Thursday Reads

Good Morning! So President Obama has set off another big battle in Washington by asking to give his highly touted jobs speech before a joint session of Congress next Wednesday–at the same time as the next Republican debate. For a guy who keeps harping on “bipartisanship,” you have to wonder why he did that. Maybe he’s trying to distract everyone from the fact that he has no new ideas about jobs? From Politico:

A presidential address to a joint session of Congress is usually one of Washington’s more dignified and predictable events — but President Barack Obama’s request to deliver a Sept. 7 speech quickly devolved into just another partisan pie fight.

Oval Office requests for a prime-time slot in the well of the House — whatever the motivation, topic or tenor of the times — are traditionally approved on a more or less pro forma basis. In fact, the official historian for the House of Representatives told reporters Wednesday that no such request has ever been publicly rejected.

But this is 2012 Washington, where the comforting little courtesies and old-shoe rituals that once kept bickering Democrats and Republicans from immobilizing the republic have been chucked in the constant quest for news-cycle leverage.

So Speaker Boehner told the President to move his speech to Thursday, and even on this, Obama caved. The speech will now be on Thursday. But why does the speech need to be given before a joint session of Congress anyway? Why does there even need to be a speech? Just DO something for Pete’s sake! All I can say is the White House gang had better come up with some startling ideas, or Obama is going to look incredibly lame. More talk about free trade agreements, patent reform, and extending the payroll tax holiday simply won’t cut it.

Chris Cilizza at the WaPo, discusses the likelihood that the WH scheduling was just a coincidence, as press secretary Jay Carney initially claimed.

when the White House announced today that President Obama would deliver his much-anticipated jobs speech on Sept. 7 at 8 pm— the exact same day and time that the 2012 Republican candidates are scheduled to debate in California — the idea that the timing was purely coincidental was, well, far-fetched.

Opinions varied on whether this was a good idea or not.

Some applauded the move as a sign of much-needed aggression from the White House “Whether intentional or not it sends a signal that the president and White House are coming out of their corner between rounds fists up, on their toes and ready to fight,” said Democratic strategist Chris Lehane.

But there were others within the party who worried that the White House’s scheduling gambit might backfire.

“It’s a bad idea [and] seems a little small,” said one Democratic consultant granted anonymity to speak candidly. “And it suggests perhaps his jobs plan wont be that appealing because now the coverage will be about the strategy and not the substance.”

Another senior Democratic operative suggested that scheduling the speech simultaneously with the GOP debate actually would muddy rather than clarify the contrast the White House is hoping for heading into 2012.

But none of this really matters now that Obama has caved to the Republicans, as usual; and now he has to compete with the opening of the NFL season.

Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman has released his economic plan, and it’s a doozy. He want to reduce the marginal tax rate to 23 percent, giving the richest Americans the lowest tax rate since the Hoover administration. And how does he propose to pay for this? Here’s how.

Huntsman says he will pay for this supply-side bonanza by eliminating all so-called “tax expenditures.”…. Huntsman either hasn’t thought through — or doesn’t want people to know — what eliminating all tax expenditures would actually mean. So let’s take a look at the official tax expenditure list and see what would happen if we got rid of all of them:

– All Social Security benefits would become taxable. Senior citizens that currently receive the average Social Security benefit as their primary income source (as is the case for most seniors) currently pay no income taxes on those benefits, but would under Huntsman’s plan.

– Many middle-class parents would lose child tax credits and tax benefits for education and child care that are more valuable to them than a tax rate cut.

– Huntsman’s tax plan would also eliminate the employer health insurance exclusion, which helps enable some 160 million Americans get coverage through their jobs.

– One of the most successful pro-work, anti-poverty initiatives, the Earned Income Tax Credit, would be abolished.

– Veterans pensions and disability benefits would become subject to tax, as would all military combat pay, military housing allowances and meals, workers compensation payments, public assistance benefits, and state foster care payments.

This is just a partial list of the harsh and/or bizarre consequences that would occur if all tax expenditures were eliminated to fund a huge giveaway to the very rich.

In line with this latest Republican proposal to screw the poor and the elderly, on Tuesday, the New York Times editorial page took note of “the new resentment of the poor.”

In a decade of frenzied tax-cutting for the rich, the Republican Party just happened to lower tax rates for the poor, as well. Now several of the party’s most prominent presidential candidates and lawmakers want to correct that oversight and raise taxes on the poor and the working class, while protecting the rich, of course.

These Republican leaders, who think nothing of widening tax loopholes for corporations and multimillion-dollar estates, are offended by the idea that people making less than $40,000 might benefit from the progressive tax code. They are infuriated by the earned income tax credit (the pride of Ronald Reagan), which has become the biggest and most effective antipoverty program by giving working families thousands of dollars a year in tax refunds. They scoff at continuing President Obama’s payroll tax cut, which is tilted toward low- and middle-income workers and expires in December.

Until fairly recently, Republicans, at least, have been fairly consistent in their position that tax cuts should benefit everyone. Though the Bush tax cuts were primarily for the rich, they did lower rates for almost all taxpayers, providing a veneer of egalitarianism. Then the recession pushed down incomes severely, many below the minimum income tax level, and the stimulus act lowered that level further with new tax cuts. The number of families not paying income tax has risen from about 30 percent before the recession to about half, and, suddenly, Republicans have a new tool to stoke class resentment.

Speaking of cold-hearted Republicans, you’ve probably heard about Eric Cantor’s demand that any Federal help given to those hit by Hurricane Irene must be offset by cuts in other areas. Unfortunately for Cantor, he was singing another tune in 2004 when his state, Virginia, needed help.

Not only that but suddenly one of the new Republican stars is in need of help and doesn’t want to worry about debt and deficits and cutting government. He wants help for his state right now.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie reacted angrily to a fight brewing in Washington over whether Hurricane Irene disaster aid may need to be offset by federal spending cuts.

“Our people are suffering now, and they need support now. And they [Congress] can all go down there and get back to work and figure out budget cuts later,” the Republican governor told a crowd in the flood-ravaged North Jersey town of Lincoln Park.

Christie said no such discussion was held when help went to Joplin, Mo., where a deadly May tornado damaged 7,500 homes.

“We need the support now here in New Jersey, and that’s not a Republican or a Democratic issue,” Christie said, according to

Another hurricane could be on the way. Tropical Storm Katia may be a Hurricane soon. It looks like this one may hit the Gulf coast, and quite a few oil workers are already being evacuated.

The Miami-based center said Katia was forecast to become a “major” hurricane with winds over 111 mph (178 kph) on Sunday, but it was still too early to tell whether it would threaten land.

At 5 p.m. (2100 GMT), Katia was about 1,285 miles (2.070 km) east of the Caribbean’s Leeward Islands. It was moving rapidly west-northwest and was forecast to turn northwest in a couple of days on a course that would keep it away from the Caribbean islands.

Of course it’s too soon to know for sure what will happen, but maybe Mayor Bloomberg should get busy preparing another evacuation plan.

Meanwhile, things are still really bad in Vermont.

Federal and state environmental teams on Wednesday investigated the extent of health risks related to damaged sewage and water treatment plants in more than a dozen Vermont towns where flash flooding has left thousands of people without electricity or potable water since Sunday.

Engineers from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation visited several areas that had been cut off to assess the hazards, officials said. The teams were trying to determine the extent of damage to sewage and water plants in at least 13 towns, including chemical and other hazardous material spills and leaks, said Justin Johnson, deputy commissioner of the environmental department….

The Vermont National Guard continued to airlift supplies to residents in 13 towns stranded by washed out roadways, damaged bridges, fallen trees and mud. A helicopter from the Illinois National Guard joined the relief effort on Wednesday, helping distribute supplies, said Mark Bosma, a spokesman for Vermont Emergency Management.

By Wednesday night, crews had completed makeshift roads into all of the isolated towns, state officials said. They reached the last, Wardsboro, population 850, in south central Vermont, just before 6 p.m.

In a bit of good news, the Red Sox beat the Yankees last night, 9-5, and the Sox are now in first place by 1-1/2 games.

That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?

35 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Sorry I got this up so late. For some reason the scheduling didn’t take.

  2. mjames says:

    The fact that O so readily changed the date of his “speech” (as opposed to the date of any action, of course, which is never) means, to me, that his team is so stupid it wasn’t even aware a debate was set for the same night.

    This is stupidity of the highest order.

    • mjames says:

      Well, now I just read Jon Walker over at FDL. Although ignorance of the debate is a damn good guess for the same-date scheduling, it could also be O’s notorious pettiness.

      But how could O possibly have thought that the Repubs would change their debate, something far more difficult to change than a last-minute speech.

      So, in a way, it still comes down to stupidity. This is our “leader”? We are so screwed.

    • Fannie says:

      Yes it is, and who the hell is guiding him through some of this crap? I’d fire everyone fugging one of them.

  3. Delphyne says:

    Interesting article about Jack the Ripper. In Rahway, NJ, where I went to High School, there is an old cemetery that has a grave of an unknown woman found in Rahway with her throat slashed – the article I’m linking to has a mention of the Ripper in it. Makes me wonder if he was, indeed, the monster who committed this murder, too.

    Each year, in October, the historical society does a tour of the cemetery – they are all dressed in period pieces and relates stories of people who are buried there, giving interesting details of history back then. That was the first time I heard the story of the unknown woman.

  4. paper doll says:

    Chris Cilizza at the WaPo, discusses the likelihood that the WH scheduling was just a coincidence, as press secretary Jay Carney initially claimed…..

    I’m not buying this for a minute. For some reason we had this Obie bows to the GOP AGAIN theater We are to believe that out of the hundred + people at the WH, no one knew this this was the GOP debate night? That’s a lie .

    • bostonboomer says:

      Of course they knew. This is a pattern. Obama tries to stand up to the Republicans and after the tiniest pushback, he caves.

      • paper doll says:

        But what’s the point?? It’s so servile, I can’t grasp the point….why even start such things since he’s going to cave and ask forgivenes? Team Obama did this to Obama

  5. paper doll says:

    But why does the speech need to be given before a joint session of Congress anyway? Why does there even need to be a speech? Just DO something for Pete’s sake!


  6. paper doll says:

    London neighbourhoods terrorized by police raids

    …..The police patronised me later like nothing happened by saying ‘have a nice day,’” he continued. “They claimed that they had an anonymous tip off and that I was a looter with firearms, but how did the person who made the allegations come to this conclusion?

    “People are basically being victimized based on other people’s accusations. My grievance is, if they did this without evidence of truth and just on hearsay, no one is safe in their house. This could happen to anyone.”

    For 8 years we have seen on the evening news how people’s homes are busted into in Iraq. What has happened and is happening to that population will eventual come here as well. imo

  7. paper doll says:

    But wait! There’s more!

    From the shared sacrifice / eat your peas Dept

    Top US corporations paid CEOs more than they paid in taxes

    One-quarter of the 100 corporations with the highest paid CEOs paid less in US taxes in 2010 than they paid to their chief executive officers, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). According to the report (The Executive Excess 2011: The Massive CEO Rewards for Tax Dodging), among the corporations that fall in this category are General Electric, Honeywell, Ford, Boeing, Coca-Cola and Verizon. The latter company is demanding huge concessions from its workforce, which led to a two-week strike last month.

    …..The IPS found that the 25 CEOS who were paid more than their companies paid in taxes took home on average $16.7 million a piece. This is 50 percent more than the average CEO compensation for S&P 500 companies, of $10.8 million. These 25 companies received a tax rebate of, on average, $304 million.

    Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg was compensated to the tune of $18.1 million in 2010, even as the company received a $705 million tax refund. “In effect,” according to the report, “every Verizon phone customer paid more in federal telephone excise taxes than Verizon paid in federal income taxes,,,,,,,

    • madamab says:

      This is why the tax rate does not matter for these companies…loopholes must be closed first, especially the ones that allow these bloodsuckers to hide their profits overseas.

      Once we can be sure they’ll actually PAY their taxes, then we can see how much they need to be raised by. Due to these loopholes (including the low capital gains tax Dak has spoken of), the income from taxes is so low that we have no idea what a fair taxation system would even look like.

      I’d be happy with a 90% tax rate, similar to that during FDR’s time. Do you think the corporations would go for it? 😆

  8. Pat Johnson says:

    This is just for me and Boston Boomer: YAY, RED SOX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    As Obama once more “caved” once again, Jacoby (Be still my beating heart!) Ellsbury did it again for us Sox fans! I even wore my #2 shirt last night to ensure the win.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I can’t wait for tonight’s game!! I put that in the post for you, Pat. And MABlue if he should happen to drop by.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        Lester’s on the mound tonight. Should be great.

        My Friday night game, sitting right behind home plate, saw them lose but I didn’t care. Saw my guys and it was wonderful! Ate at Remy’s place and the evening was perfect! Glad I did not cancel because of the impending storm and it was worth it.

        I can smell the pennant from here!

  9. janicen says:

    Some applauded the move as a sign of much-needed aggression from the White House “Whether intentional or not it sends a signal that the president and White House are coming out of their corner between rounds fists up, on their toes and ready to fight,” said Democratic strategist Chris Lehane.

    This is laughable. My guess is that the idea to do this came from Chris Lehane who is now making every attempt to justify the stupidity. This was a win for the Republicans. They made Obama look weak and petty, and they look strong telling the President to make his speech when they want him to make his speech.

  10. madamab says:

    First, that coffee looks DELICIOUS!

    More talk about free trade agreements, patent reform, and extending the payroll tax holiday simply won’t cut it.

    BB, you have just described the entire contents of O’s speech. He is that tone-deaf, that lazy, and that bought-out. He literally has no plans whatsoever to address unemployment. He doesn’t think he has to because the Repubs opposing him are so batsh*t crazy. Remember, Huntsman was supposed to be the “moderate” one? I think not.

    My guess is that Romney will actually come out with the most populist jobs plan. However, it still will suck rocks – it will just be .01% less evil than everyone else’s.

    • bostonboomer says:

      If Obama really has nothing and gives the speech before a joint session of Congress, he is going to be humiliated beyond and hope of recovery.

      And I agree with you. He’s got nothing. No new ideas. Someone needs to sit him down and read him a children’s book about the FDR and the CCC and WPA.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        Obama is going to say what he always says during that jobs speech, we need a bipartisan approach blah blah blah, and then blame the republicans when nothing happens.

        The tangerine thumping his chest…and the pushover caving in…is only going to be used by the Obama team as proof the GOP aren’t working with him, and he is the “king of compromise.”

        The Obots will see it that way and push that.

        The Captain Obvious Obots will give the Obama Administration the benefit of the doubt because even though they are beginning to see Obama for what he really is, they still are grasping on to any possibility that he will begin to act like the kind of hope and change president they made him out to be.

        The GOP will spread the “we won” agenda…

        And the American People will just see it as another fucked up Washington moment.

        Everything Obama does is calculated and controlled…

        I would not put it past the Admin to have wanted the speech on the evening when the beloved NFL opens it’s season…distraction yet again.

        Personally I think it was all orchestrated to make the GOP look like assholes for not compromising…Obama is setting it up for a reason to blame the GOP once again for not working with him, but the real situation is that he is an elitist Republican, and had no intention of getting anything his base wants passed in the first place.

        I think the independents and non-obots who did vote for Obama are getting tired of this shit.

        The people like us, who saw Obama for what he really was, are just pissed off that none of the Democrats in Congress are putting up a fight. We have become resigned to the fact that we are f’d…because that is really all it comes down to.

      • madamab says:

        Perhaps said person should start with “My Pet Goat.” That seemed to grab his twin brother Dubya’s attention just fine.

  11. JeanLouise says:

    Huntsman’s tax plan puts paid to the idea that he’s any kind of a moderate whether he believes in climate change or not. He’s just another silver spooner who wants to turn the whole country into a plantation for the already rich and powerful.

    • paper doll says:

      yup…really they pimp only for the elite now …we. the voter serfs don’t count for much…

    • madamab says:

      Yup, he is a snake in the grass. A Republican version of Obama…seems attractive, smart and reasonable but is actually a grade A *ssh0le.

  12. ralphb says:

    Good for Iceland. They pretty much did the opposite of an “austerity” program and kept their society intact. I guess the bond vigilantes didn’t show up.

    And it has done all that with very heterodox policies — debt repudiation, capital controls, and currency depreciation. It was as close as you can get to the polar opposite of the gold standard. And it has worked.

  13. dakinikat says:

    Evidently my buddhist cum atheist aspirations and BB’s hopes for lottso rain has more power than Rick Perry’s begging his invisible friend for rain.

    We’re going to be drenched with extreme rainfalls this weekend. Hopefully this drenches smokeapolyse. Heading to grocery store for stuff for the kat ark. Cats will be unhappy if we run out of food for sure.