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Member since: Thu Mar 16, 2006, 03:07 PM
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Paul Krugman: The Dixiecrat Solution

The Dixiecrat Solution
Published: October 13, 2013

So you have this neighbor who has been making your life hell. First he tied you up with a spurious lawsuit; you’re both suffering from huge legal bills. Then he threatened bodily harm to your family. Now, however, he says he’s willing to compromise: He’ll call off the lawsuit, which is to his advantage as well as yours. But in return you must give him your car. Oh, and he’ll stop threatening your family — but only for a week, after which the threats will resume.

Not much of an offer, is it? But here’s the kicker: Your neighbor’s relatives, who have been egging him on, are furious that he didn’t also demand that you kill your dog.

And now you understand the current state of budget negotiations.

Stocks surged last Friday in the belief that House Republicans were getting ready to back down on their ransom demands over the government shutdown and the debt ceiling. But what Republicans were actually offering, it seems, was the “compromise” Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, laid out in a Wall Street Journal op-ed article: rolling back some of the “sequester” budget cuts — which both parties dislike; cuts in Medicare, but with no quid pro quo in the form of higher revenue; and only a temporary fix on the debt ceiling, so that we would soon find ourselves in crisis again...


MERS Outbreak: Virus has 48% Mortality Rate as GOP fanatics have 2/3 of CDC & 3/4 of NIH shut down

Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 04:46 AM PDT
MERS Outbreak: Virus has 48% Mortality Rate as GOP fanatics have 2/3 of CDC & 3/4 of NIH shut down
by Lefty Coaster

This is truly alarming news. An outbreak in Saudi Arabia of a lethal new strain of virus named MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) has coincided with the return of Muslim Pilgrims from the Hajj, and the Republicans' deliberate crippling of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

MERS is a virus had spread from bats to humans. This new outbreak has killed 48.7% of its victims in Saudi Arabia so far making it a dire threat we shouldn't be unprepared for as a technologically advanced nation. Yet that's exactly what these reckless Republican fanatics have done.

Shutdown alarms health officials amid MERS, flu threat

Melissa Maynard, Pew/Stateline Staff Writer

This week more than 11,000 U.S. Muslims are expected to join millions of other pilgrims in Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. When the Americans return home, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local health departments will be watching for any sign of the MERS virus that has caused severe acute respiratory illness in 140 people since 2012, killing about half of them.

But because of the shutdown of the federal government, about 9,000 of the CDC's 15,000 workers have been furloughed. James Blumenstock, chief of public health practice for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said states are concerned that the absence of those workers might slow down identification and response to MERS cases if the virus spreads to the U.S.

Shutdown hits scientists hard, White House says

Conor Finnegan

The National Institutes of Health, the nation's top medical research facility, has lost almost three-quarters of its staff, forcing it to turn away most new patients from its studies. Funding for the NIH became a focal point of debate early in the shutdown when reports emerged that children with cancer were being denied entry into potentially life-saving studies.

The majority of Americans may feel the greatest impact, however, from the cuts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Two-thirds of its personnel have been sent home, and as flu season begins, influenza monitoring has been cut back, according to the White House.

Still, the CDC will continue its most important role in monitoring any imminent threats to the public's health, and most flu vaccines are produced by private companies.

The CDC will be able to monitor the situation, but the CDC and the NIH won't be able to respond as quickly should an outbreak of MERS occur in this country. That could be precious time lost for a US population vulnerable to this deadly new virus.

MERS-CoV: Returning pilgrims could be exposed to virus

By Qaiser Butt

MERS-CoV acts like a cold virus and attacks the respiratory system, which can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure, according to the US-based Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. However, officials do not know much about how the newly discovered MERS-Cov spreads, which makes it extremely difficult to take prevention measures.

Its time for Americans to tell the Republicans crybabies to let the adults resume the business of government, as if our lives depended on it, because there's some possibility they may.


TOM TOMORROW: Health care reformageddon


Now This Is Smart Strategy

Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 08:39 PM PDT
Now This Is Smart Strategy
by slinkerwink

I have to say that I've been very pleased with how the Democrats have been conducting themselves in the fight to get the government re-opened and to end the hostage-taking situation with the debt ceiling. I've also noticed the Senate Democrats staking out a position on the left: repealing the sequester. Now, this is very smart strategy because it allows the Democrats to take a position on the left, and it also helps the GOP save face.

How does it help the GOP save face? Namely, by opposing the repeal of the sequester in any CR bill. This is what allows the clean debt ceiling bill to be passed with none of the GOP goodies in it since they'll have to go in and vote for the clean CR. They can go home to their voters and say we didn't allow the repeal of the sequester to happen.


The Saddest Government Shutdown Photo You'll Ever See

Thu Oct 10, 2013 at 07:06 PM PDT
The Saddest Government Shutdown Photo You'll Ever See
by David Harris Gershon

Add to the growing list of Americans affected by the GOP-led government shutdown this adorable, heartbroken child:

Now, I present this image not to make light of the real suffering being caused by the current shutdown, from furloughed workers to cancer patients struggling to receive treatment.

I present this image because it is the perfect metaphor for the heartless, billionaire-funded hostage situation orchestrated by our country's Republican leadership.

For not only does this cute, costume-wearing kid imagistically represent those innocent Americans who are being hurt by the shutdown. This child also symbolizes a generation of voters who are growing up witnessing a national party embarrass itself – a national party self-destructive enough to be led by impetuous House representatives elected due only to gerrymandered districts.

In other words: this child won't be voting Republican. Nor will his peers who are also standing at the gates.


Poison pill in House debt limit plan would be a hostage taker's dream

Thu Oct 10, 2013 at 01:30 PM PDT
Poison pill in House debt limit plan would be a hostage taker's dream
by Jed Lewison

Thanks but no thanks, Speaker Boehner

This is completely nuts:

The House Republican plan to extend the debt ceiling for six weeks would permanently ban the Treasury Department from using extraordinary measures to avoid default, congressional aides said.

The provision would ban practices, used by Democratic and Republican administrations for decades, which have effectively allowed the Treasury to limit investments in pensions and other funds when the government bumps up against its borrowing limit. These steps have extended the time that Treasury can continue borrowing and paying the nation’s bills while Congress debates terms for raising the debt ceiling.

This idea is like banning the bomb squad from defusing bombs. There's really nothing subtle about it either: It is a measure with one goal and one goal alone—to make it harder to avoid defaulting on our obligations.

The only people who could possibly like this idea are hostage takers who think having the power to force America into a default gives them leverage in political negotiations. In other words, it's exactly the kind of idea that House Republicans are bound to love.

But if you're sick and tired of the drama of debt limit hostage crises, this idea is not for you. Instead of disarming the debt limit time bomb, it is designed to weaponize the debt limit. It would make things worse, not better. It's an idea that should be dead on arrival.


If GOP Forces a Default, Americans' Wealth Could Be Cut in Half

Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 04:27 PM PDT
If GOP Forces a Default, Americans' Wealth Could Be Cut in Half
by Dartagnan

This time, it really is different.

" believe that — as in the past — the fiscal showdown will end with a midnight compromise that avoids both default and a government shutdown," warned Nouriel Roubini on Sept. 1. "But investors seem to underestimate how dysfunctional U.S. national politics has become. With a majority of the Republican Party on a jihad against government spending, fiscal explosions this autumn cannot be ruled out."

Analysts have been chirping throughout this crisis that the chance of a default is "zero percent." That hasn't stopped them from calculating what the impact would be, and as the deadline approaches they are suddenly showing more interest in running the scenarios. Here's what could happen to your 401K, your IRA, or your kids' college funds if the Republican Party forces the United States to miss a single interest payment:

In a note to clients on Friday, Deutsche Bank's David Bianco wrote that he too saw a zero percent chance that the debt ceiling debate reaches the point where Treasury actually runs out of money and starts missing interest payments.

The language from Wall Street's experts reflect absolute certainty that the U.S. will survive the ongoing debate over the debt ceiling.

However, "zero percent" is the type of language that should set off warning sirens.

Interestingly, Bianco estimated that should the zero-percent scenario occur, the S&P 500 could crash to 850, about a 50% drop.

What's frightening about Bianco's forecast is not the scale of the decline. Rather, what's frightening is that he would go out of his way to present a scenario that had a "zero percent" chance of happening. Because zero represents an impossibility, in theory it couldn't qualify as a worst-case.

On the day Lehman Brothers collapsed, the S&P suffered the worst decline since the September 11th attacks. That drop was a mere 23% from the one-year high the previous October. Still, stocks lost half of their value.

A 50 percent drop in the S & P would, roughly speaking, cut the accumulated wealth of millions of Americans by half--or possibly more.

What that means in the real world is that if you spent thirty years building a nest egg, the last ten or so--thanks to the Republican Party--would have been wasted.

Put another way, if you saved up enough to send two children to college, thanks to the Republicans, now you will have the money to send only one.

That 4 bedroom house you wanted to buy? Thanks to the Republicans, you'll now be able to afford only 2-3 bedrooms. If you can afford the down payment, that is. Hope your kids like bunkbeds!

And the interest rate on your mortgage? Thanks to the GOP, that'll be around 10 percent, if you're lucky.

If you're ready to retire, thinking you've saved up enough of a nest egg, well, sorry. Thanks to the Republicans, you'll be working another 10-15 years. If you're able to, that is.

If you're looking for a job, good luck. Thanks to the Republicans, no one will be hiring, because no one will be buying anything.

As News and World Report notes,

Fewer customers, meaning less income, meaning less need for workers, which could mean Jane's hours get cut...or that, eventually, she would get cut altogether.

On a broader scale, says Faucher, this kind of cycle could wreak havoc nationwide.

" could very well push the economy back into recession: large job losses, big increases in unemployment, all of those things," he says. "People can't borrow. People won't be able to buy or sell homes, people won't be able to buy cars. ... All those factors will restrain growth."

A survey by Gallup showed that Americans’ confidence in the US economy plunged after the government shutdown. The Gallup index now stands at its lowest level since December 2011.

That's after the shutdown. What do you think will happen to consumer confidence after a default?

As Diaried here by JML9999 and reported by Think Progress, some banks have begun to stuff ATM's with cash in anticipation of a potential run on banks by people desperate for cash.

With just 10 days left to raise the debt ceiling and congressional Republicans threatening to force the government to default on its obligations, banks are taking some dramatic steps to prepare for the economic chaos that would result should the brinkmanship continue.

The Financial Times reports that one major U.S. bank has started stuffing its automatic teller machines with extra cash in preparation for a possible bank run from panicked depositors. The New York Times reports that another bank is weighing a plan to advance funds to customers who rely on Social Security and other government payments that could stop in the event of a default.

No one will be able to say they :

Anyone who remembers the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. little more than five years ago knows what a global financial disaster is. A U.S. government default, just weeks away if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling as it now threatens to do, will be an economic calamity like none the world has ever seen.

Failure by the world’s largest borrower to pay its debt -- unprecedented in modern history -- will devastate stock markets from Brazil to Zurich, halt a $5 trillion lending mechanism for investors who rely on Treasuries, blow up borrowing costs for billions of people and companies, ravage the dollar and throw the U.S. and world economies into a recession that probably would become a depression. Among the dozens of money managers, economists, bankers, traders and former government officials interviewed for this story, few view a U.S. default as anything but a financial apocalypse.

And the predictions of the "zero percenters?" Well as it turns out, they're just making the default scenario more likely:

Nobody believes the country will actually exceed the debt limit — which is exactly why it might.

Oddly enough, despite all the predictions of panic, the stock market was down only marginally over the last couple of sessions.

Here’s the perversity of Wall Street’s psychology: The more Wall Street is convinced that Washington will act rationally and raise the debt ceiling, most likely at the 11th hour, the less pressure there will be on lawmakers to reach an agreement. That will make it more likely a deal isn’t reached.

The real problem with comparing a default scenario to past economic crises is that with a default, the wealth would not be coming back. The markets--and economy--would remain paralyzed for the foreseeable future.

If this really had a "zero percent" chance of happening, then there would be no need for Goldman Sachs to write:

If the debt limit is not raised before the Treasury depletes its cash balance, it could force the Treasury to rapidly eliminate the budget deficit to stay under the debt ceiling. We estimate that the fiscal pullback would amount to as much as 4.2% of GDP (annualized). The effect on quarterly growth rates (rather than levels) could be even greater. If this were allowed to occur, it could lead to a rapid downturn in economic activity if not reversed very quickly.

"Rapid downturn" is a euphemism for "Depression."

Does anybody else wish Obama would just mint that trillion dollar coin and end this madness?

Mint the damn coin and let's be done.

From faceboook - an allegory

So, Imagine that the company you work for held a poll, and asked everyone if they thought it would be a good idea to put a soda machine in the break room. The poll came back, and the majority of your colleagues said “Yes”, indicating that they would like a soda machine. Some said no, but the majority said yes. So, a week later, there’s a soda machine.

Now imagine that Bill in accounting voted against the soda machine. He has a strong hatred for caffeinated soft drinks, thinks they are bad you you, whatever. He campaigns throughout the office to get the machine removed. Well, management decides “OK, we’ll ask again” and again, the majority of people say “Yes, lets keep the soda machine.”

Bill continues to campaign, and management continues to ask the employees, and every time, the answer is in favor of the soda machine. This happens, lets say… 35 times. Eventually, Bill says “OK, I’M NOT PROCESSING PAYROLL ANYMORE UNTIL THE SODA MACHINE IS REMOVED”, so nobody will get paid unless management removes the machine.

What should we do???

Answer: Fire Bill and get someone who will do the fucking job.

Bonus: Bill tells everyone that he was willing to “Negotiate”, to come to a solution where everyone got their payroll checks, but only so long as that negotiation capitulated to his demand to remove the soda machine.

Bill is a fucking jackass.

-Brian Krewson via themetricruler

Wash Post Editorial Board - Republicans Accomplished Nothing with Shutdown So Far

Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 07:25 PM PDT
Wash Post Editorial Board - Republicans Accomplished Nothing with Shutdown So Far
by night cat

Normally, I am not a big fan of The Washington Post Editorial Board. They tend to be too centrist for me and tend to encourage the parties to work together even when the Republicans are unreasonable. But I was pleased to see that in their latest editorial they have noted that the Republicans are accomplishing nothing with the government shutdown. Here is an excerpt:

WHAT HAVE House Republicans managed to accomplish in a week of government shutdown?

Damage the livelihood of millions of Americans? Check. . . . Waste billions of taxpayer dollars? Check. . . .Interfere with key government operations? Check. . . .
Rattle the markets, slow an economy in recovery, interrupt potentially lifesaving research at the National Institutes of Health? Check, check and check.

Derail the hated Obamacare? Ch . . . — oh, no, wait a minute . . .


And while the Editorial Board does seem to think that the Democrats will ultimately need to give the Republicans a lifeline (a little something so that they will end the shutdown), much to my surprise, the editorial board has indicated that now is not the time for the Democrats to compromise. At the conclusion of the editorial they state:

But throwing a lifeline is pointless until the victim realizes he may be drowning. It’s not clear the Republicans have reached that point. The danger is they will take the country down with them.


I am glad that after years of hearing from the mainstream media like The Washington Post that both sides are to blame, that finally they appear to be waking up to the fact that the Republicans are the ones to blame.

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