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Obama’s Jobs Plan in 90 Seconds

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On September 8th, President Barack Obama introduced his plan to create jobs and curb unemployment; The American Jobs Act.

A tough road lies ahead for the American Jobs Act, with Republicans lining up against it and some conservative Democrats publicly expressing concerns. But behind the political chatter there is a bill and whether you like it or not it is important to know what is actually in it.

You've got 90 seconds, so please check out this week's episode. And as always, more information below the fold.

ALEC Exposed – Prison Labor

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Earlier this year, the Center for Media and Democracy released documents detailing some 800 model legislations crafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Included in those documents was the Prison Industries Act, legislation that had already been established in dozens of states across the country.

Like much of the model legislation created by ALEC, this bill is designed to help private corporations increase profits. In this case, those profits come from the use of prison labor. As Mike Elk and Bob Sloan wrote in The Nation, "prison labor for the private sector was legally barred for years, to avoid unfair competition with private companies."

In addition to this legislation, ALEC crafted numerous pieces of legislation that resulted in harsher sentencing in the courts, meaning more prisoners and longer sentences. That, in turn, means more laborers off which to profit.

Toomey’s Supply-Side Extravaganza

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When the Senate notoriously voted down both the President's budget (unanimously) and the House-passed Ryan plan in May, it also rejected a proposal by freshman Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) by a tally of 42-55. With Toomey recently named to the so-called "Super Congress", we chose to examine his proposal in this week's episode.

This proposal represented the Tea Party-aligned right flank of the Senate Republican Conference, a group ostensibly led by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), and it aimed to improve upon perceived structural flaws in the plan of ideological ally Paul Ryan. As a result, while this budget leaves Medicare and Social Security largely intact, it contains many close similarities to the Ryan budget. Most notably, its claims of debt reduction rely heavily on draconian budget cuts (without accounting for economic fallout) and tax cuts that spur very optimistic economic growth projections over the next decade. In other words, this budget reflects the supply-side fundamentalism of Toomey and his brethren. It will be interesting to see whether Toomey will push for tax cuts on the Super Committee in order to actually raise revenue.

Also notable in the Toomey budget is its repeal of the coverage increases in the Affordable Care Act while leaving the Medicare cuts, cuts candidate Toomey actively campaigned against, in place.

Without further ado, here's episode 20: the Toomey Budget.

The Infrastructure Bank – An Economic Elixir?

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With Congress returning this week, 90 Second Summaries kicks back into gear for the fall. All eyes will be on President Obama as he delivers an address Thursday evening to a joint session of Congress. Mr. Obama is expected to propose a infrastructure-related program to get the economy moving again, and an infrastructure bank is a prime candidate for inclusion in this package.

Last season, we covered a prominent infrastructure bank bill by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT3) and released an interview with the Congresswoman alongside it. Rep. DeLauro has reintroduced her proposal for the 112th Congress, so we are updating this episode to account for recent developments, and we'll be posting highlights of the interview on Thursday.

Here's the episode:

As always, the one-pager with more details is below the fold.

Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition

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Cross-posted from Main Street Insider

The United States is by far the world leader in a dubious category: incarceration of its citizens. As the result of a dramatic rise since 1980, over 1% of the adult population is now behind bars, and the federal "war on drugs" is at least partially to blame. This week, we examine an aggressive proposal by Reps. Barney Frank and Ron Paul that allows states to set their own marijuana policies by ending federal prohibition of the drug.

Starving the Beast: Cut, Cap and Balance

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cross-posted from Main Street Insider

The debt limit is a largely symbolic check on excessive borrowing which in the past has been frequently raised with little to no controversy. Such periodic increases are necessary to keep the government running and paying its bills, regardless of ideology.

However, Congressional Republicans are now demanding that certain conditions must be met in order to win their approval of a debt ceiling increase. They have termed their list of demands Cut, Cap and Balance, and claim it is a necessary measure in order to keep the government debt from spiraling out of control, and thus keep the country functioning.

Yet the Cut, Cap and Balance Act scheduled to reach the House floor this week is anything but necessary to keep the country functioning in its . Rather, it is the crown jewel, the final step of conservatives' long-pursued "Starve the Beast" strategy to downsize government. It would radically limit the flexibility of the federal government to provide a social safety net, buttress the economy in tough times and respond to great national challenges, now and into the future.

But don't take my word for it. Check out this week's 90 Second Summary and decide for yourself:

The Push to Privatize Social Security

cross-posted from Main Street Insider

This week, we take a look at a proposal to end Social Security "as we know it." H.R. 2109, the Savings Account for Every American Act of 2011 would establish a path for individuals to opt out of Social Security in exchange for a "defined contribution" system.

Sponsor Special: Rep. John Garamendi

This week, we take advantage of the House's absence by releasing an interview with Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA10) in lieu of a new summary. Rep. Garamendi is the sponsor of H.R. 613, the Airports, Highways, High-Speed Rail, Trains, and Transit: Make it in America Act, one of the centerpieces of the House Democrats' Make it in America agenda.

In our interview, Mr. Garamendi offers an impassioned defense of his legislation, highlights the need for government action to create jobs, and scathingly critiques both the wisdom and motives of those who oppose Buy American requirements. Check it out:

Look below the fold for our summary and one-pager of Garamendi's Make it in America bill...

Warren’s Outrageous Treatment at Oversight Subcommittee

UPDATE II: Congressman John Yarmuth's office has posted a clip of his comments on the tone of today's hearing. Video embedded at the bottom of this post, definitely worth watching.

UPDATE: We reached out to the press team in Chairman McHenry's office. We were not able to reach someone immediately. We await their reply and, should we get one, will share it unedited with you.

Well, that was... ummm... interesting. Not sure I've ever seen a hearing end quite like this one did. Chairman McHenry basically ended the meeting by accusing Elizabeth Warren of outright lying. This is representative of the treatment she received throughout the hearing.

Transcript below the fold...

Right to Rent – S02E13

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This week, we look at an interesting proposal to help victims of the foreclosure crisis. H.R. 1548, the Right to Rent Act sponsored by Congressman Raul Grijalva essentially gives homeowners facing foreclosure the opportunity to continue living in their home as a renter. The idea behind this being that companies would want to avoid becoming landlords, and would thus work harder with homeowners to find a reasonable agreement.

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