Daily Archive: September 8, 2011

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Obama Selling His Republican Agenda

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

President Obama is going to lay our his jobs plan before Congress on Thursday night and most will not even bother to listen. Why? it seems the President has a credibility gap. He says one thing and does another. His plan to pump $300 billion into the economy with tax cuts, infrastructure spending and direct aid to state and local governments.

WASHINGTON — The economy weak and the public seething, President Barack Obama is expected to propose $300 billion in tax cuts and federal spending Thursday night to get Americans working again. Republicans offered Tuesday to compromise with him on jobs – but also assailed his plans in advance of his prime-time speech.

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According to people familiar with the White House deliberations, two of the biggest measures in the president’s proposals for 2012 are expected to be a one-year extension of a payroll tax cut for workers and an extension of expiring jobless benefits. Together those two would total about $170 billion.

The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plan was still being finalized and some proposals could still be subject to change.

The White House is also considering a tax credit for businesses that hire the unemployed. That could cost about $30 billion. Obama has also called for public works projects, such as school construction. Advocates of that plan have called for spending of $50 billion, but the White House proposal is expected to be smaller.

Obama also is expected to continue for one year a tax break for businesses that allows them to deduct the full value of new equipment. The president and Congress negotiated that provision into law for 2011 last December.

Though Obama has said he intends to propose long-term deficit reduction measures to cover the up-front costs of his jobs plan, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama would not lay out a wholesale deficit reduction plan in his speech.

The majority of the tax cuts are payroll tax cuts that will siphon off more from the social safety net feeding the Republicans rhetoric that the big three are broken and adding to the deficit. The rest of the plan would only put less than $50 billion into jobs.

Does any of this sound familiar? As Atrios puts it:

The problem that arises is that if you start beating the deficit drum, then you haven’t made voters “trust you” on the deficit, you’ve made the case to voters that they should elect the Republicans who will be better on this very important issue … If you make the case that Republican issues are important, you’re making the case for … Republicans.

Much like Matt Taibbi: “I just don’t believe this guy anymore, and it’s become almost painful to listen to him”

There’s a football game you can get ready to watch instead.

Please, Sir, More Cuts

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Despite the clear evidence that austerity budgets will hurt the stagnating economy, that tax cuts and focusing on the debt and deficit do not create jobs, President Barack Obama will present a $300 billion program that will propose more of the same. The Democrats on the bipartisan Congressional Super Committee that was created to solve the problem of the deficit, taxes and job stimulus, has taken a lead from Obama, more cuts, please:

The key dilemma facing President Obama and Congressional Democrats is that Republicans are wholly unwilling to support any new job-creating spending projects — even projects with bipartisan support — unless they’re offset with spending cuts or savings elsewhere in the budget.

Thus, Democrats on the new joint deficit Super Committee will seek more than the $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction they’ve been tasked with finding, in order to help offset some of those costs.

Guess where those cuts will come from? Social Security (which does NOT contribute to the deficit), Medicare and Medicaid with President Obama leading the way:

In the speech Thursday, Obama will challenge the 12-member congressional supercommittee to exceed its $1.5 trillion goal for budget savings – setting a higher target that would allow the additional money to fund tax breaks and other stimulus spending. But the “very specific” deficit recommendations that Obama promised last month won’t come until after the speech, although the exact timing is unclear, White House officials said.

snip

The deficit plan will be more specific than the framework the White House released in April. It is likely to include some unpopular measures that, until now, Obama backed only behind closed doors during the July talks with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), according to Democratic officials familiar with proposal.

Before the “grand bargain” fell apart over tax revenues, Obama and Boehner agreed on about $250 billion in proposed cuts to Medicare, including gradually raising the eligibility age to 67 and hiking co-pays and premiums for wealthier beneficiaries. They also agreed to change the inflation calculator for Social Security and other federal programs . . . .

Most polls indicate Americans believe the country is on the wrong track and that the president is doing a poor job handling the economy and yet all that is being put forward are the same ideas that put this country into this hole. Contrary to what Obama seems to think, his plan will not attract moderate and independent voters he so desperately needs in next year’s elections.

Polls: Majority Says U.S. On Wrong Track

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

It takes three polls to tell us what many of us already knew without being told.

Obama ratings sink to new lows as hope fades

Public pessimism about the direction of the country has jumped to its highest level in nearly three years, erasing the sense of hope that followed President Obama’s inauguration and pushing his approval ratings to a record low, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

More than 60 percent of those surveyed say they disapprove of the way the president is handling the economy and, what has become issue No. 1, the stagnant jobs situation. Just 43 percent now approve of the job he is doing overall, a new career low; 53 percent disapprove, a new high.

Among political independents – a prime target of Obama’s new outreach – 78 percent see the country as off-kilter. The percentage saying so in January 2009 was 79 percent. Pessimism was even higher among independents – and everyone else – during the depth of the financial crisis in late 2008. But for Obama, things are back to square one.

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Obama hits all-time lows, according to NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll

Transcript

Battleground Poll: Obama approval rating down amid deep economic fears

The debt-limit showdown and the stalled economy have tarnished President Barack Obama’s standing with voters and dampened their optimism about America’s future, with nearly three out of four voters now saying the country is headed in the wrong direction, according to a new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll.

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Capturing a rapid erosion of confidence through the summer months, the poll found 72 percent of voters believe the country is either strongly or somewhat headed in the wrong direction, a jump of 12 percentage points since May. Only 20 percent of voters say the country is going in the right direction, a 12-point drop in the same period.

Cartnoon

The Abominable Snow Rabbit

Credibility Gap

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Obama and Jobs: Why I Don’t Believe Him Anymore

Matt Taibbi, Roling Stone Magazine

POSTED: September 6, 9:17 AM ET

I remember following Obama on the campaign trail and hearing all sorts of promises before union-heavy crowds. He said he would raise the minimum wage every year; he said he would fight free-trade agreements. He also talked about repealing the Bush tax cuts and ending tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas.

It’s not just that he hasn’t done those things. The more important thing is that the people he’s surrounded himself with are not labor people, but stooges from Wall Street. Barack Obama has as his chief of staff a former top-ranking executive from one of the most grossly corrupt mega-companies on earth, JP Morgan Chase. He sees Bill Daley in his own office every day, yet when it comes time to talk abut labor issues, he has to go out and make selected visits twice a year or whatever to the Richard Trumkas of the world.

Listening to Obama talk about jobs and shared prosperity yesterday reminded me that we are back in campaign mode and Barack Obama has started doing again what he does best – play the part of a progressive. He’s good at it. It sounds like he has a natural affinity for union workers and ordinary people when he makes these speeches. But his policies are crafted by representatives of corporate/financial America, who happen to entirely make up his inner circle.

I just don’t believe this guy anymore, and it’s become almost painful to listen to him.

The Same Old Water

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

So unpredictable, and by that I mean totally…

Dictable I guess.

A Campaign Challenge: Defining Obama

By JEFF ZELENY, The New York Times

Published: September 6, 2011

Mr. Obama stands at a precarious moment of his term. Public pessimism is at its highest point in nearly three years, and his approval rating has fallen to its lowest, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News Poll, which also found that more than 60 percent of those surveyed disapprove of how he is handling the economy and jobs.

The White House can no longer take comfort in comparing the approval ratings for Mr. Obama with Ronald Reagan’s or Bill Clinton’s in the months after their stinging midterm election defeats. By the time their re-election efforts were intensifying after Labor Day, their respective repositioning had helped elevate their approval above 50 percent.



“If this is just a referendum on economic conditions, then any incumbent is going to struggle with that, but it’s not just that. It’s a contest about what to do about it,” said David Axelrod, the chief strategist to the president’s re-election campaign. “I’d be more worried if I saw some compelling new argument for how to lead the country, but these guys are carrying the same old water.”

Speaking of carrying the same old water-

The president intends to offer at least some progressive proposals to help regain a fighting posture that he has not had since the health care debate, but a provision is also being discussed to place a new moratorium on some regulations that affect the economy, excluding health care and financial rules. The proposals are likely to infuriate an already unhappy Democratic base.

So he is going to be Endorsing The Rick Perry Jobs Program.

What else?  The same old, same old tax cuts that are 1) not new and will therefore not improve the economy OR create jobs and 2) are tax cuts which have been consistently proven over the last thirty years do not improve the economy OR create jobs.

Obama Jobs Plan: $300 Billion, Half to Tax Cuts

By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake

Wednesday September 7, 2011 6:10 am

We can divvy it up into five separate components:

  1. tax-side stimulus. There you have the extension of the payroll tax cut, with a new employer-side cut, perhaps targeted only to firms that hire more workers on aggregate, as has been discussed.
  2. infrastructure. Included in this is some amalgam of the surface transportation bill and the national infrastructure bank, along with Jared Bernstein’s FAST proposal for fixing and upgrading American public schools.
  3. direct state aid. This is slightly new for this round, but still desperately needed. Jobs statistics for the past two years routinely show cuts in the public sector offsetting whatever gains exist in the private sector. Teachers and firefighters and cops and nurses are being laid off across the country. Stopping this corrosion is one of the best things the federal government can do right now.
  4. help for the unemployed. Re-upping extended unemployment insurance benefits would be part of this, but also you can expect a program for long-term unemployed modeled after Georgia WORKS, which allows long-term jobless to collect benefits (as well as a small stipend) and essentially intern at local companies for a short-term assignment. This is controversial, as the benefits of Georgia WORKS are mixed at best, and labor leaders have questioned whether it violates federal laws to allow free labor for corporations. If you pushed this envelope further and made it a wage-subsidy policy, you might have something, but this appears tailored to catch the eye of Republicans.
  5. mortgage relief. It’s possible some kind of mass-refinancing scheme gets announced, although there are hurdles, mainly FHFA Acting Director Ed DeMarco, who is reluctant to refi many borrowers who wouldn’t normally qualify as well as negate any representations and warrants liability on the part of the banks. There’s also the fact that banks don’t appear to be able to keep up with the refinancing applications at present, and there should be no faith that they would be able to support a surge in such work.

Let’s briefly look at the numbers. A $300 billion scheme would amount to around 2% of total GDP, and that’s being charitable by saying that this would all be used up in one year. That would have an impact, but half of this would be supply-side solutions that haven’t inspired much confidence during the recession. The question of whether temporary tax cuts are spent is a good one to ask. Especially on the employer side; if minimum wage increases have no effect on jobs, then surely tax subsidies to make hiring cheaper wouldn’t either.

What’s more, $112 billion of this $300 billion would come just from that extension of the payroll tax cut, which is already in place. That’s not stimulative, it’s just an extension of current law. So would be the $55 billion or so for unemployment benefits. Letting them expire might be undesirable, but just keeping them in place would just maintain the status quo, which last month created something on the order of zero jobs. The rest of the items amount to $130-$140 billion, not nearly enough to fill the demand gap hole. Actual direct public works spending is scant, and the supply-side faerie dust irrelevant to the actual problem.



If this is a policy document, it’s both inadequate and dangerous. If it’s a political one, it stays within well-drawn lines, rather than screaming what even the bond markets say the world needs – a complete reordering of fiscal policy to deal with a raging crisis. Yet we still have a Democratic Administration playing mostly on Republican turf.

(h/t lambert @ Corrente)

On This Day In History September 9

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 9 is the 252nd day of the year (253rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 113 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1776, Congress renames the nation “United States of America”.

On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress formally declares the name of the new nation to be the “United States” of America. This replaced the term “United Colonies,” which had been in general use.

In the Congressional declaration dated September 9, 1776, the delegates wrote, “That in all continental commissions, and other instruments, where, heretofore, the words ‘United Colonies’ have been used, the stile be altered for the future to the “United States.”

The Lee Resolution, also known as the resolution of independence, was an act of the Second Continental Congress declaring the United Colonies to be independent of the British Empire. First proposed on June 7, 1776, by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, after receiving instructions from the Virginia Convention and its President, Edmund Pendleton  (in fact Lee used, almost verbatim, the language from the instructions in his resolution). Voting on the resolution was delayed for several weeks while support for independence was consolidated. On June 11, a Committee of Five  was appointed to prepare a document to explain the reasons for independence. The resolution was finally approved on July 2, 1776, and news of its adoption was published that evening in the Pennsylvania Evening Post and the next day in the Pennsylvania Gazette. The text of the document formally announcing this action, the United States Declaration of Independence, was approved on July 4.

On This Day In History September 8

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 8 is the 251st day of the year (252nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 114 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1966, The TV series, Star Trek, debuted on NBC-TV, on its mission to “boldly go where no man has gone before” and despite ratings and only a three year run that gave us 79 episodes, the series did exactly that.

When Star Trek premiered on NBC-TV in 1966, it was not an immediate hit. Initially, its Nielsen ratings were rather low, and its advertising revenue was modest. Before the end of the first season of Star Trek, some executives at NBC wanted to cancel the series because of its rather low ratings. The chief of the Desilu Productions company, Lucille Ball, reportedly “single-handedly kept Star Trek from being dumped from the NBC-TV lineup.”

Toward the end of the second season, Star Trek was also in danger of cancellation. The lobbying by its fans gained it a third season, but NBC also moved its broadcast time to the Friday night “death slot”, at 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (9:00 p.m. Central Time). Star Trek was cancelled at the end of the third season, after 79 episodes were produced. However, this was enough for the show to be “stripped” in TV syndication, allowing it to become extremely popular and gather a large cult following during the 1970s. The success of the program was followed by five additional television series and eleven theatrical films. The Guinness World Records lists the original Star Trek as having the largest number of spin-offs among all TV series in history.

The series begat five televisions series and 11 movies with more to come. I knew I loved Lucille Ball for a reason.

US auto workers face historic struggle

http://wsws.org/articles/2011/…

For a good look at the upcoming auto worker contract cuts talks and how the UAW looks to continue the betrayal of the workers who provide its very reason for being, read this article.

(From the link.  ek)

US auto workers face historic struggle

Jerry White, wsws.org

8 September 2011

On September 14 the four-year labor agreements covering 114,000 US auto workers at GM, Ford and Chrysler expire. Although the companies have raked in more than $7 billion in profits this year, they have made it clear that workers-who have not had a raise since 2003-will see no improvements in wages or working conditions.

On the contrary, with the full backing of the Obama administration and the United Auto Workers (UAW), the auto executives are pressing ahead with plans to drive out the remaining better-paid workers and create a low-paid, casualized workforce.

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