Rep. Todd Akin (Official photo)
Missouri's Republican Senate candidates were asked at a debate whether they wanted to see federal student loan interest rates double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, and Rep. Todd Akin apparently decided he sure doesn't need the votes of young people:
Akin said the government should be out of the student loan market altogether. "America has got the equivalent of the stage three cancer of socialism because the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in," he said.The federal government "has no business tampering in" giving loans to citizens so that they may obtain an education, gain knowledge and improve their economic productivity. That's socialism. One of the funny things here is that we're talking about something that's profitable for the federal government; the question is the profit margin:
Roosevelt Institute fellow Mike Konzcal has noted that the government borrows at a far lower rate than [3.4 percent], which raises the question of why it is not investing more robustly in young people.There's the dread cancer of socialism for you. The federal government is collecting interest that private lenders could otherwise be vacuuming up.
Konczal pointed out that the government makes a profit somewhere around 13 percent for each dollar of loans, and because the loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy and Social Security payments can even be garnished to make them up, default may even be more profitable for lenders than borrowers making payments on time.
High student loan interest rates are basically a tax Republicans want to levy on people who can't afford to pay for college out of pocket?not rich people, in other words. Some Republicans are fine with that tax being paid to the government; others, like Todd Akin, would prefer to privatize it. Either way, given high tuition rates even at public colleges and Republican resistance to regulating the for-profit college industry, it's a tax many people will be paying for the rest of their lives.
Republican focus group on lady voters hard at work.
May even include real ladies!
Exciting news, ladies! Big strong Republican men, apparently unable to get Mitt Romney's chief adviser on Stuff That Ladies Care AboutTM (aka, Mrs. Romney) on the phone, are taking it upon themselves to study us:
The new project, YGW, has a six-figure investment for launch and a target budget in the mid-seven figures, according to senior adviser Brad Dayspring. He declined to comment on who put up the funding. [...]YGW?which apparently stands for "Young Guns Woman Up" (the "u" is silent, I guess) and not "Yuck. Girls. Whadatheywant?"?is the girl version of the Young Guns (for men only, it seems) started in 2007 by Republican Reps. Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan. Although evidence shows lady voters did exist in 2007, and some even cared about, like, politics 'n stuff, it wasn't until Republicans started feeling the effects of their totally non-existent War on
To start, the group is launching a four-pronged strategy ?survey research and focus group, building an online community, economic analysis and issue advocacy with the goal of understanding better what language and viewpoints appeal to women and establish itself as the hub for center-right women frustrated with the policy debate.
And they've already learned their lesson from Mitt's thus far failed "three-pronged strategy" to make the ladies like him, so they've added an extra prong, which should totally do the trick to close that gender gap.
It sure is an exciting time to be a lady voter, isn't it? All the menfolk fighting over little ol' us, trying to figure out what makes us tick, even forming focus groups to find out if "Shut up, you stupid girls, men are governing!" is in fact an effective campaign slogan.
Good luck with your studies, fellas. The lady voters of America look forward to hearing what you learn about us.
How austerity policies and stimulus policies affect the GDPThe financial experts had expected the U.K. to eke out a teensy bit of economic growth in 2012. But the Office for National Statistics reported Wednesday that the British economy contracted for the second consecutive quarter, registering a 0.2 percent decline in annualized Gross Domestic Product for the first quarter of the year on top of the 0.3 percent GDP decline in the fourth quarter of 2011. The killers came from the biggest drop in construction in three years and in industrial production.
They call what's happening a "technical recession" as a result of the back-to-back two-quarter loss, just as they call what's happening in Spain a "technical recession." Technically, it's weasel wording. Britain, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland are all now in recession. The Netherlands and France have not yet succumbed, but weak economic data have roiled their governments, contributing to the collapse of the Dutch parliamentary coalition and French President Nicolas Sarkozy's loss in the first round of voting over the weekend.
Behind it all is European austerity policy, the very stuff Republicans in the United States have been promoting for the past three-plus years. If they'd won the election in 2008 and imposed their proposals, you could add the U.S. to those nations who are now seeing so much economic damage. Indeed, it is unlikely the U.S. would have emerged from recession as it "technically" did in mid-2009. The policies the GOP objected to, particularly the economic stimulus package put forth and barely passed by Congress shortly after Barack Obama took the oath as president, have made a big difference even though they were not nearly as vigorous as truly needed to deal with the depth of the Great Recession. The GDP chart above shows the difference.
Now, as Joe Stiglitz makes clear in an excellent interview in The European, GDP is not the best measurement of people's well-being since it keeps going up while workers keep getting bit in the behind. (There's a discussion in bobswern's diary.) But there is still a big difference in what's happened in the United States and Europe over the past few years.
As my colleague Laurence Lewis wrote this past weekend, "Austerity is a disaster." Just as its tentacles have spread across Europe, the backlash against it is spreading as well. Whether (and how fast) potential replacement governments in France and the Netherlands and perhaps Britain itself can reverse the slide is anybody's guess. But it's increasingly clear that the people in those countries, and in Spain where youth unemployment is a stunning 50 percent, are fed up with the imposition of austerity on everyone but the people who brought on the financial crises in the first place.
(Continue reading below the fold)
(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks to the media after a campaign event in Cramerton, N.C., Wednesday, April 25, 2012.
So much for a last stand. Newt Gingrich, who banked everything left in his shell of a presidential campaign on pulling off an upset victory in Delaware last night, failed utterly. With 27 percent of the vote, he garnered less than half of Mitt Romney?s Delaware vote share last night.
Where does Newt go from here? On Wednesday, Gingrich hinted that he would turn his back on his pledge to campaign all the way through the Tampa convention. "You have to at some point be honest about what?s happening in the real world as opposed to what you would like to have happened," Gingrich said at a campaign stop this morning. It's hard to see any other path forward. Besides his surprise victory in South Carolina, Gingrich has only placed first in his home state of Georgia. At the same time, his campaign has been whittling away money with few new donations, putting the Gingrich campaign over $4 million in debt, according to finance disclosures filed with the Federal Elections Commission last week. Winning Our Future, the Gingrich-affiliated super PAC, still had $6 million floating around at the end of March, but its primary donor, billionaire Sheldon Adelson has moved on to other ventures.
The results from Delaware did not really matter all that much. Romney has racked up enough of a delegate advantage that, even with a win there, it would have been impossible for Gingrich to catch up. From the onset, Gingrich?s campaign never looked all that serious. Until his surge last fall, he was running a glorified nostalgia tour, one designed to bring him back before the public spotlight for publicity and the benefit of future speaking fees?until he stumbled into being taken as a serious candidate by Republican voters. Now, whether or not Gingrich drags himself through to Tampa, his campaign is finished.
Even for the most committed progressive, there was a refreshing appeal to Gingrich?s campaign. In a world of over-managed candidates who vet their every utterance with a campaign consultant, the former House Speaker was brazenly honest, if mercurial. He would offer whatever platitude came to mind at a moment, and was given to whims (remember his pledge to build a moon colony?). While reporters have spent the past year trying to discern who the real Romney is, there was never any doubt who Gingrich was: a jovial politician who fancied himself a big ideas man.
On the other hand, good riddance. For all the whimsy and entertainment value, Gingrich traded in the vilest elements of right-wing hate. He never passed up an opportunity for a racial dog whistle, calling Obama the ?food stamp? president and criticizing the president for addressing the controversy over Trayvon Martin?s death. Gingrich advocated for repealing child-labor laws and pushed a flat tax plan that makes Romney?s conservative proposals look progressive. He ramped up the rhetoric at every possible opportunity, not just maligning the Democrats? plans but their very Americanness. He said that a second term for Barack Obama would have near-apocalyptic effects for the country.
A presidential campaign typically serves to bolster a politician's image and place in their party. Rick Santorum undoubtedly walked away a winner from this year?s contest. He?s no longer just the senator who lost his re-election by double digits; now he?s a standard bearer for staunch social conservatives. Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, despite their fumbles, also exited the race with higher public profiles. But Gingrich?s standing has plummeted. An already well-known figure, Gingrich had a comfy spot as a talking head on Fox News and a career on the conservative speaking circuit. Now, even most Republicans treat him as a joke?a politician whose ideas should be sent to the moon rather than applied here on earth. His companies have taken a financial hit and he alienated his old employer Fox News, making it unlikely that he?ll be invited back as a paid contributor anytime soon. He's burnt the few remaining bridges he had left. Gingrich will still pop up at the occasional conservative conference or two, but the days when he could pantomime a spot as a party leader are long gone.
The Court ruled on several matters this morning. She denied the Defense motion to dismiss with prejudice and denied most of the defense requests for pre-trial discovery of military investigation information, but the FBI must disclose relevant materials[...]
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There's no doubt Mitt Romney has had a good couple weeks. He got the hold outs to finally agree that he is the Republican nominee. Now the RNC itself has said the race is over. And he's had a perceptible tightening in the polls. But his push against[...]
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Why hire someone for minimum wage when you can get prison labor for half the cost? While work can be an important part of rehabilitation, we have to look at how it impacts the job market when we are turning over millions of jobs to prisoners. From Salon.com: 21st century chain gangs.
In fracking-filled Pennsylvania (check this map), blood-red Blue Dog Tim Holden lost last night in his primary battle against real progressive Matt Cartwright.
First from AP (my emphasis everywhere and some reparagraphing, 'cause, you know):
U.S. Rep. Tim Holden, Pennsylvania's longest-serving congressman, lost his re-election bid in the Democratic primary[.] ... Holden, who was elected to Congress in 1992 and was one of its conservative, so-called Blue Dog Democrats, lost Tuesday to personal injury attorney Matt Cartwright, who spent nearly $400,000 in the race.A lot of that money came from BlueAmerica. Here's Howie Klein, BlueAmerica treasurer, on the victory:
Something very rare happened tonight, something that will send a chill down the spines of members of the Democratic establishment: a true blue progressive unseated a tired Blue Dog congressman. We were told it was impossible. Pennsylvania's Matt Cartwright just proved them all wrong. ...Here's something a little more direct (from the same Facebook page):
They had a choice and they chose the progressive candidate who would stand up for working families instead of corporations and who believes that individual liberty applies to women as well as men.
Tonight Democrats in Pennsylvania told Hoyer and Israel and Wasserman Schultz to go take a flying leap as they defeated their hackish corrupt Blue Dog, Tim Holden, and replaced him with progressive Matt Cartwright for U.S. Congress.Hmm, DCCC ... DCCC ... Where have we heard that name before?
With 447 of 449 precincts reporting, Cartwright beat Hoyer's corrupt Blue Dog 33,102 (57%) to 24,871 (43%). Holden lost all the big population centers. Cartwright ran up solid majorities in Lackawanna (78%). Luzerne (71%), Northampton (55%) and Monroe (64%). Grassroots Democrats in other states should take up the banner.
Don't trust anyone endorsed by the DCCC. Check them out carefully first. Most will be worthless shills like the majority of the people on the Red-to-Blue List of Shame.
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Conservative Fox News contributor Dick Morris is asserting that the news media "ruined" President George W. Bush's presidency because coverage of the Iraq war was "too harsh."
During a Wednesday morning segment with Morris, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy pointed out that Arthur Brisbane, ombudsman for The New York Times, recently complained that the paper had been more critical of President George W. Bush while he was in office than it had been of President Barack Obama.
"It's terrific that he said that," Morris explained. "There are two factors that make the media liberal. One is that the reporters are liberal. But the other fact is that the media tends to react to what it last did badly. So for example, it was relatively mild toward Bush during the early years of his administration after 9/11, and then it over compensated by being too harsh during the Iraq war."
"And then when Obama got elected they said, 'Oh, wow. We just ruined a presidency with Bush. Maybe we'll be nicer to Obama,'" he added. "And I think you will begin to see a bit of pendulum swing against Obama even though the media itself is liberal."
A 2003 study by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) found that 71 percent of guest on U.S. television news programs were pro-war, while only 3 percent were against the Iraq war -- a ratio of almost 25 to 1.
A recent analysis by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism found that coverage of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was twice as favorable as the coverage of Obama during the primary season.
(h/t: Media Matters)
Yesterday on CNN?s Piers Morgan Tonight, former presidential candidate Rick Santorum said he regretted calling President Obama a snob for saying that young people should go to college.
Now freed from the shackles of life on the carefully scripted campaign trail, Santorum acknowledged that he was wrong about Obama?s remarks:
MORGAN: Of all those, which is the one you most regret looking back?
SANTORUM: The snob one, because I misread his comment. I thought he said everybody should go to college. And it was…what I had read was someone?s interpretation of what?and I just used that as a fact. That it was factually incorrect. That?s the one I feel bad about.
Santorum?s wife Karen, who was also on the program alongside her husband, agreed. ?I wish he hadn?t said that,? she told Morgan. Watch it:
Santorum?s ?snob? comment, which he repeated several times during his campaign, grossly mischaracterized President Obama?s actual remarks. In everything from campaign speeches to addresses before Congress, President Obama said that all young Americans should receive some kind of post-secondary education, whether by going to a four year college or community college or vocational training program. Notably, during the campaign, Santorum stood by his original comment during a late February appearance on Meet the Press.