Deficit reduction and priorities


questionall: via thetruthnow.org

And how about all that defense spending when we’ve supposedly ended the Bush Wars? Or all the federal money paid to highly profitable oil companies? Or $77,000 tax deductions for dancing horses for the super rich? The GOP needs to trim their favorite expenditures before they talk about tapping into the safety net that millions must rely on to simply live.

Poll: majority of Americans want taxes raised on the wealthy, Republicans continue to stall

Reuters: “Negotiators warned the showdown could drag on past Christmas. A Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll released late on Wednesday …held the potential to shake up the stalemate. Three-quarters of those surveyed, including 61 percent of Republicans, said they would accept raising taxes on the wealthy to avoid the so-called cliff, as Democratic President Barack Obama is demanding.

“With Republicans in Congress already divided, that rejection by their own supporters of the core demand of Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner could further weaken his position.

“Both sides refused to give any ground in public, one day after what Boehner described as a “frank” conversation with President Barack Obama about the remaining hurdles to a deal.”

###

I’m quite sure the Republicans in Congress don’t give a damn what their base wants if it interferes with the happiness of their wealthy benefactors.

Also why isn’t there more discussion about cuts to defense spending — why are we now only discussing cuts to the safety net? And that goes for both Republicans and Democrats.

If Republicans were serious about deficits, they’d consider policies that might actually work

“…every other advanced country has much lower health costs than we do, and even within the US, the VHA and even Medicaid are much better at controlling costs than Medicare, and even more so relative to private insurance. The key is having a health insurance system that can say no — no, we won’t pay premium prices for drugs that are little if any better, we won’t pay for medical procedures that yield little or no benefit. But even as Republicans demand “entitlement reform”, they are dead set against anything like that. Bargaining over drug prices? Horrors! The Independent Payment Advisory Board? Death panels! They refuse to contemplate using approaches that have worked around the world; the only solution they will countenance is the solution that has never worked anywhere, namely, converting Medicare into an underfunded voucher system.”

— Paul Krugman

Welfare Queen Business Model: Walmart is ‘the largest recipient of public aid in the country’

No wonder the Walton family’s personal wealth is equal to the combined wealth of 40% of American families. Walmart is the anti-American dream… it’s the American nightmare. Why would any American shop at Walmart?

“Representative-elect Alan Grayson (D-FL) said Monday that he will put mega-retailer Walmart squarely in his sights during the next Congress for the company’s liberal use of public assistance programs to supplement their workers’ wages… Grayson called Walmart “the largest recipient of public aid in the country,” saying their low wages force workers to take food stamps, housing assistance and Medicaid just to get by.

“The taxpayer pays for the earned income credit,” he said. “The taxpayer pays for Medicaid. The taxpayer pays for unemployment insurance when they cut hours down. And the taxpayer pays for other forms of public assistance like food stamps. I think the taxpayer is getting fed up of paying these things when, in fact, Walmart could give every employee its got, even the CEO, a 30 percent raise and still be profitable.”

He added that while the health care mandate in the Affordable Care Act will help, “that’s just the start. In state after state after state, Walmart employees represent the largest group of Medicaid recipients, the largest group of food stamp recipients, and taxpayers shouldn’t have to bear that burden,” Grayson said. “It should be Walmart. So, we’re going to take that burden and put it where it belongs: on Walmart.”

Continue reading…

And this is a GREAT point: 

abaldwin360: It goes even further than this, those Walmart employees who make so little that they need to be on food stamps more than likely spend their food stamps at Walmart.

In fact, Walmart and other retailers make a killing off of food stamps.

Related: 

Super-rich Goldman Sachs CEO wants ‘you people’ to work until age 70

Pat Garofalo reports that Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, whose net worth is $450 million and whose bank received $10 billion in the taxpayer-funded bailout, wants to increase the retirement age to 70, because he believes the proletariat aren’t going to get the “entitlements” they expect:

BLANKFEIN: You’re going to have to undoubtedly do something to lower people’s expectations — the entitlements and what people think that they’re going to get, because it’s not going to — they’re not going to get it.
PELLEY: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid?
BLANKFEIN: You can look at history of these things, and Social Security wasn’t devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career. … So there will be things that, you know, the retirement age has to be changed, maybe some of the benefits have to be affected, maybe some of the inflation adjustments have to be revised. But in general, entitlements have to be slowed down and contained.
PELLEY: Because we can’t afford them going forward?
BLANKFEIN: Because we can’t afford them.

How many of us will retire at 65-67 (to receive full SS benefits) and live for another 30 fuckin’ years?! And, by the way, something I’ve been paying into since I was 16-years-old and won’t stop paying into for the next FIFTY YEARS or so really isn’t much of an ENTITLEMENT is it?  As Garofalo points out:

“For starters, Social Security can pay full benefits for decades without any changes at all. (Imagine the accolades that would received if any other federal program had guaranteed funding for that stretch of time.) One simple change, raising the cap on the payroll tax, can guarantee that the program will pay nearly full benefits for three-quarters of a century. In the meantime, Social Security is statutorily barred from adding one dime to the federal deficit, so cutting it doesn’t change the nation’s deficit or debt picture.

Raising the retirement age, meanwhile, adversely impacts those workers most in need of a robust social safety net. While a year or two of extra work may not seem like much to a Wall Street CEO with his cushy corner office, for a factory worker or janitor, it can mean real problems. Life expectancy is only increasing for wealthier workers in non-physical jobs. Poorer workers doing physical labor have not seen the same gains. Overall, raising the retirement age to 70 would “cut benefits for the average retiree by 19 percent.”

Related: 

(Nov 8, 2009) – Goldman Sachs chief: “I’m just a banker doing God’s work”

(Jun 28, 2011) — Less than three years after receiving $10 billion in bailout money from American taxpayers, Goldman Sachs informed its employees recently that it will fire 1,000 workers in the United States and elsewhere, shifting their jobs to the cheaper Singaporean labor market. – ThinkProgress

(Apr 13, 2012) — Goldman Sachs Group Inc Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein’s compensation increased 14.5 percent to $16.2 million in 2011 despite a sharp decline in profits and share price during the year, leaving the bank open to more attacks on its pay policies. …Goldman earned a $2.5 billion profit during 2011, down from $3.6 billion in 2010, and its share price fell 46 percent last year, amid a slowdown in investment banking deals and volatile trading conditions. Management reduced the average employee’s pay by 15 percent in 2011, to $367,057. That compares with a pre-crisis high of $568,732 per employee in 2007. The median household income in the United States is about $50,000. – Reuters

‘Child labor laws are unconstitutional’ and other Teapublican dystopias

It’s sometimes difficult to believe what the Republicans / tea party might really envision for America’s future.


Child laborer, Newberry South Carolina, 1908. Source: collective-history


nickturse – Laura Petty, a 6 year old berry picker on Jenkins Farm. “I’m just beginnin’. Licked two boxes yesterday.” Gets 2 [cents] a box. Rock Creek, Md.: 06/07/1909 (NARA)


thegetty: “Cotton-Mill Worker, North Carolina,” 1908, Lewis W. Hine, The J. Paul Getty Museum

AmericablogIt is difficult to count how many essential laws would simply cease to exist if the Tea Party won its battle to reshape our founding document, but a short list includes:

• Social Security and Medicare
• Medicaid, SCHIP, and other health care programs
• All federal education programs
• All federal antipoverty programs
• Federal disaster relief
• Federal food safety inspections and other food safety programs
• Child labor laws, the minimum wage, overtime, and other labor protections
• Federal civil rights laws

See if you can match the items in the list above that are included in the GOP’s party platform or as programs / services to be cut, underfunded, or vouchered in Romney’s and Ryan’s budgets. Their ideas really do belong in the last century.

States accepting / rejecting Medicaid expansion

As of July/2012: Will your state pursue the healthcare law’s Medicaid expansion?

According to press statements and reports. R/D/I indicate governors’ party affiliation.

YES: 
D – California
D – Connecticut
D – Hawaii
D – Illinois
D – Massachusetts
D – Minnesota
D – Maryland
D – New York
D – Oregon
I – Rhode Island
D – Vermont
D – Washington

UNDECIDED, APPEAR TO BE LEANING YES: 
D – Arkansas

UNDECIDED: 
R – Alaska
R – Arizona
D – Colorado
D – Delaware
R – Idaho
D – Kentucky
R – Maine
R – Michigan
D – Montana
D – New Hampshire
R – New Jersey
R – New Mexico
D – North Carolina
R – North Dakota
R – Ohio
R – Oklahoma
R – Pennsylvania
R – South Dakota
R – Tennessee
R – Utah
D – West Virginia
R – Wyoming

UNDECIDED, APPEAR TO BE LEANING NO: 
R – Alabama
R – Georgia
R – Indiana
R – Mississippi
D – Missouri
R – Nevada
R – Texas
R – Virginia

NO: 
R – Florida
R – Iowa
R – Kansas
R – Louisiana
R – Nebraska
R – South Carolina
R – Wisconsin

Red states and ACA’s Medicaid expansion

Some Republican governors have no problem rejecting ACA-funded expansions of Medicaid in their states to help the poor. They believe in “small government” — even if others must suffer for it. These same governors would never dream of increasing taxes, by even a small amount, on their wealthiest residents. Instead, to balance a budget, they’d have no problem cutting public-sector jobs, programs, and services for everyone else.

“In South Carolina, a yearly income of $16,900 is too much for Medicaid for a family of three. In Florida, $11,000 a year is too much. In Mississippi, $8,200 a year is too much. In Louisiana and Texas, earning more than just $5,000 a year makes you ineligible for Medicaid.

“[Republican] governors in those five states have said they’ll reject the Medicaid expansion underpinning Obama’s health law after the Supreme Court’s decision gave states that option. Many of those hurt by the decision are working parents who are poor — but not poor enough — to qualify for Medicaid.”

“[...] Medicaid now covers an estimated 70 million Americans and would cover an estimated 7 million more in 2014 under the Obama health law’s expansion. In contrast, Ryan’s plan could mean 14 million to 27 million Americans would ultimately lose coverage, even beyond the effect of a repeal of the health law, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation of Ryan’s 2011 budget plan.

“[...] The national health law’s Medicaid expansion would start covering all citizens in 2014 who make up to roughly $15,400 for an individual, $30,650 for a family of four.

“The federal government will pay the full cost of the Medicaid expansion through 2016. After that, the states will pick up 5 percent of the cost through 2019, and 10 percent of the cost thereafter.

“Why would a governor say no?”

— Anti-Medicaid states: Earning $11,000 is too much | via

“[Mead] is worried about the 83,000 uninsured residents in the state and the impact of the high cost of uncompensated care. But he said the state needs to look at its possible savings and expenses as a “ledger sheet” and consider all the consequences of both the expansion and the rest of the health-care act… Mead said Wyoming might not need to decide if presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney wins and follows through on his vow to repeal the health-care act. “(He) said there will be a change in course if he is elected,” Mead said. “If President (Barack) Obama is elected, I assume we will continue heading down this line.””

— WY Gov. Matt Mead still wary of Medicaid expansion 

This is one example of how a political ideology is now more of a religious belief to the modern GOP than is the Christianity they always claim to follow.

The Romney-Ryanpalooza Tour hits a wall in Florida

Apparently Mitt Romney is too “exhausted” to stop in Orlando today, and Paul Ryan has been removed from the ironically named “Romney Plan For A Stronger Middle Class” tour bus and flown to Iowa.

Is the Romney campaign worried that Paul Ryan’s presence might inspire Florida’s seniors to ask questions about Ryan’s views on what he calls “entitlement programs” like Medicare, which could lead to some really bad PR if any are mocked and arrested again?

ABC: “Romney is said to be exhausted after 48 hours of promoting his new vice presidential pick, Paul Ryan, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Romney’s Florida tour begins in St. Augustine, before heading to Miami this afternoon. However, his new vice president running mate Paul Ryan will be in Iowa attending the Iowa State Fair. Democrats suggest Ryan’s presence on the ticket could hurt Romney among Florida voters because of Ryan’s well-known budget proposals. They include drastic changes in the Medicare and social security programs.”

Orlando Sentinel: “Romney and his newly named running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, had been traveling by bus for the “Romney Plan For A Stronger Middle Class” tour, which got rolling Saturday in Virginia and continued Sunday in North Carolina. Romney was to stop in Orlando between the events in St. Augustine and South Florida at about 12:30 p.m. Monday. Instead, after an event in Wisconsin Sunday night, Romney will campaign Monday in Florida, while Ryan will travel to Iowa, Bechdel said.

“During Sunday’s Democrat rally in south Orlando, Democratic speakers seized on the schedule change to make light of Ryan’s absence from the Sunshine State. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schulz was at the event in Orlando and said she wouldn’t blame Romney for canceling a visit to Orlando because his new running mate has proposed redefining Medicare in ways that would add more costs to seniors.”

LOL Paul Ryan


clanarmstrong


christopherstreet


eddietg


mitt-takes-credit


mitt-takes-credit


thepoliticalfreakshow

Mitch McConnell on 30 million uninsured: ‘That is not the issue’

Sen. Mitch McConnell’s recently said this to Chris Wallace on Fox Entertainment:

“I just want to ask what specific steps are you going to do to provide universal coverage to the 30 million people who are uninsured?” Wallace pressed. “That is not the issue,” McConnell insisted. “You don’t think the 30 million people who are uninsured is an issue?” Wallace wondered. “We’re not going to turn the American health care system into a Western European system,” the Kentucky Republican replied. “They want to have the federal government take over all of American health care.”

And McConnell said this: “If Republicans take the majority in the Senate in the 2012 elections, McConnell said, he would use budget reconciliation to overturn the law — a move that would not be subject to the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster. “Reconciliation is available because the Supreme Court has now declared it a tax,” McConnell said. “They have unearthed the massive deception that was practiced by the president and the Democrats to constantly deny that it was a tax. … And as a tax, it is eligible for reconciliation.””

Also, too: “Florida will not implement two provisions of the U.S. healthcare law involving an expansion of Medicaid for the poor and creation of a private insurance exchange, Governor Rick Scott said on Sunday. Two other states with Republican governors, Wisconsin and Louisiana, opted out of the two provisions last week…”

Charles P. Pierce comments: “Last time anyone checked, there were 659.900 of McConnell’s constituents without any health-care coverage of any kind. There were 783,900 of them on Medicaid. These people are not an issue. Mitch McConnell has announced quite clearly that he does not represent these people. Meanwhile, John Boehner wants the system “ripped out by the roots,” and Governor Bat Boy down in Florida has decided that he will be the Ross Barnett of Medicaid. People will still fall ill. People will still die. These are some sick bastards we got here.”

And yet these people, without insurance or on Medicaid who hate Obama, will vote for the McConnells and the Rick Scotts and any other person who promises to overturn something with the President’s name attached to it — even if it’s like shooting themselves in both feet. Good luck with that, tea party.

Morning Bunker Report: Thursday 6.14.2012

WHAT ROMNEY / REPUBLICANS STAND FOR———————————————

“With how he treated me, is that how he’s going to treat others? You know, if he gets in office is he going to be that way to us little people?” – Dianne Bauer, owner of the Main Street Diner in Council Bluffs, Iowa, regarding Mitt Romney’s use of her diner for a campaign stop (The answer is YES, Dianne, of course that’s how he treats the little people who aren’t immediately being used as a photo-op. lol)

Mitt the Mormon — The uptick in anti-Mormon voter attitudes may come as a surprise to those who predicted Romney’s candidacy would have a mainstreaming effect on his faith. But as University of Sydney scholar David Smith, the paper’s author, writes, just as President Obama’s successful candidacy didn’t put an end to tense race relations in America, Romney’s political assent hasn’t cured the country of anti-Mormonism. In fact, as the data shows, Romney’s rise may have led to increased anxiety about his religion among his natural political opponents. […] Strikingly, the correlation between attitudes about Mormonism and support for Romney is even stronger than political ideology or party identification. Perhaps most potentially distressing to Romney’s campaign is the study’s finding that conservatives who said they were less likely to vote for a Mormon were much more likely to say they were undecided or would not vote at all in a contest between Obama and Romney. Pundits have been predicting for months that anti-Mormon Republicans would stay home in November; this study reaffirms that idea. – Buzzfeed

Romney tells CEOs they deserve more tax cuts, deregulation, and warm tongue baths from DC – Preaching to the converted on lower taxes and less regulation, Republican Mitt Romney courted more than 100 of America’s top chief executives Wednesday demanding government be an ally of enterprise, “not the enemy. Government has to be the partner, the friend, the ally, the supporter of enterprise — not the enemy,” Romney told a gathering of the Business Roundtable, a grouping of executives of leading US firms with some $6 trillion in annual revenue. “Too often, you find yourself facing a government that looks at you like you’re the bad guys,” he said in a 20-minute speech before going into a closed-door discussion with his audience. “I want to change the attitude (in Washington) and encourage the growth of enterprise in this country.”Raw Story

  • Romney Endorses Massive Corporate Tax Giveaway That Failed To Create Jobs In The Past – [At the same CEO roundtable, Romney] called for the repeal of the tax on corporate profits that is levied when those profits are returned (repatriated) to America. Repealing the tax, Romney said, would drive investment in the United States and spur job creation. In the past, however, temporary tax holidays for profits stored overseas have not led to the job creation that proponents promised. Instead of creating jobs, companies used a 2004 repatriation tax holiday to line their executives’ pockets, paying stock dividends and buying back shares. The holiday “didn’t accomplish the stated goals of bringing jobs and investment to the US,” according to former member of President Bush’s Council on Economic Advisers. –  Think Progress

image: 1percenthole

Adelson give $10 million to Romney Super PAC – Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who helped keep Newt Gingrich’s failed presidential campaign alive during the GOP primaries, is giving $10 million to a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, the Wall Street Journal reports. The $10 million donation to the super PAC Restore Our Future appears to be the largest single donation toward Romney’s efforts so far.  – Political Wire

The rise of the megadonors (the end of democracy) –The Adelsons are hardly the only ones taking advantage of the post-Citizens-United free-for-all. But they are blowing all other donors away: Their spending exceeds that of the next six biggest donors. (So far, most major donors are also supporting conservative super-PACs, which are outspending their liberal counterparts by a factor of 7 to 1.) – Mother Jones

John McCain Haz a Sad – Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told The Hill that President Obama never made a sincere effort to reach out to him after the 2008 election. He wants us to know he’s not bitter, though – not even a little bit.

How they cheat to win in Michigan – Michigan Republicans passed three bills yesterday to make voting harder. In particular, the legislation makes it harder to run a voter-registration drive. As has been their custom this year, House Republicans passed the legislation under immediate effect over the objections of the minority Democrats. That means the legislation could become law this year instead of waiting until 2013. – Maddow Blog

WHAT THE PRESIDENT / DEMOCRATS STAND FOR ————————————

“I am telling you, I want you all to pay attention over the next five months and see if they’re offering a single thing that they did not try when they were in charge, because you won’t see it.”President Obama


image: randomactsofchaos

A lampoon of Mitt Romney, by Mitt Romney: “Out of touch” – the video features a highlight reel of the Republican’s gaffes,  a collection of Romney’s missteps, including such comments as “corporations are people,” “I like being able to fire people,” and “I’m also unemployed.”

Sen. Sanders blasts conflicts of interest at the Federal Reserve – Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday explained the importance of ending conflicts of interest at the Federal Reserve, [such as with] Jamie Dimon, the CEO and chairman of JPMorgan Chase, serv[ing] on the New York Fed’s board of directors. “The idea that we don’t have a Fed which is sitting there with knowledgeable, intelligent people who are fighting for the middle class and working families and not just for the profits of the large financial institutions — I mean, to me, that’s just a very simple reform,” Sanders said on Current TV’s Viewpoint. “But at the end of the day, if we are serious about trying to rebuild the middle class of this country, rebuild our manufacturing sector, et cetera, no question we need real Wall Street reform. To get Wall Street reform, we need Fed reform. To get Fed reform, we’ve got to get the bankers off of the regional Feds.” Sanders has introduced the Federal Reserve Independence Act to prohibit banking industry executives from serving as Fed directors. – Raw Story

Millions of old people are benefitting from Obamacare but are voting for Romney anyway – A Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services study determined that senior citizens more than any other demographic group of Americans benefit from Obamacare. The law hasn’t even really kicked in fully and yet 14.3 million senior citizens have benefitted from the law’s preventative care provisions. In other words, millions of old people have received free preventative care via Medicare that they wouldn’t have received if Obamacare hadn’t been passed. And so they’re going to vote for the guy who wants to repeal the law. – Bob Cesca

  • CBO Director: Romney’s claim is nonsense — Mitt Romney and many other Republicans commonly claim that President Obama’s health care law is already harming small businesses in the U.S. …Doug Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, called that nonsense. “We don’t think that the health care law is having a significant impact on the economy today,” Elmendorf told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast roundtable Wednesday.  – TPM
  • More Romney nonsense: Obamacare made a small business in Iowa close — Mitt Romney has debuted a new talking point on the campaign trail, arguing Obama is out of touch with the negative impact Obamacare is having on small businesses. …Romney’s claim is based on a local interview Obama gave in Iowa, in which the president was told by a reporter that a local company had closed and was moving jobs to Wisconsin because of Obamacare. [...] It turns out that the company didn’t close because of Obamacare at all, according to a company spokesperson. What’s more, the company sees lack of demand as the key problem — a lack of demand that is partly due to the drive to repeal or modify Obamacare, not to the implementation of the law itself. [...] “We never said health care reform is the reason we’re closing and consolidating that operation,” Schurman said. “We never said it’s the result of the health care reform legislation.” – Greg Sargent

Senate Republicans introduce bill to block Obama Admin’s rule allowing home health workers to earn minimum wage – The Obama administration last year introduced a rule that would extend minimum wage protections to home health workers who, up to that point, had received no guarantee of a livable wage or fair overtime pay. But Senate Republicans are attempting to block the rule from going into effect:  A group of Republican senators on Thursday introduced legislation aimed at blocking the Obama administration’s controversial efforts to extend minimum wage and overtime protections to 2 million in-home care providers through Department of Labor regulations  Think Progress

Both President Obama and Mitt Romney will deliver economic speeches in Ohio today. – Associated Press

“Super” Tuesday morning’s 6 *more or less* interesting things

1) Howard Fineman: GOP Has Created America’s First Religious Party - Whatever happens on Super Tuesday, the Republican primary season already has made history. The contest has confirmed the establishment of America’s first overtly religious major political party. The signs are numerous, but it’s still easy to miss the big picture: that the GOP now is best understood as the American Faith Party (AFP) and its members as conservative Judeo-Christian-Mormon Republicans. The basement of St. Peter’s is just one clubhouse. “There has never been anything like it in our history,” said Princeton historian Sean Wilentz. “‘God’s Own Party’ now really is just that.”

  • One South Carolina county GOP will only accept you if you pledge not to have pre-marital sex and not to view porn.

2) What middle-eastern country does John McCain want to bomb today? – McCain, the GOP presidential nominee in 2008, said the goal of the U.S. air strikes should be to “establish and defend safe havens” in Syria where opposition forces can organize and plot political and military attacks against Assad. The international community could also deliver humanitarian and military assistance to these safe zones, including food, water, weapons and training. “Increasingly, the question for U.S. policy is not whether foreign forces will intervene militarily in Syria. We can be confident that Syria’s neighbors will do so eventually, if they have not already. Some kind of intervention will happen, with us or without us,” McCain said. “So the real question for U.S. policy is whether we will participate in this next phase of the conflict in Syria, and thereby increase our ability to shape an outcome that is beneficial to the Syrian people, and to us. “I believe we must.”

3) Let’s go to the tape - A few months ago, Mitt Romney sat down with Fox News’ Bret Baier, who asked the former governor about his support for a health care mandate. Romney, visibly agitated, repeatedly denied ever advocating a national mandate policy. When Baier reminded Romney, “Governor you did say on camera and other places that, at times, you thought it would be a model for the nation,” the Republican presidential hopeful got even angrier, snapping back, “You’re wrong, Bret.” Actually, you’re right, Bret. WATCH:

4) Medicaid waivers pave way for reform - Medicaid waivers aren’t new. Nor were they created by President Barack Obama’s health law. But the waivers, which allow states some flexibility in how they deliver health care to the poor, can help the states prepare for the roughly 16 million people who will be newly eligible for Medicaid in 2014 under ACA. And the health care law did give states the opportunity to expand their Medicaid rolls early. The administration has granted waivers to states that have embraced the law, like California, and those that detest it, like Texas. Both of those states are getting billions, with the caveat that they undertake quality reforms, which happen to coincide with the goals of the ACA. [...] Waivers must be “budget neutral,” meaning the state must create savings equal to any new federal spending. But the health care reform law provides states with new incentives and tools to create savings, enabling them to draw down more federal dollars.

5) 70 Democrats Call For Government To Enforce Limits On Oil Speculation - Seventy Democratic House and Senate lawmakers are calling on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to enforce position limits on speculative trading in the oil markets passed by the CFTC in October 2011 under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. In a letter addressed to the CFTC, Democrats insist, “We have a responsibility to ensure that the price of oil is no longer allowed to be driven up by the same Wall Street speculators who caused the devastating recession that working families are now experiencing.” A wide range of experts believe that speculation in energy futures markets was the cause of both the 2008 and 2010 spikes in gas prices.

  • Are speculators to blame for soaring gas prices? - Many analysts agree that trading activity is pushing up oil prices over and above what supply and demand would normally dictate — and much of this has been driven by fear over a possible conflict with Iran. “Speculation has inflated oil prices by more than 30%,” says Fadel Gheit, an oil analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. That’s in line with other estimates: A recent paper (pdf) by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that “financial speculative demand shocks” were responsible for at least 15 percent of the huge run-up in oil prices between 2004 and 2008. The tricky part, though, is figuring out what this speculation actually amounts to — and whether it serves any legitimate purposes.

6) In 2010, 93 percent of income gains went to the top 1 percent - In other words, the very rich had a bad 2009, but an incredible 2010. Their share of national income bounced back to 19.77 percent. So inequality is marching upward once again. And there’s reason to believe this will keep going. We mainly talk about income inequality, but wealth inequality matters, too. For most households, their wealth is in real estate. Those assets aren’t returning to pre-crisis levels anytime soon. But for rich households, their wealth is in financial assets, and those assets are recovering much more quickly.

Saturday morning’s 9 semi-interesting things

1) F**king Alaska! Can we throw this state out of the Union already? – An Alaskan man has filed a lawsuit to prohibit President Obama from appearing on the November ballot not on the grounds that he was born in Kenya, but on the basis that his skin-color alone is enough to bar him from being a citizen. A man from Juneau, Alaska, has filed suit with the state’s Division of Elections to bar President Obama from appearing on that state’s ballot on the basis that the President is a “Mulatto”, and “the race of ‘Negro’ or ‘Mulatto’ had no standing to be citizens of the United States under the United States Constitution.” 

2) What Are the Gobshites Saying These Days? - Santorum decided to flagellat… er… explain himself to Glenn Beck, and to Beck’s audience of angry shut-ins… The two public intellectuals got into a discussion of religion, and Santorum said: “I saw one poll that said 62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it… I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely… The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country.”  …The putative Republican frontrunner is a fking religious loon. This, I believe, should be something of an issue in the campaign.

3) Rick Santorum: Americans With ‘Special Needs’ Won’t Survive Under Obama’s Health Reform - But the Affordable Care Act actually prevents insurance carriers from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions (and disabilities), prohibits health plans from putting a lifetime dollar limit on benefits and specifically invests in programs for people with disabilities. For instance, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has “announced $2.25 billion to extend the existing Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Demonstration Program, which is designed to facilitate people with disabilities staying in their communities instead of being placed in institutional settings” and has provided additional funding for aging and disability resource centers and other programs for sicker Americans. This why groups like the American Association of People with Disabilities, National Organization For Rare Disorders, and The Arc of the United States not only support the law, but have filed an amicus brief in its defense.

4) Romney Fails His Own ‘Moral Responsibility’ Test, Can’t Balance His Campaign’s Budget  - A series of ads lift excerpts from a speech Romney gave in November at an event in New Hampshire in which he says “we have a moral responsibility not to spend more than we take in,” and “it is a moral responsibility to believe in fiscal responsibility. We do and I do.” That raises serious questions about Romney’s morality then, since in January his campaign spent nearly three times more than it brought in during the month. Financial reports filed with the Federal Election Commission shows that the Romney camp raised about $6.5 million in January, but spent almost $19 million during the same period.

5) Can you imagine how fucked Obama would have been if he’d said Michelle drove a couple of Cadillacs? - For his embarrassing partial quote of the day, Mitt Romney ended a speech in Detroit with an apparent attempt to reach out to the car-making community there, saying, “I actually love this state. This feels good being back in Michigan … I like the fact that most of the cars I see are Detroit-made automobiles. I drove a Mustang and a Chevy pickup truck. Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually.” Reporters have immediately jumped on the latter half of the comment as another example of Romney appearing “tone deaf” when making oblique references to his wealth among voters. (Think “I like being able to fire people” or “corporations are people, my friend.”) “Politically, I don’t there’s anything wrong with mentioning your wife drives a Cadillac. But it’s a little riskier if you mention she drives ‘a couple,’” writes The Hill’s Christian Heinze. “For the love of Pete,” tweets Politico’s Ben White. “… It would be better for that campaign if he didn’t speak.” “PROBLEM” adds Politico’s Dylan Byers. But let’s all take a step back. It could have been worse! Something like, “Ann used to drive two Cadillacs but that was years before we hired her a private driver.”

6) Higher gas prices: The folly of blaming Obama for higher gas prices  - The real problem is not that gas gets expensive sometimes, but that the United States, with its extremely high levels of per capita oil consumption, is much more vulnerable to supply disruptions than are rich countries in Asia and Europe. A larger share of Americans drive on a daily basis, and they drive heavier cars longer distances. Not coincidentally, gasoline is cheaper here thanks to lower taxes. But while American politicians like to pay lip service to the idea of tax reform that encourages work and investment, they refuse for political reasons to levy higher fees on environmentally and economically destructive gasoline in exchange for lower taxes on socially beneficial labor and savings. Until that happens we’re doomed to endless repetition of the pointless gas-price blame game every time global conditions push prices up.

7) Gov. Gregoire: Obama Is The ‘Inspiration’ Behind Washington’s Same-Sex Marriage Bill - Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) praised President Obama’s record on gay rights following a meeting between the President and Democratic Governors, thanking him “for his leadership on GLBT issues.” Gregoire, whose state recently passed a same-sex marriage bill, said that it was through his efforts they were able to achieve what they did, adding, “He’s been the inspiration that allowed the state of Washington recognize that we need to have equality.” President Obama says he is still “evolving” in his support for marriage equality.

I think at least they’re doing it the right way, which is going through voters, giving them a chance to vote and not having a handful of judges arbitrarily impose their will,” Gingrich said when asked about the votes in Washington state and Maryland. “I don’t agree with it. I would vote no if it were on a referendum where I was, but at least they’re doing it the right way.”Newt Gingrich on Washington state enacting same-sex marriage

8) Kansas may raise taxes on the poor to fund cuts for the rich - In the version of the bill approved by a House committee this week, half a million of the state’s poorest residents who earn less than $25,000 will wind up paying an average of $72 more per year, while the 21,000 Kansans who make over $250.000 will get an average tax cut of $1500. A source in the state legislature told the Associated Press that the legislation will also reduce state revenues by more than $850 million oer the next five years. Kansas Democrats are predictably outraged. “It’s been Robin Hood in reverse,” Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley complained last month. “What we are doing is stealing from the poor to give to the rich.” It could be worse. the plan originally proposed by Governor Brownback would have given the wealthiest Kansans a $5200 tax cut, while forcing the lowest-income residents to pay $156 more.

9) Why Medicaid Is Hard To Cut - The biggest share of the pie, or the greatest percentage of Medicaid money, is spent on the blind and disabled. It’s going to be difficult, if not impossible, to cut care from that group. The next largest share of Medicaid goes to the elderly. Yes, even after they get Medicare, the very poor among those age 65 or older also get Medicaid. We call them dual-eligibles. Does anyone think that we’re going to cut from seniors after the 2010 elections? Unlikely. Should we cut from kids in foster care? Or perhaps “BCCA Women”, or women who are getting breast or cervical cancer assistance. No?

And, ultimately, the joke’s on the teaparty base…

…because like you and I, they’re working- and middle-class people and retirees who depend on safety net programs and federal services like the rest of us — the 99%.

“The reason that the Republicans deliberately destroyed the balanced budget and created unprecedented government debt was precisely in hopes that at some point they could use the debt as an excuse to destroy social security, medicare, and myriads of educational and health programs. They represent rich people, and the rich don’t want to be having to bear their fair share of the national burden. What better way to get out of having to pay those pesky taxes than making sure the government doesn’t do anything for anyone but the rich.” Juan Cole

via: azspot

The teaparty base sold their souls to the rich and powerful to punish those who are not rich and powerful.

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