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Why Is Washington Focused on Deficits Instead Jobs?

Why Is Washington Focused on  Deficits Instead Jobs? | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

J. Mijin Cha explores the tension between "donor class" preference to focus on deficit reduction versus voters preference to focus on job creation and economic security policies.


by J. MIJIN CHA, Demos


Most available research indicates a significant difference in priorities between the majority of Americans and the affluent that comprise the political donor class, which may explain the current bi-partisan drive for deficit reduction at the expense of stimulus policies, in spite of persistent high unemployment.


Does Washington really care about job creation?


Despite near-record levels of unemployment and meager economic growth, the U.S. political system has focused far more on deficit reduction over the past two years than on job creation. Austerity dominates the current political debate even as the economy struggles to recover from the Great Recession. Bowing to political pressures, President Obama created a national fiscal commission in early 2010 to recommend ways to tame the national debt, and discussion about deficit reduction has dominated Washington since then.


As a result of the debt ceiling showdown last summer, Congress enacted significant spending reductions in the Budget Control Act of 2011, despite predicted near-term job losses. The Budget Control Act set a cap on spending on discretionary programs from FY 2013- 2022 at $1.5 trillion less than current levels. The Act also required across-the-board cuts (sequestration) if the “supercommittee” on deficit reduction failed to come up with adequate measures. As no compromise was reached, without Congressional action, the sequester will begin to take effect in FY 2013. Regardless, $1.5 trillion in spending cuts over a decade will be required starting next year, even if the sequester is avoided, bringing discretionary spending to the lowest level relative to the economy since the Eisenhower administration. If automatic spending cuts occur, an additional estimated 2.1 million jobs will be lost.


During this same period, proposals to address high unemployment and create jobs have seen far less traction in the national policy debate. There was no jobs commission created despite the high unemployment rate. President Obama’s American Jobs Act, introduced in September 2011, went nowhere in Congress and received only modest media attention. Even a bill specifically targeted at helping war veterans, a popular constituency, failed to garner enough support to overcome a filibuster last summer. [MORE]

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Sen. Boxer Proposes Federal Standards for Equal Access to Polling Places Regardless of Race, Political Affiliation

Sen. Boxer Proposes Federal Standards for Equal Access to Polling Places Regardless of Race, Political Affiliation | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by AMANDA BECKER, Roll Call


Sen. Barbara Boxer on Wednesday became the latest lawmaker to introduce election reform legislation, proposing a plan aimed at shortening the long lines that greeted voters on Election Day.


The California Democrat would require the attorney general to work with the federal Election Assistance Commission to require states such as Florida, Ohio and Virginia — where voters waited more than 90 minutes to cast a ballot during the 2012 elections — to comply with a program to remedy such delays in the future. The attorney general and the commission would also develop national standards related to voting machines, election works and other necessary resources.


“It is unacceptable that many Americans had to wait in line for five, six or seven hours to cast their ballots,” Boxer said in a release. “The LINE Act will help ensure that every American has an equal chance to vote without enduring hours-long delays at their polling places.”


Boxer’s bill comes on the heels of a letter she sent last month to Republican congressional leaders that urged them to recommend Election Assistance Commission nominees after the panel sat without a single commissioner, executive director or general counsel during the elections. Boxer cited a CQ Roll Call report that the commission’s lack of Senate-confirmed leaders had undermined its mission. [MORE]

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Party Recon's comment, December 6, 2012 10:45 AM
In Oregon, this isn't an issue. We get our ballots weeks before the election and are free to mail them in or drop them in secure boxes around the state. It is ludicrous in this day and age to force people to go to a poling place to vote. Tell Barb and her buddies in Washingotn that we want either a mail-in or electronic (via the internet) voting system NOW! Anything short of this impedes democracy.
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Republicans losing blame game on fiscal cliff

Republicans losing blame game on fiscal cliff | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by CHRIS CILLIZZA, AARON BLAKE and SEAN SULLIVAN, The Washington Post


A majority of Americans say that if the country goes over the fiscal cliff on Dec. 31, congressional Republicans should bear the brunt of the blame, according to a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll, the latest sign that the GOP faces a perilous path on the issue between now and the end of the year.


While 53 percent of those surveyed say the GOP would (and should) lose the fiscal cliff blame game, just 27 percent say President Obama would be deserving of more of the blame. Roughly one in 10 (12 percent) volunteer that both sides would be equally to blame.


Those numbers are largely unchanged from a Post-Pew survey conducted three weeks ago and suggest that for all of the back and forth in Washington on the fiscal cliff, there has been little movement in public perception. The numbers also explain why Republicans privately fret about the political dangers of going over the cliff, while Democrats are more sanguine about such a prospect.


The blame question is all the more relevant because a near majority — 49 percent — of those polled expect the Dec. 31 deadline to pass without a deal, while 40 percent expect a deal to be cut. Perhaps indicative of which side believes it has the upper hand in the negotiations, 55 percent of self-identified Democrats believe there will be a deal, while just 22 percent of Republicans feel the same. Thirty-seven percent of independents expect a deal; 52 percent do not.


There also appears to be a disconnect between a general sense that going over the cliff would be bad for the country and an acknowledgement of what it would mean for peoples’ lives.


Roughly two-thirds of all Americans say that not meeting the Dec. 31 deadline would have “major” consequences for the U.S. economy, but just 43 percent believe that it would have a “major effect” on their personal finances — despite the fact that taxes would go up on the vast majority of the population on Jan. 1 if no deal can be reached. [MORE]


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John Boehner’s Hostage Crisis

John Boehner’s Hostage Crisis | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by DAVID CORN, Mother Jones


In the past week or two, there's been crowing on the left about anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist's slipping influence, as a small—emphasis on small—number of congressional Republicans murmur that they might accept a tax/spending deal that includes a hike in rates for the wealthy. For years, Norquist has been the whip of the conservative movement, leaning on GOP candidates and legislators to commit to and stand by a no-tax pledge and acting as prosecutor, judge, and jury whenever any Republican considered any initiative that might possibly be characterized as a tax increase. But as President Barack Obama bargains (toughly) with House Speaker John Boehner as the fiscal cliff (or bump) nears, Norquist, his cachet waning or not, is not Boehner's problem. He is not the force that is preventing the speaker from striking a deal with an electorally energized Obama. The true obstacle is Boehner's own comrades: those scores of tea partiers in the House Republican caucus who detest compromise—especially with the president. As Boehner tries to forge an accord with Obama, he has to watch carefully his colleagues and his back.


This has been the challenge for Boehner for the past two years. There's not much doubt that in the summer of 2011 he sincerely desired attaining the so-called grand bargain Obama offered: spending cuts and Medicare and Medicaid reductions (that were harder on providers than beneficiaries) in return for greater tax revenues squeezed from the wealthy and corporations and a hike in the debt ceiling. And Boehner presumably would fancy producing such a mighty deal now. But two summers ago Boehner was warned by moderate Republicans in his caucus that if he accepted anything resembling the package Obama was offering he would face a rebellion, perhaps a mutiny, within his own caucus that might be led by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. That could have led to his demise as speaker.


This basic dynamic—Boehner cannot haggle freely with the president due to the intense opposition to a deal within his own ranks—has not fundamentally changed. What has changed is the president's hand. According to senior administration officials, Obama is not eager to go over the cliff, but he is willing. If no deal is reached by the end of the month, all the Bush tax cuts—for the rich and not rich—will evaporate. Obama would then demand in early January that the new Congress immediately pass legislation to reinstate the lower tax rates for the bottom 98 percent. Boehner and the Republicans presumably will find it difficult to say no and insist they will only vote for such tax relief if it includes breaks for the wealthy or cuts in Medicare and other government spending. As a Democratic strategist close to the White House says, "For years we've tried to make the case that the Republicans are willing to hold up tax cuts for 98 percent to help the guys at the top. This is the cleanest shot we've gotten at this." [MORE]

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Republicans Who Have Opposed Leadership See Committee Assignments Stripped

Republicans Who Have Opposed Leadership See Committee Assignments Stripped | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Perhaps presaging a year in which revolts by rank-and-file members will be less tolerated, Republican leaders removed members with obstinate voting patterns from key committees.

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Democratic Rep: Amend Constitution To Allow Control Of Speech - CBS Atlanta

Democratic Rep: Amend Constitution To Allow Control Of Speech - CBS Atlanta | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

This article seems to have represented a Tea Party slant on the ongoing Citizens United amendment fight. Especially for their conservative readership, the local Atlanta CBS affiliate has cast the amend fight as an attempt to limit free speech; you would think that we were talking about revoking the 1st Amendment - not stemming the flow of corrupting money into politics partially brought on by this very recent miscarriage of justice. And of course the article comments are as expected; God help us if they represent the level of understanding of most Americans.[MORE]

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Frank Kirkwood's comment, December 3, 2012 9:25 AM
The reporter is incorrect in declaring that the Citizens United decision, "found that a state law prohibiting corporations from making political campaign contributions using their treasury funds was unconstitutional." The link to the Supreme Court blog included in the report makes that pretty clear. The decision was about independent political expenditures, not campaign contributions. God help us if this represents the level of understanding of any reporter, much less a major network affiliate.
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Can This Party Be Saved?

Can This Party Be Saved? | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Why the GOP’s purists and pragmatists need to face the challenge of policy


by MIKE MURPHY, Time


We Republicans cherish the free market. So now might be the right time to start listening to it. Our party has lost the popular vote in five of the past six presidential elections. That is 20 years of “no, thanks” from the American people. Only basketball’s Washington Generals, who are paid to lose to the Harlem Globetrotters, can exceed that losing record, and by only four years (1971–95).

The worst error politicians can make is to spin themselves. It’s time for the GOP to face the hard truth, no matter how painful. The Republican brand is dying, many of our strategists are incompetent, and we still design campaigns to prevail in the America of 25 years ago.

Identifying the problem is easy. The Republican challenge is not about better voter-turnout software; it is about policy. We repel Latinos, the fastest-growing voter group in the country, with our nativist opposition to immigration reform that offers a path to citizenship. We repel younger voters, who are much more secular than their parents, with our opposition to same-sex marriage and our scolding tone on social issues. And we have lost much of our once solid connection to the middle class on kitchen-table economic issues.

A debate will now rage inside the GOP between the purists, who will as always call for more purity, and the pragmatists, who will demand modernization. The media, always culturally alien to intra-Republican struggles, will badly mislabel this contest as one between “moderate” and “right-wing” Republicans. In fact, the epic battle we Republicans face now is a choice between two definitions of conservatism. [MORE]

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More on the Right Wing Media Claim that Media Belongs to Left Wing

More on the Right Wing Media Claim that Media Belongs to Left Wing | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by Eric Byler  

 

I wrote this in the chat room during an outstanding episode of Egberto Willies' radio show Politics Done Right:  

 

In other words, if indeed liberals controlled corporate media content for the past 40 years instead of corporate conservatives, the majority of Americans would be convinced that the "media" was dominated by conservatives.  

 

There is alot of misinformation on the Internet, but, because of it, our national discourse is not as dominated by plutocrats as it had been.  The "wisdom of the crowd" is allowing the truth to emerge for the majority of Americans.  And, that majority will grow as more Americans migrate from the boob tube to the Internet, where they have more agency.  

 

And, where they have the ability to connect with and organize with one another.  

 

Under the old model, we were all isolated in our homes, consuming corporate (conservative) media products, thinking they were liberal media products.   

 

Isolated is the operative word. We're not isolated any more. Look at us right now. Listen to podcast: http://bit.ly/Ql4joc

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Don't let Wall Street sideline Elizabeth Warren.

Don't let Wall Street sideline Elizabeth Warren. | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
Get Elizabeth Warren's back and ensure that when she gets to the Senate she can be the fierce and effective advocate we need for Wall Street accountability.
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Two Ex-Florida GOP Chairs Say Republican Voting Laws Designed to Suppress Vote

Two Ex-Florida GOP Chairs Say Republican Voting Laws Designed to Suppress Vote | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by IAN GRAY, Huffington Post


Jim Greer, the former head of the Florida Republican Party, recently claimed that a law shortening the early voting period in the state was deliberately designed to suppress voting among groups that tend to support Democratic candidates, the Palm Beach Post reports.


“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told the Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only...‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us.’"


The HB 1355 law, which was passed by Florida's Republican legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott (R) in Nov. 2011, cut the number of early voting days from 14 to eight. It was publicly sold as an effort to reduce voter fraud and to save money, but Greer says that this was simply a "marketing ploy."


Greer served as Florida's GOP chairman from 2006 until 2010 when he was forced to resign after allegedly stealing money from the party. He was arrested and his case is pending.


Scott's predecessor, Republican-turned-Independent Charlie Crist, resisted efforts from Republicans to shorten the state's early voting period, citing reasons that mesh with Greer's claims.


In an interview with The Huffington Post earlier this month, Crist said the new law is clearly aimed at curbing turnout among Democrats.


"The only thing that makes any sense as to why this is happening and being done is voter suppression," he said. [MORE]

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The Ghost of Norquist Past

The Ghost of Norquist Past | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Last year, the Americans for Tax reform head said that letting the Bush tax cuts expire wasn't the same as a tax increase. Republicans in Congress should use this to their advantage in the fiscal cliff fight.


by SALLY KOHN, The American Prospect


This week, Grover Norquist has been all over the place attacking the idea that President Obama would use his mandate to stand firm on the highly-popular idea of letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for those earning over $250,000 a year. When asked what his agenda for the fiscal showdown was, Norquist told The Washington Post, “You want to stop any tax increases, so continue any tax cuts that lapse.”

In other words, allowing a tax cut to lapse equals a tax increase, eh? Not so fast says … Grover Norquist.


In a July 2011 meeting with The Washington Post editorial board, Norquist said, “Not continuing a tax cut is not technically a tax increase.”


Now, for those of you who may not know, Grover Norquist is not, as his name might suggest, a character on Sesame Street. Norquist is the bizarrely powerful head of Americans for Tax Reform, the conservative anti-government advocacy group that pressures political candidates to sign absolutist pledges against raising taxes. Norquist holds immense sway over the Republican Party when it comes to matters of tax policy, so his admission that letting a tax cut expire is not the same as raising taxes would seem to give plenty of room to maneuver to Republicans in Congress. And those Republicans, with an electoral shellacking in the recent past and increasing political and demographic unpopularity looming, need all the room to maneuver that they can get. [MORE]

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I Am A Tough Man But This Made Me Cry And Resolved To Continue Fighting This Class Warfare

I Am A Tough Man But This Made Me Cry And Resolved To Continue Fighting This Class Warfare | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

By EGBERTO WILLIES


I have been mad at our political/economic system for some time. After leaving my activism in college I settled in a good corporate job as an engineer for 5 years. I then “built “my own software company. While insulated from today’s and yesteryears’ ills of working for companies that continue wage depression and employee oppression, I read about it with a continued trepidation. You see, even when one thinks all is well with where they are in life the unknown of society at large invariable will have an effect on us all. As a society we ignore that at our own peril...


Most telling is the terms of the contract that hostess wanted. The words from the author say it best.


What was this last/best/final offer? You’d never know by watching the main stream media tell the story. So here you go


  • 8% hourly pay cut in year 1 with additional cuts totaling 27% over 5 years. Currently, I make $16.12 an hour at TOP rate of pay in the bakery. I would drop to $11.26 in 5 years.
  • They get to keep our $3+ an hour forever.
  • Doubling of weekly insurance premium.
  • Lowering of overall quality of insurance plan.
  • TOTAL withdrawal from ALL pensions. If you don’t have it now then you never will.
  • Remember how I said I made $48,000 in 2005 and $34,000 last year? I would make $25,000 in 5 years if I took their offer. It will be hard to replace the job I had, but it will be easy to replace the job they were trying to give me.


[MORE]

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Ohio’s GOP Secretary of State Already Has A Plan To Rig The 2016 Election For Republicans

Ohio’s GOP Secretary of State Already Has A Plan To Rig The 2016 Election For Republicans | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
Last year, Pennsylvania’s Republican Gov. Tom Corbett proposed rigging the Electoral College vote in his state through a plan that would have given the majority of the state’s electors to Romney even after President Obama carried the state.


We deserve true democracy.-MRP

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The Insourcing Boom | The Atlantic

The Insourcing Boom | The Atlantic | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
After years of offshore production, General Electric is moving much of its far-flung appliance-manufacturing operations back home. It is not alone.
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Joseph Pomponio's comment, December 12, 2012 2:26 AM
Good but where? Right to work states where workers take a cut in the standard of living? Just building a one world economy by lowering ours to equal theirs?
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Republicans not handling election results well

Republicans not handling election results well | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

PPP's first post election national poll finds that Republicans are taking the results pretty hard...and also declining in numbers.


49% of GOP voters nationally say they think that ACORN stole the election for President Obama. We found that 52% of Republicans thought that ACORN stole the 2008 election for Obama, so this is a modest decline, but perhaps smaller than might have been expected given that ACORN doesn't exist anymore.


Some GOP voters are so unhappy with the outcome that they no longer care to be a part of the United States. 25% of Republicans say they would like their state to secede from the union compared to 56% who want to stay and 19% who aren't sure.


One reason that such a high percentage of Republicans are holding what could be seen as extreme views is that their numbers are declining. Our final poll before the election, which hit the final outcome almost on the head, found 39% of voters identifying themselves as Democrats and 37% as Republicans. Since the election we've seen a 5 point increase in Democratic identification to 44%, and a 5 point decrease in Republican identification to 32%. [MORE]

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Republican Doomsday Plan: Cave on Taxes, Vote 'Present'

Republican Doomsday Plan: Cave on Taxes, Vote 'Present' | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by JONATHAN KARL, ABC News


Republicans are seriously considering a Doomsday Plan if fiscal cliff talks collapse entirely. It’s quite simple: House Republicans would allow a vote on extending the Bush middle class tax cuts (the bill passed in August by the Senate) and offer the President nothing more: no extension of the debt ceiling, nothing on unemployment, nothing on closing loopholes. Congress would recess for the holidays and the president would face a big battle early in the year over the debt ceiling.


Two senior Republican elected officials tell me this doomsday plan is becoming the most likely scenario. A top GOP House leadership aide confirms the plan is under consideration, but says Speaker Boehner has made no decision on whether to pursue it.
Under one variation of this Doomsday Plan, House Republicans would allow a vote on extending only the middle class tax cuts and Republicans, to express disapproval at the failure to extend all tax cuts, would vote “present” on the bill, allowing it to pass entirely on Democratic votes.


By doing this, Republicans avoid taking blame for tax increases on 98 percent of income tax payers. As one senior Republican in Congress told me, “You don’t take a hostage you aren’t willing to shoot.” Republicans aren’t willing to kill the middle class tax cuts, even if extending them alone will make it harder to later extend tax cuts on the wealthy.


Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., an influential conservative House Republican, is already on record supporting extending the middle class tax cuts — with or without the upper income tax cuts. On Sunday, he said Republicans should embrace the extension of the middle class tax cuts and take credit for it.


“That’s a victory, not a loss,” Cole said on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. ”And then we’re still free to try and fight over higher rates, offering revenue, which the Speaker has put on the table.” [MORE]


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The Big Budget Mumble

The Big Budget Mumble | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times


In the ongoing battle of the budget, President Obama has done something very cruel. Declaring that this time he won’t negotiate with himself, he has refused to lay out a proposal reflecting what he thinks Republicans want. Instead, he has demanded that Republicans themselves say, explicitly, what they want. And guess what: They can’t or won’t do it.


No, really. While there has been a lot of bluster from the G.O.P. about how we should reduce the deficit with spending cuts, not tax increases, no leading figures on the Republican side have been able or willing to specify what, exactly, they want to cut.


And there’s a reason for this reticence. The fact is that Republican posturing on the deficit has always been a con game, a play on the innumeracy of voters and reporters. Now Mr. Obama has demanded that the G.O.P. put up or shut up — and the response is an aggrieved mumble.


Here’s where we are right now: As his opening bid in negotiations, Mr. Obama has proposed raising about $1.6 trillion in additional revenue over the next decade, with the majority coming from letting the high-end Bush tax cuts expire and the rest from measures to limit tax deductions. He would also cut spending by about $400 billion, through such measures as giving Medicare the ability to bargain for lower drug prices.


Republicans have howled in outrage. Senator Orrin Hatch, delivering the G.O.P. reply to the president’s weekly address, denounced the offer as a case of “bait and switch,” bearing no relationship to what Mr. Obama ran on in the election. In fact, however, the offer is more or less the same as Mr. Obama’s original 2013 budget proposal and also closely tracks his campaign literature.


So what are Republicans offering as an alternative? They say they want to rely mainly on spending cuts instead. Which spending cuts? Ah, that’s a mystery. In fact, until late last week, as far as I can tell, no leading Republican had been willing to say anything specific at all about how spending should be cut.


The veil lifted a bit when Senator Mitch McConnell, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, finally mentioned a few things — raising the Medicare eligibility age, increasing Medicare premiums for high-income beneficiaries and changing the inflation adjustment for Social Security. But it’s not clear whether these represent an official negotiating position — and in any case, the arithmetic just doesn’t work. [MORE]


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2016 contenders kiss ring of billionaire oligarch Sheldon Adelson, already

2016 contenders kiss ring of billionaire oligarch Sheldon Adelson, already | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by KENNETH P. VOGEL, Politico


A week after Election Day, three Republican governors mentioned as 2016 presidential candidates — Bobby Jindal, John Kasich and Bob McDonnell — each stopped by the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino to meet privately with its owner Sheldon Adelson, a man who could single-handedly underwrite their White House ambitions.


Planning a presidential campaign used to mean having coffee with county party chairs in their Iowa or New Hampshire living rooms. The courting of Adelson, a full four years out from 2016, demonstrates how super PAC sugar daddies have become the new must-have feature for White House wannabes.


And prospective candidates from both parties are wasting little time schmoozing potential super PAC funders. [MORE]

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The Conservative Spring

The Conservative Spring | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by MICHAEL STAFFORD, The Cagle Post


It’s a good time to be a conservative dissident reformer. Dissidents, long persecuted by the conservative power structure, have been vindicated by the 2012 elections. Their stinging critiques of modern conservatism’s flaws and their urgent calls for reform have been borne out by actual events.


Now, as the GOP regroups from its electoral debacle, public criticisms of conservative dogmas have expanded beyond a small circle of dissidents. Prominent conservatives are saying heretical things that would have gotten them tarred, feathered, and banished a few months ago.


The long night of strict doctrinal conformity- a period when dissidents were condemned for the slightest deviations in the equivalent of media show trials, purged, and then airbrushed out of old CPAC convention pictures- shows signs of ending.


The high priests of the conservative infotainment industry are both discredited and politically vulnerable. Their agenda has been exposed as a bankrupt fraud- a Potemkin village, a path to nowhere.


And with the conservative power structure reeling in disarray, thoughtcrime- on issues as diverse as immigration, same-sex marriage, economic policy, and taxes- is no longer being punished.
A political and intellectual liberalization is occurring- a veritable Conservative Spring.


Ironically, Sean Hannity created the first breach in the ideological dike when he announced immediately after the election that his “evolving” views on immigration reform had led him to support a path to citizenship for illegal aliens. Hannity’s statement might have been a transparent attempt to pander to Hispanic voters but in the context of conservative public discourse it was revolutionary. [MORE]


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Making the 'Do-Nothing Congress' look great by comparison

Making the 'Do-Nothing Congress' look great by comparison | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

By Steve Benen, The Maddowblog - Thu Nov 29, 2012 


In his second term, President Harry Truman condemned the snail's pace at which lawmakers actually got some work done, labeling it a "Do-Nothing" Congress. After all, the 80th Congress (1947-1948) only passed 906 bills over its two-year period.


The current Congress, by comparison, has passed just 196 bills, easily the lowest total since the U.S. House Clerk's office started keeping track. Consider the progress in chart form, which should drive home just how unproductive the 112th Congress (2011-2012) really is.

In fairness, I should note that the current Congress still has another month to go, and I suppose it's possible that there will be a flurry of progress and constructive policymaking. But given partisan differences and a shrinking calendar, I'm pretty comfortable with the notion that this will be the least productive of any modern Congress by a large margin.


This is not, by the way, the inevitable result of divided government (one party controlling the House; the other party controlling the Senate). There have been plenty of other Congresses, some quite recently, with a Democratic Senate and a Republican House, but their bill totals weren't nearly this anemic.


This is not, by the way, the inevitable result of divided government (one party controlling the House; the other party controlling the Senate). There have been plenty of other Congresses, some quite recently, with a Democratic Senate and a Republican House, but their bill totals weren't nearly this anemic.


When evaluating whether this is, in fact, the worst Congress ever, keep this tidbit in mind.


MORE:http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2012/11/29/15541727-making-the-do-nothing-congress-look-great-by-comparison#.ULedP5KJzfY.scoopit


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U.S. to Sponsor Health Insurance Plans Nationwide

U.S. to Sponsor Health Insurance Plans Nationwide | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

 

 



By ROBERT PEAR, New York Times
Published: October 28, 2012

 

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration will soon take on a new role as the sponsor of at least two nationwide health insurance plans to be operated under contract with the federal government and offered to consumers in every state.

These multistate plans were included in President Obama's health care law as a substitute for a pure government-run health insurance program - the public option sought by many liberal Democrats and reviled by Republicans. Supporters of the national plans say they will increase competition in state health insurance markets, many of which are dominated by a handful of companies.

The national plans will compete directly with other private insurers and may have some significant advantages, including a federal seal of approval. Premiums and benefits for the multistate insurance plans will be negotiated by the United States Office of Personnel Management, the agency that arranges health benefits for federal employees.

Walton J. Francis, the author of a consumer guide to health plans for federal employees, said the personnel agency had been "extraordinarily successful" in managing that program, which has more than 200 health plans, including about 20 offered nationwide. The personnel agency has earned high marks for its ability to secure good terms for federal workers through negotiation rather than heavy-handed regulation of insurers.

John J. O'Brien, the director of health care and insurance at the agency, said the new plans would be offered to individuals and small employers through the insurance exchanges being set up in every state under the 2010 health care law.

No one knows how many people will sign up for the government-sponsored plans. In preparing cost estimates, the Obama administration told insurers to assume that each national plan would have 750,000 people enrolled in the first year.


MORE:http://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/health/us-to-sponsor-health-insurance-plans-nationwide.xml

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Revenge of the Reality-Based Community

Revenge of the Reality-Based Community | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by BRUCE BARTLETT, The American Conservative


I know that it’s unattractive and bad form to say “I told you so” when one’s advice was ignored yet ultimately proved correct. But in the wake of the Republican election debacle, it’s essential that conservatives undertake a clear-eyed assessment of who on their side was right and who was wrong. Those who were wrong should be purged and ignored; those who were right, especially those who inflicted maximum discomfort on movement conservatives in being right, ought to get credit for it and become regular reading for them once again.


I’m not going to beat around the bush and pretend I don’t have a vested interest here. Frankly, I think I’m at ground zero in the saga of Republicans closing their eyes to any facts or evidence that conflict with their dogma. Rather than listen to me, they threw me under a bus. To this day, I don’t think they understand that my motives were to help them avoid the permanent decline that now seems inevitable.


For more than 30 years, I was very comfortable within the conservative wing of the Republican Party. I still recall supporting Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater as a schoolchild. As a student, I was a member of Young Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom at the height of the Vietnam War, when conservatives on college campuses mostly kept their heads down. [MORE] | 

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From Behind Bars, Hank Morris Calls For Campaign Finance Reform

From Behind Bars, Hank Morris Calls For Campaign Finance Reform | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by KEN LOVETT, NY Daily News


Take it from an imprisoned felon who knew how to work the system, campaign finance reform is sorely needed in New York.


Hank Morris, disgraced ex-Controller Alan Hevesi’s longtime political consultant, was sent away for masking his role as ringleader in a state pension fund pay-to-play scandal. But he also was charged with arranging campaign donations for Hevesi from firms in exchange for fund business.


As he argued unsuccessfully for his freedom at a recent hearing before the state parole board, Morris said political campaigns should be publicly financed.


“I believe that if you’re doing business with the state government or any government, you shouldn’t be allowed to make political contributions regarding that government,” he said, according to a transcript.


Morris insisted that while some firms he did business with donated to Hevesi, it was not done with promises of access to the pension fund. And he said the same still a the situation was no different than what still goes on.


“The highest officials in the state right now have millions of dollars sitting in their campaign accounts from government, state contractors, city contractors, etc.,” he said. “Would it be better to have a different system? Absolutely.”


Susan Lerner, of Common Cause/New York, says the need for campaign finance reform is so “self-evident” that even a jailbird like Morris can see it. [MORE]


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The Problem With Money in Politics by Lawrence Lessig

On November 17th, Cenk Uygur joined some of the leading minds in the country at the UCLA School of Law to discuss Constitutional and legislative solutions to get big money and corporations to release their chokehold on American democracy and policy.


Via Michael Charney
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Robert Trotner's comment, November 26, 2012 10:39 AM
I missed this because of my Jewish Sabbath, and then when I tried to listen to a replay Saturday night, it wasn't available. Thanks so much!!! Shared.
Michael Charney's comment, November 26, 2012 12:32 PM
You're very welcome, Bob.
Robert Trotner's comment, November 26, 2012 12:51 PM
I hope this goes viral! This is a Republic Issue, a Cancer Issue, and an Inside vs. Outside Issue. I for one, would love to see the purchase of potato chips far outstrip the purchase of political favors lol. And i agree a statute is the way to go for the reason you mentioned and many others. :)
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CEOs Who Collect Billions In Govt. Money Demand Cuts To Poor, Elderly

CEOs Who Collect Billions In Govt. Money Demand Cuts To Poor, Elderly | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by CHRISTINA WILKIE and RYAN GRIM, Huffington Post


The corporate CEOs who have made a high-profile foray into deficit negotiations have themselves been substantially responsible for the size of the deficit they now want closed.


The companies represented by executives working with the Campaign To Fix The Debt have received trillions in federal war contracts, subsidies and bailouts, as well as specialized tax breaks and loopholes that virtually eliminate the companies' tax bills.

The CEOs are part of a campaign run by the Peter Peterson-backed Center for a Responsible Federal Budget, which plans to spend at least $30 million pushing for a deficit reduction deal in the lame-duck session and beyond.


During the past few days, CEOs belonging to what the campaign calls its CEO Fiscal Leadership Council -- most visibly, Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein and Honeywell's David Cote -- have barnstormed the media, making the case that the only way to cut the deficit is to severely scale back social safety-net programs -- Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security -- which would disproportionately impact the poor and the elderly.


As part of their push, they are advocating a "territorial tax system" that would exempt their companies' foreign profits from taxation, netting them about $134 billion in tax savings, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies titled "The CEO Campaign to ‘Fix’ the Debt: A Trojan Horse for Massive Corporate Tax Breaks" -- money that could help pay off the federal budget deficit.


Yet the CEOs are not offering to forgo federal money or pay a higher tax rate, on their personal income or corporate profits. Instead, council recommendations include cutting "entitlement" programs, as well as what they call "low-priority spending." [MORE]

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