Science-averse Republicans have once again blocked the establishment of a National Climate Service by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, moving from denial of man-made climate change to the denial of climate itself. ?I?m very concerned that NOAA has taken steps to form what amounts to a shadow climate service operation,” House science committee chair Ralph Hall (R-TX) cried in September. At a hearing in June, Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) blasted the budget-neutral plan to consolidate NOAA?s existing, widely dispersed, climate capabilities under a single management structure as “propaganda services.” In the committee report submitted by appropriations chair Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) for the 2012 budget, the National Climate Service is expressly forbidden:
The National Climate Service would have allowed NOAA to meet America?s rising demand for authoritative and timely climate information. Tea Party Republicans successfully included a rider preventing its establishment in the FY 2011 continuing resolution. The reorganization would have significantly boosted the agency?s efficiency, strengthen science across NOAA, and improve delivery of vital weather and climate forecasts ? at no additional cost to the taxpayer.
Nothing less than the full mobilization of the nation?s resources will allow us to survive the changing threats of our polluted climate. However, the Republican Party now has a policy of science denial. The formation of this service threatens the know-nothings who deny that the fossil fuel industry is creating a dangerous world — so they are preventing the government from protecting the American people.
As the Occupy Wall Street protests have highlighted the outsize influence financial institutions wield in politics, banks’ spending on lobbying is on track to reach an all-time high this year. Lobbying expenditures by the five biggest spenders among commercial banks are up 12 percent so far this year compared to 2010, according to an analysis by the Charlotte Observer. Wells Fargo has been particularly profligate in its lobbying, with expenditures up 80 percent in the first three quarters of the year compared to last year. “Should this year’s pace continue, 2011 will be the sixth straight year that commercial bank lobbying has set a record,” according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks federal lobbying. Much of the lobbying has focused curbing the impact of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, which passed last year, and the Federal Reserve’s dealing with debit card swipe fees.
by Richard Caperton
Readers of the Washington Post in the last few days were treated to one of the more egregious examples of why the paper appears so schizophrenic on climate and energy.
On the one hand, readers learn that ?Climate Change Means More Frequent Droughts, Floods to Come,? which accurately notes that, ?this year has already set a record in terms of billion-dollar disasters for the United States, according to the National Climatic Data Center, with at least 10 disasters so far approaching a total of $50 billion.?
On the other hand, though, readers were treated to a broadside against clean energy from the editorial board. Before going further, let me remind you that clean energy deployment is the only way we will avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. There are no other solutions. So, the Post?s editorial board would condemn the world to a miserable future of ?hell and high water.”
In fact, the paper published an editorial, “A bad month for climate-change skeptics,” the very next day (!) that states:
The U.S. debate on global warming remains fancifully divorced from the scientific discussion. President Obama hardly ever mentions climate change. Republicans? behavior is much more embarrassing: GOP presidential candidates often dismiss the warnings of experts in favor of conspiracy-drenched denial. The debate should no longer be about whether the world is warming or whether there is reason to act. It must be about how to respond.
And so how embarrassing is it that the Post trashes clean energy funding in an editorial Friday — while never once mentioning climate change, which of course is a key reason for funding solar energy — and then Saturday says we must be talking about how to respond to climate change!
Here’s some point-by-point debunking of the attack on clean energy.
First, the Post perpetuates the myth that clean energy is a niche product that can’t survive without massive government support. Of course, we support efficient, consistent government programs to create a level playing field for these vital emerging industries. But as Climate Progress and others have shown time after time, portraying this sector as some sort of boondoggle is absolutely false.
In many countries, the installed cost of large-scale solar is approaching $2.50 a watt. At $2 a watt, we could cost-effectively meet 30% of the world’s electricity needs. Here?s wind power selling for an astonishing 3 cents per kilowatt-hour. And Here?s a European country getting 45 percent of its power from renewables. Quite the contrary to the Post?s assertion, clean energy is a mainstream investment for utilities and consumers around the world.
The main criticisms of the Post appears are that ?the Energy Department?s loan guarantee program privatizes profits and socializes losses.? Think about that, and then go back and read the other Post story about climate change. The real problem is that we’re privatizing profits and socializing environmental and health losses from the fossil fuel industry. After all, what else could climate change be other than ?socialized losses?”
The Post?s editors may argue, though, that they don?t dislike clean energy investment, they just dislike the DOE Loan Guarantee Program. That?s fine. But, it?s important to remember that the part of this program that financed Solyndra ? ?Section 1705? ? is done. It was a two-year program that has now drawn to a close. So, even if the Post?s criticisms about the program are valid, it?s not clear what constructive purpose it serves to call the entire program a ?scandal? today, when the program no longer exists. We should learn every lesson possible from this program, and we?ll have plenty of time to digest these lessons after a major audit is completed on December 28th.
Finally, the Post concludes that, ?as for the $10 billion loan-guarantee loss reserve, that?s $10 billion the country could devote to other uses, including more effective means of limiting carbon emissions or achieving energy security.? Obviously, we all want to spend government money cost-effectively. There?s a limited amount of money that we can use to fight climate change, and the urgency of the situation requires that we spend that money efficiently. The Post seems to imply, however, that this money was wasted. That?s a bold conclusion to draw, given the scope of projects that moved forward because of the Loan Guarantee Program.
Long before the DOE Loan Guarantee Program existed and long before the Solyndra bankruptcy, the government provided incentives for firms to invest in clean energy. These incentives have been a tremendous success and have helped to levelize the playing field between the energy of the future and the energy of the past. The government needs to keep making targeted interventions in energy markets to bridge from the past to the future, and it needs to be able to use every tool available.
? Richard Caperton is a senior policy analyst with the energy team at the Center for American Progress. Joe Romm contributed to this piece.
Right-wing media recently pushed the discredited attack that President Obama called Americans "lazy." But right-wing media figures themselves have a history of suggesting that Americans -- particularly the poor, the unemployed, and union workers, among others -- are lazy or lack work ethic.
Fox'sTodd Starnes: Obama "Took The Nation To Task ... For Being Lazy." In a blog post that was posted on FoxNation, Todd Starnes wrote:
PresidentObama took the nation to task today for being lazy.
Thecomments came during a meeting between the president and CEOs attending theannual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings. The United States ishosting this year's gathering in Hawaii.
It's notthe first time the president has accused Americans of being lazy. [Fox NewsRadio via Fox Nation, 11/14/11, via MediaMatters]
Fox'sKilmeade Suggests Comment Shows Obama Is "Determined To Bring UsDown." Whileco-hosting Fox News' The Five, Brian Kilmeadesaid: "I will say this. The fact that the presidentof the United States has called us soft, we've lost our competitive edge, andnow we're called lazy. ... He's trying desperately to flatten out our country,and defuse us, and get us off our high horse. Why is he so determined to bringus down?" [Fox News, TheFive, 11/14/11, via Media Matters]
Hannity:"This Is Not The First Time" Obama Has "Kind Of Attacked TheAmerican People." During an interviewon his Fox News program with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sean Hannity asked:
HANNITY: What do you make of the President? This is not thefirst time that he's kind of attacked the American people, that you know, thepeople are a little bit lazy, he spoken a while back about them getting soft,we lost our ambition, our imagination. What do you make of that? Are theAmerican people not smart enough to accept his goodness and greatness? [FoxNews, Hannity, 11/15/11, via Nexis]
For moreright-wing media claims that Obama called Americans "lazy," SEEHERE.
AP: AdSaying Obama "Thinks" That "Americans Are Lazy" Actually"Takes Obama's Comment Out Of Context." Beth Fouhy, political reporter for The Associated Press, reported that a campaign ad by Republicanpresidential candidate Rick Perry thatuses Obama'scomments takes them "out of context":
Republicanpresidential hopeful Perry takes Obama's comment out of context.
Obama wasspeaking to a group of CEOs about the challenges of attracting foreigninvestment in the U.S., not about individuals or their economic challenges.
Perry is using the commentto portray Obama as out of touch, even contemptuous, of ordinary Americans. [The Associated Press, 11/16/11]
ABC'sDevin Dwyer: Attacks On Obama "Distort" His Comments. ABC News White House producer Devin Dwyerwrote that the ad by Perry featuring Obama's comments"distorts" what Obama said:
"Canyou believe that? That's what our president thinks is wrong with America? ThatAmericans are lazy? That's pathetic," Perry says in the spot that's airingin Iowa and New Hampshire.
The onlyproblem: the full context of Obama's remarks made Saturday during a meeting ofCEOs in Honolulu indicates he wasn't suggesting that at all.
BoeingCEO James McNerney asked Obama about his thinking on the perception by somecountries of "impediments to investment" in the U.S.
Obamareplied that "we've been a little bit lazy" about actively trying toattract private foreign investors to U.S. soil -- referring broadly to Americangovernment and business sectors, not the American people themselves.[ABCNews.com, Political Punch, 11/16/11]
Wash. Post Fact Checker: It Is "Clear From The Context Of Obama's Remarks That He Is Not Saying Americans Are Lazy." In a November 21 Fact Checker post, The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler wrote that it is "clear from the context of Obama's remarks that he is not saying Americans are lazy":
In other words, Obama is highlighting a serious problem. Perhaps the phrase "lazy" is a bit overheated, but it clear from the context of Obama's remarks that he is not saying Americans are lazy. He's talking about a trend over a two-decade period that indicates a certain complacency in trying to win business and investment. [The Washington Post, 11/21/11]
Limbaugh: "Do You Know Any Low-IncomePeople Who Want To Get A Better Job? ... Do They Even Want To Work?" On theApril 21 edition of his radio show, host Rush Limbaugh said, "Do you know anylow-income people who want to get a better job? ... Do they even want to work?"[Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 4/21/11, via Media Matters]
Fox Business Scolded Poor People For NotBeing Ashamed Of Their Poverty. During the May 19 edition of Fox Business' Varney& Co., host Stuart Varney attacked anti-poverty programs as evidencethat the U.S. now has an "entitlement mentality." Fox commentator Charles Paynethen scolded people in poverty for not being "embarrassed" about needing public assistance:
PAYNE:Krystal [Ball], there's no doubt that theseare good programs. I think the real narrative here, though, is that peoplearen't embarrassed by it. People aren't ashamed by it. In other words, thethere was a time when people were embarrassed to be on food stamps; there was atime when people were embarrassed to be on unemployment for six months, letalone demanding to be on it for more than two years. I think that's what Stu istrying to say, is that, when the president says Wall Street is at fault, so,you are entitled to get anything that you want from the government, becauseit's not really your fault. No longer is the man being told to look in themirror and cast down a judgment on himself; it's someone else's fault. So foodstamps, unemployment, all of this stuff, is something that they probably earnedin some indirect way. [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 5/19/11, via Media Matters]
Fox's Stuart Varney On Low-IncomeAmericans: "Many Of Them Have Things -- What They Lack Is The Richness OfSpirit." During the August 25 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co.at Night, host Stuart Varney hyped a HeritageFoundation study showing that many Americans in poverty own appliances,saying: "The image we have of poor people asstarving and living in squalor really is notaccurate. Many of them have things -- what they lack is the richness of spirit. That's my opinion." [Fox Business, Varney& Co. at Night, 8/25/11, via Media Matters]
Fox Business PittedThe "Takers" Of "Government Handouts" Against The"Makers." After a NationalBureau of Economic Research study concluded that social safety net programs,including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, were highly effective atkeeping people out of poverty, Fox Business launched a week-long series pittingthe "takers" of "government handouts" against the"makers" in the economy. [MediaMatters, 5/24/11]
Kilmeade: "Maybe The UnemploymentBenefits [Expiration] Will Get People To Sober Up" And Take A Job. On theJuly 15, 2010, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host BrianKilmeade said that "[m]aybe the [expiration of] unemployment benefits will getpeople to sober up" and take a job. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/15/10, via Media Matters]
Ben Stein Attacked Unemployed AmericansAs Having "Poor Work Habits." In a July 19, 2010, post at The AmericanSpectator, conservative pundit and frequent Fox News guest Ben Steinwrote:
Thepeople who have been laid off and cannot find work are generally people withpoor work habits and poor personalities. I say "generally" because there are exceptions. But in general, asI survey the ranks of those who are unemployed, I see people who haveoverbearing and unpleasant personalities and/or who do not know how to do aday's work. They are people who create either little utility or negativeutility on the job.
In an August 27, 2010, American Spectatorpost, Stein repeated his attack, writing: "[A]s I noted before, in my smallcircle of friends, anyone who has good work skills and a decent personality canget a job. I am not talking about the national scene. Just my little world. Thechronic complainers and the malcontents and the unrealistic are the ones whocannot find work they want. The people who really want to work can get work. Itmight not be great work, but it's work." [The American Spectator, 7/19/10, 8/27/10, via Media Matters]
Stein Claimed That "A Lot Of" UnemployedPeople "Would Not Prefer To Go To Work." Onthe April 30, 2011, broadcast of Fox News' Cavuto on Business, Steinsaid that "a lot of" unemployed Americans "would not prefer to go to work."[Fox Business, Cavuto on Business, 4/30/11, via Media Matters]
Limbaugh Attacked Union Workers As "Freeloaders" AsCompared To "Real Working Non-Unionized People." On the February 17 edition of his radio show, Limbaughcalled union workers "freeloaders" and contrasted them with "real working non-unionizedpeople." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 2/17/11, via Media Matters]
Limbaugh: Union Protests In WI Were Due To Union MembersNot Wanting To "Pay A Dime Towards Their Own Health Care Or Retirement." On the August 18 broadcast of his show, Limbaugh saidthat the protests in Wisconsin took place because public union members didn'twant to "pay a dime towards their own health care or retirement." [PremiereRadio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/18/11, via Media Matters]
Coulter: Teamsters President Hoffa Represents"Useless" Workers Like "Kindergarten Teachers" Instead Of"Men Who Have Actual Jobs." Duringthe September 7 edition of Fox & Friends, conservative pundit AnnCoulter said that Teamsters president James Hoffa represented "useless" workerslike "kindergarten teachers" instead of "men who have actual jobs." [Fox News, Fox& Friends, 9/7/11, via Media Matters]
Limbaugh: Occupy Wall Street Protesters Are "Perpetually Lazy, SpoiledRotten, 99 Percent White Kids." During the October 6 edition of his radioshow, Limbaugh attacked Occupy Wall Street protesters as "perpetually lazy,spoiled rotten, 99 percent white kids." [Premiere Radio Networks, The RushLimbaugh Show, 10/6/11, via MediaMatters]
Fox Nation And Wash. Times OnOccupy Wall Street And Its Demands: "Don't Feed The Lazy." A November 18op-ed in The Washington Times, titled, "Don't feed the lazy," claimedthat "Occupy Wall Street's demands undermine real compassion." The op-edstated:
Itis interesting to note that according to the Bible, one of the criteria forreceiving aid was a willingness to work. Entitlement was not an option. TheApostle Paul wrote, "For even when we were with you, we would give youthis command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat."
Paulis not being cruel or heartless in this passage. He is expressing a truth thatthose who are able but unwilling to work should be disqualified from receivingcharitable help, thereby allowing their natural need for food to drive theireffort to work. This is a profound and often overlooked financial principle.
Attitudestoward poverty, debt and entitlement make reaching common ground with those inthe Occupy Wall Street movement difficult. Compared to many around the world,they live in relative comfort, with access to food, shelter and liberty. Butrather than embracing equal opportunity, they seem to clamor for equaloutcomes.
Perhapsit is time for the Occupy Wall Street movement to reflect on the words of Paul:"If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat."
Limbaugh: Employees At Nonprofit Organizations Are "Lazy Idiots" And"Rapists In Terms Of Finance And Economy." During the August 12, 2010,edition of his radio show, Limbaugh attacked the employees of nonprofitorganizations as "lazy idiots" and went on to say that they are "rapists interms of finance and economy." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush LimbaughShow, 8/12/10, via MediaMatters]
* This item has been updated from its original version.
Only in Washington, and when spoken by uber-caver Max Baucus, does "hope" mean bad news.
The Supreme Court has reinserted itself in the heart of domestic politics by agreeing to review the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). How is the Court likely to rule? Consider two scenarios.
The first scenario relies on a prominent theory of judicial decision-making called the attitudinal model. It holds that justices are unconstrained policymakers. To predict and explain Court actions we simply need to figure out the policy implications of the legislation and justices policy preferences. The vote takes care of itself from that point.
In our recently published book, The Constrained Court (you should buy it here?think holiday stocking stuffer), we use politicians? positions on Court cases to ?bridge? preference estimates making them comparable across Congress and the Supreme Court (see here for more details). Applying this technique to the PPACA we can estimate probability that each justice would vote to overturn the law if ideology were the only factor. Based on preferences alone, 5 justices, including the ?swing? justice Anthony Kennedy, are predicted to vote to overturn the PPACA?as depicted in the top graph below. In the graph immediately below it, we calculate the probable vote margin. The most likely scenario is a 5-4 decision overturning the PPACA. Under this scenario, the Court would be a lock to overturn. Goodbye Obamacare.
But consider a second scenario. We (and many others) think there is more to justices? behavior than policy preferences. Justices have famously bucked their presumed policy preferences on high-profile cases?such as when Rehnquist supported Miranda rights in Dickerson v. United States based on support for precedent and Scalia supported flag-burners (whom he openly admitted he?d like to see in jail) in Texas v. Johnson based on support for First Amendment speech rights. We show in our book that virtually every justice deviates from their policy preferences in favor of one or more of several prominent legal values such as respect for precedent, although the justices differ in how much they value precedent.
In considering the possible role of precedent, what precedent(s) should we take into account? This is not a simple question. While United States v. Lopez and United States v. Morrison offer possible precedents, we are persuaded that the Wickard v. Filburn and Gonzales v. Raich are most clearly relevant (as argued, for example, in conservative Judge Laurence Silberman?s DC Circuit decision upholding the law).
Given that precedent established by Wickard and Gonzales is supportive of upholding the law, we then calculated the predicted vote of each justice based not only on their policy preferences but based on their tendency to defer to precedent. Deference to precedent varies by justice: Kennedy does so much more than Thomas, for example. More details on the underlying method are here.
Here are the results:
Kennedy?s predicted behavior shifts dramatically, going from a certain vote to overturn the PPACA in the ideology-only model to only a 46% likelihood of voting to overturn when we factor in precedent. Roberts and Alito also shift, although not so markedly. In the second graph, the probability of overturning the law is therefore much lower (30%).
As always, predictions are hard, especially about the future (see Berra v. Bohr) and especially when it isn?t clear which precedents apply or which legal doctrines are likely to dominate. Thus, any specific prediction must go beyond the model.
That said, here is ours: 6-3 or 7-2 to uphold the law.
Respect for precedent pushes Kennedy to support the law and Roberts comes along for the ride in order to keep the opinion out of Kennedy?s hands (and possibly writing an opinion that cabins the Commerce Clause more than it is now). Alito probably goes with Roberts, but seems more up for grabs. If we are wrong, expect the justices to either downplay precedent and emphasize other legal values (such as federalism) or play up the few precedents that protect state rights.
Policy motivations won?t be irrelevant, but score this one for law.
I tweeted last night, "When bad news from Europe tomorrow makes stocks tank, and the idiots in DC blame it on Super Committee fail, could someone correct them?" Apparently, no one told the AP or Washington Post, who insist the Super Committee Fail is[...]
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It’s always difficult to pinpoint where we are in terms of a trend, whether it’s in stocks, bonds, or other assets. Long-term trends in the currency markets have ranged from six to ten years, measured by the various bull and bear markets in the dollar since the inception of the free-floating currency market back in 1971.
Here’s the pattern as measured by the U.S. Dollar Index:
• 1971-1978: Seven-year bear market (President Nixon closes the gold window)
• 1978-1985: Six-year bull market (Fed Chairman Volcker squeezes inflation)
• 1985-1992: Seven-year bear market (triggered by the Plaza Accord)
• 1992-2001: Ten-year bull market (tech boom and money flow to U.S. assets)
• . . . → Read More: Nine Reasons Why the U.S. Dollar May Have Bottomed
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Newt Gingrich wants to put kids back to work.
Oh yes he did. Speaking at Harvard (to remind us that he's a historian, no doubt) on Friday, Newt Gingrich not only called child labor laws "truly stupid," he did so as his answer to a question about income inequality. His answer had several prongs. First, use student labor to bust unions in schools:
"You say to somebody, you shouldn't go to work before you're what, 14, 16 years of age, fine. You're totally poor. You're in a school that is failing with a teacher that is failing. I've tried for years to have a very simple model," he said. "Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools, they'd begin the process of rising."
That's right. The answer to problem schools is to have kids do something other than learn in them, according to Gingrich. Even setting that aside, lots of kids refuse to eat their free school lunches because of the stigma attached to poverty. Now imagine the stigma of cleaning the bathrooms behind your classmates, or the food they spill in the lunchroom.
He added, "You go out and talk to people, as I do, you go out and talk to people who are really successful in one generation. They all started their first job between nine and 14 years of age. They all were either selling newspapers, going door to door, they were doing something, they were washing cars."
"They all learned how to make money at a very early age," he said. "What do we say to poor kids in poor neighborhoods? Don't do it. Remember all that stuff about don't get a hamburger flipping job? The worst possible advice you could give to poor children. Get any job that teaches you to show up on Monday. Get any job that teaches you to stay all day even if you are in a fight with your girlfriend. The whole process of making work worthwhile is central."
I knew a lot of kids who delivered papers or babysat or mowed neighbors' lawns before they were the legal age to work; in fact, I did so myself. But there's a hell of a big difference between having a paper route and working in a fast food kitchen filled with hot fry grease and other opportunities to burn or cut yourself. There's a big difference between deciding which babysitting or yard work job you will accept and being scheduled to work a shift at McDonald's and the decision being between showing up or losing your job.
Gingrich cloaks his attack on child labor laws in the language of teaching kids to get ahead, but what it boils down to is funneling poor kids into dead-end jobs as early as possible; using them for cheap labor, ideally to bust unions; and turning schools into a place the kids who need money clean up behind those who don't instead of spending their time learning.
New frontrunner Gingrich says child labor laws are a major cause of growing economic inequality. His first suggestion: fire unionized janitors and have kids do the clean-up. [...]
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