Saturday, September 08, 2012

Paul Ryan Plotted To Sabotage America's Economy With Other Republicans

By  keepemhonest     Thu Sep 06, 2012

   So-called Fact Checker for the AP, Matt Apuzzo, was assigned to Fact Check President Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention.

    Seems Matt Apuzzo is very bitter about Monica Lewinsky and as a result blamed President Clinton for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's failed policies that began to Melted Down the US Economy in 2007.  Ok, so never mind that the GOP failed to remember that taxes pay for wars and they cut taxes twice and as a result had to borrow money from China to pay for two wars.

    Never mind that in September 2003, Dick Cheney told Tim Russert that the Bush Tax Cuts were 25% of the Deficit video of interview here.

    hmmmm .....

    But, Matt Apuzzo failed big time when trying to lay blame for the non-bipartisanship in Congress.

    Matt Apuzzo biggest failure was that Apuzzo failed to highlight and report about Robert Draper's account of January 20, 2009, inauguration night, Rep. Paul Ryan (R) along with 11 other Republican Congressmen literally plotted to sabotage the US Economy and sabotage President Obama in a private, invitation only, 4 hour covert meeting with Frank Luntz and Newt Gingrich. 

     Because of Matt Apuzzo's failure to list the Fact that before President Obama even entered the Oval Office, Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan and 11 other Republicans had already plotted to sabotage America's Legislative Branch, Apuzzo had to grab for straws to build his little straw-man and blame other people.

    Apuzzo blamed President Obama for the non-bipartisanship in Congress because he hired Rahm Emanuel.  

     Then Apuzzo blamed President Obama for the non-bipartisanship in Congress because John Boehner could not get the Tea-Taliban members to support the "Grand Bargain."

     Next Apuzzo blamed President Obama for the non-bipartisanship in Congress because Paul Ryan and 2 other Republicans voted against Simpson-Bowles -- although, for some suspicious reason, Apuzzo did not name Paul Ryan specifically.  Showing bias in his so-called Fact Check, Apuzzo merely wrote:  "The commission issued its recommendations but fell three votes short of formally endorsing them."

    So, allow me to educate Matt Apuzzo with real facts that really led to the Republican's plotted obstruction to guarantee legislative cluster-f@ck.

FACT 1. In Robert Draper's book, "Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives" Draper wrote that on inauguration night, 2009, during a four hour, "invitation only" meeting with GOP Hate-Propaganda Minister, Frank Luntz, the below listed Senior GOP Law Writers literally plotted to sabotage, undermine and destroy America's Economy.

FACT 2: Draper wrote the guest list included:

The Guest List:
Frank Luntz - GOP Minister of Propaganda
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA),
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX),
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX),
Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI)
Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA),
Sen. Jim DeMint (SC-R),
Sen. Jon Kyl (AZ-R),
Sen. Tom Coburn (OK-R),
Sen. John Ensign (NV-R) and
Sen. Bob Corker (TN-R).

Non-lawmakers present Newt Gingrich

FACT 3: Newt Gingrich confirms meeting took place in an interview with Al Sharpton's Politics Nation on June 12, 2012

SHARPTON: In fact, let`s go to a book that Mr. Draper wrote about the night of the inauguration. There was a meeting at a hotel near the inaugural ball, about a mile away ... He writes about that night the plan was to show united and unyielding
opposition to the president`s economic policies ... And Draper writes that you told the group -- you, Newt Gingrich, "You will remember this will remember this day the seeds of 2012 were sown."
     If there was a commitment from day one, before he ever took a seat
behind the desk of the Oval Office, that everyone was going to obstruct
him, then what he`s done has been almost unbelievable, against those kind
of odds, Speaker Gingrich.

NEWT: it was an important meeting and I was glad and honored
to be part of it.

SHARPTON: I`m glad you admit you had it.

FACT 4: Two months after Paul Ryan's covert meeting where they plotted to sabotage the US Economy, in March 2009, Rep. Pete Sessions said Republicans should follow the model of the Taliban in its battles against President Obama.

     In the March 2009 interview with National Journal Rep Sessions said:

    "Taliban Insurgency, we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban.  Insurgency is the way they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person's entire processes. And these Taliban -- is an example of how you go about to change a person from their messaging to their operations to their frontline message. And we need to understand that Insurgency may be required when [dealing with] the other side"

~Rep Pete Sessions, March 2009 to National Journal

    Rep Pete Sessions went on to say:

    "If they [democrats] do not give us those options or opportunities then we will then become Insurgency ... I think Insurgency is a mindset and an attitude that we're going to have to search for and find ways to get our message out and to be prepared to see things for what they are, rather than trying to do something about them"

FACT 5: Also, at the January 20, 2009 meeting they plotted to suddenly stop supporting any Stimulus Legislation, even though, they all supported Bush/Cheney Stimulus legislation.

    At the meeting, Rep Kevin McCarthy said,
"We've gotta challenge them on every single bill."

"Show united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies."

FACT 6: Remember, these same Republican members of Congress supported the very Bush/Cheney policies that caused America to teeter on the brink of the 2nd Great Depression and caused the 2007 US Economic Meltdown.

Here's how they all voted:
-- "Yes" to Bush/Cheney January 2008 Stimulus
-- "Yes" to Bush/Cheney bailing out Bear Stern
-- "Yes" to Bush/Cheney bailing out AIG
-- "Yes" to Bush/Cheney TARP (sept 2008)
-- "Yes" to Bush/Cheney TARP (oct 2008)

        And these same Republican members of Congress:

Supported Bush/Cheney keeping cost of two wars out of the Budget.

Supported Bush/Cheney spending $4Trillion while giving Top 1% Tax Cuts; ignoring the fact that taxes pay for wars.

     Not only did these Senior members of Congress plot to destroy the American Economy more than it already was destroyed? They actually carried out their mission:  

    Every one of these Senior members of Congress have threatened Government Shutdown over things like:

- Funding planned parenthood,

- Raising the Debt Ceiling which, in-and-of-itself, would cause US Economic turmoil.

FACT 7:  Last year, during the Debt Ceiling negotiations, Eric Cantor and Sen. Jon Kyl abruptly walked out of negotiations and refused to renew discussions with Democrats. As a result, America's credit rating was lowered which put a smile on Republican's faces.

FACT 8: Meanwhile, the 2009 Sabotage the U.S. Economy covert meeting members, Senators: Jim DeMint, Jon Kyl, Tom Coburn, John Ensign, and Bob Corker have:

- Filibustered more Bills (over 300) than any Congress combined in US History.  
- Voted NO on every single piece of Legislation brought to the Floor including:
NO on Al Franken's Anti-Rape Amendment,
NO on Lilly Ledbetter,
NO on Fair Pay Act,
NO on Anti-Outsourcing Bill (2010)

FACT 9: The House members who attended the 2009 Sabotage America meeting have been busy rejecting legislation that helps victims of natural disaster.

Representatives: Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Pete Sessions, Jeb Hensarling, Pete Hoekstra and Dan Lungren have voted NO on every single piece of Legislation including:

NO on increasing FEMA during natural disasters.

FACT 10:     Paul Ryan and these other same failed Congressmen have been on tv constantly chanting the lie that they were guilty of ... the lie that "President Obama's policies undermine the US Economy."

FACT 11: Other Legislation used to sabotage US Economy

   Paul Ryan and the Republicans in Congress refused to negotiate or even discuss passing President Obama's American Jobs Act that independent economists claim would create 1.3 million new jobs.

     Gawd forbid Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan or Kevin McCarthy support an actual Bill that would put people to work building needed infrastructure and provide funds to pay to rehire hundreds of thousands of teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public service workers that have been laid off in droves by cash-starved states.

FACT 12: Paul Ryan and Republicans blocked President Obama's 2012 Anti-Outsourcing Bill - which is a Bill to discourage the outsourcing of American jobs.

FACT 13: The Washington Post reported that Republicans have made it clear that the Federal Reserve would face fierce Republican criticism if it takes further actions to stimulate the economy before the election. The Washington Post wrote that,

   Republicans... have expressed deep concern about measures taken by the Fed to support the economy -- and could be doubly upset if new efforts goose the stock market and are perceived to work in favor of President Obama's re-election.

     Bottom Line: Matt Apuzzo failed ... completely failed ... to acknowledge and report that on January 20, 2009, before President Obama ever took a seat behind the desk of the Oval Office, Paul Ryan and 11 other Congressional Republicans had plotted to sabotage the U.S Economy by obstructing 'the People's' work.  

      On January 20, 2009, Republican candidate for Vice President Paul Ryan along with 11 other Congressional Republicans became Traitors against America.

After The Convention, 538 Says ...

  By  blue aardvark             Original

Predicted EC Vote: Obama 313.0, Romney 225.0.
Chance of victory: Obama 77.3%
Predicted popular vote: 51.3% to 47.6% (that leaves 1.1% for "other")
Chance of Obama landslide: 9.6%. A landslide is defined as popular vote margin > 10%

Predicted chance of Obama victory in tipping point states.


Tipping point states are those most likely to supply the 270th EC vote, so it is a weighted average of "closeness" + "votes".

If you want to know the states most likely to switch from Romney to Obama, they are:
North Carolina: 40.1% chance of Obama win
Missouri: 15.3% chance of Obama win
Arizona: 12.9% chance of Obama win
Montana: 12.9% chance of Obama win
Indiana: 11.0% chance of Obama win

If you see Team Romney spending money in Missouri and Arizona and Montana, that is a "pending landslide" indicator

Friday, September 07, 2012

Healthcare: Incest And It’s After Affects….. Legitimate Rape? Screw The Republican Party

    The following was originaly posted to the political section on Craigslist. I thought it would be interesting for my readers as these kind of incidents are not all that rare. Plus, I hope that it will make you think.  Look forward to more from this individual at this site who shall be called:

    By Alecto Bell

Humpty Dumpty Votes!
Because I am an incest survivor, I've had complications with my health my entire life. I was never able to purchase health insurance that covered my 'endocrine system,' and, except for Planned Parenthood, I rarely saw doctors or utilized any medical procedures, because just getting a 15 minute visit with a specialist cost me nearly 4 days pay.
This lack of financial stability was the main reason for my first and only abortion when I was 19. The Father didn't believe in purchasing even auto insurance and did not want to spend extra time or money raising a child. I knew I would have to work full time and support a child and decided I could not do that.
I watched my own Mother, who raised me, for the most part, go without financial, emotional or physical assistance from my Father, (which was probably just as well as he was raping me--a fact that is costing my entire life to come to terms with)
I saw my Mom turned down for jobs and housing because she was a 'single Mom.' We lived in our car, sleeping at rest stops and eating sandwiches.
When my Mom finally landed a job a State office, we were able to settle down and rent a house.
Without the help of the State and Federal government, we would've struggled a great deal more (we were not on public assistance for long--it was all short term as my Mom was quite serious about finding work--without a job, we couldn't afforded the rent for our house.)
Having a stable home helped me focus on school and making friends, but it was also a time to see how much sexual predation still existed around me and how tolerant other family members were towards my sexual exploitation. Also, I had to face the fact that my Mother was emotionally unstable and prone to violent outbursts (from the stress, no doubt, of having to support three kids on her own.)
After my Sister's brother molested me, and I was blamed for not waking up more quickly (I woke up with his hands on me and froze for a moment, terrified: I remember the sense of paralysis still and it pinned me to the many times I woke up with my Father's hands--and worse--on me.)
Now, I know to fight, but to be honest, if a woman immediately fights in each and every one of these situations, she will increase her chances of being killed. Do some research--this is fact. The GOP Platform on this issue means you will have to remain alert AT ALL TIMES and fight to the death for the right to an abortion if your rapist impregnates you. Otherwise, you must have 'asked for it.' (I guess date rape drugs--and being totally unconscious--doesn't count as 'forcible rape.' Being unconscious is some sort of consent...holy cow. I can't believe Paul Ryan actually wrote such a concept into law--this means, ladies, that YOU MUST REMAIN CONSCIOUS AT ALL TIMES BECAUSE IF YOU FALL ASLEEP AND GET RAPED, AND PREGNANT, HIS LAW WOULD MAKE YOU CARRY YOUR RAPISTS CHILD TO TERM.)
So, don't fall asleep...EVER. (Women with fibromyalgia suffer from sleep disorders and are often incest survivors--all six of the women I've know in life with fibromyalgia were also incest survivors preyed upon at night while their moms were sleeping.)
And children don't stand a chance if they are groomed sexually before they are talking, you have done serious damage to their minds (which is why there are SO MANY MEN WHO DO THIS TO THEIR DAUGHTERS, GRANDDAUGHTERS, ETC..) Our culture is a sad legacy of sexual violence against its own children and yet, it appears, that the few gains women have made in the USA, the one shot we have at equality--control over our own bodies--is going to be sacrificed on the altar of 'idealism' put forth by people who don't even know what REALLY happens when the women around them are raped.
And what about the pandemic of human slavery, namely, the rape of girls and women--it's happening right on your street, somehow, someway, here in the USA.
Here's a question for the GOP: will rape survivors and sexual slaves EVER get health coverage, because I know I never could.
The first emergency room I visited was as an adult in Asia: total cost 20 dollars, cab fare included.
And the care (a specialist in less than twenty minutes appeared and talked with me in her lovely office for half an hour, before writing my prescription; and the facility's were gorgeously modern and had cups of green tea set out for guests (I thought they were urine samples at first!--no, I didn't drink one to find this out!!!)
For me, the USA is the place I was raped by my Father then disqualified for life from medical coverage.
It's a nation where the poor elderly languish in nursing homes with underpaid and overworked staff, or those who do work hard to keep them home, make an average of 4 dollars an hour without the right to emergency relief or more than one day off a month.
It's not a good place to be vulnerable, basically, because if you are poor, disabled, and female and you live in a state nursing home and get raped while you're in a coma, under the Paul Ryan Personhood amendment, you will be forced to bear that child to term.
Who's going to care for these kids? Who?
Did you know a recent survey showed (fact check this, you'll see it's true) that the richest people in the country give the LEAST to charity and working class families give the most.
I've already worked for millionaires using 'welfare' to care for their parents while they jet set around the world and pop in for visits when it's convenient to ignore all the serious issues facing this elderly disabled woman and those trying to care for her. It took me five years to get a bag of washcloths from these people with combined assets in the millions of dollars--I no longer ask. I realize these people profit from not seeing what is really going on and what needs to be done.
But what happens when people like me step off? Who cares for our vulnerable then? When I finally sicken of the low pay and constant 'charity' that has kept me impoverished in time and resources, what will happen to those I care for who have even less?
They will dropped into Hell. That's the truth of it.
Wake up America, before you get dropped there.
And if you vote for Romney, I suggest you tour the poorest nursing home in your town and not just once, but enough to know what's really going on there, and imagine what you're going to do when you're elderly and have nothing but a 'voucher' (worth 6,000 dollars, I think--for the rest of your elderly life?) to purchase health care when the cheapest nursing homes can average 5,000 dollars A MONTH.
Ask about that at the GOP. How's that gonna work.
And who's going to care for all the disabled, addicted babies born to girls kidnapped, drugged and gang raped who will be forced to bear children to our culture's most violent men--will these women, and their children, receive all the care they would deserve?
There's no way you can pay enough to make up for that nightmare--not enough money in the world.

Friday Funnies: Democratic National Convention and The Republican National Convention

   You knew that it was coming.

Jay Leno: "It is day two of the Democratic convention, and apparently they had a huge lighting problem in the convention hall today. They worked all day on it. They still couldn't get President Obama out of Bill Clinton's shadow."

"President Obama's re-election campaign said that this year they'll knock on 150 percent more doors than they did in 2008. Well, of course they will. They have to. There's so many foreclosures it's tough to tell where people live."

"In his speech last night, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro said that Mitt Romney has no idea how good he's had it. I don't think that's true. I think Mitt Romney knows how good he's had it. He just doesn't want us to know how good he's had it."

"Apparently last week the Republicans had originally planned to have a Ronald Reagan three-dimensional hologram speak at the Republican convention. They decided against it. I guess they were concerned that Reagan would come across as more life-like that Mitt Romney."

David Letterman :"The Republican Convention ended on Thursday. The Democratic Convention began last night. In between was a travel day for hookers."

"Last week at the Republican convention, no one mentioned the Tea Party. And listen to this, if it wasn't for Ann Romney, no one at the Republican convention would have mentioned Mitt."

"If Mitt Romney looks familiar it's because for 18 years on All My Children he played Palmer Courtland."

Conan O'Brien:"Michelle Obama said the first car Barack picked her up in was so old, you could see ground below them. Today, Ann Romney said the same thing about Mitt's first helicopter."

"Chuck Norris said that if President Obama is re-elected it will lead 'to a thousand years of darkness.' Then he said if Mitt Romney wins, it will lead to four years of extreme whiteness."

It's been reported that one of the surprise speakers at the Democratic convention is going to be Scarlett Johansson. For her speech , she'll be talking to an empty chair and telling it, 'Hey, my eyes are up here!"

Jimmy Kimmel: "There's a lot going on tonight. The first NFL game tonight, the Democratic National Convention, a new episode of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." Everything that we are as a nation is all rolled up into one tonight."

Obama Breaks Twitter Record…

  …only two nights after his wife broke the record. In fact, I heard that Twitter had to call the fire department because Twitter  started smoking.

A new record political moment on Twitter: @barackobama drives 52,757 Tweets per minute. Over 9 million Tweets sent about #DNC2012.

— Twitter Government (@gov) September 7, 2012

The people listened…and tweeted in droves during his entire speech. The numbers

dwarfed those seen during the Republican National Convention, and are absolutely jaw-dropping.

The President out-drew his first lady, Michelle Obama, whose speech made waves itself. Whether you’re a political junkie or not, it’s fascinating to watch an entire network of people join a discussion during huge global events. 


Also, more than 9 million tweets about #DNC2012

Check out the tally (tweets per minute):

Barack Obama     52,757
Michelle Obama   28,003
Bill Clinton          22,087
Mitt Romney       14,289
Marco Rubio         8,937
Guy talk to chair   7,044  (UPDATE to add Eastwood)
Paul Ryan            6,669  (UPDATED to add Ryan)
Ann Romney         6,195  (UPDATED to Add Ann Romney)


President Barack Obama               52,757
Romney+Rubio+OldMan+Ryan+Ann 43,134

Barack Obama’s Speech: The Pundits View

  President Obama’s speech on Thursday night as the finale to the DNC was a rousing talk about the differences in the two very different choices that America has to choose between in November.

New York Times Editorial Board:

President Obama’s dilemma has always been that he has been far more successful a president than his opponents claim, but far less successful than he needs to be at making voters see that. Powerful speeches by former President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden and others did a lot to fix that impression during the convention. But it was up to Mr. Obama to make the case for another term, with a speech that was every bit as fraught with uncertainty and risk as his 2008 convention address.

Just as he did then, Mr. Obama rose to the occasion.

Timothy Egan-The New York Times:

Obama delivered an acceptance speech full of punch, muscle and pop — the Democratic Party showing some rare brawn on their closing day  and no small amount of testosterone.  It was not a night for poetry. On foreign foes, dead and alive, on veterans, active and retired, on American economic nationalism – even down to the U.S.A chants – Obama’s Democrats occupied the old space once held by mainstream Republicans. It’s empty, after all: why not seize that ground?

Last week, Romney offered platitudes and mush. Many Obama fence-straddlers were afraid the president would do the same. He certainly didn’t offer enough specifics to satisfy all, nor enough to break the race open. But he laid down some markers, and they’re durable enough to carry him through to November. [...]

The haters will never budge. This speech was not for them. It is just a few thousand voters, in perhaps no more than a half-dozen states – the grumpy undecideds, tough nuts all, those lucky, much-stroked bastards  – who had to be moved one way or the other Thursday night. In choosing a meaty framing of the issues, rather than a soaring reach for tears and ahhs, Obama won enough begrudging approval from the select independents to live for another day and probably another term.

Paul Krugman at The New York Times:

The next four years are likely to be much better than the last four years — unless misguided policies create another mess. [...] The policies we actually got were far from adequate. Debt relief, in particular, has been a bust — and you can argue that this was, in large part, because the Obama administration never took it seriously.

But, that said, Mr. Obama did push through policies — the auto bailout and the Recovery Act — that made the slump a lot less awful than it might have been. And despite Mitt Romney’s attempt to rewrite history on the bailout, the fact is that Republicans bitterly opposed both measures, as well as everything else the president has proposed.

So Bill Clinton basically had it right: For all the pain America has suffered on his watch, Mr. Obama can fairly claim to have helped the country get through a very bad patch, from which it is starting to emerge.

The Boston Globe Editorial Board:
The Democratic Party this week displayed an unusual confidence in its values — an ideal of equal opportunity and sacrifice — that provided a fitting rebuttal to the views expressed by the Republicans last week.

GOP leaders had arranged their convention in Tampa around the conviction that individual enterprise, as embodied in the phrase “I built it,” is the only true path to prosperity. In contrast, President Obama’s acceptance speech, which touched on many issues, only soared when he got to his notion of citizenship: “the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future generations.” Along the way, he showed how fully he now inhabits the office of president, paying tribute to fallen heroes and attesting to the goodness of average Americans. But like Republican nominee Mitt Romney, he didn’t offer a compelling game plan for how to achieve those ideals, especially in the face of the deadlock in Congress.

The reality buried in both men’s arguments is that voters themselves can provide a path forward. In a clear clash of values and visions, the winner will be able to claim a mandate that will almost certainly compel action by Congress, whichever party controls the two chambers. That’s the welcome result of a convention season that put on display two parties that know what they believe.

The Washington Post Editorial Board:
Addressing his party’s convention in Charlotte, Mr. Obama acknowledged problems that Republican nominee Mitt Romney ignored or dismissed in his own acceptance speech, such as the impact of global warming. He offered more specific goals than did Mr. Romney, many of which he had previously set: doubling U.S. exports, training 2 million workers at community colleges, recruiting 100,000 math and science teachers. Those, and a few new goals — creating 1 million manufacturing jobs over four years, cutting oil imports in half by 2020, cutting in half the growth in college tuition — are laudable. But Mr. Obama did not explain how he would achieve them or prepare the country for the difficult choices they would demand.

An acceptance speech is not a State of the Union laundry list of specific proposals. Its role is to set out a vision of the country’s future path. Mr. Obama was correct that he and Mr. Romney have dramatically different visions of government’s role, and that the Republican prescription of tax cuts to address any woe has left the country in terrible shape. Mr. Romney has been inexcusably vague in outlining his program, fiscal and otherwise, and he did nothing to mend this deficiency in his acceptance speech. But Mr. Obama’s speech also fell short — of his own proclaimed standards.

Greg Sargent at The Washington Post:

On Tuesday, Michelle Obama talked about who Barack Obama is and where he came from. On Wednesday, Bill Clinton talked about where the country and the economy have been and how we struggled to get to where we are now. As Chuck Schumer put it earlier today, those two performances teed up Barack Obama to devote tonight’s speech to talking about the future.

In a bit of a surprise, Obama’s speech — which had little in the way of soaring rhetoric and stuck to a direct and sometimes pleading tone — spent little time defending his economic record. That task has already been handled ably by Clinton, and Obama wanted the focus to be on a far broader range of issues. The centerpiece of the speech was the idea of “citizenship” and shared responsibility — a gamble that voters will not cast their vote on the current economy alone but on which candidate is offering a more compelling moral vision of America's true identity and future.

    The DNC was by far the superior event between the two party’s and unless Obama and his party come unglued, November is his. Of course, I’d say that the Republican Party is in overdrive trying to figure out how to steal this election because if they lose this one. the white man vote will be much less in 2016.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama

  Words cannot describe the feeling in the Time-Warner Arena on Wednesday night after Bill Clinton gave his fantastic speech and was then joined by the President. Tonight, when Obama hits the stage it is all over for Mitt Romney, as if it isn’t already.                  



Michelle Obama Tops Nielsen Ratings…

   … which means that she flat out kicked Ann Romney’s butt in the ratings game.Mitt didn’t have such a hot rating night either. In fact, the RNC overall was down while the Democrats were up.

Nielsen Ratings

The Nielsen Co. said about 26.2 million people watched the opening night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C., where the first lady was the featured speaker.

Last week, Nielsen said 22.3 million watched the first night of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., where potential first lady Ann Romney talked about her husband, Mitt.

More people watched the DNC convention on network TV (non-political junkies) this Tuesday than last:

ABC: 3,236,553
CBS: 3,268,520
NBC: 5,021,551
Total network: 11,526,624

ABC: 2,862,656
CBS: 3,118,927
NBC: 4,770,050
Total network: 10,751,633

  But wait! What about Twitter Feeds?

Clinton’s speech Wednesday night in Charlotte peaked at 22,087 tweets per minute, while Michelle Obama peaked at 28,003 TPM on Tuesday, according to Twitter. Clinton did do better on Twitter than Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who reached just 14,289 TPM last week at the Republican National Convention.

Paul Ryan Requested Obamacare Funds

  It never ceases to amaze me at that the Republican Party members are such damned hypocrites when it comes to programs that they claim to dislike.

  By teacherken  on Wed Sep 05, 2012  for DailyKos

That is the title of this piece at The Nation that just went up.

FULL DISCLOSURE:  the author, Lee Fang, perhaps the best young investigative reporter around, was my student, albeit in Comparative Religion, not Government.

Here are the first two paragraphs: 

Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan is barnstorming the country, promising to repeal every provision of the Affordable Care Act if the Romney-Ryan ticket is elected. But a letter he wrote to the Obama administration may undermine this message.

On December 10, 2010, Ryan penned a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services to recommend a grant application for the Kenosha Community Health Center, Inc to develop a new facility in Racine, Wisconsin, an area within Ryan's district. "The proposed new facility, the Belle City Neighborhood Health Center, will serve both the preventative and comprehensive primary health care needs of thousands of new patients of all ages who are currently without health care," Ryan wrote.

Go ahead.  Read the piece.

Make it go viral.

Just one more way in which Ryan is a hypocrite.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Rave reviews for First Lady Michelle Obama

   By Joan McCarter on Wed Sep 05, 2012

Media critic Howard Kurtz called it a "resounding triumph." Conservative John Podhoretz said it was a "total knockout." Michelle Obama's speech at last night's DNC set a very high bar for every speaker who follows her.

Plenty of conservatives were forced to admit that it was a great speech.

“I thought as a political speech it was excellent and did nearly everything she needed it to do. She was more comfortable and convincingly passionate than Ann Romney and made not only a defense of her husband the man … but also of her husband’s policies,” Jonah Goldberg wrote in National Review.

“I hate to admit it, but Michelle Obama hit it a long way tonight, in my opinion. And overall, I fear that the Dems had a good night,” wrote Paul Mirengoff at Power Line.

It made a great impression with the "unbiased" crowd, too:

“Unanimity: Everybody—conservatives, liberals, centrists, moderates—[thought] Michele Obama rocked it last night,” MSNBC political analyst John Heilemann said on “Morning Joe” on Wednesday morning.

“The first lady not hitting a home run but probably a grand slam,” CNN host Wolf Blitzer said on Tuesday. “Michelle Obama owned this convention in a way that no speaker owned the convention in Tampa,” said NBC political director Chuck Todd.

Her speech capped, and punctuated, a night that was resoundingly positive and substantive. Where the first night of the RNC was jeers and anger and contempt and lies, the Democrats were energized and positive. And Michelle Obama embodied all of that. She was able to weave a personal narrative that reflected her own political values, those of her husband, and those that were on display from all of the speakers last night, from Gov. Ted Strickland's unabashed populism to Rep. Jared Polis's simple words about his family, to Mayor Julian Castro's humility and optimism.

It was a very good night for Democrats. But it was a grand, grand night for Michelle Obama. Her husband has a lot to live up to tomorrow night.

Michelle Obama's prepared remarks are here.

Are Polling Agencies Selectively Making The Race Look Tighter Than It Is? Why, Of course They Are

By Nathaniel Downes September 4, 2012 

It is traditional for a challenger to get a bump after their convention. This bump historically averages between 7 and 11 points, taking into account the margin of error. To get these estimates, polling companies use models and tools to sort through their data. Typically, the polling agencies are within the margin of error from each other as a general rule, due to their models and sampling data.

However, this year we are finding a wide variance between the polling from one agency to the next. Gallup finds Obama in the lead, with Public Policy Polling finding Romney ahead. The 9-point difference between the two is incredibly rare. This puts an alarm bell out, giving the possibility that some of the polling companies might be engaging in outright manipulation or misuse of the data in order to create an image of a tighter race than exists.

It gets even more unusual when you start to check on the individual states. Large population states, with heavy amounts of delegates, are typically polled at least once a month. You find California, New York, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, Washington, New Jersey–in fact one can find polls for almost every large (over 10) electoral state having been conducted in the past 45 days. The lone exception for this is, fittingly, the lone star state, Texas. There have been a noticeable lack of polls conducted in Texas since May for the general presidential election, although polling for other races in the state have remained constant. With the weak showing of the Republican ticket among minority voters, and with Texas now solidly a quarter hispanic, the ignoring of it for polling comes as incredibly unusual. While it is not likely to be in play, the same can be said of other electoral delegate rich states, such as California, New York and Illinois, who all have been polled on a regular basis.

If one averages out the Romney post-convention bounce between all of the major polling agencies, we find an average of a 2.6 point bounce. If you drop the biggest changes in the polls for both the Romney and Obama directions, it reduces to only 2.3 points. Either of these puts the post-convention bounce for Romney as the second lowest for a challenger to an incumbent president since conventions were widely broadcast on national television starting in 1968, with only John Kerry’s 0.8% bounce coming in lower. This bodes very poorly for the Romney campaign as it is. But you would never know this if you turned on the news services.

We are looking at a race in which the challenger is doing very poorly, but in this fast paced media-driven world, that kind of race is not what the networks are looking for. They want a neck-and-neck race, and it seems that the polling agencies are setting out to deliver for them just that. That the various polling agencies are excluding states, and candidates, they and the media companies which own them, seem intent on setting the narrative. By not calling out the candidates on major issues, such as blatant lies in a convention speech, the mainstream media is clearly more interested in short-term ratings boosts than in doing its role for society.

Creative Commons License

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Facts Guaranteed to Short-Circuit Republican Brains

By Richard Riis on Tue Sep 04, 2012

As a public service to those who find themselves inextricably cornered by aggressively ill-informed Republicans at work, on the train or at family gatherings, presented here are ten indisputably true facts that will seriously challenge a Republican’s worldview and probably blow a brain cell or two. At the very least, any one of these GOP-busters should stun and confuse them long enough for you to slip quietly away from a pointless debate and allow you to get on about your business.

1. The United States is not a Christian nation, and the Bible is not the cornerstone of our law.

Don’t take my word for it. Let these Founding Fathers speak for themselves:
John Adams: “The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” (Treaty of Tripoli, 1797)

Thomas Jefferson: “Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law.” (Letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814)

James Madison: “The civil government … functions with complete success … by the total separation of the Church from the State.” (Writings, 8:432, 1819)

George Washington: “If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.” (Letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, May 1789)

You can find a multitude of similar quotes from these men and most others who signed the Declaration of Independence and/or formulated the United States Constitution. These are hardly the words of men who believed that America should be a Christian nation governed by the Bible, as a disturbingly growing number of Republicans like to claim.

2. The Pledge of Allegiance was written by a socialist.

The Pledge was written in 1892 for public school celebrations of the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. Its author was Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister, Christian socialist and cousin of socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy. Christian socialism maintains, among other ideas, that capitalism is idolatrous and rooted in greed, and the underlying cause of much of the world’s social inequity. Definitely more “Occupy Wall Street” than “Grand Old Party” by anyone’s standard.

3. The first president to propose national health insurance was a Republican.

He was also a trust-busting, pro-labor, Nobel Peace Prize-winning environmentalist. Is there any wonder why Theodore Roosevelt, who first proposed a system of national health insurance during his unsuccessful Progressive Party campaign to retake the White House from William Howard Taft in 1912, gets scarce mention at Republican National Conventions these days?

4. Ronald Reagan once signed a bill legalizing abortion.

The Ronald Reagan Republicans worship today is more myth than reality. Reagan was a conservative for sure, but also a practical politician who understood the necessities of compromise.In the spring of 1967, four months into his first term as governor of California, Ronald Reagan signed a bill that, among its other provisions, legalized abortion for the vaguely-defined “well being” of the mother. Reagan may have been personally pro-life, but in this instance he was willing to compromise in order to achieve other ends he considered more important. That he claimed later to regret signing the bill doesn’t change the fact that he did. As Casey Stengel liked to say, “You could look it up.”

5. Reagan raised federal taxes eleven times.

Okay, Ronald Reagan cut tax rates more than any other president – with a big asterisk. Sure, the top rate was reduced from 70% in 1980 all the way down to 28% in 1988, but while Republicans typically point to Reagan’s tax-cutting as the right approach to improving the economy, Reagan himself realized the resulting national debt from his revenue slashing was untenable, so he quietly raised other taxes on income – primarily Social Security and payroll taxes - no less than eleven times. Most of Reagan’s highly publicized tax cuts went to the usual Republican handout-takers in the top income brackets, while his stealth tax increases had their biggest impact on the middle class. These increases were well hidden inside such innocuous-sounding packages as the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982, the Deficit Reduction Act of 1984 and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987. Leave it to a seasoned actor to pull off such a masterful charade.

6. Roe v. Wade was a bipartisan ruling made by a predominantly Republican-appointed Supreme Court.

Technically, Roe v. Wade did not make abortion legal in the United States; the Supreme Court’s decision held only that individual states could not make abortion illegal. That being said, the landmark 1973 ruling that Republicans love to hate, was decided on a 7-2 vote that broke down like this:

Majority (for Roe): Chief Justice Warren Burger (conservative, appointed by Nixon), William O. Douglas (liberal, appointed by FDR), William J. Brennan (liberal, appointed by Eisenhower), Potter Stewart (moderate, appointed by Eisenhower), Thurgood Marshall (liberal, appointed by LBJ), Harry Blackmun (author of the majority opinion and a conservative who eventually turned liberal, appointed by Nixon), Lewis Powell (moderate, appointed by Nixon). Summary: 2 conservatives, 2 liberals, 3 moderates.

Dissenting (for Wade): Byron White (generally liberal/sometimes conservative, appointed by JFK), William Rehnquist (conservative, appointed by Nixon). Summary: 1 liberal, 1 conservative.

By ideological orientation, the decision was for Roe all the way: conservatives 2-1, liberals 2-1, moderates 3-0; by party of presidential appointment it was Republicans 5-1, Democrats 2-1. No one can rightly say that this was a leftist court forcing its liberal beliefs on America.

7. The Federal Reserve System was a Republican invention.

Republicans, and, truth be told, many Democrats, despise the Federal Reserve as an example of government interference in the free market. But hold everything: The Federal Reserve System was the brainchild of financial expert and Senate Republican leader Nelson Aldrich, grandfather of future Republican governor and vice president Nelson Rockefeller. Aldrich set up two commissions: one to study the American monetary system in depth and the other, headed by Aldrich himself, to study the European central banking systems. Aldrich went to Europe opposed to centralized banking, but after viewing Germany's monetary system he came away believing that a centralized bank was better than the government-issued bond system that he had previously supported. The Federal Reserve Act, developed around Senator Aldrich’s recommendations and - adding insult to injury in the minds of today’s Republicans - based on a European model, was signed into law in 1913.

8. The Environmental Protection Agency was, too.

The United States Environment Protection Agency, arch-enemy of polluters in particular and government regulation haters in general, was created by President Richard Nixon. In his 1970 State of the Union Address, Nixon proclaimed the new decade a period of environmental transformation. Shortly thereafter he presented Congress an unprecedented 37-point message on the environment, requesting billions for the improvement of water treatment facilities, asking for national air quality standards and stringent guidelines to lower motor vehicle emissions, and launching federally-funded research to reduce automobile pollution. Nixon also ordered a clean-up of air- and water-polluting federal facilities, sought legislation to end the dumping of wastes into the Great Lakes, proposed a tax on lead additives in gasoline, and approved a National Contingency Plan for the treatment of petroleum spills. In July 1970 Nixon declared his intention to establish the Environmental Protection Agency, and that December the EPA opened for business. Hard to believe, but if it hadn’t been for Watergate, we might remember Richard Nixon today as the “environmental president”.

Oh, yes - Republicans might enjoy knowing Nixon was an advocate of national health insurance, too.

9. Obama has increased government spending less than any president in at least a generation.

Republican campaign strategists may lie, but the
numbers don’t. Government spending, when adjusted for inflation, has increased during his administration (to date) by 1.4%.  Under George W. Bush, the increases were 7.3% (first term) and 8.1% (second term). Bill Clinton, in his two terms, comes in at 3.2% and 3.9%. George H. W. Bush increased government spending by 5.4%, while Ronald Reagan added 8.7% and 4.9% in his two terms.

Not only does Obama turn out to be the most thrifty president in recent memory, but the evidence shows that Republican administrations consistently increased government spending significantly more than any Democratic administration. Go figure.

10. President Obama was not only born in the United States, his roots run deeper in American history than most people know.

The argument that Barack Obama was born anywhere but at Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii, is not worth addressing; the evidence is indisputable by any rational human being. But not even irrational “birthers” can dispute Obama’s well-documented
family tree on his mother’s side. By way of his Dunham lineage, President Obama has at least 11 direct ancestors who took up arms and fought for American independence in the Revolutionary War and two others cited as patriots by the Daughters of the American Revolution for furnishing supplies to the colonial army. This star-spangled heritage makes Obama eligible to join the Sons of the American Revolution, and his daughters the Daughters of the American Revolution. Not bad for someone 56% of Republicans still believe is a foreigner.

Okay, feel free to drop any or all of these ten true facts on your local Republican windbag. Tell him or her to put any of these choice nuggets in his or her teabag and steep it. Then sit back and enjoy the silence.

Note: Although the facts are 100% true, the context is, of course, one of humor; the oxymoronic reference to "Republican Brains" in the title should have been a dead giveaway. Additionally, as everyone knows, there are no facts in the Republican cosmos, only Fox News Alerts.

DNC Charlotte: What’s Happened Thus Far?

   Not much going on as far as the convention is concerned, but, the protesters are another story.

   At around 3p.m. a standoff between the police and a group who were protesting for the release of Bradley Manning, a U.S. soldier accused by the government of leaking classified material to the WikiLeaks website.

   Charlotte Observer:

Earlier in the afternoon, as about 200 marchers tried to make their way up Stonewall Street, a crowd of about 300 police officers surrounded them, completely blocking off the intersection of Stonewall and Caldwell streets.

Protesters pitched a tent at the ordinarily busy intersection.

    This standoff happened about 2 blocks from the Charlotte Convention Center, and I can say that if the protesters wanted some press, then they sure got it as there were hundreds of the press in the area. it’s reported that there were actually thousands of press members there, but my eyes aren’t big enough to see them all.

   Oh yes, I make note that I did get rained on, again, but, it was worth it just to be here.

  There were many veterans in this protest who also told me that they seek more help for veterans who are without jobs and/or homes.

Which party is best for the economy? It isn’t Republican. Not Even Close

   I have gone over this subject once or twice at this blog with my own statistics to back it up with. This time, though, I am going to let a better writer teach the learning impaired. There are many charts and graphs, so be prepared.

If for nothing else, you have to give Republican leaders and their conservative echo chamber credit for staying on message. After Paul Ryan famously declared the America was becoming a nation of "makers versus takers," Jeb Bush praised Ryan's defense of "the right to rise" supposedly now under assault. Last week, supply-side propagandist George Gilder, perhaps best known for his mantra that "the poor most of all need the spur of their own poverty," returned to warn that "people will abuse any free good." And campaigned this weekend in Ohio, the GOP ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan claimed theirs is the party of "success."

As it turns out, there is one problem with this Republican chest-thumping. Because when it comes to which political party is best for the American economy, it's not the GOP. It's not even close.

As the historical record shows, from economic growth and job creation to stock market performance and just about every other indicator of the health of American capitalism, the modern U.S. economy has almost always done better under Democratic presidents. Despite GOP mythology to the contrary, America generally gained more jobs and grew faster when taxes were higher (even much higher) and income inequality lower.

While the U.S. recovery from the crippling Bush recession has been painfully slow, most economists--including the nonpartisan CBO and some of John McCain's own 2008 advisers--believe President Obama saved the American free-enterprise system from the abyss. And many economists are increasingly worried that businessman-turned-President Romney would lead the United States back into recession.

Here's why the economic debate between Democrats and Republicans is no contest at all. (Click a link below for the details on each.)

Continue reading below the fold.

Job Creation and Economic Growth

When President Obama declared in December that decades of Republican trickle-down economics "never worked," conservatives were predictably apoplectic. Instead, they should have been ashamed.

To be sure, George W. Bush provided the perfect bookend to era of modern Republican economic management ushered by Herbert Hoover. The verdict on President Bush's reign of ruin was pronounced even before Barack Obama took the oath of office. Just days after the Washington Post documented that George W. Bush presided over the worst eight-year economic performance in the modern American presidency, the New York Times on January 24, 2009 featured an analysis ("Economic Setbacks That Define the Bush Years") comparing presidential performance going back to Eisenhower. As the Times showed, George W. Bush, the first MBA president, was a historic failure when it came to expanding GDP, producing jobs and fueling stock market growth.

On January 9, 2009, the Republican-friendly Wall Street Journal summed it up with an article titled simply, "Bush on Jobs: the Worst Track Record on Record." (The Journal's interactive table quantifies his staggering failure relative to every post-World War II president.) The meager one million jobs created under President Bush didn't merely pale in comparison to the 23 million produced during Bill Clinton's tenure. In September 2009, the Congressional Joint Economic Committee charted Bush's job creation disaster, the worst since Hoover:

That dismal performance prompted David Leonhardt of the New York Times to ask last fall, "Why should we believe that extending the Bush tax cuts will provide a big lift to growth?" His answer was unambiguous:

Those tax cuts passed in 2001 amid big promises about what they would do for the economy. What followed? The decade with the slowest average annual growth since World War II. Amazingly, that statement is true even if you forget about the Great Recession and simply look at 2001-7...

Is there good evidence the tax cuts persuaded more people to join the work force (because they would be able to keep more of their income)? Not really. The labor-force participation rate fell in the years after 2001 and has never again approached its record in the year 2000.

Is there evidence that the tax cuts led to a lot of entrepreneurship and innovation? Again, no. The rate at which start-up businesses created jobs fell during the past decade.

The data are clear: lower taxes for America's so called job-creators don't mean either faster economic growth or more jobs for Americans.

It's no wonder Leonhardt followed his first question with another. "I mean this as a serious question, not a rhetorical one," he asked, "Given this history, why should we believe that the Bush tax cuts were pro-growth?"  Or as Mark Shields asked and answered last April:

"Do tax cuts help 'job creators' or 'robber barons'?"
But as the Washington Post and the New York Times suggested, Bush's dismal performance was hardly the exception to the rule. In general, the American economy simply does better when a Democrat sits in the White House. Apparently, America's job creators can create a lot more jobs when their taxes are higher - even much higher - than they are today.

In May, Bloomberg News similarly confirmed that private sector jobs increase more with Democrats in the White House. (Ironically, this is the first recession in 40 years in which the total federal, state and local government workforce contracted.)  As Bloomberg explained:

Since Democrat John F. Kennedy took office in January 1961, non-government payrolls in the U.S. swelled by almost 42 million jobs under Democrats, compared with 24 million for Republican presidents, according to Labor Department figures...Democrats hold the edge though they occupied the Oval Office for 23 years since Kennedy's inauguration, compared with 28 for the Republicans.

And as ThinkProgress highlighted, over the past 50 years, Republican administrations oversaw the largest declines in wages (measured as a percentage of U.S. Gross Domestic Product):

As it turns out, control of Congress matters as well. As the Washington Post reported earlier this month, a recent JP Morgan study found that the American economy grew fastest when Democrats in charge of both 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and Capitol Hill:

The Stock Market

For the investor class so fond of perpetuating the myth of Republicans' superior economic stewardship, the collapse of the stock marketing during the Bush recession must be particularly galling. The Standard & Poor's 500 spiraled down at annual rate of 5.6% during Bush's time in the Oval Office, a disaster even worse than Richard Nixon's abysmal 4.0% yearly decline. (Only Herbert Hoover's cataclysmic 31% plunge makes Bush look good in comparison.)

As it turns out, as the New York Times also showed in October 2008, the Democratic Party "has been better for American pocketbooks and capitalism as a whole." To make its case, the New York Times asked readers to imagine having put their money where its mouth is. Contrary to Republican mythology, Americans fare better - much, much better - under Democratic administrations:

As of Friday, a $10,000 investment in the S.& P. stock market index would have grown to $11,733 if invested under Republican presidents only, although that would be $51,211 if we exclude Herbert Hoover's presidency during the Great Depression. Invested under Democratic presidents only, $10,000 would have grown to $300,671 at a compound rate of 8.9 percent over nearly 40 years.
(For the eye-popping chart of the S&P's performance under each of the presidents from Hoover through Bush 43, visit here.)

As the broader record shows, the best path to prosperity is to elect Democratic presidents.

There's no shortage of studies to show that stock market returns are higher under Democratic leadership. As Slate in 2002 and the New York Times in 2003 found, "It's not even close. The stock market does far better under Democrats." And asBloomberg News documented in February, Barack Obama has been no exception:

Income Inequality

While the GOP's "job creators" didn't create any jobs after the top rate was trimmed to 35 percent and capital gains and dividends taxes were slashed under President Bush, they did enjoy an unprecedented windfall courtesy of the United States Treasury.

For Republicans, this predictable result of the Bush tax cuts was a feature, not a bug.

As the Center for American Progress noted in 2004, "for the majority of Americans, the tax cuts meant very little," adding, "By next year, for instance, 88% of all Americans will receive $100 or less from the Administration's latest tax cuts."

But that's just the beginning of the story. As the CAP also reported, the Bush tax cuts delivered a third of their total benefits to the wealthiest 1% of Americans. And to be sure, their payday was staggering. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showed that millionaires on average pocketed almost $129,000 from the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. As a result, millionaires saw their after-tax incomes rise by 6.2%, while the gain for those earning between $40,000 and $50,000 was paltry 2.2%.

And as the New York Times uncovered in 2006, the 2003 Bush dividend and capital gains tax cuts offered almost nothing to taxpayers earning below $100,000 a year. Instead, those windfalls reduced taxes "on incomes of more than $10 million by an average of about $500,000." As the Times explained in a shocking chart: "The top 2 percent of taxpayers, those making more than $200,000, received more than 70% of the increased tax savings from those cuts in investment income."



And as the Washington Post recently explained, for the very richest Americans the successive capital gains tax cuts from Presidents Clinton (to 20 percent) and Bush (to 15 percent) have been "better than any Christmas gift":

While it's true that many middle-class Americans own stocks or bonds, they tend to stash them in tax-sheltered retirement accounts, where the capital gains rate does not apply. By contrast, the richest Americans reap huge benefits. Over the past 20 years, more than 80 percent of the capital gains income realized in the United States has gone to 5 percent of the people; about half of all the capital gains have gone to the wealthiest 0.1 percent.

This convenient chart tells the tale:


It's no wonder that between 2001 and 2007- a period during which poverty was rising and average household income had fallen - the 400 richest taxpayers saw their incomes double to an average of $345 million even as their effective tax rate was virtually halved. As the Washington Post noted, "The 400 richest taxpayers in 2008 counted 60 percent of their income in the form of capital gains and 8 percent from salary and wages. The rest of the country reported 5 percent in capital gains and 72 percent in salary."


(It's worth noting that the changing landscape of loopholes, deductions and credits, especially after the 1986 tax reform signed by President Reagan, makes apples-to-apples comparisons of marginal tax rates over time very difficult. For more background, see the CBO data on effective tax rates by income quintile.)

If you had any lingering doubts about Warren Buffett's admission that "it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning," this pair of charts from the New York Times should put them to rest. As the upper-income tax burden fell, income inequality in the U.S. exploded.


As the Washington Post demonstrated in its jaw-dropping series "Breaking Away," plummeting tax rates overall and on capital gains in particular have been widening the chasm between the rich and everyone else in America:


National Debt

The Republican tax cut windfall for the wealthy didn't merely produce the lowest total federal burden in 60 years and the highest income inequality in 80. GOP trickle down policies also drained the United States Treasury.

In case Americans had forgotten that Ronald Reagan tripled the national debt and George W. Bush doubled it, the New York Times presented this helpful reminder:


Leave aside for the moment that small government icon Ronald Reagan signed 17 debt ceiling increases into law. (That might explain why the Gipper repeatedly demanded Congress boost his borrowing authority and called the oceans of red ink he bequeathed to America his greatest regret.)  As it turns out, Republican majorities voted seven times to raise the debt ceiling under President Bush and the current GOP leadership team voted a combined 19 times to bump the debt limit $4 trillion during his tenure. (That vote tally included a "clean" debt ceiling increase in 2004, backed by 98 current House Republicans and 31 sitting GOP Senators.)

Of course, they had to. After all, the two unfunded wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the budget-busting Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 (the first war-time tax cut in modern U.S. history) and the Medicare prescription drug program drained the U.S. Treasury. Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Eric Cantor voted for all of it.

Again, in words and pictures, the New York Times tells the tale:


As the Washington Post summed up the CBO's conclusions regarding the causes of the nation's mounting debt earlier this year, "The biggest culprit, by far, has been an erosion of tax revenue triggered largely by two recessions and multiple rounds of tax cuts." The analysis by the Times echoed that finding:

With President Obama and Republican leaders calling for cutting the budget by trillions over the next 10 years, it is worth asking how we got here -- from healthy surpluses at the end of the Clinton era, and the promise of future surpluses, to nine straight years of deficits, including the $1.3 trillion shortfall in 2010. The answer is largely the Bush-era tax cuts, war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, and recessions.
But as Ezra Klein explained in the Washington Post, the revealing Times chart doesn't tell the full story of the impact of Bush-era policies on future debt facing Barack Obama:
What's also important, but not evident, on this chart is that Obama's major expenses were temporary -- the stimulus is over now -- while Bush's were, effectively, recurring. The Bush tax cuts didn't just lower revenue for 10 years. It's clear now that they lowered it indefinitely, which means this chart is understating their true cost. Similarly, the Medicare drug benefit is costing money on perpetuity, not just for two or three years. And Boehner, Ryan and others voted for these laws and, in some cases, helped to craft and pass them.
These two graphs from the Washington Post and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities make that point crystal clear. Analyses by CBPP showed that the Bush tax cuts accounted for half of the deficits during his tenure, and if made permanent, over the next decade would cost the U.S. Treasury more than Iraq, Afghanistan, the recession, TARP and the stimulus - combined.


Utah Senator Orrin Hatch was telling the truth when he described Republican fiscal mismanagement during the Bush years by acknowledging, "It was standard practice not to pay for things."

As Paul Krugman documented, the jump in federal spending as a percentage of GDP under President Obama is almost completely explained by the contraction of the economy and the stimulus programs now ending. (Republicans always take great to care to avoid mentioning that the total federal tax burden as a percentage of the U.S. economy is at its lowest level in 60 years even as income inequality is at its highest in 80.)  As Krugman summed it up:

Now, pointing out the Obama spending binge is a myth generally produces rage: people know that it happened, because Rush Limbaugh and the Wall Street Journal say so. But that doesn't make it true.
Put another way, when it comes to the American balance sheet, Republicans broke it. Now, they claim, Democrats own it.

The Bush Disaster and the Obama Recovery

Despite Republican mythmaking that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) "created zero jobs," the CBO reported in November that the stimulus added up to 2.4 million jobs and boosted GDP by as much as 1.9 points in the past quarter. As it turns out, that conclusion confirms the consensus of most economists - including John McCain's 2008 brain trust- that President Obama's recovery program is continuing to deliver benefits for the American people.


From the beginning, the nonpartisan CBO has testified to the success of the largely concluded 2009 stimulus package in driving employment and economic growth. In February, the New York Times assessed the impact of the Obama stimulus and rebutted its Republican critics:

By comparison, despite criticism of its size and composition by both the right and the left, the stimulus by the Obama administration did add to jobs and growth. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates it will have contributed at least 1.6 million jobs and perhaps as many as 8.4 million by 2013.

This month, the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago surveyed a panel of economic experts of different political persuasions about the impact of the president's stimulus package: eight out of 10 said it had contributed to lower unemployment by the end of 2010. There was less consensus on whether its benefits would exceed its long-term costs, including higher taxes to pay for the spending. Still, when asked if the policy was worth it, four times as many economists agreed as disagreed.


But to really gauge the success of the stimulus, it's worth taking a second look at just how dire the U.S. economic situation was when the Obama administration made its fateful prediction that unemployment would peak at 8 percent. As The Economist and the Washington Post's Ezra Klein detailed, in early 2009 the American economy was not only in much worse shape than anyone imagined; it was literally on the brink of collapse. As The Economist explained the run-up to the passage of the $787 billion recovery program:

The White House looked at the economic situation, sized up Congress, and took its shot. Unfortunately, the situation was far more dire than anyone in the administration or in Congress supposed.

Output in the third and fourth quarters fell by 3.7% and 8.9%, respectively, not at 0.5% and 3.8% as believed at the time. Employment was also falling much faster than estimated. Some 820,000 jobs were lost in January, rather than the 598,000 then reported. In the three months prior to the passage of stimulus, the economy cut loose 2.2m workers, not 1.8m. In January, total employment was already 1m workers below the level shown in the official data.


Klein points out that "wasn't until this year that the actual number was revealed" for Q4 2008 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As The Economist lamented, the Obama administration was "flying blind."

Whether the White House should have known the unemployment picture was going to be much, much worse (as Joseph Stiglitz and Jared Bernstein argued) or that the stimulus package itself was too small and too laden with tax breaks (as Paul Krugman warned at the time), there is little question that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act worked largely as designed. And you don't have to take the CBO's word for it. You can just ask some of John McCain's advisers.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former head of the CBO and chief economic adviser to John McCain during the 2008 election, acknowledged the impact of the stimulus. Certainly no fan of either Barack Obama or the design of the ARRA, Holtz-Eakin told Ezra Klein that:

"The argument that the stimulus had zero impact and we shouldn't have done it is intellectually dishonest or wrong. If you throw a trillion dollars at the economy it has an impact, and we needed to do something."
Mark Zandi, another adviser to McCain, was much more adamant. Federal intervention, he and Princeton economist Alan Blinder argued in August 2010, literally saved the United States from a second Great Depression. In "How the Great Recession Was Brought to an End," Blinder and Sandi's models confirmed the impact of the Obama recovery program and concluded that "laissez faire was not an option":
The effects of the fiscal stimulus alone appear very substantial, raising 2010 real GDP by about 3.4%, holding the unemployment rate about 1½ percentage points lower, and adding almost 2.7 million jobs to U.S. payrolls. These estimates of the fiscal impact are broadly consistent with those made by the CBO and the Obama administration.
But their modeling also suggests that the totality of federal efforts to rescue the banking system dating back to the fall of 2008 prevented a catastrophic collapse:
We find that its effects on real GDP, jobs, and inflation are huge, and probably averted what could have been called Great Depression 2.0. For example, we estimate that, without the government's response, GDP in 2010 would be about 11.5% lower, payroll employment would be less by some 8½ million jobs, and the nation would now be experiencing deflation.
While the U.S. economy is now experiencing slow growth and disappointing job gains, the effects of the stimulus have wound down. Worse still, the draconian budget-cutting by state and local governments which have already cost 600,000 workers their jobs could rightly be deemed the "anti-stimulus." (Ironically, the public sector grew dramatically under Obama's Republican predecessor, with 900,000 government jobs added during Bush's tenure.)  In April, the Economic Policy Institute reported that "the current recovery is the only one that has seen public-sector losses over its first 31 months." The impact of contracting government is clear. "In fact, if it weren't for this destructive fiscal austerity," Paul Krugman explained in March, "Our unemployment rate would almost certainly be lower now than it was at a comparable stage of the 'Morning in America' recovery during the Reagan era."
We're talking big numbers here. If government employment under Mr. Obama had grown at Reagan-era rates, 1.3 million more Americans would be working as schoolteachers, firefighters, police officers, etc., than are currently employed in such jobs.

And once you take the effects of public spending on private employment into account, a rough estimate is that the unemployment rate would be 1.5 percentage points lower than it is, or below 7 percent -- significantly better than the Reagan economy at this stage.


As Krugman asked in November, "And you wonder why the economy isn't recovering strongly?"

Looking Ahead to the Romney-Ryan Recession

Last fall, columnist George Will exulted that the public sector "happily shrank" and cheered "that's good." For his part, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called those layoffs a "local problem." And to ensure that local problem didn't become Washington's problem, McConnell's Republican friends in Congress didn't merely vote against the February 2009 stimulus bill. During his admitted debt ceiling hostage-taking last summer, McConnell explained, "I refuse to help Barack Obama get re-elected by marching Republicans into a position where we have co-ownership of a bad economy." And last fall when President Obama rolled out his $447 billion American Jobs Act which included new assistance to state and local governments, the GOP filibustered the bill in the Senate. Republicans made it clear why they opposed a bill former McCain economic adviser Mark Zandi forecast that could create up to 1.9 million jobs and add two points to U.S. GDP:

"Obama is on the ropes; why do we appear ready to hand him a win?"
But if the Republicans win in November, the American people will likely be the big losers.

That's because in spite of the GOP's bogus claims that "President Obama made the economy worse," the Romney and Ryan budget blueprints would actually bring economic growth to a screeching halt and with it cast hundreds of thousands of Americans into the ranks of the unemployed.

The Economic Policy Institute summed up the carnage the Ryan budget is forecast to produce:

Paul Ryan's latest budget doesn't just fail to address job creation, it aggressively slows job growth. Against a current policy baseline, the budget cuts discretionary programs by about $120 billion over the next two years and mandatory programs by $284 billion, sucking demand out of the economy when it most needs it and leading to job loss. Using a standard macroeconomic model that is consistent with that used by private- and public-sector forecasters, the shock to aggregate demand from near-term spending cuts would result in roughly 1.3 million jobs lost in 2013 and 2.8 million jobs lost in 2014, or 4.1 million jobs through 2014.
Despite his promise to produce 12 million new jobs in his first term, Mitt Romney's vision isn't much better. Many leading economists predict that far from rescuing the middle class, Mitt Romney will only batter it further. Joel Bracken, chairman of economic forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers, rejected the notion that Mitt's 159-point plan would "reduce the unemployment rate from eight to five in two years." James Galbraith worried that" if applied, these fiscal measures would be utterly draconian" and "the attacks on Medicare and Social Security would throw large portions of the population into poverty." Mark Hopkins of Moody's Analytics stated that "on net, all of [Romney's] policies would do more harm in the short term," adding, "If we implemented all of his policies, it would push us deeper into recession and make the recovery slower." Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz cautioned, "The Romney plan is going to slow down the economy, worsen the jobs deficit, and significantly increase the likelihood of a recession." And his fellow Nobel winner Paul Krugman was doubtless saying what those foreign business leaders were thinking when he lamented:
"Ireland is Romney economics in practice. I think Ireland is America's future if Romney is president."
The Center for American Progress put a number what could result from Mitt Romney looking to the capitals of Europe for guidance:
By a conservative tally, Gov. Romney's 59-point plan would actually cost the economy about 360,000 jobs in 2013 alone.


Writing in the New York Times, Ross Douthat on Saturday suggested Mitt Romney could be a modern-day FDR because he could be "a president who tries, and tries, and ultimately gets things right." (Given that the Romney-Ryan program ignores almost every lesson learned during the Great Depression, that seems unlikely.)  But while Douthat was rewriting history, Steve Pearlstein of the Washington Post asked a simple question: "Can We Save American Capitalism?"

We can, but only if we turn to the party--the Democratic Party--that has done it before.

Originally posted to Jon Perr on Sun Sep 02, 2012