HATFIELD, Pa. — The blue “Forward.” signs with the lonely period were gone. But U2’s “City of Blinding Lights” once again blared over the loudspeakers, and some in the audience broke into a chant of “fired up, ready to go!”
The Fiscal Deadline in Washington
The latest on the talks between President Obama and Congressional leaders over the so-called fiscal cliff.
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President Obama doffed his jacket and rolled up his sleeves. Someone shouted, “We love you,” and he gave his typical “I love you back” response. Then, sounding like he was still a candidate, he said he was “fighting” for the middle class and called on the crowd to enlist in the battle.
If Mr. Obama’s visit to a toy factory here on Friday felt like a time warp back to the campaign trail, then get used to it. The lesson he drew from four years of often-frustrating relations with Congress was that sit-down negotiations with the opposition do not work unless he turns up the public heat on lawmakers. And so, just weeks after his re-election, Mr. Obama has made it clear that the campaign will continue.
The goal at this point is not winning re-election but instead promoting his plan to raise taxes on the wealthy and avert a year-end fiscal crisis. While House Republicans have signaled a willingness to generate additional tax revenue, they are still resisting raising rates on higher income.
via Obama Takes His Deficit Fight to the Public – NYTimes.com.
It’s no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top. In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran. While many of the old centers of inequality in Latin America, such as Brazil, have been striving in recent years, rather successfully, to improve the plight of the poor and reduce gaps in income, America has allowed inequality to grow.
via Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% | Vanity Fair.
The financial plan that Tim Geithner advanced yesterday caught everyone by surprise in its suck-on-this boldness, so unusual for Obama in such situations. Up to $1.6 trillion in revenue; new stimulus spending; new mortgage help; and elimination of Congress’ role in the debt limit! Wowza. What’s behind this?
First of all it looks like the White House just figured, and correctly: Let’s not get bogged down in technicalities like Medicare reimbursement levels. It’s of course inevitable that these negotiations will eventually get bogged down precisely in Medicare reimbursement levels. But Obama seems to have figured, let’s not start that way. Let’s start with a package that amounts to a vision and makes a statement.
The statement is about putting jobs and growth ahead of deficit reduction; it’s about saying that we believe these are the right ways to stimulate the economy; and it’s about saying that we’re not going to open these negotiations on Republican turf.
That is: If the White House had instead yesterday offered a modest set of specific entitlement cuts and domestic spending cuts, that would have started the negotiations on GOP turf, since those are the two things the GOP wants. This of course is exactly what Obama used to do: As in last year’s debt negotiations, he started by offering the Republicans half a loaf, and the compromise ended up at 75 or 80 percent of the GOP loaf, and Obama looked weak and his voters were terribly dispirited. it took months for him and them to recover.
He seems to have learned the lesson that that didn’t work so well. And behind the learning of that lesson? Being reelected.
via Nothing Like Being Re-elected – The Daily Beast.
On Election Day, The Boston Globe reported, Logan International Airport in Boston was running short of parking spaces. Not for cars — for private jets. Big donors were flooding into the city to attend Mitt Romney’s victory party.
They were, it turned out, misinformed about political reality. But the disappointed plutocrats weren’t wrong about who was on their side. This was very much an election pitting the interests of the very rich against those of the middle class and the poor.
And the Obama campaign won largely by disregarding the warnings of squeamish “centrists” and embracing that reality, stressing the class-war aspect of the confrontation. This ensured not only that President Obama won by huge margins among lower-income voters, but that those voters turned out in large numbers, sealing his victory.
The important thing to understand now is that while the election is over, the class war isn’t. The same people who bet big on Mr. Romney, and lost, are now trying to win by stealth — in the name of fiscal responsibility — the ground they failed to gain in an open election.
via Class Wars of 2012 – NYTimes.com.
Bill O’Reilly has been caught telling a blatant and total lie during the Wed. Nov. 28 episode of The O’Reilly Factor by claiming that the governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee, said he did not want to light a Christmas tree at the state capitol. The truth is Chafee never said a word about wanting to light the tree or not. The entire segment was predicated around a lie, which O’Reilly milked for all of its dubious worth.
via Fox News host Bill O'Reilly caught blatantly lying on the air – Detroit liberal | Examiner.com.
I know that it’s unattractive and bad form to say “I told you so” when one’s advice was ignored yet ultimately proved correct. But in the wake of the Republican election debacle, it’s essential that conservatives undertake a clear-eyed assessment of who on their side was right and who was wrong. Those who were wrong should be purged and ignored; those who were right, especially those who inflicted maximum discomfort on movement conservatives in being right, ought to get credit for it and become regular reading for them once again.
I’m not going to beat around the bush and pretend I don’t have a vested interest here. Frankly, I think I’m at ground zero in the saga of Republicans closing their eyes to any facts or evidence that conflict with their dogma. Rather than listen to me, they threw me under a bus. To this day, I don’t think they understand that my motives were to help them avoid the permanent decline that now seems inevitable.
For more than 30 years, I was very comfortable within the conservative wing of the Republican Party. I still recall supporting Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater as a schoolchild. As a student, I was a member of Young Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom at the height of the Vietnam War, when conservatives on college campuses mostly kept their heads down.
via Revenge of the Reality-Based Community | The American Conservative.
But with only weeks to go before it concludes, the 112th Congress (2011-2012) is on track to make another type of history.
By passing just 196 bills into law so far, it is in the running to become the least productive Congress since the 1940s.
In fact, that amount is 710 fewer public laws than was produced by the 80th Congress (from 1947-48), which first earned the moniker “Do-Nothing” Congress.
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The lack of legislation passed by Congress in recent years has become frustrating to many lawmakers. Outgoing Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) decided not to run for re-election because of the congressional gridlock, partisan politics, and lack of work being done on Capitol Hill.
via Congress to make history — but for the wrong reason – First Read.