In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s editorial board, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) called the recent scandal in which state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser allegedly grabbed another another justice around the neck an “extremely serious” matter. Walker noted that the state is investigating the matter and said it would be inappropriate for him to “prejudge” Prosser. “But what I hear, if it’s true, obviously is extremely serious,” Walker said. “Even if it’s not the truth, but is somewhere in between the two, it is still a serious matter of grave concern, not just to me, but it should be for anybody in the state.”
Watch Walker’s full answer:
Yesterday?s Brookings Institution event ?PhDs, Policies and Patents? focused on ways the government can invest in research and technology that will spur innovation and lead to long-term economic growth. Although much of the discussion had to do with biomedical advancements and infrastructure development, the lessons from the conference relate to higher education as well. Specifically, there is tremendous potential to use online technology to lower the skyrocketing cost of college attendance. This is necessary because expanding access to higher education is a surefire way to boost innovation and the nation?s economic prospects ? individuals who graduate from college conduct more research, develop more technologies, and earn higher incomes than non-degree holders.
Unfortunately, a combination of skewed incentives, backwards priorities and traditionalist mindsets make this a difficult objective to achieve. Universities have little reason to cut costs because their reputations directly benefit from higher per student academic spending. So even if a school achieves cost savings without sacrificing quality ? say, by replacing large, intro-level lectures with online courses ? it will be regarded as less prestigious by many ranking methodologies. Public colleges face an additional problem. State support for higher education has declined steadily during the past few decades, and recent budget crises have exacerbated this trend. This means that if public schools save money by embracing online courses, state legislatures likely will view it as an opportunity to further reduce their appropriations to higher education. This means the benefits of cost savings would not accrue to students through reduced tuition but rather to state governments that could avoid raising taxes or cutting other services. Finally, university faculty view online technology as a threat to their role at the heart of the higher education system. This was evident during an exchange between George Mason University Prof. Tyler Cowen and Stanford University Prof. Tim Bresnahan at yesterday?s conference. When Cowen raised the possibility of universities employing fewer professors once online courses are widespread, Bresnahan responded defensively by asserting that he does more than just teach.
Obviously, Bresnahan has a point ? the specialized expertise and personalized guidance that professors can convey to students in higher-level college courses truly is indispensible. For entry-level lectures with hundreds of students, however, faculty members often don?t do much more than teach. They don?t grade papers, they don?t meet their students and they aren?t able to delve into the finer details of the subjects they teach. These classes aren?t just a waste of students? money, however; they?re also a drain on professors? time. If they were freed from their obligation to teach such classes, professors would be able to devote more effort toward their niche in the higher education system ? stimulating students? intellectual curiosity through personal interactions and engaging learning experiences.
All of which is to say the problem the U.S. faces today isn?t how to make higher education more affordable. Rather, it?s convincing various groups that doing so will benefit them.
Via CNN: “I would hope that the state would move in that direction” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “Tremendous progress has been made across the country on a value statement and I think that’s very important.” Illinois enacted a civil unions law earlier this year.
President Obama, speaking today, sought to emphasize exactly how extreme congressional republican hostility to tax revenue is by repeatedly noting that they preferred defaulting on the federal government’s obligations to even closing a tax provision that subsidizes the use of corporate jets. Naturally, since current conservative orthodoxy is that all measures to raise tax revenue constitute job destroying tax hikes, it is in fact the case that the right opposes curbing tax subsidies for corporate jets. But since that’s embarrassing to them, some folks are putting out a new myth that the tax subsidy in question was created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The truth is that, much as you would expect, the White House negotiating team isn’t nearly that stupid. The source of the confusion is that congress passed a “bonus depreciation” law in 2008 as an economic stimulus measure, and ARRA continued it. This depreciation is a broad (albeit temporary) provision that includes to a wide range of capital goods including both commercial and corporate aircraft. By contrast, the tax break at issue in the negotiations is a 1987 provision of the tax code that allows corporate jets to be depreciated over a five-year period rather than the seven-year period required for commercial aviation. This is not something Barack Obama created, not something Barack Obama has ever supported, and not anything that has anything to do with the stimulus bill. It is, instead, a small but real subsidy that distorts the economy at the margin by encouraging large firms to invest in corporate jets rather than paying for commercial airfare.
We may be in for a dozen rounds of this kind of myth-making. The White House has put on the table the idea that we should raise tax revenue without necessarily raising tax rates. That means closing loopholes. But congressional Republicans say they’re opposed to any increases in tax revenue. Now everyone knows that the tax code contains lots of unjustifiable loopholes, so the White House can gain a strong rhetorical upper hand by highlighting specific loopholes. Since the GOP has committed itself to defending each and every loophole no matter how absurd they’re going to need to engage in a lot of desperate smokescreens like this to avoid engaging directly with the core question.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich,
smirking even in his official portrait.Cut, cut, cut:
State senators voted [Tuesday] to approve Ohio's nearly $56 billion, two-year state budget bill, a far-reaching collection of policy changes that would privatize state operations, overhaul Medicaid, limit unions, ban abortions at public hospitals and provide tax breaks on investments, income and estates.
The House voted Wednesday. Since it was a conference bill, it heads directly to Gov. John Kasich for his signature.
Once again, we see the gubernatorial class of 2010's signature dual-cut system: slash services because there's an alleged budget emergency, and give the lie to the emergency claims by slashing taxes for corporations and the wealthy because they're uniquely deserving.
Plunderbund analyzes some of the budget's major provisions, including:
Tax cuts. In 2005, Governor Taft and the GOP-led legislature introduced massive tax breaks, but delayed their implementation until future budgets. The result was a massive, growing structural deficit that Governor Strickland had to address each budget. The phony $8 billion deficit Kasich is still disingenuously claiming his budget ?solves? can be attributed to the Great Recession and the habit of the Ohio GOP passing tax cuts today, with kicking the can down the road on how to pay for them into the next budget when they actually take affect.
Turnpike privatization. The initial Kasich budget contained language that empowered Kasich?s OBM Director Tim Keen to privatize any government function. The House limited that to just the Ohio Turnpike. The conference committee, according to the Plain Dealer, limited even further mandating that the Administration cannot even solicit bids for the Turnpike until it receives further legislative approval.
As David Nir wrote a couple months back:
Some days, I get out of bed and have to think about which Republican it is I hate the most. Usually, though, I don't, because it just winds up being John Kasich.
Media Matters presents the best of our work on Glenn Beck, from his hiring at Fox News through his departure from the network this week.
STEPHEN PIZZO FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
This year may well go down in history as the year non-violent revolutions broke out across the globe. While most attention has been directed at those erupting throughout the Middle East, much of the credit for all this ruckus goes to the power of viral social networks. But, while hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizen-revolutionaries fill the streets of cities from Athens to Damascus, protesting growing social and economic disparities, a handful of very un-ordinary citizens have opened another front online. You might call them the citizen version of Special Forces.
Let me explain. If we've learned anything over recent decades about the government's ability to regulate increasingly complex public and private enterprises it's that they are nearly useless. Whether it's the financial sector, the industrial sector or government agencies themselves, government regulators are almost always the ones standing around after the stuff hits the fan asking what the hell just happened?
You can find the freshest example of that in the recent nuclear mess in Japan. There were plenty of independent experts (and even non-experts) who had warned that the Fukushima nuclear plant was an accident waiting to happen. But, for reasons that run the range from incompetence to complicity, nothing was done until it was too late.
Bank of America settled some of their mortgage problems today, but now all. Even then they got off very cheaply, a mere 8.6 billion.[...]
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Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann responded Wednesday to a report by NBC that the mental health clinic run by her husband has collected annual Medicaid payments totaling over $137,000, while she has criticized the program for swelling the "welfare rolls."
"Medicaid is a valuable form of insurance for many Americans and it would be discriminatory not to accept Medicaid as a form of payment," Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart told CNN. "As a state-sponsored counseling service, Bachmann and Associates has a responsibility to provide Medicaid and medical assistance, regardless of a patients financial situation."
So now Michele is concerned about discriminatory practices? Now Michele wants to protect Americans' right to use government funds at their health provider of choice?
That's funny. Because last year, Michele wanted to "wean" Americans off social safety nets like Medicare and Social Security. And earlier this year, she wanted to shut down the government to ensure that Americans could not use government funds at their health care provider of choice.
But now Michele's back to her freedom and liberty talky-talk. And besides, it's not like the government money her family's "Christian counseling" business accepted from the government counts anyway:
When asked by anchor Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday" about the story's assertion that her husband's counseling clinic had also gotten federal and state funds, Bachmann replied that it was "one-time training money that came from the federal government. And it certainly didn't help our clinic."
Except that's not even true.
But state records show that Bachmann & Associates has been collecting payments under the Minnesota's Medicaid program every year for the past six years.
One time, six times?whatever. Counting has a liberal bias.
Of course, hating on government programs while simultaneously collecting government cash is nothing new for Michele. As the L.A. Times reported last week:
Bachmann has long sought to distance herself from those who benefit from public money. "I don't need government to be successful," she proudly told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly in fall 2009 when he asked why she inspired such ire among liberal critics.
Another of Bachmann's assets ? a family farm owned by her late father-in-law, Paul Bachmann ? received nearly $260,000 in federal money between 1995 and 2008, largely from corn and dairy subsidies, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data compiled by the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research organization that scrutinizes such subsidies. Paul Bachmann died in May 2009, but the congresswoman retains a partnership in the farm.
Bachmann said in December that the subsidies went to her in-laws and she never received "one penny" from the farm, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. However, in financial disclosure forms, she reported receiving between $32,503 and $105,000 in income from the farm, at minimum, between 2006 and 2009.
Michele's family farm is cashing in on the farm bill she voted against in 2008, saying it was "loaded with unbelievably outrageous pork."
But according to Michele, it's not pork when she asks for it:
Bachmann told the Star Tribune she supports a "redefinition" of what an earmark is, because, she said: "Advocating for transportation projects for ones district in my mind does not equate to an earmark."
"I don?t believe that building roads and bridges and interchanges should be considered an earmark," Bachmann said. "There?s a big difference between funding a tea pot museum and a bridge over a vital waterway."
So to recap: pork is bad. But we shouldn't discriminate against those who receive it. And besides, it doesn't count if it doesn't help. And it's not even pork when Michele asks for it for her district or her family.
Anyone else confused? Besides Michele?
While watching an outdoor movie at a NY Park Glenn Beck and family were verbally attacked by other moviegoers. While I have no sympathy for Glenn Beck himself I’m old school and you don’t bother a man when he’s with his family. But of course Glenn Beck has to come with the hyperbole and compare [...]
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