Bill USA's Journal
Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 04:25 PM
Number of posts: 3,436
Number of posts: 3,436
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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(emphases my own)
Hypocrisy, Locked and Loaded
If Congressional Republicans are really intent on getting to the bottom of an ill-conceived sting operation along the border by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, they should call President Felipe Calderón of Mexico as an expert witness.
Mr. Calderón has the data showing that the tens of thousands of weapons seized from the Mexican drug cartels in the last four years mostly came from the United States. Three out of five of those guns were battlefield weapons that were outlawed here until the assault weapons ban was allowed to lapse in 2004. To help him stop the bloody mayhem, he is pleading with Washington to re-enact the ban and impose other needed controls.
That is the last thing Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican, wants to hear. He and Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, issued a report last week castigating the A.T.F. for an operation in which federal agents, hoping to track guns to Mexican cartels, monitored but did not stop gun sales to people suspected of obtaining weapons for those criminal groups. Two of the American-sold guns showed up at the scene of a fatal shooting of an American border patrol agent in Arizona last year.
Congress needs to be candid about how loophole-ridden laws have created a huge market for assault weapons, which end up in Mexico. At a hearing, Mr. Issa insisted, “We’re not here to talk about proposed gun legislation.” Federal officials in February sought authority to require gun dealers to report bulk sales of assault rifles only to have it blocked by a provision in the Republican budget. A responsible Congress would re-enact the assault weapons ban, outlaw uncontrolled gun-show sales and reform regulations that allow corrupt dealers to stay in business.
Report: Many weapons used by Mexican drug gangs originate in U.S.
(emphases my own)
A trio of Democratic U.S. senators called for tougher firearms laws and regulations after releasing a report that showed a large number of weapons used by Mexico drug gangs originate north of the border.
More than 70% of 29,284 firearms submitted to the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for tracing by the Mexican government during 2009 and 2010 originated in the United States, according to the report.
The report, released Monday, is the latest element in a debate over how large a role the United States plays in arming the ruthless Mexican drug cartels that are responsible for more than 34,000 killings since 2006.
The senators are calling for reinstatement of an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and better enforcement of a ban on the import of military-style weapons.
Posted by Bill USA | Sat Jun 30, 2012, 03:51 PM (0 replies)
According to a study prepared by the congressional Joint Economic Committee and verified by independent experts, the House Republican budget authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would raise taxes on families making less than $200,000, even while it gives millionaires a tax cut:
So although households earning $100,000 to $200,000 a year would save about $7,000 from the lower tax rates in the GOP plan, those savings would be swamped by eliminating major deductions, according to the report by the Democratically controlled congressional Joint Economic Committee.
The net result: Married couples in that income range would pay an additional $2,700 annually to the Internal Revenue Service, on top of the tax increases that are scheduled to hit every American household when the George W. Bush-era cuts expire at the end of the year.
Households earning more than $1 million a year, meanwhile, could see a net tax cut of about $300,000 annually.
“Ryan seems to want to have his cake and eat it, too, and this report shows that you can’t,” added Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY). “If you want to cut taxes on the rich and not raise the deficit, you’re going to have to basically clobber the middle class.”
According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, the Republican budget would also slam those making less than $30,000 per year, because it doesn’t extend some of the tax cuts for low-income Americans that President Obama has signed into law:
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities study
Joint Economic (Senate) Committee report: Winners and Losers: Understanding the Ryan Plan’s Potential Tax
Implications for America’s Workers
Posted by Bill USA | Wed Jun 20, 2012, 04:55 PM (5 replies)
According to a new study, use of the phrase “job killer” has exploded in major media outlets since President Obama took office. An overwhelming majority of the time, the phrase was uncritically repeated, with the news organization failing to cite any evidence for it at all. The study, which was conducted by Prof. Peter Dreier of Occidental College and Christopher R. Martin of the University of Northern Iowa found:
– Media stories with the phrase “job killer” spiked dramatically after Barack Obama was elected president, particularly after he took office. The number of stories with the phrase “job killer” increased by 1,156% between the first three years of the George W. Bush administration (16 “job killer” stories) and the first three years of the Obama administration (201 “job killer” stories).
– The majority of the sources of stories using the phrase “job killer” were business spokepersons and Republican Party officials. Republican officials (41.7%) and business sources (18.6%) were responsible for 60.3% of the “job killer” allegations. In 17% of the stories, news organizations used the phrase in articles and editorials without attributing the phrase to a source.
– In 91.6% of the stories alleging that a government policy was or would be a “job killer,” the media failed to cite any evidence for this claim or to quote an authoritative source with any evidence for this claim. With little or no fact checking of “job killer” allegations, Americans have no way to know if there is any evidence for these claims.
Unsurprisingly, the Wall Street Journal was the most likely to cite the phrase job killer and the most likely to use it uncritically or without attribution.
The study’s authors wrote that “the news media, by failing to seek to verify allegations made about government policies and proposals, typically act more like a transmission belt for business, Republican, and conservative sources than an objective seeker of truth when it comes to the term ‘job killer.’” And this is certainly not the only instance in which the media help reinforce a conservative myth: the Social Security debate is plagued by misinformation thanks to media malfeasance.
Posted by Bill USA | Fri Jun 15, 2012, 04:17 PM (2 replies)
.. to deal with the Bush Deficit.
While the Tea-Party dominated Republicans in D.C. are adamant there should be no tax increases under any circumstances (tax 'increase' to DC Repubs includes returning to the tax rates before the infamous Bush Tax Cuts which helped create this REPUBLICAN DYSTOPIA we are now in, and which were the biggest single contributor tothe deficit - greater even than the Trickle Down Disaster). But among rank and file Repubs, even among the 'Staunch Conservatives' - as PEW Research defines them, it is not an absolute that tax increases should never be countenanced. 34% of Staunch Conservatives of the rank and file Repubs say dealing with the Deficit can be done with an approach that includes tax increases along with program cuts. Among 'Mainstreet' Repubs 59% agree with a mixed approach of tax increases and program cuts in dealing with the deficit.
The PEW Research Center divides Republicans into Staunch Conservatives and Mainstreet Republicans. Staunch Cons represent about 11% of the registered voters, while Mainstreet Repubs constitute about 14% of the registered voters.
According to PEW, while the Staunch Cons are mostly against any tax 'increases' (this includes returning to pre-Bush Tax cuts rates - not a real tax increase) to lower the deficit as in a mixed approach of tax increases plus program cuts: 64% are for only program cuts, 34% would accept an approach involving tax increases WITH program cuts. Among Main Street Repubs 59% agree with an approach which includes tax increases plus program cuts. Only 35% of Mainstreet Repubs say Deficit Reduction should mainly come from Program cuts.
Among the general public 64% say deficit reduction should be accomplished using tax increases plus program cuts.
Reducing the Budget Deficit
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans say that the best way to reduce the federal budget deficit would include a combination of both cutting major programs and increasing taxes. Just 20% say the focus should be mostly on spending cuts, and just 6% say it should be mostly on tax increases.
Staunch Conservatives are the only group where a majority (59%) says the approach to deficit reduction should focus mostly on cutting major programs. Nearly half (47%) of Libertarians agree that spending cuts should be the focus, while about as many (45%) think a combination of cuts and tax hikes are in order. Clear majorities in all other groups say the best way to reduce the deficit is through a combination of cutting major programs and increasing taxes.
9% OF ADULT POPULATION /11% OF REGISTERED VOTERS
Basic Description: This extremely partisan Republican group is strongly conservative on economic and social policy and favors an assertive foreign policy. They are highly engaged in politics, most (72%) agree with the Tea Party, 54% regularly watch Fox News, and nearly half (47%) believe that President Obama was born outside the U.S.
So the Repubs in DC in being opposed to any sort of tax 'increase' (including returnung to pre- Bush tax cuts rates) are going beyond what their base finds acceptable. Why go beyond what the base finds acceptable?? .... for political victory over Obama leveraged by continuing this Republican Dystopia. Businesses are reluctant to bring back laid off workers as long as the Repubs show they are willing to kill the economy to win an election. Were it not for this uncertainty, businesses would be hiring more people and bringing back more of the laid off workers and we would have seen a lower unemployment rate now. But Republican Party leaders know that would not be good for their chances in November. So, on with the war on Obama with the collateral damage to millions of Americans' livelihoods.
Who needs al-Kaida when you've got the GOP!
Posted by Bill USA | Wed Jun 13, 2012, 07:29 PM (2 replies)
Inflated the housing bubble three ways:
1. Propping up a sick economy with easy money. Easy money policy at FED kept interest rates low. This was needed to prop up an economy that would have gone into recession without it. Tax cuts weighted mostly for the highest income tax brackets meant that the tax burden was being shifted to middle income people. They were finding themselves without as much money (median incomes were going down in the Bush years - for the first time in 50 years) and the only way they could keep them 'buggers' buying to support the economy was with easy credit and cheap money. So personal debt kept increasing as people tried to maintain lifestyles they were used to with declining incomes. Meanwhile GDP was growing at it's slowest rate 70 years( see: "The Aughts: the Lost Decade for Economy, Workers").
2. Not only ignored but fought efforts to rein in Predatory Lenders by 50 states attorneys General (see: Predatory Lenders Partner in Crime)
3. Deregulation. Phil Gramm, deregulator extraordinaire, slipped the Commodities Futures Modernization act 2000 in as a rider to the Omnibus Funding bill in the last few days of the Clinton administration (and just before the Congressional Christmas recess). The Omnibus Funding bill (an 11,000 page document) was a MUST PASS (ie. veto proof) bill before the legislature could leave as it was necessary to keep the Government operating. When Gramm slipped in the CFMA in as a rider - nobody in Congress even knew it was in there.
The CFMA had been held up in committee for about a year or more basically because Democrats were very suspicious of it. Gramm knew to get it passed he had to perform some pretty clever slight of hand legislative trickery. The CFMA made trading in Credit Default Swaps Legal and UNREGULATED. Credit Default Swaps were sold to investors in higher rate (i.e. riskier) Collaterized Debt Obligations (bundled mortgages). The banks explained to the investors (e.g. pension funds, sovereign wealth funds) that if the CDO tranche they invested in went into default the CDS would pay off so the investor would not lose any of his money. this was like Christmas in July...the investor got higher returns with NO RISK OF LOSS... or so it was sold.
Selling the CDSs which were sold as risk eliminators made high yield CDOs very much in demand by investors and their Wall Street Banksters. The banksters told mortgage originators they could buy all the high yield (sub-prime) mortgages lenders could supply. NOTE regular prime rate mortgages were NOT what the Wall Street Banksters wanted. They wanted high yield mortgages. Thus predatory lenders could 'flip' all the sub-prime mortgages they could write. So Predatory lenders were lassoing suckers and writing liar loans and all the alt-A (negative amortization loans - i.e. interest only payment loans, and baloon payment loans) they could get away with (cf. Predatory Lenders Partner in Crime - above).
The CFMA also included the notorious ENRON loophole allowing UNREGULATED trading of energy futures over electronic media. This of course lead to the ripping off of California residence to the tune of Billions of dollars the eventual collapse of ENRON. Thousands out of jobs and without any pensions!
The loose money policies were necessary to prop up an economy which was dieing slowly. It was flagging because tax cuts went mostly to the highest income people thus increasing the tax burden on middle income people who were slowly buying less. so easy money/credit was necessary to enable the people to keep buying - to hold off the recession. Because there was not really enought demand to keep businesses making money and growing, those who did have money were finding it hard to find good investment opportunities (the stock market at this time was not all that great except for home builders). So they were casting about for ways to make money on their investments. The only sector that looked good was housing (as long as the cheap money and loose credit continued).
Eventually the shit hit the fan when the housing bubble could not continue. Banks were holding massive amounts of bad debts (worthless mortgages) that alas, the credit Default swaps could not cover as AIG was going bankrupt trying to pay-off all the Wall Street Banksters CDSs! Hank Paulson went to Bush and Congress and said a bailout was necessary to preclude a collapse of the entire banking sector. Trillions of dollars in bad loans were held by banks which wanted the Taxpayer buy for ridiculous prices. TARP didn't allow for all THAT much of a bailout so trillions of dollars in bad loans still remained on banks books slowing the recovery which was to follow (albeit fought by GOP every inch of the way).
It was a spectacular disaster - a Trickle Down - Deregulation Disaster. Which dragged us into this REPUBLICAN DYSTOPIA.
for more details see: How did this Happen
BUT I DO NOT THINK THEIR INTENT WAS TO CRASH THE ECONOMY - I DON'T THINK THEY KNEW ANY BETTER.
They don't think far enough to see that concentration of wealth eventually leads to a slow growth economy with poor job creation because there isn't enough demand for the products businesses want to sell. They are paid to push deregulation and I think they really don't "get it" that regulation if necessary not only to protect us from greedy people who manage businesses (businessmen are, after all, just people. they are not perfect. They can be just as selfish and short sighted as anyone). A proportion of people (some of them managing businesses) are willing to cheat to make more money. Without regulations disaster is inevitable. But Republicans are paid to fight regulation and some of them may actually believe the deregulatory nonsense they are paid to repeat.
... but they have been fighting every effort of the Dems to rebuild the economy since then.
Posted by Bill USA | Mon Jun 11, 2012, 08:06 PM (0 replies)
I wasn't able to catch all M$M's coverage of the Koch brothers victory in Wisconsin, but what I did see, with all the discussion about the reasons and ramifications of the Walker win, I heard not a word mentioned about the almost 8 to 1 spending advantage Walker had.
And of all the interpretations of the "why" of the win not only was the spending advantage not even considered nobody I saw considered the GOP's mastery of whipping up resentment for those 'wealthy' teachers and other public servants. This serves the GOP well, as it distracts the suckers from the truly wealthy 1% who the GOP favor (along with corporations: "Corporations are people.") with tax cuts (please, let's not call them that. Let's call it "tax reform").
Jay Gould, Godfather of the modern Republican party said: "I can hire half the working class to kill the other half"
Posted by Bill USA | Fri Jun 8, 2012, 05:33 PM (2 replies)
On Thursday PBS Newshour didn't dissappoint in its effort to be Fox News' most ardent imitator. On Thursday's show they hosted Tim Pawlenty's astonishing litany of bald faced lies and are 'selling' their interview of Pres. Clinton the previous night as 'balance' to Pawlenty's harrangue. Pawlenty is the co-chair of the Romney campaign. Clinton isn't even associated with the Obama campaign. They should have someone who is at least associated with the Obama campaign to speak for them.
Pawlenty's speech - it wasn't an interview since he didn't really answer any questions put to him by Judy Woodruff (a couple were actually pretty good questions too). After she asked a question, Pawlenty obfuscated a bit and then just picked up with his speech where he left off and continued with the torrent of Big Lies.
Here's one example about regulations being the reason for businesses not hiring more:
Pawlenty said the number one reason why small businesses aren't hiring and expanding is government being 'on their backs', i.e. regulations. Actually, a survey by the National Federation of Small Businesses polled small businessmen (Aug 2011) and the number one reason for businesses not hiring and expanding was "poor sales" --- Duh!!. The number two reason was 'taxes' but as Lawrence Mishel of indicates businesses always say taxes are too high and that in the latest survey the number of small businesses identifying taxes as the first cause for not expanding was not that much greater than their historical rate for that response and it was lower than the number identifying that as the number one cause during the George HW Bush and Clinton administrations. Regulations came in third, but again the number identifying this cause was less than had identified it during the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations.
In another bizarre comment, Pawlenty said "If you look at the over $800 billion stimulus that was chockful of infrastructure projects and giveaways to sub-units of government, and that didn't work."
First of all, in order to stop or delay the stimulus being enacted by filibustering, Obama had to reduce the stimulus by more than a third by converting that much of the stimulus to tax cuts. Now, anybody knows tax cuts offered at the beginning of a recession when every working person is worried about whether they will have a job in six months - won't produce stimulus. People won't spend a tax cut. They will save it or use it to pay down their debt. Which is exactly what they did. That's good personal finance, but it doesn't produce stimulus for the economy. So the stimulus was more like $560 million. That is, much less than it needed to be. But the Republicans knew they had to reduce the size of the stimulus as much as possible by threatening to filibuster.
But when Pawlenty says it didn't work, that's just blatant bullshit. The Council of Economic Advisors, the Congressional Budget Office, Moody's Analytics all concluded that the stimulus created or saved from 1.5 to 4.1 million job. USA Today surveyed 50 economists and they said the Stimulus helped the economy by preventing the unemployment rate from going lower. 70% of the economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal said the stimulus helped the economy deal with the greatest economic disaster this county has seen since the first first Great Depression - that is, the Trickle Down - Deregulation Disaster.
(see: http://mediamatters.org/research/201006070015 )
Regulatory uncertainty not to blame for our jobs problem
Posted by Bill USA | Fri Jun 8, 2012, 04:19 PM (6 replies)
Negative 15.8% Tax Rate Not Low Enough for GE: CEO Immelt Calls for Amnestyfor Corporate Tax Dodgers
This is from July of 2011 but I thought it is still a good read:
Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of the company famous for making profits of $26 billion from 2006 through 2010 and receiving tax benefits from the IRS of $4.1 billion over that period, has endorsed the recently proposed amnesty for corporate tax dodgers, called a "repatriation holiday" by its proponents.
Immelt was selected by President Barack Obama in February of 2009 to chair his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which is to advise the White House on economic policy. He has been CEO of General Electric since 2000.
In March, the New York Times reported GE's federal corporate income tax bill of negative $4.1 billion over the five-year period in which it earned $26 billion in profits, which is an effective tax rate of negative 15.8 percent. A recent report from CTJ focuses on the three-year period 2008-2010 and finds that GE earned $7.7 billion in profits during this period and had a federal corporate income tax bill of negative $4.7 billion over this period.
Following the New York Times revelations, progressive activists spearheaded a call for Immelt's resignation from the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
Posted by Bill USA | Wed Jun 6, 2012, 08:30 PM (0 replies)
Why you won't see Norman Ornstein or Thomas Mann on the Charlie Rose show anytime soon (DEFINITELY NOT before the election)
.. in their OpEd in WaPo and their book: "IT's Even Worse than it Looks" they come out and call the GOP an "insurgent outlier". PBS Newshour even had them on but you can be sure good ol' Fascist Toadie, Charlie Rose won't have them on his show.
Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem - OpEd in WaPo
Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican, was recently captured on video asserting that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party. Of course, it’s not unusual for some renegade lawmaker from either side of the aisle to say something outrageous. What made West’s comment — right out of the McCarthyite playbook of the 1950s — so striking was the almost complete lack of condemnation from Republican congressional leaders or other major party figures, including the remaining presidential candidates.
It’s not that the GOP leadership agrees with West; it is that such extreme remarks and views are now taken for granted.
We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.
The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
Posted by Bill USA | Fri Jun 1, 2012, 05:43 PM (1 replies)
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