ChrisWeigant.com

Friday Talking Points [156] -- Fighting On Several Fronts

[ Posted Friday, February 25th, 2011 – 17:20 PST ]

Well, that was a busy week, wasn't it?

We've got so much to cover this week, we're going to have to move pretty quickly here. In international news, North Africa and the Middle East are still seething. The American news media, however, are (I actually heard this phrase being used by someone with a blowdried haircut the other night on television) experiencing "revolution fatigue." Seriously. They're bored with the whole storyline. Another dictator fell? Crowds of unarmed people being machine-gunned? Yawn. Don't we have an Oscars story we could run, instead?

Sigh.

Right now, of course, the main story is Libya, but other countries Americans cannot locate on world maps are also clamoring for change. Including, very inconveniently, Iraq -- where crowds of unarmed protesters have been shot at with live ammunition. But dead protesters in our forcibly-imposed democracy in the region is just so not according to the media's storyline, meaning it didn't get much coverage.

In domestic protesting news, the standoff in Wisconsin continues. The Unions seem to be making progress in other states towards making Republicans back off their orgy of Union-busting legislation, but the governor of Wisconsin is not backing down one inch. Both sides of this battle see Madison as the front line of a much wider fight, and so it has taken on symbolic meaning in terms of which side blinks first. At this point, nobody can predict the outcome, so I'm not even going to try doing so.

As an aside, I am putting out a call to all members of the Grammar Police. Which spelling is more acceptable -- "protester" or "protestor"? I had been using "protester" pretty consistently, but the word's been popping up so frequently in the past few weeks that I've noticed some very respectable publications going with "protestor," so now I have to wonder. Are both equally acceptable? Let me know what you think in the comments. I do know the answer to one spelling question this week, though. The correct answer as to how to spell the name of the Libyan leader currently under siege is: "there is no correct English spelling," since Arabic is a phonetic language and therefore anything which, when pronounced out loud, sounds like his Arabic name is just as "correct" as any other spelling. So there.

How did we get onto spelling? Like I said, we've got a lot to cover here, so let's move on from such distractions, shall we?

Speaking of distractions, another week has gone by, and still not one single idea from Republicans on how to create jobs. Lots of ideas on attacking abortion, lots of ideas on how to cut money for things like the Border Patrol and keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists, but absolutely no time for creating jobs. Guess Republicans have their priorities straight, eh? Well, no... no they don't. But we'll get to all of that later, in the talking points segment of our program.

Of course, some Democrats are prone to getting distracted as well. Harry Reid refused to force the Senate to work this week, even though a government shutdown looms next week, so that he could travel home to Nevada to meddle in state affairs by calling for an end to the state's legalized prostitution. Seriously, Harry, this was more important than working to avoid a government shutdown? Sigh.

The only good thing (perhaps) from Congress taking yet another of its week-long vacations is that this is the first chance all those Tea Party Republicans will have to hear from the folks back home. Some of them are finding out that "earmarks" and "bringing home the bacon" is actually quite a bit more popular than they had thought -- when it translates directly into jobs in their districts (or jobs lost). It'll be interesting to see if any of them change their attitude at all when they return.

Because Congress -- both Republican and Democratic -- failed to do their basic job of passing a budget for the past few months, we will now have a fourth budget battle next week, added to the already-packed schedule of three giant showdowns over spending to take place over the next few months. This will be a largely-symbolic battle over a very short-term continuing resolution to keep the federal government up and running for a few weeks while Congress hashes out the final budget resolution to fund the government for the rest of this fiscal year. The other two upcoming battles (raising the debt ceiling, and passing a 2012 budget) are going to be even bigger, so even though the first two are smaller potatoes, they are going to set the stage for the more important fights to follow. Which is why the first of these fights -- over a resolution to keep the money flowing for only a few weeks -- is going to be important. Not fiscally important so much (one way or another, it's only a few weeks we're talking about) as politically important. On the Republican side, we have the frothing-at-the-mouth Tea Party Republicans, and on the Democratic side we have... sigh... Harry Reid and Barack Obama. Well, we'll see how it all plays out, won't we?

But that's news for next week. This week, we learned that the United States military may have let loose the dogs of psychological warfare upon... United States senators? A story in the magazine Rolling Stone is making some very large waves, because if true this is not only illegal but also disgusting. Some very big names (John McCain, Joe Lieberman) were among those reportedly targeted. This story hasn't gotten much traction in the news media so far, but that could change over time due to the explosive nature of the allegations.

President Obama made big news on gay rights as his Attorney General announced the Justice Department would no longer defend a key provision of the Defense Of Marriage Act in court. Now, this may not be as big a deal as either side is making it out to be. The law will still be "enforced" but not "defended in court," which is confusing, to put it mildly. And it is not "unprecedented" as opponents claim, because other presidents have done exactly the same thing. It may be a power struggle between the governmental branches, but it is hardly a precedent-setting thing for Obama to do.

Obama does seem to be reaching out to certain parts of the Democratic base of late, especially the gay rights community (the White House just announced today that they had hired not only the first male social secretary, but the first who is openly gay, as well). I personally chalk this movement up to the fact that Rahm Emanuel is no longer running the White House ship, and heartily look forward to more movement in this direction as the 2012 elections approach.

One troubling piece of news for Obama, however, is the price of oil steadily rising as Libya burns. The sad fact is that most Americans simply don't pay that much attention to politics. Almost one-forth of Americans in a recent poll wrongly answered that last year's healthcare law "had already been repealed." Which goes to show how uninformed the American public truly is (only 52 percent got the question right) on things political. But everyone notices the price at the pump. And if gasoline hits $4.00 (or $4.50, or even $5.00) a gallon this summer, then they're going to want to blame someone. Rightly or wrongly, this usually falls on whoever is currently in the Oval Office. But that's looking pretty far in the future, and we've already got enough to cover this week, so let's move on to the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week and the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week awards, before we get to this week's Democratic talking points.

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

It really pains us to say this. It really, really does.

But this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week is none other than Rahm Emanuel. That's right -- "Rahmbo" wins his first-ever MIDOTW (he's got four MDDOTW awards, by comparison).

This award should actually come as somewhat of a relief to anyone who chafed at Emanuel's stint as White House Chief Of Staff -- because it means that there is now no conceivable way that he'll ever return to the Obama White House in any official capacity. Whew!

Rahm Emanuel wins his MIDOTW award for his very impressive showing in this week's mayoral election in Chicago. In a wide field of candidates, Rahm garnered over 50 percent of the vote. This means he will not face a runoff election, and will be Chicago's next mayor (despite the serious handicap of not having the last name "Daley").

While we do commiserate with people in Chicago who can't stand Rahm, we have to admit that avoiding the runoff election with a decisive win this week was indeed impressive. Making (I'm typing this through gritted fingers, so to speak) Rahm Emanuel our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week.

[Congratulate Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel on his recent campaign contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts (it is normally our policy never to link to campaign sites here, but since the election is now over, we feel it is no longer inappropriate for us to do so).]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

This is one weird story that has just gotten weirder over time. Oregon Democrat David Wu just got re-elected to the House of Representatives. By now, though, his constituents must surely be having second thoughts about Wu.

First there were rumors that Wu had some sort of mental breakdown just before the election. His own staff reportedly confronted him days before the voters were to go to the polls, and tried to get Wu to check himself into a psychiatric hospital. As if that weren't bad enough, it was recently revealed that Wu sent a few "unprofessional" emails to his staff including this photo of him, in a tiger suit, from Hallowe'en ("Rowr!"). The photo looks Photoshopped, but sadly, it is not. Later, Wu also admitted that he took a few unprescribed Oxycodone pills which a donor had given him last year during the campaign. The Washington Post blog "The Fix" has all the sordid details (and links), for the curious.

Now, we won't go as far as some have and call for Wu's resignation. As always, in such scandals, our policy is that this is for the voters in his district to decide. David Wu was not caught in some sexual scandal, nor was he caught taking bribes for votes or anything. But if the reports are true that he is (or was) experiencing some sort of breakdown, then it wouldn't surprise anyone if his constituents are now having serious second thoughts about his re-election.

Mostly for the fact that all of this happened right before an election, and that concealing it from the public may have changed the results of that election, Representative David Wu (and his staff) have earned a Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award -- even if it should have been handed out last November. Acting wacky and dressing up in a tiger outfit is one thing, but taking unprescribed pills is completely illegal behavior, Congressman.

[Contact Representative David Wu on his House contact page, to let him know what you think of his actions. Or what you think of him in a tiger suit, for that matter (Meow!).]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 156 (2/25/11)

An interesting thing happened, in the past week or so, on the talking points front.

Democrats co-opted a talking point from the Republicans. Now, some don't agree with such a strategy, saying that Democrats using Republican language is a defeat of framing the issue correctly. But that battle already appears lost in Washington, as the inside-the-Beltway crowd has become obsessed over deficits (while the rest of the country still lists "jobs and the economy" as their number one issue, of course). So it was interesting to me, at least, that Democrats did manage to force Republicans into some wild flip-floppery in the past week or so.

It started with Republican math, which (as always) comes from FantasyLand. The Republicans moved the goalposts on their pledge to "cut $100 billion from the budget" before the last election, and began the year stating they would be cutting that $100 billion from "Obama's budget proposal of last year." This budget proposal was never enacted, and so is a meaningless benchmark to measure against. Which didn't faze Republicans, who thought that if they just repeated the talking point "we've cut $100 billion" enough times that the media would go along with it. Many of the media actually did, because they cannot perform basic mathematics, either.

But this time, frustrated Democrats fought back. They announced that they had "already cut $41 billion" from the budget, and that those cuts were enough for now. They did so by measuring the current budget against the same benchmark -- Obama's budget proposal (which, again, never passed). The media began correcting itself slightly, talking about "$62 billion" that Republicans were cutting, rather than swallowing the "$100 billion" hook, line, and sinker.

But the whole thing put Republicans into an untenable position. They could either argue that "Democrats haven't cut anything" -- which would have meant admitting that Republicans weren't cutting "$100 billion" -- or they could have just ditched the entire attempt at convincing the media that their "$100 billion cuts" were any sort of meaningful or realistic figure.

This game hasn't completely played out, of course. But it's an interesting one to watch, talking-points-wise.

Speaking of talking points, here is our roundup of talking point suggestions for Democrats to deploy in the coming week (especially when interviewed by the media). Enjoy!

 

1
   GOP War on the Recovery

This could be an emerging theme for the entire "budget battle season" ahead. It would put the Republicans on the defensive -- most especially when they start sending their budgets through the Congressional Budget Office scoring process. Hammer on two issues -- jobs lost, and economic growth lost.

"The Republican Party seems to have declared war on our economic recovery. Economists panned their budgetary proposals by pointing out that if the Republicans had their way, the U.S. economy would lose hundreds of thousands of jobs and would not grow as fast as it otherwise would. The economic recovery of this nation is Democrats' first priority, and we cannot stand for Republicans introducing measures which kill jobs and would shrink our economic growth. Right now is not the time to put such a heavy burden on the economic recovery. The Republicans must be cynically figuring that their chances in the next election will be better if they can manage to kill the recovery by killing jobs and by killing economic growth. But Democrats will not stand for holding the American economy hostage for sheer political reasons."

 

2
   800,000 jobs lost

Democrats are already beating this drum, and they should continue to do so.

"The Republicans in the House passed a budget bill which will wipe out up to 800,000 jobs in America. When questioned about this, the Republican leader answered 'So be it.' Killing hundreds of thousands of jobs in our current economy is completely unacceptable to Democrats. Republicans would kill jobs both directly and indirectly -- including things like Border Patrol agents, food safety inspectors, police, scientists, nuclear inspectors and nuclear non-proliferation positions, safe water and air inspectors, policing Wall Street, homeland security, transportation security, education, safety inspectors, and thousands of other jobs Americans rely on. Did the American people vote last fall to make their food less safe? I don't think they did. Did the American people vote to kill every program Republicans don't like? I don't think a whole lot of people voted to kill Sesame Street funding, personally. Did the American people, for Pete's sake, vote to get rid of job training programs in a fragile economy? I don't think they did. Democrats are fighting to save these jobs. Republicans are fighting to kill them."

 

3
   GOP wants lower growth

This one is excellent, mostly because it is impossible to paint the source as some sort of Democratic "front" organization.

"The Republican House budget bill is even getting some criticism from some very interesting places. Goldman Sachs -- hardly a bastion of the Democratic Party -- came out with a report that showed how the spending bill the Republicans passed in the House would reduce economic growth by one-and-a-half to two percentage points, during this year alone. This is unacceptable. This bill would kill our economic recovery just as it is gathering steam. It's almost as if that is the intended result of the House Republicans. Goldman Sachs is no shill for Democrats, and they are plainly stating that our economy would be drastically worse if the Republican budget is passed. They also go on to point out that if we shut the government down, we can expect a two-tenths-of-a-percent reduction in our economy each and every week that the government is shut down. Democrats are responsibly trying to tackle budgetary issues, while Republicans seemingly just want to wage war on our recovery."

 

4
   Wisconsin budget "crisis" explained

Moving on, to Wisconsin.

"With all the smoke and noise about Wisconsin's budget problems, let's take a quick look at the reality of the situation. Wisconsin's budget is a little over one hundred million dollars in the hole for this year. This is fact. What is also fact is that the first thing the Republican governor did when talking office was to pass almost exactly the same amount of money -- a little over a hundred million dollars -- in tax breaks to businesses. Now, in a state budget (unlike the federal budget), you have to balance the books -- you can't fall back on that hoary old 'tax cuts pay for themselves' nonsense. Tax cuts mean less revenue, which means budget cuts or other tax hikes. So the governor's so-called 'budget crisis' was entirely self-inflicted due to the business tax cuts he passed. Now he's trying to use this phony 'crisis' to destroy Unions. It could not be clearer what the Republican Party stands for -- more and more unsustainable tax cuts for the wealthiest among us, paid for directly by hardship for the middle class."

 

5
   The sanctity of employment contracts

I mentioned this last week, while I was ranting about our political priorities in this country, but it bears repeating. Until it sinks in.

"For the last two years, Republicans have leapt to defend the 'sanctity' of employment contracts -- when it came to Wall Street bankers and hedge-fund billionaires. These people couldn't possibly be asked to give up their million-dollar bonuses -- which were paid for by the taxpayers -- or else they would take their 'talent' elsewhere. This, for the people who almost destroyed the American economy. But when it comes to the middle class -- teachers, autoworkers, cops, firefighters -- then all of that high and mighty talk about the sanctity of employment contracts goes straight out the window for Republicans. I guess employment contacts are only sacred for millionaires and billionaires, as far as Republicans are concerned. They have been waging such class warfare on the middle class for decades now, and it's high time the middle class started fighting back."

 

6
   So much for supporting "front line responders," eh?

This would make a good political ad, in my humble opinion.

"Right after the attacks of 9/11, politicians made a lot of noise about standing with our first responders. Police and firefighters were the heroes of the day. Now, the language the Republicans are using against Union members such as these is downright despicable -- calling them 'leeches,' or 'welfare bums,' or even worse. In Wisconsin, a Union website that was being used to rally protesters was censored inside the statehouse -- a move usually seen by tyrannical despots in the Middle East who cut off internet access and cell phones in an attempt to stop protesters from communicating with each other. These Union-busting tactics are disgusting, as are the Republican attempts in Congress to slash funding for the same firefighters and police they once said they supported. Democrats mean it when they stand shoulder to shoulder with 'America's front line responders.' Republicans, quite obviously, do not. They should be ashamed of themselves."

 

7
   Tell me another funny story, Speaker Boehner

And finally, we come to Speaker of the House John Boehner. He's had such an amusing week, that we're really squeezing two separate talking points into one, here.

"Maybe Speaker of the House John Boehner should be working the comedy circuit. Back in 1995, when the Newt Gingrich government shutdown loomed, this is what Boehner had to say about President Bill Clinton taking time off for a game of golf: 'Now is the time, not to play golf as the president did yesterday, now is the time to act.' So, now that he's Speaker, what is Boehner's response to the looming possibility of a government shutdown? To get in a round of golf, of course. What hypocrisy!

"Even more hilariously, when Boehner heard about President Obama's decision not to defend the Defense Of Marriage Act in court, this was his response: 'While Americans want Washington to focus on creating jobs and cutting spending, the President will have to explain why he thinks now is the appropriate time to stir up a controversial issue that sharply divides the nation.' Seriously, the man should be performing such jokes on late-night television. I almost split my sides laughing when I heard that quote. In the first place, Boehner's House has done exactly nothing -- not one tiny, little thing -- to create jobs since they took power. In the second place, Republicans have the gall to point fingers at stirring up 'a controversial issue that sharply divides the nation,' when that has been their exact gameplan on this very issue for approximately the past two decades?!? It is to laugh, Speaker Boehner, it is to laugh. Republicans have demagogued the gay rights issue for every single inch of political advantage they possibly could for over twenty years, but now that the tide of public opinion is turning against their bigotry, they have the sheer unmitigated gall to suggest that there are 'appropriate times' to discuss these issues?

"Please. I mean, just... please.

"I guess the 'appropriate time' to discuss gay rights is when Republicans think they can gain political advantage by demagoguery -- all other times must be 'inappropriate,' according to Boehner. And if our illustrious Speaker is so concerned about jobs, then why hasn't he lifted a finger so far to 'focus on creating jobs'... as he put it? Nobody's stopping you from introducing job-creation bills, John. You just go right ahead -- we're all waiting. But in the meantime, please spare us the comedy routines, OK?"

 

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Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground
Cross-posted at: Democrats For Progress

 

-- Chris Weigant

 

19 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [156] -- Fighting On Several Fronts”

  1. [1] 
    Michale wrote:

    Remember when Democrats blamed Bush and the Republicans and cited that as the reason why Democrats couldn't accomplish anything in their two years when they had a near lock on every facet of government??

    Democrats were blaming Bush and the GOP right up to AND INCLUDING the shellacking of Democrats at the Mid-Terms...

    Shirley you can't expect that the GOP would be able to turn things around, job-wise, in less than 2 months, eh??

    Don't get me wrong. I think some of the GOP's "priorities" are seriously out of whack.. Concentrating on abortion and the like is way off the reservation...

    BUT....

    The GOP's view is (I am sure) that they are, in their minds, looking out for the interests of the people who voted them into power..

    And for THAT, the GOP should be applauded..

    After two years of having Democrats force thru legislation that the majority of Americans were against, time and time and time again, it's actually refreshing to have representatives in DC who actually LISTEN to the people...

    If, after 6 months to a year, the jobs are not materializing, then I will concede ya'all have a valid argument against the GOP for their lack of ability...

    But after less than two months??

    That seems a tad premature to me...

    To borrow the old dead horse sentiment from Democrats...."It took 4 years for Democrats to royally frack this country up. It's going to take the Republicans a bit o' time to clean up the mess and set things right."

    Now, if the GOP is still using that sentiment a year or two from now, then I'll join you in telling them to shut the frack up and get to work...

    Just like I told the Democrats the same thing when they drove that sentiment into the ground... :D

    Michale.....

  2. [2] 
    Moderate wrote:

    The correct spelling is "protester" so you had it right the first time.

    As for Obama and DOMA, despite the fact that I actually agree with his stance, I think there is an important distinction between his action and those of earlier Presidents. While a President is not bound under the constitution to defend duly enacted law, the presumption is that he usually will, unless there's court decisions that back him up.

    Here, however, Obama's argument against the validity of DOMA has been struck down by circuit courts almost a dozen times. In other words, this is not merely a power struggle between governmental branches but Obama defying BOTH of the other branches of government.

    It really makes me laugh when Americans complain about the prospect of paying $4 a gallon for petrol. We currently pay over $8 a gallon!

    Boehner's exact quote was “Over the last two years, since President Obama has taken office, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs. And if some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it. We’re broke.”

    It's hardly his fault that the Obama "recovery" created lots of cushy public sector jobs that don't actually do anything of value (this isn't new teachers, fire fighters or police we're talking about, but lots of administrators) that drain the public purse more than they'll ever add to it and hurt the economy more than help it.

    Heh, Chris, you're not serious about Goldman Sachs, are you? You do realise they were Obama's biggest commercial donors, right?

    As far as I'm aware the Wisconsin tax breaks were for businesses. They weren't "tax cuts for the wealthy". There's a difference, and you can hardly berate the Republicans for not doing anything about jobs then bash Gov. Walker for tax breaks to stimulate job growth.

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    Moderate!!! :D

    Good ta see ya!!

    Michale.....

  4. [4] 
    Moderate wrote:

    Thanks Michale. I've been too busy to keep up with my favourite blogs (of which CW.com is certainly one) for months now, but things have finally calmed down, so expect to see more of me in the comments from now on.

  5. [5] 
    dsws wrote:

    experiencing "revolution fatigue." Seriously. They're bored with the whole storyline

    Fatigue isn't the same as boredom. You get fatigued with something that tries to keep being urgent for too long. Also of course, urgent is not the same as important. Global warming, nuclear proliferation, and the rising cost of medical care are important. Events that, over the coming days, will decide the fate of a country half-again as populous as the Boston metro area -- on a global scale, they're mostly just urgent.

    Which spelling is more acceptable -- "protester" or "protestor"?

    I consider them both acceptable. I use "protester".

    "there is no correct English spelling,"

    I just took a glance at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanization_of_Arabic. There are a bunch of systems all right, none of which apparently has anything like the pre-eminence of pin yin in Chinese transliteration. I hope someone works out a standard soon.

    Wu sent a few "unprofessional" emails to his staff including this photo of him, in a tiger suit, from Hallowe'en

    Oxycodone, yes, that's a problem. But an inoffensive Halloween costume at Halloween? What's wrong with that?

    "Here, however, Obama's argument against the validity of DOMA has been struck down by circuit courts almost a dozen times."

    Precedent in a circuit court is binding in that circuit, not in other circuits. The administration has defended DOMA where there is binding precedent, even though that precedent is undermined by Supreme Court precedent that suggests it will be overturned. The administration is now declining to defend DOMA in circuits where there is no such precedent. I don't know enough to say for sure, but it sounds proper to me.

  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:

    As far as I'm aware the Wisconsin tax breaks were for businesses. They weren't "tax cuts for the wealthy". There's a difference, and you can hardly berate the Republicans for not doing anything about jobs then bash Gov. Walker for tax breaks to stimulate job growth.

    The prevailing thinking around here is that tax breaks don't do anything to stimulate job growth..

    The evidence used to support this conclusion is that there were tax breaks during the Bush years but the economy still went in the tank..

    That logic is faulty as it presupposes that the tax breaks where the reason that the economy went in the tank.

    It's akin to saying that a house destroyed during an earthquake was destroyed because of shoddy workmanship. It doesn't take into account any other factors other than the one the claimant wants to focus on...

    All things being equal, tax breaks DO stimulate job growth.. This is fact..

    But, they cannot do it on their own... Other factors can and do have bearing..

    Michale.....

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    I have misstated the prevailing opinion regarding the tax breaks, someone please correct me... :D

    Michale.....

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    Grrrr....

    IF I have misstated the prevailing opinion regarding the tax breaks, someone please correct me... :D

    Michale.....

  9. [9] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    michale,

    regarding lower taxes for the wealthiest businesses, i would say they may or may not have the potential to create jobs. the difficulties arise in the details; the fine print, if you will. in my opinion, you can't just blame the housing crisis for the bush economy. the tax code signed by dubya was ultimately ineffective because it was all carrot and no stick.

    handing out money and hoping that corporations will find a way to use it to create local jobs, doesn't work. there has to be some sort of dire consequence if they don't. otherwise, as has repeatedly happened in the past decade, the corporation keeps the money and uses it to open a factory in china or buy out their smaller competitors, both of which decreases competition and costs even more local jobs. corporatists of both parties either don't understand this, don't care, or are intentionally pursuing an anti-american, anti-job agenda. i don't know if that's the prevailing opinion, but it's mine.

  10. [10] 
    dsws wrote:

    Lower taxes in one jurisdiction can move some businesses across a border and "create" jobs there at the expense of neighboring jurisdictions. So a race to the bottom can lead to a patchwork of different laws that distort incentives and move jobs to where they're less efficient.

    Checkerboard laws are generally a bad idea. That's a reason to have taxes collected at higher levels of government and doled out to states by the federal government and to municipalities by the states and/or federal government.

  11. [11] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale [1] -

    The GOP's view is (I am sure) that they are, in their minds, looking out for the interests of the people who voted them into power..

    And for THAT, the GOP should be applauded..

    After two years of having Democrats force thru legislation that the majority of Americans were against, time and time and time again, it's actually refreshing to have representatives in DC who actually LISTEN to the people...

    Your bias is showing. BOTH sides, in their minds, were doing exactly the same thing -- "looking out for the interests of the people who voted them into power." Whether either side overreached (or "is overreaching") is debatable, of course, but Obama and the Democrats in the 2008 elections specifically campaigned on, for instance, healthcare reform. Why does it affront you so that they followed through on their mandate from the American people?

    Again, as I said, your bias is showing. Plus, this is Friday, when we're all about making political hay here. The point is not that Republicans haven't waved a magic wand and created jobs -- the point is that they have not even attempted anything along these lines. Love "the stimulus" or hate it, Obama BEGAN his term by getting Congress to pass a jobs bill. Again, you can debate how effective it was, but his priorities were in the right place (even if you didn't agree with his methodology).

    My big point is: the GOP isn't even pretending to care about jobs now that they're in control of the House. Their priorities are seriously out of whack with (as they like to cite) "the American people" and sooner or later, independent voters are going to notice this. Which is why I suggest Democrats help them raise their awareness.

    Heh.

    Moderate -

    I actually got a lot of comments on "protester" versus "protestor" and I think I'm going to keep using "protester" because it just looks more correct to my eye. Maybe it's one of those things where we Yanks changed British spelling (perhaps some Canucks can weigh in on how it's spelled in their "Queen's English" type dictionaries?), I don't know.

    As for DOMA, the Justice Department is in no way bound to appeal every single case to the Supreme Court, so there are lots of decisions which the government just "gives up" even thought they don't win the case, I would warrant. Several examples from previous presidents abound on the net right now. But I do tend to agree with others who warn what a future "President Palin" (to give a "worst case scenario") would do in this regard.

    When you get right down to it, the Constitution is incredibly vague when it comes to these power struggles between the branches, so a lot of it is merely tradition and in no way law. Presidents have defied Supreme Courts (Andy Jackson, for instance), Presidents have defied Congress (Nixon, and Dubya ignoring congressional subpoenas), and Congress has done its own thing as well plenty of times. There really are LARGE grey areas between the three branches, which is why wonks like me get interested when they are explored in real time.

    As for the "200,000 jobs" well, I take that with a grain of salt. The way I've heard it is that Boehner just added up everyone who was hired since Obama took office. This takes no notice of which jobs were NEW jobs, which jobs were hired as replacements for retirees and people who left other jobs, and which were hired as (for instance) political appointees which change whenever any new administration takes power. When you can show me "total federal workforce" figures for (a) before Obama took office versus (b) now, then I'll believe you, otherwise Boehner's trying to wildly inflate this number. When pressed, I've heard Boehner say things like "since Obama took office, 200,000 people have been hired," which is NOT the same thing at all, even if he's trying to fudge things.

    And, [4], you're always welcome here...

    :-)

    dsws -

    That is an excellent point about urgent v. important. I gotta think about that one, I admit.

    As for Arabic, up until 9/11, the US goverment was still using "Usama Bin Laden" (or "UBL") -- there simply are no real standards. And Gaddafi, Ghadafi, Ghadafy, Qaddafi, and all the rest of them just give me a headache, I have to admit. Even "Al Qaeda" took some time for the American media to settle on.

    As for the tiger suit, we don't know exactly what was in the text of those emails which may have added to the "offensive" nature of them. Reports have come in saying that he was sending tweets out "from his children" saying things about "my daddy" trying to shame staffers into not quitting. There's more to this story than may meet the eye. But I fully admit, I just thought the photo was hilarious, myself. Rowr!

    Michale [6] -

    I would argue that all tax breaks are not created equal. Some do much more to stimulate jobs than others.

    But I do admire your openmindedness on economics in general, as I've long considered economics to be closer to voodoo than science. Which is why, for instance, it is too easy to say "Obama's stimulus failed miserably" or (conversely) "Obama's stimulus saved 2 million jobs," wouldn't you agree?

    Heh.

    Oh, and don't forget, 40% of the Obama stimulus (as a bipartisan gesture) was tax breaks. So be careful how you answer...

    -CW

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    Your bias is showing. BOTH sides, in their minds, were doing exactly the same thing -- "looking out for the interests of the people who voted them into power." Whether either side overreached (or "is overreaching") is debatable, of course, but Obama and the Democrats in the 2008 elections specifically campaigned on, for instance, healthcare reform. Why does it affront you so that they followed through on their mandate from the American people?

    While HRC may have been "mandated" by the American People, it's clear now (as it was clear then) that CrapCare was anything BUT reform...

    I think we can all agree that CrapCare wasn't what the American People had in mind when they gave the Dems a "mandate" in 2008..

    Which clearly was the major factor in the Dem Shellacking in 2010...

    Again, you can debate how effective it was, but his priorities were in the right place (even if you didn't agree with his methodology).

    Obama's big on plans and "hope" and "change"..

    He's got the rhetoric down pat, to be sure.

    But, when the rubber hits the road, he is found wanting..

    Good intentions are great.. Follow thru is much more important..

    My big point is: the GOP isn't even pretending to care about jobs now that they're in control of the House. Their priorities are seriously out of whack with (as they like to cite) "the American people" and sooner or later, independent voters are going to notice this.

    True, all true..

    I just think that Independents and NPAs are willing to give the GOP a few more months before they start calling the GOP on it..

    Which is why I suggest Democrats help them raise their awareness.

    The danger is that Dems run the risk of being ridiculed by the Independents and the NPAs with responses like, "Yea??!! You had 4 years. Look at what YA'LL did!!"

    But I do admire your openmindedness on economics in general, as I've long considered economics to be closer to voodoo than science. Which is why, for instance, it is too easy to say "Obama's stimulus failed miserably" or (conversely) "Obama's stimulus saved 2 million jobs," wouldn't you agree?

    My openmindedness on economic matters simply comes from acknowledged ignorance. :D Economics is like the three blind men trying to describe an elephant.. Each man is perfectly accurate and factual about what they are describing, yet all are as different as different can be.

    Consider it a TARSUS II scenario.. :D (Kewpie if you can fathom THAT reference.. :D)

    Michale.....

  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:

    NYpoet,

    handing out money and hoping that corporations will find a way to use it to create local jobs, doesn't work.

    But I thought that Obama was ALL about hope! :D

    Seriously, I see your point..

    But regulating and taxing corporations to death ALSO doesn't work when it comes to job creation..

    Michale.....

  14. [14] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Handing out money and hoping that corporations will find a way to use it to create local jobs, doesn't work.

    Seriously, I see your point..

    But regulating and taxing corporations to death ALSO doesn't work when it comes to job creation..

    agreed. BUT both could work if they were ever used at the same time; generous incentives for local job creation, AND heavy penalties/regulations for layoffs, outsourcing and importing cheap labor. it's not exactly rocket science, just no one has the stones to actually do it.

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    just no one has the stones to actually do it.

    And therein lies the problem..

    We need someone who will say, "SCREW POLITICS!!" and do what's right...

    I *THOUGHT* Obama was that person...

    I was so wrong as wrong could be..

    Michale.....

  16. [16] 
    Moderate wrote:

    handing out money and hoping that corporations will find a way to use it to create local jobs, doesn't work. there has to be some sort of dire consequence if they don't.

    I've always liked the idea of tying the tax breaks to the intended outcome you want the business to achieve.

    Want banks to lend more to small business? Give them a tax break if x% of their total loans in any given fiscal year are for small businesses.

    Want waste treatment plants or other similar business to pollute less? Give them tax breaks for reducing their carbon footprint by y%.

    Want more job creation? Give business a tax break only if z% of their staff are American-based jobs, and additional breaks if they continue increasing their American-based workforce by a specified amount.

    If I recall rightly, a lot of Obama's stimulus tax breaks were actually of this type, and at the time I gave him credit for them.

    I actually got a lot of comments on "protester" versus "protestor" and I think I'm going to keep using "protester" because it just looks more correct to my eye.

    Good call. According to most dictionaries (including the OED) I've consulted, "protester" is still the "correct" spelling, although "protestor" remains in use. Interestingly my English (UK) spell-check just flagged "protestor" as mis-spelled so I think you're spot on.

    As for DOMA, the Justice Department is in no way bound to appeal every single case to the Supreme Court

    Oh I agree, I just think Obama's on slightly shakier ground on this one compared to several other incidents. If, as dsws says at [5], it's only in circuits where there is no precedent, that's stronger than if the DOJ is actually declining to defend it in circuits where there's precedent.

    I just think such constitutional struggles are especially dangerous where the Executive defies both of the other branches, since the Executive is the only one with the power to enforce its rule. Even the Courts "own" enforcement arm, the US Marshals, is part of the Executive branch.

    If Executive power is left totally unchecked you open the door to rule by Presidential fiat, enforced by the armed forces and federal law enforcement, all of which report, ultimately, to the President.

    As for the "200,000 jobs" well, I take that with a grain of salt.

    My point was less about the number and more that to say that the quote had nothing to do with the broader number of jobs that may end up being lost as a result of the House budget bill, but rather it was specifically "on point" regarding federal job losses that could result from a shrinking of the size of the federal government.

    But since we're on the subject of numbers, tying his quote about "some" of the "200,000" jobs being lost to a projected "800,000" jobs that might be lost as a result of the House budget bill is incredibly misleading.

  17. [17] 
    Moderate wrote:

    Sorry about that, still getting to grips with formatting comments and too used to BBCode (with square brackets) rather than html. But I think you can get the gist.

    Editorial Note: I fixed it -- you had one italic tag that wasn't closed (you forget the / slash mark) and one pair that was correct, but with the square brackets. Anyway, fixed both of them for you.

    :-)

    -CW

  18. [18] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    moderate,

    i agree that obama's corporate tax breaks are less terrible than bush's, but there still is no stick to go with the carrot. as i said, there's nothing inherently wrong with rewarding companies commensurately with their use of wealth to create more local jobs. however, there also needs to be a tax penalty and increased regulation for companies who don't. without that stick, the incentive to lay off workers and import or outsource labor is simply too great.

  19. [19] 
    Moderate wrote:

    nypoet22,

    I think one of the problems is partisanship. Both "sides" are so infatuated with taxes, the right with cutting them, the left with (usually) raising them, especially on the wealthy (not necessarily always a bad thing), that both are seemingly blind to the fact that the big problem is deregulation.

    Deregulation isn't something that began with Bush, and in fact the only major piece of regulatory legislation enacted under his presidency was Sarbanes-Oxley, which increased regulation.

    Meanwhile the CFMA, which exempted credit-default swaps (the very instruments that brought down the banks) from regulation, as well as Gramm-Leach-Bliley, which repealed Glass-Steagall, re-introducing "Too big to fail" into fiscal policy, were both enacted by Clinton.

    Nor am I saying that Clinton was the start. That can probably be traced back to the bailout of Chrysler and mass deregulation under Carter. As both parties have held power since then, it's not like either party's track record of regulation is much to write home about.

    The issue, I guess, is one of contributions. Big business means big fat donation checks, and increasing regulation tends to anger the people who bankroll Presidents. It's self-preservation, plain and simple.

    Unfortunately we've yet to see a President willing to buck the trend.

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