July 12, 2011 archive

The Quote of the Day

Posted, in a slightly different form, at Daily Kos.

This morning on Brian Lerher the topic was Deductions and Loopholes. Peter in Armonk called in and said;

I’m a small business owner and have been one for thirty-five years, employed between eighty-five and one hundred and ten people at various points in time. I never understood why, some of the deductions that I was allowed to take, I take a customer to play golf, I get a fifty percent deduction. And the number of deductions as a business person that I can take compared to an individual or an individual wage earner is just, to me, extraordinary.

I also want to say that during all those years when I was, I guess a so called job creator, I never once, once considered taxes or the tax rate in a decision to hire or fire a person.  

We either had so much business that we needed more employees to do the business or we didn’t have enough business and we needed to make cutbacks or cutback through attrition. But I never said “Oh my God, taxes are going up. I’m going to fire people.” Never.

David Cay Johnston, author of the forthcoming book The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use “Plain English” and Other Tricks to Rob You Blind, had this answer.  

Oh I think it’s incredibly common and you know I’m chairman of the board of a little company with twenty-five workers. I agree exactly. We hire more workers when we have demand for our services and that’s the only reason we do so. Every business person I know operates on a different theory than you’re hearing from people on Capital Hill. You have customers, you need work done, you hire people. You don’t make these decisions based on taxes.

Now, here we are the lowly wage earners getting the squeeze for decades and now our social safety net and our basic tax deductions are on the table? As pointed out “Every business person I know operates on a different theory than you’re hearing from people on Capital Hill.” But that is more like every small and large business person in the nation. Still we keep hearing Republican claiming that the business owners who can get away with deducting almost everything, those business owners need the assistance of government, with little to no reality coming from the Democrats. Still they get away with claiming that almost all business owners file individual claims with little to no reality from the Democrats.

And still so many Democratic supporters continue to try to blame the Republicans for owning the debate or the media for not stepping up where the Democrats should. It’s like being forced to watch a really bad movie over and over. But while the Democrats continue to hide Peter in Armonk called in and said what the President of the United States should have been saying for years.

I also want to say that during all those years when I was, I guess a so called job creator, I never once, once considered taxes or the tax rate in a decision to hire or fire a person.  

We either had so much business that we needed more employees to do the business or we didn’t have enough business and we needed to make cutbacks or cutback through attrition. But I never said “Oh my God, taxes are going up. I’m going to fire people.” Never.

You can listen to the entire interview here.  

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

Our regular featured content-

mishima‘s news digest 6 In The Morning will be on hiatus

These featured articles-

special features-

The continuing coverage of the world’s most watched and controversial cycling event, Le Tour de France.

Join us on Tuesday for Le Tour 2011- Stage 11 at 7:30 AM EDT.

This is an Open Thread

Obama: “Die Quickly”

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

We are doomed and so are our future generations.

President Obama at today’s (7/11) press conference:

As for Social Security, which he acknowledged is not the source of any deficit problems, he basically said that, as long as we’re doing a big deal, we might as well throw that in. “The reason to include that in this package is, if you’re going to take a bunch of tough votes, you might as well do it now,” Obama said.

Obama Offered To Raise Medicare Eligibility Age As Part Of Grand Debt Deal

by Sam Stein

According to five separate sources with knowledge of negotiations — including both Republicans and Democrats — the president offered an increase in the eligibility age for Medicare, from 65 to 67, in exchange for Republican movement on increasing tax revenues.

The proposal, as discussed, would not go into effect immediately, but rather would be implemented down the road (likely in 2013). The age at which people would be eligible for Medicare benefits would be raised incrementally, not in one fell swoop.


A proposal to raise the eligibility age for Medicare — which was part of a budget plan put forth by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) — would face steep opposition from within the Democratic Party. The amount of money it would save is also relatively small, as the vast majority of Medicare funding is spent on more elderly populations. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that if the Medicare eligibility age was increased from 65 to 67, the federal government would save $124.8 billion between 2014 and 2021.

Paul Krugman, Conscience of a Liberal

That’s a truly cruel idea; as it happens, I know several people who are hanging on, postponing needed medical care, hoping that they can make it to 65 before something terrible happens. And if I know such people in my fairly sheltered social circles, just imagine how widespread such stories must be.

But beyond that, think about what it means to move people out of Medicare into private insurance, if they can get it.

Medicare has its problems – but all the evidence says that it is substantially more cost-effective than private insurance. Partly this is because it has lower administrative costs; partly it’s because Medicare is able to use its market power to negotiate lower prices. And the international evidence is overwhelming: single-payer systems are much cheaper than systems centered on private insurance.

So think of this as a national interest thing rather than a budget thing: Lieberman is proposing that we move a substantial number of older Americans into a worse, more expensive health care system. Why would you want to do such a thing, as opposed to raising enough additional revenue to keep them on Medicare?

Where is the outrage?

Why I’ll Be Voting Democratic In 2012

1. Because I like cheese.  

I suspect Democrats eat more cheese than republicans do. Republicans probably prefer chicken fried steak (whatever that is) , and they came up with the phrase ‘cheese eating surrender monkey’ –besmirching cheese by association with the socialist French.

2. Because it feels better somehow, when Democrats kill off social security, and medicare, and through us all in jail for not paying our mandated insurance premiums, than when Republicans do it.

3. Because I like Ronald Reagan a whole bunch, and Obama likes him too, so it’s all good. I especially liked the bit where Reagans’ goons raped and killed nuns in Central America–I’m sure glad Obama is funding lots of School Of The America’s goons to do the same thing all over. (why limit the fun to Central America?)

4. Trickle down economics: Love It ! (See #3 above)

5. Endless wars? I’ve come to love these now. (Not so much in 2008)

6. Nuclear Power: Safe, clean, energy. (what I can’t see, can’t kill me, or anyone else)

7. Drone Attacks against anyone muslim!! In any country. Anywhere. Take that you f’ing  f*ckers !!

And THAT !! And THAT !!!!!

8.  JOBS! Lots of ’em. If you’re a banker, stock trader, a military contractor, a drone pilot, or an undertaker in another country (now that’s some  REAL foreign aid–get rid of those damn foreigners before they can even think about coming here and taking MY damn job at Burger King! Yeah!)

9. The TSA. Luv gettin’ groped. Luv getting nuked too. (see #6 above)

10. Offshore oil drilling. Good stuff, that. And putting BP in total charge of the GOM (that’s military speak for ‘Gulf of Oil’) , and of the EPA, Coast Guard, and a whole bunch of other agencies I can’t remember the names of, was DAMN brilliant.  


The Heckling Hare

Pea Recipies

Peas are full of vitamins and they are good for you – even the frozen ones.  Plus a bag of frozen peas can be used for that black eye you may have received at the hands of some crazed individual in the grocery mart who  fought you for the last two-for-one gourmet coffees – once ordinary – selling at $10.50.  Gosh, two for one.  But as I reached my hand over to the coffee, a wild eyed woman pushed it aside and grabbed the last two. I let it go because I am a small woman, in my seventies, and she was a obese woman in her thirties – I could outrun her but really why waste the energy.

But back to peas – I’m a rice eater, and not only brown rice.  No, in my rice madness I even eat jasmine and white.  We are continually told by the likes of Dr. Oz that white stuff is really bad for you.  However, I put green peas in any rice dish while cooking – it’s a good duo.  

I also like green peas in potato salads and some pasta dishes.  It not only gives cold salads a good flavor but it actually has a nice look – the green denoting nature and largesse and all.

I am a vegetarian, so eating peas doesn’t bother me but I occasionally would like asparagus (now selling at $6.25 a pound) or avocados (now selling for $2.95 each).  Avacados are really good for you – they have the good fat.  

Anyone have any pea recipes you want to share.  Of course now that it has some cache – Green Giant will prolly raise prices … again.

Austerity – bring it (as he will).      

Bad Policy, Bad Politics- Part 1

Monday Business Edition

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Economy Faces a Jolt as Benefit Checks Run Out

By MOTOKO RICH, The New York Times

Published: July 10, 2011

Close to $2 of every $10 that went into Americans’ wallets last year were payments like jobless benefits, food stamps, Social Security and disability, according to an analysis by Moody’s Analytics. In states hit hard by the downturn, like Arizona, Florida, Michigan and Ohio, residents derived even more of their income from the government.

By the end of this year, however, many of those dollars are going to disappear, with the expiration of extended benefits intended to help people cope with the lingering effects of the recession. Moody’s Analytics estimates $37 billion will be drained from the nation’s pocketbooks this year.

“If we don’t get more job growth and gains in wages and salaries, then consumers just aren’t going to have the firepower to spend, and the economy is going to weaken,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, a macroeconomic consulting firm.

Job growth has remained elusive. There are 4.6 unemployed workers for every opening, according to the Labor Department, and Friday’s unemployment report showed that employers added an anemic 18,000 jobs in June.

Consumers account for an estimated 60 to 70 percent of the country’s economic activity, but two years into the official recovery, businesses are still complaining that people simply are not spending enough.

Because benefit payments tend to be spent right away to cover basic needs like food and rent, they provide a direct boost to consumer spending. In a study for the Labor Department, Wayne Vroman, an economist at the Urban Institute, estimated that every $1 paid in jobless benefits generated as much as $2 in the economy.

Government Aid Dissipating, Damaging Economic Performance

By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake

Monday July 11, 2011 6:55 am

The Times story tells a simple tale, one rooted in elementary macroeconomic theory, and one which has escaped everyone in Washington. If you reduce benefits on those who have the highest propensity to spend money, that money gets taken out of the economy, and GDP suffers. And GDP has a direct bearing on unemployment. Our automatic stabilizers actually worked decently during the Great Recession. In fact, most of the stimulus went to tax cuts and beefing up those stabilizers, through aid to states and expanded benefits (in fact, too much so, as public investment in jobs was barely a sliver of the total stimulus). No doubt Republicans will see this article as some evidence of lazy Americans living on the dole, but it’s a direct result of an intelligently designed system to provide a safety net when the bottom drops out of the economy.

Herr Doktor Professor

Regular readers of this blog know that I make a big deal of the failure of interest rates to rise despite massive government borrowing. There’s a reason for that: what happens to interest rates is a key indicator of which economic model, and hence which economic policies, are right.

The Very Serious position has been that government borrowing will drive up rates, crowd out private investment, and impede recovery. A Keynes-Hicks analysis, by contrast, says that when you’re in a liquidity trap, even large government borrowing won’t drive up rates – and hence won’t crowd out private investment. In fact, it will promote private investment by raising capacity utilization and giving firms more reason to expand.

What we usually get in response to this seemingly decisive data are a series of excuses – most recently, that rates were low because the Fed was buying all the bonds. Well, that program has ended, and interest rates are still low.

More Herr Doktor Professor on excuses

The fact is, the United States economy has been stuck in a rut for a year and a half.

The truth is that creating jobs in a depressed economy is something government could and should be doing.

Our failure to create jobs is a choice, not a necessity – a choice rationalized by an ever-shifting set of excuses.

Excuse No. 1: Just around the corner, there’s a rainbow in the sky.

  • Remember “green shoots”? Remember the “summer of recovery”? Policy makers keep declaring that the economy is on the mend – and Lucy keeps snatching the football away. Yet these delusions of recovery have been an excuse for doing nothing as the jobs crisis festers.

Excuse No. 2: Fear the bond market.

  • Two years ago The Wall Street Journal declared that interest rates on United States debt would soon soar unless Washington stopped trying to fight the economic slump. Ever since, warnings about the imminent attack of the “bond vigilantes” have been used to attack any spending on job creation.

    But basic economics said that rates would stay low as long as the economy was depressed – and basic economics was right. The interest rate on 10-year bonds was 3.7 percent when The Wall Street Journal issued that warning; at the end of last week it was 3.03 percent.

Excuse No. 3: It’s the workers’ fault.

  • (I)f there really was a mismatch between the workers we have and the workers we need, workers who do have the right skills, and are therefore able to find jobs, should be getting big wage increases. They aren’t. In fact, average wages actually fell last month.

Excuse No. 4: We tried to stimulate the economy, and it didn’t work.

  • Everybody knows that President Obama tried to stimulate the economy with a huge increase in government spending, and that it didn’t work. But what everyone knows is wrong.

    What happened to the stimulus? Much of it consisted of tax cuts, not spending. Most of the rest consisted either of aid to distressed families or aid to hard-pressed state and local governments. This aid may have mitigated the slump, but it wasn’t the kind of job-creation program we could and should have had. This isn’t 20-20 hindsight: some of us warned from the beginning that tax cuts would be ineffective and that the proposed spending was woefully inadequate. And so it proved.

Neoliberal Economics has as much credibility as Stalinist Genetics.

On This Day In History July 12

While mishima is on hiatus, I will be cross posting some of our daily and weekly features from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge

July 12 is the 193rd day of the year (194th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 172 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1862, the Medal of Honor is created.

President Abraham Lincoln signs into law a measure calling for the awarding of a U.S. Army Medal of Honor, in the name of Congress, “to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities during the present insurrection.” The previous December, Lincoln had approved a provision creating a U.S. Navy Medal of Valor, which was the basis of the Army Medal of Honor created by Congress in July 1862. The first U.S. Army soldiers to receive what would become the nation’s highest military honor were six members of a Union raiding party who in 1862 penetrated deep into Confederate territory to destroy bridges and railroad tracks between Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia.


The first formal system for rewarding acts of individual gallantry by American soldiers was established by George Washington on August 7, 1782, when he created the Badge of Military Merit, designed to recognize “any singularly meritorious action.” This decoration is America’s first combat award and the second oldest American military decoration of any type, after the Fidelity Medallion.

Although the Badge of Military Merit fell into disuse after the American Revolutionary War, the concept of a military award for individual gallantry by members of the U.S. armed forces had been established. In 1847, after the outbreak of the Mexican-American War, a Certificate of Merit was established for soldiers who distinguished themselves in action. The certificate was later granted medal status as the Certificate of Merit Medal.

Early in the Civil War, a medal for individual valor was proposed by Iowa Senator James W. Grimes to Winfield Scott, the Commanding General of the United States Army. Scott did not approve the proposal, but the medal did come into use in the Navy. Senate Bill 82, containing a provision for a “Medal of Honor”, was signed into law (12Stat329) by President Abraham Lincoln on December 21, 1861. The medal was “to be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen, and Marines as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry and other seamanlike qualities during the present war.” Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles directed the Philadelphia Mint to design the new decoration. Shortly afterward, a resolution of similar wording was introduced on behalf of the Army and was signed into law on July 12, 1862. This measure provided for awarding a Medal of Honor, as the Navy version also came to be called: “to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities, during the present insurrection.”

As there were only two medals that could be issued until the World War I including the Purple Heart, the Medal of Honor was sometimes awarded for deeds that would not later merit that distinction. In 1917, when other medals were created for bravery, a recall was requested for 910 Medals of Honor that had been previously issued, but no longer considered that noteworthy. Thereafter, and until the present day, the Medal was awarded for deeds that were considered exceptional.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Time for a break from poetry…in order to create some art.

People say of me, ‘She’s peculiar.’ They do not understand me. If they did they would say so oftener and with emphasis.

–Mary MacLane

Creamy 2



Metro Center, Washington DC, July 11, 2011

Late Night Karaoke

Obama: Progressives, “Eat Your Peas”

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Catfood is made out of peas? Who knew? lambert

This press conference tells us that the austerity crap isn’t some bit of political posturing, it’s a belief. We’re doomed. Atrios

The right wing Republican talking points that were spewed by President Obama at his press conference were so thick that it has left no doubt the president is about to sell out the middle class and poor.

President Obama said Monday that he had “bent over backwards” to forge a compromise with Republicans on a debt limit deal – and that it was time for them to “budge.”

“I am prepared to take on significant heat from my Party to get something done and I expect the other side to be willing to do the same thing,” he said. . . . .

“We have to pull off the Band-aid — to eat our peas,” he said.

I don’t often agree with NYT Columnist Russ Douthat but his analysis of the “madness” cuts to the point:

Barack Obama wants a right-leaning deficit deal.  

The not-so-secret secret is that the White House has given ground on purpose. Just as Republicans want to use the debt ceiling to make the president live with bigger spending cuts than he would otherwise support, Obama’s political team wants to use the leverage provided by those cra-a-a-zy Tea Partiers to make Democrats live with bigger spending cuts than they normally would support. . . .

Why? Because the more conservative-seeming the final deal, the better for the president’s re-election effort. In that environment, Republicans have every incentive to push and keep pushing. Since any deal they cut will be used as an election-year prop in 2012, they need to make sure the president actually earns his budget-cutting bona fides.

The problem is that voters don’t care about the deficit. They care about jobs and the economy. Spending cuts, tax cuts and austerity programs do ot create jobs. Even Ronald Reagan’s budget director, David Stockman, now admits that Reaganomics and the Bush tax cuts are a major cause of the current “debt crisis” and takes Obama and Rep. Paul Ryan to the “woodshed”

“In attacking the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent of taxpayers, the president is only incidentally addressing the deficit,” he writes. “Mr. Obama is thus playing the class-war card more aggressively than any Democrat since Franklin D. Roosevelt – surpassing Harry S. Truman or John F. Kennedy when they attacked big business or Lyndon B. Johnson or Jimmy Carter when they posed as champions of the little guy.”

“On the other side,” he continues, “Representative Ryan fails to recognize that we are not in an era of old-time enterprise capitalism in which the gospel of low tax rates and incentives to create wealth might have had relevance.”

Eat your peas, we are doomed.

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