The grotesque arguments against raising the minimum wage: when will we demand a decent society?

ROBERT REICH: Raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 should be a no-brainer. Republicans say it will cause employers to shed jobs, but that’s baloney. Employers won’t outsource the jobs abroad or substitute machines for them because jobs at this low level of pay are all in the local personal service sector (retail, restaurant, hotel, and so on), where employers pass on any small wage hikes to customers as pennies more on their bills. States that have a minimum wage closer to $9 than the current federal minimum don’t have higher rates of unemployment than do states still at the federal minimum.

A mere $9 an hour translates into about $18,000 a year — still under the poverty line. When you add in the Earned Income Tax Credit and food stamps it’s possible to barely rise above poverty at this wage, but even the poverty line of about $23,000 understates the true cost of living in most areas of the country.

Besides, the proposed increase would put more money into the hands of families that desperately need it, allowing them to buy a bit more and thereby keep others working.

A decent society should do no less.

HEIDI MOORE: “There is something truly grotesque about corporate leaders who earn millions of dollars – or even hundreds of thousands of dollars – arguing over paying their workers literally pennies more. Those workers often have to rely on food stamps or government welfare programs to make up the difference. Meanwhile, company CEOs have barely received a cut in pay for years, and on average they make 231 times as much as the average worker. That’s a lot of money, obviously. So the idea that paying $1.50 an hour more in minimum wage would break their companies and force them to save on costs is patently ridiculous. The first and most obvious cost they would have to think about cutting would be their own pay packages. What if those CEOs made, say, only 200 times the average worker? Or 100 times? One suspects their companies could afford that uptick for poorer workers then.”

73% OF AMERICANS SUPPORT raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour: Republicans in Congress oppose any increase to the federal minimum wage, but they might want to do some polling first, as data suggest an increase is incredibly popular among voters. As The Daily Change notes, polling conducted by Lake Research in February 2012 found that not only is support for Obama’s proposed increase “stratospherically high,” voters actually want to go further than the President suggests. Their polling shows 73 percent of voters want to see the minimum wage raised to $10 an hour by 2014, including 50 percent of Republicans (Note: just don’t tell the those Republicans that the president supports it).

  • According to Think Progress, a study published in the Review of Economics and Statistics back in November 2010 found “no detectable employment losses from the kind of minimum wage increases we have seen in the United States.” Another study, published in 2011 “found no impact on hours worked or employment levels.”
  • In a March 2011 report, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) found that raising the minimum wage has no “discernible impact” on employment. CEPR concluded that wage increases are more likely to result in more, rather than fewer, jobs.
  • A major study of the minimum wage, done by economists David Card and Alan Krueger and published in September 1994, supports the notion that raising the minimum wage actually increases employment. investigating the effects of New Jersey’s 1992 minimum wage increase from $4.25 to $5.05, the pair revealed job creation was actually strengthened by the increase.

WH FACT SHEET:

Raising the minimum wage mostly benefits adults, and especially working women: Around 60 percent of workers benefiting from a higher minimum wage are women, and few are teenagers — less than 20 percent.

Raising the minimum wage helps parents: The average worker who would benefit from a rise in the minimum wage to $9 an hour brought home 46 percent of his or her household’s total wage and salary income in 2011, according to the Current Population Survey.

For a working family earning $20,000 – $30,000, the extra $3,500 per year from raising the minimum wage would cover:

  • The family’s spending on groceries for a year; or
  • The family’s spending on utilities for a year; or
  • The family’s spending on gasoline and clothing for a year; or
  • Six months of housing.

Raising the minimum wage will boost wages without jeopardizing jobs while improving turnover and productivity: A range of economic studies show that modestly raising the minimum wage increases earnings and reduces poverty without measurably reducing employment, and that in fact employers may see a more stable workforce due to reduced turnover and increased productivity.

It’s a Wonderful Life (in some ways)

“Every year about now I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” again to remind myself what Frank Capra understood about America — its essential decency and common sense. In many ways the nation is better than it was in 1946 when the movie first appeared. Women have gained economic power and reproductive rights; we enacted Civil Rights and Voting Rights and, through Medicare and Medicaid, dramatically reduced poverty among the elderly; we began to tackle environmental devastation; we stopped treating gays as criminals and have even started to recognize equal marriage rights. We elected and then re-elected the first black president of the United States. But we are still in danger of the “Pottersville” Capra envisioned as the alternative to what happens when Americans fail to join together and forget the meaning of the public good. The craven and cynical bullies symbolized by Lionel Barrymore’s “Mr. Potter” are threatening our democracy and our common morality. We must continue to fight them.”

— Robert Reich

 

Labor organization and job growth: our national McDonald’s / Walmart problem

Robert Reich discusses how low wages are strangling the economy and why job growth, and not the deficit, needs to be the nation’s #1 priority:

Yesterday in New York, hundreds of workers at dozens of fast-food chain stores went on strike, demanding a raise to $15-an-hour from their current pay of $8 to $10 an hour (the median hourly wage for food service and prep workers in New York is $8.90 an hour)… These workers are not teenagers. Most have to support their families. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median age of fast-food workers is over 28; and women, who comprise two-thirds of the industry, are over 32. The median age of big-box retail workers is over 30.

McDonald’s — bellwether for the fast-food industry — posted strong results during the recession by attracting cash-strapped customers, and its sales have continued to rise.

Its CEO, Jim Skinner, got $8.8 million last year. In addition to annual bonuses, McDonald’s also gives its executives a long-term bonus once every three years; Skinner received an $8.3 million long-term bonus in 2009 and is due for another this year. The value of Skinner’s other perks — including personal use of the company aircraft, physical exams and security — rose 19% to $752,000.

Wal-Mart – the trendsetter for big-box retailers – is also doing well. And it pays its executives handsomely. The total compensation for Wal-Mart’s CEO, Michael Duke, was $18.7 million last year – putting him at number 82 on Forbes’ list.

The wealth of the Walton family – which still owns the lion’s share of Wal-Mart stock — now exceeds the wealth of the bottom 40 percent of American families combined, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute.

Last week, Wal-Mart announced that the next Wal-Mart dividend will be issued on December 27 instead of January 2, after the Bush tax cut for dividends expires — thereby saving the Wal-Mart family as much as $180 million. (According to the online weekly “Too Much,” this $180 million would be enough to give 72,000 Wal-Mart workers now making $8 an hour a 20-percent annual pay hike. That hike would still leave those workers under the poverty line for a family of three.)

America is becoming more unequal by the day. So wouldn’t it be sensible to encourage unionization at fast-food and big-box retailers?

Yes, but here’s the problem.

The unemployment rate among people with just a high school degree – which describes most (but not all) fast-food and big-box retail workers – is still in the stratosphere. The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts it at 12.2 percent, and that’s conservative estimate. It was 7.7 percent at the start of 2008.

High unemployment makes it much harder to organize a union because workers are even more fearful than usual of losing their jobs. Eight dollars an hour is better than no dollars an hour. And employers at big-box and fast-food chains have not been reluctant to give the boot to employees associated with attempts to organize for higher wages.

Meanwhile, only half of the people who lose their jobs qualify for unemployment insurance these days. Retail workers in big-boxes and fast-food chains rarely qualify because they hadn’t been on the job long enough or were there only part-time. This makes the risk of job loss even greater.

Washington’s obsession with deficit reduction makes it all the more likely these workers will face continuing high unemployment – even higher if the nation succumbs to deficit hysteria. That’s because cutting government spending reduces overall demand, which hits low-wage workers hardest. They and their families are the biggest casualties of austerity economics.

And if the spending cuts Washington is contemplating fall on low-wage workers whose families are under the poverty line – reducing not only the availability of unemployment insurance but also food stamps, housing assistance, infant and child nutrition, child health care and Medicaid – it will be even worse. (It’s worth recalling, in this regard, that 62 percent of the cuts in the Republican budget engineered by Paul Ryan fell on America’s poor.)

By contrast, low levels of unemployment invite wage gains and make it easier to organize unions. The last time America’s low-wage workers got a real raise (apart from the last hike in the minimum wage) was in the late 1990s, when unemployment dropped to 4 percent nationally – compelling employers to raise wages in order to recruit and retain them, and prompting a round of labor organizing.

That’s one reason why job growth must be the nation’s number one priority. Not deficit reduction.

Continue reading: Wal-Mart and McDonald’s: What’s wrong with U.S. employment

The real Mitt Romney vs. Repackaged Mitt Romney: now with added empathy!

Robert Reich makes the case that the American people have a right to be skeptical of the newly-improved (repackaged) Mitt Romney on the campaign trail who suddenly cares, who said this week: “There are so many people in our country that are hurting right now. I want to help them.”

Hahaha. In summary:

    • This is, after all, the same Mitt Romney who told his backers in Boca Raton that 47 percent of Americans are dependent on government and unwilling to take care of themselves.
    • It’s the same Romney who was against bailing out GM and Chrysler.
    • This is the same Romney who has been against extending unemployment benefits. Or providing food stamps or housing benefits for families that have fallen into poverty. Or medical benefits.
    • This is the same Mitt Romney who doesn’t worry that Wall Street financiers — including his own Bain Capital — have put so much pressure on companies for short-term profits that they’re still laying off workers and reluctant to take on any more.
    • And the same Mitt who doesn’t want government to spend money repairing our crumbling infrastructure, rebuilding our schools, or rehiring police and firefighters and teachers.

“Mitt Romney’s real compassion is for people like himself, whom he believes are America’s “job creators.” He aims to cut taxes on the rich, in the belief that the rich create jobs — and the benefits of such a tax cut trickle down to everyone else. [...] In Ohio Romney is repeating his claim that, under his tax proposal, the rich would end up paying as much as before even at a lower tax rate because he’d limit their ability to manipulate the tax code. “Don’t be expecting a huge cut in taxes because I’m also going to be closing loopholes and deductions,” he promises. But Romney still refuses to say which loopholes and deductions he’ll close. He doesn’t even mention the “carried interest” loophole that has allowed him and other private-equity managers to treat their incomes as capital gains, taxed at 15 percent.”

Read it all…

Where’s this “added empathy” coming from? TPM reports that it’s because Romney is trailing in the polls — anything to win, even empathy, meaning even Romneycare: “Not all Republicans are so sure of this strategy. On the ideologically rigid tea party wing of things, some reject the idea that Romney should be going for the empathy vote at all. Said Ryan Rhodes, a tea party activist from Iowa: ‘The thing Romney needs to do to beat Obama is show up in this debate and not have another empathy comment. Those comments are really hurting him far more than any 47% comments. The government’s not here for empathy, it’s here for the law. If we use empathy for everything we want to do, that’s how countries go bankrupt and bad policy is created.’”

To which Charles P. Pierce points out: “The problem with the Romney campaign is not the alleged ideological incoherence of his political resume. The problem is that he’s trying to appeal to a party full of moral monsters.”

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Not a millionaire and still planning to vote for Romney? You might be a Republican base rube — or a moral monster.


A brief recap of America’s class war

And where are Mitt Romney’s tax returns?

World’s wealthiest people now richer than before the credit crunchWe are not all in this together. The UK economy is flat, the US is weak and the Greek debt crisis, according to some commentators, is threatening another Lehman Brothers-style meltdown. But a new report shows the world’s wealthiest people are getting more prosperous – and more numerous – by the day. The globe’s richest have now recouped the losses they suffered after the 2008 banking crisis. They are richer than ever, and there are more of them – nearly 11 million – than before the recession struck. In the world of the well-heeled, the rich are referred to as “high net worth individuals” (HNWIs) and defined as people who have more than $1m (£620,000) of free cash.

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The average Fortune 500 CEO now makes 380 times more than the average worker, as CEO pay has grown more than 127 times faster than worker pay over the last 30 years. The growth in executive compensation that has contributed to skyrocketing levels of income inequality isn’t necessarily tied to performance of the top companies, however: while their pay continues to increase, average stock prices have remained flat, and many of the companies with the highest paid CEOs actually saw drops in their share prices over the course of the year. – Think Progress

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“The Great Income Shift” – This great income shift means the average middle-income American family had about $9,000 less after-tax income in 2007, and an average household in the top 1 percent had $741,000 more, than they would have had if the 1979 income distribution had remained.

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“The top 1 percent now gets almost a quarter of the nation’s total income — a larger share than at any time since the 1920s. The top 1 percent have also received about 40 percent of the benefits of the Bush tax cuts.” – Robert Reich

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Welcome to the Plutocracy | Bill Moyers: Since 1980 the economy has also continued to grow handsomely, but only a fraction at the top have benefited. The line flattens for the bottom 90% of Americans. Average income went from that $30,941 in 1980 to $31,244 in 2008. Think about that: the average income of Americans increased just $303 dollars in 28 years. That’s wage repression.

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A far-reaching new study suggests a staggering $21tn in assets has been lost to global tax havens. If taxed, that could have been enough to put parts of Africa back on its feet – and even solve the euro crisis… The world’s super-rich have taken advantage of lax tax rules to siphon off at least $21 trillion, and possibly as much as $32tn, from their home countries and hide it abroad – a sum larger than the entire American economy.  — Wealth doesn’t trickle down – it just floods offshore, research reveals

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With all of that information above in mind, remember that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan (with a Republican congress), plan to cut taxes for the wealthy and cut spending on programs / services for the poor and working class.

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On the GOP: “The capture of one of our great parties by fanatics is nothing to celebrate.”

Robert Reich laments the insanity that has taken over the Republican Party (emphasis below is mine):

We’re witnessing the capture by fanatics of what was once a great and important American political party. 

The Republican Party platform committee now includes a provision calling for a constitutional amendment banning all abortions, without an exception for rape or incest. This is basically Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin’s position. (At least the GOP platform doesn’t assert that women’s bodies automatically reject “legitimate” rapists’ sperm.)

Paul Ryan, Romney’s selection for vice president, has co-sponsored 38 anti-abortion measures while in the House of Representatives, including several containing no exception for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. 

But the GOP’s fanaticism goes far beyond the its growing absolutism about abortion.

Ryan’s proposed budget, approved by almost all House Republicans, is also an exercise in fanaticism. It replaces Medicare with vouchers that won’t possibly keep up with rising healthcare costs — thereby shifting costs directly on to the elderly. 

That budget also harms the poor and rewards the rich, but does little or nothing to reduce the federal budget deficit. Over 60 percent of its spending cuts come out of programs for lower-income Americans. Its tax cuts for the rich reduce revenues by $4.6 trillion over the decade while saving the typical millionaire hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

The GOP’s looniness doesn’t even stop there. Republicans remain unwaivering in their support of state laws allowing or encouraging the profiling of Latinos. And unrelenting in their war against gay rights. 

It’s not just women, seniors, budget hawks, the poor, Latinos, and gays who are catching on to the Republicans’ extremism. Americans who don’t fall into one of these categories are becoming alarmed, too — as they should.*

Although the GOP lurch to the right-wing margin of America may bode well for Democrats this coming Election Day, it bodes ill for America. The capture of one of our great parties by fanatics is nothing to celebrate. A democracy needs at least two sane political parties.

*See: GOP War on the Middle Class: the RNC dumps support for the mortgage interest deduction

Morning Bunker Report: Tuesday 5.29.2012

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

Mitt Romney said Monday he wasn’t concerned about Donald Trump’s commitment to the “birther” conspiracy, one day before the GOP presidential candidate hosts a fund-raiser alongside the celebrity business magnate. Asked on his charter plane whether Trump’s questioning of President Barack Obama’s birthplace gave him pause, Romney simply said he was grateful for all his supporters. “You know, I don’t agree with all the people who support me and my guess is they don’t all agree with everything I believe in,” Romney said. “But I need to get 50.1% or more and I’m appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.” — CNN

  • Another missed opportunity to lead — By Romney’s reasoning, decency is irrelevant — he should partner with anyone, no matter how vile, so long as it furthers his ambitions and gets him more votes. — Steve Benen 
  • Peggy Noonan: Romney needs to cut ties with Trump ‘freak show’ — “My view is that the Romney campaign made a mistake. There was a certain freak show atmosphere to the Republican primaries in the past six months or so. Now that’s kind of over, the show is over. Mr. Romney wins the nomination tonight. Texas will put him over the top. This is a good time to differentiate himself with the stranger aspects of the Republican race. One way you don’t do it, I think, is do a fundraiser with Donald Trump. He was part of the freak show aspect.” – Raw Story

Political purity over representing your constituents: Top Conservatives Warn GOP Not To Waver On ‘Obamacare’ — “The Club for Growth supports complete repeal of Obamacare. And complete doesn’t mean partial. It means complete,” said Barney Keller, a spokesman for the group. “We urge the so-called ‘tea party’ Republicans to keep their promises to voters and continue to fight for complete repeal as well.” [...] Dean Clancy, who leads health care advocacy for FreedomWorks, said the group “would be very concerned about bills to resurrect parts of Obamacare.” He said Republicans should take no responsibility for the broken system that would result. “It would be the height of folly for Republicans to say, OK, this is our problem now,” he said. “It’s not the Republicans’ fault if 25-year-old slackers suddenly are dropped from mom and dad’s health insurance policy. It’s not the Republicans’ fault if various other provisions of Obamacare are no longer on the books. … The American people need to have a chance to reflect on the fact that the Democrats basically rammed an unconstitutional bill down their throat.” – TPMDC

Mormonism 101: Is Mitt Romney the ‘White Horse’ in Mormon prophecy?  – That’s the one in the old Mormon prophecy attributed to Joseph Smith, which predicts that after the banks fail and when the Constitution is nearing collapse, Mormons flush with wealth — the White Horse, in the prophecy’s metaphor — will rise and lead America back to greatness. [...] “You will see the Constitution of the United States almost destroyed. It will hang like a thread as fine as a silk fiber,” the prophecy has Smith saying. But “it will be preserved and saved by the efforts of the White Horse,” who will “stand by the Constitution of the United States as it was given by the inspiration of God.” There will be a Black Horse — American blacks, as the text is commonly interpreted — that sides with England and France, but eventually they’ll all submit to the White Horse as the religion fulfills its world-conquering destiny in an Armageddon-style war with the Russians—while keeping an eye on the looming threat of China. – POLITICO

  • Romney and the White Horse Prophecy – [It] is not the LDS cosmology that is relevant to Romney’s candidacy, but whether devout 21st century Mormons like Romney believe that the American presidency is also a theological position. Since his first campaign in 2008, Romney has attempted to keep debate about his religion out of the political discourse. The issue is not whether there is a religious test for political office; the Constitution prohibits it. Instead, the question is whether, past all of the flip-flops on virtually every policy, he has an underlying religious conception of the presidency and the American government. At [an earlier] GOP presidential debate in Florida, Romney professed that the Declaration of Independence is a theological document, not specific to the rebellious 13 colonies, but establishing a covenant “between God and man.” Which would suggest that Mitt Romney views the American presidency as a theological office. — Salon
  • “Some of the faithful worry that their comparatively young religion is less prepared for what they will face than Catholics were when John F. Kennedy was running in 1960, or Jews were when Joe Lieberman was the vice presidential nominee in 2000… Polls suggest a deep wariness about Mormonism persists among the American electorate. – Boston Globe | Maybe if it wasn’t so secretive? 

How Florida Gov. Rick Scott could steal the election for Mitt Romney – On Wednesday, November 7, Mitt Romney could wake up as the President-elect thanks to one man: Florida Governor Rick Scott. With little fanfare, Scott is undertaking an audacious plan to kick thousands of Floridians off the ballot just before this year’s elections. It’s a sloppy, chaotic and possibly illegal plan. But it just might work. [...] Will history repeat itself in Florida this year? By one estimate, 7000 Florida voters were wrongfully removed from the voter rolls for the 2000 presidential election — 13 times George W. Bush’s margin of victory in that state after the U.S. Supreme Court halted the post-election recount. – Think Progress

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

Two Republican Nominees: John McCain stood up to the voices of extremism in his party and the Obama campaign asks why Romney won’t do the same. (Hint: because Romney is not in possession of a backbone?):

Obama should seize the High Ground – Think about this: Is there anyone in America today who doesn’t either have a pre-existing medical condition or know someone who does and can’t get health insurance as a result? Yet two years after Obama’s health care bill became law, how many Americans understand that once it is fully implemented no American with a pre-existing condition will ever again be denied coverage? “Obamacare is socialized medicine,” says the Republican Party. No, no — excuse me — socialized medicine is what we have now! People without insurance can go to an emergency ward or throw themselves on the mercy of a doctor, and the cost of all this uncompensated care is shared by all those who have insurance, raising your rates and mine. That is socialized medicine and that is what Obamacare ends. Yet Obama — the champion of private insurance for all — has allowed himself to be painted as a health care socialist. – Tom Friedman

  • More than 1 million veterans would benefit from Obamacare – Under the Affordable Care Act, about 630,000 uninsured veterans would qualify for Medicaid, and an additional 520,000 would receive subsidized health insurance in the state exchanges, according to a study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “It is striking how many of the uninsured veterans would qualify for Medicaid under the ACA,” said the report’s co-author Genevieve Kenney. Nationwide, 1.3 million veterans are uninsured, and another 900,000 veterans use VA care but have no other insurance coverage. On top of that, about 900,000 adults and children in veterans’ families are uninsured. — Think Progress

LOL – spoof of Mitt’s “Day One” ad (actual audio) – Text shown during audio describing Romney’s repeal of Obamacare and his plan to replace it with a ‘common sense’ health care reform: “If workers get sick, they die. That’s just common sense.” – DailyKos


“A parent should not have to pay a premium to supervise and protect their child on an airplane.”From a statement Schumer sent the airline trade group, protesting additional fees for window and aisle seats.  – AP | Daily Intel

True patriotism isn’t cheap. It’s about taking on a fair share of the burdens of keeping America going. Those who earn tens of millions of dollars a year but pay less than 14 percent of their incomes in taxes, and argue the rich should pay even less, are not true patriots. Those who defend indefensible tax loopholes, such as the “carried interest” loophole that allows private-equity managers to treat their incomes as capital gains even if they risk no income of their own, are not true patriots. Those who avoid taxes by putting huge amounts of their earnings into IRAs via foreign tax shelters are not true patriots.  Those who want to cut programs that benefit the poor — Food stamps, child nutrition, Pell grants, Medicaid — so that they can get a tax cut for themselves and their affluent friends— are not true patriots. — Robert Reich

Morning Bunker Report: TGIF 5.25.2012

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

The Truth About Governor Willard and Education – “President Obama has been unable to stand up to union bosses and unwilling to stand up for our kids,” Romney charged, citing hundreds of millions of dollars contributed by teachers unions to Democratic campaigns as the cause. “We have to stop putting campaign cash ahead of our kids,” he said to applause. First of all, our kids? You mean Tagg and Bagg and Bogg and Quagg and whoever, who already have $100 miilion trust funds to send their kids to prep schools? Whatchoo mean “our,” extremely white man? But, the point here is that, while he was governor, he didn’t let cash of any kind get ahead of the “kids” in the public schools of the state where public education was pretty much invented. In 2006, he cut $37.8 million from the state’s higher education budget. Fees skyrocketed, as they did generally throughout the state. In 2003, he tried to cut $100 milion from that same budget while raising tuition by $50 million at state colleges and universities. He also wanted to slash job training initiatives and workforce training funding. Things were rather worse at the primary and secondary level, where Romney passed down budget cuts and left cities and towns holding the bag. And that’s the way it was. – Charles P. Pierce

  • Mitt Romney’s campaign bus rolled into one West Philadelphia community on Thursday, but his appearance was less than welcomed. Hecklers shouted at him to leave, and a sign featuring Romney’s “I’m not concerned about the very poor” comment was raised. — Washington Post
  •  Mitt Romney regrets saying that he likes being able to fire people. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Romney said he got frustrated whenever he made flubs like his line, “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me,” last winter in New Hampshire. — ABC News

Polluters Ran Amuck Under Romney, Says Watchdog – Just weeks after taking office in 2003, he announced a plan to centralize the state’s legal services and lay off as many as half of its attorneys, including many within the Department of Environmental Protection. In rolling out the plan, Romney’s chief legal counsel Daniel Winslow singled out environmental positions as a target for cuts in an interview with Lawyers Weekly. Critics said the move would limit the state’s ability to prosecute environmental crimes, as the DEP was already “chronically understaffed” and would likely have to drop some cases. In the end, Romney’s reorganization plan was stymied by opposition from enviros, unions, and residents. [...] His administration also cut the DEP’s budget by almost a third, and temporarily closed its Northeastern Regional Office in Wilmington, Mass. [...] In 2004, Romney’s administration was accused of suppressing a report that detailed problems within the Massachusetts Environmental Police (MEP), which enforces laws related to pollution, wildlife and marine safety. – Mother Jones

Right-Wing Billionaires Behind Mitt Romney — Presidential politics has always been a rich man’s game. But now, thanks to the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United that upended decades of limits on campaign donations, financing a presidential race is the exclusive domain of the kind of megadonor whose portfolios make Mitt Romney look middle-class. “I have lots of money, and can give it legally now,” Texas billionaire and top GOP moneyman Harold Simmons recently bragged to The Wall Street Journal. “Just never to Democrats.” – Rolling Stone

Romney wants to stop Congressional work on the economy until he’s sworn in — In an interview with Time magazine on Wednesday, the Republican presidential candidate said he wants Congress to deal with major issues to keep the U.S. from going over a “fiscal cliff” after the January swearing-in. Romney said he wants permanent legislation to deal with those problems instead of a temporary effort. Government analysts say the economy will shrink if Congress doesn’t act to prevent the expiration of two major rounds of tax cuts along with automatic spending cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs. – NYTimes.com

The same Senate Republicans who pushed for massive spending cuts are now hitting Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid for insisting that Congress abide by them. — Politico

NO WASTEFUL SPENDING: The Missouri House “spent more than $1,100 in taxpayer money on a security camera to keep watch over a new bronze bust of conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh.” The small-government conservative talk show-host was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians during a closed-door ceremony last week. — Think Progress

Things that are hilariously real:

Source: secure.mittromney.com

Yes, that’s Mitt Romney’s signature on the poster of birther Donald Trump asking you for a $3 donation. As recently as two days ago on May 22nd, Donald Trump tweeted to ask what President Obama’s college applications say about his place of birth. That’s not merely a wink and a nod, it’s an accusation of fraud. Does this mean birtherism is now an official component of the Romney campaign? — JM Ashby

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


image: barackobama

Obama has to Explain Why Fairness is Essential to Growth (and Why Some Democrats Have to Stop Believing Otherwise) – Fairness isn’t inconsistent with growth; it’s essential to it. The only way the economy can grow and create more jobs is if prosperity is more widely shared. The key reason why the recovery is so anemic is so much income and wealth are now concentrated at the top [that] America’s the vast middle class no longer has the purchasing power necessary to boost the economy. The richest 1 percent of Americans save about half their incomes, while most of the rest of us save between 6 and 10 percent. That shouldn’t be surprising. Being rich means you already have most of what you want and need. That second yacht isn’t nearly as exciting as was the first. It follows that when, as now, the top 1 percent rakes in more than 20 percent of total income — at least twice the share it had 30 years ago — there’s insufficient demand for all the goods and services the economy is capable of producing at or near full employment. And without demand, the economy doesn’t grow or generate nearly enough jobs. – Robert Reich

Here is the much-talked-about TED talk on income inequality given by billionaire venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, and his discussion of the negative impacts of income inequality on the economy. — AFL-CIO Blog


Maddow: Union-busting about making Wisconsin permanently Republican — “Killing the unions is the strategy for turning Wisconsin red, not just for now, but for generations to come in an irreparable way,” she said. “This is about partisan politics. It is about destroying Democrats’ chances of competing with Republicans.” Maddow noted that while Republican candidates are disproportionately funded by corporate and pro-business groups, Democratic candidates are disproportionately funded by public service unions — the very unions that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker targeted in his budget repair bill. “It’s not about some year’s budget, it is not even about jobs,” Maddow continued. “Since he wiped away union rights in Wisconsin, Scott Walker has racked up the single worst jobs records in the entire country.” – Raw Story

Forever Herding Cats: A coalition of liberal interest groups is pushing back on a proposal by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to extend the Bush tax cuts for individuals earning less than $1 million a year, instead pushing a proposal from President Barack Obama that would draw the line at $250,000 a year in income. — Roll Call

  • Pelosi urged Speaker John Boehner to bring up a vote on extending tax cuts for middle-class income earners “as early as next week,” when the House returns from recess. — Roll Call

Sen. Charles Schumer on Thursday responded to conservatives who had compared his Ex-PATRIOT Act to laws imposed by the Nazis. “I know a thing or two about what Nazis did,” Schumer, a Jew, said on the Senate floor. “Some of my relatives were killed by them.” [...] “Saying that a person who made their fortune specifically because of the positive elements in American society in turn has the responsibility to do right by America is not even on the same planet as what the Nazis did to the Jews,” Schumer said. – Raw Story

Campaign comparison to meeting ‘The Donald’ – via: demnewswire

Meeting a President is a once-in-a-lifetime experience—how about an evening with two:  http://OFA.BO/UWiWts

Morning Bunker Report: Saturday 5.12.2012

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

An email campaign endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) launched this week (pictured, below) depicts a rifle pointing at President Barack Obama’s head, and a message about an imaginary “million rifle ban” the president is allegedly seeking to implement. “Death threats against this president are up 400 percent as compared to President Bush,” Ladd Everitt, director of communications for The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, told Raw Story on Thursday. “We are living today in a supercharged, partisan political climate where threats of violence and violent rhetoric are everywhere, and you would think that anyone — anyone, no matter what their political views or disagreements with this president — would have the common sense and decency to not create a banner image for a conspiracy theory-fueled email that shows a gun pointing directly at [the president's] head, while simultaneously preaching to folks about some ridiculous Obama gun ban that exists only in a fantasy world.” – Raw Story

  • UPDATE — 5/11: The image housed at the website for the campaign has been changed. The rifle now points toward the head of Sen. Paul. – HuffPo

~~~

HOW ARE WE DOING AS A SOCIETY? Trayvon Martin gun range targets were sold online “to make money off the controversy,” report says – The targets reportedly do not show Martin’s face, but feature a hoodie with crosshairs aimed at the chest. A bag of Skittles is tucked in the pocket and a hand is holding a can resembling iced tea. Martin reportedly was carrying both items the night of his death.  [...] According to WKMG, the seller of the targets told them in an email exchange that the “main motivation was to make money off the controversy.” – CBS News

Harry Reid finally gets fed up with ‘mindless’ Republican obstructionism over the refusal of Senate Republicans to pass a completely non-controversial reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank on the grounds that they wanted time to offer amendments. “It’s so unusual here,” Reid continued. “I have been here in Congress thirty years, but this is a new one. Even bills that they agree on, they want to mess around with. In years past, this would have gone through here just like this [snapping his fingers]. … The House passed something 330 to 93, and we’re here playing around with it? It should be done. We should have passed it yesterday. This thing is going to expire.” “It’s hard to comprehend what the new mantra of the Republicans in the Senate, what it is,” he added. “I don’t get it.” – Raw Story

  • Reid expressed regret that he had not supported a proposed change to the filibuster rule in January 2011, but had instead entered into a “gentleman’s agreement” with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to keep it intact.
  • NOTE: If the Democrats hold their Senate majority, Democratic voters will need to remind Harry Reid and others that there can be no ‘gentlemen’s agreements’ with Republicans anymore. Ever. There is no more trust.

The 111th Congress was practically defined by Republicans who turned an extraordinary measure–the filibuster–into a routine tool of obstruction. GOP senators invoked holds and filibusters on virtually everything that came from Senate Democrats, resulting in a session that saw more filibusters than any previous session in history. This nifty graph is illustrative. [...] At this point, I’m honestly unsure of what will convince reporters to cease the constant equivalence between the two parties. Democrats aren’t angels, of course, but the Republican Party has embarked on a crusade against the norms that govern conduct in the Senate. It’s totalistic approach to politics is responsible for congressional dysfunction, and placing blame on both sides only makes the problem harder to solve. — Prospect.org

Maddow Blog: It’s a good thing we didn’t let Detroit go bankrupt: “U.S. auto sales are on pace for the best showing since 2007 and a third straight year of at least 10 percent gains, only the fourth such streak since the Great Depression, as more-confident buyers return to showrooms.”

Mediaite: Geraldo Rivera appeared on Fox & Friends on Friday where he described an intrusive inspection he had received from a Transportation Security Administration officer on a recent trip to Afghanistan. “I got manually raped by a guy,” said Rivera. “This guy, it seemed to me, was getting off on it.” (NOTE: it was a TSA pat-down, something thousands of people go through every day.)

TPM: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), on Obama: “Call me cynical, but I didn’t think his views on marriage could get any gayer.”

PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEMOCRATS————————————————————



President Barack Obama gave Congress a “to-do list” for fixing the economy in his weekly address broadcast Saturday. Obama’s suggestions:
1) ending tax breaks for companies that outsource work overseas,
2) help homeowners refinance their mortgages at lower interest rates,
3) increasing tax benefits for small businesses that hire,
4) increasing tax benefits for small businesses that hire and extending tax credits for clean-energy companies,
5) and creating a Veterans Job Corps for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who are re-entering the private sector.

“… America’s real problems have nothing to do with what we do in our bedrooms and everything to do with what top executives do in their boardrooms and executive suites. We’re not in trouble because gays want to marry or women want to have some control over when they have babies. We’re in trouble because CEOs are collecting exorbitant pay while slicing the pay of average workers, because the titans of Wall Street demand short-term results over long-term jobs, and because of a boardroom culture that tolerates financial conflicts of interest, insider trading, and the outright bribery of public officials through unlimited campaign “donations.” Our crisis has nothing to do with private morality. It’s a crisis of public morality – of abuses of public trust that undermine the integrity of our economy and democracy … .” – Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich in Of Bedrooms and Boardrooms [via: reagan-was-a-horrible-president]

Daily Kos: Tom Barrett gets an Obama campaign assist in Wisconsin recall against Scott Walker – The next election here in Wisconsin is coming up on June 5th — and it’s important to make sure your voice is heard. For the last year and a half, Governor Walker has divided Wisconsin — siding with big corporations and the super-rich at the expense of working, middle-class families. He’s broken our trust in state government: Too many Wisconsin families are out of work, students face crowded classrooms, and working men and women will be hurt by cuts to health care funding.

  • Charles P. Pierce: The microphone is always open, the camera is always on, and Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to run their midwestern subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin, is always saying the wrong thing to the wrong people. In the video in that link there, which you should really watch all the way through, the billionaire Diane Hendricks tells Walker she wants to discuss “controversial” subjects away from reporters…
  • In the video, Diane Hendricks, who owns a roofing wholesale and siding distribution company, asks Walker: “Any chance we’ll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions—” Walker: “Oh, yeah.” Hendricks: “—and become a right-to-work? What can we do to help you?” Walker: “Well, we’re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is we’re going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer.” – Daily Kos
  • Walker has said publicly before that he wouldn’t pursue right-to-work. Asked about right-to-work earlier this year by The Atlantic’s Molly Ball Walker had said, “When I was in the legislature, I supported it. It’s not something I’m pursuing right now, nor have any plan of pursuing. Again, private-sector unions have been our partner in the economic revival we’ve had in this state.” — Buzzfeed

Asked whether he would be at a disadvantage politically if gays galvanize behind Obama’s reelection campaign, Romney said, “Hopefully, people are focusing on the major issues of the day, which relate to our economy, getting people back to work, dealing with Syria…. But I know for many people, the issue of marriage is going to be a defining issue, and they will make their decision on that basis. That is their right. But you don’t change your position to try to win states or certain subgroups of Americans. You have the positions you have, and you know, for a long time, I think since the beginning of my career, I have made it very clear that I thought that marriage should be a relationship between a man and a women.” – NationalJournal.com

Think Progress: Insurers Will Pay $1.3 Billion In Rebates To 16 Million Consumers Because Of Obamacare – Thanks to a provision of the Affordable Care Act, 16 million consumers and businesses are expected to receive about $1.3 billion in rebates from health insurance companies, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The medical loss ratio rule requires insurers to spend at least 80 to 85 percent of premiums on patient care; if not, then the companies owe rebates to their customers. As Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius explains, “We want to know that most of what we are paying for is for health care, not advertising, executive bonuses or overhead. It’s pretty simple: we want to get a good value for our premium dollars.”

Morning Bunker Report: Monday 5.7.2012

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


MITT ROMNEY on the other hand, is proposing the exact opposite. His tax plan would give massive tax cuts to the rich. (The top 0.1% for example, would recieved a $264,000 tax cut.) Meanwhile, in a closed-door fundraiser, Romney revealed he planned to make massive reductions in education spending. He is also proposing cutting funding for infrastructure, including the possible elimination of the Department of Housing and Urban development. – ThinkProgress

THE REPUBLICANS who control the House are using cuts to food aid, health care and social services like Meals on Wheels to protect the Pentagon from a wave of budget cuts come January. The reductions, while controversial, are but a fraction of what Republicans called for in the broader, nonbinding budget plan they passed in March. Totaling a little more than $300 billion over a decade, the new cuts are aimed less at tackling $1 trillion-plus government deficits and more at preventing cuts to troop levels and military modernization. The House Budget Committee meets Monday to officially act on the measure, the product of six separate House panels. It faces a likely floor vote Thursday. — MiamiHerald

FOX NEWS: Murdoch’s most toxic legacy — My complaint is that Fox pretends very hard to be something it is not, and in the process contributes to the corrosive cynicism that has polarized our public discourse. I doubt that people at Fox News really believe their programming is “fair and balanced” — that’s just a slogan for the suckers — but they probably are convinced that what they have created is the conservative counterweight to a media elite long marinated in liberal bias. They believe that they are doing exactly what other serious news organizations do; they just do it for an audience that had been left out before Fox came along. [...] In the digital era of do-it-yourself news consumption, it is easier than ever to assemble an information diet that simply confirms your prejudices. Traditional news organizations, for all their shortcomings, see it as their mission to provide — and test — the information you need to form intelligent opinions. We aim to challenge lazy assumptions. Fox panders to them. — Bill Keller

MICHELE BACHMANN makes shit up on CBS’ Face the Nation – Bachmann: “Actually, if you look at the 2010 elections, women went Republican. They didn’t go Democrat, and they will this time as well, because women are more concerned about the economy and jobs for themselves, for their husbands, for their children, and that’s not happened because Obama’s broken his promises.”— ThinkProgress

  • FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR HOWARD DEAN responds – “Michele Bachmann has never had much command of the facts and that shows us exactly why… women are terrified of what the Republicans are talking about. They’re talking about basically stripping away their ability to have insurance pay for their birth control pills. Latinos are terrified of the Republicans because they seem to have a total tin ear when it comes to the basic needs of treating people with dignity. And the average American thinks that Mitt Romney doesn’t care about them. Here’s a guy that’s building, during a campaign, a mansion in Malibu with an elevator for his car. He had a Swiss bank account and invested in the Cayman Islands. I don’t think we’ve ever elected a president who’s invested in the Cayman Islands as a tax dodge before. This candidacy is a shipwreck, and for Michele Bachmann to go out there and claim that women are going to vote for Mitt Romney is perfectly ridiculous.” — Raw Story

JOHN MCCAIN STILL (hilariously / sadly?) trying to convince us he chose Palin in 2008 because of her ‘qualifications’ — Speaking about presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney selecting of a vice presidential running mate, McCain said on ABC’s “This Week” that the “primary, absolute, most important aspect is if something happened to him, would that person be well qualified to take that place?” “I happen to believe that was the … primary factor on my decision in 2008,” McCain said, “and I know it will be Mitt’s.” – POLITICO | Seriously. Just STFU, McCain. [image: TBogg]

RON PAUL supporters are causing Mitt Romney major headaches in Nevada and Maine. 

PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEMOCRATS————————————————————

OBAMA CAMP: You’re damn right we take credit for killing bin Laden  – The Obama re-election campaign doesn’t appear fazed by attacks from the right about “politicizing” the killing of Osama bin Laden, and on Sunday remained on offense over what it said was one of the president’s accomplishments. “The president hasn’t been spiking the ball,” said President Obama’s senior campaign adviser David Axelrod on ABC’s This Week. “This was the one-year anniversary. It’s part of his record. And it’s certainly a legitimate part of his record to talk about.” Axelrod said Obama followed through with his promise that catching the al-Qaeda leader would be a top priority. “And then he ordered a mission that was — was, frankly, risky, dangerous,” he said. “Bob Gates said it was one of the most courageous, one of the gutsiest decisions he’s ever seen a president make. And it turned out successfully.” Axelrod was responding to an outside conservative group’s ad — hailed by Karl Rove and widely discussed in the conservative blogosphere — that utilizes ominous music to sharply attack Obama for taking credit for the killing of Bin Laden on the first anniversary last week. “Heroes don’t seek credit,” the ad said. “Heroes don’t politicize their acts of valor.” “Yes, it’s the swift boating of the president,” the leader of the group told Mother Jones. Republicans were particularly peeved that Obama’s campaign commercial about the killing quoted 2007 remarks from his likely opponent Mitt Romney saying it’s “not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars” to catch bin Laden. — TPM

  • ONE YEAR AGO, President Obama announced the killing of Osama bin Laden, ending a near-decade-long manhunt. Amid U.S. celebrations, it was largely forgotten that the delay in getting the terrorist leader resulted from blunders by George W. Bush and his neocon advisers, Robert Parry wrote in 2011. [...] Though it remains unclear what the long-term consequences of this action will be, Obama’s success – after years of Bush’s failure – does suggest one important lesson: U.S. officials would be well advised to ignore the special pleadings of the neocons who remain highly influential inside Official Washington. The neocons, along with other Bush advisers, exploited the 9/11 tragedy to justify a policy of inserting U.S. military forces into the heart of the Arab world to the detriment of bringing the masterminds of 9/11 to justice. That miscalculation did horrendous damage to both the United States and the people of the Middle East. It also allowed Osama bin Laden to remain at large for more than nine years. — Consortiumnews

LEARNING FROM THE MISTAKES OF OTHERS?

Hollande versus Sarkozy via Flickr FRENCH ELECTIONS: “Mr. Normal” defeats “President of the Rich” — The defeat of the most unpopular French president ever to run for re-election was not simply the result of the global financial crisis or eurozone debt turmoil. It was also down to the intense public dislike of the man seen as “President of the Rich” who had swept to victory in 2007 with a huge mandate to change France. Most French people felt he had failed to deliver his promises, and he was criticised for his ostentatious display of wealth, favouring the rich and leaving behind him more than 2.8 million unemployed. Political analysts said anti-Sarkozyism had become a cultural phenomenon in France. The turnout was high, estimated at around 80%. Hollande is the first Socialist president since Francois Mitterrand’s re-election in 1988. Thousands of cheering supporters, including many intellectuals and arts figures, massed at Paris’s Place de la Bastille, a flashpoint of the 1789 French revolution, where the left celebrated Mitterrand’s first historic victory in 1981. [...] Hollande’s manifesto is based on scrapping Sarkozy’s tax breaks for the rich and levying more from high earners to finance what he deems essential spending, including creating 60,000 posts in France’s under-performing school system. He has pledged to keep the public deficit capped but for his delicate balancing act to work he needs a swift return to growth in France, despite economists warning of over-optimistic official growth forecasts that need to be trimmed. — Raw Story 

  • GREECE ALSO rejects austerity – In a major upset that will not be welcomed by the crisis-plagued country’s eurozone partners, the two forces that had agreed to enact unpopular belt-tightening in return for rescue funds appeared headed for a beating, with none being able to form a government. After nearly 40 years of dominating the Greek political scene, the centre-right New Democracy and socialist Pasok saw support drop dramatically in favour of parties that had virulently opposed the tough austerity dictated by international creditors. — Raw Story
  • FOUR YEARS LATER and apparently the “give rich assholes free money” strategy isn’t work out so well. — Duncan Black
  • THE GERMANS will cling to their fantasies of prosperity through pain, and will insist that continuing with their failed strategy is the only responsible thing to do. But it seems that they will no longer have unquestioning support from the Élysée Palace. And that, believe it or not, means that both the euro and the European project now have a better chance of surviving than they did a few days ago. — Paul Krugman

THE FRENCH ELECTION offers good and bad news for Obama. “For President Obama, the sight of Nicolas Sarkozy, a fellow member of the Presidential class of 2007-2008, being sent packing by French voters will bring mixed feelings…When the campaign turns to questions of economics, what is happening in Europe should provide Obama with plenty of arguments with which to flay his opponents. Republicans say they want to slash government spending and focus on the deficit regardless of the immediate economic situation. The Europeans have carried out that experiment, and, to say the least, it hasn’t turned out very well. From this side of the Atlantic, the American economic recovery seems pretty impressive. After more than three years of economic stagnation, most Europeans would gladly take G.D.P. growth of two-to-three per cent and an unemployment rate of eight per cent.” — John Cassidy in The New Yorker.

WOMEN ARE the richer sex, if by “richer” you mean “making less money.”

I wrote about this subject on Equal Pay Day, before I came across Bryce Covert’s fabulous Nation post “How to Close the Gender Wage Gap In Just Seven Easy* Steps.” (Do read it for serious policy ideas written with verve.) One of her steps: raise the minimum wage. See? Easy! — Are Women the Richer Sex?

“Somehow, firing people with jobs became the Republican strategy for job creation…”

“Somehow, firing people with jobs became the Republican strategy for job creation. People who taught our children; policed our streets; picked up our garbage; put out our fires; built and maintained our parks, libraries, and roads for a living wage became the scapegoat for the impoverishment the private sector imposed on workers. Instead of organizing to win back their own living wages and lost benefits, people were convinced that taking away those of government workers would somehow make them better off. Divide and conquer politics. The politics of fear, hate, greed, envy and spite. The race to the bottom. Orchestrated by plutocrats, executed by conservatives, allowed by Democrats.” – John Atcheson

via: christopherstreet

Morning Bunker Report: Tuesday 4.24.2012

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

ROMNEY WILL NOT APOLOGIZE for his ‘magnificent’ French vacations — “I have a lot of memories of France. I think the best memories were with my wife on vacations, from time to time in France,” the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said at a press conference here with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. “The last vacation we had there, walking around the city of Paris, not just in the Champs-Elysees, but also over to the Jardin of Luxembourg and around the city, as one of the most magnificent cities in the world and I look forward to occasional vacations again in such a beautiful place.” Romney just last week accused President Obama of “jetting around the world” and, asked by National Review about exorbitant spending by the General Services Administration that’s now under investigation, said Obama’s “elaborate vacations” set a bad example. [GovExec: Romney gushes over 'magnificent' Paris]

Watch Romney tell students worried about student loans to go to a cheaper college — Or they could just inherit lots of money, like he did. Boot straps!


LEAKED STRATFOR EMAILS reveal anti-Obama predjudice. Embarrassing details continue to dribble out of the 5 million emails leaked from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, including the firm’s reference to President Barack Obama’s administration as the “Barry Hussein” White House. The remark, made by Stratfor Vice President Fred Burton, appears to be a racially-charged insult aimed at the President Obama’s middle name. [...] Burton, the firm’s VP of intelligence, was a distinguished counter terrorism agent in the U.S. State Department before joining the company. More recently, he’s held posts in the Texas government, advising on security issues. [...] In previously released emails, Strafor analysts discussed the White’s House “weakness and wimpiness” towards China, and speculated the president would lose support of a billionaire Democratic donor “unless Obama finds a spine.” The firm also closely monitored Mitt Romney’s views on international affairs, particularly his views on China. [Buzzfeed]

TAMPA STRIP CLUBS PREPARE for the Republican National Convention Tampa Gold Club and Scores Gentlemen’s Club & Steakhouse … have been gearing up for the onslaught of normal, family-oriented, churchgoing, upstanding members of society. Club remodels are underway, with upgrades in everything from furniture, lighting and booze to higher end strippers with fewer thigh bruises. — TampaBayTimes via Wonkette

FOX IS NOT NEWS: Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy will on Tuesday clarify a partially fabricated quote from President Obama. – TPM

AUSTERITY FOR THE REST OF US: Which state had the largest decrease in employment last year? That would be Scott Walker’s Wisconsin! — Think Progress

BUSH YEARS FOREVER!* (*the one percent wishes) – RNC Spokeswoman: Republican Economic Platform Will Be The Bush Program, ‘Just Updated’ Because the worst incomes and jobs record since Herbert Hoover was just an accident. – Paul Krugman

WHAT ARE THE GOP FRESHMEN up to today? …now our deficit hawks want to continue the Bush tax cuts, enact more tax cuts for the rich, expand our already bloated defense budget, and now they have even given up on their token issue to pretend they cared about spendingHypocrisy alert: House Republican freshmen are begging their leaders to bring back a certain type of earmark so that they can help companies back home in an election year. Balloon Juice

PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEMOCRATS—————————————————————-


Buzzfeed: President Barack Obama strikes the Heisman pose, while presenting the U.S. Air Force Academy football team seniors with the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy today. The Air Force beat the Army and Navy in 2011 to claim the trophy for the 18th time. (Getty Images / Chip Somodevilla)

THE YOUTH VOTE: MITT ROMNEY AGREES WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA on student loans. “…I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans. There was some concern that would expire halfway through the year, and I support extending the temporary relief on interest rates for students, as a result of student loans, in part because of the extraordinarily poor conditions in the job market.”Think Progress

THE LIBERAL MEDIA has consistently given more positive coverage to likely Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney compared to President Barack Obama, according to a new survey of media coverage from the Pew Research Center’s Excellence in Journalism Project. During the early weeks of 2012, Romney’s media coverage was slightly negative—between January 2 and February 26, 33 percent of the stories about the ex-Massachusetts governor were positive and 37 percent were negative, according to Pew’s analysis. But Romney has received mostly positive coverage since then (47 percent positive to 24 percent negative). By contrast, according to the report, President Barack Obama “did not have a single week in 2012 when positive coverage exceeded negative coverage.” The media’s overwhelming focus on “strategy” and Obama’s consistently negative coverage indicate that a preoccupation with public policy and an unwillingness to criticize the president are two afflictions the mainstream press is not suffering from. – Mother Jones

  • So much for that vast left-wing conspiracy – “There will be an effort by the quote ‘vast left-wing conspiracy’ to work together to put out their message and to attack me. Many in the media are inclined to do the president’s bidding.” — Mittens Romney, last week

SCOTT BROWN IS BAFFLED BY THE MEANING OF HYPOCRISY – Earlier this year, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) began criticizing his main Democratic rival, Elizabeth Warren, for being a “hypocrite.” The argument went like this: Warren makes a fair amount of money, but she’s an advocate for struggling, working families. Ergo, she’s guilty of “hypocrisy.” — Maddow Blog

THE ARGUMENT DRIVING DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION to Republican austerity cuts  …high debt levels aren’t directly responsible for the economic slowdowns that typically accompany them. Instead, the economy can slow because high debt often prompts policymakers to impose fiscal austerity measures that can hamper the economy, particularly one that’s already in recession. — Suzy Khimm

BILL O’REILLY CALLS ROBERT REICH A COMMUNIST, Reich challenges O’Reilly to  debate him ‘like a man– “It’s like being back in the 1950s,” he said. “This communist witch hunt that has suddenly been launched. The irony is that there are not even many communists left in the world today. It would be one thing if we were back in the 1950s, but there is not a communist threat. [...] Reich challenged O’Reilly to debate him “person-to-person, like a man.” “But he doesn’t have the guts to debate,” he added. — Raw Story

The Republican Strategy according to George Carlin and Robert Reich:

The Republican Strategy” via Robert Reich:

The Republican strategy is to split the vast middle and working class – pitting unionized workers against non-unionized, public-sector workers against non-public, older workers within sight of Medicare and Social Security against younger workers who don’t believe these programs will be there for them, and the poor against the working middle class.

By splitting working America along these lines, Republicans hope to deflect attention from the big story. That’s the increasing share of total income and wealth going to the richest 1 percent while the jobs and wages of everyone else languish.

The GOP has effectively split the middle and working class with social issues like God, guns, and gays for 30 years, deflecting attention from the ever-increasing income disparity between the richest one percent and the rest of us. The GOP will continue to use this strategy until it doesn’t work anymore.

Judging from the current crop of Republican presidential candidates, it will continue to work for a long, long time.

Related:

The wealth of Congress has TRIPLED in 25 years and other info you’ll never see on Fox “News”

Let the GOP / Teaparty continue to argue that federal workers are the enemy — it’s complete fiction but it’s essential to the Republican Strategy. Here are some facts you’ll never see reported on Fox “News”:

The wealth of members of Congress has TRIPLED in 25 years while the average U.S. family has suffered a DROP in their worth

The wealth gap between those governing the U.S. and the people they represent has dramatically widened, research shows.

Against a backdrop of a vast budget deficit and fears of the fragility of the economy, analysis by the Washington Post shows that the median net worth of a member of Congress has nearly tripled over 25 years while the income of an average U.S. family has actually fallen.

It calculated that their median net worth, between 1984 and 2009 and excluding home equity, rose from $280,000 to $725,000.

But the GOP tells us that federal employees are the problem.  Federal salaries see worst growth in a decade, analysis finds

Federal salaries rose an average of 1.3 percent in fiscal 2011 compared to 1.2 percent average pay growth for private sector workers, according to USA Today analysis.

The sluggish salaries, held down by a pay freeze and tight budgets, did not exceed inflation, the paper noted.

The average federal worker made $75,296 during that period, plus $28,323 in benefits, such as health care and retirement packages, the analysis found, adding that the government workforce has higher average education levels than the private sector and includes more professionals and specialists.

Pitting worker against worker, here is “The Republican Strategy” in part:

The Republican strategy is to split the vast middle and working class – pitting unionized workers against non-unionized, public-sector workers against non-public, older workers within sight of Medicare and Social Security against younger workers who don’t believe these programs will be there for them, and the poor against the working middle class.

By splitting working America along these lines, Republicans hope to deflect attention from the big story. That’s the increasing share of total income and wealth going to the richest 1 percent while the jobs and wages of everyone else languish.

Divide and conquer the sheeple. That’s all the GOP has to offer in any election. Especially when their biggest idea consists of tax cuts for the wealthy paid for with austerity for the rest of us. Hooray!

Related: