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Portraits of a Moderate Economy

Portraits of a Moderate Economy | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
Several recent interviews help capture the essence of economic reports that indicate an improving consumer outlook but some hesitation among businesses about increasing their spending.
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David Brooks, Medicare, and the Perils of Ideological Labeling

David Brooks, Medicare, and the Perils of Ideological Labeling | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

I agree with today's David Brooks column on one important point, namely that the Obama administration's criticisms of the current version of the Romney/Ryan plan for Medicare are overstated. But by the exact same token and for similar reasons, I think Brooks' criticisms of the Obama plan for Medicare are wildly overstated."

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'I Was Just Too Polite,' Says Obama, Vowing To Hit Hard At Next Debate

'I Was Just Too Polite,' Says Obama, Vowing To Hit Hard At Next Debate | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
President Obama told black radio host Tom Joyner that many Democrats might have gotten comfortable, believing an Obama win was inevitable.
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Ending the Capital Gains Tax Preference would Improve Fairness, Raise Revenue and Simplify the Tax Code

Ending the Capital Gains Tax Preference would Improve Fairness, Raise Revenue and Simplify the Tax Code | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by Citizens for Tax Justice


The tax break that allows Warren Buffett, Mitt Romney and other extremely wealthy Americans to pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than many middle-income people is the special low income tax rate for capital gains, which are the profits made from selling assets for more than they cost to purchase. This tax break was made more generous and expanded to apply to stock dividends as part of the Bush tax cuts.


This report addresses several points about capital gains:


  1. The capital gains tax preference mainly benefits the richest one percent of Americans.
     
  2. It reduces revenue, despite claims to the contrary.
     
  3. It gives rise to tax shelters and makes the tax code overly complicated.
     
  4. These problems will be mitigated, but certainly not eliminated, by the reform of the Hospital Insurance tax coming into effect in 2013.
     
  5. The way to fully resolve the problems described here is to eliminate the special, low personal income tax rates for capital gains so that they are taxed just like any other income.

[MORE]

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Is Voter Suppression Illegal? "True the Vote" Extremists Say There Is No Explicit Mention in Fed Law (i.e. no)

Is Voter Suppression Illegal? "True the Vote" Extremists Say There Is No Explicit Mention in Fed Law (i.e. no) | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Representative Elijah Cummings and law experts say if they are targeting people of color, a court could find True the Vote operations unlawful.


by Brentin Mock, Voting Rights Watch 2012 | The Nation

 

Between the shenanigans uncovered by GOP operative Nathan Sproul and Strategic Allied Consulting with falsified voter registration forms, and the ongoing voter challenges waged by tea party groups “empowered” by True the Vote, Representative Elijah Cummings had seen enough to believe voter suppression might be in the queue for Election Day. Last week he sent a letter to True the Vote’s founder Catherine Engelbrecht requesting documents that would explain the ballot security organization’s operations.

 

The letter in many ways was also a categorical rundown of recent True the Vote (or True the Vote–inspired) actions that suggest suppression if not intimidation are their modus operandi. The letter lists Engelbrecht stating at a Conservative Political Action Conference meeting that she “absolutely” was working to have the Obama administration replaced, hundreds of Ohio college students whose voter status were challenged incorrectly by True the Vote affiliate Ohio Voter Integrity Project, a black Ohio family incorrectly challenged by the same group, and more of the same false reporting in North Carolina and Cummings’ state of Maryland.

 

Cummings wrote, “If these efforts are intentional, politically motivated, and widespread across multiple states, they could amount to a criminal conspiracy to deny legitimate voters their constitutional rights.”

 

True the Vote has responded saying they would avail themselves “to any official House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform inquiry,” and has invited Representative Cummings to a briefing meeting and to participate in their poll watcher trainings. But they have not agreed to hand over the documents he has requested.

 

...J. Christian Adams, a former US Department of Justice attorney and True the Vote partner, was much harsher, writing on his blog that “Cummings needs to get himself a lawyer who knows more about election law and less about playing the race card. First of all, there is no federal statute which mentions ‘voter suppression.’”

 

...Adams point about “voter suppression” not being mentioned in federal law is only correct that those two words are literally not in the text. But the idea that voter suppression as an action is unaddressed by federal law is completely false, and it’s really a shame that Adams would attempt to make this point at all. Section 1985 of Title 42 of our federal laws states:

 

"If two or more persons in any State or Territory conspire or go in disguise on the highway or on the premises of another, for the purpose of depriving, either directly or indirectly, any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws; … or if two or more persons conspire to prevent by force, intimidation, or threat, any citizen who is lawfully entitled to vote, from giving his support or advocacy in a legal manner, toward or in favor of the election of any lawfully qualified person as an elector for President or Vice President, or as a Member of Congress of the United States…"

 

…Then they may sue the offending party. It may not have the word “suppression” spelled out, but we know what’s being described here. Law professor Simon Stern, a former clerk to a Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals judge and law lecturer at Harvard, explained to me that Section 1985 was originally part of the KKK Act of the 1870s and dealt with direct confrontation with newly freed African-Americans who were trying to vote. [MORE]

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"Fact-based, solutions-oriented, people-powered news for the 99%"

"Fact-based, solutions-oriented, people-powered news for the 99%" | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
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Gingrich unmasks Romney shifting claims about taxes on national TV

by CHRIS MILES, Policy Mic


On Meet the Press on Sunday morning, Mitt Romney supporter (and former GOP rival in the Republican presidential primaries) Newt Gingrich admitted that Romney wasn’t telling the truth about his tax plan.


Ouch. Are even Republicans backing off the Romney tax spiel?


In the first presidential debate earlier this week, the president charged that Romney's plans called for a $5 trillion tax cut.


Romney has said he will cut taxes across-the-board and that his proposal would not harm the deficit, but would rather boost growth and revenues by eliminating loopholes.


“I’m not looking for a $5 trillion tax cut. What I’ve said is I won’t put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit,” said Romney during Wednesday's debate. 


The Obama campaign, however, says that Romney has failed to specify which loopholes and deductions he would target and that the plan would increase the tax burden on the middle class. The Obama campaign has shifted into a strategy of painting Romney in “lies, all lies” terms. [MORE]

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Occupy Kingwood – A Sustainable Form Of The Occupy Movement (2012-10-06)

Occupy Kingwood – A Sustainable Form Of The Occupy Movement (2012-10-06) | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by EGBERT WILLIES,  EgbertoWillies.com


Occupy Kingwood
VIEW SLIDE SHOW
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The physical temperature is starting to cool down here in Texas. The political temperature however is increasing.


What do you think?

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Thomas Jefferson Letter to George Logan on Nov. 12, 1816

Thomas Jefferson Letter to George Logan on Nov. 12, 1816 | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

This is a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to Dr. George Logan who was a medical doctor and great friend to Jefferson:


To George Logan J. MSS.


Poplar Forest Near Lynchburg, Nov. 12. 16.


Dear Sir, - I received your favor of Oct. 16, at this place where I pass much of my time, very distant from Monticello. I am quite astonished at the idea which seems to have got abroad; and this is said to have arisen from a letter of mine to my friend Charles Thompson, in which certainly there is no trace of such an idea. When we see religion split into so many thousand of sects, and I may say Christianity itself divided into it’s thousands also, who are disputing, anathematizing and where the laws permit burning and torturing one another for abstractions which no one of them understand, and which are indeed beyond the comprehension of the human mind, into which of the chambers of this Bedlam would a [torn] man wish to thrust himself. The sum of all religion as expressed by it’s best preacher, ‘fear god and love thy neighbor’ contains no mystery, needs no explanation. But this wont do. It gives no scope to make dupes ; priests could not live by it. Your idea of the moral obligations of governments are perfectly correct. The man who is dishonest as a statesman would be a dishonest man in any station. It is strangely absurd to suppose that a million of human beings collected together are not under the same moral laws which bind each of them separately. It is a great consolation to me that our government, as it cherishes most it’s duties to its own citizens, so is it the most exact in it’s moral conduct towards other nations. I do not believe that in the four administrations which have taken place, there has been a single instance of departure from good faith towards other nations. We may sometimes have mistaken our rights, or made an erroneous estimate of the actions of others, but no voluntary wrong can be imputed to us. In this respect England exhibits the most remarkable phaenomenon in the universe in the contrast between the profligacy of it’s government and the probity of it’s citizens. And accordingly it is now exhibiting an example of the truth of the maxim that virtue & interest are inseparable. It ends, as might have been expected, in the ruin of it’s people, but this ruin will fall heaviest, as it ought to fall on it’s people, but this ruin will fall heaviest, as it ought to fall on that hereditary aristocracy which has for generations been preparing the catastrophe. I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in it’s birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country. Present me respectfully to Mrs. Logan and accept yourself my friendly and respectful salutations.



This quote by Jefferson is compelling. Was Jefferson warning about future corporations?


"I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in it’s birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."


[Read: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson: 1816-1826]


[Image - Thomas Jefferson as President Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division LC-DIG-ppmsca-15715]

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Foreign-owned firm donates $1 million to Romney Super PAC

Foreign-owned firm donates $1 million to Romney Super PAC | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Foreigners and foreign governments are prohibited from spending money to influence U.S. elections, but thanks to the "Citizens United" decree, foreign-owned corporations have found a way.


by MICHAEL BECKEL, The Center for Public Integrity


A million-dollar donation by a foreign-owned corporation to a Republican super PAC has raised legal concerns and opened up the controversial Citizens United Supreme Court decision to new criticism.


Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Republican Mitt Romney’s run for president, received a $1 million donation in mid-August from reinsurance company OdysseyRe of Connecticut, a “wholly-owned subsidiary” of Canadian insurance and investment management giant Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited.


Fairfax Financial’s founder is Indian-born V. Prem Watsa. Watsa serves as CEO and chairman and owns or controls 45 percent of the company’s shares. He is also the chairman of the board of OdysseyRe, the American subsidiary.


The law says that any foreign national is prohibited from “directly or indirectly” contributing money to influence U.S. elections. That means no campaign donations, no donations to super PACs and no funding of political advertisements.


But campaign finance law is not as clear for U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies as it is for individuals.


Most of the regulations on political spending by subsidiaries of foreign companies were written before corporations were legally allowed to fund political advertisements or donate to super PACs. And Republican members of the Federal Election Commission have thwarted the implementation of new rules regarding the practice.


Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., is among those concerned about foreign-controlled corporations "exploiting loopholes in existing law" to influence U.S. elections. He calls the practice a “direct threat to our democracy.”


“You can bet that wholly owned subsidiaries of foreign commercial entities have an agenda when they spend millions to sway the outcome of an election,” Whitehouse told the Center for Public Integrity in a statement. “And you can bet that agenda is not promoting the interests of middle-class American voters.” [MORE]

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New Rule: Let's Ban the Term 'Small Businesses' From All Future Debates

New Rule: Let's Ban the Term 'Small Businesses' From All Future Debates | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by JORDAN WEISSMANN, the Atlantic


There might not be any phrase more useful for muddying up a discussion about taxes than "small business."


Take last night's debate, where President Obama and Mitt Romney rehashed a familiar two-point argument:


(1) Obama: I would like to raise taxes on income over $250,000.


(2) Romney: But you'll hurt small businesses.


When Romney and Obama go on about "small" businesses, they're not strictly talking about size. They're talking about the way that companies are legally organized -- partnerships, s-corporations, and sole proprietorships that pass through their profits to their owners, who then treat it as ordinary income on their taxes. The concern for small businesses sounds persuasive. After all, who doesn't want to protect small, vulnerable, but growing companies run by honest Americans whose income would be hurt by higher taxes?


In fact, the term small businesses is basically meaningless.


First, many small businesses aren't really what you would probably think of as "businesses." They're just ... people working alone. Freelancers, consultants, skilled construction workers, and such often organize themselves as a business for legal and tax purposes. About 78 percent of all companies in America don't actually employ anybody other than their owner. As Jay-Z so famously put it, "I'm not a businessman / I'm a business, man!"*


For sake of argument though, let's ignore all those solo operators. Instead we'll focus only on the roughly 4.1 million companies that are both affected by individual income tax rates and have actual employees on their payrolls. We can call these "actual small businesses." [MORE]


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Immigrant Entrepreneurship Has Stalled for the First Time in Decades, Kauffman Foundation Study Shows

by Rose Levy and Barbara Pruitt, Kaufman Foundation


A new Kauffman Foundation study finds that high-tech, immigrant-founded startups — a critical source of fuel for the U.S. economy — has stagnated and is on the verge of decline.


"The U.S. risks losing a key growth engine just when the economy needs job creators more than ever," said Wadhwa. "The U.S. can reverse these trends with changes in policies and opportunities, if it acts swiftly. It is imperative that we create a startup visa for these entrepreneurs and expand the number of green cards for skilled foreigners to work in these startups. Many immigrants would gladly remain in the United States to start and grow companies that will lead to jobs." [MORE]

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Should ‘the 47%’ pay income taxes?

Should ‘the 47%’ pay income taxes? | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by ALICIA MUNNELL, Market Watch


As many commentators have pointed out in the wake of recently publicized comments by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney , the main reasons that 47 percent of households do not pay federal income taxes are provisions in the tax code that 1) provide basic exemptions for subsistence level income; and 2) offer tax expenditures that wipe out a household’s tax liabilities or provide refundable credits. These provisions mainly benefit senior citizens and low-income families with children. These two groups account for the bulk of the non-tax paying units.


The implication of some of the discussion is that the country would be better off, and programs like Social Security and Medicare more likely to stay solvent, if these provisions were changed and more units paid taxes. Is that true? This piece takes a brief look at the tax treatment of low-income families with children. My next blog post will look at the provisions for retirees.


Low-income families with children, like other households, are eligible for the standard deduction and personal exemptions. These provisions are designed to exempt subsistence levels of income from tax and to adjust for differences in ability to pay by family size. [MORE]



Via Michael Charney
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NATO: A Closer Look at Mitt Romney’s Two Percent Solution | Nomadic Politics

NATO: A Closer Look at Mitt Romney’s Two Percent Solution | Nomadic Politics | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
As any businessman or lawyer will confirm, the art of deception often involves things are not said, rather than the things that are actually specified. His recent foreign policy speech the other day, entitled "The Mantle of Leadership, delivered at Virginia Military Institute definitely fits this profile.
Here’s what I am talking about. Here's an interesting statement from that speech.

 

And I will call on our NATO allies to keep the greatest military alliance in history strong by honoring their commitment to each devote 2 percent of their GDP to security spending. Today, only 3 of the 28 NATO nations meet this benchmark.

 

But let's look at which countries met that target. You might be surprised

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Democalypse 2012 - Vague Against the Machine - The Numbers Guy

Daily Show with Jon Stewart


Jon Stewart highlights the fact that Paul Ryan's budget math lacks numbers, and Franklin Roosevelt warns against smooth political evasions.


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Mitt’s Bad Math

Mitt’s Bad Math | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by JACK HUNTER, The American Conservative


In 2008, I thought John McCain deserved to lose. This did not mean I believed Barack Obama deserved to win. What McCain represented was four more years of George W. Bush—a drastic expansion of government spending and size in both our domestic and foreign policies that was largely without precedent in our history. Voters rightly saw McCain as an extension of Bush and rejected that Republican brand accordingly.


In 2012, I believe Obama deserves to lose. Everything I detested about Bush, Obama has expanded—the debt, entitlement state, “national security” state, and an even more powerful executive branch. Despite Obama having an edge in the polls, his actual job performance approval is not high. Many, and perhaps a majority, of Americans would like to reject him.


They are just not so sure Mitt Romney deserves to win. [MORE]


Via Michael Charney
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The Undecided

The Undecided | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

CNN.com


Six types of voters. Six swing states. Their choices are prized and personal.


They represent a sliver of the electorate whose choices on Election Day could make a difference. Meet Americans watching the debates closely -- and still making up their minds. They care about what you do: the country’s future.


Analysis of polling, voting patterns, political spending and other trends led CNN to six types of undecided voters being targeted by the campaigns -- and then, to these six individuals in six battleground states. They speak for themselves, of course, and not for their demographics. But their stories illuminate the intersection between real life and politics, where personal histories, challenges and hopes mirror those of the nation. Writers and videographers spent several days with each, documenting their lives and the complexity of the choices they will make on November 6. A photographer captured the essence of The Undecided in portraits and still-life images. [MORE]


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Truth About Jobs

Truth About Jobs | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

By PAUL KRUGMAN, New York Times


The data show an improving economy, and that’s what the right wing can’t handle.


If anyone had doubts about the madness that has spread through a large part of the American political spectrum, the reaction to Friday’s better-than expected report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics should have settled the issue. For the immediate response of many on the right — and we’re not just talking fringe figures — was to cry conspiracy.


Leading the charge of what were quickly dubbed the “B.L.S. truthers” was none other than Jack Welch, the former chairman of General Electric, who posted an assertion on Twitter that the books had been cooked to help President Obama’s re-election campaign. His claim was quickly picked up by right-wing pundits and media personalities.


It was nonsense, of course. Job numbers are prepared by professional civil servants, at an agency that currently has no political appointees. But then maybe Mr. Welch — under whose leadership G.E. reported remarkably smooth earnings growth, with none of the short-term fluctuations you might have expected (fluctuations that reappeared under his successor) — doesn’t know how hard it would be to cook the jobs data. [MORE]




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Two steps forward, two steps back on campaign donations

Two steps forward, two steps back on campaign donations | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

The Federal Election Commission gave up on forcing disclosure of political donors. Time for Securities and Exchange Commission to step up...


by LISA GILBERT, USA Today |  Opinion


The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has a simple mission: to administer and enforce the Federal Election Campaign Act, the statute that governs the financing of federal elections. As a part of this mission, the FEC must disclose campaign finance information. However, due to an endlessly 3-3 deadlocked commission, the FEC has been engaged in a disclosure dance reminiscent of the Paula Abdul lyrics, "two steps forward, two steps back," as the agency and the courts go back and forth on disclosure.

 

The Federal Election Commission gave up on forcing disclosure of political donors.


The result? An unacceptable dark money in our elections, and a need for other agencies, (like the Securities and Exchange Commission), that regulate entities that play in politics to step up.


To highlight a clear example of the FEC's disclosure dance step, under the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, groups that make electioneering communications – those that refer to a candidate for federal office but do not expressly advocate for their success or defeat – are required to disclose their donors. However, in 2007, the FEC issued a loophole-filled rule stating that groups that engage in electioneering communications must identify donors only if those donors explicitly mark their money as intended for political expenditure. [MORE]

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Deliberate Dishonesty Continues at Fox "News," the Opposite of Journalism

Deliberate Dishonesty Continues at Fox "News," the Opposite of Journalism | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY & DAVID SHERE, Media Matters


Fox News was forced to address yet another dishonest chart last week, which it aired to paint a misleading picture of President Obama's handling of the economy. Fox has a habit of displaying error-laden and deceptive graphics to reinforce conservative attacks on the Obama administration.


"Fox Graphic Claimed Government Spending Increased From 3.2 Percent Under Bush To An Average Of 23.8 Percent Under Obama. In a graphic labeled "Growth of Government Spending (As A Share Of GDP)," Fox & Friends suggested that government spending increased from 3.2 percent of the economy at the end of the Bush administration to an average of 23.8 percent under Obama. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/26/12, via Media Matters]


In Fact, Graphic Compared Two Completely Different Measures Of Government Spending. The figure for "government spending" during the Obama administration is in line with historical data for overall spending as a percentage of the economy, a figure that does not take into account federal revenue. By contrast, the 3.2 percent figure used to illustrate "government spending" under Bush and the figures for the 1940s are in line with historical data for deficits, which do take into account revenues. [Media Matters, 9/26/12] 


[MORE]

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Your voter registration deadline may be approaching. Register to vote today.

Your voter registration deadline may be approaching. Register to vote today. | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
Recently move? Change your name? Turn 18? Make sure you register to vote today!
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The Debate We Didn't Hear

The Debate We Didn't Hear | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by Jo Comerford, NPP's Weekly Roundup


This week was a big one. The first presidential debate came and went, and it was full of sound bites but missing the information voters need, as Mattea Kramer explained this week on TomDispatch.


In case you missed it, here's what else happened this week.


In this YouTube video, Chris Hellman explains what those automatic spending cuts would do to federal programs from education to food safety.


Where Those Federal Dollars Go
Would you or your neighbor notice a difference if big spending cuts took effect? We've got the details on how federal dollars affect your community.


You Ask, We Answer
How was the stimulus spent, and did it work? We explained it on the blog.


32 Days
In 32 days the president, the entire House of Representatives, and one-third of the Senate are up for grabs. Do you have the facts you need to cast an informed vote? Visit Voter Guide 2012 to see fact sheets and a side-by-side comparison of President Obama and Governor Romney on 12 key issues. And pick up a copy of A People's Guide to the Federal Budget. Choice magazine "highly recommended" it, calling the book "an excellent foundation" for understanding our nation's finances.


Stay tuned. NPP cracks open the federal budget for the rest of us.

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Expanding the Debate Exclusive: Third Party Candidates Break the Sound Barrier As Obama-Romney Spar

Expanding the Debate Exclusive: Third Party Candidates Break the Sound Barrier As Obama-Romney Spar | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by AMY GOODMAN, Democracy Now!


Responses to presidential debate questions from third party candidates woven into the President and Governor Romney's as the debate was being held.


As President Obama and Mitt Romney squared off for the first time on Wednesday night, Democracy Now! broke the sound barrier by pausing Obama and Romney’s answers to get real-time responses from candidates Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party. Stein and Anderson joined Democracy Now! for a live special just miles away from the Obama-Romney contest at the University of Denver. Many Obama supporters have expressed surprise that Romney was able to put the president on the defensive, while Obama failed to mention several of Romney’s potential weak spots, including including his record at the private equity firm Bain Capital, his vast personal wealth and offshore investments, and his recent remark that 47 percent of Americans are government dependents. Today, highlights from our "Expanding the Debate" special with the voices of all four candidates, showcasing the broadened perspectives on the critical issues beyond the Democratic-Republican political spectrum. [Includes rush transcript]


[MORE]http://www.democracynow.org/2012/10/4/expanding_the_debate_exclusive_third_party#.UG5vzXiDPw8.scoopit

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The Incredible Hoax of Reaganomics- Trickle-Down 2/4 | Nomadic Politics

The Incredible Hoax of Reaganomics- Trickle-Down 2/4 | Nomadic Politics | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
William Jennings Bryan is one of those people who was quite popular in his time but has now been largely consigned to unread records. However, not unlike his contemporary, Teddy Roosevelt, Bryan’s words and thoughts, once considered fixed to a particular time and particular circumstance of American history, seem to be suddenly just as apt in our own times.

He once said:


There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous, their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.

 

Though supply-side was sold the American public as some new-fangled economic theory, it was hardly revolutionary. Only the names were revised but the same bill of goods was sold to a gullible public by Ronald Reagan.

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