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Bill USA

Bill USA's Journal
Bill USA's Journal
October 1, 2012

The Question they are going to ask Obama in the first debate (knowing Jim Lehrer, more than once)

... Lehrer is a shameless toadie to the GOP and their Corporate buddies. So I'm sure he will ask versions of this question several times.

ON PBS's Washington week, Friday Sept 28, two of the participating 'journalists' offered up the one question they would ask of Obama:


MR. BABINGTON (AP): I think if I would ask Barack Obama, .... you’ve been in for four years, you say you can make things better,

.....why didn’t you make things better in the four years that you’ve had?

..... What can you do differently, especially given that Congress is not going to become pro-Democratic?
(that's actually 2 questions but math (and any form of logical discourse) obviously, isn't Mr. Babington's strong point.

First of all, I am amazed that anybody in the media is aware that the Senate has been anti-Democratic! I mean, since Obama enterred the WH it seems as if, 'filibuster' has been a taboo word on M$M. Everybody on M$M talks as if Obama has not experienced any battles with the GOP over his implementing his economic policies such as the stimulus bill or later his jobs bills. IT would seem, listening to the media, that Obama has gotten everything that he wanted in the way of economic measures - how else would they lay all the responsibility for the rather lackluster recovery solely at Obama's feet?

Secondly MR. Babington, you said you would ask the President: "why didn’t you make things better in the four years that you’ve had" .. that was your first question. I'll volunteer an answer myself, to see if I can enlighten you a bit (apparently working for the AP doesn't insure you'll be aware of current events).

...... Soooooo, here goes:

[div class="excerpt" style="background: #BBCCFF"]On the day of Barack Obama's innauguration, the leaders of the Republican party decided they would engage in a campaign of obstruction of everything Obama would try to do. Mitch McConnell declared that the top priority of the Republican party was to see that Barack Obama was not elected to a second term. To that end, the Republicans set records for filibustering legislation. They have fought everything Obama tried to do to produce a recovery from the economic disaster they created. (see "Why Washington is tied up in Knots" - Time http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1966451,00.html )

President Obama's first legislative act to repair and rebuild the economy from the Great Recession, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), was filibustered by the Republicans such that Obama had to agree to downsize the stimulus by converting 38% of it to tax cuts in order to win two Republican votes to get the bill passed. At the outset of a depression, people worried about whether they would have a job in six months will not spend a tax cut, but will save it our use it to pay down their debt. Either way, that portion of the ARRA converted to tax cuts would not be stimulative to the economy. The Republicans knew this. That’s why they demanded a large portion of the stimulus be converted to tax cuts. This resulted in the original stimulus being smaller than it should have been (without the conversion of 38% of the stimulus to tax cuts the stimulus would have been 61% LARGER (1/(1-.38) = 1.61).

In the Budget Battle of 2011 the Republicans threatened to force a closure of the Government if the Democrats didn't agree to cuts to domestic programs. In the Debt Ceiling extension battle, the Republicans threatened to force a U.S. default on its debt if Obama didn't agree to significant cuts in Government programs - in that same fiscal year. These domestic spending cuts lead to states laying off policemen, fireman, teachers and other public servants - adding to the number of already unemployed. The Wall Street Journal published an article which pointed out that if it weren't for cuts to Government domestic programs, the unemployment rate would be a full percentage point lower than it was at mid-year 2012 ("Unemployment Rate Without Government Cuts: 7.1%", WSJ, May 8, 2012).

The threat of a default on the U.S. debt lead Standard and Poor's to the extraordinary step - never before taken - of downgrading the United States Credit rating. (Standard and Poors cited among the causes for the unprecedented step “political brinksmanship” and public policymaking being “less stable…less predictable”:

“The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as
America's governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective,
and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt
ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in
the debate over fiscal policy."

United States of America Long-Term Rating Lowered To 'AA+'
Due To Political Risks, Rising Debt Burden; Outlook Negative, Standard and Poor’s, 05-Aug-2011]


The Republican party’s threats of Government default and Government closure have so concerned businesses that they have held off hiring full-time permanent workers, keeping the unemployment rate elevated and restraining the recovery. Businesses have been sitting on a five trillion dollar hoard of cash and have refrained from hiring back more people. Businesses do not want to hire full-time permanent people, only to lay them off in six months. Not knowing how far the Republicans might go to kill the recovery, businesses rather than hiring more people, have been making more use of over-time and contract labor ("The $5 Trillion Stash: U.S. Corporations' Money Hoard Is Bigger Than the GDP of Germany",The Atlantic, July 18, 2012; “Cash-Hoarding Companies Neither Spend Nor Lend, Fouling Economy Further”, Huffington Post, July 12, 2012).

Any appraisal of the success of President Obama’s economic policies that leaves out the fact that these policies prevented the economy from collapsing even further and reaching an unemployment rate of perhaps 11%, or higher, is incomplete and invalid. The Congressional Budget Office report concluded that President Obama’s economic policies, in fact did just that (“Estimated Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Employment and Economic Output From October 2009 Through December 2009", CBO, February 23, 2010 and “CBO: Unemployment would have topped 11% without stimulus”, USA Today, 2010-02-23).

The Republican filibustered and prevented President Obama’s American Jobs Act from being passed. Moody’s Analytics concluded this bill would have raised the GDP 2%, increased employment by about 2 million jobs and lowered the unemployment rate about 1% (Analysis of the Obama Jobs Plan, Moody's Analytics, Sept 9, 2011). So, a decrease of the unemployment rate of 1% prevented by the Republicans and an increase in the unemployment rate of 1% caused by Republican demands for more domestic spending cuts to preclude a Government Default and Government shutdown had a significant negative impact on the recovery. The total impact of these acts of legislative sabotage is an unemployment rate that is 2% points higher than it would have been had Obama been able to more fully realize his policies of stimulating the economy out of this Republican Trickle Down Deregulation disaster. The cited efforts to sabotage the stimulus notwithstanding, the CBO has concluded that the unemployment rate without the ARRA, would be 3% points higher than it is now.

... are you getting the picture Mr. Babington??

Now, I would be remiss, Mr. Babington, if I did not inform you of some sources of information for you to gain a better understanding of what has been going on in Washington the past several years. One is the book by Thomas Mann (The Brookings Institution) and Norman Ornstein (the American Enterprise Institute (note: a conservative group)) entitled: "It's Even Worse than It Looks" wherein they detail the machinations, over the last few years, of the Republican Party which they call an "insurgent outlier". These two scholars of the political scene also wrote an oped in the Washington Post entitled: Let's just say it: the Republicans are the Problem". Here's an excerpt from that piece(emphasis my own):

"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.

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges."

Now, to address your second question: "What can you do differently, especially given that Congress is not going to become pro-Democratic?"

My answer is: "I am going to 1) urge the voters to vote for all Democrats seeking a seat in either the Senate or the House and throw out all Republicans campaigning for a seat in either of these bodies so that we can get something done in Washington. And I will thoroughly inform the public of the tactics of obstruction which the Republicans have used so destructively to impair their Government from taking action to address the problems we face as a nation today. And I will, 2) state that there is no reason to elect someone to office who is only interested in deconstructing our Government and reforming it as a Corporate Feudalist government, where corporations and the super wealthy are the new Lords of the land and anybody who works for a living (that is, anyone who is not rich enough to live off of their investments - note professionals like Doctors, Lawyers etc are, for the most part, in this group) are the serfs."

If on the other hand anyone thinks it's appropriate to reward those who would obstruct and tear down our Democratic Government, then you should vote for my opponent."

October 1, 2012

Nationwide GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal Widens, Becomes Criminal Matter in Florida


A major element of the Republican National Committee's overall attempt to game the 2012 elections by trying to affect who gets to vote and who does not, has just been stopped dead in its tracks.

Along with it, a criminal election fraud complaint has now reportedly been filed with law enforcement in the state of Florida against a Republican firm, owned by a paid Mitt Romney consultant, which was hired by the GOP to carry out partisan voter registration operations in at least five battleground states.

Millions of dollars were spent on the aborted effort by the GOP over the last two months --- their largest single expenditure in several of the states where the scheme was in full tilt --- to seek out Romney supporters only, and sign them up to vote.

The strategy resulted in (or included) fraudulent registration forms collected by the firm and then submitted in Florida by the state GOP with voter addresses, signatures and party affiliations changed. Election officials in the state have told The BRAD BLOG that they fear the scheme could result in the disenfranchisement of a still-unknown number of otherwise legal voters, and they are taking extraordinary measures to try and contain the potential damage as they attempt to work through more than 45,000 new and updated registrations submitted by the GOP and verify their legitimacy.
September 27, 2012

Red States Outpace Blue States in Income Growth Thanks to Food Stamps

(emphasis my own)

So a new story in USA Today , looking at the changes in income, state by state, since the beginning of the Great Recession, of course breaks down the results into “red,” “blue” and “swing” states. It declares that red states have seen incomes grow 4.6 percent since 2007, adjusted for inflation, while blue states have only seen incomes grow 0.5 percent. In swing states? A little more than the blue states, about 1.4 percent.

But here's the kicker: that income growth in those red states? It comes, at least in the South, in large part to government benefits payments, like the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. You know, the ones that Republicans like Newt Gingrich attempt to use as a club to beat Obama and Democrats with. They go mainly to people living under or close to the poverty line, which means that income growth thanks to public benefits is the government making life more bearable for those hit hardest by the recession, not exactly economic growth caused by the “low taxes and business-friendly regulation” that the right-wing ALEC representative the article quotes claims. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes, “The record-setting SNAP participation levels are consistent with the extraordinarily deep and prolonged nature of the recession and the weak, lagging recovery.”

What does this actually tell us? Despite USA Today's attempts to make this data into another partisan political weapon, not much about the election. But mainstream political journalists like NBC's Chuck Todd fell for it anyway; Todd asked “Is this a stat Romney can work into his stump or too confusing?”

The answer, of course, is “No,” because it's not really a stat. A closer look at the map shows that the similarities have less to do with “red” and “blue” than with regions, energy production, and already-existing affluence. North Dakota might have had 30 percent income growth, due, as the article notes, to an oil boom, but its residents still make less than those in Connecticut, even if Connecticut's seen incomes drop almost 2 percent. Meanwhile, deep red Idaho also had a 1 percent income drop, and swing state Nevada saw incomes plunge a full 10 percent. Ultra-blue Massachusetts, Maryland, and Vermont all had higher income growth than most of the deep south, and Washington, D.C.'s incomes are up 13 percent.

September 27, 2012

The 27 Republican Bills That Aren't About Jobs


From the House Republican Conference and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donahue, congressional Republicans and their conservative allies have touted 27 measures passed by the House of Representatives that they claim are "bipartisan jobs bills awaiting Senate action." But the bills are mostly highly partisan attempts to slash regulations that protect, among other things, public health, consumer rights, workplace safety and the environment. The GOP has also dishonestly included in its count a few viable measures with popular bipartisan support; one of these is being held up in the Senate by a Republican, and the others have been placed on the Senate calendar.

Jobs Idea #1: Hamper The EPA's Ability To Protect Public Health

Jobs Idea #2: Obstruct The Federal Government's Ability To Regulate Anything

Jobs Idea #3: Build An Oil Pipeline And Open Offshore Drilling
September 27, 2012

Big Oil's Big Money Pays Off As Republicans Tour Nation On Their Behalf

(emphases my own)

Earlier this month, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) founded the House Energy Action Team (HEAT), a "committed group of House members" dedicated to "promot[ing] Republican energy policies." Thirty-four members of Congress were recruited to the cause, dedicating their district work period to "promoting energy independence for America." As McCarthy's press office put it, the dedicated members of the HEAT squad would "clearly demonstrate that House Republicans are on the side of the small businesses and families."

Judging from their campaign coffers, however, reasonable citizens might question who these members are really fighting for. Members of HEAT have already received nearly $1.3 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry in the 2012 election cycle alone (according to a Political Correction records search on OpenSecrets.org of each individual HEAT member, excluding contributions from individuals). The average amount received per member comes in at about $38,232; HEAT leader Rep. McCarthy alone has received over $114,000.

Thursday, Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX), a member of HEAT and former oil executive, toured a hydraulic fracturing site and released a statement:

Flores toured the Enervest site as a part of the nationwide House Energy Action Team 2012 American Energy and Jobs Tour. The point of the tours is to "highlight America's domestic energy resources and the need to increase domestic production."

"Burdensome Washington bureaucrat regulations and high energy costs are causing a roadblock to economic recovery and job creation," Flores said in a release. "We can clear this roadblock by increase our domestic energy production and decreasing our reliance on unstable Middle East oil. Yet, many folks in Washington view our domestic energy resources as a liability; and they continue to dream up ways to lock-up, restrict, tax, or otherwise regulate these assets away from the American people." [...]

"The oil and gas industry is vital to our economy and hydraulic fracturing is an integral tool to increase domestic energy production," Flores said. "I am working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure that Americans are able to take advantage of one of our great natural resources we have in Texas that provides well-paying jobs, improved tax bases for Texas school districts, and lower energy prices. In [a] nutshell, if we want to have American energy security, we need to develop a smart, stable and transparent regulatory scheme for hydraulic fracturing."

According to OpenSecrets.org, the "oil and gas industry" is the number one donor to Flores's 2012 campaign. In addition to money from energy industry PACs, he's received thousands of dollars this election cycle from James C. Flores, an executive at Plains Exploration and Production (PXP). PXP was in the news in recent weeks after it began fracking in southern California's Baldwin Hills Oil Field, a move that allegedly broke promises to nearby communities concerned about the safety of the process.

September 27, 2012

Hey, No Joke: Romney Now Touting Romneycare


Mitt Romney pointed to the health care law he signed as governor of Massachusetts one of his signature achievements Wednesday, a move that has drawn swift and strong rebuke from conservatives in the past.

Romney pointed to the Massachusetts health care law — the foundation for the national healthcare reform law Romney promises to dismantle if elected — as a key highlight of his record in an interview with NBC News.

“Don’t forget — I got everybody in my state insured,” Romney told NBC. “One hundred percent of the kids in our state had health insurance. I don’t think there’s anything that shows more empathy and care about the people of this country than that kind of record.”

Romney has attacked President Obama’s similar law, which extends insurance coverage to millions of uninsured people across the country. Romney has pledged to repeal Obama’s law lock, stock and barrel, replacing it with vaguer reforms that would potentially leave more people uninsured by removing the ban on preexisting condition discrimination.
September 26, 2012

Manufacturing jobs have grown more under Obama than Bush


Manufacturing has been in freefall for more than a decade, but the trend seems to have been reversed during the Obama administration, according to a new analysis (paywalled) by Bloomberg Government:

The BGOV Barometer shows U.S. factory positions have grown since early 2010, arresting a slide that began toward the end of the 1990s. It’s the best showing since the era of Bill Clinton …

“This is the first sustained increase we’ve seen in a long time,” Macpherson said. … The progress so far also contrasts with the job losses seen during the recovery from the 2001 recession, when George W. Bush was president, he said. More jobs at factories are mainly an outcome of longer-term trends including rising productivity and innovation, a weaker dollar and free trade agreements, he said.

To be sure, Obama started his term when manufacturing jobs were approaching historic lows, largely due to the forces of globalization outside of the Bush administration’s control. And not everyone is convinced that the turnaround will last: In August, for instance, manufacturing activity contracted for the third consecutive month. But the numbers do suggest that manufacturing has been one of the few bright spots of the recovery.
September 26, 2012

Reid: Republicans Have Repeatedly Blocked Bipartisan Bills, And Hurt The Middle Class In The Process

(emphases my own)

Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today about Republican obstructionism in the Senate. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Over the last week, I’ve listened to my Republican colleagues come to the Senate floor to lament how little the Senate has accomplished during the 112th Congress.

I share that concern.

In fact, it’s a wonder we’ve gotten anything done at all, considering the lack of cooperation Democrats have gotten from our Republican colleagues.

I’ve said it before, but this bears repeating. In my time as Majority Leader, I have faced 382 Republican filibusters.

That’s 381 more filibusters than Lyndon Johnson faced during his six years as Majority Leader.

{in the 112th session of Congress 109 Cloture motions have been filed - Bill USA}

Time and again, my Republican colleagues have stalled or blocked perfectly good pieces of legislation to score points with the Tea Party – and they’ve hurt middle-class Americans in the process.

Even the most noncontroversial, consensus matters – items that would have passed by unanimous consent in the past – Republicans have obstructed or delayed.

Take the bipartisan sportsman’s bill, for example.

The Junior Senator from Montana, Senator Tester, has assembled a broad package of legislation to support the needs of sportsmen across the country.

This measure combines about 20 bills important to the sportsmen’s community – bills that would promote hunting, fishing and recreation.

They would foster habitat conservation through voluntary programs.

And more than 50 national sportsmen and conservation groups support Senator Tester’s bill.

We ought to pass this package in a matter of hours.

This should not be a fight.

Yet Republicans are forcing us to run out the clock on this bipartisan bill.

And, in the process, they’re holding up votes on several other important measures, including: Iran containment, confirmation of our ambassadors to Iraq and Pakistan and the continuing resolution to fund the government for six months.

Republicans say this Congress has been unproductive.

But if Republicans want to know why it’s been unproductive, they should take a look in the mirror.

Benjamin Franklin once said “Well done is better than well said.”

It’s time Republicans stopped talking about how much they want to get things done and started working with Democrats to actually get things done.
September 26, 2012

GOP Blocks Passage of Veterans Conservation Jobs Bill


After spending the better half of last week bickering over whether or not to support veterans, the GOP just killed the Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012. The bill would have increased hiring and job training for veterans over the next five years, with a focus on jobs restoring and protecting our public lands.

Actually, the bill won the majority of US Senate votes. Fifty-eight senators (including five Republicans) voted in favor of extending job opportunities to veterans. Unfortunately, procedural rules in the Senate required sixty votes to move this bill forward.

If any two issues exist, that should break the partisan divide and unite us as a nation, they are support for veterans and protecting our natural heritage. The Veterans Jobs Corps, a top priority for the Obama Administration, was detailed in the President's budget recommendations to Congress earlier this year. The bill would have increased skills training and job placement for veterans, primarily those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, while at the same time start to whittle down backlogged maintenance projects overwhelming our nation's public lands. According to the bill's sponsor, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), the National Park Service alone has deferred maintenance totaling over $11 billion. The Veterans Jobs Corps would also increase employment among our returning service members as police, firefighters and first responders. Experts say the $1 billion bill would have paid for itself in ten years.

While the Veterans Jobs Corps may not have led to world peace, or even brought work to the 720,000 unemployed veterans across our nation, it would have been a big step in the right direction. The bill was supported by groups like the American Legion and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. It's also supported by the Sierra Club.

Senate Republicans kill veterans' jobs bill

With a major national election just seven weeks away, senators would have to be out of their minds to reject a jobs bill for U.S. military veterans, right?

Apparently not.

Veterans won't be getting a new, billion-dollar jobs program, not from this Senate. Republicans on Wednesday afternoon blocked a vote on the Veterans Job Corps Bill after Jeff Sessions of Alabama raised a point of order -- he said the bill violated a cap on spending agreed to by Congress last year.

The bill's sponsor, Patty Murray of Washington, said that shouldn't matter, since the bill's cost was fully offset by new revenues. She said Mr. Sessions and his party colleagues had been furiously generating excuses to oppose the bill, and were now exploiting a technicality to deny thousands of veterans a shot at getting hired as police officers, firefighters and parks workers, among other things.

The bill needed 60 votes to advance. The final tally was 58 to 40, and all 40 opponents of the proposal were Republicans.

As proposals go, this should have been a no-brainer. The Veterans Job Corps Act of 2012, sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), sought to lower unemployment among military veterans, giving grants to federal, state, and local agencies, which in turn would hire veterans -- giving priority to those who served on or after 9/11 -- to work as first-responders and in conservation jobs at national parks.

The bill was fully paid for, and entirely bipartisan -- Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) had his own set of ideas for the bill, and Murray incorporated all of them into her legislation.

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About Bill USA

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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