As the latest antics of Michele Bachmann show, she and others on the right have a curious religion.
What I find most fascinating about Michele Bachmann — and there are many, many more where she came from — is that she presents herself as a godly woman, humbly devoted to her Christian faith. I’d like to meet that god, and I’d like to understand that Christianity.
Does it call for smearing people on the basis of flimsy conspiracy theories? That’s what Bachmann just did to Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, by essentially suggesting she might be a mole for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Does it endorse scaring young women away from immunizations that could spare them serious illness? Bachmann did that during her memorable presidential campaign, when she blithely drew an unsubstantiated link between a vaccine for the human papillomavirus and mental retardation.
Once again this week we are reminded how easy it is for a sick person to purchase weapons and take the lives of people who wanted nothing but to enjoy a movie. Given the lax gun laws in Colorado we shouldn’t be asking how it happened we should be asking how come it doesn’t happen more often. Still the family and friends of the victims are left with unanswered questions and the belief that what happened was somehow surreal. Can we ever make sense of senseless deaths ?
It’s no secret that, at this point, many of America’s richest men — including some former Obama supporters — hate, just hate, President Obama. Why? Well, according to them, it’s because he “demonizes” business — or as Mitt Romney put it earlier this week, he “attacks success.” Listening to them, you’d think that the president was the second coming of Huey Long, preaching class hatred and the need to soak the rich.
Needless to say, this is crazy. In fact, Mr. Obama always bends over backward to declare his support for free enterprise and his belief that getting rich is perfectly fine. All that he has done is to suggest that sometimes businesses behave badly, and that this is one reason we need things like financial regulation. No matter: even this hint that sometimes the rich aren’t completely praiseworthy has been enough to drive plutocrats wild. For two years or more, Wall Street in particular has been crying: “Ma! He’s looking at me funny!”
Wait, there’s more. Not only do many of the superrich feel deeply aggrieved at the notion that anyone in their class might face criticism, they also insist that their perception that Mr. Obama doesn’t like them is at the root of our economic problems. Businesses aren’t investing, they say, because business leaders don’t feel valued. Mr. Romney repeated this line, too, arguing that because the president attacks success “we have less success.”
This, too, is crazy (and it’s disturbing that Mr. Romney appears to share this delusional view about what ails our economy). There’s no mystery about the reasons the economic recovery has been so weak. Housing is still depressed in the aftermath of a huge bubble, and consumer demand is being held back by the high levels of household debt that are the legacy of that bubble. Business investment has actually held up fairly well given this weakness in demand. Why should businesses invest more when they don’t have enough customers to make full use of the capacity they already have?
But never mind. Because the rich are different from you and me, many of them are incredibly self-centered. They don’t even see how funny it is — how ridiculous they look — when they attribute the weakness of a $15 trillion economy to their own hurt feelings. After all, who’s going to tell them? They’re safely ensconced in a bubble of deference and flattery.
As Republicans continue to fight implementation of President Obama’s healthcare law, one former party leader is urging them to get over it and embrace a central pillar of the new law.
In an op-ed published Wednesday in “The Week,” a weekly news magazine, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a surgeon from Tennessee, said state leaders in both parties should move quickly to establish state-based insurance exchanges where consumers who don’t get insurance through an employer will be able to shop for health insurance plans.
The law envisions these exchanges will allow consumers to compare plans online much as they now compare airline tickets or hotel rooms. Those making less than four times the federal poverty line will also be eligible for government subsidies. And by 2019, about 24 million Americans are expected to buy coverage on an exchange.
But several GOP governors nationwide have said they will not set up exchanges in their states, a move that would prompt the federal government to step in and run one for residents in those state.
Frist said the resistance is misguided, noting that the exchanges were originally a Republican idea.
“As a doctor, I strongly believe that people without health insurance die sooner. Sure, they can eventually go to an emergency room. But it is often too late. They wait longer to get a breast lump checked out. They wait until their nagging cough turns into a fulminant pneumonia. They skip preventive care and then show up to the ER with severe, costly, late-stage symptoms that are harder and more expensive to treat,” he wrote.
“State exchanges are the solution. They represent the federalist ideal of states as "laboratories for democracy." We are seeing 50 states each designing a model that is right for them, empowered to take into account their individual cultures, politics, economies, and demographics. While much planning has yet to be done, we are already seeing a huge range in state models. I love the diversity and the innovation. … Simply put, state exchanges represent a distinctly American opportunity to improve our local communities and at the same time help our nation avert a major crisis. Let's take the plunge.”
Fiscal conservatives in Kansas have turned their state into a laboratory to test reforms similar to the "Ryan plan" for massive tax cuts at the national level -- and the result has been a Republican civil war.
Backers of recent state tax cuts argue they will create jobs and boost the economy to partially offset lost revenue, with budget cuts solving the remaining shortfall. The tax cuts go into effect in January, and the Kansas Legislative Research Department calculates the lost revenue will amount to the equivalent of 36 percent of the state budget within five years.
Republican Governor Sam Brownback has described the reforms as a "real live experiment" that proponents want to see implemented at the national level.
Critics say there are few specifics on spending cuts. The same criticism is leveled by opponents of U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity," which President Barack Obama has called "thinly veiled social Darwinism," arguing its spending cuts are vague and will hurt everything from education to low-income families and highways.
The "Ryan plan" maintains that cutting taxes and broadening the tax base is "pro-growth reform" that will "promote innovation and sustained job creation in the private sector."
Moderate Republicans, who control the Kansas state Senate with Democratic help, argue that a tax-cut-fueled boom is a pipe dream and lost tax revenue will devastate schools, roads and basic services for the poor, as well as lead to the release of convicted felons.
Months after he mathematically locked up the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney remains a political hairball that GOP insiders -- conservative and otherwise -- wish they could cough up before the convention in Tampa, Fla., next month.
The likelihood of their doing so is slim to none, party sources said. But that doesn't mean that they are happy to have Mitt atop the ticket.
That is the real, unspoken political meaning behind he remarkable, rising chorus of voices calling on the presumptive party nominee to release more of his federal tax returns to the public.
"The fact is, no one likes the guy or believes in him," said the campaign manager for a former Romney rival, who declined to be quoted by name because his former boss is on record supporting Romney's campaign against incumbent President Barack Obama.
Mitt Romney's plan not to force companies to pay taxes on profits they bring back from overseas will eliminate jobs, according to a new report by the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
That's because Romney's tax plan includes eliminating the Repatriation Tax, which applies to corporations that try to bring profits made overseas back into the country, according to Bloomberg. Most multinationals find loopholes that prevent them from paying the full tax, according to CAP. That increases incentives for businesses to do more business, or store more profits, overseas.
Between 1999 and 2010, U.S. corporations eliminated 1 million jobs at home while creating 3 million jobs abroad. Romney's plan to eliminate the Repatriation Tax altogether would simply exacerbate the problem, CAP argues.
The tax incentives included in such a system would encourage corporations to shift more of their investments and operations overseas, costing America as many as 800,000 jobs, according to Reed College economist Kimberly Clausing. Combine that part of the plan with his idea to lower corporate tax rates to 25 percent, and it altogether could cost the U.S. Treasury more than $1 trillion, the report estimates.
Romney's plan wouldn't be the first time lawmakers have given multinational corporations a break on their repatriated profits.
In 2004, the U.S. Congress approved a tax holiday, which cut the Repatriation Tax to 5 percent, The Wall Street Journal reports. During this tax holiday, multinationals brought 90-100 percent of their overseas cash earnings back to the U.S. Still, the tax holiday did little to spur job growth.
Some members of Congress have begun leveling accusations that rising enrollment in Social Security's disability insurance program is evidence of growing American dependence on the government, and even a "slave" mentality.
But a new report out Monday says the rise in America's ranks of disabled to 8.3 million in 2011 stems from an aging population, a surge in women workers, changes in the law in the 1980s and a terrible economy in which disabled people can't find jobs.
The study, by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, found that the biggest jumps in the disabled population came from aging Baby Boomers. From 1996 through 2009 -- "the approximate period during which the baby-boom generation entered their 50s -- the share of disabled worker benefits awarded to older workers (age 45 and older) rose from 67 percent to 76 percent," the report said.
Meanwhile, the share of benefits going to younger workers -- between the ages of 25 to 44 -- fell from 31 percent to 22 percent.
"Baby boomers' aging would have boosted enrollment in the DI program even if no other factors had changed," the report said.
Add to that the fact that more women have entered the workforce since 1970, boosting the working population and creating a larger pool of people who can become disabled.
A change in the law during the Reagan administration that allowed more people with mental disabilities and musculoskeletal problems to qualify also increased the number of people on disability. In 1990, such people accounted for 38 percent of workers in the SSDI program. In 2010, the number had risen to 54 percent.
To be eligible for disability, a person must prove he or she is unable to work due to a medical condition that will last at least a year. The average monthly benefit is $1,111.
mericans have a love and hate relationship with capitalism. On the one hand most of us understand that business is in business to make money but on the other hand people are angry that companies pay CEO’s so much money, hoard profits and give out small raises while adding more work to the rank and file. President Obama needs to stop the attack on capitalism because it’s not effective. He should be focusing on the Republican efforts to block everything that he has tried to do and the fact that they have passed 33 resolutions repealing the Affordable Healthcare Act while passing 0 bills to create more jobs and put people back to work
Who's buying our democracy? Wall Street financiers, the Koch brothers, and casino magnates Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn. And they're doing much of it in secret. It's a perfect storm: The greatest concentration of wealth in more than a century — courtesy "trickle-down" economics, Reagan and Bush tax cuts, and the demise of organized labor. Combined with... Unlimited political contributions — courtesy of Republican-appointed Justices Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy, in one of the dumbest decisions in Supreme Court history, "Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission," along with lower-court rulings that have expanded it. Combined with... Complete secrecy about who's contributing how much to whom — courtesy of a loophole in the tax laws that allows so-called non-profit "social welfare" organizations to accept the unlimited contributions for hard-hitting political ads. Put them all together and our democracy is being sold down the drain.
President Barack Obama and congressional Democratic leaders enter the final stretch of the legislative year prepared to play hardball: They refuse to budge on the looming defense cuts and expiring Bush-era tax cuts.
There is no constitutional right to build a secret ammunition dump. Politicians need to make the tools of terror harder to obtain.
When he was campaigning for office in 2008, Barack Obama vowed to reinstate the assault weapons ban that had expired in 2004. That would have prohibited the AR-15 rifle used in the Colorado theater shooting on Friday, along with the large 100-round magazine attached to it. But as president, Mr. Obama has made no attempt to do so. Mitt Romney banned assault weapons as governor of Massachusetts and undoubtedly saved many lives, but now he opposes all gun control measures. He never repeats what he said in 2004 when he signed the ban:
“Deadly assault weapons have no place in Massachusetts,” he said. “They are instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people.”
Both men fear the power of gun ideologues, particularly in swing states like Pennsylvania, Nevada and North Carolina, where many voters have fallen under the spell of a gun lobby that considers any restriction an unthinkable assault on the Constitution. Senator Ron Johnson, the Tea Party favorite from Wisconsin, spoke for the Republican Party (and many Democrats) when he said that limiting high-capacity magazines would infringe on a basic right. “When you try and do it, you restrict our freedom,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”
The more Americans mistrust politics, the news media, business and virtually every other major institution, the more demand there is for the documents, the proof, the evidence we need to get to the “real truth.”
Let me finish tonight with this: "Guns don't kill people," as the saying goes, "people kill people." True enough, but people with guns end up doing most of that killing.
In the wake of the most recent tragedy in Colorado, the National Rifle Association and its minions are no doubt bracing themselves for an assault on their constitutionally-protected obssession with firearms. That's not going to happen. Never has, likely never will.
But let me advance what I consider a sensible proposition around guns, if for no other reason than to annoy the NRA: let's start treating guns more or less like cars.
I know, I know — there's no consitutional right to drive an automobile, but neither are there any constitutional restrictions. After all, when cars first arrived, they were nothing more than noisy, smelly versions of the horse and buggy. No one was required to obtain a license. Pretty much anyone could drive as they pleased. Chaos predictably ensued, and sensible laws were soon enacted.
In politics, a refusal to come clean and release documents is always taken as meaning you have something to hide -- and it never works, because the demands to see what's being hidden escalate. That's why Romney's adamant refusal to show his tax returns (other than 2010 and a bit of 2011) is so politically stupid -- unless, of course, they contain such damaging revelations (offshore tax shelters, Swiss bank accounts, shady deals, or much worse) that their release will torpedo his chances of becoming president. But the real reason this story has legs is the story behind the story -- the ongoing suspicion in the minds of much of the public that Romney is always hiding something, that his positions and beliefs are always changing, that he can't be trusted because his real self (if there is one) is never revealed. His refusal to disclose his tax returns just adds fuel to this back story.
Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), chairman of the House Labor, Health and Human Service and Education Committee, has proposed a far-reaching anti-choice bill that boasts $6.2 billion in spending cuts, many of which are achieved through attacks on services for women’s reproductive health.
Rehberg’s bill , which has yet to undergo a committee vote, proposes cuts to various women’s health services, including cutting funding for Planned Parenthood. It also allows employers to opt out of insuring women employees’ contraception coverage for ‘moral reasons’ and authorizes spending on abstinence-only education, which is widely deemed ineffective at reducing teen pregnancy, STIs or the onset of sexual activity.
Planned Parenthood issued a statement objecting to the cuts, calling the bill an “unprecedented suite of attacks on women’s health.”
John McCain made an unusual speech on the Senate floor this morning, defending former colleague Huma Abedin from "unwarranted and unfounded" accusations brought about in letters from Republican members of Congress, including Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.).
Some background: Bachmann and four other members of Congress wrote a letter to the State, Homeland Security, Defense and Justice Departments in June, asserting that there had been a "deep penetration" of the Muslim Brotherhood into the U.S. government. That drew a letter from fellow Minnesota Rep. and practicing Muslim Keith Ellison, who sent a stern response asking her to provide "credible, substantial" evidence for such serious claims.
According to Romney’s disclosure documents, the candidate has between $20.7 million and $101.6 million parked tax-free in his IRA -- a significant proportion of his total wealth, as noted by Mark Maremont in the Wall Street Journal.
It’s a whopping sum by most standards; according to the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute, the average IRA held $67,438 dollars in 2010.
John Sununu claimed President Obama “outsourced a major portion of the U.S. space program to the Russians.” But it was President Bush who set NASA on a path eight years ago to retire the Space Shuttle and rely on the Russians for space travel.
“[Bush] Administration policy is to retire the shuttle in 2010 and purchase crew transport from Russia,” as then-NASA Administrator Michael Griffin once explained.
To be sure, Obama ended the Space Shuttle program, leaving the U.S. to rely on the Russians for the July 14 launch of a Soyuz spaceship that carried a U.S. astronaut — the event that prompted Sununu’s remark. But Griffin, who led NASA under Bush, privately blamed the Bush White House in internal emails in 2008 for launching a “jihad” to retire the shuttle without giving NASA the authority and funds to simultaneously replace it.
Whether you agree with his politics or not, the genuine hate for Barack Obama, a sitting president of the United States of America, is really astounding. The New York Times article below outlines why "the animosity of America’s 1 percent toward the president might be rather mysterious". Obama's record suggests he is far from the socialist/communist/fascist he has been labeled, so we ask again....why the extreme hatred?
enate Republicans blocked a bill Monday evening to increase transparency in campaign spending by independent groups.
In a 51-44 vote, the DISCLOSE Act failed to obtain the 60 votes needed to clear a Republican filibuster. The bill would have required disclosure of anyone who donates to independent groups that spent more than $10,000 on campaign ads -- or their functional equivalent -- and other election spending.
When Congress passed the health care law, it required members of Congress to get their insurance on exchanges with the rest of the public. But in voting to repeal that law, Republicans and a handful of Democrats were also voting go back to the old system where the lawmakers get a sweeter deal than most of the rest of the country.
They also voted against a Democratic motion that said members of Congress who support repealing the health care law must also repeal the good stuff they get, such as lifetime care and insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions.
Democrats tried to demonstrate how Republicans distanced themselves from voting to protect their own deal by capturing a slew of GOP members on video saying they didn't vote to protect their own care, as seen below. The clip features a number of Republicans in tight races this year, as well as GOP budget guru, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
“House Republicans refuse to admit they voted to give themselves taxpayer funded lifetime guaranteed health care instead of having the same health care as their constituents,” said Jesse Ferguson, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, referring to the fact that members of Congress are eligible for retirement benefits after just five years.
This election really is — in substantive, policy terms — about the rich versus the rest.
The story so far: Former President George W. Bush pushed through big tax cuts heavily tilted toward the highest incomes. As a result, taxes on the very rich are currently the lowest they’ve been in 80 years. President Obama proposes letting those high-end Bush tax cuts expire; Mr. Romney, on the other hand, proposes big further tax cuts for the wealthy.
The impact at the top would be large. According to estimates by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the Romney plan would reduce the annual taxes paid by the average member of the top 1 percent by $237,000 compared with the Obama plan; for the top 0.1 percent that number rises to $1.2 million. No wonder Mr. Romney’s fund-raisers in the Hamptons attracted so many eager donors that there were luxury-car traffic jams.