Mitt Romney started the primary campaign by suggesting that federal arts funding should be cut in half. Now, in an interview with Fortune Magazine, he’s gone a step further, and has said that as president, he would entirely eliminate the subsidies for PBS, and for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. That shift in his position might be more devastating to the people who benefit from those subsidies, both as employees and as audiences for the work supported by them. But it’s a move that, rather than clarifying Romney’s views on the proper scope of government, move him deeper into a dodge that reveals the fundamental unseriousness of beating up on the arts.
Talking about cutting arts funding is a diversionary tactic, both in terms of the amount of money that would actually be saved by doing so, and in terms of a philosophical discussion about what the proper funding of government is. The arts are an easy thing to toss to the crowd because you can cherry-pick an example of something that was funded by the NEA or NEH that will sound silly to someone, even if it has tremendous value in terms of preserving folklife traditions or ensuring access to arts and culture to rural communities. Arts funding is a way at getting at an interesting question. Should the government perform functions only that we believe shouldn’t be allowed to be controlled by private interests, like control, regulation, and deployment of the armed forces? Or should it step into voids left by private enterprise and personal charity when there are important functions that don’t appear to be supported by the market? That’s a real conversation, and scapegoating arts funding is a way of avoiding it.
And the profound unseriousness of going after spending by targeting programs with small budgets and without constituencies that are perceived to be powerful (or as is the case with Amtrak, something else Romney has proposed cutting funding for, with constituencies it’s politically valuable to rope-a-dope with) is really something that Republican politicians should be held accountable for. There are a lot of conservatives who enjoy the credit for talking about shrinking government but don’t actually want to be held responsible for taking things away from people, and the arts are a convenient space for them to stake that particular ground. It would be awfully nice if Paul Ryan’s addition to the Republican ticket forced Romney out of that space and into an honest debate about what shrinking government would mean. But it strikes me as more likely that Ryan will get pulled into this sliver of territory that lets conservatives talk and talk about spending, without actually having something meaningful, and difficult, to say.
When it comes to getting borrowers through foreclosure prevention programs, Bank of America has lagged the other large mortgage servicers in the country for years. Initially, the bank blamed its borrowers for the lack of success, before eventually acknowledging that its mortgage modification processes are wholly inadequate.
According to a report today in Bloomberg News, things still haven’t changed:
Bank of America Corp., plagued by complaints about customer service in its mortgage unit, said it hasn?t yet refinanced a ?significant number? of loans as part of the industry?s $25 billion settlement of foreclosure abuses.
The lender blamed the ?time required to underwrite? loans for why it hasn?t completed many of its planned $1 billion in modifications, according to a filing earlier this month. By contrast, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) said last week it has already finished a ?significant portion? of its $500 million program and Wells Fargo (WFC) & Co. said it expected to complete its $900 million requirement two years ahead of the 2015 deadline.
Under the terms of the $25 billion foreclosure fraud settlement that the nation’s five biggest banks cut with a coalition of attorneys generals and the federal government, the banks are required to provide a certain amount of relief to struggling homeowners. So far, Bank of America has failed to keep up.
Bank of America has managed to produce some spectacular messes when it comes to foreclosures, including foreclosing on a homeowner over an 80 cent typo. The bank also foreclosed on a home that no longer exists, incorrectly repossessed a pet parrot, and foreclosed on an elderly couple for paying their mortgage too early.
Meanwhile, one whistleblower alleged that the bank intentionally blocked homeowners from getting federal mortgage aid. But, remember, the bank will give you a modification if you promise to erase the mean things you said about it on Twitter.
During last March’s primary to select candidates for Alabama’s next chief justice, both major parties embarrassed themselves. Disgraced former Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was removed from office for defying a court order to remove an unconstitutional Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building in 2003, defeated incumbent Chief Justice Chuck Malone to receive the Republican Party’s nomination. Meanwhile, Alabama Democrats nominated Harry Lyon, a perennial candidate who called for “public execution” of undocumented immigrants, and who was once shot in the neck after a neighbor caught Lyons pouring chocolate syrup on the neighbor?s car.
In the wake of several hateful anti-gay statements Lyons wrote on his Facebook page, the state’s Democrats are now trying to disqualify him as their candidate:
The Alabama Democratic Party plans a hearing in Birmingham on Friday to discuss the possible disqualification of Harry Lyon, currently the party?s candidate for Chief Justice, and Lyon said he believes the party will drop him from the ballot.
The body of evidence submitted in the show-cause letter includes inflammatory comments made about gays on his Facebook page, but Bradley Davidson, executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party, said Monday evening that the move was chiefly because of incidents that indicate ?a lack of self-control and bizarre behavior.? . . .
In comments made on Facebook, Lyon called homosexuals and those who support same-sex marriage ?an abomination of God.?
In another statement, Lyon said that ?only sick and perverted persons believe in homosexuality or lesbianism, though there are a lot of them.? In another instance, Lyon, using a derogatory term for gays, asked those who believe in homosexuality to ?delist? him.
Republican candidate Roy Moore has made similarly bigoted comments. In one 2002 opinion, then Chief Justice Moore even suggested that gay people should be executed. According to Moore, “[t]o disfavor practicing homosexuals in custody matters is not invidious discrimination, nor is it legislating personal morality. . . . The State carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution. It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this lifestyle, to not encourage a criminal lifestyle.”
And by jury, I mean the candy ass prosecutors at the Department of Justice, who have made an in-house decision that it?s just too hard to indict anyone at MF Global, including friend of Barack Jon Corzine, for stealing billions of customer dollars. It?s[...]
Read The Full Article:
The Energy Report: David, investors need to see big potential returns before they’re prepared to shoulder jurisdictional risk. How do you recognize a quality story outside of the typical North American investor’s comfort zone?. . . → Read More: Who’s Afraid of Middle East Oil? Not David Popowich
Our regular featured content-On This Day In History August 16 by TheMomCatPunting the Pundits by TheMomCatThese featured articles-Denial by ek hornbeckHow to Kill Grandma and Grandpa Faster; or, Paul Ryan's Gonads by TheMomCatHonest Questions All[...]
Read The Full Article:
This guy is not going to hold a vote on raising the minimum wage.About 28 million people will see their pay go up whenever Congress gets around to raising the minimum wage to $9.80. (Which is to say, not a minute before Democrats retake Congress.) But who are those people? According to the Economic Policy Institute's Doug Hall and David Cooper:
- Women would be disproportionately affected, comprising nearly 55 percent of those who would benefit.
- Nearly 88 percent of workers who would benefit are at least 20 years old.
- Although workers of all races and ethnicities would benefit from the increase, non-Hispanic white workers comprise the largest share (about 56 percent) of those who would be affected.
- About 42 percent of affected workers have at least some college education.
- Around 54 percent of affected workers work full time, over 70 percent are in families with incomes of less than $60,000, more than a quarter are parents, and over a third are married.
- The average affected worker earns about half of his or her family?s total income.
There are a lot of reasons to want Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker Pelosi again, but this kind of basic, bread-and-butter issue has to be high on the list. Having a full-time job should put you above the poverty level, but unless you are supporting only yourself, the minimum wage does not do that. And Speaker Pelosi is the only way to change this situation, since despite the widespread popularity and economic benefit of increasing the minimum wage, Republican politicians range from just not giving a damn about the livelihood of millions of working poor people to being actively hostile to the idea of making work pay enough to live on. Many Republican politicians don't even know what the current minimum wage is?but they know they don't want to raise it.
Hey, Virginians! Do you want a senator who's signed a pledge to protect special interest tax giveaways for multinational corporations that are already massively profitable? Well then let the Majority PAC & League of Conservation Voters tell you about George Allen:
video details and more
Read The Full Article:
Mitt Romney showed a little leg on the question of his tax returns today, responding to reporters by saying that he has never paid less than 13% in taxes.[...]
Read The Full Article: