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Supreme Court FLASH RALLY Thurs. 12 pm - Pass it on!

Add your voice to

on "Citizens United"
12 noon • Thurs. Feb. 23
US Supreme Court building

1 1st St NE
Washington, CA 20543

What's your opinion of the "Citizens United" decision and the impact of unlimited, undisclosed election spending on our Republic?

How do you feel about the Montana case before the Supreme Court that could cause them to reconsider the "Super-Pac Decree?"

Express yourself on Feb. 23 at 12 noon, and help us show that We the People have a powerful voice in the decisions that will shape our destiny.

Bring a sign, bring a friend, bring your voice and help us kick of a Court of Public Opinion Campaign and wake up the nation:

"America, your opinion matters! Weigh in on Citizens United!"

  • MORE INFO.  
  • SIGN UP to volunteer and/or get email updates re. Thursday's rally and an on-going national campaign.
  • MAP

Do your part! USE THE SHARE BUTTONS (bottom right) to get the word out!

leperreault's comment, February 21, 2012 10:24 AM
Eric, If I try to share a scoop story on FACEBOOK through the share button under the story the only thing that posts is scoop's home page and not the story.
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Democrats Make Another Push On DISCLOSE Act

Democrats Make Another Push On DISCLOSE Act | Coffee Party News |


It may not be as sexy as a constitutional amendment, but one effective way to fight back against the onslaught of money in our electoral system is to shine light on the people funding the races and the issue ads driving the debate.

Citizens United rightly gets derided as opening the floodgates to this cash, the decision did one thing right: it reaffirmed the constitutionality of laws that require the disclosure of the identities of political donors. The problem, of course, is that in reaffirming the disclosure laws the Supreme Court also gave wealthy donors an out by sanctioning the use of dark money via Super PAC’s. Congress tried to tackle the issue of dark money disclosure last year with the DISCLOSE Act. Republicans blocked the bill the first time around, but Rep. Chris Van Hollen, (D-MD) has introduced a new version of the bill that would not be too late for the general election.

Van Hollen’s bill would maximize and expedite disclosure of information about individuals and corporations contributing money during political campaign seasons. Some might be bankrolling ads that clearly endorse or oppose a candidate; others might be spending on “electioneering communications” that mention the name of a candidate without explicitly advocating his election or defeat. It doesn’t matter. Van Hollen’s proposal covers them all. [MORE]

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How Citibank Dumped Lousy Mortgages on We the People

How Citibank Dumped Lousy Mortgages on We the People | Coffee Party News |

by CORA CURRIER, ProPublica

Citigroup agreed on Feb. 15 to pay $158 million to settle a lawsuit over bad loans that the bank passed on to the Federal Housing Administration to insure. The whistle-blower who originally brought the case, Sherry Hunt, an employee of Citi's mortgage department, said the company actively undermined the process that was supposed to check for fraud in order to push through reckless loans and get higher profits.

The suit itself makes for good reading. We've pulled out the juiciest bits, and explain just what Citi appears to have been doing. [MORE]

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2012: The year of 'birth control moms'?

2012: The year of 'birth control moms'? | Coffee Party News |

by JOANNE KENEN, Politico

First came the soccer moms. Then the security moms. Will 2012 be the year of the “birth control moms”?

Just a few weeks ago, the notion would have seemed far-fetched. The country is deeply divided on abortion, but not on contraception; the vast majority of American women have used it, and access hasn’t been a front-burner political issue since the Supreme Court decided Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965.

But then Rick Santorum said states ought to have the right to outlaw the sale of contraception.

And Susan G. Komen for the Cure yanked its funding for Planned Parenthood.

And the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops teed off on President Barack Obama’s contraception policy.

And House Republicans invited a panel of five men — and no women — to debate the issue.

And a prominent Santorum supporter pined for the days when “the gals” put aspirin “between their knees” to ward off pregnancy.


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Supreme Court May Revisit Citizens United, Flash Rally Thurs. noon

Supreme Court May Revisit Citizens United, Flash Rally Thurs. noon | Coffee Party News |


American Tradition Partnership (ATP), formerly known as Western Tradition Partnership, is a 501(c)4 lobbying organization that fights against environmental regulation and laws that oversee corporate spending to influence elections. To that end, ATP filed suit to challenge a Montana law passed in 1912 called Corrupt Practices Act, after the "Citizens United" decree.

Montana's Attorney General, Steve Bullock, defended the state of Montana's century-old law before the Montana Supreme Court, arguing that political corruption made the Corrupt Practices Act necessary in 1912, that the law had been successful in protecting Montana's democratic process from corruption for 100 years, and that the possibility of corruption requires its continuation despite of the Supreme Court's decree. The Montana Supreme Court ruled in the state's favor on Dec. 30, 2011.

ATP then asked the US Supreme Court for three things: (1) a stay on the Corrupt Practices Act, (2) a review of the Montana Court's decision, and (3) a summary reversal. The Supreme Court's reply on Feb. 17, 2012 granted the stay, which means that the Corrupt Practices Act is no longer being enforced as Montana approaches its June 16 primary election. ATP would have preferred that the Supreme Court quietly grant the summary reversal without hearing oral arguments which could attract the attention of the public. But the Court's response implies that this request may not be granted.

Due to Ginsberg and Breyer's striking statement, the public scrutiny ATP had hoped to avoid may be inevitable. The issue plays into a dominant narrative of the 2012 GOP primary race, which has been flooded by Super-PAC money, drawing complaints from across the political spectrum. Less than 24 hours after the statement, there is already talk of a rally at the US Supreme Court this Thursday at 12 noon to allow the People to weigh in on whether or not anonymous and unlimited campaign donations creates the appearance of corruption (sign up to learn details as they emerge). The Court may decide to hear the Montana case as a way of revisiting "Citizens United" with new information to consider. [MORE]

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Flip Citizens United! My 2nd round with Thom Hartmann, tonight on 7:30 PM ET show

Flip Citizens United! My 2nd round with Thom Hartmann, tonight on 7:30 PM ET show | Coffee Party News |

by Eric Byler

I'm going to be on the Thom Hartmann Show an hour from now (7:30 PM ET the show begins).  I'm glad to have an opportunity to talk with Thom in person tonight because our radio chat yesterday has really gotten me thinking.  

Below are some notes I jotted down about WHY WE TRY

The Supreme Court is not impervious to public opinion, and they are not blind to the impact of their "Citizens United" decision. We the People don’t yet know how much impact we can have on entrenched power because we don’t yet know our strength. All we know do know is that our strength is in numbers, and with new media technology, that strength can, and recently has, impacted institutions like the US Congress which have ignored us systematically for decades.

The People are at a disadvantage in the 20th century model, what Lawrence Lessig calls the read-only model, because when political discourse is defined by a relationship between big microphones and little consumers, the outcome is going to be warped and bent toward the interests of those who can afford to buy the big microphones — political advertisements, news channels, or political advertisements disguised as news channels.

We need to embrace and unleash a technological revolution that allows for hundreds of millions of little microphones, not little consumers, little microphones, engaged in an on-going conversation that allows us to speak as well as listen. The People can erase the 20th century disadvantage by embracing 21st century tools, and engaging in political discourse shaped by an infinitely diverse set of participants. As James Madison predicted in his notion of pluralism, this conversation will bend toward the interests of the nation as a whole — the 99% is what we’re calling it today, which is just another way of saying “We the People.”

In the case of “Citizens United,” the immediate task before us is to use our millions of microphones to shift the national conversation and focus on the root, not the symptoms, of the systemic corruption that produced the Great Recession, our unfair tax code, and this Super-PAC Republican primary.

“Citizens United,” in some ways is a gift because it provides a very obvious clue as to where to find that root, and how to strike at that root. It has to do with how our elections are funded.

Look at what’s in the news right now, we have billionaire donors like Sheldon Adelson, Foster Freeze, Bob Parry, and Harold Simmons becoming household names. They are more central to the process of choosing a Republican nominee than the candidates they take on as their pets. Our disgust, the conversation we’re already having, is the widespread perception of corruption that Justice Kennedy implicitly said he feared in his majority opinion when Citizens United was decreed. Our job is to make that connection. A year ago, the average American didn’t know what Citizens United was. A few months ago, they might have heard at it, but weren’t yet passionate to do some homework on it. Right now, it’s across the board, perhaps even more so among conservatives because they’re the ones who are watching their nomination process get hijacked by a handful of wealthy families and multi-national corporations.

The root is exposed we have to strike.

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Citizens United Revisited? Buckle Up, Chief Justice Roberts

Citizens United Revisited? Buckle Up, Chief Justice Roberts | Coffee Party News |

by JOSH SILVER, United Republic

On Friday night, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Montana Supreme Court's December, 2011 decision upholding the state's century-old ban on corporate political spending. The implications of this are huge, as it paves the way for a potential re-opening of the disastrous Citizens United decision that has spawned billionaire-sponsored super PACs. And if that happens, Chief Justice John Roberts better buckle up for a grassroots mobilization unlike any the court has seen in years.

Friday's decision was in response to a request by the American Tradition Partnership (ATP) to reverse the Montana ruling. ATP -- a conservative group that that says it fights "the radical environmentalist agenda" -- has six weeks to formally ask the Supreme Court to review the case. If they don't, the Montana ban on corporate spending will stand.

Since the Citizens United ruling over two years ago, millions of dollars have flowed from the super-rich and corporations to elect or defeat candidates. A handful of billionaires have manipulated election outcomes in a matter of days, buying vicious ads through super PACs that candidates pretend are independent from their own campaigns -- while their former colleagues and pals run those PACs. As Ari Berman reported in Huffington Post, some 196 individual donors have provided nearly 80% of the money raised by super PACs in 2011 by giving $100,000 or more each. Secret donors using 501C4's have purchased 40% of total GOP primary ads with no disclosure of who is signing the checks. [MORE]

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Banks Deserve Some of Consumers' Criticism: Wells Fargo CEO

Banks Deserve Some of Consumers' Criticism: Wells Fargo CEO | Coffee Party News |
The U.S. banking industry has a lot of work ahead of it to restore public trust following the financial crisis, Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf said.
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Compromise on Payroll Tax Cut, GOP Image Takes a Hit

Compromise on Payroll Tax Cut, GOP Image Takes a Hit | Coffee Party News |

by LISA MASCARO, The Los Angeles Times

Along the way to deciding whether to extend President Obama's payroll tax cut, something damaging happened to the Republican Party's once-dominant position on tax policy.

Republicans have had a clear advantage in voters' minds on taxes for years, in part because of a popular and unified message in favor of tax cuts.

But on the payroll tax, Obama and congressional Democrats had a simple story line — that Republicans were holding up a tax break of $20 a week for 160 million working Americans.

Republicans responded with disparate positions. Some argued that the payroll tax reduction, unlike other tax cuts, wouldn't pay for itself by spurring the economy and thus should be paid for with spending cuts. Others said it was a bad time to allow any tax to rise. And a few Republicans didn't want to vote for a bill that would represent a political win for Obama.

The divergence of opinions was made clear this week when House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) dropped the GOP leadership's insistence that the cost of extending the tax reduction be offset by spending cuts. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he did not "have a view" on that strategy.  [MORE]

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How the 1 Percent Deploys Grassroots Armies to Block Laws America Needs

How the 1 Percent Deploys Grassroots Armies to Block Laws America Needs | Coffee Party News |

by JACK ABRAMOFF, Republic Report

I believe President Obama’s proposed tax hikes — including the massive “bank tax” — are a prescription for economic calamity. But I do understand that the “tax the rich” frenzy finds resonance with many Americans. Throughout history, banks — and bankers, in particular — have been identified with the worst elements of societal greed. They make easy targets, especially these days. Which is why passage of the $61 billion tax increase on the banks should be a piece of cake, right?

Snatching bailout money has not been the only success of banking lobbyists. They have also managed to defeat other tax assaults throughout the past few years. And, in a stunningly candid boast, their top lobbyist, James Ballentine, executive vice president of the American Bankers Association, feels they’ll have no problem dispatching the tax-raising effort yet again:

“It’s been a nonstarter the last couple years. I don’t expect there to be any movement by Congress to bring this up. If there is, we’ll employ grassroots as necessary and go from there. We can only go on the history of how it’s been received and it’s not been received well,” he said. “If we get some sense of movement, we will act accordingly. We don’t plan to do anything aggressive at this point.”

Perhaps no one mentioned to Mr. Ballentine that the deployment of grassroots pressure by lobbying firms is usually best kept quiet.

When Congressmen suspect that the citizen-armies in their districts are being whipped up by lobbyists, they usually ignore them. Robo-calls, form letters, blast emails, and other grassroots devices are quickly detected by argus-eyed Congressional staff, and discounted as meaningless. That a seasoned veteran like Mr. Ballentine would feel confident enough to discuss this weapon in his arsenal with such candor is refreshing, if not unwise. I certainly was less open to such discussion when I was a lobbyist.  [MORE]

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Federal Rules to Disclose Fracking Chemicals Could Come with Exceptions

Federal Rules to Disclose Fracking Chemicals Could Come with Exceptions | Coffee Party News |
New proposed federal regulations would require drillers to disclose the names and concentrations of the chemicals they use, but would allow exemptions for substances deemed trade secrets.

by Lena Groeger, Pro-Publica

Last week several media outlets obtained the federal Bureau of Land Management's draft of proposed rules requiring fracking companies to disclose the chemicals they pump into the ground. Such disclosure requirements have been championed by environmentalists for years and were endorsed by President Obama in the State of the Union, but critics say the rules may not go far enough.

In the process of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, millions of gallons of highly pressurized water, mixed with sand and other chemicals, are injected into the ground to extract natural gas from rock. As we've noted before, some of these chemicals are toxic to humans and have contaminated nearby groundwater. Some energy companies have voluntarily made their chemical information public, but others have fought to keep them secret. [MORE]

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Meet the .0000063% Aiming to Buy the White House

Meet the .0000063% Aiming to Buy the White House | Coffee Party News |

"How American politics became the politics of the superrich."

by ARI BERMAN, Mother Jones Magazine via Tom Dispatch

At a time when it's become a cliché to say that Occupy Wall Street has changed the nation's political conversation—drawing long overdue attention to the struggles of the 99 percent—electoral politics and the 2012 presidential election have become almost exclusively defined by the 1 percent. Or, to be more precise, the .0000063 percent. Those are the 196 individual donors who have provided nearly 80 percent of the money raised by super PACs in 2011 by giving $100,000 or more each.

These political action committees, spawned by the Supreme Court's 5-4 Citizens United decision in January 2010, can raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals, corporations, or unions for the purpose of supporting or opposing a political candidate. In theory, super PACs are legally prohibited from coordinating directly with a candidate, though in practice they're just a murkier extension of political campaigns, performing all the functions of a traditional campaign without any of the corresponding accountability.

If 2008 was the year of the small donor, when many political pundits (myself included) predicted that the fusion of grassroots organizing and cyber-activism would transform how campaigns were run, then 2012 is "the year of the big donor," when a candidate is only as good as the amount of money in his super PAC. "In this campaign, every candidate needs his own billionaires," wrote Jane Mayer of The New Yorker.

"This really is the selling of America," claims former presidential candidate and Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean. "We've been sold out by five justices thanks to the Citizens United decision." In truth, our democracy was sold to the highest bidder long ago, but in the 2012 election the explosion of super PACs has shifted the public's focus to the staggering inequality in our political system, just as the Occupy movement shined a light on the gross inequity of the economy. The two, of course, go hand in hand.  

...The results can already be seen in the first primaries and caucuses: an onslaught of money and a demobilized electorate. It's undoubtedly no coincidence that, when compared with 2008, turnout was down 25 percent in Florida, and that, this time around, fewer Republicans have shown up in every state that's voted so far, except for South Carolina. According to political scientists Stephen Ansolabehere and Shanto Iyengar, negative TV ads contribute to "a political implosion of apathy and withdrawal."  [MORE]

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Today on "Politics Done Right," Coffee Party members who are running for Congress

Today on "Politics Done Right," Coffee Party members who are running for Congress | Coffee Party News |

Coffee Party Radio presents

POLITICS DONE RIGHT with Egberto Willies

​Sat. Feb. 18
1 pm ET (10 am PT)

CLICK HERE to listen live,
or call (646) 929-2495 to add your voice to our show

We all know that our democracy is in trouble. Most of our politicians are for sale either voluntarily or involuntarily. They are controlled by those who have the capital to mobilize advertising, mobilize people, and mobilize the resources that control our lawmaking process and, quite possibly our elections.

Our guests on Sat. Feb. 18th will include some people who have taken it upon themselves to run for Congress, and the man who is helping them do it [MORE]

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Europe’s Failed Course on the Economy

Europe’s Failed Course on the Economy | Coffee Party News |
Austerity measures clearly are not working, so why are leaders still forcing it on Greece and others?


Struggling euro-zone economies like Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy cannot cut their way back to growth. Demanding rigid austerity from them as the price of European support has lengthened and deepened their recessions. It has made their debts harder, not easier, to pay off.

This is not an issue of philosophical debate. The numbers are in.

As The Times’s Landon Thomas Jr. reported this week, Portugal has met every demand from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. It has cut wages and pensions, slashed public spending and raised taxes. Those steps have deepened its recession, making it even less able to repay its debts. When it received a bailout last May, Portugal’s ratio of debt to gross domestic product was 107 percent. By next year, it is expected to rise to 118 percent. That ratio will continue to rise so long as the economy shrinks. That is, indeed, the very definition of a vicious circle.

Meanwhile, shrinking demand and fears of a contagious collapse keep pushing more European countries toward the danger zone of unsustainable debt. [MORE]

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Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren: Profiles of Massachusetts' top U.S. Senate candidates

Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren: Profiles of Massachusetts' top U.S. Senate candidates | Coffee Party News |
When Republican Scott Brown rallied from a 31-point deficit in the polls to win the election to fill out the term for the U.S. Senate seat held by the late Democrat Edward M. Kennedy for nearly five decades, many in Massachusetts were stunned by the outcome.

Now, only two years later, Brown is campaigning to hold on to the seat in a state where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by more than 3-to-1. His chief rival among three candidates running for the Democratic nomination: Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law School professor who chaired the Congressional Oversight Panel on the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).

Early polling shows the campaign is a close one. The contest couldn't be any more important: With Democrats holding a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and 23 of 33 contested seats this year held by Democrats, Republicans have an opportunity to regain control of Congress' upper house. The tight Brown-Warren race has brought the national spotlight to Massachusetts, as each party feels it can win the seat.

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Romney's Intensity Questioned by GOP

Romney's Intensity Questioned by GOP | Coffee Party News |

by THOMAS BEAUMONT, Associated Press

If Mitt Romney wins the Republican nomination for president, he'll face the urgent task of inspiring the party's conservative core and rallying them to beat President Barack Obama.

Judging by his performances in the primaries and caucuses so far, and the challenge he faces next week, he's got his work cut out for him.

Even Republicans who think he'll be the nominee worry about whether he can generate the intensity required to beat the Democratic incumbent. [MORE]

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Why Global Warming Is Still a Target Of Skepticism For Americans

Why Global Warming Is Still a Target Of Skepticism For Americans | Coffee Party News |

by LYNNE PEEPLES, The Huffington Post

If you follow the popular polls, you might think that Americans are growing ever more skeptical about man-made climate change -- despite the consensus among published climate scientists.

That's simply not true, Jon Krosnick of Stanford University told an audience of social scientists and cognitive researchers Wednesday, in Garrison, N.Y. He maintained that most Americans do, in fact, believe.

The problem, Krosnick said during his talk at the Garrison Institute's annual Climate, Mind and Behavior symposium, is that we haven't been asking the public the right questions. The other problem: Legislators are reading their misleading answers and hearing from a vocal minority of constituents. [MORE]

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May Day 2012 Take the Streets!

May Day 2012 Take the Streets! | Coffee Party News |
emersonia's comment, February 18, 2012 8:03 PM
nice poster. not sure who can afford to call in sick in this economy, though.
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5 PM Sunday: Join Jessica English, new host of "The Bottom Line" on Coffee Party Radio

5 PM Sunday: Join Jessica English, new host of "The Bottom Line" on Coffee Party Radio | Coffee Party News |

THE BOTTOM LINE with Jessica English

​Sunday Feb. 19 at 5 PM ET 

​Call in number: (646) 929-2495

CLICK HERE to listen live or to the archived recording.

Please join us Sunday at 5 PM for The Bottom Line. Topics will include the surprising news that the Supreme Court could revisit "Citizens United" THIS YEAR, and what We the People can do to make that happen. We'll also talk about how economic struggles impact our ability to become involved citizens. Plus I'll ask for your thoughts on the news of the week.  [MORE]

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Poll: Regulations Not the Top Concern for Small Business Owners

Poll: Regulations Not the Top Concern for Small Business Owners | Coffee Party News |
A new poll reveals that most small business owners do not list regulations as a top concern or barrier to their businesses; in fact, many respondents view regulations as a way to level the playing field with larger companies.


Only 14 percent of small business owners cited government regulations as their top concern. Thirty-four percent, meanwhile, considered "weak customer demand" the biggest problem facing their businesses.

"Despite the heated rhetoric, regulations simply aren’t small businesses' top concern," said John Arensmeyer, founder and CEO of Small Business Majority. "Small businesses can be the jobs engine we need to jumpstart the economy, but not if legislators are focusing on something that isn't their top problem. Policymakers should listen to what real small businesses are saying and act accordingly."

The American Sustainable Business Council, Main Street Alliance and Small Business Majority released the national poll of 500 small businesses on Feb. 1. Key findings include:

  • The No. 1 job creation solution cited in the poll was eliminating incentives to move jobs overseas (24 percent). Reducing regulations (10 percent) came in fifth.
  • 78 percent believed some standards are important to protect small businesses from unfair competition.
  • 93 percent of small business owners said their businesses can live with "fair, manageable and reasonable" regulation.
  • 80 percent supported product safety standards and 80 percent supported disclosure and regulation of toxic materials.
  • 79 percent of small business owners supported ensuring clean air and water, and 61 percent supported moving the country towards energy efficiency and clean energy.

"An overwhelming percent of small business owners agree that without fair regulations creating a level playing field, small businesses won't be able to compete against big businesses. From our perspective, the effort to kill regulations is big businesses' way of rigging the game in their favor," said Frank Knapp, Jr., Vice Chair of the American Sustainable Business Council and president and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce. [READ REPORT]

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Do tax breaks for the super wealthy mega-corporations = Freedom?

A response to the 1 Percent Doctrine that special tax breaks for the super wealthy and multi-national corporations = "freedom" for ordinary Americans.  Features hundreds of everyday Americans from Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland, DC, and Virginia. 

Via Coffee Party USA
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Can Romney find a way to connect with GOP voters?

Can Romney find a way to connect with GOP voters? | Coffee Party News |

by Karen Tumulty and Philip Rucker, The Washington Post

To listen to Mitt Romney these days is to wish at times that someone would give him back his PowerPoint.

Romney, after all, made a fortune on his ability to make a crisp presentation and close a deal. As a governor pushing for a landmark approach to health-care coverage in Massachusetts, the former management consultant won over doubters by putting together a slide presentation and taking it all over the state.

So why is he having so much trouble making the sale with the Republican electorate?

Many of his allies and supporters are increasingly worried that the problem is Romney himself.

Until now, Romney and his well-financed allies have been able to dispatch any opponent who presents a threat by drowning the potential usurper with negative advertising.

But the fact that a new one emerges each time he vanquishes another betrays the existence of a deeper discontent with Romney himself.

“To be elected president, you have to do more than tear down your opponents,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a former Romney supporter who on Friday defected to the camp of former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, the latest to emerge as an alternative to Romney.

“You have to give the American people a reason to vote for you — a reason to hope — a reason to believe that under your leadership, America will be better,” DeWine added. “Rick Santorum has done that. Sadly, Governor Romney has not.” [MORE]

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Congress approves payroll tax cut extension, sending bill to Obama

The House on Friday morning approved legislation that extends the payroll tax holiday and unemployment insurance through 2012, and also dodges a planned cut to physician reimbursements under Medicare, despite significant complaints about...
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Who Actually Benefits From Federal Benefits?

Who Actually Benefits From Federal Benefits? | Coffee Party News |

by KEVIN DRUM, Mother Jones Magazine

Republican candidates have lately been parroting Charles Murray's argument that our "entitlement society" has created a nation of deadbeats who would rather live off government benefits than find a job. In response, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) released a study earlier this week showing the fraction of government benefits that go to able-bodied workers.

Their estimate is about 9 percent. I linked to the CBPP study on Monday, and since their methodology was fairly complex, I added a back-of-the-envelope version that simply added up the benefits of programs that don't serve the elderly, disabled, or working poor. I figured that would make the source of CBPP's number a little more understandable.

The next day I got an email from Arloc Sherman, one of the authors of the study. You can't just add up these programs, he told me, because even a lot of programs that people think of as "welfare" actually serve the elderly, disabled, and working poor too. Medicaid is the biggest example: Most of us think of Medicaid as a program for the poor, but more than half of all Medicaid spending actually goes to the elderly and the disabled.

So what percent of each program goes to the elderly, disabled, or working poor? The bulk of both Medicare and Social Security goes to the elderly and most of the balance goes to the disabled. The Earned Income Tax Credit goes almost entirely to the working poor. But what about the others? I was surprised when I saw the complete breakdown, and you might be too. [MORE]

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Republicans Turn to Social Issues As Economy Improves

Republicans Turn to Social Issues As Economy Improves | Coffee Party News |
Birth control is the political topic du jour with right-wing aspersions on loose women and nostalgia for the golden age of 1950s Mad Men sexual politics.

by JOSH MARSHALL, Talking Points Memo

Excerpt:  Benjy Sarlin’s piece today in TPM points to Republican efforts to redirect the campaign on to social issues. That’s why Republicans glommed so fast on to the birth control issue. There was some level of genuine policy concerns. And polls showed that to the degree the issue could be framed as an issue of religious freedom (and not hop off the rails into sex-shaming), it did cut in significant ways in Republicans’ favor, at least before President Obama’s ‘accommodation’ announced last week. But the driver was less its power as an issue as the urgency to find Plan B.

To me, the move to remake the 2012 race around social issues seems like a counsel of desperation. The interesting split in my mind is the split between Republicans who really think this is a winning issue vs. those who simply see that it’s the only alternative in an improvement economic climate.

With a weak candidate (pretty certain) and a rebounding economy (increasingly likely but far from certain), Republican prospect seem substantially less promising than they were even late last year. Which brings the big question back to the search for Plan B. What is it? [MORE]

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