Wednesday Reads, AM Edition…Posted: December 15, 2010
Happy Wednesday Morning, Minx here with what’s going on. I don’t know about you all, but this deep freeze has me questioning my sanity…three straight “snow days” means the kids have been home, driving me crazy. Anyway, I hope everyone is staying warm, and if you need a warming up…the latest news will get your blood pressure boiling.
I will start the morning reads with the latest controversy on the Hill…namely the pork chop laden bills that have many people wondering WTF?
On the website Taxpayers for Common Sense, there is a PDF report that you can download…
Taxpayers for Common Sense Holiday Honey Baked Hams — Special Interest Carveouts at the End of the Year
The last legislative trains are pulling out of Capitol Hill station and there are a bunch of hobo provisions trying to catch a ride. Whether you are for or against the grand tax compromise the President and Congressional Republicans hammered out, or the proposed final spending bills for fiscal year 2011, one has to admit larding them up with parochial provisions is the wrong way to go.
Top sweeteners in 2010 tax bill
The tax extension package being debated in the Senate does much more than meets the eyes. While most people are focused on the bill’s most prominent provisions—renewal of the Bush tax cuts, a temporary fix for the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), extension of unemployment benefits for a year, changes to the estate tax— it’s also chock full of dozens of narrow and special interest provisions. While possibly laudable, these narrow, “temporary” provisions are routinely extended, often annually, without a thorough evaluation of their effectiveness. Added together, these narrow provisions result in tens of billions of dollars in special tax breaks without any real debate where Congress determines they are the best way to spur the economy or meet other goals.
After you take a look at that, check this out:
Roll over the map or click on specific states and districts to see how Members of Congress are requesting your money be spent.
I am sure that will give you at least a good hour of browsing. I can tell you that after looking at these reports, I wonder why anyone would not vote for unemployment extensions…or the First Responders bill , of which:
The $7.4 billion cost of the legislation over 10 years is paid for by a provision that would prevent foreign multinational corporations from using tax havens to avoid taxes on U.S. income.
Last week, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) released a letter signed by every Senate Republican pledging to block all legislative action until Congress acts on the expiring Bush tax cuts and passes a measure to fund the federal government into 2011.
As Politico points out:
Three hundred fifty thousand dollars for cool-season legume research in Idaho, North Dakota and Washington. A half million dollars for road roundabouts in Mississippi. And $1 million for arthropod damage in Nevada.
They’re just a few of the 6,600 pet projects lawmakers from both parties – and both chambers – stuck inside an enormous spending bill unveiled by Senate Democrats on Tuesday, according to government watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense. The release of the $1.1 trillion dollar omnibus bill, including $8 billion in earmarks, quickly reignited the fight over pork-barrel spending in the final days of the lame-duck session.
Earlier this year, McConnell asked for $4 million for marijuana eradication efforts by the Kentucky National Guard; $1 million for construction of the Kentucky Blood Center Building; and $650,000 for Advanced Genetic Technologies, a DNA research center at the University of Kentucky.
What a surprise, 5.6 million of that 8 billion is earmarks for that beady-eyed man from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell himself. So, he will block all legislative actions until the Bush tax cuts for the rich are passed. What a guy! Which brings me to another few items that I want to discuss this morning. Do progressives hate rich people?
Roger Simon looks at the Congressional Democrats trying to block the Obama-McConnell tax-cut-extensions-for-everybody-whether-they-need-them-or-not bill, and draws the only possible conclusion: Democrats hate rich people, and want everyone else to hate them too.
Yes, of course, that must be it: All those self-hating rich Democrats in Congress just want to punish themselves to assuage their terrible rich-person guilt – who could possibly think otherwise?
Well, when I was a kid my father always used to make a point, by walking the dogs next to Cadillacs so they would piss on them. And if the dogs didn’t step up to the plate, my father did.
I don’t really want to speak for the Democrats whom I feel increasingly estranged from, but I can’t let this foolishness pass unchallenged. So I will address it from my own non-rich progressive perspective, which I think is at least somewhat representative.
Simon is really employing two fallacies for the price of one. The first is that the desire to return the well-to-do’s tax brackets to their Clinton-era levels is somehow the same as implacable hatred. We are living in a time of extreme deficit hysteria, with the President and both parties buying into the right-wing fallacy that if we don’t balance the budget America will be destroyed. Set against that backdrop, the addition of another $800 billion to the debt boogeyman means even more pressure to cut social programs and Social Security, and to never spend anything on stimulus or unemployment insurance ever again.
It is simply cruel and unfair to funnel money away from the people who need it most and towards the people who need it least – especially in the middle of a prolonged recession with almost 10% unemployment – and that’s what we want to prevent.
The second fallacy is that we hate rich people simply for being rich, because we’re envious or communists or whatever. Not so, at least not for me. I have absolutely nothing against rich people in general, and I like and admire many of them. But I do hate rich people who believe that they are so valuable and important that they deserve to be rewarded with even more money just for being rich, even if it’s at the expense of someone who needs it far more than they do. Or those who complain that they’re some kind of persecuted minority because they might lose a tax cut that’s more than most Americans earn in an entire year. Maybe a million dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to, but it still goes a hell of a lot farther than an unemployment check… or no check at all.
Howard Fineman is as hacktacular at times as Richard Wolffe. But every once in a while he comes out with stuff that nails what the media propaganda machine does to Democrats. The irony and what makes him hacktacular is that he doesn’t even realize he’s a cog in his own confusion. Via Huffington Post:
The fact that extension is being touted by the White House as a major “get” is a sad commentary on how far to the right our politics is now moving, no matter how many times Tea Party types call Obama a socialist.
[…] …something doesn’t compute. Isn’t a nearly $1 trillion bill full of tax cuts and industry giveaways what Republicans do? Isn’t a bill with an absurdly generous inheritance tax break what Republicans write? Aren’t Democrats the “party of the people?” Aren’t they the party that believes government programs and policies have a role to play in leveling the playing field, or at least giving everyone a fair chance? Aren’t the Democrats worried that all of this tax cutting now will starve the social programs they supposedly cherish? Do they know that they won’t be able to push through a change in taxes in 2012 over GOP objections if the economy in fact improves?
How many months have I been writing about Pres. Obama taking national politics rightward? How long? It’s been well over a year, but now Howard Fineman jumps in to also announce that Democrats are no longer a brand. The two realities go together.
Democrats in the era of Obama are too spineless to stop production on the political version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?,” where the President is now playing Regis Philbin, and the wealthiest Americans are getting a big fat bonus just like Obama’s pals on Wall Street.
Read the entire Marsh piece…it is spot on.
Speaking of spineless, did you see that Obama has reached out to a local Denver news anchor…he says “I don‘t think there’s a sense that I’ve been successful. I think people feel that Washington still is dysfunctional.” See this post here on Mediaite.
First of all, in this modern media environment, does Obama really and truly believe the only way to reach the folks outside of Washington is to speak to a local news anchor? And if he doesn’t actually believe that statement, then why engage in such an interview at all? Secondly, after two years of Obama being in complete control, if Washington is still dysfunctional and Obama himself admits that he hasn’t been successful enough to create the perception of a triumphant presidency, then how long exactly would it take for an Obama administration to make Washington functional again? At the end of four years maybe? Or would Obama’s vision for making Washington work be timed to crystalize only within a second term as President? Or maybe just maybe, Obama’s position is that Washington will forever be dysfunctional and it is beyond the capabilities of any one individual as President to fix it?
I wonder what the spineless one will do when he gets together with the CEOs of 20 big ass corporations. I have waited for the outcome of this meeting since it was announced a few days ago. Obama to Discuss Jobs, Economy With CEOs – Washington Wire – WSJ
President Barack Obama plans to sit down with 20 corporate chief executives Wednesday morning to discuss jobs and the economy. Presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett said the meeting is part of a renewed effort to form “partnerships” with Corporate America on issues from education to trade.
The meeting will be closed to the media, to encourage participants—who have been encouraged to bring substantive ideas–to be candid. In the past, some have complained that highly public gatherings discouraged frank talk.
The summit, at Blair House, adjacent to the White House, will include lunch and is expected to extend into the afternoon.
The participants are all familiar faces at the White House; several already serve on presidential advisory councils. That disappoints some business observers who say a fresh approach calls for fresh faces. “Obviously there’s some continuity people that you’ve seen before, but I think you’ll also see people that have also not spent a lot of time here,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday.
My biggest problem with this, what else do these big money companies think they can squeeze out of Obama? My guess is that most of these companies have outsourced like crazy…making products in other countries or having call centers outside of the one country that could use those jobs. All these recent happenings just makes me think that Dak and BB and Wonk need to trademark the phrase “We are so F’d!” and plaster this all over t-shirts and bumper stickers…because it is a catch phrase that pretty much expresses the current situation truthfully and succinctly.
Now for a couple of links that may amuse or interest you…
Against all that is normal and usual in our universe, my cousin Joe likes Hillary Clinton. He told me I would have buyer’s remorse with Barack Obama long before Obama’s term was anywhere near over. He suggested that if we wanted a real man in the office of president, we should elect Hillary. And dagnabit if he wasn’t right.
Well, to all those Obama supporters, we told you so! (I will say this with a smile and a wink.) 😉
There is a growing bipartisan consensus that Hillary Clinton is the best ever Secretary of State, US President Barack Obama has said. His decision to appoint Clinton as the Secretary of State was one of his better decisions, the US President has said. Obama who made a rare appearance at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department to attend the holiday reception party hosted by the Washington’s vibrant diplomatic community by Clinton said, “I think there’s a consensus building that this may be one of the best Secretaries of State we’ve ever had in this country’s history.”
Something I can agree with Obama…yes, Hillary was your best decision.
I will end this post with a op-ed piece by Caroline B. Glick at the Jerusalem Post Our World: The feminist deception
Since the height of the feminist movement in the late 1960s, non-leftist women in the West and Israel have been hard-pressed to answer the question of whether or not we are feminists. Non-leftist women are opposed to the oppression of women. Certainly, we are no less opposed to the oppression of women than leftist women are.
But at its most basic level, the feminist label has never been solely or even predominantly about preventing and ending oppression or discrimination of women. It has been about advancing the Left’s social and political agenda against Western societies. It has been about castigating societies where women enjoy legal rights and protections as “structurally” discriminatory against women in order to weaken the legal, moral and social foundations of those societies. That is, rather than being about advancing the cause of women, to a large extent, the feminist movement has used the language of women’s rights to advance a social and political agenda that has nothing to do with women.
So to a large degree, the feminist movement itself is a deception.
The deception at the heart of the feminist movement is nowhere more apparent than in the silence with which self-professed feminists and feminist movements ignore the inhumane treatment of women who live under Islamic law. If feminism weren’t a hollow term, then prominent feminists should be the leaders of the anti-jihad movement.
I won’t make any comment on this one, yet, I want to see what discussion follows….since the question of what makes a woman a feminist has been a topic we have discussed of and on recently.
So what have you been reading, I am sure we will have a late edition of Wednesday Reads…with all that has gone on, you know the Sky Dancing team will be on top of it.