the Republicans who control Florida's state government:
"We constantly talk about not putting more regulations out there, but yet again, when it comes to my wife's uterus-- more regulations. When it comes to my friends' bedrooms-- more regulations. When it comes to unions-- more regulations. Don't practice an ideology of convenience! ... Look into your heart and practice exactly what you preach."
House GOP spokeswoman Katie Betta: "The Speaker has been clear about his expectations for conduct on the House for during debate. At one point during the debate, he mentioned to the entire House that members of both parties needed to be mindful of decorum during debate.
"Additionally, the Speaker believes it is important for all Members to be mindful of and respectful to visitors and guests, particularly the young pages and messengers who are seated in the chamber during debates. In the past, if the debate is going to contain language that would be considered inappropriate for children and other guests, the Speaker will make an announcement in advance, asking children and others who may be uncomfortable with the subject matter to leave the floor and gallery."
How many house servants did "stay-at-home-mom" Ann Romney have to raise her kids. Just b/c u don't have job doesn't make u stay-at-home mom.
Wish my spouse had hundreds of millions in off shore accts gained by firing American workers so I could be "stay-at-home-dad".
Romney should release all his tax returns so that we can see how many nannies "stay at home mom" Ann had. Release ur taxes!!
Totally false that Ann Romney didn't have job--all those nannies, gardeners, cooks, drivers, in all those houses--If Mitt let her have say
Mitt Romney, however, judging by his January remark, views stay-at-home moms who are supported by federal assistance much differently than those backed by hundreds of millions in private equity income. Poor women, he said, shouldn't be given a choice, but instead should be required to work outside the home to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits. "[E]ven if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work," Romney said of moms on TANF.
Recalling his effort as governor to increase the amount of time women on welfare in Massachusetts were required to work, Romney noted that some had considered his proposal "heartless," but he argued that the women would be better off having "the dignity of work" -- a suggestion Ann Romney would likely take issue with.
"I wanted to increase the work requirement," said Romney. "I said, for instance, that even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, 'Well that's heartless.' And I said, 'No, no, I'm willing to spend more giving day care to allow those parents to go back to work. It'll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.'"
Regardless of its level of dignity, for Ann Romney, her work raising her children would not have fulfilled her work requirement had she been on TANF benefits. As HuffPost reported Thursday:As far as Uncle Sam is concerned, if you're poor, deciding to stay at home and rear your children is not an option. Thanks to welfare reform, recipients of federal benefits must prove to a caseworker that they have performed, over the course of a week, a certain number of hours of "work activity." That number changes from state to state, and each state has discretion as to how narrowly work is defined, but federal law lists 12 broad categories that are covered.
Raising children is not among them.
According to a 2006 Congressional Research Service report, the dozen activities that fulfill the work requirement are:
(1) unsubsidized employment
(2) subsidized private sector employment
(3) subsidized public sector employment
(4) work experience
(5) on-the-job training
(6) job search and job readiness assistance
(7) community services programs
(8) vocational educational training
(9) job skills training directly related to employment
(10) education directly related to employment (for those without a high school degree or equivalent)
(11) satisfactory attendance at a secondary school
(12) provision of child care to a participant of a community service program
The only child-care related activity on the list is the last one, which would allow someone to care for someone else's child if that person were off volunteering. But it does not apply to married couples in some states. Connecticut, for instance, specifically prevents counting as "work" an instance in which one parent watches a child while the other parent volunteers.
The federal government does at least implicitly acknowledge the value of child care, though not for married couples. According to a 2012 Urban Institute study, a single mother is required to work 30 hours a week, but the requirement drops to 20 hours if she has a child under 6. A married woman, such as Romney, would not be entitled to such a reduction in the requirement. If a married couple receives federally funded child care, the work requirement increases by 20 hours, from 35 hours to 55 hours between the two of them, another implicit acknowledgment of the value of stay-at-home work.
Romney's January view echoes a remark he made in 1994 during his failed Senate campaign. "This is a different world than it was in the 1960s when I was growing up, when you used to have Mom at home and Dad at work," Romney said, as shown in a video posted by BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski. "Now Mom and Dad both have to work whether they want to or not, and usually one of them has two jobs."
I've been on both sides of the Hilary Rosen affair for a very good reason ? there are two sides. Last time I wrote about Rosen the not-lobbyist and all that implies.
But I don't want to leave it there. I'm appalled at the "Don't Hurt Me" Dems and their need to sell out their own, even when their own are right. And on this issue, Hilary Rosen is right.
Here's Cenk Uygur making this point, after Wolf Blitzer did the Beltway deed and broderized Hilary Rosen, on camera and to her face.
Via Crooks and Liars; watch:
As Ana Kasparian says (at 2:00):
The Republicans always paint Democrats as being weak, and this is a perfect example of that.The run of Obama administration bus-tossings (sorry, apologies) is gathered into one cringe-making string at 1:15 in the clip. Amazing ? we're ruled by a party that fights and a party that says "Don't hurt me."
In a somewhat unexpected move today, the conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court denied expedited review to a pair of trail court decisions blocking that state’s Voter ID law, despite the fact that two courts of appeals asked the justices to take the cases right away. Although this decision says nothing about how the Wisconsin justices view the voter ID law, their decision not to fast track the case increases the likelihood that the fate of the state’s voter ID law will not be decided until after Gov. Scott Walker (R) faces a recall election on June 5th.
If there is no further action on Wisconsin voter ID until after the recall election, that will be a serious blow to Walker’s efforts to save his job. Voter ID laws disproportionately disenfranchise minorities, low-income voters, students and other groups that tend to vote for Democrats, and thus Wisconsin’s law will boost Walker and other Republicans within that state if it is allowed to go into effect. In March, however, one of the judges who ruled against the voter ID law also held that the law could not be enforced while it is on appeal. Thus, unless this order is reversed by a higher court, Walker will not benefit from voter ID’s disenfranchisement of left-leaning demographics.
Conservatives like to claim that same sex marriage endangers marriage, despite all evidence to the contrary. But a new experiment finds that opponents of marriage equality don’t actually believe that gay couples will harm their unions.
A study led by Eastern Kentucky University psychologist Matthew Winslow examined 120 undergraduate students, asking them how threatened they felt by marriage equality. Winslow’s examination focused on the “third-person perception,” a psychological effect where people believe that others are more influenced by outside sources like the media than they themselves are. Surveying 120 college students, Winslow did find that many of his subjects believed they – and their relationships – were less affected by those kinds of outside pressures than others’ were. While the students Winslow surveyed who supported same-sex marriage did experience this effect, it was more pronounced among opponents:
The group most likely to see itself as impervious and others as vulnerable was composed of people with a personality trait called right-wing authoritarianism. People with this trait strongly value tradition and authority, and dislike people not in their own social group.
Right-wing authoritarians’ perceptions of themselves as strong and others as weak might help explain this group’s strong opposition to gay marriage, Winslow said. But the study, published April 10 in the journal Social Psychology, also highlights that everybody judges themselves as a little bit better than the next guy.
“If everyone believes that other people are more affected than they are, that’s just not logical,” said Winslow, who suggested that focusing on putting yourself in others’ shoes might help banish this bias.
Winslow has a simple solution for marriage equality opponents: “If you believe you are not going to be affected by [same-sex marriage], just recognize that probably other people believe the same way, so the good news is that probably people aren’t going to be affected by it that much.”
The online organizing website Avaaz.org alerts readers that the Honduran authorities are considering a law that would mandate imprisonment of teenage women for using the so-called “morning-after” emergency contraceptive pill — as well as doctors who provide the medicine. An Avaaz petition said:
Honduras is just days away from approving an extremist law that would put teenagers in prison for using the morning-after pill, even if they’ve just been raped. …
Some Congress members agree that this law — which would also jail doctors or anyone who sells the pill — is excessive, but they are bowing to the powerful religious lobby that wrongly claims the morning-after pill constitutes an abortion. Only the head of the Congress, who wants to run for the Presidency and cares about his reputation abroad, can stop this.
Avaaz is asking Congress President Juan Orlando Hernández to “not to criminalize contraception”:
Your proposed law 54 would make Honduras the only country in the world to punish the use or sale of the morning-after pill with jail sentences of 3-10 years. We urge you to reject this extremist law and respect women’s rights, or risk condemnation both in Latin America and across the world
A ban on the morning-after pill was originally passed in 2009, at the behest of powerful religious lobby groups. That law was upheld by the Honduran Supreme Court that year. “The measures Avaaz outlines in its email would further toughen the law, extending it to teenagers and rape victims.” reported World News Australia.
The blogosphere in the U.S., among global health news outlets and progressive sites, lit up with outrage. “There is terrible legislation being considered in Honduras,” wrote Mark Leon Goldberg at Healthy Lives. Eric Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money compared the move to the GOP in America, noting that Honduras also has a prison overcrowding problem.
On Avaaz’s website, 601,710 people have signed the petition, as of publication.
Kickstarter, the company that allows entrepreneurs (often artists) to raise the funding they need to support their projects through small donations, has achieved a lot of positive press for the things it’s given life to, from the second season of Jane Espenson’s web series Husbands to Womanthology, the collection of comics by women. While it’s great to see donors embrace daring, progressive projects, it seems that Kickstarter may not have policies that match up to its promise.
Artist Rachel Marone reports that, after a project she created was spammed by her long-term cyberstalker and she let her other donors know what the spammer’s motivations were, Kickstarter suspended the project, and banned and then unbanned her on the grounds that the notification was a violation of Kickstarter rules. When Marone’s manager wrote in to the company to ask for an explanation, Kickstarter’s Daniella Jaeger wrote this less than charming response: “If there is any chance that Rachel will receive spam from a stalker on her project, she should not create one. We simply cannot allow a project to become a forum for rampant spam, as her past project became. If this happens again, we will need to discard the project and permanently suspend Rachel?s account.” Because clearly this is happening as a result of Rachel’s carelessness, or negligence, or lack of respect for the system.
One of the reasons that Kickstarter ought to be so special is that it offers people who have been excluded from conventional funding, whether because their projects aren’t the kind of thing that studios and networks are interested in airing because they’re too daring and unconventional a la Husbands, or because artists themselves have trouble cracking conventional funding sources. Stalking victims can, through no fault of their own, end up in the latter category. Stalkers harass their victims by contacting them directly, but they can also make life harder for them in general. Stalkers spread rumors about their victims. They contact their victim’s employers and try to discredit them, suggesting that their victims are crazy, unreliable, unprofessional, disloyal. If the stalker is more powerful than the victim, or more established, it can work. In an industry like entertainment, where employment is project-based rather than long-term, that kind of thing can be devastating.
Now, one of the risks of Kickstarter, of course, is that people will end up providing funding to unreliable donees or projects that aren’t actually viable. And providing a method of feedback for donors is important. But if Kickstarter’s brand is all about helping small donors fund worthy projects that major donors are dumb enough to miss out on, they should be concerned with making sure that their own system doesn’t replicate the pitfalls of conventional funders, and empower the same old abusable hierarchies.
Our guest blogger is Brad Johnson, campaign manager of Forecast the Facts
Countless lives were saved this weekend by vigilant government officials who warned of deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska — states whose politics are dominated by anti-government, anti-science ideologues. Over 100 tornadoes struck down in 24 hours, but only six people died in Oklahoma, Sen. Jim Inhofe’s home state, thanks to warnings from the National Weather Service scientists he has worked to discredit:
The tornadoes were unrelenting – more than 100 in 24 hours over a stretch of the Plains states. They tossed vehicles and ripped through homes. They drove families to their basements and whipped debris across small towns throughout the Midwest. In some areas, baseball-size hail rained from the sky.
And yet, in a stroke that some officials have attributed to a more vigilant and persistent warning system, relatively few people were killed or injured.
Wichita, Kansas, the headquarters of Koch Industries, suffered $280 million in damage from a ferocious twister, but the “ever-increasing government” demonized by the Koch brothers prevented any loss of life.
Greenhouse pollution from the fossil fuel industries that control the region’s politics is making our weather more extreme and dangerous. The heat trapped by carbon pollution is powering these earlier and more intense storms with record-warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico. As Dr. Jeff Masters wrote on Friday:
This is the warmest March value on record for the Gulf of Mexico, going back over a century of record keeping. During the first two weeks of April, Gulf of Mexico waters remained about 1.5°C above average, putting April on pace to have the warmest April water temperatures on record. Only one year in the past century has had April water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico more than 1.1°C above average; that year was 2002 (1.4°C above average.) All that record-warm water is capable of putting record amounts of water vapor into the air, since evaporation increases when water is warmer. Because moist air is less dense than dry air, this warm, moist air flowing northwards from the Gulf of Mexico into the developing storm system over the Plains will be highly unstable once it encounters cold, dry air aloft. The record-warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico are a key reason for the high risk of severe weather over the Plains this weekend.
Jonathan Chait asked the other Medicare actuary — Robert Reischauer — what he thought of Charles Blahous’ claim that the Affordable Care Act would add at least $340 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade. Reischauer didn’t have anything nice to say: “Under accepted CBO and OMB scoring practices, legislated reductions in Medicare HI spending both reduce the deficit and strengthen the HI trust fund. That has been the case under both D and R Congresses and administrations. Chuck?s ‘revelation’ is not a new charge. Some argued this point when the ACA was enacted. It remains as misleading today as it did earlier.” Interestingly, during an appearance on Washington Journal on Friday, Blahous admitted, ?I certainly didn?t do [the study] wearing my hat as a Trustee.? Instead, he developed the study for the Koch-funded Mercatus Center.