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July 30, 2012

On Romney Bullying

Please watch, very short. From US Politics | AMERICAblog News: This man is having none of Romney's bullying:

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:53 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Another New York Times Columnist Attack On Social Security And Medicare

The New York Times contains another elite-columnist attack on our Social Security and Medicare systems today. This time it's in the form of an op-ed by Bill Keller. Recently and regularly, New York Times columnists David Brooks and Tom Friedman have also gone after the things We, the People do for each other.

First, The Basics Of The Borrowing

Any discussion of our deficit/debt "crisis" must start with a few quick points about the history of the "crisis":

1) January 26, 2000, Clinton to Propose Early Debt Payoff,

President Clinton said Tuesday that the budget he will send Congress on Feb. 7 will propose paying off the entire $3.6-trillion national debt by 2013--two years earlier than had been expected even a few months ago.

2) 2001 Alan Greenspan said we needed to pass the Bush tax cuts because we were paying off the debt too quickly.

3) Bush said it was "incredibly positive news" when the budget turned from surplus to deficit because budget deficits meant there would be pressure to cut entitlements. Bush wanted to continue the "strategic deficits" plan to "starve the beast" that was launched in the Reagan years.

Republicans are following a decades-old shock-doctrine plan:


  • Use tax cuts and military spending increases to create terrible deficits that add up to massive debt,

  • Then use the resulting "debt crisis" to scare people (esp elites like Keller, Brooks and Friedman) into cutting democratic government and our ability to control the billionaires and their corporations.

But cutting government doesn't mean the costs go away, it means that we each have to bear those costs ourselves, on our own, without the help of the rest of us. This is really about cutting democracy so the very rich can be even very-richer.

The Attack

With that out of the way, let us now turn to the latest elite attack on entitlements -- those things We, the People are entitled to: the fruits of the prosperity that democracy brings us.

In a NY Times op-ed, The Entitled Generation, Bill Keller writes about the "bloat" of projected entitlement spending, blaming "baby boomers" for future budget shortfalls, because they will need to retire without living in absolute poverty, and get health care.

He writes that because budget cuts have us spending less than we should on infrastructure investment, therefore we should also spend less on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. "In 1962 ... [a]bout 32 cents of every federal dollar, excluding interest payments, was spent on investments, only 14 percent on entitlements. In the mid-70s the lines crossed. Today we spend less than 15 cents on investment and 46 cents on entitlements. "

Keller writes, "So the question is not whether entitlements have to be brought under control, but how. " (These greedy seniors don't understand that the situation has changed -- we have cut taxes for the very wealthy and increased our military spending to prevent the Soviet Union from invading. Who do they think they are?)

Finally, ignoring the People's Budget, the Budget For All, the Schakowsky Deficit Reduction Plan and all the other sensible budget plans that have been proposed by progressives, Keller writes, "At least the Republicans have a plan. The Democrats generally recoil from the subject of entitlements."

Keller praises "bipartisan authors of the Simpson-Bowles report" -- even though there was no "Simpson-Bowles report." The commission couldn't come to agreement and issued no report. As for the "bipartisan" Simpson and Bowles, he is referring to former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, and member of the Board of Directors of Morgan Stanley Erskine Bowles. (Please click the link.) ("Bipartisan" as used by elites like Keller apparently refers to even and odd numbered addresses on Wall Street -- the crowd that gets the money if our Social Security system is dismantled.)

Social Security

Our Social Security system is critical to human beings and our economy, just like hospitals, highways, schools and power plants. It is a core institution, used by everyone, and is absolutely vital in most people's lives. It is the foundation of our retirement security. It is our most basic protection for our families if we become disabled or die.

Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research explains just how crucial our Social Security system is to the lives of so many of us, in Bill Keller Wants to Take Away Your Social Security and Is Either Too Ignorant or Dishonest to Acknowledge that He Is Not a Typical Baby Boomer,

Does Keller know that the typical near retiree has total wealth of $170,000. This includes everything in their 401(k), all their other financial assets and the equity in their homes. Another way to put this is that the typical near retiree (between the ages of 55-64) could take all their wealth and pay off their mortgage. After that they would be entirely dependent on their Social Security to cover all their living costs.

In other words, half of near-retirees have less than that so they depend on Social Security even more than that.

We built and paid for our Social Security system. Each generation has done its part to maintain the system's foundations for over 75 years, and it has only become stronger. If the middle class can’t count on Social Security in their retirement years, what can it count on?

Social Security is a far safer bet than any other retirement savings available. It is vastly safer than a 401K, which is available only to a few anyway, and can disappear overnight. Corporate raiders can take your pension plan. You can't even count on a pension plan if you are a public employee. House prices can go up or down. But Social Security is always there for us. Even the most sophisticated investors can lose everything, but you can't lose your Social Security. Social Security is the one retirement system that really works.

Social Security is the most successful government program, and that is why so many elites hate it!

Medicare And Medicaid

A government budget cut is really like a huge tax increase on regular people because it increases what each of us pays for the things government does -- or forces us to go without. This is because cuts in government spending don’t actually cut the cost of things, they just shift those costs onto each of us on our own.

For example, if you cut the the government's Medicare or Medicaid budget our health problems don’t disappear, but each of us has to find ways to pay the cost of medical care or a nursing home on our own, with no help, often at a time when we are stressed by illness.

In Cost of Medicare Equivalent Insurance Skyrockets under Ryan Plan the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) explains what happens to the cost of health care if Medicare is eliminated. Summary: it shifts the costs to us, except each of us ends up paying seven times as much as the same care costs under Medicare. This is because Medicare covers millions, and that economy-of-scale means the government can negotiate bulk discounts, etc. that we cannot get on our own. From the CEPR explanation:

[The Republican] plan to revamp Medicare has been described as shifting costs from the government to beneficiaries. A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), however, shows that the [Republican] proposal will increase health care costs for seniors by more than seven dollars for every dollar it saves the government, a point missing from much of the debate over the plan.

... In addition to comparing the costs of Medicare to the government under the current system and under the [Republican] plan, the authors also show the effects of raising the age of Medicare eligibility. The paper also demonstrates that while [the Republican plan] shifts $4.9 trillion in health care costs from the government to Medicare beneficiaries, this number is dwarfed by a $34 trillion increase in overall costs to beneficiaries that is projected ...

Our health problems won’t disappear just because government cuts out Medicare and Medicaid. But the costs of treating – or not treating – those health problems will now fall on us, individually, on our own, instead of aggregated through the mechanism of democracy. And that is money that would otherwise be spent elsewhere in the economy.

The Money

So where do we get the money to pay our bills, if not from the things We, the People do for each other? Get the money from where the money went.

Start by ending the Bush tax cuts! The Bush tax cuts not only cut marginal tax rates for the wealthy, they cut taxes on capital gains and dividends -- money you get just for having money. And it dramatically cut the tax on income inherited from wealthy parents -- more money that one gets just because one already has money! But ending the Bush tax cuts is just a start.

Reagan dramatically increased the military budget: In 1980, before Reagan, the Defense Department budget was $134 billion, by 1989 it was $303 billion. But that was nothing. In 2000, before 'W' Bush, it was $294 billion. By 2008 it was $616 billion. But that doesn't count military-related items outside of the Defense Department. Depending on how interest debt is applied, total military spending is between $1 and $1.4 trillion. (And, by the way, wars are expensive.) ("Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes." –Tom DeLay)

Fix health care. Today Mitt Romney praised the way that Israel's socialized health care system keeps costs low. WaPo: Romney praises health care in Israel, where ‘strong government influence’ has driven down costs,

He praised Israel for spending just 8 percent of its GDP on health care and still remaining a “pretty healthy nation.”

“Our gap with Israel [on health spending] is 10 points of GDP,” Romney said. “We have to find ways, not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to fund and manage our health care costs.”

... Israel created a national health care system in 1995, largely funded through payroll and general tax revenue. The government provides all citizens with health insurance: They get to pick from one of four competing, nonprofit plans. Those insurance plans have to accept all customers—including people with pre-existing conditions—and provide residents with a broad set of government-mandated benefits.

Get the economy moving again. Jeeze, instead of saying because we stopped investing in infrastructure therefore we need to cut other things, how about investing in infrastructure? We have millions of jobs that need to ing and millions of people looking for jobs. And we can finance it for free. The payoff will be enormous, all those people no longer needing unemployment and food stamps, all those people and construction companies paying taxes again, and the resulting economic growth cutting the debt-to-GDP ratio.

Don't Be Fooled By Elites Hating On Entitlements

Don't be fooled: this is really about shifting from democracy to a system where we are on our own, up against the wealthy and powerful. This is about shifting from a system where we can all be prosperous to a system where a few have all the wealth and power.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:55 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Report: Offshoring Of Manufacturing Capacity Leaves America Vulnerable, Unprepared

A new report says American is too dependent on non-US suppliers. If there were to be a catastrophic event or serious emergency -- or war -- our country could not respond quickly enough, because of the offshoring of critical manufacturing sectors and a reliance on foreign suppliers.

The Report, Preparing For 21st Century Risks: Revitalizing American Manufacturing to Protect, Respond and Recover was co-authored by Tom Ridge, the first secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Robert B. Stephan, a former Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security for Infrastructure Protection. It is is the first comprehensive analysis of America’s growing reliance on global suppliers, and its effect on our national preparedness and security.

From Washington Post, Reliance on imports leaves U.S. vulnerable to disasters, report says,

The report, which Ridge shared with homeland security officials Tuesday morning, warns that the offshoring of U.S. factories means that rebounding from a catastrophe will be more difficult because so many critical supplies would have to come from overseas.

We are a country at risk because we’ve ignored the gradual erosion of our manufacturing basis,” he said in an interview. “We’ve ignored the need to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.”

Citing the aftermath of disasters such at Hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the report adds to the long-running debate over whether the offshoring of U.S. manufacturing has harmed the nation.

“At a time when the frequency of large-scale disasters seems to be increasing, the U.S. seems to be at an all-time low in terms of being able to supply our own critical needs,” said Scott Paul, director of the Alliance for Manufacturing, which sponsored the report by Ridge and Robert B. Stephan, who was an assistant secretary of homeland security from 2005 to 2008.

Paul said, for example, that half of the world’s steel comes from China.

The report says that our increasing reliance on foreign suppliers for steel, cement, batteries, and critical high-technology components and even every day medical supplies such as antibiotics and penicillin results in risks to our preparedness and security. These risks include insufficuent access to or delays getting needed materials and products. Right now, no U.S. plant produces key ingredients for antibiotics, leaving us more vulnerable to pandemics and possible bioterrorism attacks.

From the press release, New Report: U.S. Too Dependent on Foreign Suppliers in Crises:

The report recommends taking a two-track approach to reduce vulnerabilities and to build the capacity to respond and recover quickly and efficiently in the aftermath of a catastrophic disaster. Some recommendations include:

• Develop a plan to make the restoration of a strong American manufacturing sector a key component of both national and economic security strategies.

• Reinvest in America’s infrastructure, using U.S.-made materials.

• Incentivize the revitalization of American manufacturing, including the use of domestic-content preferences that maximize the power of federal procurement funds.

• Enforce trade laws to ensure a level playing field for U.S manufacturers and their workers facing unfair competition.

• Invest in the American workforce to ensure we have the trained workers needed to rebuild our infrastructure and work in a larger, more modern manufacturing sector.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:54 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

The Republican Machine

More indications that the Republican propaganda machine rules. The public thinks the Obama administration is corrupt. This is most likely because of the anti-Solyndra campaign by the oil companies. They claim that "campaign donors" got the business, even though the main private investors were the right-wing Walton family. Americans Want Next President to Prioritize Jobs, Corruption

Politico, Poll: Corruption is No. 2 issue for 2013,

Notably, corruption ranks ahead of issues such as reducing the federal budget deficit (86 percent), dealing with terrorism (86 percent) and continuing Social Security and Medicare (85 percent).

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:57 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 29, 2012

Romney Strategy: Provoke Middle East Riots For TV News Here

Reading Romney's speech today, he is undermining decades of US policy in the Middle East, and obviously trying to provoke the Arab world. (See previous post.) His goal is to provide riots across Arab countries, resulting in video on American TV of angry Arabs burning US flags.

The idea is to scare people here into supporting him, and blaming Obama.

The end result could well be war in the Middle East.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:43 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

So Much For "Politics Stops at the Water's Edge"

To understand the damage Mitt Romney did to the country today, please read Why politics stops at the water's edge by Dave Winer

I'm talking first about Romney undermining decades of US Middle East policy by declaring Israel's capital to be Jerusalem, and second by encouraging Israel's right-wingers to attack Iran.

Excerpt:

Overseas, we're all on the same team. It's about keeping the country strong, and that's something Romney believes in, if you take him at his word. If a foreign leader were to get the idea that he or she could choose who they negotiate with, then the US is only one half as strong as it would be if there were only one go-to guy. If 25 people have equal power, then each represents a country with the sway of a third-tier power. Gone is the power and prestige of the United States.

The only way it works in favor of the United States is if we are united. Work out our differences here, and all our power will be represented overseas. But we only have one President at a time. And if you're playing on our team, you have to respect the wisdom of that rule.


Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:34 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Climate Emergency - Please Watch

Hate to do this to you, but you need to know. David Roberts - Climate Change is Simple:


Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:24 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 27, 2012

He's Not White (video) - updated

That's what this ad really says. Look at the ad with the sound off, and you'll see it.

Stunning, an ad with a doctored audio in it that makes it seem Obama said something that he didn't, and then the ad goes on with people saying "I can't believe he just said that."

He didn't say it, it's a lie.

PS We're not allowed to know which billionaire, company or country paid for this ad, by the way.

Update - Ed Kilgore, Washington Monthly Political Animal, Return of the Scary Black Man,

Looking at the particular Crossroads ad Chait’s talking about, it is striking that all the “small business owners” who are reacting with horror to the highly edited Obama excerpts are white, and are watching him on what appears to be an iPad—like you’d watch some scary figure—maybe a criminal—in a distant news event. One through gritted teeth growls that she “worked—for—every—thing—we’ve—gotten”—a sentiment you hear often from middle-class retirees as well as “job creators.”

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:28 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 26, 2012

Urgent, Must-See, Must Spread!

Please watch this, visit their page, and email this to everyone you know, including your right-wing brother-in-law: The Story of Change / The Story of Stuff Project:

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:07 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

In Case You Don't Believe They Really Mean To End Social Security And Medicare

Nick Gillespie on C-SPAN, Talking About Ending Social Security, Medicare; Reveals What Planet He Lives On

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:30 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 25, 2012

On Romney Saying He Is Anglo Saxon, Obama Foreign

How many Republicans - including Romney himself - called Obama "foreign" this week? And what about this thing where Romney makes the point that he is "Anglo Saxon" and Obama isn't?

My theory: Romney's racist attack - "foreign" and "Anglo Saxon" - are about locking in a certain voter who would otherwise vote against Mormons.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:19 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Today's Must-See Video! ALEC-Style

Mark Fiore on How a Bill Becomes a Law -- ALEC-Style | Center for Media and Democracy

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:26 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Blame Public Employees

Here is the equation: city revenues down because sales taxes down, Wall Street scams, etc. Therefore blame public employees, lay off teachers & firefighters, pay them less, cut pensions, contract out to minimum wage outfits, etc.

They spend less, sales taxes down even more, blame them more, repeat...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:27 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 24, 2012

You Thought It Was Gone?

Brilliant: We Quit You, Keystone XL (It's Not Us, It's You)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:50 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 23, 2012

Not The Time To Talk About It?

Wow, every conservative I see and hear is saying the same thing: "this is not the time to talk about gun control."

Some are even pretending to be outraged that anyone would bring up such a thing when the families are in mourning, etc.

Romney: Not The Right Time To Talk About Gun Control

Christie says now is not the time to talk gun laws, let families mourn

Someone posting on a message board:

... now is most emphatically NOT the time to talk about changing gun laws. ... Now is the time to grieve and mourn, not the time to legislate.

Random Conservative blog: Not The Time,

I'll say that guns did not kill 12 people and wound dozens more in Aurora, Colorado, an evil man did. But now is not the time to talk about guns. Now is the time to give our condolences to the families of the victims.

Too Soon! Howard Kurtz Whacks CNN for Talking Gun Control Hours After Shooting,

In his Sunday show Reliable Sources, CNN host Howard Kurtz smacked the network for debating gun control less than 24 hours after Friday's tragic Aurora shooting.

"I feel so strongly about this – how about waiting a decent interval, maybe a day, until, you know, the families have had a time to absorb the shock, the victims have been identified," opined Kurtz, after calling out CNN by name. "Why this rush to do it immediately?"


Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:36 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Is It Moral And Ethical To Have $250 Million?

Question for discussion. Is it moral and ethical to have $250 million?

This is so much more than anyone needs, for anything. What's the point?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:35 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

SURPRISE!!! Austerity's Big Winners Prove To Be Wall Street And The Wealthy

Austerity's Big Winners Prove To Be Wall Street And The Wealthy,

The poor and middle classes have shouldered by far the heaviest burdens of the global political obsession with austerity policies over the past three years. In the United States, budget cuts have forced states to reduce education, public transportation, affordable housing and other social services. In Europe, welfare cuts have driven some severely disabled individuals to fear for their lives.

But the austerity game also has winners. Cutting or eliminating government programs that benefit the less advantaged has long been an ideological goal of conservatives. Doing so also generates a tidy windfall for the corporate class, as government services are privatized and savings from austerity pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens.

No, it can't be!!!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:06 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Romney Taxes - Worse Than You Can Imagine

Mitt Romney refuses to let us see his tax returns. He understands this means that we will all speculate on what is in them.

This means that what is actually in them could be even worse than the things we can imagine.

SO let's do some imagining.

Mitt Romney has been backing NAMBLA - the North American Man-Boy Love Association.

Mitt Romney is heavily invested in blood diamonds. And organ harvesting.

Remember - anything is fair game. Romney is betting that we can't come up with anything as bad as what he is hiding.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:56 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 22, 2012

Colorado Murder Gun Was Illegal Till 2004

The weapon the guy used in Colorado -- and assault rifle with a drum magazine that can hold 100 rounds -- was illegal under the federal assault weapons ban.

But the federal assault weapons ban was killed by Republicans in 2004,

Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Michael Castle, R-Del., said they were disheartened. "My leadership is playing Russian roulette," Shays said. "There will be without question a horrific crime committed without an assault weapon ban, and every member of Congress will have to ask where were they on this issue."

Castle said gun manufacturers have offered discounts and pre-orders for months. "The gunmakers are salivating," he said. "I hate to think of what can happen now."

The public wanted the ban extended but what the public wants doesn't count. USA Today: Popularity can't extend '94 assault weapon ban,

The law's demise is playing out against a curious backdrop: Several polls have indicated that there is broad public support for the ban, and both President Bush and Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry say they support it.

... Meanwhile, a poll released this week by the National Annenberg Election Survey found that 68% of Americans support renewing the ban.

68% wanted it extended. It was effective. But the NRA had the big money...

P.S. Mexico -- Calderon Blames Violence On End Of U.S. Gun Ban,

Mexican President Felipe Calderon said drug-related violence is being fueled by illegal imports of U.S. guns that have surged since a ban on assault weapons ended in 2004. “The violence in Mexico started when the assault weapons ban expired,” Calderon, 48, said today in an interview on the “Charlie Rose” program airing on PBS and Bloomberg Television.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:25 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos

I'm on Virtually Speaking Tonite 9ET with Marcy Wheeler

Virtually Speaking

Listen live 6pm pac bit.ly/OW1C8u

Marcy Wheeler @emptywheel and Dave Johnson @dcjohnson exchange views, commenting on the corporate media's Sunday morning talk shows and their own observations from the past week.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:53 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 21, 2012

Romney Buying Twitter Followers?

Money can buy lots of things, and one thing Romney has is money - but he didn't have Twitter followers. So... Is Mitt Romney Buying Twitter Followers?

Go look at the evidence. All of a sudden starting at 5pm Friday Romney gains 100,000 new followers, out of nowhere.

Busted. Again.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:08 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Crucial To Understand This

Everyone needs to understand this about climate change: Global Warming's Terrifying New Math by Bill McKibben

Summary:

1) We have to try to hold warming to 2 degrees Celsius, we're at .8 of that now with huge storms, drought, floods and all kinds of effects. It gets dramatically worse from here - crop failure, famine, running out of water, rising seas, mass extinctions ...

2) To hold at 2 degrees we can put no more than 565 gigatons CO2 into atmosphere.

3) Current proven coal, oil and gas reserves is 2,795 gigatons even if we discover no more. That is 5 times what we can burn and stay at 2 degrees. That is $20 trillion in oil company assets, they will fight to the death to be able to burn that carbon. If they do it is the death of billions of us, and the ecosystem.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:19 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

July 20, 2012

Today's Episode Of 'Guess Who's Paying For This One'

Heritage Foundation: Dodd-Frank Regulations Strangling Economy at Two Year Anniversary

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:44 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 19, 2012

Deceptive New Romney Ad Is Key Test For Media

The Romney campaign has released an astonishingly deceptive new ad, containing a blatant, flat-out lie. The new ad actually edits together snippets of words and sentences to make it sound as if President Obama said something he did not say, and then attacks him for saying it. How will America's news media respond? Will the public be informed that they are being lied to? And if not, what comes next -- "photos" of the President robbing a bank?

The New Romney Ad

This is the new Romney ad, intended to shock opinion leaders enough to move public scrutiny away from the problems of his tax returns, conflicting statements about when he was or was not at Bain Capital, and possible possible illegal conduct.


Here is what the President actually said: (from Monday's post, The Latest Lie: "You Didn't Build That")

President Obama pointed out that businesses did not build the roads and bridges that help them get their products to markets. He said that in the United States we succeed together. Here is the full quote:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

Media MUST Take Sides On This

What is the purpose and function of our news media? This country was once a self-respecting democracy and the purpose of the news media was to provide needed information to the public so We, the People could make informed decisions. And people who entered the journalism profession did so to serve as watchdogs of the public interest.

That was then. Today, many say that the purpose of the media -- and everything else -- is to make money for those who own it. And that means respecting and never, ever going against those with the most money. And today the ambition of many in the profession is to follow a corporate career path, maybe eventually land a major-media gig. Going down that path means playing ball, not making waves, and most of all not being branded as "anti-business." And all that means, of course, never, ever going against those with the most money.

This new journalistic model -- never, ever going against those with the most money -- is what the Romney campaign is counting on today.

In this model news is supposed to be "objective" and "not take sides" as long as you take a side against those who are not "business friendly." The new standard for news reporting is to follow a "he said, she said" storyline. And always throw in a dose of "both sides do it" false equivalence.

So what about when a big, flat-out, blatant lie -- a knowing fraud with clear intent to deceive people -- comes down the pike? What should journalists and news organizations do then? Should they pass the buck over to snarky "two pinnochio" pretend-fact checkers, or should they take it on and warn the public?

This ad is a key test of the direction of our national news media.

The media can't just take the usual "one side said, the other side said" approach, because we can see what "one side" actually said and it isn't at all what "the other side" says was said. This ad is just a lie. It is a fraud against the public and democracy for a campaign for President of the United States to do this.

So, news media, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to warn the public? Or are you going to claim that "both sides do it"?

Questions For Comments

Leave a comment, what do you think?

How should the news media respond when something like this -- so far out of the boundaries of conduct for American Presidential campaigns -- comes along? How should the media handle blatant lies?

Is this the most deceptive ad in Presidential campaign history?


This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:10 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Elections Based On Lies Bring Policies That Hurt Us -- See Update With Astonishing Lie

Note -- see the update at end of post, in which the Romney campaign uses astonishingly doctored audio, to make it seem as if Obama said something he never said.

Early in this campaign the Romney team put out an ad with a doctored Obama quote. Now Romney is again claiming Obama said things he never said. The billionaire-corporate-funded right-wing media machine drives the lie to millions. This might well work, which brings up a question: If someone gets into office based on lies, what kind of policies result? Those policies help the people pushing the lies, but do those policies help or hurt us in the real world in the long run?

The Lie The First Time

In November the Romney campaign was caught editing a quote in an ad to make it sound like Obama had said something he never said. The ad portrayed Obama as saying, "If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose," when Obama had really said (four years previously), "Senator McCain's campaign actually said, and I quote, 'If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose."

The Romney campaign defended this use of lies, saying they are just showing they are willing to do what it takes to win. The Boston Globe reported, "Romney aides even said they were proud of the reaction and suggested that the ad was deliberately misleading to garner attention."

At the time Thomas B Edsall wrote in the NY Times,

"...the spot’s direct duplicity is also the latest step in the transgression by political operatives of formerly agreed-upon ethical boundaries. What was once considered sleazy becomes the norm."

And so the sleazy became the norm for the Romney campaign.

The Lie This Time

The sleazy became the norm, so they're cranking it up. This time, the lie machine is telling people that President Obama said that business owners didn't build their businesses, government did. What President Obama actually said was that businesses did not build the roads and bridges that help them get their products to markets:

Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that.

The billionaire-corporate lie machine version? Heritage Foundation: Obama Tells Entrepreneurs "You Didn't Build" Your Business.

Watch the beginning of this FOX News segment, note how the editing actually shows Obama's mouth moving, before they bring the sound up partway through what he is saying, then listen to the commentators as they pretend this is what Obama actually said. (Of course they know this is not what he actually said, which makes the performance so shocking.)
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The lie is propelled through the right-wing media: FOX News, Wall Street Journal and other Murdoch-owned papers, Limbaugh and the rest of talk radio, Washington Times, Weekly Standard, NewsMax, WorldNet Daily, hundreds of right-wing blogs, etc., and then posted by paid operatives as "reader comments" at local news sites, hundreds of sports and auto and other discussion forums, and many, many other places until it "becomes truth."

Watch the kind of crap that much of the public is hearing from almost every media source many of them are exposed to. Seriously, make yourself watch the whole thing, and then think about how many people watch FOX News or listen to talk radio or read the Wall Street Journal or one of the other newspapers that pushes this stuff, or read right-wing blogs -- and even CNN. There is a huge corporate-billionaire-funded media machine pushing this stuff, and it seems it is almost everywhere now.
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And then, once it "becomes truth" the Presidential candidate repeats it. WaPo: Romney Hits 'Didn't Build That' Obama Remark

Romney: "I’m convinced he wants Americans to be ashamed of success … [but] I don’t want government to take credit for what individuals accomplish” ...

FOX News dedicated 2 hours, 42 segments, to pushing the lie. CNN even helped push the lie.

So, once again, the lie machine is working to "kinda catapult the propaganda."

Policies Resulting From Lies

What is the result when policies are made, based on lies?

If you believe that Iraq is refusing to turn over their chemical and biological weapons, and that invading that country will be a "cakewalk," then you want Iraq invaded. We all know how that one worked out.

If you believe that cutting taxes increases government revenue, then you want taxes cut. The real-world result, of course, is huge budget deficits -- and dramatically increased income inequality.

If you believe that President Obama's policies made the jobs emergency worse, then you support the anti-government policies that fired teachers and police officers and cut off unemployment benefits for desperate people. (The last month of Bush's Presidency the economy lost 815,000 jobs. Now it is gaining jobs.)

If you believe that we shouldn't be trying to win a share of the new green industries (lies about Solyndra and saying the Chevy Volt is flammable) then you vote for oil-company-backed policies that leave us dependent on oil and coal and refuse to combat climate change.

Basically, look at the results of most of the policies the country has followed since Reagan, and you get the picture.

Reagan Revolution Home To Roost -- In Charts

Reagan Revolution Home To Roost: America Is Crumbling

Reagan Revolution Home To Roost: America Drowning In Debt

Finance, Mine, Oil & Debt Disasters: THIS Is Deregulation

The Reagan Ruins

Revisiting the Reagan Nightmare

Reagan's Mean-Spirited Legacy of Economic Disaster

The Real Effect Of 'Reaganomics'

Third World America: Reagan Revolution Drags Us Down

You Aint Seen Nothin Yet

And this latest lie is just a warm-up. The corporate-billionaire-funded machine will seriously be in operation in October, just before the election. The lies will be all over the place, and democracy doesn't have an advertising budget.

Update - We Hadn't Seen Nothin Yet

The Romney campaign has released an ad with astonishingly doctored audio -- even more doctored than the FOX video above.

The Plum Line: The Morning Plum: Romney video deceptively edits Obama speech to make it sound anti-business,

So here’s where this is going. The Romney campaign is out with a new Web video hitting Obama over the “don’t build that” quote. It features a business owner who is angry at Obama for supposedly insulting his hard work. “My hands didn’t build this company?” the man asks. “Through hard work and a little bit of luck, we built this business. Why are you demonizing us for it?”

But the video deceptively edits Obama’s remarks to seamlessly link up two different parts of the speech, removing a chunk in order to make Obama’s remarks seem far worse than they are.


What Did He Really Say?

Here is what the President actually said: (from Monday's post, The Latest Lie: "You Didn't Build That":

President Obama pointed out that businesses did not build the roads and bridges that help them get their products to markets. He said that in the United States we succeed together. Here is the full quote:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:07 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

But The Chevy Volt Is Flammable

Ford recalls 2013 Escapes; engines can catch fire | Business

Ford Motor Co. is telling owners of one version of the brand-new Ford Escape not to drive the SUVs until dealers can fix fuel lines that can crack and spill gasoline, causing engine fires.

But the Chevy Volt is flammable!!!!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:24 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 18, 2012

More On Romney & Bain's SEC Filing -- Was It Fraud?

In Bain's SEC Filings I wrote, "Key point: those SEC forms reassure Bain partners that Romney WAS running things after 1999. Tons of $$ involved. If he wasn't that's fraud." On Sunday's Up With Chris Hayes a former Bain partner seems to have confirmed my theory.

In 1999 Mitt Romney left Bain Capital to run the Olympics. But SEC filings and many other documents have turned up that claim Romney was still running Bain. This matters because after stories started to circulate that Bain was heavily involved in offshoring jobs to China, Romney has been insisting that he wasn't there when Bain was doing the offshoring. (Never mind that he never asked them to stop doing that...)

My thinking is that the partners at Bain Capital insisted on maintaining the appearance that Romney at the helm to reassure their partners -- investors, banks and buyout targets -- that they were stable after Romney left when really they were not. They trusted Mitt and maybe there was a big danger of them pulling out of deals if they thought Mitt was not coming back. If Romney wasn't there and they were assuring these companies that he was (and Romney insists he wasn't there), that's fraud (and conspiracy, with Romney signing the forms), never mind false signing of SEC forms. Fraud by Bain and fraud by Romney. And big money was on the line, so there was a lot of motive there.

As I wrote the other day, I interviewed Bain partner Ed Conard on the Fairness Radio program on May 16. I was pinning him down on how much risk Bain was taking to justify the huge returns they received, and he started talking about how their reputation is what holds all their partners to Bain. I wrote about this here, including links to the audio.

Then on Chris Hayes' show this last Sunday Conard was on, and said quite a few things that I think might confirm what I was thinking. If you look at this as Romney suddenly leaving the firm to take on the Olympics job, which Conard talks about, and the firm scrambling to figure out what to do about this sudden departure which has left all the bankers, investors and buyout targets hanging, and the firm trying to reassure them things were stable, you see what I am talking about. Conard talked a few times on Hayes' show about Romney's "franchise value." In other words, he means those partner companies wanted to see the name Romney at the helm of the firm.

So you see the motive for the double answers here -- that he was and he wasn't. The firm's partners had a huge financial motive at the time to tell people Romney was there, and Romney went along with that ruse by signing things, and now Romney has a big motive to explain that he wasn't really there. He's calculating that public anger over offshoring (see Bain "Offshoring" Is A Big Deal Because Voters Want American Manufacturing) is a greater risk to him than people figuring out that he and Bain were committing fraud ten years ago.

Also by the way the fact that the firm didn't put someone else at the helm, and as they say were running it with some kind of council of the firm partners, also tends to confirm what I suspect. If they officially put someone else in charge the people they were doing business with would learn that Romney (with all his "franchise value") was not there running things. So the big question "so who was running Bain after Romney left?" really is the question, and they were hiding the fact that Romney had left, because various people they were doing business with might have pulled out.

Once again, if I am correct this was a fraud on those investors, banks and buyout targets. The statute of limitations has run out on this, but there is conspiracy, and there is Romney's campaign still.

Here is Ed Conard on Up With Chris Hayes. With the above in mind, watch Ed Conard explain things, and tell me this doesn't appear to confirm what I think is/was going on.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:03 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

Those 2010 Romney Tax Returns? Not.

Turns out that the 2010 taxes he showed us -- were, uh, missing ... uh ... a few things.

Mitt Romney Taxes For 2010 Not Fully Disclosed

Romney released his 2010 tax return in January of this year, a document that first informed voters about the existence of his Swiss bank account and financial activities in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. But people who own foreign bank accounts are required to file a separate document with the IRS that provides additional details on such overseas bank holdings, and Romney has not released that form to the public.

... Nevertheless, Romney's omission of the form from the earlier disclosure raises questions for tax policy experts about the function of his Swiss bank account, and whether or not Romney used other offshore bank accounts that did not generate interest.

"The campaign has never told us why he had a Swiss bank account," said Rebecca Wilkins, senior counsel for federal tax policy at Citizens for Tax Justice, a nonprofit tax reform group. "It just looks bad."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:07 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 17, 2012

So DID Mitt Romney Really "Create Jobs" At Staples?

Did Mitt Romney really "create 100,000 jobs" with Staples? Simple answer: only if no one else was selling office supplies, stationery, etc. before Staples came along. What Staples did was force many competing stationery, office supply and computer stores out of business, probably shifting their employees into lower-wage jobs. Staples was just one more part of the Wal-Martization of our economy in the last few decades. In our system the wealthy few have the power to lay people off or force pay cuts and then pocket the difference for themselves. We have to come to grips with that, and fix the system.

Job Creator?

Mitt Romney says he should be President because he and his company Bain Capital created 100,000 jobs at Staples and "created jobs" at other companies that Bain took over. So ... did Mitt Romney really "create jobs" at Staples? Or did he and Bain really just follow the Wal-Mart model, using the advantages that come with having large, national chains, putting a number of local, smaller businesses out of business, while shifting a lot of people into lower-paying jobs? Understanding the difference is important because Romney says he will help the country "create jobs" the way he helped "create jobs" at Staples.

He says his experience is just what is needed to solve our national jobs emergency. He wants to apply the methods that "created 100,000 jobs at Staples" to the entire country. He says he will cut regulations and cut government and make the country more "business-friendly." This means we should take a good look at Staples and the rest of the companies Mitt Romney and Bain Capital and others like them operated, and decide if this is really the way We, the People want to go.

Staples

Staples grew into a major chain because they consolidated what different kinds of stores sold, offering a one-stop-shop for stationery products, office supplies, office-furniture, computers, etc. They also were able to be competitive because of the advantages of scale as they grew into a national chain, centralizing functions like accounting, purchasing, legal, marketing, etc. And never underestimate the power of having a ton of cash at your disposal. This is all just smart business, well executed.

As Staples grew it overtook competing chains like Businessland and others. In other words, Staples took business from other, existing stores -- often local retailers. Staples did not “create” jobs, it shifted office-supply jobs from local stores, etc., probably to lower-paying jobs. (The former owners of local businesses certainly were worse off from this.) They likely even lowered overall office-supply, stationery, etc. employment in the larger economy.

Low Wages?

How do these"Romney job creator" jobs stack up against other jobs? Average Staples salaries for job postings nationwide are 51% lower than average salaries for all job postings. The pay at Staples appears to be around $8-10 an hour. That's $16-20,000 a year, certainly not enough to support a family, or even pay rent in many areas, never mind buying food. (The 2012 poverty guideline for family of four is $23,050.)

Wal-Martization

Big, national chain stores like Wal-Mart have tremendous advantages over local businesses because they are able to take advantage of scale. They buy from manufacturers and distributors in mass quantities, which means they can demand lower prices from them, and offer lower prices to customers. They can centralize accounting, HR and other management functions and employ these people in-house instead of contracting with local accounting firms, etc., also enabling them to offer lower prices.

And when they are big enough they can squeeze, and squeeze and squeeze their workers for lower wages and fewer benefits, their suppliers for discounts and other concessions, and even their customers by reducing support and staff, again enabling them to offer lower prices.

This is just the kind of "job creation" that makes a few people really wealthy at the expense of the rest of us, "hollowing out" the middle class.

(Here's an industry secret --those multi-page advertising supplements that come in the Sunday paper are profit centers for the chains, not an advertising expense. The market power of these big chains enables them to demand "market development" payments from product manufacturers and distributors before they can gain shelf space, effectively making the newspaper and other advertising into profit centers instead of advertising costs.)

The Effect On America

I wrote about the impact of this "squeeze them all" business model on the American landscape in Lorain, OH Keep It Made In America Town Hall Meeting:

As you drive from town to town in Michigan and Ohio you see one after another a ring of the "big box" stores and national chain stores around each city. You also see the "brownfields" of rusted-out, closed factories, empty, falling-down buildings. Then you go to the downtown and you see boarded up houses, empty storefronts, deteriorating and deteriorated communities, idle people standing on corners. As you drive into these towns you can just see what is happening in a nutshell.

You used to hear about how Wal-Mart was predatory, how it would show up in an area and after a while the downtowns would dry up, local business-owners would go broke, local business employees would be laid off, and the local people would have to work for low wages at Wal-Mart, while the region's spending money would go off to the wealthy few who run these things.

Well a juicy story of devastation like that one gets around, and there are those who hear it and say, "Hey, that's a great idea, I wanna get me some of that." So the Wal-Mart business model has taken off and now there are any number of these vultures, ringing the cities and towns around the country, so often private-equity owned. They are draining away the lifeblood of the downtowns, fighting off the unions to keep wages down, even demanding tax breaks to move in and "create jobs." You see all the same stores circling every town now, running all of the local and regional businesses unto the ground.

Restructuring?

The changes in our economy that are hollowing out the middle class come from the restructuring that Wal-Martization represents. (And bad trade deals, never forget that.) Big, national chains have natural advantages over small, local businesses. And when they are big enough they have the power to squeeze employees, suppliers and even customers. The same kinds of advantages also hold for other industries.

Big, multinational corporations have advantages of scale over smaller companies. Etc., throughout our system. And big companies have tremendous power to squeeze workers, making them accept lower pay and benefits. They have the power to squeeze suppliers and customers as well.

These giant companies even have the power to squeeze communities and even states, demanding tax concessions with the threat of relocation. This has put our tax base in a downward spiral along with our wages.

These giant businesses have the wealth and power to force changes that move the benefits of business and our economy entirely to a few at the very top.

The Playing Field

As I wrote above, this is all just smart business, well executed. Business are just neutral bundles of contracts that operating on a playing field of laws and regulations. They only do what we let them do with the laws and regulations that we set out there for them to operate under, and those that do that the best and smartest win the game.

But why would We, the People allow businesses to do things the way Wal-Mart and the rest do them with the terrible results we see all around us? Don't we want businesses that benefit all of us? Isn't that the point of having a We, the People country? Don't we want businesses that pay good wages, provide good products and services, and pay us back with taxes that enable us to have good infrastructure, internal improvements, and public structures like good schools, universities, courts, police, firefighters, health care, retirement and a fair share of all the other benefits of modern society?

Why is the playing field defined in a way that is so obviously hurting us and funneling all the benefits of our economy to a very few at the top? This restructuring is occurring the way it is because we let these businesses do these things to us. Businesses are not good or bad -- they can't be, they are not sentient and do not have morals. They are just bundles of contracts. Again, businesses are neutral, operating on a playing field defined by us. We can change that.

Our problem today is that a few people are able to change the rules of that playing field, for their own benefit. Once we allow money to influence our government decision-making and our public attitudes and understandings at all, then of course it will influence that decision making to their advantage, and will do so more and more as they gain more wealth and power from it, until there is nothing left. This is the road we are on.

The playing field is tilting and tilting and We, the People are starting to fall off the edge.

What Can We Do?

Cut to the chase. We currently operate under an economic paradigm, or system, in which the Romneys have so much power they can fire masses of people or force people to take pay cuts, and then pocket the difference for themselves. They can squeeze their suppliers for greater and greater concessions and then pocket the difference for themselves. We have to come to grips with that.

Romney/Bain didn't really create jobs with Staples, they put small office and stationery retailers and other already-existing competitors out of businesses and moved the workers from those outlets into jobs at Staples that pay very little. In other words, they didn't create 100,000 jobs, they lowered 100,000 people's wages.

Romney made his money opertating on a playing field of business rules that let him and Bain and Wal-Mart and the rest do what they do. They were all able to tilt that playing field in their favor using the wealth and power they already had, and they tilted it in ways that gain them more wealth and power.

Mitt Romney gained his wealth and power on that playing field, and is campaigning with a promise to further tilt that playing field in favor of the few who already have great wealth and power.

We can change those rules. We can demand better pay, higher taxes at the top, better products, better service, and all the things sensible people would demand if We, the People were really in charge.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Note - while researching this post I came across Jonathan Tasini making a number of these points in the LA Times in January, in Not all jobs are equal,

Even if he's telling the truth by some measures, the fact is that private equity buyouts often enrich those who arrange them by sharp cost-cutting, including dismantling pay and benefits for most of the workers who remain or new hires who join the more "efficient" enterprise. It's simple math: To service the huge debt taken on in virtually every buyout, workers take cuts. And the new jobs aren't necessarily a path to the American dream.

Take Staples, which Romney trumpets as one of his successes. The company certainly pays some of its employees well: Staples Chairman and Chief Executive Ronald L. Sargent received a total pay package of more than $15 million in 2010. But jobs in retail — one of the fastest-growing job sectors in recent decades — tend to pay poorly, and Staples jobs don't seem to be an exception to that rule.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:57 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

The Latest Lie: "You Didn't Build That"

Did President Obama tell business owners they didn't build their businesses. That's what the entire right-wing media machine is saying he said. What did he really say?

Drudge Report headline: "Obama Goes Wild: 'If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen'..."

Drudge links to the Washington Times, which writes, "President Barack Obama addressed supporters in Roanoke, Virginia on Friday afternoon and took a shot at the business community. President Obama dismissed any credit business owners give themselves for their success:"

Heritage Foundation: Obama Tells Entrepreneurs "You Didn't Build" Your Business

Heritage writes: "That sound you hear is silence—as millions of small business owners and entrepreneurs were left speechless this weekend from President Obama's latest insult."

And so on across the right-wing media machine. Imagine the talk-radio discussion today!

What Did He Really Say?

President Obama pointed out that businesses did not build the roads and bridges that help them get their products to markets. He said that in the United States we succeed together. Here is the full quote:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

This is not "insulting," it is just the way it is. We, the People (government) invested in the internal improvements -- infrastructure -- that enables our businesses to thrive.

Nuts

PS, Heritage then goes seriously off the deep end:

Obama pushed his policy goals of infrastructure (aka stimulus) spending and "government research" as part of a collectivist utopia "doing things together." It's simply stunning that he would tell Americans, "If you've got a business—you didn't build that."

Heritage mocks the idea that We, the People (government) should maintain our country's internal improvements (infrastructure)! Heritage says infrastructure and research and "doing things together" are part of a "collectivist utopia?" We, the People -- democracy -- are "collectivist?" Deep end, people, deep end. Get back in the children's pool.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:56 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 16, 2012

10th

Today is this blog's 10th anniversary!

Go here, start at the bottom, scroll up. July, 2002.

Ten years ago we were still reeling from the Bush v Gore Supreme Court decision appointing Bush President, where they ruled that allowing the counting of all of the votes would "threaten irreparable harm" to George Bush.

It was the blogs that showed people that there were lots of other people who were upset, who saw things going on that were not right, the the national media and the elite pundits were full of shit, that people were not alone!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:58 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 15, 2012

You're So Bain

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:17 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 14, 2012

Bain's SEC Filings

Key point: those SEC forms reassure Bain partners that Romney WAS running things after 1999. Tons of $$ involved. If he wasn't that's fraud.

Mitt Romney says he left Bain in 1999, and had nothing further to do with managing the company. The reason this is important is that soon after 1999 Bain was doing all kinds of things to send jobs to China. They were not just sending jobs to China, they were investing in companies that "pioneered" all kinds of ways to make money helping other companies move jobs out off the county.

The Obama campaign ran ads about this, so "fact checking organizations" tried to help out the Romney campaign by saying that Romney departed Bain in 1999. Romney is demanding an apology from Obama. (Never mind that Romney, running the firm or not, did nothing to STOP Bain from sending our jobs to China...)

BUT they didn't get away with that. Talking Points Memo turned up SEC documents filed by Bain that claimed Romney was "Chief Executive Officer, President and Managing Director" at the time Romney claims he was not there.

Fraud?

Romney still claims he wasn't there, that this filing was just a technicality. But this really matters, because the firm had reason to assure business partners that Romney was still running the company. On May 16 I was co-hosting the Fairness Radio radio show. We interviewed a former Bain partner, Ed Conard, who said that Bain's competitive advantage was the reputation of its management. This is why partners came to them and invested, why companies let them take over, etc. So the people at Bain were very conscious of this.

Bain partnered with investors who were putting tens of millions into deals. They wanted reassurance that the Bain management they were comfortable with was in operation. If Bain was claiming Romney was still there in SEC documents, I think this was fraud, it was about reassuring partners and co-investors and businesses they were buying that their management was in place, stable, and had the reputation that was so important to them.

This is a big deal.

Click to hear Fairness Radio show interview with Ed Conard. Starting at 21:15 minutes Conard talks about the value of Bain's business reputation.

It's at 103:00 in the following, (but the slider is easier to use in the above link) (PS host introduces me as Huffington Post -- I'm not an employee there.):

Listen to
internet radio with The Fairness Doctrine on Blog Talk Radio

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:31 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

We, the People

We, the People are supposed to be in charge. Why would we allow an economic system that don't serve We, the People? Why allow businesses that don't pay well, make things that last, provide service and pay back taxes to cover the infrastructure that supports our businesses?

Why would we allow corporations whose only purpose is "to make money for shareholders"? What kind of We, the People system would ever allow that?

Who is our economy for?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:23 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

WTF Moment -- US Olympic Team Uniforms Made In China

The U.S. Olympic team's uniforms were made in China? This might be a WTF moment for the country, over the practice of sending our jobs, factories, industries and economy to China for the super-enrichment of a few. What next, a President made in China?

Made In China

ABC News discovered that the US Olympic Committee is "partnered with" American designer Ralph Lauren for the uniforms. But ABC looked at the labels and found that every single item was made in China or elsewhere, not in the United States.

This is symbolic of something very important. Americans are universally tired of looking for American-made goods in stores and finding only goods made in China. People are increasingly coming to understand that the practice of closing factories here and moving the manufacturing and jobs to China, to take advantage of the lack of democracy that results in low wages and poor environmental standards, is the cause of the job fear here that is hollowing out the middle class, while greatly enriching a few at the top.

So people are fed up, and it is crystallizing. Things like this could be the trigger-point that brings this issue to the surface of public discussion. Heck, maybe it could even be enough to get Mitt Romney to put his actions where his campaign speech is, and tell Republicans in Congress to allow a vote on the currency bill!

Burn Them And Start Over

Senate Majority Leader expressed the feelings of many Americans:

"I am so upset. I think the Olympic committee should be ashamed of themselves. I think they should be embarrassed. I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference on taxes. "If they have to wear nothing but a singlet that says USA on it, painted by hand, then that's what they should wear," he said, referring to an athletic jersey.

Olympics Says Screw You

In a statement, the U.S. Olympic Committee defended the choice of designer Ralph Lauren for the clothing ... "Unlike most Olympic teams around the world, the U.S. Olympic Team is privately funded and we're grateful for the support of our sponsors," USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement. On Twitter, Sandusky called the outrage over the made-in-China uniforms nonsense.

Republicans Say Screw You

As reported by the Washington Post, Republicans immediately began mocking Democratic concerns over the outsourcing of the manufacturing. They assumed that Reid's clothing is made in China because they apparently don't know people who actually care about that.

Within minutes, Republicans used Twitter to ask Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson whether the senator planned to burn any of his foreign-made clothing. (They also asked whether Democrats planned to return thousands of dollars in political donations from Lauren.) In response, Jentleson posted a photograph of the label on the Reid’s suit coat: “Made in the U.S.A.” For emphasis, Jentleson carried Reid’s suit coat through the halls of the Capitol to show reporters.

These are the same Republicans who opposed requiring that stimulus dollars be used first for American-made goods, and are now running ads accusing President Obama of sending taxpayer dollars out of the country .

Profits Before Patriotism

The Christian Post, in US Olympic Uniforms Made in China, Seen as 'Profit Before Patriotism', found that the clothing very well could have been made in the USA.

"Why shouldn't we have pride not only in the American athletes, but in the American manufacturers and laborers who are the backbone of our country?" asked Nanette Lepore, a U.S. fashion designer. "Why? What's wrong? Why was that not a consideration?" Lepore insisted that it was "absolutely" possible that the uniforms could have been in the United States instead of sending the job over to China – and argued that U.S. manufactures could have even made the uniforms for less money.

The Christian Post highlighted a reader comment that sums this up nicely: (Though I'm not sure we need to "preach to the world that we are a superior Christian Nation"...)

"When all you care about is money the only thing that counts is price. We used to stand for quality, self-reliance, a commitment to excellence and the prestige that comes with it. Those virtues mean nothing anymore. Only price," offered a reader named "Joe." "We devastate our economy and society by closing productive businesses and off-shoring jobs needed here for the survival of our citizens the most precious and greatest resource we have for the sole purpose of increasing investor dividends by a few pennies a share and then preach to the world how we are a superior Christian nation advancing the goals of civilization. If we can't afford uniforms made in our own country we can't afford to be in the Olympics, period," he added.

Take Action

Petitions telling the US Olympics association to Buy American: Click to sign and tweet this petition:

.@USOlympic - do the right thing, get new uniforms #madeinAmerica 4 #TeamUSA http://act.ly/5za RT to sign #olympics #bringjobshome #1u

Online petition: http://signon.org/sign/demand-made-in-america

To be delivered to: U.S. Olympic Committee
I urge the U.S. Olympic Committee to do the right thing and have new uniforms manufactured in America for our U.S. Olympians.
Hundreds of Olympians from the United States will be competing in the Summer Olympics in London at the end of this month. These athletes represent values that make America great: hard work, determination, pride in our country and the things we can accomplish as a nation. Unfortunately, the U.S. Olympic Committee seems to have forgotten some of those values. Instead of making sure the uniforms Olympians will be wearing during the Opening Ceremony were made here in America, the U.S. Olympic Committee decided to outfit them in Ralph Lauren uniforms made in China at a whopping cost of $1945 for men and $1473 for women uniforms—more than they may have cost if produced in the United States. More than 2.8 million jobs have been shipped to China since 2001. We have lost 6 million manufacturing jobs in the last decade. The failed policies that have encouraged companies like Ralph Lauren to create jobs overseas, not in America, have hurt working families and our communities. Tell the U.S. Olympic Committee to do the right thing and have new uniforms manufactured in America that are union made for U.S. Olympians.


This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:09 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Romney/Bain/Accounts - Where Is Our Country's News Media?

Back when Bill Clinton was President there was a huge media-swarm controversy because a decade before her husband was elected Hillary Clinton had made $100,000 over ten months by investing in cattle futures. Now, skip forward to 2012. Report after report circulates about a candidate for President who owns a secret company in Bermuda, Swiss and Cayman Islands bank accounts and an IRA containing as much as $100 million -- and who may have filed SEC documents containing false information (a felony). Huge media swarm this time? Not so much.

Cattle Futures?

In the 1970s Hillary Clinton made some speculative investments. Over a period of 10 months she made investments in cattle futures that did well, earning $100,000. Later when her husband was President, the media wanted to find out how she was able to make such a large, huge, ginormous sum from speculative investments.

Take a look at the 350,000-or-so web references to cattle futures trades made by Hillary Clinton way back in the 1970s. This might give you an idea of how big a deal it was back in the mid-90's that Hillary Clinton had made $100,000 (!!!) on speculative investments back in the 1970s. (The number of stories located online is possibly reduced by the fact that the media swarm happened in the mid-1990s -- largely before the Internet.)

Look at the outlets that assigned teams of reporters to investigate: All the TV networks, the Washington Post, New York Times, Newsweek, and all of the rest of the jouranilmalism crowd were all over what was considered to be a major story.

This story was investigated, written about, investigated, written about, and investigated. No evidence of any wrongdoing was ever found -- which many in the media took as clear proof that there had been a massive cover-up.

Today - Not So Much

Today things are different. Compare the magnitude of Hillary's $100,000 profit to the recent disclosure of as much as $100,000,000 -- one hundred million dollars -- turning up in Mitt Romney's IRA which is a personal retirement investment vehicle that is limited to a few thousand in contributions each year. (Remember, the gains made in an IRA are not taxed.) Romney is already retired, and the one completed tax return he has disclosed shows that he currently has an income of approx. $450,000 per week.

So how did $100 million end up an an IRA that is limited to deposits of a maximum $6,000 a year (after you reach a certain age)? How many reporters has each major news organization assigned to find out why he has up to $100 million in an IRA?

Compare Hillary's $100,000 profit to the disclosure that Mitt Romney has a Swiss bank account. A candidate for President of the United States has a Swiss bank account? (And a Caymans bank account? And others?) Why? What is the explanation? How many reporters has each major news organization assigned to find out?

Compare it to the disclosure that Mitt Romney owns a secret company in Bermuda, which was transferred to his wife the day before he had to disclose it, or what it is or does. How many reporters has each major news organization assigned to find out why he has a secret company in Bermuda, and what that company does, how much it pays in taxes and how much money it holds, and why it was transferred to his wife the day before he took office as Governor?

Compare it to the more recent disclosure that after 1999 Romney's company Bain Capital was telling the government and other parties that Romney owned all the shares, was President and CEO and managing the place, but now says that was all a scam and he wasn't really! (That's illegal -- a felony -- by the way.) How many reporters has each major news organization assigned to find out if he lied on his SEC forms? ONE news organization did report this story -- well, actually they reported information originally uncovered by a progressive website and a progressive magazine.

Where Is Our Media?

News media. Information. Informed decision-making in a democracy. Investigative reporting. The public's need to know. What has happened to these concepts? They seem alien in today's media environment.

Our news media's purpose is supposed to be to provide the public with the information that is needed to make informed decision. It is supposed to be investigating our leaders to find out if they are really acting in our interest. Why are they not doing this at this crucial time?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:57 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 13, 2012

10-Year-Anniversary: Trade Problem

For Seeing the Forest's 10th anniversary I'll be posting a few of my favorites. Here's one, from 2005: The Trade Problem

View of San Francisco from Sausalito.

See how this ship is riding high off the water? This ship is loaded with empty containers, bound for China.

Ships come into the port loaded with goods that we buy from China. But China doesn't buy very much from us. So we have to send ships back loaded with empty containers. (Well almost empty, they're actually filled with dollars, and jobs, and the future.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:28 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 11, 2012

Job Fear From Trade Deficit Is What Happened To Jobs And The Middle Class

The middle class is disappearing. Our economy is "hollowing out" because the money goes to the top and the people fall to the bottom. This is because we allow American companies to close factories here and open them there, shipping the same goods back here to sell in the same stores, costing jobs, companies, industries and our economy. This makes us afraid for our own jobs and afraid to make waves. By helping a few at the top get fabulously rich, China has essentially recruited our own businesses leaders to fight against our own government - and us.

Yesterday's Jobs Emergency Hollowing Out The Middle Class examined the reasons that our economy has shifted in ways that enrich a few at the top while the rest of us fall further and further behind. This is called "hollowing out" because the middle class is disappearing while the money goes to the top and the people fall to the bottom. In it I quoted Dean Baker on the real cause of the hollowing out. I want to repeat this part of the post for emphasis. Baker writes that last decade's manufacturing job loss is because of the trade deficit. From the post:

Dean Baker responds, in Income Is Definitely Being Redistributed Upward, but Why Do We Think It's Technology? at the Center for Economic and Policy Research's Beat the Press, (emphasis added to emphasize):
...the piece refers to the millions of manufacturing jobs that the United States lost over the last decade. The biggest factor behind the job loss was not technology; productivity growth in manufacturing was not markedly faster in the 2000s than in prior decades. The main factor leading to job loss was the growing U.S. trade deficit.

The predicted result of an over-valued dollar is the loss of jobs and lower wages in the sectors of the economy that are exposed to international competition. However, the availability of low-cost imports raises the living standards of those who are protected from international competition.

The latter group would include highly paid professionals, like doctors and lawyers. Note that it is not technology that protects these professionals from seeing their wages depressed by competition from their low-paid counterparts in the developing world, it is deliberate policy. While it has been the explicit goal of trade policy to put manufacturing workers in direct competition with workers in the developing world, the barriers that make it difficult for qualified doctors, dentists, and lawyers in the developing world to work in the United States have been left in place or strengthened.

Once again, for even more emphasis: "The main factor leading to job loss was the growing U.S. trade deficit. The predicted result of an over-valued dollar is the loss of jobs and lower wages in the sectors of the economy that are exposed to international competition. ... it is deliberate policy."

And for more emphasis: "The main factor leading to job loss was the growing U.S. trade deficit. The predicted result of an over-valued dollar is the loss of jobs and lower wages in the sectors of the economy that are exposed to international competition. ... it is deliberate policy."

Job Fear

When you close factories and ship them out of the country people lose their jobs. And the rest of the people are afraid of losing their jobs, so they "keep their heads down." Companies can make them accept lower wages. They work longer hours. They even stop taking vacations and sick days. They certainly don't ask for raises or better working conditions. This terrible job fear everyone has helps a few at the top get even richer.

This is why corporate profits are the highest ever. From the recent post, Here Is Why Our Elites Are Not Fixing The Economy,

When we had democracy, We, the People made the rules and we ran our country and our economy for our benefit. Now that we are a plutocracy things are different. The reason our elites are not doing anything to fix the economy is because from their viewpoint, things are just fine.

... The reason our leaders are not doing anything to fix the economy is because, from the viewpoint of our real leaders, the economy is working just fine.

Trade Deficit Is The Root

From last month's post, Trade Deficit - One Root Of Many Problems,

You buy things till your wallet is empty. So you raid the savings account to buy more stuff. Then you get a loan, and buy more stuff. Another loan, another, you keep buying stuff... Finally you're selling off the tools you had used to make a living. That's where the country is now because of the huge imbalance in our trade relationships. We buy more from them than they buy from us and we have let this go on and on and on. This is the deficit we should be worried about.

The Root

Pick a national problem, and the odds are that our trade imbalance is aggravating it. Our trade deficits literally suck money out of the country. When looking up the numbers I had to double check, our annual trade deficits are so huge. In the chart below that first line under the dates represents $100 billion. Look at what happened in the late 90s, when we opened the China flodgates. (Click to enlarge):


In the 70's the trade balance dipped below zero because of oil, and the country responded with conservation and the beginning of the search for alternatives -- until Reagan. To make matters worse, Reagan preached "free trade" -- as in use cheap foreign labor to break American unions. (But Reagan also enforced rules against "dumping" and other trade violations.) The real break in our balance of trade clearly begins around the time that NAFTA and the World Trade Organization went into effect, and then went absolutely nuts after China was brought in. Between 2001 and 2009 we lost 1/3 of all of our manufacturing jobs, more than 50,000 factories, and entire industries. We drained trillions of dollars out of our economy.

Why Can't We Fix This?

This is so hard to fix because the trade imbalance that drains our country transfers great wealth and tremendous power to a few. The trade deficit results from allowing companies to just pack up American factories and industries and move them to China. This lowers labor costs, which translates to profits for the few at the top. This wealthy few use some of that wealth to buy off our government and shower us with propaganda to let them keep this scheme going. And it creates jobs fear.

Job fear makes people want to "keep their heads down," not make waves, not appear demanding or ungrateful, lest they lose their jobs. It keeps people inside. It keeps people from organizing unions. The organizers are fired, and the threat to just hire cheaper people if you don't stop this is very real. People are afraid.

High unemployment helps the rich get richer. It brings them more power. Every claim to "create jobs" gains power, be it through cutting taxes on big corporations, cutting government oversight of what corporations do, passing laws restricting unions, you name it -- hand the treasury over to big corporation sand they will "create jobs."

So don't count on the "job creators" to be creating very many jobs, as long as high unemployment means the highest profits in history, and a "job fear" public that will vote to support any big-corporate scheme that promises to "create jobs."

In Why Can't Apple Make Your IPhone In America?, presented at Netroots Nation,

When people have a say they say they want better pay, health care, retirement, vacations, sick pay, protections, worker safety, clean environment and taxes to support the country – things like that – the very things China offers to let our businesses escape from.

So what China offers is that China is “business-friendly.” Because people there do not have a say, so they can’t ask for the things people should have.

Corporate conservatives here say we should be more business friendly, we should lower wages, lower taxes, stop taking care of the environment, stop all those pesky health and safety and environmental inspections, stop telling businesses what they can and cannot do, and all the rest. They say we should be more like China.

What they are saying is that we should abandon the benefits that democracy brought to We, the People – the 99%

in order to enrich a few people – the 1%.

When we opened up our borders to goods from China, and let this treatment of workers and the environment offer advantages to our elites,

we made democracy a competitive disadvantage.

... China offers these things to our business leaders for a reason. This is the reason : China sees itself as a country, and we no longer do.

China competes with us as a country. But our businesses see themselves as GLOBALIZED, not as part of a country.

So since we – at least our businesses – no longer see themselves as part of a country we are not responding to this competition. We are not mobilizing to fight back.

In fact, China has essentially recruited our own business leaders to fight against our own government.

By helping a few at the top get rich China has essentially recruited our own businesses leaders to fight against our own government.

Again: By helping a few at the top get rich China has essentially recruited our own businesses leaders to fight against our own government -- and us.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:33 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 10, 2012

The Lie Machine Cranks Up

Drudge headline: DNC Chair Invested in Swiss Banks, Foreign Drug Companies, Bank of India...

So you click through to the story, and she DIDN'T "invest in Swiss banks," etc... Not even close.

But disclosure forms reveal that in 2010, Wasserman Schultz invested between $1,001-$15,000 in a 401k retirement fund run by Davis Financial Fund. As the fund discloses, it is invested in the Julius Baer Group Ltd. and the State Bank of India GDR Ltd., as well as other financial, insurance, bank institutions.

She invested in a 401K, and the fund in the 401K invested in another fund, and THAT fund invested in -- didn't have an account in, like Romney -- but invested in a Swiss bank.

That's the level of lying that we have in July, and the election isn't until November...

And of course the right-wing machine is running full speed with the lie, (if you are brave, glance at the comment, too): (PS - I can't stomach FOX News, are they running with it? Radio will, of course)

Don’t blame Debbie Wasserman Schultz, blonde females don’t handle checkbooks

Top Romney-Bashing Democrat Wasserman Schultz Had Swiss Bank Account

Hypocrisy: DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz also had foreign investments

While Wasserman Schultz Relentlessly Attacks Romney For Investing In Swiss Bank Accounts, Records Show She Invested in Swiss Banks, State Bank of India…

Debbie Wasserman Schultz: World’s Biggest Hypocrite

DWS: Debbie Wuvs Switzerland

Oops: DNC Chair, Fresh from Slamming Romney’s Overseas Investments, Has Overseas Investments

Democrat Attack Poodle Debbie Blabbermouth-Schultz Invested in Swiss Banks and Foreign Drug Companies

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Demands Romney Release More Tax Records, Refuses to Release Her Own

DNC CHAIR INVESTED IN SWISS BANKS AND FOREIGN COMPANIES

Debbie Wasserman Schultz: World’s Biggest Hypocrite

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:34 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Republicans Attacking Obama Because Republicans Blocked "Buy American" In Stimulus

Sometimes it is painful to live in America and to also have a memory...

In the news, Republicans are running ads attacking Obama for "sending taxpayer dollars" out of the country in the stimulus... Republicans level outsourcing accusations against Obama,

The Republican National Committee on Tuesday launched a new website charging that Obama “sent taxpayer dollars” to build solar panels in Mexico, windmills in Denmark and batteries in South Korea. The accusation involves money from the 2009 stimulus package that went to foreign-owned companies or to companies relying on foreign suppliers.

And GOP looks to paint Obama as outsourcer of stimulus dollars,

At an event in Iowa on Tuesday, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus will debut a new website — ObamanomicsOutsourced.com — that features companies that received stimulus dollars and opened factories in foreign countries. Among the examples: a solar panel factory in Mexico, windmills in Denmark and a battery manufacturer in South Korea.

... “President Obama has promised over and over that he would focus on creating ‘jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced,’ but his record speaks otherwise,” said Priebus in a statement. “Through his ‘stimulus’ program, billions of dollars from hardworking taxpayers were sent overseas.

But here is what I remember about this:

Top Republican: Scrap 'buy American' stimulus clause.

and

Debate over 'buy American' in stimulus,

A "Buy American" provision being debated as part of the Senate's nearly $900 billion economic stimulus package - requiring that infrastructure projects use U.S.-made materials and equipment - is sparking talk of a trade war and is forcing President Obama to choose whether to defend domestic industries or champion free trade.

The top Senate Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said Monday that the measure should be stripped from the bill, saying it could endanger more U.S. jobs than it protects.

"I don't think we ought to use a measure that is supposed to be timely, temporary and targeted to set off trade wars when the entire world is experiencing a downturn in the economy," McConnell said. "It's a bad idea to put it in a bill like this, which is supposed to be about jump-starting the economy."


Remember the Seeing the Forest rule: "When right-wingers are accusing others of something it is usually a cover for something THEY are doing."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:27 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 9, 2012

skippy's tenth

The tenth anniversary of the blog skippy the bush kangaroo is coming up (just 5 days before the 10th anniversary of this blog).

skippy was one of the first blog, if not the first, to put Seeing the Forest on its blogroll, helping this blog get off to a good start.

Blogging has come a long way, and not all of us have stuck with it. It has been quite an experience, struggle, adventure and urgent undertaking for all of us.

Go give skippy a great, bit CONGRATS!!!!!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:31 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Are Republicans Ready To Drop "No-Tax" Pledge?

Republicans have been holding to a no-tax pledge for decades as a strategy to undermine government. But more and more people are noticing that our schools, roads, police and fire departments, bridges, courts, food-safety system -- and everything else non-military that our government does -- are starting to fall apart. At the same time, Republican-created anti-deficit hysteria is starting to backfire on Republicans themselves. So are some Republicans starting to back off?

But First

Before any deficit discussion begins people should be reminded of one very important and relevant fact: When 'W' Bush took office we had a huge budget surplus and we were on track to pay off the entire national debt in just ten years. In other words, our country's debt would be entirely paid off by now, and there would be no emergency at all. But Bush changed some things, and said the return of budget deficits was "incredibly positive news," and now we have a huge deficit and debt. The cause of our deficits and debt has implications for any discussion of what can be done about our deficits and debt.

The Norquist Pledge

The Norquist pledge is a pledge that Republican politicians take promising to oppose any increase in tax rates, and any reduction or elimination of tax breaks or subsidies. This is the House version, the Senate version is the same, without a district.

Taxpayer Protection Pledge I, _____, pledge to the taxpayers of the (____ district of the) state of ______ and to the American people that I will: ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business; and TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.

The purpose of this anti-tax pledge is to force a reduction in government revenue, while redistributing wealth upward. Combined with huge increases in military spending (and other spending on conservative "clients" like oil and pharma) the result is ever-increasing government deficits and debt. Since the Reagan administration conservatives have intentionally created "strategic deficits." Conservatives believe this will "starve the beast," making the non-military portion of government "smaller," forcing cuts in those things conservative oppose -- health care, food stamps, environmental protection and especially enforcement of regulations on corporations.

Intentional Deficits

President Reagan reduced taxes on the wealthy, while greatly increasing military spending. This left behind huge deficits, and a dramatically-increased national debt. (It also pushed income distribution up to the top few.) President 'W' Bush used the same formula to reverse President Clinton's budget surpluses. This was effective and by the time President Obama took office the country had a budget deficit of $1.4 trillion in a single year!

Now, with the deficits maneuvered to be sufficiently high for use scaring the pubic, Republicans are engaged in an effort to pursue the goals of this decades-long strategy. Without mentioning that just a few years ago we were paying off the debt but cut taxes on the rich and dramatically increased military spending, Republicans have been engaged in a drumbeat that the resulting debt is going to destroy the country. Just two years after holding the country "hostage" in order to force an extension of the Bush tax cuts, they are trying to claim that huge deficits must force cuts in non-military spending, to make government "smaller."

Is Deficit Hysteria Backfiring?

This drumbeat of deficit hysteria is working -- effectively scaring the public into believing that we must place a very high priority on cutting deficits. However, this is occurring when people with very high incomes are understood to be paying very low tax rates. As a result many of the public believe that cutting loopholes and increasing top tax rates should be done before budgets are cut -- if actually doing something about deficits is really the point. Many Republican politicians see that the public understands this, making it difficult for them to continue to pledge not to do it.

Huffington Post: Grover Norquist Pledge Against Taxes Attracts Fewer Republican Candidates,

Rep. Scott Rigell's (R-Va.) message for up-and-coming Republicans would have been considered political heresy just two years ago: You don't have to bow to Grover Norquist to win.

"My advice and counsel to 'Young Guns' would be to not sign the Americans for Tax Reform pledge," the Virginia Republican told The Huffington Post. The anti-tax oath authored by conservative activist Norquist had, until recently, been signed by almost every Republican in Congress or aspirant.

It isn't just Rep. Rigell,

Rigell is one of dozens of GOP challengers and incumbents who have declined, so far, to take the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Their objections range from personal to political. But underneath is the belief that being locked into a pledge to never support new revenues in a debt-reduction deal is unpalatable.

Just 45 of 83 of the Republican National Congressional Committee's current crop of so-called Young Guns have signed the no-tax pledge this election season, according to a Huffington Post analysis of pledge signatures.

The Huffington Post story discusses several other Republicans who are not signing the Pledge. (click through for more.)

Turning Point?

This could be a turning point, where drummed-up concern about deficits is backfiring on Republicans. If they are really concerned about deficits, of course they will undo the things that caused the deficits. A pledge to never raise taxes or undo loopholes is in the way of actual concern about deficits, and many Republicans understand that the public gets that.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:59 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Need More Jobs And Less Sabotage

Another lackluster jobs report with 80K new jobs and an unchanged 8.2% unemployment, Keep in mind that we lost 815,000 jobs in Bush's last month, but this still is not good enough. Republicans are intentionally sabotaging job-creation efforts thinking it will help them in the coming election. How do we stop this and get things moving?

In the chart below, the red lines on the left are the Bush years. On the right are the Obama years. Those red lines just keep going down, with a job loss above 800,000 as Obama takes office. Then you see the lines shooting up -- the effect of the "stimulus." The leveling off is the effect of the program's end -- the period of Republican job sabotage.

Romney In 2006

Watch Mitt Romney in 2006 explaining why a recovery takes time:

“I came in and the jobs had been just falling right off a cliff, I came in and they kept falling for 11 months. And if you are going to suggest to me that somehow the day I got elected, somehow jobs should have immediately turned around, well that would be silly. It takes awhile to get things turned around. We were in a recession, we were losing jobs every month.”

Jobs Report

The U.S. economy has added more than 4.3 Million private sector jobs in the last 28 months, while losing

Dean Baker, writing at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Job Growth Remains Weak in June, Unemployment Steady at 8.2 Percent,

Restaurant employment grew at an average rate of 29,000 in the winter months; it has grown by just 13,000 a month over the last four months. Retail employment grew by 22,000 a month in October through January. Since January, employment has fallen by a bit more than 1,000 jobs a month.

Construction employment grew by an average of 48,000 a month from November to February. In the last four months it has fallen at an average rate of 14,000 a month. This drop is difficult to reconcile with Census data that show construction spending up 1.1 percent from February to May.

While the overall picture in the establishment data was weak, there were some positive signs. The local government sector added 4,000 jobs in June indicating that employment may be leveling off. Manufacturing added 11,000 jobs, maintaining its modest rate of growth. The health sector added just 13,000 jobs, about half the normal pace. This is likely an anomaly, but if not, it would imply a slower rate of growth of health costs.

Job Sabotage

Isaiah Poole writes in, Jobs Report: Challenge Congress To Act, Obama To Fight,

As we've repeated time and again, the corruption of the Obama agenda by the corporatists and anti-government ideologues in both political parties began when the 2009 Recovery Act emerged as a $787 billion program, more than half of which was tax cuts, instead of the more than $1 trillion in additional spending that was needed to begin adequately repairing the damage of the 2008 financial crash.

Since then, Republicans have assaulted the economy at every opportunity, forcing an austerity agenda of budget-cutting at the very time that the federal government should have been stepping up its spending in key areas, both to bring our infrastructure up to 21st-century needs and to prevent layoffs of teachers, first responders and other essential public workers by cash-strapped state and local governments. From June 2009 to May 2012, 605,000 state and local public sector jobs were cut. If public sector jobs had instead grown at the same pace as the three previous economic recoveries, there would be an extra 1.2 million jobs, and that level of additional employment would have supported the creation of an additional 500,000 jobs...

When the White House and Democrats in Congress tried several times to pass elements of the American Jobs Act, $450 billion worth of job-creation initiatives, Republicans in the House voted as a solid bloc against the efforts, and Senate Republicans filibustered the legislation. The 2 percentage-point reduction in worker payroll taxes was the only major component that survived. Among the opponents is Romney, who has argued that cutting government spending at all levels is necessary to "help the American people" even though, as Tyson said, the teachers, firemen, and police who are being laid off "are American people who help other American people."

Late last month, Congress pat itself on the back for passing a two-year surface transportation funding bill that is at best a status-quo stop-gap... The obstacle in the way was once again House Republicans, who refused to support the longer-term funding commitment needed by state and local transportation planners without numerous "poison pills," including provisions that would have authorized construction of the Keystone XL pipeline without robust environmental review and would have ended federal regulation of hazardous coal waste disposal from power plants.

If it were not for congressional Republicans' repeated obstruction or dilution of virtually every significant job-creation proposal sent to Congress since 2009, unemployment today would likely be under 7 percent instead of stubbornly persisting at around 8 percent. [emphasis added]

The Scariest Chart

Here is the chart of jobs doring this recession compared to previous recessions:



This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:57 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 8, 2012

A Clue To What's Coming

Remember the Seeing the Forest Rule: "When right-wingers are accusing others of something it is usually a cover for something THEY are doing."

So here is a clue to what's coming from the billion-dollar Republican campaign: the biggest smear and lie campaign ever "in US history.

RNC’s Reince Priebus Tears Into Obama: ‘Most Divisive, Nasty, Negative Campaigner’ In U.S. History | Mediaite

“This president has already shown that he’s not who he said he was. He claimed he was going to bring everyone together, he was going to be this uniter. He’s been the most divisive, nasty, negative campaigner this country’s ever seen without running any positive ads.”

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:56 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 7, 2012

California High-Speed Rail

Why so much misinformation? Because oil companies are against it.

California approved a high-speed rail project. The Federal government pays most of it, so California comes out ahead. The construction companies and workers will pay state taxes. They will also buy things in the state, so the state will get sales and income taxes from that as well. Also the workers won't be collecting unemployment, etc. So this doesn't cost the state, it makes money for the state, cutting our tax needs here and helping all of us.

The Federal government comes out ahead, too, because this improves the overall economy, boosting our international competitiveness, helping us all, boosting overall tax revenue, etc.

But beyond immediate state and federal tax revenue projects like this benefit our larger economy so much. It is called investment in infrastructure, and it pays off.

Thy explaining any of that to a Republican, entirely in the service of the big oil companies...

California Senate Narrowly Approves Rail Project - NYTimes.com

Several noted the incongruity of embarking on such a major project weeks after passing a budget that included deep cuts in spending on schools and other programs.

“This is a colossal fiscal train wreck for California,” said Senator Tony Strickland, a Republican. “Members, this bill is spending money we simply don’t have here in California.”

Mr. Brown heralded the vote, saying, “The Legislature took bold action today that gets Californians back to work and puts California out in front once again.”

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What Digby Said

A GOP dilemma that isn't a dilemma

It would probably be better if they just said, "Paul Ryan is a liar. Democrats have always been the protectors of medicare and always will be." But they won't.

But they won't.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:07 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

A Pop-Up AD At A House Committee Site!

Go see for yourself: http://armedservices.house.gov/.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:27 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Currupt, Ungovernable

Seeing the Forest: Golden Oldie: Did Bush Leave Us Bankrupt, Corrupt, Ungovernable?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:26 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Election What-If

What if Romney wins the election by less than the number of people kept from voting by Republican anti-voting laws?

This would be worse than the Supreme Court putting Bush in after Gore won. Partly because this time we're not going to just shut up and take it.

With Bush in hundreds of thousands of people died in wars, his tax cuts for the rich and his wars plus doubling the military budget (apart from the wars) bankrupted the country, we lost 50,000+ factories and millions of jobs to China under Bush, his deregulation led to the crash -- and Deepwater Horizon, nothing was done about climate change, corruption ran rampant, etc.

Romney would start where Bush left off.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:13 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 4, 2012

Private Companies

City privatizes its beach lifeguarding. The company does what companies do.

Lifeguard fired for helping in beach rescue in Hallandale Beach - South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com

As lifeguards are paid and trained to do, Tomas Lopez rushed down the beach to rescue a drowning man — and then got fired for it.

The problem: Lopez stepped out of the beach zone his company is paid to patrol, a supervisor said Tuesday.

... Lifeguards in Hallandale Beach work for Orlando-based company Jeff Ellis and Associates, which has been providing lifeguard services for the city's beaches and pools since 2003.

Company officials on Tuesday said Lopez broke a rule that could've put beachgoers in his designated area in jeopardy. The firm could ultimately have been sued, officials said.

"We have liability issues and can't go out of the protected area," said supervisor Susan Ellis. "What he did was his own decision. He knew the company rules and did what he thought he needed to do."

... After the incident, Lopez said his boss asked him to fill out an incident report. His boss then fired him for leaving his assigned area.

... City administrators declined to comment Tuesday, indicating that the firing was a personnel decision made by a private company.

...Hallandale Beach began outsourcing its lifeguards in 2003 as a money-saving measure. The city pays the company about $334,000 annually to provide four lifeguards and one supervisor at the beach year-round, said Dobens.

Do you know how privatizing saves money? By paying minimum wages with no benefits. A few people at the top (usually friends of the official who pushed through to privatizing) get the rest.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:48 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

Obamacare Ignorance

How many misconceptions can you spot in this letter to the editor from July 2 Readers' letters - San Jose Mercury News?

Roberts shouldn't have imposed another tax

Thank you, Chief Justice John Roberts, for imposing another tax on the American populace. I have health insurance -- it costs me the princely sum of over $1,300 a month. I have no choice (due to pre-existing conditions); but to pay the piper every month and am unable to qualify for any other health coverage.

I have to wonder what we, the taxpayers (and believe me, my husband and I pay taxes -- in proportions that are sickening) are indirectly billed for your guaranteed and unfettered health care coverage. Please allow me to add, that neither my husband or I are employed. We have been "involuntarily" retired.

You crossed the line and you know it. Shame on you. And here I thought you were a solid and steady captain in the rocky Supreme Court waters.

This is what Republicans depend on. Everything this person has been led to believe is wrong. And the news media of course does nothing to help, they just report who is "winning" and "both sides are to blame."

The cost of this person't health insurance is about to go WAY down, possibly to zero since they are unemployed. She can't get any other insurance because of a pre-existing condition, and that restriction is about to go away.

But she thinks that on top of what they pay now they are going to have to pay a huge tax.

The newspaper of course does nothing to provide readers with the correct information, they just publish the letter.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:15 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 3, 2012

Conservatives Demand Surrender To China

The worldwide battle to get away from the coal and oil industries has been underway for some time. Countries are fighting to gain a share of the new green manufacturing industries with millions of jobs and trillions of dollars on the line. Country after country is executing plans to grab a share of this new industry. But not us. Oil-funded conservatives are trying to keep us from even fighting in that war.

Oil And Coal Are The Problem

Look around you, the climate is changing, the seas are rising, terrible storms are hitting, huge fires are burning, terrible droughts are causing crop failure, and plants, animals and insects are migrating to new areas. (In DC right now you might not be able to turn on a light because of that huge, freak storm you just had, so maybe wait and look around you after the sun comes up.) We have to stop burning oil and coal, and find a way to get that carbon back out of the air.

Aside from the terrible effects of climate change, our country has a trade deficit that is partly about buying oil, and those purchases send money to places that use that money against our country's interests.

Other countries get all of this. But our country is in the grip of an oil-and-coal-funded propaganda machine that tries to keep us from getting it.

Green Job Opportunities

We are in a worldwide economic competition to build the post-oil economy. This is a competition for millions of jobs and trillions of dollars. Every country wants a share of the design and manufacturing of wind turbines, solar panels, geothermal systems, biofuels, electric cars, high-speed rail, urban and suburban light rail, advanced batteries, smart-grid power transmission systems, and all of the rest. And there is also the fight for the construction, installation and maintenance contracts for all of these systems.

Many countries are fully engaged, and have national plans to capture a share of this new industry. They compete with us as countries, and see us as a country to compete with even if we do not. Because we refuse to act as a country, we send our companies out to compete with countries, and as big as our companies are they cannot compete with the resources of engaged countries.

Conservatives Demand Surrender

Our top competitor is China. Shots have been fired; China is helping their companies compete, and this has cut solar prices. So a few American companies are going under. In response, America's oil-backed conservatives are demanding immediate surrender. In fact, they don't just demand surrender, they are giving aid and comfort, even actively helping the other side, running down America's efforts to fight for a share of the new green economy.

This huge effort by conservatives to keep our country out of the world competition for a share of the new green economy kind of makes you wonder about the secrecy surrounding all of the money that funds the conservative movement, its think tanks, media outlets, and now even funds political campaigns. We don't even know where the hundreds of millions funding these horrible, negative ads comes from! Does any of it come from our economic competitors? Shouldn't we at least be able to find out who (or where) is funding the conservative propaganda and political machine that is running down our own government and demanding we surrender the new green economy to China?

Solyndra And Chevy Volt

Conservatives celebrated the fall of Solyndra, declaring that its demise meant that green energy in general is a "bad bet," or losing technology. They also have been trying to convince people not to purchase hybrids and new technologies like the Chevy Volt. The next time you hear someone of FOX running down our country's green energy efforts, knocking the Chevy Volt or denying climate change, think abougt this: Fox's second-largest shareholder is a billionaire Saudi oil prince. Fox might just have an agenda beyond backing conservatives here. Speaking of conservatives, though, keep in mind that the Koch brothers == oil.

Abound Solar Goes Under

Last week solar panel manufacturer Abound Solar filed for bankruptcy. NY Times reports in "A 2nd U.S.-Supported Maker of Solar Panels Will Close,"

Republicans, including Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, seized on Solyndra’s failure as evidence that the Obama administration was wasting taxpayer money by supporting clean energy companies.

... The company said it could have been profitable if it had had large-scale manufacturing under way, but “aggressive pricing actions from Chinese solar panel companies have made it very difficult for an early stage start-up company like Abound to scale in current market conditions.”

Abound Solar was unable to compete with low solar prices resulting from Chinese subsidies for their own solar manufacturers. (Add to that, China's currency manipulation which keeps the prices of everything made there up to 30% lower, even bore their subsidies, trade barriers, etc.) Federal officials froze their credit line last year, after the Solyndra failure, so Abound was unable to draw on credit to scale its manufacturing to a level that could compete with subsidized Chinese imports.

Conservatives immediately stepped up their drumbeat of demands that we surrender to China. Here are a few examples of conservatives blaming America first, calling America's efforts a failure, or generally running down efforts to fight for a share of the new green economy:

Hot Air: Yet another DOE-backed solar panel company bites the dust

Good grief. I feel like these ailing Department of Energy-backed loan guarantees are so laughably many that they’re barely even worth noting anymore, but you’re darn tootin’ I’ll continue to do so as long as President Obama keeps acting like it’s the federal government’s divine right to pick and choose winners in the energy market on the taxpayers’ dime.

... This article tries to spin the situation to suggest that the company’s failure is the result of too much unfair competition and global oversupply, and we should therefore direct our ire at China. No — just no. This is the fault of the Obama administration. Maybe if we had just left the decision to develop solar (or not!) up to the private sector, we would’ve quickly figured out that investing in solar energy was a bad idea.

Weekly Standard: Video: Obama Touted $400 Million Loan to Another Solar Company Now Declaring Bankruptcy

Washington Moon Times: Yet another government-backed solar company turns out the lights

News of the company’s demise prompted early criticism from Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican and chairman of the House subcommittee on regulatory affairs, stimulus oversight and government spending.

In a statement, Mr. Jordan, among other Republicans, said Abound’s collapse shows that “our government is not good at picking winners and losers in the marketplace but has certainly proved it is good at wasting taxpayer dollars.”

National Legal and Policy Center: Yet Another DOE Green Failure as Abound Solar Goes Bankrupt

And now with failures like Solyndra and Abound Solar, in addition to several others, these crony redistributors leave the political fallout to others and just move on to their next “green” scheme. Unfortunately we won’t find out if the ultimate political price is paid until November, but in the meantime DOE continues with its renewable energy “investments,” which will undoubtedly lead to more pain for taxpayers.

Human Events: Your Obama “green energy” bankruptcy of the day: Abound Solar,

Abound had borrowed about $70 million against these loan guarantees. That would have bought a lot of health care for poor people, but the Obama Administration blew it on solar panel junk instead.

Heritage Foundation: Another Stimulus Backed 'Green Energy' Company Goes Bankrupt

Another stimulus-backed green energy company has filed for bankruptcy, further fueling criticism of Energy Department programs that backed highly-risky investments on the taxpayer dime.

Like Solyndra and a number of other green energy investments made under this administration, Abound Solar had a very poor credit rating, but enjoyed a wealth of political connections.

So ... should we respond as a country to this economic attack on us by other countries who see us as a country and compete with us as a country? Or should we surrender the new green economy to others?


This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:26 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Why Romney Won't Release More Tax Returns

Ah, so we're starting to find out why Romney won't release any older tax returns... Investigation: Mitt Romney’s Offshore Accounts, Tax Loopholes, and Mysterious I.R.A. | Vanity Fair

Maybe even some illegal activity!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:31 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 2, 2012

Watch Mitt

Here he is in 2006, explaining the benefits of the health insurance mandate that he now opposes.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:21 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

7 Ways Obama Lied About Your Health Coverage

President Obama promised that if you have health insurance now, it won't change. Here are 7 ways he lied:

1) Under the new law your insurer can't drop your coverage after you get sick. This is a change in the coverage you already have. Obama lied.

2) Your children can continue to be insured under your plan until they are 26. (Click and read this.) This is a change in the coverage you already have. Obama lied.

3) New coverage is added, including preventative care like mammograms and colonoscopies with no "out of pocket" like charging a deductible, co-pay or coinsurance. This is a change in the insurance you already have. Obama lied.

4) If you pay for your own insurance and your income is below a certain level, you will receive subsidies to help pay for your insurance. Even if you earn four times the federal poverty rate, or currently about $93,000 for a family of four, you will have to pay no more than 9.5 percent of your income. This is a change in the coverage you already have. Obama lied.

5) The law prohibits insurance companies from placing a "lifetime cap" on the amount of coverage you have. Many people were discovering that they reached this cap right when they needed insurance the most. This is a change in the coverage you already have. Obama lied.

6) The cost of your insurance will be lower than it would be without this law. There are several ways the new law will lower the cost of your insurance. First, by requiring people to have insurance, people can't "free load" by showing up at the emergency room without insurance. Currently when this happens hospitals charge more to everyone else. So the new law's "mandate" stops the "free loaders" -- the cause of these extra charges -- from running up your insurance cost. Also, the new law's "80/20 Rule" says insurers have to use 80% of their revenue for health care. This even means you might get a rebate. This is a change in the coverage you already have. Obama lied.

7) Insurers won/'t be able to keep you from getting insurance or charge you more based on a pre-existing condition. This is a change in the coverage you already have. Obama lied.

Therefore

So President Obama lied when he said that if you already have health coverage you don't have to worry about changes! Therefore we need to get rid of the law so insurers can cut you off after you get sick, charge you for preventative care, cut your children off from having insurance, keep you from getting insurance if you have a pre-existing condition, place a lifetime "cap" on your coverage and make you pay more! It's time to put some teeth into "let him die!"

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:32 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos