July 26, 2011 archive

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It’s the Economy Stupid

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Please remember that criticising Barack Obama and his failed economic policies is racist.

Recession Study Finds Hispanics Hit the Hardest


Published: July 26, 2011

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Hispanic families accounted for the largest single decline in wealth of any ethnic and racial group in the country during the recession, according to a study published Tuesday by the Pew Foundation.

The study, which used data collected by the Census Bureau, found that the median wealth of Hispanic households fell by 66 percent from 2005 to 2009. By contrast, the median wealth of whites fell by just 16 percent over the same period. African Americans saw their wealth drop by 53 percent. Asians also saw a big decline, with household wealth dropping 54 percent.

The declines have led to the largest wealth disparities in the 25 years that the bureau has been collecting the data, according to the report.

Median wealth of whites is now 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households, double the already marked disparities that had prevailed in the decades before the recent recession, the study found.

Electoral victory my ass.

Obama leaves Hispanic activists unsatisfied

By David Nakamura, The Washington Post

Posted at 10:25 AM ET, 07/26/2011

Appearing at a luncheon at the Wardman Park Marriott for the National Council of La Raza, the largest Hispanic civil rights organization in the country, Obama sought to shore up support from a critical pillar of the coalition that got him elected in 2008. It did not go as smoothly as the president might have hoped.

(T)he crowd was not completely convinced. A group of students stood during the president’s remarks, in a silent protest against his policies. And at a news conference afterward, La Raza President Janet MurguĂ­a said Obama had failed the Latino community.

“We’re not satisfied the president has kept his promise,” she said. “On the issue of immigration reform, it’s fair to say that we didn’t hear anything new.”

Netroots Nation 2011, Immigration and the Power of the Latino Vote: Why Harry Reid Came Back and Alex Sink Sunk

Obama’s Nearest Neighbor

Obama's Nearest Neighbor

Barack Obama’s nearest neighbor lives in a plastic hut directly across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. Her name is Conchita Picciotto, and she has been living on the same patch of sidewalk and protesting against nuclear weapons night and day, winter and summer for more than 30 years.

Since her partner at the vigil William Thomas died in 2009, Conchita has carried on more or less alone, handing out flyers and patiently explaining the consequences of a nuclear holocaust to anyone who stops to listen.

Conchita Picciotto has been beaten up and arrested and almost frozen in sub-zero temperatures again and again since her vigil began August 1, 1981. It was 99° in the shade when I talked to her last week, and there wasn’t any shade on Pennsylvania Avenue.

She’s there right now.


Bully for Bugs

On This Day In History July 26

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

July 26 is the 207th day of the year (208th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 158 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1775, the U.S. postal system is established by the Second Continental Congress, with Benjamin Franklin as its first postmaster general. Franklin (1706-1790) put in place the foundation for many aspects of today’s mail system. During early colonial times in the 1600s, few American colonists needed to send mail to each other; it was more likely that their correspondence was with letter writers in Britain. Mail deliveries from across the Atlantic were sporadic and could take many months to arrive. There were no post offices in the colonies, so mail was typically left at inns and taverns. In 1753, Benjamin Franklin, who had been postmaster of Philadelphia, became one of two joint postmasters general for the colonies. He made numerous improvements to the mail system, including setting up new, more efficient colonial routes and cutting delivery time in half between Philadelphia and New York by having the weekly mail wagon travel both day and night via relay teams. Franklin also debuted the first rate chart, which standardized delivery costs based on distance and weight. In 1774, the British fired Franklin from his postmaster job because of his revolutionary activities. However, the following year, he was appointed postmaster general of the United Colonies by the Continental Congress. Franklin held the job until late in 1776, when he was sent to France as a diplomat. He left a vastly improved mail system, with routes from Florida to Maine and regular service between the colonies and Britain. President George Washington appointed Samuel Osgood, a former Massachusetts congressman, as the first postmaster general of the American nation under the new U.S. constitution in 1789. At the time, there were approximately 75 post offices in the country


Category Errors

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

It is a category error to consider Barack Obama a Democrat.

Elizabeth Drew Wants a Better President, Also a Pony

By: Scarecrow, Firedog Lake

Monday July 25, 2011 11:24 am

You can hardly blame the growing number of decent folks, long respected, admired writers like Elizabeth Drew, who are now, or still, calling on Barack Obama to stop being a wimp, a disappointment, a terrible negotiator, or a betrayer to his people, principles and Party and become a better President. But he won’t, people, so what’s plan B?

I’m a great fan of Ms. Drew; have been for, um, decades. In her now widely seen article, she joins many others urging Mr. Obama to just say no to the economic terrorists holding the government, its credit, its finances and its functions hostage. Just demand a clean, no strings bill to raise the debt limit and tell the nation, and the Tea-GOP, that he’s had enough. The nation would cheer.

The problem with all such urgings is they assume the President is being forced to accept terrible public policy, and that only a stiffer spine, backed by his supporters, or perhaps a more clever bargaining strategy, would release the inner President he keeps hidden.

There is ample evidence, delivered almost daily in his press conferences and statements by his closest advisers, that he deeply believes in the economic austerity, confidence fairy, and debt hysteria notions that fully account for this public positions. The President and his men simply support terrible policies.

If for no other reason than naked political self preservation, the nominal leaders of the Democratic Party should be disconnecting from the suicide pact Mr. Obama wants them to sign. But where is the evidence they understand this?

In the Senate, Harry Reid is fashioning an alternative plan for his Party to self destruct. It even includes another anti-democratic Cat Food Commission to finish the job. What political genius came up with the idea that an acceptable out would be to slash federal spending during a still possible depression by $2.6 trillion or so, with or without new taxes, and putting the family jewels at risk again, as the best way to appease the terrorists? What will the terrorists demand next as they dismantle government’s ability to function?

Obama takes political, policy gamble on ‘big deal’

By Zachary A. Goldfarb, The Washington Post

Published: July 24

Obama’s political advisers have long believed that securing such an agreement would provide an enormous boost to his 2012 campaign, according to people familiar with White House thinking. In particular, they want to preserve and improve the president’s standing among political independents, who abandoned Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections and who say reining in the nation’s debt is a high priority.

The risk for Obama now is that his pursuit of a far-reaching package could deeply disappoint his Democratic allies who believe he may be giving away too much. By calculating that an ambitious plan to reduce the nation’s debt by $4 trillion over 10 years is so important, he’s willing to endanger one of the best weapons in his party’s arsenal – the argument that Democrats will protect Medicare and Social Security at all costs.

Administration officials said the shift fits with Obama’s vision of what his presidency should look like.

Obama is focused on the views of independent voters in the general election. In polls, independents still show support for Obama, but his numbers have come down significantly since he took office.

“He sees the achievement of a big deal as a way to reach out effectively to the kinds of independent and moderate voters who supported him so strongly in 2008 and who have become somewhat disaffected in the interim,” said William Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

A deal would also help Obama inoculate himself against criticism from Republicans that he has failed to tame the debt.

“It benefits him politically a great deal if there’s a big deal,” said Jim Kessler, vice president for policy and a co-founder of Third Way, a left-leaning group that has been supporting an ambitious plan. “The deficit favors Republicans. But if it seems like it’s been solved, then you take away one of the biggest Republican issues and at worst you neutralize it and at best you win it.”

Left leaning?

And how is that working out for you?

Public Policy Polling as cited by John Aravosis and Taylor Marsh

For the first time since last July Barack Obama does not lead Mitt Romney in PPP’s monthly national poll on the 2012 Presidential race. Romney has now pulled into a tie with the President at 45%.

Obama’s approval rating this month is 46% with 48% of voters disapproving of him. There are 2 things particularly troubling in his numbers: independents split against him by a 44/49 margin, and 16% of Democrats are unhappy with the job he’s doing while only 10% of Republicans give him good marks. Republicans dislike him at this point to a greater extent than Democrats like him and that will be a problem for him moving forward if it persists.

Obama’s numbers are worse than they appear to be on the surface. The vast majority of the undecideds in all of these match ups disapprove of the job Obama’s doing but aren’t committing to a candidate yet while they wait to see how the Republican field shakes out.

How undecideds change the race if you allocate them based on their approval/disapproval of Obama-

Matchup Approve Disapprove Winner/Margin
Obama/Romney 21% 61% Romney 52-48
Obama/Pawlenty 9% 75% Tied 50-50
Obama/Bachmann 10% 67% Obama 51-49
Obama/Cain 8% 76% Obama 51-49
Obama/Palin 5% 84% Obama 54-46

CNN Poll: Drop in liberal support pushes Obama approval rating down

By: CNN Political Unit

July 22nd, 2011, 01:01 PM ET

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama’s approval rating is down to 45 percent, driven in part by growing dissatisfaction on the left with the president’s track record in office, according to a new national survey.

“But drill down into that number and you’ll see signs of a stirring discontent on the left,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Thirty-eight percent say they disapprove because President Obama has been too liberal, but 13 percent say they disapprove of Obama because he has not been liberal enough – nearly double what it was in May, when the question was last asked, and the first time that number has hit double digits in Obama’s presidency.”

Looking at that figure another way, roughly one in four Americans who disapprove of the president say they feel that way because he’s not been liberal enough.

Obama’s approval rating among liberals has dropped to 71 percent, the lowest point in his presidency. And the number of Democrats who want the party to renominate Obama next year, now at 77 percent, is relatively robust by historical standards but is also down a bit since June.

“It’s likely that this is a reaction to some of Obama’s recent actions, including his willingness to discuss major changes in Social Security and Medicare as part of the debt ceiling negotiations,” adds Holland.

Vicious Cycles: Why Washington is About to Make the Jobs Crisis Worse

Robert Reich

Monday, July 25, 2011

We now live in parallel universes.

One universe is the one in which most Americans live. In it, almost 15 million people are unemployed, wages are declining (adjusted for inflation), and home values are still falling. The unsurprising result is consumers aren’t buying – which is causing employers to slow down their hiring and in many cases lay off more of their workers. In this universe, we’re locked in a vicious economic cycle that’s getting worse.

The other universe is the one in which Washington politicians live. They are now engaged in a bitter partisan battle over how, and by how much, to reduce the federal budget deficit in order to buy enough votes to lift the debt ceiling.

The two universes have nothing whatever to do with one another – except for one thing. If consumers can’t and won’t buy, and employers won’t hire without customers, the spender of last resort must be government. We’ve understood this since government spending on World War II catapulted America out of the Great Depression – reversing the most vicious of vicious cycles. We’ve understood it in every economic downturn since then.

Until now.

When you’ve lost Jeralyn

Dear President Obama,

We know you don’t like baby boomers.  But you wouldn’t have been elected without us.

If reports are true that you are willing to endorse a raise in the eligibility age for Medicare, please consider this your pink slip.

We are the largest generation in history and we vote.  Please think long and hard before throwing us under the bus.  We will surely take you with us.


Talk Left

More on Medicare

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This time from Herr Doktor Professor-

Messing With Medicare

By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times

Published: July 24, 2011

(A)ccording to many reports, the president offered both means-testing of Medicare benefits and a rise in the age of Medicare eligibility. The first would be bad policy; the second would be terrible policy. And it would almost surely be terrible politics, too.

The crucial thing to remember, when we talk about Medicare, is that our goal isn’t, or at least shouldn’t be, defined in terms of some arbitrary number. Our goal should be, instead, to give Americans the health care they need at a price the country can afford. And throwing Americans in their mid-60s off Medicare moves us away from that goal, not toward it.

For Medicare, with all its flaws, works better than private insurance. It has less bureaucracy and, hence, lower administrative costs than private insurers. It has been more successful in controlling costs. While Medicare expenses per beneficiary have soared over the past 40 years, they’ve risen significantly less than private insurance premiums. And since Medicare-type systems in other advanced countries have much lower costs than the uniquely privatized U.S. system, there’s good reason to believe that Medicare reform can do a lot to control costs in the future.

It’s true that Medicare expenses could be reduced by requiring high-income Americans to pay higher premiums, higher co-payments, etc. But why not simply raise taxes on high incomes instead? This would have the great virtue of not adding another layer of bureaucracy by requiring that Medicare establish financial status before paying medical bills.

But, you may say, raising taxes would reduce incentives to work and create wealth. Well, so would means-testing: As conservative economists love to point out in other contexts – for example, when criticizing programs like food stamps – benefits that fall as your income rises in effect raise your marginal tax rate. It doesn’t matter whether the government raises your taxes by $1,000 when your income rises or cuts your benefits by the same amount; either way, it reduces the fraction of your additional earnings that you get to keep.

So what’s the difference between means-testing Medicare and raising taxes? Well, the truly rich would prefer means-testing, since they would end up sacrificing no more than the merely well-off.

How so Herr Doktor Professor?

(T)he difference between means-testing and just collecting a bit more taxes? The answer is, class warfare – not between the rich and poor, but between the filthy rich and the merely affluent. For a tax rise would get a significant amount of revenue from the very, very rich (because they have so much money), while means-testing would end up imposing the same burden on $400,000 a year working Wall Street stiffs that it imposes on billion-a-year hedge fund managers.

What we need is actual control of health costs. Means-testing of Medicare is just a badly designed, unfair form of taxation.

Of course, it’s possible that the reason the president is offering to undermine Medicare is that he genuinely believes that this would be a good idea. And that possibility, I have to say, is what really scares me.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

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

We are much too much inclined in these days to divide people into permanent categories, forgetting that a category only exists for its special purpose and must be forgotten as soon as that purpose is served.

–Dorothy L. Sayers

Sunset 2

Late Night Karaoke

Buy Obama’s Chief of Staff a Clue

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

President Obama’s Chief of Staff Bill Daley, former bankster and Third Way board member, thinks that it is “the deficit is a serious drag on the economy.” You would think that the Tea Party Republicans had taken over the White House. Oh, wait, they have.

Mr. Daley appeared on Meet the Press with corporate shill, David Gregory

As Scarecrow at FDL points out

Apparently, the man closest to the President of the United States, and on whom the President relies for political and economy advice, does not know that the only reason the terrible unemployment numbers that may end his President’s re-election hopes are at 9.2 percent and not 11 or 12 percent or higher is because of the increased federal deficit spending of the last two years.

And the only thing that can keep unemployment from reaching higher levels in 2012 is continued federal spending, which they will cover via more deficits. If Mr. Daley’s diagnosis were translated into policy – and that seems to be what’s happening – he and his President will need new jobs in 2013.

Mr. Daley and the completely useless David Gregory totally ignore the real causes for current economic disaster:

On the debt reduction negotiations, David Gregory asked Mr. Daley what he must have thought was a gotcha now question. He showed Mr. Daley a graphic showing the increase in the total debt since Obama took office, with the debt going from $10 trillion to $14 trillion or so, and projected to rise another $2 trillion.

Then Gregory smuggly concluded, “can’t you [Mr. Daley] see the logic of those who argue that given this huge increase in the debt, it makes sense that we reduce that only with spending cuts and not tax increases?”

The correct response to a question that jaw-droppingly stupid would have been to award Gregory the Douglas Feith Award and terminate his contract with NBC. Daley may not get the allusion and couldn’t say that in any event.

But in responding, Daley couldn’t even remember to remind viewers that the bulk of that debt increase was entirely the result of the recession: fallen tax revenues and increased safety-net spending, plus the stimulus, all responding to the recession Mr. Obama inherited. Instead, he left us with the lecture on how the debt or deficit was a serious drag on the economy, so our President was really focused on that.

Scarecrow is so right that “there are no more adults in this conversation.”


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