History + arithmetic

via questionall

Morning Bunker Report: Sunday 6.10.2012


Yes, Republicans are stepping on the economy for political gain — The Republican line is that, even in current conditions of mass unemployment, zero interest rates and low inflation, higher short-term deficits harm the economy rather than help it. Republicans embraced this unorthodox line of thinking suddenly, after maintaining the opposite when their party held the White House. I used to reject the accusation that Republicans reversed their thinking out of a conscious decision to sabotage the economy in order to regain power. [...] I was shaken of that belief not long ago, when Mitt Romney said off the cuff that cutting spending in his first year would retard the recovery… Conservatives mounted zero pushback whatsoever, suggesting that their newfound attachment to contractionary fiscal policy is a pure shift of expediency, to be discarded immediately if their party wins power and suddenly has an incentive to speed up rather than slow down the economy. — Jonathan Chait | image: phroyd 

Romney Energy Plan Includes Drilling ‘Virtually Every Part’ Of U.S., No Protections For National Parks — As the [Washington] Post reports: Asked whether any place would be off limits for oil drilling, campaign spokesman Andrea Saul said, “Governor Romney will permit drilling wherever it can be done safely, taking into account local concerns.” [...] Presumably, if there was oil and gas found there, Romney would allow drilling in places like the Grand Canyon, Arches National Park, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, and Isle Royale National Park in the Great Lakes, regardless of its impacts on them. In essence, he would take lands that belong to all Americans and turn them over to oil companies. — Think Progress

  • THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS “AMERICAN” OIL — The oil or gas is drilled by corporations of various sizes ranging from wildcat, low-budget start up operations through Exxon/Mobil. [...] The thing is, the stuff that comes out of a successful well doesn’t belong to you and me. Or the state or federal government. It’s owned by the company that drilled for it, produced it, and shipped it to market. It’s not “America’s oil.” It’s Exxon’s. And BP’s. And Shell’s. And believe me: Exxon doesn’t think of it as “American oil.” They think of it as a commodity sold on a hyper-competitive global market. — PoliticalProf

Just to reiterate: Romney’s “jobs” plan is to fire government workers, he mocked President Obama for wanting to hire more teachers, firefighters and police officers  — Mitt Romney once again made it clear that his jobs plan is to fire government workers: “[the President] wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more fireman, more policeman, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.” — Greg Sargent

via: DailyKos 

Mitt Romney Thinks High Private Sector Growth and 4.3 Million New Jobs is a “Moral Failure of Tragic Proportions” — Mitt Romney today declared that the floundering economy under President Obama is not just a “failure of policy” but a “moral failure of tragic proportion,” though he offered few new details as to what he would do differently as president.  [...] “When you look around at America’s economy, three-and-a-half years into this presidency, it’s painfully obvious that this inexperienced president with no experience as a leader was simply not up to the task of solving a great economic crisis,” said Romney. “This is not just a failure of policy; it is a moral failure of tragic proportion. Our government has a moral commitment to help every American help himself. And that commitment has been broken.” — ABL

All employees: total private industries 

image: Bob Cesca

The private sector IS doing fine — According to the Wingnutosphere, yesterday was a day that will live in infamy. Why? Because President Obama said the private sector is “doing fine.” They are doing fine, actually. [...] Business Insider’s glorious collection of charts also covers the president’s words on the slump in public sector employment, but that’s not in dispute by the Republicans. They may even gloat about it. You know, because those aren’t real jobs. — Bob Cesca

Libertarians work through the five stages of grief over Rand Paul’s endorsement of Romney — The Libertarian Party issued a blistering statement through the party’s website, in which they called Rand a turncoat, a traitor to his father’s legacy and a sellout. “(N)o true libertarian, no true friend of liberty, and no true blue Tea Partier could possibly even consider, much less actually endorse or approve of, the Father of Obamacare, Big Government tax and spender, Republican Mitt Romney,” the statement said. [...] “WHY RAND WHY?!” wrote one angry Reddit poster, who included the climactic scene of George Lucas’s third “Star Wars” prequel, in which Anakin Skywalker is betrayed and abandoned by Obi Wan Kenobi. “He bowed to the neocons!!!” wrote another, “WELL LISTEN RAND!!! WE WON’T BOW!!! WE WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT FOR FREEDOM AS YOU BOWED TO THE KILLER GLOBALISTS!!!” On Facebook, one Ron Paul supporter wrote, “Rand Paul you disgust me.” — Raw Story || Stage one: ALL CAPS


image: storiesbysharkbait

Tell Congress we can’t wait — The President’s jobs plan would put teachers, firefighters, police officers, and construction workers back to work right now. And it’s paid for by asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more, but Congress refuses to act. Tell Congress we can’t wait: JobsNow — YouTube

Sen. Sherrod Brown on JP Morgan’s trading mess: ‘These banks are not just too big to fail, they’re too big to manage‘ — Brown (D-OH) said that JP Morgan’s trading mess proves banks are not only too big to fail — meaning they are explicitly backed by the government and will be rescued if they blow themselves up — but simply “too big to manage”: [...] “Jamie Dimon’s smart, he’s articulate, he’s probably a good manager, he’s probably a good CEO. I don’t like his public persona in terms of what he’s done to weaken these regulations and to undercut them. They lost their fights in Congress, now they’re organizing to win them in the regulatory agencies. But I think, if he can’t manage a bank this size, it probably isn’t manageable. I think these banks will be stronger and healthier and probably more profitable if they’re smaller.” — Think Progress

Well played, Senator:

Kudos to Sen. Sherrod Brown for giving CNN contributor/Breitbart.com loon Dana Loesch exactly the amount of respect she deserved, when she popped up like a malevolent jack-in-the-box at the Netroots Nation conference. — LGF

Harry Reid said he will likely push for changes to filibuster rules if the Democrats retain control next year — “I’ll just bet you … if we maintain a majority, and I feel quite confident that we can do that, and the president is reelected, there is going to be some changes,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “We can no longer go through this, every bill, filibusters [even] on bills that they agree with. It’s just a waste of time to prevent us from getting things done.” It remains unclear, however, if Reid would have the votes to change the Senate’s rules, which would require a simple majority vote at the start of the new Congress. Should Democrats retain control of the Senate, they will likely have a razor-thin majority in 2013. Only one or two defections could lead to defeat of the motion, as all Republicans are united against such a change in rules. – The Hill

image: abaldwin360

Paul Krugman at Netroots Nation: solving this depression isn’t an economic problem, it’s a political problem — The Nobel Laureate said that the current state of the U.S. economy is “incredibly awful,” and dinged Romney’s exorbitant wealth, saying, “If you don’t know multiple people who are suffering, then you must be living in a very rarefied environment. You must be maybe a member of the Romney clan, or something.” Krugman underscored the fact that the current economic crisis has been created by deregulation and poor policy decisions. “None of this has to be happening,” he said, “We didn’t have a plague of locusts, we were not hit by a tsunami, there wasn’t some act of God that created this terrible situation. It was acts of man.” [...] “Solving this depression is not fundamentally an economic problem,” he said, “it’s a political problem.” — Raw Story

Things you never imagine Dick Cheney doing: Joe Biden had an epic waterfight with kids today — The Vice President invites the press and their families to his home at the Naval Observatory every year. — Buzzfeed (more photos at the link) 

Morning Bunker Report: Memorial Day 5.28.2012


“I do not understand the cost-benefit here. The costs are clear. The benefits – what voter is going to vote for him because he’s seen with Donald Trump? The cost of appearing with this bloviating ignoramus is obvious, it seems to me. Donald Trump is redundant evidence that if your net worth is high enough, your IQ can be very low, and you can still intrude into American politics. But, again, I don’t understand the benefit. What is Romney seeking?” — George Will on Romney campaigning with “bloviating ignoramus” Donald Trump

ALAN SIMPSON SLAMS FELLOW REPUBLICANS for unwillingness to compromise — In his characteristically colorful style, Simpson told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that Republicans’ rigid opposition to new tax revenues has hampered productivity and diminished the chances of reaching an agreement with Democrats on debt reduction. “You can’t cut spending your way out of this hole,” Simpson, who was appointed as co-chair of President Obama’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform in 2010, said. “You can’t grow your way out of this hole, and you can’t tax your way out of this hole. So put that in your pipe and smoke it, we tell these people. This is madness.” Simpson continued: “If you want to be a purist, go somewhere on a mountaintop and praise the east or something. But if you want to be in politics, you learn to compromise. And you learn to compromise on the issue without compromising yourself. Show me a guy who won’t compromise and I’ll show you a guy with rock for brains.” — HuffPo

  • Simpson tells GOP: ‘For heaven’s sake, Norquist can’t murder you’“For heaven’s sake, you have Grover Norquist wandering the earth in his white robes saying that if you raise taxes one penny, he’ll defeat you. He can’t murder you. He can’t burn your house. The only thing he can do to you, as an elected official, is defeat you for reelection. And if that means more to you than your country when we need patriots to come out in a situation when we’re in extremity, you shouldn’t even be in Congress.” — Raw Story

image: ddssblog

HOW HARD WILL GINGRICH FLIP-FLOP for help to pay off his campaign debt? Newt Gingrich on Sunday defended Mitt Romney from attacks made on his record at Bain Capital. “Bain as an issue doesn’t work because people look at it in balance,” he said on ‘Meet The Press’. “And they say, wait a second, yeah, you can pick a couple companies that lost. You can pick a lot of companies that succeeded. And as even as the governor of Massachusetts said last week, it is a good company.” The former presidential candidate’s defense of Romney’s business record may surprise those who followed his campaign. At one point, Gingrich made Romney’s Bain record a central issue and referred to private equity as “rich people figuring out clever legal ways to loot a company.” — HuffPo

  • “I was very careful,” Gingrich said. “I didn’t go after private equity. … [Obama's] going after all private equity.” The Obama campaign insists it is not “going after all private equity” but merely arguing that private equity experience does not qualify Romney to be president. — Boston.com

WHO ELSE IS FILLED WITH FLIP-FLOP? Sen. John McCain — Former Republican presidential nominee John McCain on Sunday walked back on his 2008 attacks on current GOP hopeful Mitt Romney for his record of killing jobs as the head of Bain Capital. During a 2008 campaign stop in Florida, McCain had blasted Romney for taking over companies and laying off “thousands of workers.” “I think he managed companies and he bought and he sold and sometimes people lost their jobs,” the Arizona senator explained at a January 2008 debate. [...] “This is the free enterprise system,” McCain insisted. “The only place in the world that I can recall where companies never failed was the old Soviet Union. This is what investors do in the free enterprise and capitalism system.” “And, yes, the free enterprise system can be cruel,” he added.  — Raw Story

ONE WOULD THINK an explicit conspiracy by a sitting governor to remove lawful voters from the rolls in a rather obvious fashion would be a “scandal.” But that’s not how things work. — Duncan Black

IT’S INTERESTING that the Gospels don’t go into any real detail about Jesus’ butler. — Guardian


WHY THE PRESIDENT IS RIGHT to talk about Bain — It seems to me that Obama’s immediate point is wrong: Romney wasn’t primarily about job destruction and corporate plundering. His larger point–that Romney was not so much about job-creation as he was about profit-creation–is correct, though. But the largest point of all is this: private equity capitalism was all about short-term profits–maximizing shareholder value–rather than long-term growth. It ushered in an era of massive executive compensation and bonuses. It prospered because of tax rules that made debt more profitable than equity, and a “carried interest” tax dodge that enabled Mitt Romney to pay a lower percentage in taxes than your average construction worker. It can be a useful tool in restructuring companies and steering them toward profitability, but it is not the sort of model you’d want to apply to the entire American economy. A President has to be about long-term growth, not short-term profits–and to the extent that Barack Obama is using the Bain ads to make this larger argument, he is not “stumbling” or attacking “free enterprise,” but he is steering the conversation toward the most important topic this year: what sort of economy do we want to have and how do we get there? — Joe Klein

DEMOCRATIC LEADERS BACK Obama’s Bain strategy vs. Romney — After nearly two weeks of heated debate over whether President Obama should attack Republican Mitt Romney’s tenure at a private-equity firm, Democratic leaders across the country say they are largely united behind the strategy, even as some concede an uncertain outcome and new polls show Obama has lost ground nationally. [...] “He wanted to have this conversation,” Jim Burn, chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, said of Romney, the likely GOP nominee. “We’re going to have it. There should be no hesi­ta­tion or equivocation.” — Washington Post

OBAMA HAS A PRETTY AMBITIOUS stimulus plan. Now the plan won’t pass because Republicans would never vote for it, and everybody including Obama knows this, so we’ve all treated it as a message device because that’s the only function it serves. But I’m confident Obama really would like to sign his stimulus plan if he could. Meanwhile, Romney has no stimulus plan. But he may well propose one if he wins, and it would pass, because plenty of Republicans would flip back to being Keynesians like they were under President Bush. What’s more, Democrats wouldn’t stop it, because Democrats don’t have any history of opportunistically abandoning Keynesian economics when the other party’s neck is on the economic line. So, yes, a President Romney would be more likely to sign strong stimulative legislation than Obama — not because he believes in it more strongly, but because, as David Frum says, we’re all Keynesians during Republican administrations. — Jonathan Chait

“WE ARE IN A DEPRESSION. We are actually in a classic depression. A depression is when nobody wants to spend. Everybody wants to pay down their debt at the same time. Everybody is trying to pull back, either because they got too far into debt, or because if they’re a corporation, they can’t sell because consumers are pulling back. The thing about an economy is that it fits together. My spending is your income. Your spending is my income, so if we all pull back at the same time, we’re in a depression. The way to get out of it is for somebody to spend so that people can pay down their debt, so that we don’t have a depression, so that we have a chance to work out of whatever excesses we had in the past — and that somebody has to be the government….” — Paul Krugman | Video via: Politicususa 

VETERANS ARE STILL STRUGGLING to find employment — While the unemployment rate for veterans has dropped dramatically in the last year…  finding jobs for veterans remains a major issue. Paul Rieckhoff, founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said there has been “huge progress” on helping unemployed veterans because President Obama has instituted policies to reduce veteran unemployment and Fortune 500 companies are also helping returning servicemembers. [...] Obama’s initiatives are helping to improve the jobs outlook for veterans. That’s more than can be said for Mitt Romney, who has no specific plans to address veterans issues, including unemployment.  — Think Progress

ALLEN WEST WANTS TO KEEP the good parts of Obamacare — In an interview with ThinkProgress, West pointed to three popular provisions of the health care law that he would like to see preserved: [...] WEST: Well you’ve got to replace it. You’ve got to replace it with something. If people want to keep their kid on their insurance at 26, fine. We’ve got to make sure no American gets turned back for pre-existing conditions, that’s fine. Keep the donut hole closed, that’s fine. But what I just talked to you about, maybe 20, 25 pages of legislation. The problem with West’s reasoning is that the pre-existing condition ban can’t function without an individual mandate or some other mechanism for bringing healthy people into the health care system. Without the individual responsibility provision, a death spiral begins whereby only sick people buy insurance and it soon becomes unaffordable for everybody. — Think Progress

Morning Bunker Report: Saturday 5.26.2012


I like competition, and I think the game is like a sport for old guys. I mean, you know, I can’t compete in competitive sports very well, but I can compete in politics, and there’s the—what was the old ABC ‘Wide World of Sports’ slogan? ‘The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.’ The only difference is victory is still a thrill, but I don’t feel agony in loss.” – Mitt Romney, comparing the presidential election to a game, in an interview by Peggy “Drunk at” Noonan, published Thursday in the Wall Street Journal.

“It’s all in the game, yo. All in the game.” Omar Little

Romney argues big spending cuts would cause ‘Depression,’ contrary to Tea Party activists — While rival schools of economic thought have never agreed on each other’s fundamental principles, over the past several decades, the notion that more government spending helps during a recession had gained broad acceptance. But it has been rejected by Tea Party members of Congress and conservative interest groups like the Club for Growth, who have bemoaned Obama’s stimulus package and other efforts to boost the economy as job-killing government spending. Club for Growth declined to comment for this article. The rhetorical thrust of a sharp distinction between the Tea Party’s demand for big cuts and Obama’s supposed propensity to spend has been a central tenet of the GOP’s political messaging over the past two years. And Romney has run afoul of budget-cut purists before, recently over comments he made during a campaign stop in Michigan. “If you just cut, if all you’re thinking about doing is cutting spending, as you cut spending you’ll slow down the economy,” Romney said, according to MSNBC. That comment prompted this response from Club for Growth lobbyist Andy Roth: “It’s hogwash. It confirms yet again that Romney is not a limited government conservative.” — HuffPo

  • And so it naturally follows: DC Republicans reinvent themselves as Keynesians to warn of the impending harm to the U.S. economy of cutting government spending. — TPM

A top Mitt Romney campaign adviser on Friday disavowed conspiracy theories pushed by Donald Trump, one of Romney’s most high-profile supporters. The adviser said the campaign could not be held responsible for everything that Romney supporters say. Trump is a birther. He clings to the notion that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, not the United States, despite the fact that this theory has been proven to be baseless. Next week, Romney will be holding an event with Trump. In a CNN interview on Friday, Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom said the campaign was going ahead with the May 29 event despite Trump’s birther views. — HuffPo

  • Trump still talking about Obama’s place of birth yesterday — “Look, it’s very simple,” said Trump, who has spent the past 13 months questioning Obama’s constitutional eligibility to occupy the White House (and only doubled down with his stubborn skepticism after Obama produced a long-form birth certificate, certifying he was born on Aug. 4, 1961, in Hawaii, and then hilariously roasted him at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner. “A book publisher came out three days ago and said that in his written synopsis of his book,” Trump went on, “he said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia. His mother never spent a day in the hospital.” — Lloyd Grove | Daily Beast
  •  Romney-Trump 2012? — Asked Friday in a guest appearance on ABC’s “The View” if he was interested in joining Mitt Romney’s presidential ticket, Donald Trump asked, “Who would turn it down?” – CNN Political Ticker

Let the eagle soar! Paid sick leave for workers: ILLEGAL — Last year, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and Wisconsin’s Republican legislature approved a law making it illegal for Wisconsin’s cities to require that businesses provide their workers with paid sick days. Milwaukee had crafted a law mandating paid sick leave for workers within the city, but Walker and Wisconsin GOP nullified it. A judge, in ruling that the state had the ability to preempt Milwaukee’s law, said “I don’t feel real good about how this happened politically.” Louisiana’s legislature is now considering a similar bill to preempt local efforts at requiring paid leave for workers… [...] Just a few cities in the country — Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Seattle — along with the state of Connecticut require that workers receive paid sick leave. The United States is all alone in the industrialized world in not requiring some form of paid leave as a matter of national policy. Each year, the U.S. economy loses $180 billion in productivity due to sick employees attending work and infecting other workers. — Think Progress

Bush signs tax cuts via WikimediaHouse GOP plans August vote to extend Bush tax cuts  — “Knowing that comprehensive reform will take time, we must ensure that while Congress is working to bring about competitive change, government does not increase the cost of business,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor wrote in a note to Republican representatives on Friday. “Before we leave for August, I expect to schedule a vote on legislation preventing the largest tax increase in history.” — Raw Story

  • The Hill reports that vote will happen in July.

Damage done: The Romney campaign seems to have decided that it can’t repair the damage to his chances with Hispanics post-primary and he’ll focus on getting votes elsewhere.  — TPM


“[T]he rate of spending – federal spending increase is lower under President Obama than all of his predecessors since Dwight Eisenhower, including all of his Republican predecessors. That is a fact not often noted in the press and certainly never mentioned by the Republicans. [T]his President has been – has demonstrated significant fiscal restraint and acted with great fiscal responsibility. That is also why he has put forward a balanced plan to further reduce our deficit and debt by over $4 trillion….. I simply make the point, as an editor might say, to check it out; do not buy into the BS that you hear about spending and fiscal constraint [sic] with regard to this administration. I think doing so is a sign of sloth and laziness.” — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, speaking to the press corps on Wednesday aboard Air Force One

An Obama Spending Spree? Hardly. — The fact that the national debt has risen from $10.6 trillion to $15.6 trillion under Obama’s watch makes for easy partisan attacks. But the vast bulk of the increase was caused by a combination of revenue losses due to the 2008-09 economic downturn as well as Bush-era tax cuts and automatic increases in safety-net spending that were already written into law. Obama’s policies, including the much-criticized stimulus package, have caused the slowest increase in federal spending of any president in almost 60 years, according to data compiled by the financial news service MarketWatch. — TPMDC

Obama calls Romney speech ‘a cow pie of distortion’ — The president said there may be value in Romney’s experience in corporate buyouts, “but it’s not in the White House.” He also noted that the former governor doesn’t talk about his record in Massachusetts. Speaking directly to Iowans, Obama used local lingo to slam Romney: “Governor Romney came to Des Moines last week and warned of a prairie fire of debt,” he said. “But he left out some facts. His speech was more like a cow pie of distortion.” Then he quipped, “I don’t know whose record he twisted the most – mine or his.” — MSNBC

Bill Maher: Obama ‘is a lousy socialist’ — Maher ended Friday night’s “New Rules” segment by calling out the Right’s ridiculous mischaracterization of the President. “…Newt Gingrich called Obama the most radical Leftist President in history. Senator Marco Rubio called him the most divisive figure in American history. Michelle Bachmann said Obama is the most radical President we have ever seen in the history of the country …John Bolton said Obama just doesn’t care about national security. Honestly, there are Mexican drug mules who don’t pull this much stuff out of their ass,” Maher said. Maher, expressing disappointment in Obama’s accomplishments, then said, “If Obama were as radical as they claim, here’s what he would have already done: Pulled the troops out of Afghanistan, given us ‘Medicare for all,’ ended the drug war, cut the defense budget in half, and turned Dick Cheney over to the Hague.” — Raw Story 

One thing The Unemployed can do about Unemployment

Krugman predicts “unfocused public outrage” will add to ongoing apathy over unemployment:

Thanks, TeaParty!

Two years from now unemployment will still be extremely high, quite possibly higher than it is now. But instead of taking responsibility for fixing the situation, politicians and Fed officials alike will declare that high unemployment is structural, beyond their control. And as I said, over time these excuses may turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the long-term unemployed lose their skills and their connections with the work force, and become unemployable.

I’d like to imagine that public outrage will prevent this outcome. But while Americans are indeed angry, their anger is unfocused. And so I worry that our governing elite, which just isn’t all that into the unemployed, will allow the jobs slump to go on and on and on.

What do the unemployed need to do? ORGANIZE.

AndrewSullivan: Avent thinks the unemployed are organizing:

What’s happening now, with the increase in duration of unemployment, is that you’re starting to get large numbers of people with good organisational skills and lots and lots of time on their hands. And they’re spending enough time without jobs that they are beginning to self-identify as unemployed, and to form bonds with others in the same situation. This is a phenomenon that I don’t think has been seen in America since Martin Luther King’s marches against poverty in the 1960s, if not since the Depression, and it will be interesting to see what comes of it.