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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

Flying Blind: Conservative’s Frightening Attack on Economic Data Collection


Congressional Republicans have routinely obstructed attempts to ameliorate the ongoing jobs crisis and Lesser Depression, but some members are now demonstrating apathy toward the unemployed and impoverished so extreme they want to forgo data collection on unemployment and poverty.

The Census Reform Act, introduced by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), is an insulting misnomer and a disturbing reflection of values among the House Republican caucus’s libertarian camp. As Dylan Matthews details, the bill would “reform” the Census Bureau by confining its mission to the decennial population census, in effect eliminating the Current Population Survey (CPS) and the American Community Survey (ACS)—which track the national unemployment rate and poverty rate, respectively, among other stats. All surveys conducted (more efficiently, mind you) by the Census Bureau on the behalf of other agencies would be at least temporarily curtailed—and likely de facto gutted or ended by budgetary and administrative realties—including the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, a panel data goldmine for economists and researchers.

During the Great Depression, U.S. policymakers had contemporaneous data on prices and industrial production (albeit rudimentary by modern standards), but were largely flying blind—in particular, there were no official government statistics tracking unemployment. National income accounting (e.g., the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s National Income and Product Accounts, including GDP data) wasn’t fully developed—widely attributed to Simon Kuznets and Richard Stone—until after the 1936 release of John Maynard Keynes’ General Theory. Late in the Depression, but particularly in the aftermath of World War II, Congress tried to correct this economic policymaking handicap. As such, monthly unemployment surveys began in the 1940s and CPS unemployment data are only publicly available starting in 1948. Deliberately seeking to return toward this data-constrained Dark Age is mind bogglingly ill-advised.

Regrettably, conservative anti-government fervor has already taken a toll on data collection. The Bureau of Labor Statistics eliminated its International Labor Comparison, Mass Layoff Statistics, and Green Job Measures programs because of sequestration—which the GOP extracted by hijacking the debt ceiling and then refused to replace with sensible deficit reduction. And as Matthews’ notes, the ACS came under Republican attack twice last year, as members tried to make the survey voluntary and also eliminate it entirely.

It is often said that conservatives want to reverse the past century’s economic and budgetary policy innovations—exposed by efforts to eliminate the progressive income and estate taxes, social insurance legacies of the New Deal and Great Society, and anti-trust and other regulation. But the GOP’s efforts to castrate economic data collection in deference to some twisted libertarian concept of freedom take this regressing bent to a new extreme, entrenching the GOP as frighteningly anti-empiricist.

Mitch McConnell’s problem: How can he threaten to obstruct the Senate even more?



Filibuster reform needs to come with big gains in order to be worth such high costs. And so, historically, the Senate only considers major changes when the minority is obstructing something the majority really, really cares about. In 1917, it was a law that was a prelude to entering World War I. In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, it was civil rights.

What’s so odd and interesting about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s threats to eliminate the filibuster on executive-branch nominees is that the impetus is the exact opposite: The majority is considering rules changes precisely because there’s nothing more the minority can obstruct that they really, really care about.

These aren’t usual times in the Senate. So far as Reid is concerned, Republicans have already killed pretty much everything else the Democrats might want to do. When he’s been confronted with the argument that Republicans might bring everything to a stop if Democrats change the rules, I’m told Reid’s reply is sharp: “And that would be different how?”

Consider the record. Republicans abandoned a budget deal in favor of the mess that is sequestration. Gun control failed. Student loan rates doubled. Republicans are promising another debt-ceiling showdown. And now immigration looks unlikely to make it through the House.

What exactly is left that Democrats want to get done and Republicans are likely to work with them to finish?

‘Scandal’ Falls Flat: IRS Approved Twice as Many Conservative Groups as Liberal Groups

Omar Rivero

In 2010, the IRS correctly decided that any group with the words “tea party”, “patriots” or “9-12 project” in its name was sufficient enough to raise an administrative red flag.

Of course, the very same conservatives that didn’t raise any objections when President Bush’s Justice Department was caught illegally screening their potential lawyers in order to ensure that any new hires didn’t have liberal leanings, are now throwing an epic hissy fit over a simple administrative decision taken by mid-level IRS employees in Ohio.

The Inspector General’s recently concluded report about this administrative decision included an audit of 298 groups that had applied for tax-exempt status and received special schooling me. Of these 298 groups, 96 of them were flagged due to having one of these 3 “indicators” in their name.

Unfortunately, that is all that we know at this point. We still have no clue as to how many of the 298 groups were conservative and how many were liberal, because the IRS does not publicly release the name of groups that have applied for tax-exempt status.

Fortunately, the IRS does publish the names of groups that not only received a special scrutiny, but were actually approved for tax-exempt status. They recently made public list of 176 organizations that have been approved since the year 2010.

The results are likely to confuse conservatives and validate liberal criticisms of Fox news and the Tea Party’s cynical persecution complex:

- 122 conservative groups
- 48 Liberal/nonconservative groups
- 6 unknown

Democrats offer new evidence that IRS targeted progressive groups


The House Oversight committee’s top Democrat on Friday will release new evidence that the Internal Revenue Service targeted both progressive and conservative groups for extra scrutiny during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in a draft letter to committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif) that congressional investigators have discovered training materials from an July 2010 “Screening Workshop” that prove IRS agents were told to be on the lookout for groups from both sides of the political spectrum.

A PowerPoint presentation from the workshop told IRS processors to screen for names that look like “tea party,” “patriots,” ” 9/12 Project,” and “progressive.” It noted that such groups ”may be more than 50% political,” which could disqualify them from tax-exempt status.

Minutes from the training session show that the IRS also instructed agents who had any doubts about groups to “err on the side of caution and transfer to 7822,” an IRS office in Cincinnati that reviewed applications for tax-exemption.

I have never seen any information on how many "Tea Party", 'anti-tax' groups there were requesting tax exempt status versus how many "liberal" sounding groups. Anybody have info on that?

House Republicans finally pass a farm bill — with no money for food stamps


After a failed attempt earlier, the House GOP has finally passed legislation to fund U.S. farm policy for the next five years. The only catch? This new legislation is missing the $743 billion for food stamps that had been in previous bills.

Instead, House Republicans decided to focus solely on passing a package of subsidies for farmers and agribusinesses worth about $195 billion over the next 10 years. (The final vote was 216 to 208.)

Unlike the Senate farm bill, the House version has no funding whatsoever for food stamps for the poor. The House leadership has said it will come back later this month and try to scrounge up money for food aid in a separate piece of legislation.

So what happens now? There are a few possibilities:

Whether it's 1934 or 2013 some things, like Republicans, never change.

Let student loan interest rates double rather than have Hedge fund managers lose their special tax loop-hole.
And people who can't find work because Republicans fucked the economy over the last 30 years? ......

Let'em eat dirt.

It's good for their immune system.


Student Loan Rates Will Double So GOP Can Protect Tax Breaks for the Top 0.5%?


... "In the past month, Senate Democrats lost a vote on their bill to offset the $6 billion cost of keeping student loan interest rates at 3.4 percent by closing a tax loophole on hedge funds. Senate Republicans lost a vote on their bill to offset it by stripping money from a health care prevention fund.” (emphasis added)


It is more important that the ultra-rich be protected than it is for your son or daughter to find an affordable student loan.

Oh, wait, the Republican did offer another solution — just drop the preventative health care funding from the Affordable Care Act. Stripping funding for cancer screenings, anti-obesity programs, and health care awareness for youngsters didn’t seem very popular, so now the GOP has come back with “tweaks” to the FY 13 budget for offsets. These would include requiring federal employees to contribute 1.2% more to their own retirement funds, a revision of Medicaid taxes, auditing Social Security overpayments, and changing the timeline for the accrual of student loan interest. The Republican wrote to the President, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) responded: “…if Republicans were really serious about negotiating a plan to pay for the bill, they would be meeting with Democrats on the Hill, not writing letters to the president.” Harkin also added that there was no way the Tweaks added up to a real solution.

And, what’s really interesting – is that in the past there was Republican support for closing the very loophole the Democrats are now suggesting. How do we spell O b s t r u c t i o n i s m?

Union of Concerned Scientists study: current scientific evidence does not assure the safety of GMOs



The American experience with genetically modified food crops, while encouraging, does not justify complacency about potential risks for several reasons. First, our experience is quite limited in important ways. Only two traits, herbicide and insect resistance, have been significant commercial successes. Crops with other traits have failed to achieve commercial success, have been held back by companies, or never made it through the research and development pipeline.

Second, the U.S. government provides very little post-market oversight of biotech foods. A recent report by the U.S.-based Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology (cited above) questions the ability of the government's weak monitoring and enforcement systems to detect unexpected human health and environmental problems and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.59 In fact, the current "don't look, don't find" approach to monitoring is likely to detect only the most dramatic, highly visible effects.

Third, the scientific underpinnings of risk assessment and risk management are chronically and severely underfunded. Compared with the amount of U.S. taxpayer funds spent on biotech product development and related research, very little is earmarked for research on risks of engineered products. For example, in the 11-year period of 1992 to 2002, the USDA spent approximately $1.8 billion on biotechnology research and approximately $18 million on risk-related research.60 Many features of genetically modified food crops, for example, impacts of stacked genes and unresolved issues about Bt allergenicity, raise concerns that have simply not been adequately investigated.

Fourth, the diversity promised in future products and the new, more complex issues they are likely to raise are expected to severely challenge a regulatory system already straining under the comparatively light weight of today's products. This point is made by a trio of studies produced by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The first report, Genetically Modified Pest-Protected Plants: Science and Regulation, after reviewing the risks of crops engineered to produce insecticidal toxins and evaluating the EPA's program for regulating these crops, recommended that the agency strengthen its oversight.61


Finally, the scientific evidence available to date, while encouraging, does not support the conclusion that genetically modified crops are intrinsically safe for health or the environment. The next generation of products—crops engineered to produce drugs and industrial chemicals64 and crops engineered to alter regulatory and metabolic pathways65—offer far more numerous traits and appear to be more obviously dangerous than Bt and herbicide-tolerant crops. It would be a serious misstep to overread the positive early experience with Bt and herbicide-tolerant crops and conclude that the weak regulation currently in place will suffice to control the risks of these and other new crops.

Austerity Discredited, Not Defeated – Time to Fight for Jobs and Growth -Campaign 4 America's Future


For four long years after the recession officially ended, conservative austerity policies have sabotaged America’s economic recovery, condemning millions of Americans to unemployment and poverty. And in Europe, the same policy regime of spending cuts aimed at deficit reduction has thrown most of the continent back into recession.

Austerity has been intellectually discredited in recent months. But conservative spending cuts still dominate policy. And last week’s jobs report shows public sector layoffs are still a serious drag on the U.S. economy.

Economists at the Political Economy Research Institute found fundamental flaws in the work of Harvard’s Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff – up until then conservatives’ best case for austerity. But, despite this intellectual victory, sequestration still cripples our recovery.

Officials at the IMF and the World Bank admitted their demands for more austerity in Europe had been misguided. But German bankers are still imposing severe budget cuts as the price for financing the debts of southern European countries.

The Center for American Progress, previously strong supporters of President Obama’s search for a deficit reduction “grand bargain,” came out against austerity as having harmed U.S. and European growth and called for a policy “reset” rejecting further spending cuts. But in September or October, conservatives in Congress are getting ready to hold the world economy for ransom by (once again) refusing to raise America’s debt limit until the president agrees to another round of damaging spending cuts.

GOP poisons ObamaCare, then claims it's sick - USA Today editorial

"There is a distinct line between fighting to turn your ideas into law and trying to wreck a law once it has been passed. The Republicans hope that the problems they create will be blamed on Democrats."


Making ObamaCare work was always going to be hard, which is exactly what you'd expect for a complex new program that affects one-sixth of the U.S. economy.

Remember the rocky rollout of the Medicare prescription drug program in 2006? There were glitches and stories about people who couldn't navigate the system or get the help they needed. Eventually, however, goodwill, patience and sincere effort by just about everyone involved ironed out the kinks in Medicare Part D. It's so popular now that no one would dare try to eliminate it.

That explains — but hardly excuses — Republicans' latest assault on ObamaCare. Having lost in Congress and in court, they're now using the most cynical of tactics: trying to make the law fail. Never mind the public inconvenience and human misery that will result.

Their assault is under way on several fronts. The most disturbing is a concerted attempt to keep the public ignorant about how to use the health care exchanges where uninsured people will be able to sign up for coverage beginning Oct. 1.

Republicans Around The Country Are On A Law breaking Rampage - PoliticusUSA


The concept of law lacks a universally accepted definition, but it is safe to say that in the construct of society it is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior and maintain order. Obviously there are members of any society that find fault with specific laws for a variety of reasons, but because laws are for the common good, most people are inclined to follow them as responsible citizens; unless they are conservatives and specifically Republicans. The past four-and-a-half years have demonstrated that Republicans have no respect for the law on myriad levels, and it is in part based on the premise they are destined by god to rule America, and in part because they believe they are fundamentally above the law like common criminals. It is not a new development for Republicans, and conservatives in general, to disregard laws that are contrary to their ideological bent they have spent decades ignoring, circumventing, and blatantly subverting to impose their despotic ideology and rule America.

There is a definite pattern among Republicans of finding some means to ignore, break, and subvert laws by spending millions of dollars to fear-monger, pose legal challenges, change terminology, or insert unrelated, and constitutionally aberrant items into legislation unrelated to their original intent. Unsurprisingly, many laws Republicans undermine have been settled time and again in the courts, and yet they blatantly violate even decades-old Supreme Court rulings with impunity. Even though Republicans’ practice of undermining the law has been going on for decades, they ramped up their efforts since Barack Obama has been President to take advantage of racial animus permeating American society. What makes their efforts all the more despicable is that nearly all the laws of the land they are undermining or violating have little to no effect on their existence or rights as Americans; it is all about control.

For example, the Supreme Court ruled forty years ago that it is a woman’s Constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy up until the time a fetus is viable outside the womb, and for forty years Republicans and the religious right have used every means possible to violate the Court’s ruling. In just the past two weeks, Republicans redefined pregnancy with a personhood law in Ohio’s budget, inserted abortion bans into anti-Sharia legislation in North Carolina, devised disgraceful means to prevent physicians from having access to medical facilities in Texas, and mandated forced transvaginal ultrasounds to dissuade women for exercising their Constitutional rights. The Roe v. Wade decision has no impact on any woman, or man, who is not making a personal reproductive health choice, but Republicans are violating the law with impunity to force their ideology on every woman in America.

Conservative groups could not comport a campaign law requiring them to reveal their donors, so they illegally used social welfare designation to conceal dark money in campaigns, and to circumvent the law they committed perjury and then had the temerity to complain when the IRS followed the letter of the law governing tax exempt organizations. Religious tax-exempt organizations cannot tolerate a law that prohibits them from campaigning from the pulpit and still keep their tax-exempt status, so they videotape themselves violating the law daring the IRS to revoke their tax-exempt status. Their goal is overturning the Separation Clause in the Constitution’s First Amendment they have been violating for the past three decades.

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