The Wall Street Journal, using data from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, has created a special calculator that lets you find out where you stand in America’s income scale. The calculator asks you for your household income and then will rank you according to what percentage of Americans you are richer than. For example, someone with a $45,000 income is ranked at 52 percent.
Freshman Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) told a town hall gathering Monday that ?the whole purpose” of the meeting “is to hear from you.? But apparently Herrera Beutler isn’t interested in hearing from everyone.
The congresswoman’s Communications Director Casey Bowman called the Centralia Chronicle Friday to ask them not to publish a notice of the town hall, out of fear that people would come and say “whatever?s on their minds,” the paper reports:
The Chronicle refused [Bowman's] request and published an announcement in Saturday?s paper.
The reason for not publishing an advance notice of the meeting was the fear that people from outside the immediate area could come and ?just yell? at the congresswoman ?whatever?s on their minds,? Bowman said Friday.
?When word gets in the paper, you get a certain set of people,? Bowman said.
Bowman later said that while the office doesn’t “screen” invitees, it does select people to invite via telephone, rather than mass media, calling everyone in “a certain ZIP code.” At least one couple felt slighted after having called the congresswoman’s Washington office and being told there were no town halls scheduled.
The last time Herrera Beutler held an open town hall in May, she was confronted by attendees who asked “hostile questions” about the House GOP budget, which would have effectively eliminated Medicare.
A number of Republican lawmakers have used techniques to avoid facing constituents with tough questions, including banning cameras, charging fees, holding meetings in remote locations, or even threatening to kick out constituents.
Recently, a string of cities and states have passed new ordinances that would require paid sick days for employees at certain employers. Just last week, Philadelphia’s city council passed a second version of a paid sick leave bill after the mayor vetoed the earlier one. Earlier this year, Seattle approved paid sick days legislation, while Connecticut became the first state with a state-wide requirement.
Now, the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch has published an expose of how the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — a corporate front group that farms out legislation to almost a third of state legislators nationwide — is drafting legislation on behalf of its wealthy conglomerate funders to repeal these ordinances.
PR Watch obtained documents from ALEC’s 2011 Annual Meeting showing that one of the group’s committees — the Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee of the Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force — focused its entire meeting on the issue of paid sick leave. Task force members, who are legislators, were given copies of a bill that enables state legislatures to override municipal paid sick days laws. The same bill was used in Wisconsin to override Milwaukee’s paid sick days requirement.
PR Watch notes that ALEC’s Labor and Business Regulation subcommittee is co-chaired by a company that owns many of the nation’s fast food companies, major opponents of paid sick leave:
Meeting attendees were given complete copies of Wisconsin’s 2011 Senate Bill 23 (now Wisconsin Act 16), as a model for state override. They were also handed a target list and map of state and local paid sick leave policies prepared by ALEC member, the National Restaurant Association. In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association lobbied for SB 23 to repeal the sick leave ordinance, as did the the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC), the local branch of the the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an ALEC member). Not surprisingly, ALEC’s Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee is co-chaired by YUM! Brands, Inc., which owns Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Fast food companies have fought paid sick leave across the country.
It is not surprising that corporate-backed groups like ALEC are gearing up to fight paid sick leave ordinances, given how quickly they are spreading across the nation. The next major city to possible get mandated paid sick days is, Denver, where residents will go to the polls on Nov. 1 to decide the fate of their city’s ordinance. The U.S. is currently the world’s only industrialized nation that does not require paid sick leave for workers.
enlargeThis deficit supercommittee may very well blow up in Obama's face. At the time the deal was made, the administration and Congress were successfully pushing the "OMG, we need to save the country from the BIG BAD DEFICIT!!!!" narrative. Now, not so much. Instead, thanks to Occupy Wall Street, the economy and the effect it's had on the 99% is dominating the news cycle, and should continue to do so indefinitely.
So when these handmaidens of the 1% come out with their wonderful new austerity plan, I suspect the response will be very, very negative:
WASHINGTON ? With just five weeks until its deadline, a secretive Congressional committee seeking ways to cut the federal deficit is far from a consensus, and party leaders may need to step in if they want to ensure agreement, say people involved in the panel?s work.
The 12-member committee is just over halfway through the 76-day interval from its first meeting to the date its final report is due on Nov. 23, but has not gained much traction. The lawmakers have not agreed on basic elements like a benchmark against which savings will be measured.
The panel?s members, evenly divided between the two parties, spent most of September in a standoff. Republicans refused to budge from their position against new taxes. Democrats said they would not discuss cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare unless Republicans made a firm commitment to accept additional revenues.
The two leaders of the panel, Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, and Representative Jeb Hensarling, Republican of Texas, have told committee members not to talk publicly about their work. But other lawmakers and Congressional aides privy to the panel?s effort have provided a remarkably consistent picture of the deliberations as the committee tries, in a matter of weeks, to find fiscal answers that have eluded Congress and the White House for years.
A Republican who has worked on Capitol Hill for more than two decades said: ?Basically we are going in circles. It?s going very, very slowly. The only way this will work is if the leaders decide they want to get a deal and lay down parameters. Everybody is sitting around sucking their thumb until they get some guidance on what to do.?
And just to keep it interesting, they will have to defend any dots the 99% connect between their recommendations and their latest campaign contributions:
Members of the congressional committee charged with making one of the most sensitive economic decisions facing America, a $1.2tn cut in the federal budget, have received a series of donations from the defence, pharmaceutical, oil and other industries, figures have revealed.
The Sunlight Foundation, a non-partisan organisation aimed at greater transparency in government, published donations to 10 members since they were appointed in August to the congressional super-committee with responsiblity for recommending cuts and possible tax increases over the next ten years. Their decisions, due to be announced by 23 November, could be worth millions of dollars to the specific industries.
Another group campaigning for greater transparency, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, called for donations to members to be halted for the short period they serve on the committee, so their eventual decisions will not be treated as suspect.
The super-committee, made up of six Democrats and six Republicans, was appointed as part of a compromise between Congress and the White House aimed at resolving a month-long political standoff in Washington.
Sunlight, based on declarations of donations filed by members of Congress to the Federal Election Commission, found that 19 of the biggest political donors in the country gave $83,000 to the campaigns of 10 members since their appointment to the super-committee. The remaining two members, Democratic senator Patty Murray and Republican senator Jon Kyl, took no donations.
The donors included defence giant Lockheed Martin, drug company Pfizer, oil company Chevron and the National Association of Realtors, as well as the Teamsters union.
I'll bet you can name most of the world's top 10 economies. Most of them, such as the U.S. economy, the Japanese economy and the British economy have long been global powerhouses, yet their days of peak growth have likely passed. Only two of the top 10 economies have been growing at a 10% clip during the past decade. You might have guessed that one of them is China. The other one? Well, its home to the largest population in the world. It's also home to the world's largest middle class, assessed at 300 million people by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Do you need another clue? Its stock market has fallen sharply since November.
I'm talking about . . . → Read More: 5 Reasons Why You Should Invest in This Emerging Powerhouse
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It seems like Herman Cain is on a longer streak than Donald Trump or Michele Bachmann ever enjoyed:
Herman Cain's poll momentum is continuing for at least another week. PPP surveys conducted over the weekend in Ohio and Hawaii find him with a large lead in both states. That now makes 7 consecutive polls over the last 3 weeks?a national one and state polls in Ohio, Hawaii, Iowa, North Carolina, Nebraska, and West Virginia?that have found Cain leading the way.
Indeed, here are all the numbers:
Rep. Paul Ryan must be liking his prospects for a VP nod as Mitt Romney's plan for entitlement programs becomes clear. Call it a lack of imagination or a pander to the tea party, but Romney has largely embraced the House budget plan engineered by Ryan. In a recorded meeting with the Las Vegas Review Journal editorial board, he laid out not just an horrific vision for the foreclosure crisis, but a dystopian vision for the 99 percent. Here he is on Medicare.
ROMNEY: You have a program like Paul Ryan has proposed, which says we?re going to give people vouchers to let them choose among private plans. I would not at the same time would want to remove the option for people who have standard Medicare. But I would probably move to a more managed care approach even in Medicare itself.
That's, as Igor Volsky points out, just a tweak to the Ryan plan. It would still not actually do anything to reduce the cost of care, it'd just shift more and more of those costs to seniors. His idea of allowing traditional Medicare to continue is, on its face, a great improvement from Ryan's plan, but would likely create a serious adverse selection problem for the program: younger, healthier Medicare recipients would be pushed into his managed care, voucher program, taking their premiums with them and leaving the sickest and most expensive patients in traditional Medicare.
That's not all, as Romney goes all in for austerity on Social Security and Medicaid, as well. He'd both means test Social Security and raise the retirement age, effectively turning it into a welfare program that served fewer and fewer Americans. Raising the payroll tax cap is straight out.
"Arithmetically, there are probably three ways of making Social Security permanently solvent," Romney said. "One would be simply raising taxes. I don't favor that one. Number two would be to increase the retirement age. Number three would be to have a little slower growth in benefits for higher income beneficiaries.... Some combination of those last two is the place we can go in my opinion to solve Social Security for future retirees." [...]
Elsewhere, Romney would turn Medicaid into a block grant program, and hand it over to states to make their own plans; phase out 10 percent of federal jobs; reduce discretionary spending on all other non-defense programs to the levels they were at in 2008, and undermine collective bargaining by federal unions with the stated goal of diminishing their benefits.
Romney still might have a hard time convincing Republicans that he's the real conservative deal, but he's doing his damnedest by appropriating the extremes of the Ryan plan, with a dash of Govs. Walker and Kasich. Which gives President Obama and the Democrats a pretty clear path forward when it comes to budgeting for entitlement programs: do the opposite of Romney/Ryan.
Throughout 2011 the markets have been on an incredibly wild ride for investors. And many traders are left scratching their heads as to what to do next in these volatile times. It’s precisely market conditions like these that offer huge opportunities for those who are willing and able to face the fear and ultimately claim victory over it.
One sector that has been volatile but very resilient lately is the natural resource markets. Almost all key commodities took a swift and sharp downturn in the last month or so, as liquidation ensued by panicked traders. However, the markets recovered just as sharply, as savvy bargain hunters swooped in and grabbed some very discounted opportunities in the commodities.
For . . . → Read More: Fortune Favors the Brave
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Wow, what a fabulously misleading commercial. I saw this commercial for the first time about three[...]
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The news that the Obama Administration deported 400,000 undocumented immigrants in the last fiscal year, setting another record, did not come as welcome news to immigration advocates. The Administration claims there is new focus on just criminals, but[...]
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