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Bill USA

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Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 04:25 PM
Number of posts: 4,121

About Me

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

Journal Archives

Budget battles cost 1 million jobs - economists


Washington's heated budget battles have already cost the economy at least 1 million jobs over the last few years, estimates Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics.

How? Debates about stimulus in 2009, and the federal budget and debt ceiling since then, have created so much political uncertainty for businesses, entrepreneurs, banks and consumers, they're all holding back.

"Businesses are more reluctant to invest and hire, and entrepreneurs are less likely to attempt startups," Zandi said in written testimony before the Senate Budget Committee last week. "Financial institutions are more circumspect about lending and households are more cautious about spending."


Zandi estimates the unemployment rate would be around 6.6% now if political uncertainty had not increased since 2007. Unemployment currently stands at 7.3%.

His estimate coincides with separate research conducted by San Francisco Fed economists Sylvain Leduc and Zheng Liu, who say the unemployment rate would have been around 6.5% at the end of 2012, if it weren't for an increase in political uncertainty.

The Republicans have done so much damage to the U.S. you have to wonder who has hurt us more, al Kaida or the GOP?

The Real Reasons Why Obamacare Exchanges Aren't Working Yet - Wendell Potter


Here are four possible reasons for the current mess:

• HHS wasted valuable time trying to persuade more states to operate their own exchanges. Officials apparently deluded themselves into thinking that even some of the red states could be persuaded that it would be in their best interests to have a state-run exchange than one run by the federal government. In hindsight, those officials wasted months in which time and resources could have been devoted to making sure the federal exchange would work on Oct. 1. HHS officials should have realized from the beginning that Republican governors and state legislators had no incentive for Obamacare to work. There wasn't a chance that they would operate their own exchanges if doing so might enhance the chances that Obamacare would be perceived as a success.

• The administration waited too long to issue important regulations pertaining to the law. HHS clearly didn't want to announce some of the more controversial regulations until after the 2012 midterm election. Those postponements decreased the chances that insurers and the companies hired to build and operate the federal exchange could have everything in place and working perfectly by Oct. 1.

• It made a mistake by requiring that visitors to the website first set up an account before beginning to shop for coverage. Some states operating their own exchanges didn't do this, which, again in hindsight, was a wise decision. Setting up the accounts at the front end has proven to be a system-crashing undertaking. Apparently only a lucky few have been able to get through the account set-up phase and actually begin the real process of choosing a health plan.

• There are simply too many moving parts -- and too many health plan options. Not only are there several insurers offering an array of policies in most states, there are four levels of coverage -- bronze, silver, gold and platinum -- all with varying premiums and coinsurance obligations. Members of Congress who wrote the law fell for the insurance industry's propaganda that "choice and competition" are what the American people need and want. No, it is what the insurance industry wants. When people do get past the account set-up phase, they have to spend considerable time trying to make sense of the various choices -- far more than most employers offer their workers.

UCLA engineers develop new process for making biofuels, offers possible 50% increase in yield

here's the complete title:

UCLA engineers develop new metabolic pathway for more efficient conversion of glucose into biofuels; possible 50% increase in biorefinery yield

Researchers at UCLA led by Dr. James Liao have created a new synthetic metabolic pathway for breaking down glucose that could lead to a 50% increase in the production of biofuels. The new pathway is intended to replace the natural metabolic pathway known as glycolysis, a series of chemical reactions that nearly all organisms use to convert sugars into the molecular precursors that cells need. The research is published in the journal Nature.

Native glycolytic pathways—a number of which have been discovered—oxidize the six-carbon sugar glucose into pyruvate and thence into two-carbon molecules known acetyl-CoA for either further oxidation or biosynthesis of cell constituents and products, including fatty acids, amino acids, isoprenoids and alcohols. However, the two remaining glucose carbons are lost as carbon dioxide.

Glycolysis is currently used in biorefineries to convert sugars derived from plant biomass into biofuels, but the loss of two carbon atoms for every six that are input is seen as a major gap in the efficiency of the process. The wasted CO2 leads to a significant decrease in carbon yield, the researchers observed, which results in a major impact on the overall economy of biorefinery and the carbon efficiency of cell growth. However, re-fixing the lost CO2 would incur energetic and kinetic costs.

While it is theoretically possible to split sugars or sugar phosphates into stoichiometric amounts of acetyl-CoA in a carbon- and redox-neutral manner, resulting in maximal yields, no such pathways are known to exist in nature.

Wonkbook: The shutdown is a total disaster for the GOP

..is the public finally rousing itself from its apathetic torpor? ...Are people realizing that the shutdown, the threat of default, and the GOP's relentless internecine war on Governmnent is just the GOP's refinement of the old 'Burn Down the Reichstag building' maneuver of past enemies of democratic government?


Thursday's Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll hit the Republican Party like a bomb.

It found, as Gallup had, the Republican Party (and, separately, the Tea Party) at "all-time lows in the history of the poll." It found Republicans taking more blame for the shutdown than they had in 1995. It found more Americans believing the shutdown is a serious problem than in 1995.

Even worse for the GOP is what the pollsters called "the Boomerang Effect": Both President Obama and Obamacare are more popular than they were a month ago. Obamacare in particular gained seven points. (More poll highlights here, full results here.)

It's hard to overstate the magnitude of the GOP's strategic failure here: Obamacare's launch has been awful. More than a week after the federal insurance marketplaces opened, most people can't purchase insurance on the first try. But Republicans have chosen such a wildly unpopular strategy to oppose it that they've helped both Obamacare and its author in the polls.

Mileage (mpg) Using Ethanol Seen 20% Higher Than EPA Says - Bloomberg


A tweak to an automobile’s engine software can improve by as much as 20 percent the estimated fuel efficiency when using gasoline with ethanol or methanol, according to a non-profit group pushing gasoline alternatives.

A Fuel Freedom Foundation study showed that setting the engine to run at an optimal setting for the higher octane in so-called alcohol fuels can cut the greenhouse gases emitted on average by 17 percent to 20 percent, making it better for the environment than estimated by independent analysts and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Alcohol fuels are not getting a fair treatment,” Eyal Aronoff, a founder of the non-profit group and co-author of the study to be released soon, said in an interview. With the correct analysis, “the greenhouse-gas emissions look really, really appealing.”

Fuel Freedom is an independent non-profit based in Irvine, California, that doesn’t have financial ties to the ethanol industry. It advocates for policies to build a distribution system for alternatives to gasoline in order to cut drivers’ costs and spur economic growth.

link ti the study: http://www.fuelfreedom.org/white-papers-temp

USDA privatizing meat inspections with program that allowed ‘chunks’ of feces

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is planning to roll out a meat inspection program nationwide that will allow pork plants to use their own inspectors, but it has a history of producing contaminated meat at American and foreign plants.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that documents and interviews showed that a plan to allow hog plants to replace federal USDA inspectors with their own private employees had produced “serious lapses that included failing to remove fecal matter from meat” in three of the five plants that had participated in a pilot program for more than a decade.

more at: http://www.democraticunderground.com/112753728

I thought that this was important enough to crosspost to. (I suspect many people don't go to E/E except infrequently)

Distribution of Household Income since 1968, top 20% increased 37%, middle went down -19%

The second highest fifth increased their share by 20%, while as said above, the middle fifth's share of income went down 19%.

This makes it pretty hard to achieve a strong, growing economy. When most of the people have less money to spend, then companies will find it harder and harder to grow sales and make money ...resulting in depressed jobs growth and stubbornly high unemployment.

The economy doesn't grow based upon business investment. Businesses invest when they have growing sales and profits. Businesses hire more workers when they have growing sales. IT all starts with the aggregate buying power of the greatest portion of your population. IF people aren't getting a share of the productivity growth it's inevitable that businesses will gradually find it more difficult to grow sales, make more profits.

Wages for the first three fifths (from the bottom) of the income scale have stagnated since about 1970 (in real terms - i.e. taking into account inflation) while the profits of corporations and the incomes of the two top fifths of the county (in terms of income) have shown strong growth.

check out chart in this CRS report:

The U.S. Income Distribution and Mobility: Trends and International Comparisons

Businesses are like sailing ships at sea. No matter what the skippper of the boat thinks, Consumer spending is what fills their sails and enables them to go anywhere. Without that wind -- consumer demand --- business won't go anywhere - and there will be no need for sailors to operate those ships.

Sequestration Ushers In A Dark Age For Science In America



A feeling of despair has taken hold within research communities like Dutta's, Top officials at academic and medical institutions have grown convinced that years of stagnant budgets and recent cuts have ushered in the dark ages of science in America.

"It is like a slowly growing cancer," Steven Warren, vice chancellor for research at the University of Kansas said of sequestration at a recent gathering of academic officials in Washington, D.C. "It's going to do a lot of destruction over time."

If sequestration is a cancerous tumor inside the world of science, how far has it spread?

In 2013 alone, NIH, the primary federal spigot for projects impacting human health, will be forced to cut $1.7 billion from its budget. Government agencies across the board are making similar reductions in their research budgets as well. The length of some grants have been shortened, while others have decreased in size and still others have been eliminated altogether. Though they aren't supposed to do so, university officials have begun siphoning money from funded projects to those feeling the pinch, in hopes that if they hang on long enough, help will eventually come.

Woodruff scores RW points regurgitating a GOP Big Lie wrapped inan illigitimate question 4 President

Well, it has become a regular bit of self degradation on PBS NewsHour to hear Ms. Awful, Woodruff et al, grovel for approval from the psycho-fanatic-Right, by parroting GOP propaganda and fraudulent criticisms of President Obama. They don't even need flash cards anymore over at Fox News - Light, they have this crap committed to memory. (although, they must practice in a mirror at delivering it with as much affected ingenuousness as possible. - Woodruff shows a particular facility for this sort of thing in impersonating a journalist.)

In the interview of the President broadcast Wednesday, Aug 28th, Judy Woodruff, gave the PBS equivalent of a chimp throwing shit at a focus of primitive resentment - by asking the phony question (a question which importunes to put words in the President's mouth):

"... how much does it weigh on you that your policies haven’t made more of a difference in those areas?"

The President, always keeping his composure in the face of offensive, ignorant remarks gave a reasoned and measured response to Woodruff's shit blob of a 'question':
(emphasis my own)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it certainly weighs on me. In my first term, essentially, my job was to make sure, as you said, that the economy didn’t just completely collapse. It collapsed, but it didn’t go into a deep depression. And the reason that had to be a top priority was because, if it did, the folks who would have been hurt even worse were those middle-class families and folks trying to get into the middle class, who would have lost even more than they did. And what we were also able to do, at least in my first two years, was to initiate expansions Pell Grant programs, or make sure that we were providing help to cities so that they could hire young people during the summers. But, you know, obviously, an agenda that puts more people back to work has met resistance from the Republicans in Congress, and I recognize that.

But the – what is both troubling but also, I think, gives me a greater sense of urgency is the fact that this is a trend that’s actually been going on for a couple of decades now. As I mentioned in the speech, you’ve got technology that has reduced manufacturing jobs that used to be a foothold into the middle class, that has reduced things like bank tellers or travel agents that used to provide a good middle-class livelihood, and the new jobs that have been produced don’t pay as much. You’ve got global competition, jobs being shipped overseas.

All these things reduce the leverage that workers have, and as a consequence, it’s a lot harder for every worker – black, white, Hispanic, Asian – to ask for a raise. And employers know that. And companies are making great profits, but they’re not reinvesting.

So what we need to do is to go back to that principle that, if you look at our economic history, has always been the case. When we have broad-based growth, when the middle class does well, when people at the bottom have a shot, it turns out that’s good for everybody. It’s good for folks at the top. It’s good for businesses, because now they’ve got consumers who are spending more money.

And you know, a lot of what I’m going to be talking about over the next several months is specific steps, whether it’s helping keep down the cost of college or helping to do more to spur on the recovery in the housing industry or, as I’ll be talking about probably in the next several weeks, specific tools that we know work, proven practices that we know work to get more ladders of opportunity for people who are poor to be able to succeed.

The President could have elaborated upon the words "resistance from the Republicans in Congress".

..... He could have said something like:

"Just to bring you up to speed Judy, with what's been happening in Washington since I was elected - the Republicans have set a new record in filibustering (..oh, I'm sorry, that's a taboo word on M$M, isn't it) any and all of my efforts to get people back to work (GOP obstructed, at a minimum,4.2 million jobs), to invest in much needed infrastructure rehabilitation and just about anything else we tried to do to stimulate and rebuild our economy.

Two highly respected Political Scientists, Thomas Mann, of the Brookings Institute, and Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute (no less) characterized the Republican Party as an 'insurgent outlier' in American Politics for their implacable opposition to everything I have tried to do to repair the economic and social damage their policies (specifically Judy, Deregulation of Wall Street banks (particularly with regard to trading in occult financial instruments e.g. Credit Default Swaps), protection of Predatory Lenders from regulation - and policies promoting concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people) have produced (perhaps they were afraid the contrast between the Democrats proficiently fixing an economy nearly destroyed by Republican style 'absentee government', deregulation and impoverishment of the '98%' was too much for them to allow happen without doing everyting they could to prevent it). ..... Thankfully, even with their rather remarkable animus towards me and all things Democratic, they did not succeed. Although they did succeed in significantly diminishing the recovery to their Trickle Down - Deregulation Disaster.

So you see Judy, it wasn't "my policies" which "haven't made more of a difference" as you asserted within your question - but that the Republicans have in their internecine war on me have succeeded in preventing me from getting much of my policies realized, making the livelihoods of millions of Americans the 'collateral damage' in their pursuit of their top priority - to make Obama a one term president (to quote Mr. McConnell).

OF course, Woodruff probably would have said, without batting an eye:

"Do you think Mr. President, with all due respect, your rather combative style of partisanship, could have caused the Republicans to give up hope of achieving any bi-partisan progress?"

...uhh, maybe Judy, you meant to say 'caused the Republicans to anticipate a lack of partisan comity - ON THE EVENING OF PRES. OBAMA'S FIRST INNAUGURAL'?

CBO Says Reversing Sequester Would Boost Employment (300,000 - 1.6 million jobs) - WSJ


WASHINGTON—The Congressional Budget Office said reversing the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester would boost employment by roughly 900,000 jobs and increase gross domestic product 0.7% by Sept. 30, 2014.

Such a move, which some Democrats are calling for but many Republicans are opposing, would also increase government spending relative to current law by $104 billion, the CBO said Thursday in a letter to Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee. The nonpartisan agency the jobs number represented its "central estimate" of the employment impact in the third quarter of 2014 of reversing the spending cuts, with the outside ends of the estimate ranging from 300,000 to 1.6 million jobs.

The CBO's analysis comes as the White House and congressional Republicans remain at odds over what to do with the across-the-board spending cuts, which began to bite in March and will continue to reduce government spending each year through 2021. The cuts were part of the 2011 Budget Control Act and designed to spur lawmakers to find alternative ways to reduce the deficit. Since no agreement was reached, the cuts went into effect, hitting a range of government programs like the military, education, transportation and housing. The cuts don't affect Medicare and Social Security benefits, though they do cut payments to Medicare providers like hospitals and doctors.

The impact of the cuts has been uneven, hitting some sectors harder than others. Democrats and Republicans remain at odds over whether to leave them in place. Democrats could try to use the new CBO report as a way to push more Republicans to back changes to the cuts. The CBO has estimated that if the cuts remain in place, the unemployment rate will be 8.0% at the end of 2013 and 7.6% at the end of 2014.

also see Economic Policy Institute: http://www.epi.org/publication/repealing-sequestration-create-900000-jobs/

Canceling the automatic, across-the-board spending reductions known as the “sequester” today would have a sizable short-term impact on our economy, according to a recent letter from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to House Budget Committee chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). CBO estimates that canceling sequestration would increase the level of real GDP by $113 billion (0.7 percent) and generate 900,000 new jobs in the third quarter of calendar year 2014; a number akin to 40 percent of the total number of jobs created over the last twelve months.

When Congress returns from their August recess next month, they will have nine days to hammer out a continuing resolution to fund government operations for fiscal year 2014. The fate of the sequester, which began on March 1 and is scheduled under current law to continue through 2021, is likely to hold up negotiations. Replacing the sequester with other cuts, as conservative lawmakers are suggesting, would not produce the same outcome as outright repeal, as it would still involve taking demand out of a weak economy. The CBO’s letter clearly shows that if our objective is strong economic growth and increased employment, canceling sequestration is a no-brainer.


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