Long ago, after a particularly nasty legislative maneuver, I asked a political boss, ?Does your mother know what you do for a living?? He tapped my elbow and smiled. ?Politics, kid,? he explained.
Paul Ryan?s mother not only knows but helps him do it. At her Florida retirement village, she is his prop as the VP wannabe who wants to gut the program tells a crowd, ??Medicare was there for our family, for my grandma, when we needed it then, and Medicare is there for my mom while she needs that now, and we need to keep that guaranteed.?
His whopper comes in the face of a New York Times editorial charging that Romney and Ryan have ?twisted themselves into knots to distance themselves from previous positions, so that voters can no longer believe anything they say. Last week, both insisted that they would save Medicare by pumping a huge amount of money into the program, a bizarre turnaround for supposed fiscal conservatives out to rein in federal spending.
?The likelihood that they would stand by that irresponsible pledge after the election is close to zero.?
Romney and Ryan would give retirees vouchers to buy a private plan or current Medicare. Sounds good, but then Medicare would be left with the sickest patients, driving up premiums and making it unaffordable?-a version of the old saw about freedom of housing, that the poor have a choice of hotel rooms or sleeping under bridges.
The Times editorial generously concludes that ?the choice is between a Democratic approach that wants to retain Medicare as a guaranteed set of benefits with the government paying its share of the costs even if costs rise, and a Republican approach that wants to limit the government?s spending to a defined level, relying on untested market forces to drive down insurance costs.?
Perhaps, but old people would be well-advised to get out blankets and prepare to sleep under bridges. Needless to say, Paul Ryan?s mother won?t be one of them.
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“Congressman could indirectly gain from plan to keep oil, gas tax breaks,” reads the headline in today’s print Washington Post. Online, that’s been watered down to “Ryan family companies hold stakes in energy business interests.” Climate Progress reported this story back in June 2011 after Ryan first introduced his radical, self-serving plan.
Paul Ryan?s budget, which means austerity for most Americans, turns out to mean prosperity for Ryan and his family.
That budget, which the GOP-led House adopted as its blueprint, slashes funding for everyone from seniors to the disabled to students while preserving $45 billion in tax breaks and subsidies for Big Oil over the next 10 years, as has been widely reported.
But what we have only just learned from Ryan?s financial disclosure forms for Congress (here) that were made public this week is ?he and his wife, Janna, own stakes in four family companies that lease land in Texas and Oklahoma to the very energy companies that benefit from the tax subsidies in Ryan?s budget plan,? as The Daily Beast reported today.
Ryan?s father-in-law, Daniel Little, who runs the companies, told Newsweek and The Daily Beast that the family companies are currently leasing the land for mining and drilling to energy giants such as Chesapeake Energy, Devon, and XTO Energy, a recently acquired subsidiary of ExxonMobil.
These energy giants stand to profit directly from the $45 billion in subsidies and tax breaks. How cozy!
When asked about the blatant conflict of interest, Ryan?s spokesperson offered up the newly-popular ?wife? defense:
Ryan?s office says the congressman wasn?t thinking about himself or the oil companies that lease his land when he drafted the budget blueprint that extended the energy tax breaks. ?These are properties that Congressman Ryan married into,? spokesman Kevin Seifert said. ?It?s not something he has a lot of control over.?
Seriously. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said his wife vetoed his presidential run. Now Ryan?s office says he has no control over his ethics where family is concerned. Apparently nobody ever explained to him what conflict of interest means.
?Sure, senior citizens should have to pay more for health care, but landholders like [Ryan] who lease property to big oil companies, well, their government subsidies must be protected at all costs,? says Melanie Sloan, the director of the nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. ?It smacks of hypocrisy.?
In fact, if Ryan had actually cared about the deficit, he would have stripped these subsidies from his budget. Back in 2005, President George W. Bush, a former oilman, explained that the profit potential in the oil industry drives exploration, not the subsidies: ?With $55 oil we don?t need incentives to the oil and gas companies to explore. There are plenty of incentives.? Oil prices are hovering around $100 a barrel today.
So Ryan married into four investments whose asset value is between $265,000 and $650,000. His family?s income last year from those investments was between $36,000 and $117,000. Talk about your nest egg.
Presumably he wasn?t thinking about those investments when he voted repeatedly this year to protect Big Oil subsidies.
Finally, no doubt it is also just a coincidence that the House Budget Committee Chairman slashed funding for the major competitors to Big Oil, eliminating billions of dollars in investments in clean energy technologies.
We can be certain that Ryan wasn?t thinking about himself or the oil companies that lease his land when he made that choice. He never does that kind of thinking at all.
You knew there had to be one. When you've got the worst candidate on the planet running for President, there's only one thing left to do. Pull out the corporate mudslingers and start tossing it all over the place.
On Friday's edition of Hardball, Michael Smerconish hosted non-partisan spokesman for OpSec -- Gabriel Gomez, and Jon Soltz from VoteVets for a discussion of the OpSec Swiftboat effort.
It's interesting to hear Soltz disclose that he voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and donated to his campaign, but represents an organization of 220,000 veterans who are Republicans, Independents, and Democrats, but nary a peep from Mr. Gomez about his associations.
So be enlightened. Gabriel Gomez is a principal of Advent International, a Boston-based private equity group. All of these equity firms are intertwined with each other through various deals, but Advent and Bain trumpeted their joint acquisition of RBS WorldPay in 2010. One of the participating members of the deal was Sankaty Advisors, the offspring of Sankaty High Yield Capital and other Sankaty entities which have Mitt Romney's brand stamped all over them.
Gomez sort of forgot to tell that part of the story while he was busy being earnest about how much he resents the President not taking all the glory for the capture and killing of Bin Laden. But he should have.
What is poverty? According to the federal government poverty for a family of four is $23,050 a year. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, which, if you work a 40-hour week, 52 weeks a year, you would earn $15,080 a year. The average rent cost in the United States is $808 (PDF) a month or $9,696 a year. If you use the thriftiest numbers provided by the USDA (I am assuming this is not a healthy diet) groceries for a family of four averages between $507 and $582 (PDF) a month depending on the age of the children. That is $6,084 to $6,984 a year. Food and lodging for this family of four costs between $15,780 and $16,680 a year. I have not even gotten to childcare costs yet, which for a child who is around four years old ranges $3,900 to $15,540 a year (PDF) a year. There is help for this family of four though, the average amount of SNAP benefits available to a family of four? $496 a month, not enough to pay for all of their groceries, however, it is enough to prevent starvation. Even with SNAP benefits it is obvious that in the family of four only one of the adults can work, as the other has to stay home with the children. I cannot imagine how a single parent at this level of income could keep it together let alone get out of poverty.
Federal Poverty Levels 2012Those are the numbers that define poverty in America; however, the definition of poverty goes much further than those numbers. The American Heritage dictionary defines poverty as, ?the state of being poor; lack of the means of providing material needs or comforts.?
Let that soak in for a minute, ?lack of the means of providing material needs or comforts.? Things like food, shelter, and stability. You cannot get sick, you cannot take a day off to go to the doctor, you cannot afford to go to the doctor at all. If the price of food goes up you have to take away from some other part of your budget. But what takes the hit? Is your landlord going to allow you to pay less rent? How do you buy school supplies? How do you get to and from work? None of the figures above include transportation.
Imagine living in a world where you don't know if you have enough money for your next meal, going without food so that your children may eat. Worrying about scraping together enough money to take your child to the doctor for things that most of us take for granted like immunizations. The feelings of inadequacy when your child wants nothing more than a candy bar and you cannot afford it. How grateful you feel when a stranger hands you a dollar bill to buy that candy bar and how miserable it makes you feel inside that you must depend on the kindness of strangers for such small pleasures in life. How hard birthdays and Christmases are when you cannot afford to purchase even the smallest of gifts (especially in our consumer-driven society).
According to conservative mouthpieces if you have a color TV and a refrigerator you are not poor, and several of the memes that exist today say that if you have a newer car and a cell phone you are not poor, discounting that you may have purchased that newer car or cell phone before you lost your job and lost your home. That you need to be drug tested before you can receive any kind of benefits. The poor are second-class citizens who cannot be trusted with the meager benefits that are provided to them. They should, ?just get a job,? and ?pull themselves up by their bootstraps.? Great advice; however, if you are making minimum wage, you don?t have bootstraps to pull up.
The same people who refuse to help the poor because they are, ?lazy and shiftless,? have no problem giving a tax break, that is larger than what someone making minimum wage earns in a year, to someone who makes their money through investments, in other words, a tax break to someone who has never worked a day in their lives. Only because they have a higher social status they deserve what amounts to a government handout in the form of a tax break, while someone working for minimum wage every single day does not deserve a hand up.
While I am not a religious man I find it hypocritical that the people who claim to follow Christianity do not follow some of its core teachings. When my mom forced me to go to conformation classes at Bashford United Methodist Church in my youth I primarily went through the motions just to make her happy; however, one quote that Rev. Rick Pearson taught me has stuck with me all these years, "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth - 1 John 3:17-18."
Aided and abetted by activist judges with grudges, America?s right wing has made it easier for corporations and harder for actual humans to influence elections. Let that sink in.Corporations are people, the Right says, while actual people are in the way.[...]
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Mitt Romney could win. Don't believe it?
Well, you're not alone. Most people don't understand that the GOP has an incredibly upsetting plan in place to put Mitt Romney in the White House?a plan that, frankly, is working.
This video spells it out for you?a three pronged GOP strategy that includes a little-known, shocking, and racist strategy designed to help Romney win. Watching and sharing it might be the most important thing you do to defeat Romney in this election.
Please click here, watch "REVEALED: The GOP Strategy", and share this with your family and friends.
If we understand what we're fighting against, we CAN mobilize and fight back. People power works?MoveOn members have proven it time and time again.
Please watch this video and get in the game by sharing it with your Facebook and social networks.
Thank you for all you do.
?Justin, Mark, Victoria, Tate, and the rest of the team
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Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says that Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama are "dividing this country" by playing the race card and using words like "y'all."
CNN host Jim Acosta on Sunday asked if it was fair for Romney to complain about the tone of the campaign when he had run negative ads during the primary that called Santorum a "lightweight" and suggested that the former Pennsylvania senator was not "ready to be president."
"I think what he's talking about is the tone of the Obama campaign, which is divisive," Santorum explained. "To go out and do what [Obama's] doing and divide this country, and he is, and it's class warfare at its worst."
"And then you saw Vice President Biden play the race card in Virginia," the former candidate added, referring to Biden's assertion a group, which included many African Americans, that Romney's pro-Wall Street policies would "put y'all back in chains."
"Y'all?" Santorum exclaimed. "Y'all is y'all. And in a group -- you know, I've been in groups like that and, you know, it's very easy when you're in a group of people that, you know, when you're in the South, when you're up in different areas of the country with different groups of people, you develop an affinity with the groups you're speaking in front of. That's what Vice President [Biden] was doing. He was trying to develop that affinity. And he did so in a very horrendous way, and he should apologize for it."
"But it is exactly the tone of this campaign. Gov. Romney is like any other candidate: 'You want to go after my record, you want to go after things I've said and done, fine.' That's not the complaint of the Romney campaign. The complaint of the Romney campaign -- the legitimate complaint is that President Obama is trying to divide this country to win this election."
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s recent decision to prohibit early voting on nights and weekends in all districts has many concerned about the effect on voter turnout in the state, particularly among low-income and minority communities. But one Republican Party chairman is content to suppress votes among this vulnerable demographic. Doug Preisse, chairman of the Republican Party in Franklin County, which contains the city of Columbus, admitted in an email to the Columbus Dispatch that black voters would now have a more difficult time voting:
I guess I really actually feel we shouldn?t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban ? read African-American ? voter-turnout machine. Let?s be fair and reasonable.
Preisse was one of the board of elections members who blocked Democratic efforts in Franklin County to expand voting hours to evenings and weekends. According to the Dispatch, he called claims of unfairness “bullshit. Quote me!”
Preisse also served on Newt Gingrich’s leadership team in Ohio during the primary and is a top political consultant to Ohio governor John Kasich (R).
In 2008, 82 percent of early voters in Franklin County voted on nights or weekends. The Secretary of State has defended the move to cut hours across the state by pointing to his initiative sending absentee ballots to every registered voter. But according to a study by Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates, black voters and Democrats prefer to cast their ballots in person, with 13.3 percent of black Ohioans casting early ballots in 2008 compared to just 8 percent of white voters.
Secretary of State Husted most recently suspended two Democratic members of the Montgomery County Election Board for voting to allow weekend voting in spite of the directive to restrict hours.
Fewer than three in five American workers receive paid leave from their employers, and workers with higher incomes and more education are more likely to receive paid time off than other workers, according to a new study from the Dept. of Labor. While 59 percent of workers overall have paid leave, only 35 percent of workers with a high school diploma do. That number rises to 72 percent for workers with a bachelor’s degree. Meanwhile, 83 percent of workers who earn more than $1,230 a week receive paid time off compared with just 50 percent of those who make less than $540.
Country star Hank Williams Jr. called President Obama a Muslim who “hates” America during a concert at the Iowa State Fair Grandstand on Friday, eliciting enthusiastic cheers and applause from the audience. The comments came after Williams played “We Don’t Apologize For America”: “We?ve got a Muslim president who hates farming, hates the military, hates the US and we hate him,? he said. In 2011, Williams sparked controversy for comparing Obama to Hitler and describing him as “the enemy.”