When President Obama tried to lower amounts paid to contractors

Continuing the theme of this morning’s posts (1 and 2) on defense contractor pay vs. fed pay*, the President did try to reduce amounts paid to contractors. As I said in a previous post, ever notice Republicans never suggest reducing the pay of contractors (and especially defense contractors)? It’s always the federal workforce punished when the GOP wants to save a couple dollars. From The Washington Post:

The Obama administration also has pushed Congress to lower the amount paid to contractors. A year ago, a blog post from Leslie Field, acting administrator of the Office of Management and Budget’s office of federal procurement policy, said Obama wants “Congress to scrap an outdated law that requires taxpayers to foot the bill for excessive payments to CEOs and other senior executives of companies that contract with the Government.”

Because of that law, Field said taxpayers “have their hard-earned resources spent reimbursing contractor executives far in excess of what can be justified.”

In December, Congress considered, but did not approve a proposal to lower the cap. Instead, Congress told the Government Accountability Office to study the effect of reducing contractor compensation.

“Congress has had no problem freezing wages for one group of federal workers, yet many lawmakers have turned a blind eye to the outrageous salaries earned by another group,” Cox said. “Both workforces are paid for by American taxpayers. What’s the difference?”

I’ll tell you what the difference is: one group gives politicians a lot of money.

*Average defense contractor executive pay vs. federal worker pay: $760,000 vs. $45,000.

Five deadlines in the next four months: negotiating with the party of “100% cuts, 0% revenue”

Suzy Khimm explains the five deadlines we face in the next 3-4 months, now that the debt ceiling fight has been pushed out to May (if the GOP House bill is passed in the Senate):

In theory, a sweeping budget agreement would render nearly all of these deadlines moot. But Congress and the White House have failed time and again to pull that off, making it more likely that we’ll muddle through from deadline to deadline. Here’s what happens when:

(Dylan Matthews)

Feb. 4: The president is required by law to release a 2014 budget on the first Monday of February. The White House has already said that its budget will be late, citing delays because of the fiscal cliff negotiations, and it’s likely to hold off until congressional Democrats can agree on what budget offer they want to make. But the president will likely lay down some markers the following week, in his Feb. 12 State of the Union speech.

March 1: The sequester is scheduled to take effect, as the Jan 1. fiscal cliff deal only replaced the automatic spending cuts for two months. Senate Democrats have agreed to put out a budget resolution for 2014 by this date as well, per House Republicans’ request. But this is just a blueprint that will still have to be reconciled with the House’s own budget. That means that Congress will have to find another short-term fix for the sequester cuts if it wants to keep it from taking effect.

March 27: The short-term budget funding the government’s discretionary spending expires, as Congress only passed a six-month Continuing Resolution in late September 2012. The spending levels have already set by the 2011 debt-ceiling deal, which placed strict caps on spending. But both President Obama and Republicans have agreed to further discretionary cuts, reopening those caps. If Congress still hasn’t come to a budget deal, the GOP could use the CR as a point of leverage to extract cuts, threatening to shut down the government unless their demands are met.

April 15: Both the House and the Senate will be required to adopt a budget resolution for fiscal year 2014. If they don’t, then legislators will have their pay put into escrow beginning April 16 until one is passed. However, regardless of what happens, any withheld pay will be given to legislators at the end of the current Congress because of the 27th amendment.

May 19: The three-month suspension of the debt-ceiling expires, which means that we risk breaching the debt limit unless Congress acts again. However, it appears that the Treasury Department would once again be able to use “extraordinary measures” to buy a few weeks more time, which means that May 19 wouldn’t be a drop-dead date.

Steve Benen points out the deadline that, with the track record of this Congress, will surely be missed: “…if Congress doesn’t deal with automatic sequestration cuts before March 1 — just 36 days away — the result is a scenario that neither side wants to see: painfully deep cuts that would undermine both the economy and the military. [...]

In theory, it’s not too hard to imagine a bipartisan deal: half the money could be found through new revenue via tax reform, half could come by way of spending cuts. The problem, of course, is that GOP leaders continue to insist that any agreement be 100% cuts, 0% revenue.

“There’s not a single Republican vote” for more revenue, said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

No, of course not. That would be sensible.

In the House, the picture is similar.

“They already got their revenues,” [House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan] said. “So what, we’ll roll over and they get more revenues? That’s not how it works. In the spirit of bipartisan compromise, they’ve gotten revenue increases already. We’ve yet to get anything as a result of it.”

That Paul Ryan just doesn’t have a very good memory. In 2011, there was a big debt-ceiling agreement in which President Obama accepted over $1 trillion in spending cuts. “We’ve yet to get anything”? House Speaker John Boehner boasted in 2011, I got 98% of what I wanted.”

And Benen asks the most important question of all: “If the 2011 agreement included cuts, and the 2012 deal featured revenue, is it really so outrageous to think a 2013 compromise should be balanced and include a combination of both?”

It shouldn’t be this difficult for adults to negotiate and find bipartisan solutions to problems facing the entire country. But here’s where we can most easily observe the effects of gerrymandered congressional districts in action: a entire nation held hostage to the whims and fantasies of conservative white, rural, Bible-thumping, gun-clutching, red state ‘Mericans — a shrinking minority! — who elect the most ideologically extreme candidates from their little slice of Teabagistan. Combine these people with the Establishment Republicans, who are the defenders of Power and Wealth, and it’s no surprise the GOP is in chronic gridlock.

John Boehner would be doing the entire nation a service to bypass the Hastert Rule and work around his mess of a caucus on all these deadlines and any other important issues facing this Congress.

How terrible is the Republican / Paul Ryan budget proposal?

The New-Old Paul Ryan / Republican (tea)Party Budget is terrible for everyone except the one percenters, corporations, and the Department of Defense. In addition, this budget completely reneges on the plan the Republicans agreed to earlier. Why would they do that? The answer may be at the bottom:

Kevin Drum: Can We Please Stop Making Excuses for Paul Ryan? -

Really, let’s just stop right there… I’m so tired of Paul Ryan I could scream. Every year we get a slightly different version of the same old thing, and every year we have to waste entire man-years of analysis in order to make the same exact points about it. And the biggest point is that his budget would force enormous, swinging cuts in virtually every domestic program, especially those for the poor. If this bothers Ryan, he’s had plenty of time to revise his budget roadmap to address it.

But he hasn’t.

Federal Times: Republican budget would extend pay freeze, cut 10% of workforce -

House Republicans on Tuesday proposed a fiscal 2013 budget that would cut the federal workforce by 10 percent, freeze pay through 2015 and increase the amount federal employees pay toward their pensions.

[...] The American Federation of Government Employees denounced Ryan’s proposal, saying that it would break promises made to federal employees and jeopardize programs and services the government provides to the public. “It is fundamentally wrong for federal employees to be required, yet again, to serve as the Automated Teller Machine for the nation,” AFGE National President John Gage said. “Enough is enough.”

Steve Benen: Why the House GOP may not love its own budget plan

The Tweet of the Day comes by way of Molly Ball, a politics writer at The Atlantic, who posted this gem this morning.

[...] A lot will be said in the coming weeks — by me, among others – about the far-right nature of the new House Republican budget plan, and the extent to which it reneges on the bipartisan agreement the GOP already accepted. But there’s another angle to keep in mind: what Republicans intend to do is unpopular.

Igor Volsky and Travis Waldron flagged some of the more offensive elements of the plan — forcing seniors to pay more for health care; cutting coverage for the elderly and disabled; eliminating coverage for 30 million Americans; giving a big tax cut to the wealthy; cutting the safety net while increasing Pentagon spending — and it’s worth appreciating the fact that the American mainstream doesn’t support any of this.

Travis Waldron: GOP Budget Plan To Reduce The Debt Actually Makes The Debt Worse

The problem with Ryan’s rhetoric is that his plan fails to match it. By giving massive tax breaks to corporations and the top one percent and preserving unsustainable levels of defense spending, the House GOP’s plan to reduce the debt would fail to reduce the debt. In fact, because it assumes levels of revenue that are pure fantasy under his tax proposals, the plan would actually increase the debt, according to an analysis by Center for American Progress Tax and Budget Policy Director Michael Linden:

But the House budget’s entire claim to deficit reduction is built on the foundation of those fantasy revenue levels. Without them, the debt goes up, not down. In fact, with all the House budget’s tax cuts properly accounted for, revenue would average just 15.3 percent of GDP from 2013 through 2022, not 18.3 percent. The result: deficits would never drop below 4.4 percent of GDP, and would rise to more than 5 percent of GDP by 2022.

The national debt, measured as a share of GDP, would never decline, surpassing 80 percent by 2014, and 90 percent by 2022. By comparison, President Barack Obama’s budget proposal, released in February, would stabilize the debt by 2015, and bring it down to 76 percent by 2022.

ThinkProgressRyan Budget Pads Big Oil’s Pockets While Americans Pay At The Pump

Yet it appears that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed FY 2013 budget resolution would retain a decade’s worth of oil tax breaks worth $40 billion. And his budget would cut billions of dollars from investments to develop alternative fuels and clean energy technologies that would serve as substitutes for oil and help protect middle-class families from volatile energy prices as well as create jobs. In short, the Ryan budget compounds the cost of high oil and gasoline prices on the middle class.

Ben Armbruster: House GOP Budget Increases Military Spending

But the new GOP budget not only prevents further military spending cuts at the expense of the less well-off, it actually increases funds for defense and other security related spending. Last year, the Obama administration and Congress agreed to $487 billion in military spending cuts as part of the Budget Control Act but the Republicans want to roll back about half of those reductions as well:

The Ryan plan also increases national defense spending to $554 billion in 2013, an increase of $8 billion over the $546 billion that was agreed to under the Budget Control Act.

That would reverse some of the $487 billion in cuts that the Pentagon has planned to implement over the next decade. Over 10 years, the Ryan budget would spend $6.2 trillion on defense, which is higher than the $5.97 trillion level set under the Budget Control Act. 

WaPo: GOP budget plan goes completely against their earlier deal — are they hoping to shutdown the government prior to the election?

Bowing to demands from conservatives influenced by the tea party movement, House leaders are pressing to protect the Pentagon in 2013 while cutting budgets for domestic agencies below levels set during last summer’s showdown over the federal debt ceiling. The decision has alarmed both Democrats and some GOP moderates, who said the move could spark a fresh clash over the annual bills needed to keep the government running into the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

If that dispute is not resolved, Democrats warned that the government — or significant parts of it — could shut down five weeks before the election.

[...] Democrats immediately accused the GOP of reneging on the hard-fought deal, which both parties had hoped would get them through the Nov. 6 election without additional drama. In the Senate, Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) filed a motion to permit spending bills to be drafted at the higher level — which, he noted, “everyone agreed to just last year.”

“House Republicans, I hope, would do the same,” Conrad said. “If they fail to do so, they will once again threaten to shut down the government and needlessly imperil the economic recovery.”

Playing politics right before a presidential election with a candidate their base isn’t too excited about? Sure looks like it. Well, that combined with this:

(3/20) Tuesday morning’s 6 kind of interesting things

1) PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEMOCRATS

  • Clooney: Obama’s Chances Are Good, But Don’t Get Cocky - Actor George Clooney on Sunday said that President Barack Obama was likely to be re-elected, but cautioned liberals not to get cocky “because you will always lose.” In an interview with NBC’s David Gregory, Clooney explained that the president has “always looked good to be re-elected.” “I happen to believe that Democrats are just very poor in general at explaining what it is when they accomplish something,” the longtime activist remarked. “If I was a Republican, if Obama was a Republican, I would be selling all of the, you know, he saved the auto industry, he got Osama bin Laden, he passed the health care bill that nobody could pass. If that was a Republican issue, I would be able to sell his presidency as a very successful one. But Democrats are bad at that. We like to pick each other apart. That’s our thing.” “The worst thing you could do is in any way feel safe or cocky because you will always lose,” he warned. Clooney added that unlike his good friend Matt Damon, he was not disappointed in Obama “in the least.”

2) THE 2012 GOP PRIMARY

  • Scrambling Santorum lashes out at Romney in pivotal state of Illinois - Santorum, in a television interview on Monday morning, made a series of pointed remarks about Romney that almost certainly rule him out of consideration as Romney’s vice-presidential running-mate. Speaking on CBS, Santorum claimed Romney “is someone who doesn’t have a core. He has been on both sides of almost every single issue in the past 10 years”. That is a damning accusation for a politician, one that the Democrats could happily use as an ad in the fall.
  • Santorum ‘does not care’ about the unemployment rate -“I don’t care what the unemployment rate’s going to be. Doesn’t matter to me. My campaign doesn’t hinge on unemployment rates and growth rates. It’s something more foundational that’s going on. We have one nominee who says he wants to run the economy. What kind of conservative says that the president runs the economy? What conservative says I’m the guy, because of my economic experience, that can create jobs? I don’t know. We conservatives generally think that government doesn’t create jobs. That what government does is create an atmosphere for jobs to be created in the private sector.”
  • Rick Santorum’s Secret Service Code Name in No Way Shows Messianic Self-Regard - Thought we were done with Rick Santorum, did you? Well SO DID WE! Then GQ had to go discover his Secret Service code name, which is Petrus, as in Rock, as in Peter, as in “And on this rock I shall build my Church,” which in no way, shape or form could be construed as JESUS FUCKING CHRIST THE MESSIANIC BALLS ON THAT GUY!
  • Romney looks to win big in Illinois Republican primary - “Mitt Romney is headed for a blowout victory in Illinois,” Public Policy Polling said Monday in releasing a survey that showed Romney with a 15-point lead over Santorum, up from a 9-point lead in a Rasmussen poll released Friday. The former Massachusetts governor also has a commanding lead in the all-important delegate count as he seeks to be the Republican contender to take on Democrat Obama in the November 6 vote. [...] Romney’s campaign has spent millions flooding the Illinois airwaves with negative ads calling Santorum an “economic lightweight” and “Washington insider” with a voting record that belies the principles he espouses on the campaign trail.
  • Romney “connects” with “people” in Springfield IL - “These pancakes are something else, I’ll tell ya,” said Romney, standing in the dining room of Charlie Parker’s Diner in Springfield admiring the dish known as a “Charlie’s Famous Giant Pancake.” “These pancakes are about as large as my win in Puerto Rico last night, I must admit. The margin is just about as good. I’m looking forward to getting one of these pancakes. Can I get one of these on the way out? Not the super big one, I can’t fit that in the vehicle, all right,” Romney joked. “The car’s only a Chevy SUV.”

3) THE 21st CENTURY REPUBLICAN (TEA)PARTY

  • Sheriff Arpaio refuses to drop ‘birther’ investigation of Obama - “President Barack Obama’s long-form birth certificate released by the White House on April 27, 2011, is suspected to be a computer-generated forgery, not a scan of an original 1961 paper document as represented by the White House when the long-form birth certificate was made public,” the sheriff said at a press conference. But his widely-reported investigation had little impact. “The media all came to make fun of me,” Arpaio told The Arizona Republic. “I’m a little concerned that all of their questions were zeroed in on credibility and that this has been rehashed. They didn’t even ask about the proof of the case. They didn’t ask about the facts that we had.” Many of the so-called “birthers” believe there is persuasive evidence that Obama was born in Kenya in 1961 and that his birth certificate was faked in order to make him eligible for the presidency.
  • Hunter DK: “…The main thing Sheriff Joe has proven (and he keeps proving it again and again, for some reason) is that the people of Mariposa County, Arizona are outright morons. That’s really the only reason I can possibly think of for why this clown still continues to hold office, despite federal investigations, a crime rate that has gone up, celebrity ride-alongs gone bad and “investigations” whose only apparent purpose is to repeatedly humiliate all involved. He seems to be bad at every single part of his job except the self-promotion part, and yet he still keeps going strong, so at least the rest of us will have an ongoing source of dark comedy…”

Do you think Barack Obama is a Christian or a Muslim, or are you not sure?
Christian: 24
Muslim: 39
Not sure: 37
Do you think Barack Obama was born in the United States, or not?
Was born in U.S.: 36
Not born in U.S.: 36
Not sure: 28
Do you believe in evolution, or not?
Believe in evolution: 41
Do not: 43
Not sure: 16

4) REPUBLICAN WAR ON WOMEN

  • Idaho Senate votes to require pre-abortion ultrasound - (Reuters) – The Idaho Senate on Monday approved a measure requiring women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound before ending a pregnancy, joining a number of states passing ultrasound measures to discourage abortions. The bill now heads to the state House of Representatives, where it was expected to pass.
  • Romney Holds The Line: No Free Birth Control - “If you’re looking for free stuff, if you’re looking for free stuff that you don’t have to pay for, go vote for the other guy, because that what he’s all about,” Romney retorted, making an economic case against government handouts. “The idea of borrowing a trillion dollars more than we take in is not just bad economics, it’s immoral. I’m not gonna do it, and I’m not gonna make a promise we can’t deliver.” “Where do you suggest that the millions of women who receive their health services, such as mammograms and HPV vaccines, go?” she asked. “Well, they could go wherever they would like to go. This is a free society,” Romney said. “But here’s what I say — the federal government should not tax these people to pay for Planned Parenthood.” // Aaaaand HERE is where one would naturally turn to the “free handouts” to the wealthiest one percent in Romeny’s own “tax plan” which would actually cut his own taxes by half. 

5) REPUBLICAN WAR ON THE 99% / PROTECTING THE ONE PERCENT

  • Democratic Group Celebrates Return Of Paul Ryan’s Budget Plan With Film Trailer - Rep. Paul Ryan’s latest plan for deep tax and spending cuts draws this ad from the liberal group Americans United for Change, taking aim at its slashing popular programs. “Like Weekend at Bernie’s, even when no one in America wanted to see Weekend at Bernie’s II, they went ahead and made the sequel anyway.”

  • Republicans to unveil their budget blueprint - [House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's] latest budget poses a risk for Republicans in an election year as it again includes proposed reforms to Medicare and Medicaid, the popular but costly health insurance programs for the elderly and the poor. It would transform Medicare from a traditional fee-for-service health care system for seniors into a voucher system giving them money to purchase insurance on the private market. The Ryan plan would mark “the end of Medicare as we know it,” Representative Janice Schakowsky, a Democrat, told reporters. “Some estimates are it would cost seniors out of pocket some $6,000″ per person per year more than current costs, she added.
  • All 3 Missouri GOP Senate Candidates Stumped When Asked To Identify The Minimum Wage - Three Missouri Republicans running to take on Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) in November were asked during a radio debate on KMOX what the federal minimum wage is and whether they would vote to increase it. None of the three knew what the minimum wage [was], but all knew that they would vote against increasing it, regardless. The candidates’ explanations for not wanting to raise the minimum wage ranged from nonsensical (Brunner said his business gave “better than the minimum benefits”) to extreme, with Akin calling for scrapping the minimum wage altogether. “I don’t think the government should be setting prices on wages in any way shape or form,” said Akin. Steelman was opposed to raising the minimum wage because she “think[s] it’s high enough as it is.” [...] Perhaps explaining their ignorance of the current minimum wage is the fact that none of the three candidates personally live anywhere near it.

6) MISC

  • First Day of Spring Vernal Equinox 2012 - Spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere on March 20, 2012, at 1:14 A.M. (EDT).
  • Spring Arrives with Equinox Tuesday, Earliest in More Than a Century - Across much of the United States, this has been an unusually mild winter, especially for those living east of the Mississippi. Not a few people have noted that spring seems to have come early this year. Of course, in a meteorological sense that could be true, but in 2012 it will also be true in an astronomical sense as well, because this year spring will make its earliest arrival since the late 19th century: 1896, to be exact.
  • GOOD IDEAS: Brits to See How Taxes Are Spent - LONDON—Every British taxpayer is to receive a personal statement detailing exactly how their taxes are being spent as part of the government’s drive to make the tax system easier to understand and more transparent.Treasury chief George Osborne is expected to announce in tomorrow’s budget that Britain’s 20 million taxpayers will receive the annual statements from 2014. [...] The statements will set out how much income tax and National Insurance—workers’ contribution toward the state-funded health system—each taxpayer contributes. It will also break down the main areas of spending on public services and how much of the taxpayer’s contribution goes on each.

The Republican Party’s game plan: do nothing, say nothing, grab headlines anyway

Posted without comment, from Robert Reich:

What Republicans Argue When They Have Nothing Left to Say

Republicans are desperate. They can’t attack Obama on jobs because the jobs picture is improving.

Their attack on the Administration’s rule requiring insurers to cover contraception has backfired, raising hackles even among many Republican women.

Their attack on Obama for raising gas prices has elicited scorn from economists of all persuasions who know oil prices are set in global markets and that demand in the United States has actually fallen.

Their presidential ambitions are being trampled in a furious fraternal war among Republican candidates.

Their Tea Party wing wants to reopen the budget deal forged with Democrats after Republicans got bloodied by threatening to block an increase in the debt limit.

So what are Republicans to do now? What they always do when they have nothing else to say.

Call for a tax cut, of course.

It doesn’t matter that their new “tax reform” plan (leaked to the Wall Street Journal late Monday, to be released Tuesday morning) has as much chance of being enacted as Herman Cain has of being elected president.

It doesn’t matter than the plan doesn’t detail how they plan to pay for the tax cuts. Or whether an even bigger whack would have to be taken out of Medicare than Paul Ryan’s original voucher plan – which would drowned many elderly under rising medical costs.

It doesn’t even matter that the plan would probably raise taxes on many lower-income Americans,

All that matters is the headlines.

“House Republican Budget to Propose Lower Income Tax Rates,” says Bloomberg Businessweek. “Republican Budget Plan Seeks to Play Up Tax Reform,” says Reuters. “GOP’s Budget Targets Taxes,” blares the Wall Street Journal.

Presto. Republicans have gotten what they wanted on the basis of saying absolutely nothing.

 

Related (from today):

Ten facts about Obama’s budget

This budget will be an immediate “no-go” with Republicans. Not only are there no tax cuts for the corporations and the one percent but items 2,3 and 8 below will really make them clutch their pearls:

Ten Facts About The Obama Budget

ThinkProgress compiled 10 facts about the Obama budget based on the White House fact sheet and other reports:

1. The budget includes $350 billion in short-term measures to encourage job growth, including $50 billion in immediate infrastructure investment, $30 billion to rebuild schools, and year-long extensions of the payroll tax holiday and unemployment insurance.

2. The implementation of the Buffett Rule and the repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy helps reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.

3. For every $1 in new revenue from those making more than $250,000 per year and from closing corporate loopholes, the budget has $2.50 in spending cuts including the deficit reduction enacted over the last year.

4. The total budget reduces the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade.

5. Obama preserves the maximum Pell Grant award, a key difference from the GOP budget, and makes permanent then Americans Opportunity Tax Credit, which helps 9 million families afford the costs of college.

6. Unlike the last two GOP budgets, Obama’s budget protects Medicare and Medicaid from structural changes, and through small tweaks, saves $360 billion from those programs.

7. States will receive $30 billion in aid to prevent further layoffs of firefighters, teachers, and police officers, some of the hardest-hit workforces in the nation.

8. The budget eliminates 12 tax breaks to oil, gas, and coal companies, saving $41 billion over 10 years.

9. Obama preserves planned cuts to the Defense Department negotiated in the debt limit deal last August.

10. The budget maintains goals of putting one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015; doubling share of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035; and reducing buildings’ energy use by 20 percent by 2020.

As the Center for American Progress’ Michael Linden notes, Obama’s budget is far from perfect. It’s spending caps are too low, it’s defense cuts are too small, and it contains less new revenue than bipartisan plans like Simpson-Bowles and Rivlin-Domenici. But it prioritizes job creation and economic development and keeps America on the path to recovery, something Republican plans, unfortunately, fail to do.

Meanwhile in the Grand Ol’ Teaparty

WHAT DOES A PIPELINE have to do with extending a payroll tax cut for the working and middle class? (Answer: Not a friggin’ thing.)Rawstory

“If that bill comes over to us, we will make changes to it, and I will guarantee you that the Keystone pipeline will be in there when it goes back to the United States Senate.”John Boehner, last night

THE EMPLOYMENT NUMBERS ON THAT PIPELINE are being greatly exaggerated: it’ll create 20,000 jobs? No. More like 3,500 temporary jobs, offset by job losses because of the increase in gas prices that it would cause. — Politico

ONLY A TEAPARTY PATRIOT (read: idiotic moron) would take a gun into LaGuardia Airport. — CBS News

CHRISTMAS IN AMERICA! Congress cuts winter heating aid for the poor while boosting  the defense budget. — Think Progress

AND WHO BETTER TO SIGN A “MARRIAGE PLEDGE” than Newt “the Ging” Gingrich? — NRO


image: godlessliberals.com

No one likes Eric Cantor, except for maybe the wealthiest among us

Thank God Cantor is there to fight for the rich, the corporate powers, the wealthiest among us, whose incomes have increased three-fold in the past few decades while the rest of us have seen our incomes flat-line or disappear. Cantor is fighting to continue the bottom to top income redistribution that Reagan started and GWB continued:

Last night, President Obama and Eric Cantor exchanged harsh words over the debt ceiling, and on the Senate floor just now, Harry Reid uncorked a harsh attack on Cantor that suggests Dems are embarking on a new strategy: Isolating Cantor as the new public face of GOP intransigence.

Reid’s remarks are worth quoting at length:

Even Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader McConnell seem to understand the seriousness of the situation. They are willing to negotiate in good faith, which I appreciate, and the country apppreciates.

Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has shown he couldn’t be at the table, and Republicans agree he shouldn’t be at the table. One Republican told Politico last night, “he lost a lot of credibility when he walked away from the table. It was childish.”

We had negotiations going here in a room a short jog from here, and he walked out on the meeting…It was childish. Another Republican said Cantor is putting himself first. He said: “He is all about Eric.” End of quote.

The time for personal gain and political posturing are over. It’s time to put our economy and our country first. The risks we face are simply too great. We don’t need to take my word for it. More than 300 respected business leaders wrote to Congress night before last to make it clear how serious this crisis really is.

Accounts of what happened last night vary, but the one thing they all agree upon is that Cantor played a lead role in telling the President that revenue increases simply aren’t going to happen, and that Obama didn’t react kindly to it.

The Daily Beast reports, President Obama pushed back against the mounting menu of spending cuts while the tax column on the negotiating sheets remained blank. He asked the Republican leaders how they expected him to take their proposals seriously.

Is it good faith to suggest all sorts of cuts to services and programs like Medicare, or like students should start paying interest on their student loans while they’re still in school, while you’re demanding the rich not be touched at all, that there is no way the tax cuts should expire on the wealthiest?

All cuts, no new revenue!  Adults don’t think like this.

Florida Governor Rick Scott’s “jobs budget:” 1,300 are officially unemployed today

More wingnut economics brought to you by a Florida Tea Party darling, Rick Scott (R):
http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/Rick-Scott-batboy.jpg

[Effective today] 1,300 state employees [have been] put out of work by the new budget approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott on May 26. Scott kept his promise to reduce the size of the state government bureaucracy. But he did so at the expense of real people with mortgages, healthcare bills, college tuition payments and credit card payments.

Many of them earned less than $30,000 a year after years of state employment. [...] The state agencies that took the biggest hits are the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Children and Families, which together account for most of the layoffs.

Actually a total of about 4,500 state jobs were eliminated. But Scott did get some corporate tax cuts in there, totaling $37 millionwhich is much less that the $1.6 billion he wanted originally. How to pay for such a hefty loss of revenue when you’re over budget? Cut stuff:

Vetoed from the budget

  • Public Television and Radio Stations, $4.7 million
  • Compulsive gambling and addiction treatment, $539,000
  • National Veterans Homeless Support Group, $12 million
  • Senior Citizens Center grants, $1.4 million
  • Florida Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs, $1.7 million
  • Environmentally endangered lands, $350 million
  • To see a complete list of Gov. Rick Scott’s budget vetoes, go to links.tampabay.com.

Florida currently has a 10.6% unemployment rate and laid-off state employees will now add to that. Scott also turned down $2.4 billion in federal stimulus money to build a high speed rail (although he did accept federal stimulus money for other things). So where are all the ‘jobs’ in Scott’s ‘jobs budget’ going to come from? Well from those corporation that got the tax cuts, of course! Because that trickle-down goodness has worked SO WELL for American workers and the middle-class up to now. I’m sure the corporations won’t continue to bank that extra money or give their CEOs larger bonuses – this time.

Remember this economic logic at the polls in 2012: the wingnut ideology of bottom-to-top income redistribution is exclusive to those who call themselves GOP, Republican or Tea Party. Vote accordingly.

Clinton to Obama on raising the debt ceiling by August 2: “Don’t blink.”

Make the Republicans raise it like they did SEVEN TIMES during King George’s Administration:

Aspen, Colorado (CNN): [...] Regardless of the Republican field, however, Clinton believes Obama will be re-elected in 2012. Under Obama’s leadership, Wall Street has been salvaged, and the automotive industry has been saved, Clinton said. Also, manufacturing jobs have increased with the United States now building 20% of the solar batteries globally — up from 2%. That could go up as high as 40% by 2014, the former president added.

Obama has also delivered on national security with the killing of Osama bin Laden and increased drone activity in terrorist countries, Clinton said. Domestically, he has offered laudable education and health care reforms, as well as student loan reforms that allow borrowers longer time to pay back their debts, Clinton said.

Clinton also said Obama has been very good on gay rights — a serious sticking point for the Clinton presidency, which created the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

And, at a time when European multiculturalism is apparently failing, Obama’s been able to speak to the diverse sectors of the U.S. population, Clinton said.

The epic Newt Gingrich whirlwind, non-stop Walkback-Apology Tour

 “Any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood.” ~ Newt Gingrich

  • Monday – 16 May: Gingrich told the Wall Street Journal editorial board that it would “catastrophic” for Congress to pass the bill as written. Of course the House of Representatives, with votes from every Republican save four, has already done that.
  • Monday – 16 May: Gingrich defended his remarks, and blamed the liberal media for stoking a controversy by taking them “out of context.”
  • Wednesday – 18 May: Chuck Schumer gives Newt a Medicare-death-hug: “Newt and I are considered political opposites, but I couldn’t agree more with what he said Sunday about the House Republican proposal to end Medicare…. In a straight shooting way he acknowledged that this is right-wing social engineering.”

Rachel Maddow describes it this way: he’s the head on the pike outside the city. Newt has failed the GOP / Teaparty litmus test:

“In order to be a real candidate, you’ve got to endorse the Paul Ryan/kill Medicare thing, which is a classic catch-22 for Republican candidates, because if you do endorse the Paul Ryan/kill Medicare thing, voters will likely have something to say about that.”

Great budgeting ideas from Texas!

Cut $27 billion from education, nursing homes and  health care for the poor.  Sounds typically Republican, I know, but stay with me.

THEN because you’ve saved money on these crap programs (children, the elderly and the poor should learn to suck it up), you can now afford to give yacht owners a tax break! Exciting, isn’t it? There will be so many jobs and economic development…somehow!

Yacht owners will save America:

  1. Because you have no revenue, cut education and other social safety net programs,
  2. Give tax breaks to yacht owners and continue the previous tax breaks to the wealthy,
  3. Profit!

They’re just trying to copy Paul Ryan’s 2012 Path to Poverty budget.

Reid and Pelosi: calling the Teaparty Republicans bluff

Harry Reid would like his fellow Senators who do and do not support Paul Ryan’s Path to Poverty / Soylent Green for Everyone Budget to stand up and be counted:

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will hold a Senate vote on Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) controversial budget plan, Raw Story has confirmed.

The plan, recently approved by the House, has virtually no chance of passing the Democratic-led Senate. The vote would serve to put Senate Republicans on the record in favor of slashing taxes on the rich while replacing Medicare with a voucher program.

“There will be an opportunity in the Senate to vote on the Ryan budget to see if Republican senators like the Ryan budget as much as the House did,” Reid told reporters on a conference call. “Without going into the Ryan budget we will see how much the Republicans like it here in the Senate.”

Nancy Pelosi would like those in Congress who do and do not support stripping highly profitable oil companies of their tax breaks to  to stand up and be counted as well:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pressed Speaker John Boehner to call for a vote on stripping tax breaks for oil companies, after the Ohio Republican signaled openness to the idea.

“House Democrats have long advocated eliminating outdated and costly taxpayer subsidies that provide billions of dollars to highly profitable oil companies,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to the Speaker sent Tuesday night. “I am writing to request that you schedule a vote on ending these tax breaks on the House floor upon our return to Washington next week.”

She added that “we have had several votes on this subject in the House, and have been disappointed that these proposals have not been supported by the Republican leadership.”

What do the Teaparty Republican voters think of these issues? Would they be FOR Ryan’s Path to Poverty (ending Medicare) and FOR subsidizing Big Oil? Or do they never have to deal with such concerns since Fox “News” concentrates on things like birth certificates and the “War” on Easter…

h/t BobCesca

U.S. Military Spending Versus Foreign Aid

Infographic via Good Politics (click any image below for larger version):

When Gallup asked Americans whether they favor or oppose spending cuts in various government programs, 59 percent, the majority, want government budget cuts in the area of foreign aid, while 57 percent oppose cuts in military and national defense.

The U.S. spends LESS on foreign aid than other countries and MORE on our military than other countries.  Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate? 

Source