Bill USA's Journal
Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 04:25 PM
Number of posts: 3,627
Number of posts: 3,627
Quotes I like: "Prediction is very difficult, especially concerning the future." "There are some things so serious that you have to laugh at them.” __ Niels Bohr Given his contribution to the establishment of quantum mechanics, I guess it's not surprising he had such a quirky of sense of humor. ......................."Deliberate misinterpretation and misrepresentation of another's position is a basic technique of (dis)information processing" __ I said that
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Republicans are signaling that when they take control of the Senate in January, they’ll try to change the way a key government watchdog does math. If they get their way, it will effectively put a thumb on the scale of all future legislation.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) informs virtually all of our political debates. Made up of non-partisan career technocrats, the CBO’s most important function is to “score” proposed legislation, projecting how a bill would impact future budgets if it were passed. When the CBO concludes that a piece of legislation will increase future deficits, it provides a powerful argument against the measure. When they project that a proposal will shrink the government’s debt, it allows proponents to claim that it’s the “fiscally responsible” thing to do. Key findings from the CBO’s reports are eagerly consumed and broadly disseminated by politicians, pundits and political reporters.
A number of Republicans have called for the CBO to incorporate what US News & World Report calls a “gimmick” that would result in tax cuts magically paying for themselves in future CBO scores. In fact, it would likely result in the CBO claiming that even deep tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy would result in more revenues coming into the government’s coffers. We could have our cake and eat it, too!
The gimmick is called “dynamic scoring,” and is based on economic models that purport to show that tax cuts unleash so much new economic activity that ultimately, they result in more taxes being collected.
“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
Posted by Bill USA | Wed Dec 17, 2014, 06:41 PM (8 replies)
... Medicare and Medicaid Services....
Jason Millman: “The United States spent $2.9 trillion on health care in 2013, or about $9,255 per person, according to a new detailed accounting of the nation’s health care dollars. The 2013 totals represent just 3.6 percent growth in national health spending from 2012 — the lowest annual growth rate since 1960, according to a federal report published in the policy journal Health Affairs.”
Jonathan Cohn: “On Wednesday, actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released their annual estimate of national health expenditures—that is, all the money that Americans spent on medical care last year, whether directly or through insurance plans and government programs like Medicare … In 2013, CMS announced, national health spending was 17.4 percent of GDP.”
“The more important news is how that fraction changed between 2013 and 2014: It didn’t change at all. In fact, because of revisions to some past years, CMS now thinks that health care spending has held steady at that same level (17.4 percent of GDP) for five years.”
Posted by Bill USA | Tue Dec 16, 2014, 08:16 PM (0 replies)
.. In a bit of an indicator of what things will be like starting in January, the GOP inserted a roll-back of a provision of the Dodd-Frank Finanacial reform law into the Omnibus funding bill. The inserted bit of language allows banks to play with Credit Default Swaps with Federally insured deposits and in another classic example of GOP civic cynicism - it was written by Citigroup lobbyists. Thus, Wallstreets Wolfpack, the GOP, is dropping all pretenses of responsible governance - there is no ethical or economic rationale for such a move - and is beginning its unabashed run-down and destruction of rational regulation of Casino bankers. Give the GOP a few years and we should be right back where we were in the last bit of Supply Side prosperity we enjoyed, complete with credit meltdown and imminent economic collapse.
Wall Street’s Revenge - Dodd-Frank Damaged in the Budget Bill - Paul Krugman
Last week Congress passed a bill to maintain funding for the U.S. government into next year, and included in that bill was a rollback of one provision of the 2010 financial reform.
In itself, this rollback is significant but not a fatal blow to reform. But it’s utterly indefensible. The incoming congressional majority has revealed its agenda — and it’s all about rewarding bad actors.
Now, this isn’t the death of financial reform. In fact, I’d argue that regulating insured banks is something of a sideshow, since the 2008 crisis was brought on mainly by uninsured institutions like Lehman Brothers and A.I.G. The really important parts of reform involve consumer protection and the enhanced ability of regulators both to police the actions of “systemically important” financial institutions (which needn’t be conventional banks) and to take such institutions into receivership at times of crisis.
But what Congress did is still outrageous — and both sides of the ideological divide should agree. After all, even if you believe (in defiance of the lessons of history) that financial institutions can be trusted to police themselves, even if you believe the grotesquely false narrative that bleeding-heart liberals caused the financial crisis by pressuring banks to lend to poor people, especially minority borrowers, you should be against letting Wall Street play games with government-guaranteed funds. What just went down isn’t about free-market economics; it’s pure crony capitalism.
And sure enough, Citigroup literally wrote the deregulation language that was inserted into the funding bill.
Posted by Bill USA | Tue Dec 16, 2014, 05:40 PM (1 replies)
(emphasis my own)
Progressives revolted over two provisions in the massive compromise spending bill about to become law. One provision rolls back banking regulation of derivatives under the Dodd-Frank Act passed during the financial crisis. The other provision will vastly increase the amount of money which individuals can donate to political parties. A couple could give their favorite political party over $3 million during a two-year election cycle. (It is quite sad for the House to pass the provision the night of Tom Mann’s retirement party from Brookings; Tom was so instrumental in the writing and passage of the McCain-Feingold law, whose soft money limits have now been severely undermined by the Cromnibus.)
The two objectionable provisions might seem unrelated, but in fact they are quite interrelated. Both show the importance of the role of money and influence in Washington. On the derivatives law heavily favored by the banking industry, the NYT explains:
“The language in the spending bill was inserted by Representative Kevin Yoder, Republican of Kansas, but he did not write it. Citigroup did. In 2013, the bank and its allies were able to corral a bipartisan vote to pass the rollback out of the House Financial Services Committee. In an analysis by The New York Times of Citigroup emails, more than 70 lines of the committee’s 85-line rollback bill came from Citigroup’s recommendations. The banking industry strongly supports the rollback measure. James C. Ballentine, an executive vice president at the American Bankers Association, said financial instruments like credit deferred swaps are used to mitigate risk, not bolster it. To force their trading into units unprotected by federal taxpayers would be onerous, he argues.”
On the campaign finance measure, this was not something that anti-regulationist Mitch McConnell forced on unwilling Democrats. This was negotiated by Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and likely supported by President Obama. No one has been a bigger hypocrite on campaign finance than President Obama, who has always talked about the need for campaign finance reform while his actions did a tremendous amount to undermine and weaken existing law.
Neither of these provisions were the subject of hearings or deliberation. Both were snuck into a massive bill through the back door at the behest of the powerful.
The Senate has not voted on the Funding bill, so you still have time to call your Senators to tell them what you think of this back door sabotage of Democracy.
Posted by Bill USA | Sun Dec 14, 2014, 04:22 PM (0 replies)
...corporate 'Democrats', TPP and hollowing out the Middle Class. Another great show, interviewing John MacArthur publisher of Atlantic Magazine.
Video and transcript....
BILL MOYERS: Yeah. You say if he wins the Trans-Pacific Partnership, he'll be giving away big chunks of our remaining manufacturing base to Japan and Vietnam and other Pacific Rim countries. Why does he want to do that?
JOHN R. MACARTHUR: Because he's the fundraiser in chief. And again, this goes back to Bill Clinton. Because Obama's really just imitating Bill Clinton. Clinton made an alliance with the Daley machine in Chicago, which Obama, he's inherited that alliance with the two Daley brothers. The people who were thriving are the people in power. Rahm Emanuel is now mayor of Chicago. Bill Daley and Rahm Emanuel were the chief lobbyists for passing NAFTA under Clinton. They're the ones who rounded up the votes. They're the ones who made the deals with the recalcitrant Democrats and Republicans who didn't want to vote for it. These people are in the saddle. They succeeded each other as--
BILL MOYERS: They're Democrats, too.
JOHN R. MACARTHUR: Democrats. But Daley succeeded Rahm Emanuel as Obama's chief of staff. These are the people Obama talks to all the time. And they're saying, free trade, great. We don't know about factories closing. But it's a great way to raise money.
Obama Is Still Pushing Two Giant Trade Deals — Here’s What You Need to Know
Last week, Barack Obama called once again for establishing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a mega-deal regulating trade in 12 countries that account for about 40 percent of the world’s economic activity. The deal has been in the works for almost a decade.
Why are we talking about this now?
In addition to President Obama’s comments that he had made “good progress” discussing the deal with other leaders at the Asia-Pacific Summit last week, many observers believe that these trade agreements, especially the TPP, represent one area where the new Republican-controlled Congress and the White House can find common ground. And, as American University scholar James Thurber told NBC News, “the president believes that a trade deal will define his legacy.”
But there’s reason to be skeptical that a deal is possible. A complex treaty is impossible to negotiate without Congress giving the president “fast-track” trade authority. Fast-track strips Congress’s ability to amend any agreement the president makes with other countries — they would only be able to vote yea or nay.
Whereas there was once a solid, bipartisan consensus in favor of these kinds of trade deals, it has since fallen apart. According to Public Citizen, only eight House Democrats are on record as favoring fast-track. On the other side of the aisle, as I noted in January, the tea party wing of the Republican Party has dubbed the TPP “Obamatrade,” and is warning, in the words of one “analyst” on the Tea Party News Network, that TPP is a “weapon aimed straight at our Constitution, straight at our sovereignty and straight at Christians around the world.”
Posted by Bill USA | Sun Dec 14, 2014, 03:18 PM (4 replies)
here are a couple of excellent treatments of the Public Debt, by President, and Job Creation, by President. These articles are concise and to the point. They can be used to beat RWers over the head with. There are even links to Excel Spreadsheets (also concise not too elaborate) which show data and calculations. These can be downloaded and saved for any additional calculations or notes you would like to add.
As I said: good stuff for beating Rwers over the head with!!
National Debt Graph by President
Oct 24, 2014. When did the National Debt go crazy? Why? Who’s to blame? Where is the debt headed? Compared to the US economy, the national debt is smaller than it was after World War II. But, take a look at what could have happened if three presidents had balanced their budgets.
The National Debt: Voodoo from Wall Street
Oct 24, 2014. What if Reagan and the Bushes had balanced their budgets? How much lower would the debt be now? We’ll get to that shortly, but first, how did we get into this mess? This may just be the weirdest political tale you’ve every heard.
World War II cost a bundle, and the country started out in the Great Depression. It was flat broke. But Uncle Sam was popular and the country patriotic, and people were happy to lend him money. Compared to the size of the economy back then, the debt soon outstripped even today’s debt, and we won the war.
The data for actual Debt-as-%-of-GDP for 1940-2006 comes from George W. Bush’s OMB Historical Table 7.1 for FY 2008 — download. (spreadsheet) (Why graph Debt / GDP ?)
Who are the Job Creators
Nov 2, 2014. For the last 85 years, since 1929, every time the Democrats took over the presidency, jobs were created faster. And every time the Republicans took over, jobs were created slower. Nine times in a row is no accident. And the difference is huge. Why is that? Let a conservative economist explain.
The pattern started with a huge increase in job creation under Franklin Roosevelt after then losses under Herbert Hoover. Then as the graph shows, the Republicans continued to lose the jobs race with every transition. That’s nine times in a row. That chance that you and I will take turns flipping a coin ten times, and I always get tails and you always get heads is 1 in 1,000. But it could happen. The Republicans could have had bad luck for 85 years running. But would you bet on a horse with that track record?
But there’s an even better reason to believe in this graph. We know why the Republicans should lose this race. Three types of policies are required to fight a recession and Republicans oppose the first two while the Democrats favor them. (Neither party does much about the third policy.) According to conservative economist Peter Morici (video, July 2009), these three policies are:
1.“We absolutely had to have a stimulus package.”
2.“turning the banks around”
3.“dealing with the trade deficit.”
Here is the home page of this site http://zfacts.com/
The menu of topics shows: Fact Cards; The Debt; Economy; Social; Carbon; Politics; War. at each menu choice there are several articles. I have not read them all but what I have read are concise and to the point (a much loved quality by DUers).
Posted by Bill USA | Sat Dec 13, 2014, 04:51 PM (4 replies)
In a rare break from President Obama, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) blasted the White House on Thursday for putting its weight behind the $1.1 trillion government funding package.
In a speech decrying the “cromnibus” on the House floor, Pelosi, the minority leader, noted that Republican defections have given the Democrats significant leverage in the debate and wondered why the White House wouldn't use that power to fight the conservative policy riders that have sparked the Democrats' outcry.
“I'm enormously disappointed that the White House feels that the only way they can get a bill is to go along with this,” Pelosi said. “And that would be the only reason they would sign such a bill that would weaken ‘a critical component of financial system reform aimed at reducing taxpayer risk.’ Those are the words in the administration's statement.”
Liberal Democrats are up in arms over two GOP amendments to the sweeping year-end spending bill. The first would undo parts of the Democrats' 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law; the second would allow wealthy donors to give a great deal more money to political parties.
...... Democrats in Senate should add a provision for free vacation trips for all Republicans to Western Iraq .
Posted by Bill USA | Fri Dec 12, 2014, 04:17 PM (8 replies)
Posted by Bill USA | Wed Dec 10, 2014, 07:39 PM (2 replies)
After four years of twisting arms in Congress, Wall Street may have finally found the opportune moment to reshape financial regulation.
A flurry of legislative deal-making surrounding the federal budget has opened a window of opportunity for bank lobbyists to challenge the Dodd-Frank Act, the sweeping regulatory overhaul passed in response to the financial crisis. With the clock ticking on a budget bill — lawmakers have vowed not to shut down the government, but need to act by Thursday night — banks are seeking to tuck their proposals into the giant federal spending package.
Whether they succeed remains an open question. As of Tuesday afternoon, some Democrats and consumer groups retained hope that they could fend off the Wall Street effort.
The fight has centered on elements of Dodd-Frank that address the culprits of the financial crisis, including the sort of derivatives trading that helped push the insurance giant American International Group to the brink of collapse in 2008. One bill would amend the so-called Volcker Rule, a centerpiece of Dodd-Frank. Another bill that lawmakers plan to include in the government funding plan was essentially written by lobbyists for Citigroup.
This really requires everybody call email your Congressman (well, if they're Democrats) to try to get this stopped.
Elizabeth Warren urges Democrats to not vote for Funding bill with provisions to repeal part of Dodd-Frank
The last-minute inclusion, hammered out by party negotiators, is outraging several Democrats who have spent years fighting back against GOP efforts to reduce the impact of the 2010 law.
The titular sponsor of the law, retired Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), is calling on his former colleagues to defeat the funding bill because of the “stealth attack” on his namesake legislative achievement.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Democrats are “deeply troubled” by several provisions included in the roughly 1,600-page bill posted Tuesday evening and highlighted language stepping back tougher rules on financial derivatives.
“This provision, allowing big banks to gamble with money insured by the FDIC , opens the door to another taxpayer-funded bailout of big banks — forcing middle class families to bear the burden of Wall Street’s mistakes,” she said in a statement.
Posted by Bill USA | Wed Dec 10, 2014, 06:19 PM (7 replies)
When it comes to getting news about politics and government, liberals and conservatives inhabit different worlds. There is little overlap in the news sources they turn to and trust. And whether discussing politics online or with friends, they are more likely than others to interact with like-minded individuals, according to a new Pew Research Center study.
The project – part of a year-long effort to shed light on political polarization in America – looks at the ways people get information about government and politics in three different settings: the news media, social media and the way people talk about politics with friends and family. In all three areas, the study finds that those with the most consistent ideological views on the left and right have information streams that are distinct from those of individuals with more mixed political views – and very distinct from each other.
These cleavages can be overstated. The study also suggests that in America today, it is virtually impossible to live in an ideological bubble. Most Americans rely on an array of outlets – with varying audience profiles – for political news. And many consistent conservatives and liberals hear dissenting political views in their everyday lives.
Yet as our major report on political polarization found, those at both the left and right ends of the spectrum, who together comprise about 20% of the public overall, have a greater impact on the political process than do those with more mixed ideological views. They are the most likely to vote, donate to campaigns and participate directly in politics. The five ideological groups in this analysis (consistent liberals, mostly liberals, mixed, mostly conservatives and consistent conservatives) are based on responses to 10 questions about a range of political values. That those who express consistently conservative or consistently liberal opinions have different ways of informing themselves about politics and government is not surprising. But the depth of these divisions – and the differences between those who have strong ideological views and those who do not – are striking.
Posted by Bill USA | Tue Dec 9, 2014, 08:41 PM (0 replies)