Morning coffee: Hug a Thug today


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REMINDER:

Jon Stewart: “It’s really a ‘right to work’ … around the union for the corporation.”

“It’s really a ‘right to work’… around the union for the corporation. It’s one of those things that are actually named for the opposite of the thing they do, like strip bars call themselves ‘gentlemen’s clubs.’ Or the TV network, dedicated to making us stupider, is called ‘The Learning Channel.’ Or a TV show that airs four days a week calls itself The Daily Show.

— JON STEWART, The Daily Show (via inothernews)

What’s next for labor in Michigan? Organizing a backlash…

Political Wire reports on what’s next for labor in Michigan:

Organized labor and its allies essentially have two options to overturn the state’s new “right-to-work” law signed yesterday by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R).

First Read: “First, they have filed legal actions charging that the process violated the state’s Open Meetings Act… Second, critics say they could overturn it by passing a voter-initiated law, which would require getting 258,000 signatures to get on the ballot. And, of course, there’s 2014, when Snyder is up for re-election.”

Fox News: Snyder braces for union backlash.

###

TPM: Whatever happens, the labor groups say, expect union attempts to exact political vengeance in 2014 when Snyder and other Republican members of the legislature who pushed the legislation are up for reelection. The likely first decision for pro-labor groups is whether to try and overturn the new right-to-work law at the ballot box. [...] The new law won’t take effect for 90 days after the end of the legislative session. It may take longer than that for the law to have a real effect — existing worker contracts are exempted from the new law. So labor and its allies has some time to figure out what to do next in Michigan. But labor groups are determined that Snyder’s signature was just the beginning of a new fight over worker’s rights in Michigan, not the end.

Meanwhile in Lansing

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan House approved the first of two right-to-work bills Tuesday that would weaken union power in the historical labor stronghold as hundreds of protesters rallied at the Capitol. The Republican-dominated chamber passed a measure dealing with public-sector workers 58-51 as protesters shouted “shame on you” from the gallery and huge crowds of union backers massed in the state Capitol halls and on the grounds. (Washington Post)

Lansing, Michigan: Thousands of union workers and community members flood the front lawn of the state Capitol to protest union-busting legislation, December 11, 2012. (via)

Feefees hurt in Michigan: Tea Party advocates protest union supporters, get yelled at

Joe.My.God: “Early this morning Tea Party advocates traded screams with union supporters on the steps of the Michigan Capitol Building.  Breitbart has posted the below video.”


WHERE do these plutocracy-supporting, low-wage-jobs-loving, Koch and Walton ass-kissing, shoot-themselves-in-the-foot people come from?

Right to work laws give you the “right to work” for less money

Why are Michigan Democrats opposed to right to work laws being contemplated by Gov. Rick Synder? “Workers are currently not required to join a union — …they simply wanted to preserve the right of unions to collect fees from non-members to pay for wage and benefit negotiations that actually benefit them.”

Michigan prepares for mass protests today against right-to-work legislation: Union leaders in Michigan have been training members in “peaceful civil disobedience” methods in preparation for a protest on Tuesday against controversial right-to-work legislation. Supporters of the law, which among other measures would prohibit unions from collecting fees from non-union workers, are also expected to demonstrate at the state capitol in Lansing. The Republican-dominated Michigan Senate voted the right-to-work bill on Thursday by 22 votes to 16. Governor Rick Synder has said he will sign the bill into law and could do so on Tuesday.

Laura Clawson reports on Obama’s appearance in Detroit yesterday:

Speaking in Detroit Monday afternoon, President Barack Obama strongly criticized the push by Michigan Republicans to pass an anti-union law during the lame duck session. In a speech largely focused on his proposal to tax income over $250,000 and making the case that “our economic success has never come from the top down, it comes from the middle out and the bottom up,” Obama characterized the bill being rushed through the Michigan legislature as political and part of a race to the bottom:

And by the way, what we shouldn’t do. I’ve just got to say this, what we shouldn’t be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions. These so-called right to work laws, they don’t have to do with economics, they have everything to do with politics. What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money.

You only have to look to Michigan, where workers were instrumental in reviving the auto industry, to see how unions have helped build not just a stronger middle class but a stronger America. [...]

We don’t want a race to the bottom. We want a race to the top. America’s not going to compete based on low skill, low wage, no workers rights. That’s not our competitive advantage. There’s always going to be some other country that can treat its workers worse.

That appears to be just what Michigan Republicans do want, however. After hearing from his state’s congressional Democrats, Gov. Rick Snyder once again insisted that the bill “is all about creating more and better jobs in Michigan.” In fact, we know that freeloader laws lower wages by about $1,500 a year for the average worker—the “right to work for less money” that President Obama referred to. 

The Waltons have created lots of jobs — but are they jobs YOU’d want to try to support your family with? How many of us want an American economy based almost exclusively on minimum-wage, no benefits “Mcjobs” — or a future for our children where, if you’re not born into wealth, those kinds of jobs are the only aspiration?

Gov. Scott Walker’s signature achievement ruled “null and void”

Wisconsin Collective Bargaining Law Struck Down By County Judge

A Wisconsin judge on Friday struck down nearly all of the state law championed by Gov. Scott Walker that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for most public workers.

Walker’s administration immediately vowed to appeal, while unions, which have vigorously fought the law, declared victory. But what the ruling meant for existing public contracts was murky: Unions claimed the ruling meant they could negotiate again, but Walker could seek to keep the law in effect while the legal drama plays out.

The law, a crowning achievement for Walker that made him a national conservative star, took away nearly all collective bargaining rights from most workers and has been in effect for more than a year.

Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas ruled that the law violates both the state and U.S. Constitution and is null and void.

Labor Day: Workers (and the rest of us) Built That

We Built That. I don’t think that means what Republicans think that means.

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there – good for you. But I want to be clear:

You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.

You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.

You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory…

Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea – God Bless! Keep a Big Hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay it forward for the next kid who comes along.”

— Elizabeth Warren (via: questionall)

Union workers and everyone’s wages and benefits


image: christopherstreet

Read more about The Republican Strategy 

Romney economics: when a fair wage for American workers is considered ‘greed’

Fox News and Mitt Romney, as representatives for the one percent, rely on the Republican base voters to be not only dumb and uninformed, but self-hating as well. How else do you explain support (by people who aren’t wealthy) for the idea that fair wages and benefits for working Americans is “greed”? This morning, Ed Gillespie, an adviser to Mitt Romney, told Fox News host Chris Wallace that Scott Walker winning in Wisconsin would mean:

“I think the statement to big labor and to big government employee unions, government worker unions is that you can’t be too greedy,” Gillespie explained. “You need to understand that times are tough and a lot of these legacy costs that you imposed are due for some reforms and some restructuring.”

It’s interesting that Romney’s adviser calls it ‘greed’ when unions and workers want to preserve their wages and benefits. Especially when you consider the tactics of vulture capitalism, practiced by Mitt Romney during his time at Bain Capital, on long-term employees of companies acquired by Bain (fire them, hire some back at lower wages). Support for this kind of thinking will turn us into a third-world economy yet. Here’s proof: the WSJ reported this week that flat wages in the US are helping a manufacturing rebound:

The wage lag is a key factor contributing to the rebounding competitiveness of U.S. industry. A recent uptick in factory employment and the return of some production to U.S. shores from abroad both added jobs that probably otherwise wouldn’t exist. But sluggish wages also are squeezing workers’ incomes and spending. That, in turn, hurts retailers who target middle-income earners and restrains the vigor of the economic recovery. “The U.S. has held manufacturing wages in check while there has been strong wage growth in China and moderate wage growth in Mexico,” says economist Gordon Hanson of the University of California, San Diego, referring to two of the U.S.’s biggest lower-wage competitors.

China and Mexico’s wages are growing while U.S. wages are shrinking. Apparently that’s the only way corporations who got rich on American soil are willing to bring jobs back to American soil. Soon everyone will have a job, if they’re not too “greedy” and are willing to work for $1.00 a day.

Oh, and of course this is not greed.

Morning Bunker Report: Sunday 5.27.2012

WHAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY STANDS FOR TODAY—————————–—

Romney on homeless veterans: “Let them milk cows.” — By all accounts Mitt Romney’s 1994 trip to the nation’s largest homeless shelter was accurately described by the Boston Globe as “not one of the brighter moments of his campaign for US senator.” Romney was visiting the homeless shelter, located in Boston, by invitation of the shelter’s executive director Ken Smith. [...] Smith explained that the State of Massachusetts allocated $2.37 per day twice a day for each homeless veteran’s meal. Since the amount was so meager, the shelter had trouble providing each veteran with a carton of milk at each meal. Romney responded, “Well Ken, maybe you can teach the vets to milk cows.” Romney then walked out the door. — Mitt Romney’s Milk Gaffe | Support the troops! 

Maher on the “WIFER movement” and Romney as a response to BIRTHERS and Obama: “Again, I’m not a wifer. I’m just saying he has the blood of a nomadic, polygamist tribesman and I think that has shaped his worldview.”Why did Mitt Romney strap his dog to the roof of his car,” Maher said. “Could it be because his station wagon was full of wives?”  Watch:

It’s Official: Romney Will Proudly Stand With America’s Best-Known Birther — At this point, I’m not really surprised by this news. More like a sort of weary disgust. A GOP presidential candidate openly courting a crazed conspiracy theorist who claims the first black President of the United States was actually born in Kenya. Good grief. And please note: Donald Trump is citing one of Breitbart.com’s utterly moronic BOMBSHELL EXCLUSIVES as evidence Obama was born in Kenya — the BOMBSHELL EXCLUSIVE that contained a disclaimer saying it was DEFINITELY NOT evidence Obama was born in Kenya. — Charles Johnson | LGF

  • Today Romney adviser Kevin Madden said the candidate disagrees with Trump, but would continue to campaign with him. “He’ll stand up next to Donald Trump and he’ll talk about why he wants to be president,” Madden said in an interview on MSNBC. “Any time the subject goes off of that, where it’s something where…Governor Romney would disagree, he’s going to make that very clear. Just as he has in the past, and he’ll do in the present, and he’ll do in the future.” — CBS News

  • THE COMPANY TRUMP KEEPS: Corsi: If Obama Wins, “People Like You And Me Will Be In Thought Education Camps — If They Allow Us To Live”  — On Thursday, WorldNetDaily correspondent and leading birther conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi appeared on 9/11 truther Alex Jones’ radio show to engage in yet another round of paranoid ranting disconnected from reality. Corsi appeared with Jones via Skype from Hawaii, where he is supposedly working with the “cold case posse” organized by Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio to investigate Barack Obama’s birth certificate… Corsi explained that he was “desperately” working on his stories because “if Obama wins, we do not have a First Amendment, we won’t have a Fourth Amendment, we won’t have a Bill of Rights, people like you and me we’ll be in thought education camps – if they allow us to live, our families will be destroyed, private property will be confiscated. People think this is radical. All the plans are laid out and signed in executive orders.”MMFA

Top CEO pay equals 3,489 years for typical worker – David Simon of Simon Property received a pay package worth more than $137 million for last year, and the typical CEO took home $9.6 million, according to an analysis by The Associated Press… HOW LONG IT TAKES OTHERS TO MAKE THAT MUCH: A minimum wage worker – paid $7.25 per hour, as some workers at Simon malls are – would have to work one month shy of 9,096 years to make what Simon made last year. A person making the national median salary, $39,312 by AP calculations, would have to work 3,489 years… — AP News | Note: and as we’ve learned from stories about Bain Capital, the plutocrats idea of job “creation” is laying off long-time workers and hiring some of them back at minimum wage. Vote GOP! 

Union-busting, plutocrat style (because union jobs pay better than minimum wage) — An anti-union construction trade group is targeting three vulnerable House Republican freshmen with a barrage of negative advertising over a series of labor-friendly votes. Reps. Jon Runyan (N.J.), Joe Walsh (Ill.) and Robert Dold (Ill.) already face tough re-election battles that could be complicated by a spate of online ads from the Associated Builders and Contractors accusing them of breaking campaign promises. The trade association, which helped fuel the Republican takeover of the House in 2010 with more than $1.1 million in campaign contributions, is trying to counter an executive order issued by President Barack Obama it contends gives unionized contractors an unfair advantage in bidding wars for federal projects. — Roll Call

David Stockman: Mitt Romney learned nothing about creating jobs from Bain Capital — Former Reagan Office of Management and Budget Director David Stockman stepped all over Romney’s claims that his experience in the leveraged buyout business taught him anything at all about “job creation.”  [...] STOCKMAN: Well, I don’t know. I think the current federal model is a disaster. We know where we are on the debt. We’re going to have a debt ceiling that expires in December and I don’t know where the votes are going to come to increase it… On the other hand, I don’t think Mitt Romney can legitimately say that he learned anything about how to create jobs in the LBO business. The LBO business is about how to strip cash out of old, long-in-the-tooth companies and how to make short-term profits. [...] You know, the LBO business is legitimate, free enterprise business, just like, you know, running a brothel if that’s what you want to do, or a house of gambling. [...] But it’s not a good model for how we rebuild an economy or grow jobs. It’s irrelevant. — Crooks & Liars

DEEP THOUGHTS OF THE ONE PERCENT — John McCain, defending Mitt Romney’s Bain record: “Yes, the free enterprise system can be cruel.”TPM 

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

HOW ARE THESE TWO EVEN REAL?? He may be the leader of the free world, but he still takes a moment to tuck his wife in at bedtime. First Lady Michelle Obama revealed that tidbit and other details from the couple’s personal life in a People magazine interview that hit newsstands Friday. “We have a ritual where he tucks me in, because I’m usually in bed before anybody,” the First Lady spilled. “He’ll come and turn the lights out and give me a kiss, and we’ll talk. He’s like, Ready to be tucked? I’m like, Yes I am.'” — NY Daily News

Obama campaign to target Romney’s record as governor — By broadening its attack to Romney’s stint as chief executive of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, the Obama campaign will make the case that Romney’s economic philosophies have pervaded his career and would damage the country if he were to move into the White House. “You’ll see over the course of this campaign a really strong connection between (Romney’s) time at Bain and the values and lessons that he took from that,” said an Obama campaign official who spoke on the condition that he not be identified. “He used those values and lessons in Massachusetts, and we’ll take a look at those results,” the official said. The attacks are likely to focus on Romney’s record of cutting education funding and increasing the state’s debt. — Reuters | Note: also see ‘milk incident’ above. 

If You Want Another Debt And Spending Binge, Vote GOP, Ctd — The AP takes the hardest position on Obama and comes up with the following bottom line: All told, government spending now appears to be growing at an annual rate of roughly 3 percent over the 2010-2013 period, rather than the 0.4 percent claimed by Obama and the MarketWatch analysis. I think that’s excessively tilted against the president. But even so, lets accept it for the sake of argument. A 3 percent annualized increase in federal spending would still put Obama in first place for spending restraint since LBJ – which is staggering given the scale of the economic collapse he inherited. A quick comparison? Bush’s first term – with no global great recession – saw spending grow an annualized 7.3 percent. Reagan’s first term? 8.7 percent. And again, remember the Romney claim that started this all off: that “since President Obama assumed office three years ago, federal spending has accelerated at a pace without precedent in recent history.” — Andrew Sullivan

  • Now you could argue that Obama should have let the auto industry go fully bankrupt, allow the economy to head into deflation and depression without any fiscal stimulus to counter, cut the unemployed off at the knees – and we would be Greece today, underwater in a deepening and self-reinforcing depression. Can you imagine what Romney would have said about Obama’s record then? And yes, as Suderman notes, the real criticism should be focused on the absence of any long-term deal on entitlements, defense, taxes and spending – a deal that would do a huge amount for business confidence. But seriously: if one side simply refuses to put any serious revenue increases on the table at all, who’s really preventing that effort? There are legitimate issues to debate with respect to the future in this election. But the caricature of the last three years, the knowing lies that interweave with this false narrative, the attempt to describe a pragmatic, sane and successful president as somehow unqualified to tackle this mess – when the US economy has fared better in this period than much of the West – are deceptions, exploiting pain. I’m sick of them, and the cynicism they represent. — Andrew Sullivan

Biden says end to wars gives foreign policy new flexibility — “Winding down these long wars has enabled us to replace and rebalance our foreign policy,” Biden told the Army cadets and their families at the storied academy’s football stadium. Biden’s speech echoed some of the themes of military success struck by President Barack Obama in his commencement address at the U.S. Air Force Academy on Wednesday. Biden, like Obama, said U.S. combat troops have returned home from Iraq, the conflict in Afghanistan is winding down and American commandos killed al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in May 2011. “Those warriors sent a message to the world that if you harm America, we will follow you to the end of the earth,” Biden said. — Tampa Bay Times

“Washington is filled with people making other people’s arguments for money. Anyone trying to do anything of good purpose is in a constant struggle to keep from drowning in the river of steaming bullshit served up by lobbyists and politicians and pundits and PR firms. They bend statistics, they do impressions of people who believe what they say, and all the while the country burns. And it is the height of arrogance to decry what’s happened to our politics when you are a bonded practitioner of what’s happened to our politics. You want to be a pitchman for warlords? You want to carry the Devil’s water in Washington? Go for it. But just don’t tell me how to fucking talk.” — Jon Lovett, former speechwriter to President Barack Obama in the White House.

Priorities USA ad: Romney’s fuzzy math on jobs created at Bain — This may seem like a “gotcha” gimmick, mocking Romney for his evolving I-once-caught-a-fish-this-big style of job-creation estimates, but it’s actually a very serious point. Indeed, Romney’s single most important claim as a candidate for the presidency is that he, during his private-sector career, was a “job creator.” If this isn’t true, his rationale for national office crumbles. And when a person making a bold claim can’t keep his story straight, it’s generally a strong hint that the claim is dubious. Bill Burton, a senior strategist at Priorities USA Action, told me this morning, “If [Romney] just released an accounting of the jobs gained and the jobs lost when he was at Bain, he could clear this whole controversy right up.” – Steve Benen — Watch:

Unions make a difference for everyone

via: silas216

Higher union wages raise non-union wages as well. No wonder the GOP / corporate culture wants to be rid of organized labor.  The Economic Policy Institute says:

  • Strong unions set a pay standard that nonunion employers follow. For example, a high school graduate whose workplace is not unionized but whose industry is 25% unionized is paid 5% more than similar workers in less unionized industries.
  • The impact of unions on total nonunion wages is almost as large as the impact on total union wages.
  • The most sweeping advantage for unionized workers is in fringe benefits. Unionized workers are more likely than their nonunionized counterparts to receive paid leave, are approximately 18% to 28% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, and are 23% to 54% more likely to be in employer-provided pension plans.

Continue reading…

3/19: Monday morning’s slightly interesting things

1) PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEMOCRATS

  • Obama’s Spending Record: More Conservative Than Reagan’s – This is the kind of reality that makes Sean Hannity’s head explodes. So far, the GOP candidates have been running against a fictional president with a fictional record. Obama didn’t campaign to increase government spending, but inheriting what was in the final quarter of 2008 an annulaized contraction of 9 percent of GDP, he opted for a stimulus. That accounts for much of the spending. I know we are supposed – along with Fox News – to have total amnesia about the spending record of George W. Bush, wh had nothing like the recession Obama inherited to counter. But there it is. Along with the fact that of the last seven presidents, the top three are all Republicans…
  • Obama Plans Big Effort to Build Support Among Women – On Monday, mailings will go out to one million women in more than a dozen battleground states in three separate versions for mothers, young women and older women, campaign and party officials said. [...] The campaign’s effort to rally women around the health care law had been long planned, to coincide with the second anniversary of Mr. Obama signing it on March 23, campaign officials said. But the effort has gained intensity, they added, because of recent controversies over contraception, abortion and education in Washington and in state capitals that have energized people in the campaign’s far-flung field offices who are essential to putting any national strategy into action.
  • Sen. Daniel Akaka: Congress should stop targeting federal employees - Hard-working federal employees are being squeezed by Congress again, as some of my colleagues attempt to attach an extension of the pay freeze to pending highway funding bills. This comes after Congress last month effectively cut the pay of new employees by forcing them to pay more toward their pensions — permanently — to offset the costs of just 10 months of unemployment. I strongly oppose this new habit of picking the pockets of America’s dedicated middle-class public servants. [...]  CBO’s report said that workers without college degrees were paid higher average wages in the federal government than in the private sector, but noted that workers with college degrees — the bulk of the federal workforce — were paid about the same, and workers with graduate or professional degrees were paid significantly less. Averaged across all categories, federal workers were paid 2 percent more. However, the report was flawed. CBO relied on limited survey data of self-reported wages and occupations, and some federal contractors inaccurately reported that they are federal employees. CBO did not account for complexity or other aspects of jobs, instead using broad occupational categories. As Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry pointed out, we should pay the federal forklift operator transporting nuclear-tipped torpedoes more than the private-sector forklift operator moving boxes… [graph via: thebottom99percent.com]

2) THE 2012 GOP PRIMARY

  • After Santorum tells Puerto Ricans to speak English… Mitt Romney Wins Puerto Rico Primary – Late Sunday night, with 61 percent of the Puerto Rican votes counted, Romney had 83 percent of them. He won all 20 delegates to the national convention at stake because he prevailed with more than 50 percent of the vote. That padded his comfortable lead over Santorum in the race to amass the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. Romney announced the Puerto Rico win at the Illinois rally and told the crowd, “I intend to become our nominee and I intend to get Latino voters to vote for a Republican and take back the White House.” The Santorum campaign accused Romney of pandering. “Mitt Romney says he supports English as the official language of America while on the mainland, but then says Puerto Ricans don’t have to learn English while he’s on Puerto Rico,” Santorum communications director Hogan Gidley said in a press release.
  • Santorum: Obama ‘exposing children’ to risk from porn  – In an undated statement on his official website, the former Pennsylvania senator asserted that “America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography” because Obama’s Justice Department was favoring “pornographers over children.” “Pornography is toxic to marriages and relationships,” the statement says. “It contributes to misogyny and violence against women. It is a contributing factor to prostitution and sex trafficking.” “Current federal ‘obscenity’ laws prohibit distribution of hardcore (obscene) pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops and through the mail or by common carrier,” the statement continues, adding that these laws should be “vigorously enforced.”
  • LGF: Santorum also accused President Obama of being an “appeaser of evil.” This is very sick stuff; I don’t think I’ve ever seen such twisted counter-factual arguments in a presidential campaign.
  • Porn in the USA: Conservatives Are Biggest Consumers

3) THE 21st CENTURY REPUBLICAN (TEA)PARTY

  • McCain: GOP needs ‘to get off’ contraception issue – McCain appeared once again on NBC’s Meet The Press (for a record 64th time) and told host David Gregory that the GOP needed to “get off” the issue and “fix the perception” their party currently has with women. “I think we have to fix that,” McCain said. “I think that there is a perception out there, because of the way that this whole contraception issue played out. We need to get off of that issue, in my view. I think we ought to respect the right of women to make choices in their lives, and make that clear, and get back on to what the American people really care about: jobs and the economy.

4) REPUBLICAN WAR ON WOMEN

  •  

    Tennessee Bill May Expose Identities Of Women Seeking Abortions – Tennessee lawmakers will consider a controversial measure on Wednesday that could intimidate women seeking abortions by requiring that the names of doctors who perform the procedures be published online. The measure’s sponsor, Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, said at an initial hearing on the bill earlier this month that the reporting requirement writes into law a form that the Department of Health already asks providers to fill out whenever they perform an abortion. “The Department of Health already collects all of the data, but they don’t publish it,” he said. “All we’re asking is that the data they already collect be made public.”

5) HEALTHCARE REFORM  

  • Paul Krugman: Hurray for Health Reform – Can such a system work? It’s already working! Massachusetts enacted a very similar reform six years ago — yes, while Mitt Romney was governor. Jonathan Gruber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who played a key role in developing both the local and the national reforms (and has published an illustrated guide to reform) has surveyed the results — and finds that Romneycare is working pretty much as advertised. The number of people without insurance has dropped sharply, the quality of care hasn’t suffered, and the program’s cost has been very close to initial projections. Oh, and the budgetary cost per newly insured resident of Massachusetts was actually lower than the projected cost per American insured by the Affordable Care Act. Given this evidence, what’s a virulent opponent of reform to do? The answer is, make stuff up. We all know how the act’s proposal that Medicare evaluate medical procedures for effectiveness became, in the fevered imagination of the right, an evil plan to create death panels. And rest assured, this lie will be back in force once the general election campaign is in full swing. For now, however, most of the disinformation involves claims about costs…
  • U.S. Tells States How to Expand Medicaid in Health Law - The Obama administration on Friday told states how to enroll millions more low-income Americans into Medicaid under the health-care overhaul, 10 days before the Supreme Court begins considering a challenge to the law. The regulations, published by the Department of Health and Human Services, detail the scheduled expansion of Medicaid to cover a larger batch of low earners in 2014, when much of the health-care law is set to take effect. ‘Medicaid will look and feel like a very different program by 2015,’ said Cindy Mann, a top official at the agency charged with overseeing the changes. The Medicaid expansion is part of the broader case brought by opponents of Democrats’ 2010 health-care law that the Supreme Court will begin hearing March 26. To reduce the number of uninsured Americans, the law calls for adding 17 million or more additional people to the Medicaid program in the next decade.

6) PROTECTING THE WEALTH OF THE ONE PERCENT: GOP WAR ON THE 99%

  • Marginal Tax Rates and Wishful Thinking – At least since Calvin Coolidge, politicians have trumpeted the supply-side benefits of cutting marginal income tax rates. Lower rates will unleash economic growth and the cuts will largely pay for themselves — or so it’s often said. Yet careful studies find little evidence of such effects. Perhaps it’s time to reform tax policy based on facts, not worn-out assumptions…History shows that marginal federal income tax rates have varied widely…If you can find a consistent relationship between these fluctuations and sustained economic performance, you’re more creative than I am. Growth was indeed slower in the 1970s than in the ’60s, and tax rates were higher in the ’70s. But growth was stronger in the 1990s than in the 2000s, despite noticeably higher rates in the ’90s…If moderate increases in marginal rates wouldn’t much affect behavior, a mix of rate increases and cuts in tax expenditures might be a sensible path. [...] Finally, income inequality has surged in recent decades. Raising marginal rates on the wealthy is a straightforward, effective way to counter this trend, while helping to solve our looming deficit problem. Given the strong evidence that the incentive effects of marginal rates are small, opponents of such a move will need a new argument. Invoking the myth of terrible supply-side consequences just won’t cut it.
  • AFL-CIO calls for birth control access, immigration reform and overturning Citizens United – Broad statements on Fixing What is Wrong with Our Economy and Organizing and Growth sketch out a vision for the economy and for unions. To “fix what is wrong with our economy,” What we need now is an economic program as serious and far-reaching as the problem President Obama has correctly diagnosed. We must start by shifting the focus of U.S. economic policy from one of maximizing the competitiveness and profitability of corporations that happen to maintain headquarters somewhere on U.S. territory to one of maximizing the competitiveness and prosperity of the human beings who live and work in America. The AFL-CIO proposes massive “productive public investment” in education, energy, transportation, manufacturing, infrastructure and more, all paid for by letting the Bush tax cuts expire and imposing new or increased taxes on capital gains, financial speculation and income greater than $1 million. Related, we have to rein in the financial sector and expand and support manufacturing. Additionally, “it is essential that we tackle the problems of wage stagnation and economic inequality,” by increasing and indexing the minimum wage and reforming labor law, among other things.
  • Today in labor history, March 19, 1917:  The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the Adamson Act, a federal law that established an 8-hour workday, with overtime pay, for interstate railway workers.  Congress passed the law in 1916 to avert a nationwide rail strike. [via: todayinlaborhistory]