Thursday ReadsPosted: September 1, 2011 Filed under: Economy, jobs, morning reads, Team Obama, U.S. Economy, U.S. Politics, unemployment | Tags: Barack Obama, baseball, Chris Christie, Congress, Eric Cantor, FEMA, Herbert Hoover, Jay Carney, John Boehner, Jon Huntsman, New Jersey, Red Sox, speeches, Tropical Storm Katia, Vermont flooding, Yankees 35 Comments
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 NorthJersey.com
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?
Tuesday ReadsPosted: December 7, 2010 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: Barack Obama, Dan Rather, Ed Rendell, Herbert Hoover, Norman Solomon, Robert Kuttner 50 Comments
I just have one question this morning. Does President Obama read? If he does, there is no way he could miss the fact that he has blown his chance for a second term. Back in January, he told Diane Sawyer:
“I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president,”
Sorry Barack, you’re not even going to be a mediocre one-term president. You’re working on being Herbert Hoover II. You’re destroying the country, and a lot of people are waking up to that reality and beginning to ask how on earth we can get rid of you. Some cases in point:
For the Obama presidency, moral collapse has taken on the appearance of craven clockwork, establishing a concentric pattern — doing immense damage to economic security at home while ratcheting up warfare overseas.
By the end of the weekend, a deal was just about wrapped up between the president and Republican congressional leaders to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
On the spin-cycle agenda this month is yet more reframing of the president’s foggy doubletalk about Afghanistan. Strip away the carefully crafted verbiage and the picture is stark — with plans for a huge U.S. war effort in that country for many years to come.
At the end of a year with massive U.S. military escalation in Afghanistan, parallels with the Johnson administration’s unhinged Vietnam War are hard to miss. Conjectures about an inside-the-Democratic-Party challenge to Obama’s re-nomination are now moving from shadowy whispers to open discourse.
Clarence B. Jones, Scholar in Residence, Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University (H/T Wonk the Vote) Time to Think the Unthinkable: A Democratic Primary Challenge To Obama’s Reelection You need to read the whole thing, but here’s just a sample:
It is not easy to consider challenging the first African-American to be elected as President of the United States. But, regrettably, I believe that the time has come to do this.
It is time for Progressives to stop “whining” and arguing among themselves about whether President Obama will or will not do this or that. Obama is no different than any other President, nominated by his national party. He was elected with the hard work and 24/7 commitment of persons who believed and enlisted in his campaign for “Hope” and “Change.”
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist nor have a PhD in political science and sociology to see clearly that Obama has abandoned much of the base that elected him. He has done this because he no longer respects, fears or believes those persons who elected him have any alternative, but to accept what he does, whether they like it or not.
It is time for those persons who constituted the “Movement” that enabled Senator Barack Obama to be elected to “break their silence”; to indicate that they no longer will sit on their hands, and only let off verbal steam and ineffective sound and fury, and “hope” for the best.
Robert Kuttner, who once hope Barack Obama would be the next FDR:
Let’s stop pretending. Barack Obama is a disaster as a crisis president. He has taken an economic collapse that was the result of Republican ideology and Republican policies, and made it the Democrats’ fault. And the more that he is pummeled, the more he bends over.
So what can we do about it?
the choices boil down to these:
*Let Obama continue to undermine the economy, the real Democratic Party, and the New Deal-Great Society legacy.
*Do a ton of grass roots organizing to put pressure on the administration to change course and in the meantime to back real progressive leaders. The one time in recent memory that something like this worked was in the successful campaign to have Elizabeth Warren appointed interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The trouble is that the Warren appointment was something of a one-off. Though progressive pressure can produce an occasional decent appointment, it is not capable of compelling Obama to grow a spine.
*Run a progressive candidate against Obama in the 2012 primary. At a recent meeting of the Democracy Alliance, most of whose private donors and trade union backers were big Obama supporters, the two White House emissaries were ripped apart. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka was severe in his criticism of the White House failure to promote a real jobs and recovery program. Co-panelist Austan Goolsbee appeared weak and ineffectual, like his President.*
Yet if we are to be spared an awful decade, both economically and politically, either Obama needs to grow a backbone; or some other Democrat could well challenge him in 2012. Either course will require the progressive community to stop crying in our beer and to get out and organize.
Politics Daily: Dan Rather is predicting a primary challenge to Obama.
Former “CBS Evening News” anchor Dan Rather is predicting that if the Bush tax cuts are extended for two years (as now appears likely) President Obama will face a tough primary challenge from the left.
Appearing on MSNBC’s “Jansing & Company,” Rather said:
“This is a political nightmare for Barack Obama as president. The more-left portion of his party hates this with a passion. And politically, within his own party, if this goes through, Barack Obama will be in a position to have his shirttail on fire, his back to the wall, and the bill collector at the door. Which is metaphorically a way of saying he’s almost guaranteed — if this goes through — to have a serious challenge in a Democratic primary for president in 2012.”
Rather went on to add that “the perception of [Obama] is that he won’t fight for anything.” He also noted: “Many of the heavy contributors to the Democratic Party are beyond shock about this happening, and are saying to themselves, ‘This guy . . . has about four to six months to turn the perception of him and the party around or we’ve got to start thinking about somebody else in 2012.’ “
Wrong, Dan. We have about two months to find someone to run against this guy now or we’re doomed.
I did find one prominent Democrat who thinks the talk about primarying Obama is a bunch of hooey, good old Ed Rendell.
Outgoing Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell told Salon in an interview this afternoon that he does not think “there’s any chance of a serious contender mounting an effort against the president.”
Rendell offered two reasons for his belief: First, any primary challenge would be “too hard to do — it costs too much money.”
And, second, Rendell believes that Obama has checked off enough boxes on the progressive scorecard to keep any challenge from the left at bay.
“Has he achieved everything that he wanted to achieve — or that [the progressive base] would have wanted him to achieve? No. But given the state of the filibuster rule in the Senate, I think he’s done well in moving the ball forward in a lot of areas, areas he doesn’t get credit for,” Rendell said, rattling off a list of Obama’s accomplishments: not only the healthcare bill, but also the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, credit card reform, student loan reform, and the extension of insurance to low-income children in the S-CHIP program.
Hey Ed, what could be more expensive than keeping Obama? He’s already given away the store. God only know what he’ll cave on next. The country is going down the tubes and you want to keep this tool in office?