Friday, September 18, 2020
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The President is Home: May He Let Bill Clinton Know Who’s...

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Is it just my imagination?  Or, when the actual President leaves town on state business, does the former president Bill Clinton seek out the Washington limelight? However, even Bill could not have wanted some of the attention he garnered this time. I'm sure he did not intend for his backstage, off-the-record remarks to Paul Ryan to be captured for all of us to ultimately hear.  But, thanks to an intrepid soul, they were.  The post at TPM tells the story, including  backstage banter we might have been happier not knowing.

Here was the exchange:


"I'm glad we won this race in New York," Clinton can be seen saying in the video. "But I hope Democrats don't use it as an excuse to do nothing."
Ryan responded: "My guess is it's gonna sink into paralysis, is what's gonna happen. And you know the math. I mean, It's just -- we knew we were putting ourselves out there. But you gotta start this. You gotta get out there. You gotta get this thing moving."
Clinton told Ryan to call him if he ever wanted to talk about the issue, Ryan said he would, and the two parted.


We cannot be sure what Bill meant.  There is much left between the lines. Perhaps this represents nothing but small talk.  We  could give him the benefit of the doubt.  It may be that  he is just schmoozing Ryan.  But is he empathizing?  You know how good Bill is at feeling others' pain.  But he seems to genuinely be agreeing with Paul Ryan here.  

Stanford Hooverite Bashes Old People, Lies for WSJ

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This diagram is all you need to know to understand why we have deficits, that along with the planned and calculated malfeasance of Wall St and the idoligcally-tainted deregulation which imperiled us all. And yet, despite their blame (and being at the helm when the economy went south), the same freepers and Randians try to get you to imagine that something else, or rather everyone else, is responsible. Alternet's Joshua Holland has an excellent response to the WSJ's profligate and ongoing effort to deceive the American public and bash nearly every sector of the 99%.  

This deception they and the corporatists who read them hope will cause Americans to turn on one another, resenting the perceived and fictional accounts of others having it better and/or easier than they.  They turn students and their families against teachers, patients against nurses, private sector workers against public sector workers. Union workers against private sector, blue collar against white, rich against poor, "whites" against people of color, young versus old and on and on.  You get the idea.  It is all by design.

They want Americans not to care about each other, but rather to act as the corporatist do, in a zero sum game.  But John Cogan's WSJ article reaches new lows.

Please read Holland's response to see just how John Cogan lies with statistics. He pulls a supposed and fabricated disparity between what people put into Social Security and Medicare v. what they take out over their years in the two programs out of a rabbit's hat. I love (snark) how he calls seniors making a pittance each year "millionaires." The average is just about $12,000 a year.  Some  millionaire status!  He conflates Medicare with Social Security, though, because Social Security has contributed nothing to the deficit and never will, Social Security should not even be part of this discussion.  Why are we even having this conversation when growing jobs would resolve most of the budgetary shortfalls?  Not only does Cogan mix apples and oranges, as Holland shows, but also he manipulates readers in a faux case worthy of FAUX "News."  

“Gang of Six” Gangs Up on Older People Again. Media Cheer.

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Honorary Catfood Commissioner, Mark Warner, is at it again. He's all over the fawning media trying to talk Americans into turning against their own interests, while he feeds the Peter Peterson crowd. Richard Eskow laments that a different bipartisan commission threw the book at Wall Street, and yet all the media does is suck up to the so-called Gang of Six--and, of course, Paul Ryan, the ignorant fool pedaled to Americans as "serious" about the budget, except he isn't.  Paul Ryan's proposal does nothing to solve the deficit, but more about that in a moment.  It's pitiful, really.  Between the Gang and Ryan its all egoism, all the time. Ayn Rand would be so proud.  (See lowkell's article also on the front page here at BV.)

Yet as Eskow notes, the self-seeking Gang gets an appalling 25 times more media coverage than a serious, committee, not hell-bent on ramming a radical right-wing Republican agenda down our throats. Don't we have the so-called Tea Party for that?

The Gang of Six (Senators Mark Warner, Saxby Chambliss, Mike Crappo, Tom Coburn, Kent Conrad, and (gasp) Dick Durbin) and the media who love them are at it again. Here is what they are up to courtesy of Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly blog.    

Eric Cantor: Social Security “Cannot Exist!”

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There was a time when Eric Cantor would have been written off as an extremist, a John Bircher, whatever, for views like this. In today's Republican Party, however, he's the Majority Leader. What does that tell you?

Honorary Cat Food Commissioner, Mark Warner

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On behalf of the Catfood Commission, otherwise known as the so-called Deficit Reduction Commission, "Orwell's children" (as  Richard Eskow called them) are taking a road trip.  They're staking their future by working against 99% of Americans and going with big oil, the Koch brothers and Peter Peterson's Americans for Prosperity instead. The "prosperity" in that title means only for the likes of Mark Warner, one of the Senates richest men. But the so-called Deficit Reduction (let them eat catfood) Commission has no intention of "shared sacrifice" for themselves!

"Orwell's children" (including Mark Warner and Saxby Chambliss) have formed an unholy alliance to screw Americans out of what is ours, including Social Security. We paid into it.  Employers paid into it on our behalf for which we gave up wages. Yet they have the nerve to try to stiff Americans.  Meanwhile, if the Catfood Commission wins, their buddies on Wall Street, who caused the problems of the past 2.5 years and cannot be trusted with our entire future, would get even richer. So would oil magnates and hedge fund managers. The "Commission" attempts this under false claims, scare tactics, invoking "Armageddon," and essentially every trick in the book for them to avoid paying THEIR FAIR SHARE, however.

Now as Warner is ramping up his previous allegiance to the Cat Food Commission, the public, meanwhile, wisely does NOT prioritize deficits until we pull ourselves out of the recession and produce more jobs. And Americans do NOT want cuts to Social Security because they know more than ever Americans depend upon it.  Period.  In repeated polls, roughly 60% of Americans say that, but never mind. 81% of Americans say to tax millionaires and billionaires more.  The Good Ole Millionaire and Billionaire Boys could give a damn. Did you know those with assets of $7 million, not counting retirement accounts, don't think they are wealthy?)  If you're a 1% insider, you just cannot have enough.  

Back in the Senate, Warner isn't representing us, but instead aligning himself with Kent Conrad, Mike Crapo, and even Tom Coburn on a supposed compromise.  That's right, Tom Coburn. Too bad we didn't know (when we elected him) how far down the radical wrong road Mark Warner had walked.  He now would rather walk with Saxby Chambliss (you know, the guy who equated war hero Max Cleland with OBL).  But now we know. And one cautionary note: Dick Durban is working against the 99%, and with Warner, on this one too.  Can we trust no one?  

Did President Obama Fall into an “Earmarks” Trap?

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George Lakoff has a lot to say about Dems wrongly embracing the language of the so-called "New Centrism." I urge you to read his latest article. Meanwhile, I think that one of the most perilous lines in the SOTU was the one announcing the President would veto any bill with "earmarks." The problem with this statement is that the common discourse has elided the term "earmark" with "pork."  The two are not the same thing, but rather "apples and oranges."  An earkmark is simply planned spending on some particular priority. However earmarks might also be pork, but they are not necessarily so. I am not defending all pork.  But pork isn't inherently evil either. More to the point, "earmarks" can be a budgeting device that facilitates planning.  I personally use them in our household budgeting.  And it allows a more careful and considered approach to our planning needs. But GOPhers (and now so-called centrists Dems--the really are corporatist, not centrist) conflated the two terms.  And it will be very difficult to set the record straight now.

Why do that (conflate the terms)?  Ideologue drown-government nihilists and also supporters of zero-based budgeting may both have different reasons.  But both want everything to be zeroed out (except, usually, the massively bloated defense budget)for each new budget, each entity of the government having to re-justify everything every time a budget is constructed. Agencies are thus in a permanent state of siege having to justify themselves over and over.  This subtracts from productivity and ultimately enables the claim that government agencies should be downsized, whether or not that would be good for America.

Disallowing earmarks ends the assumption that any entity or priority in government should be be included in any given budget.  Otherwise, technically, they would be represented by an earmark.

The New Tax Deal – Stand By For Gnashing of Teeth

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The Tea Partiers likely believe there was some principled victory with the reduction in Social Security withholding: 2%! Well, that was in lieu of the Making Work Pay Credit and a whole lot of low-income earners will see decreased take-home pay to cover their increased tax bottom line.

We are still paying income taxes, just lowering our Social Security withholding. No one can honestly answer how that will affect benefits down the road. After all, someday someone can always point to 2011 (and maybe beyond) to argue that lowered contributions equal diminished defined-benefits for participants. But I digress. We are still paying income taxes, but the Making Work Pay Credit is GONE (for now). It was significant, as you can see. Unless withholding is increased for couples earning less than $40,000 to offset the lost benefit of the credit, there will be a larger balance to pay at tax time come 17 April, 2012. Odd...that's an election year.

The New Tax Deal – Stand By For Gnashing of Teeth

0
The Tea Partiers likely believe there was some principled victory with the reduction in Social Security withholding: 2%! Well, that was in lieu of the Making Work Pay Credit and a whole lot of low-income earners will see decreased take-home pay to cover their increased tax bottom line.

We are still paying income taxes, just lowering our Social Security withholding. No one can honestly answer how that will affect benefits down the road. After all, someday someone can always point to 2011 (and maybe beyond) to argue that lowered contributions equal diminished defined-benefits for participants. But I digress. We are still paying income taxes, but the Making Work Pay Credit is GONE (for now). It was significant, as you can see. Unless withholding is increased for couples earning less than $40,000 to offset the lost benefit of the credit, there will be a larger balance to pay at tax time come 17 April, 2012. Odd...that's an election year.

The Coming Assault on the 20th Century

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The Republican success in the recent midterm election is being billed as a mandate---- but exactly what mandate do the hubris-filled Republicans claim they have been given? They are running several scenarios up the flagpole, or, if you prefer, they are trying on various costumes and trotting down the runway to see which ones are suitable for the upcoming fancy dress ball they will attend in January. The various factions within the GOP, from libertarian to Tea Party, Wall Street to globalal corporations, religious fanatics to seething bigots, are drafting their wish lists, most of which will turn out to be non-negotiable demands to repeal anything even faintly tainted with a Democratic label, and that basically amounts to just about everything that came out of the 20th century. (Maybe even some of the wars, believe it or not).

President Obama: “Honoring Social Security, Not Privatizing It”

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"On the 75th anniversary of Social Security, President Obama promises to protect it from Republican leaders in Congress who have made privatization a key part of their agenda. He makes clear that, especially in light of the financial crisis, gambling Social Security on Wall Street makes no sense."