by Adam James
Clean energy should play a central role in revitalizing our economy, putting Americans back to work, and keeping America on the cutting edge of innovation and growth. Recently a slew of misguided attacks on the merits of clean energy have exchanged petty partisanship for hard facts.
Here are the top six things you really need to know:
Here are the supporting details:
1. Clean energy is competitive with other types of energy
2. Clean energy creates three times more jobs than fossil fuels
3. Clean energy improves grid reliability
4. Clean energy investment has surpassed investments in fossil fuels
5. Investments in clean energy are cost effective
6. Fossil fuels have gotten 75 times more subsidies than clean energy
Renewable energy will be the engine of U.S. economic growth and prosperity for years to come, but it is not without opposition. Leaders in policy and business must get behind the Americans who are and will be empowered by renewable power and work together to overcome market barriers and false information. The facts are in and we should seize this opportunity to put Americans back to work and maintain a place at the cutting edge of innovation and competitiveness.
Adam James is a Special Assistant for Energy Policy at American Progress.
The House Ways and Means Committee today marked up a bill sponsored by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) that purports to give small businesses a 20 percent tax cut in order to spur hiring. We’ve already noted that the bill’s overly expansive definition of small business means super profitable hedge funds and law firms that don’t need additional employees would still receive a huge tax break.
And the bill’s problems certainly don’t end there. As Citizens for Tax Justice noted today, Cantor’s bill will also give hugely profitable operations like Oprah Winfrey’s production company and professional sports teams a big tax break:
While the legislation caps the amount of the deduction (at half of non-employee payroll), there is no limitation on the type or amount of income that business can have. So highly profitable operations like Oprah Winfrey?s production company or the Trump Tower Sales & Leasing office would both qualify for the deduction simply because they have fewer than 500 employees on payroll.
Who else would qualify? Professional sports teams (including teams owned by Mitt Romney?s friends) with their multi-million-dollar salaries to non-owner players. So would private equity firms, hedge funds, and other ?small businesses? with income in the millions, or even billions, of dollars, along with most of the top law and lobbying firms inside the Beltway and elsewhere.
Adding insult to injury, many truly small businesses won’t qualify for the tax break because the cut is only available to businesses whose employees are non-owners. So a family business in which all the family members share ownership will get nothing at all, while Oprah’s production company walks away with a tax cut
This bill, like so many put forth by the GOP, fundamentally misunderstands the problems facing actual small businesses, which is that there’s no demand in the economy for their goods or services. Businesses simply have no reason to expand without the reasonable expectation of more customers, and giving an already profitable firm a big tax break won’t entice them to act any differently. As the chief economist for the conservative National Federation of Independent Business explained, ?if you give a small business guy $20,000 he?ll say, ?I could buy a new delivery truck but I have nobody to deliver to.??
Instead, the GOP is hoping once again that its tax cut snake oil will have some effect. But as a new study released yesterday shows, “there’s no there there” when it comes to tax cuts promoting economic growth.
Throughout the year, Mitt Romney?s favorability ratings have been consistently under water; by double-digits, more Americans dislike than like the former Massachusetts governor. As time went on?and voters grew familiar with him and his record?the assumption was that this would improve. So far, however, it hasn?t. According to the latest poll from ABC News and the Washington Post, Romney has an unprecedently high unfavorability rating. Fifty percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of the presumptive Republican nominee, while 34 percent rate him positively. His favorability score is the lowest since ABC News and the Washington Post began polling in 1984, and his unpopularity is matched only by Newt Gingrich and Hillary Clinton circa 2008.
The big problem for Romney, as far as his popularity goes, is that Republicans are still ?meh? about his candidacy. Only 62 percent of Republicans and 47 percent of conservatives view him favorably. Of course, this isn?t insurmountable. When the convention comes and the Republican institution rallies around the former governor, his popularity among conservatives and Republicans will almost certainly improve. But conservative distrust for Romney runs deep, and if he tries to shake the Etch A Sketch too much, he risks alienating these crucial supporters.
But this also puts him in a tight situation. Romney?s standing with moderates and independents is terrible. Fifty-two percent of independents and 48 percent of moderates see him unfavorably. More important, the same things that could endear him to conservatives?an enthusiastic party and an adherence to conservative rhetoric?could define him as unacceptably right-wing to the center, and drive his favorability to the ground. All presidential candidates have to balance their appeals to the middle with their commitment to partisans. Romney?s problem is that the Republican Party has moved so far to the right that this might be impossible.
President Obama, on the other hand, is in fairly good shape. Not only are Democrats unified in their support?86 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of liberals have a favorable view the president?but moderates and independents are supportive as well, with 61 percent and 50 percent support, respectively. What?s more, a recent Quinnipiac University poll shows Obama with leads over Romney in three critical swing states?Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Overall, Obama?s favorability rating is 53 percent, and his job approval?according to the latest Gallup tracking poll?is 47 percent. Not that this is any reason to be complacent; at around this time in 1992, Bill Clinton was fairly unpopular, and George H.W. Bush looked like he would cruise to re-election, with a favorability rating of 52 percent.
The Senate vote to advance Sen. Bob Menendez's bill to end Big Oil subsidies is coming up, so now is our chance to weigh in.
Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid
set up a cloture vote for it, scheduled for tomorrow.
Republicans believe the floor debate on the legislation will benefit them politically, amid growing public concern about prices at the pump. The GOP bashed the bill this week, alleging it would burden the oil industry and potentially raise gas prices.Republicans will couch this as "taxing the job creators!" which is mean. No, seriously, it's mean and it's picking on these poor, beleaguered companies. The great populist Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) actually argued that instead of taxing the oil companies (oh, excuse me, "energy producers") we should be asking them ?What obstacles are there to you making more money??
?Why we?d have a bill on the floor that would raise gasoline prices, I have no idea,? Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said Tuesday. ?But that?s the bill on the floor.?
Democrats countered that oil companies don?t need the tax breaks at a time when they?re making massive profits, painting Republicans as pawns of Big Oil.
"Senate Republicans will never side with American taxpayers against Big Oil," Reid said earlier Tuesday. "It?s against their nature."
The Big 5 oil companies?BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron and ConocoPhillips?made $1 trillion in profits from 2001 to 2011. They made $137 billion last year alone, while average Americans struggled to pay higher and higher energy costs. Last year, just as one example, Chevron paid at the 19 percent rate last year on profits of $26.9 billion.
The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that removing these oil company tax breaks would raise $24 billion over 10 years. About half of the savings, $11.7 would be used to extend important clean energy tax incentives. The rest would be slated for debt reduction (because you know how important debt reduction is to Republicans!)
It's about time the federal government stop subsidizing an industry that is making obscene profits.
On March 13, I read the foreclosure fraud settlement documents and noticed that the banks would be eligible to get credit for their penalty for performing routine actions, like waiving deficiency judgments, bulldozing or donating homes. Two full weeks[...]
Read The Full Article:
The health care discussion starts at the 2:13 mark
Mitt Romney is going to have a hard time living down this exchange with Jay Leno about pre-existing conditions last night on The Tonight Show:
JAY LENO: Well, suppose if they were never insured before?Sure, if you've got insurance, you'll be covered. And if you don't, and you've got a pre-existing condition, sorry. We don't play the game like that. Maybe if you're lucky Ron Paul will give you free medical care. Otherwise you can go die.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, if they?re 45 years old and they show up they say ?I want insurance because I?ve got a heart disease,? it?s like hey guys, we can?t play the game like that. You?ve got to get insurance when you are well, and then if you get ill then you?re going to be covered.
If Justice Anthony M. Kennedy can locate a limiting principle in the federal government?s defense of the new individual health insurance mandate, or can think of one on his own, the mandate may well survive. If he does, he may take Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and a majority along with him. But if he does not, the mandate is gone. That is where Tuesday?s argument wound up ? with Kennedy, after first displaying a very deep skepticism, leaving the impression that he might yet be the mandate?s savior. – Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSBLOG
People are in a panic over yesterday’s argument by Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr.
Adam Serwer over at Mother Jones stuck a fork in him and judges it’s over.
Stepping up to the podium, Verrilli stammered as he began his argument. He coughed, he cleared his throat, he took a drink of water. And that was before he even finished the first part of his argument. Sounding less like a world-class lawyer and more like a teenager giving an oral presentation for the first time, Verrilli delivered a rambling, apprehensive legal defense of liberalism’s biggest domestic accomplishment since the 1960s?and one that may well have doubled as its eulogy.
That’s some doomsday dangle. I just don’t happen to buy it and I’m not an individual mandate fan, as ACA has been created, which gives the power to Big Pharma and private insurance, though Pres. Obama’s choice.
Was it a bad day? Listen or read the transcript and it’s clear Mr. Verrilli received a grilling. But that hardly means it’s over. No doubt he’ll double back today to make points he missed, but even then it’s not indicative of what the ruling will be.
We just don’t know, so as I said yesterday, let’s remember that Chief Justice Roberts has a lot riding on this one, too. I made this point the first day of hearings. From Politico today:
… Many of the highest-profile cases in the Roberts Court ? from the controversial Citizens United ruling to the 2006 decision striking down school desegregation plans in Louisville and Seattle ? were bitter 5-4 affairs, with Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and swing voter Anthony Kennedy in the majority.
In the 2010 term alone, 16 cases out of about 80 were decided by 5-4 majorities, 20 percent of the total docket, according to analysis by SCOTUSblog. The split verdicts included a Roberts-backed decision blocking Walmart employees from refiling gender discrimination suits that had previously been dismissed on a technicality.
The divisions haven?t been universal: There has been bipartisan agreement on a handful of key cases, including some involving the rights of accused criminals, with Scalia in particular siding with court liberals such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Roberts defenders say the court?s schisms are overplayed.
That was Verrilli’s point at the end, during final summation: That, by striking down the mandate, the judiciary would be committing an aggressive act of judicial review, stepping into matters traditionally reserved for the democratically elected Congress and president. I happen to think he’s right about that. Whether five justices of the court agree, alas, is pretty unclear at this point.
Legal experts are focused on Justice Kennedy.
As for me, I’m a lot more curious about Chief Justice Roberts, a wunderkind who I believe doesn’t want a history-rocking Bush v. Gore nightmare to match the other split decisions, who knows people find the Supreme Court more political than judicially ethical, and who knows whatever decision comes down will etch the character of himself and the court he leads in history.
I’m just not convinced by listening to what was said or by reading the reams of words written that Jeffrey Toobin’s pronouncement of what yesterday wrought, “a train wreck for the Obama administration,” will end in overturning the mandate, though it could.
Absolutely nobody knows, not even the justices at the Supreme Court at this point.
Our media world doesn’t do well with uncertainty, but that’s what we’ve got until late June.
?We feel very good about where we stand with the Supreme Court. Look at what happened in the lower courts when they heard this case: Judges Sutton and Silberman asked brutally tough questions during oral arguments and then they ruled in our favor. The armchair Court-watchers love to make predictions, but there is a long list of cases where the pundits have been wrong. For example, after the oral arguments in a voting rights case in 2009, everyone predicted the government would lose. We ended up winning 8-1. Yesterday was what we expected ? tough questions for attorneys on both sides of the issue. Ultimately, we are confident we will win.? – Mike Allen’s Playbook
After adjusting for inflation, we pay CEOs today four times what they made in the 1970′s. Pay-for-performance is the idea behind exorbitant CEO pay, but the fact is that CEO’s make big money whether their companies perform or not. CEO pay is a problem that is affecting us all as we struggle to afford housing, health care and education in the middle class, while the 1% continues to hoard resources. We need to reach some social consensus on what to do about this problem. Otherwise, the stratification will continue. From Time: Are We Paying Our CEOs Enough: A New Survey From the Wall Street Journal and Hay Group Suggests Maybe Not | Business | TIME.com.
1. Will it get near-term media traction? Let's see if the British independent press picks it up, or some prime American source. These are critical hours for the story in the U.S.; the fruit is still unripe, still vulnerable to the frosty stare of the next missing news-blonde.? The U.S.?DoD side of the story (point 2 above) is being ably followed by Marcy Wheeler ? including the difference in the number of victims claimed, and the implications of that discrepancy. Do check that out, especially her speculations near the end of the post. (And see also this, then this to get her long-range projections for this story's arc. I'm guessing she's right.)
2. In the U.S. what will be the response? At some point there will be a trial. That in itself could rekindle awareness. After all, if one or more people had gone on a midnight killing spree of 16 women and children in Kansas, we'd be inundated with it, drowning in it.
3. In Afghanistan, this could change the political equation. Yes, we're talking about maybe exiting the war. But there's now more on the table for honor-focused tribal leaders than just our leaving.
Conflicting reports from eyewitnesses, US officials and local leaders show, if anything, how little is known for certain about what happened in the early morning hours of March 11, when Staff Sgt. Robert Bales allegedly massacred 16 Afghan civilians [amended by the U.S. to 17], including nine women and children. ...Note that the article's disclaimer ("they didn?t see the shooting or ... couldn?t recall key details") is belied by this direct testimony from later in the same article:
?ISAF is looking into all the witnesses accounts who are deemed credible and we will investigate that,? Lt. Brian Badura said. Credible is the key word. Most of the ?witnesses? so far interviewed are from the villages, or are family or friends of the victims. But very few actually saw the shooting unfold.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who summoned several villagers to Kabul to get their side of the story, has ardently supported their claims. GlobalPost, however, interviewed the same people in Kandahar before they flew to meet Karzai, and found that either they didn?t see the shooting or that they couldn?t recall key details.
[For example,] Habibullah, a 28-year-old farmer who saw parts of the massacre unfold, was one of those who met Karzai. He told GlobalPost he saw several soldiers in his compound when his father was shot. But he also admits he can?t remember everything that happened. ?My mind is too confused,? he said. ...
After the soldier with the walkie-talkie killed her husband, [Massouma] said he lingered in the doorway of her home. ?While he stood there, I secretly looked through the curtains and saw at least 20 Americans, with heavy weapons, searching all the rooms in our compound, as well as my bathroom,? she said. ... An Afghan journalist who went to Massouma?s home in the days after the shooting and spoke with one of her sons, aged seven, said the boy told him he looked through the curtains and saw a number of soldiers ? although he couldn?t say how many.Massouma's husband is Mohammad Dawood according to Wheeler, who is attempting to coordinate all these names, lists, and versions.
Two British soldiers were killed on Monday when an Afghan soldier turned his gun on them at the gates of a UK military base. The attacker was also killed during an exchange of fire which may have started after security guards stopped a truck as it tried to enter the heavily fortified compound in Helmand's capital Lashkar Gah. ...The AP ups that number to three killed in two attacks:
Massoud Khan Nourzai, an MP from Helmand, said: "These kinds of attacks have increased lately and maybe they will continue to increase in the future.
"They have increased because of the incidents like the one in Kandahar. If an incident like Kandahar happens, people are not sitting quietly. In every Afghan family they are talking about it and saying they committed a cruel action."
Afghan security forces shot and killed three international troops Monday, one of them an American, in two attacks. They were the latest in a rising number of attacks in which Afghan forces have turned their weapons on their foreign partners.Causes are given in both papers as the Kandahar massacre, the "burning of Muslim holy books at a U.S. base, and uncertainty about Afghanistan's fate."
Tensions have been running high in Afghanistan because of the burning of Qur'ans by US forces inside an international base, and then the shooting dead of 17 [sic] Afghan civilians in Kandahar province by Staff Sergeant Robert Bales.So the independent British press is following the DoD line, at least for now ? no mention in this story of offsetting witness accounts. The Guardian article closes with a quote supporting Cameron's decision to remain in Afghanistan, so the media "lone gunman" story is a joint trans-Atlantic op, at least in appearance.