6/30/11 Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer argued today that Republicans are deliberately sabotaging the economy for political gain. Schumer pointed to Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s statement last October that his number one priority was the defeat of President Obama. Schumer said the Republican’s “slash and burn approach” may be part of that strategy but warned that it would backfire. He also said that Republicans would be blamed for the economic consequences if a deal is not reached on the debt ceiling by the August 2nd deadline. Schumer listed several job creating proposals that Republicans are blocking in the Senate including a payroll tax break and new infrastructure investment.

6/29/11 At a White House press conference today, President Obama made the case for a balanced approach to reaching an agreement to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. Even as Republicans insist there will be no tax increases in any such deal, Obama called for an end to “tax breaks for oil companies and hedge fund managers and corporate jet owners.” With Democrats willing to accept “painful spending cuts” the President suggested that the GOP would not ultimately “jeopardize the nation’s creditworthiness” to protect taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil and corporate jet owners. “Hopefully,” Obama said “leaders at a certain point rise to the occasion and they do the right thing for the American people.” We can only hope.

6/28/11 Mark Zandi, former McCain aide and Moody’s chief economist, expects improved growth in the economy by the end of the year—but only if an agreement is reached on raising the federal debt ceiling by the August 2nd deadline. “If we get to August 2nd and there is no debt ceiling limit…even if Congress and the administration reverse themselves days later, I think the damage will have been serious, and we probably would be thrown into a recession,” Zandi said. Meanwhile, Republican leaders Boehner and McConnell have hardened their positions against any new revenues as part of a debt ceiling deal. Maybe the GOP wants to see a new recession going into 2012.

Bachmann Makes it Official

June 28, 2011 | Comments Off

6/28/11 Michele Bachmann gained her fame on Hardball arguing for an investigation into the “anti-American” attitudes of members of Congress and then candidate Barack Obama. As of yesterday she is an official candidate for President and in a dead heat with Mitt Romney in the latest Iowa polls. Bachmann is alone among the current crop of GOP candidates with the ability to excite the far right Tea Party crowd which came close to taking over the Republican Party in the 2010 elections. Incredibly, Bachmann will be a force to be reckoned with in the Republican race for President.

This month marked the 10th Anniversary of the first of the two tax cuts sought by the President George Bush. The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act was enacted in 2001 to be followed, in 2003, by the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act. Ten years later, it is time we assess the [...]

6/25/11 Republicans continue to prove they are not serious about addressing the budget deficit. Bipartisan debt ceiling talks led by VP Biden collapsed Thursday when GOP negotiators Eric Cantor and Jon Kyl walked out because Democrats were pushing for a balanced approach that includes both budget cuts and revenue increases. President Obama has scheduled a meeting for Monday with Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. Meanwhile House Speaker John Boehner warned again that House Republicans will not vote for a debt limit increase that includes higher taxes. August 2nd is the drop dead date by which a deal must be struck. It appears the GOP is planning to play chicken down to the wire, risking what Boehner himself has called “financial disaster.”

Quote of the Day

June 25, 2011 | Comments Off

6/25/11 “New York has finally torn down the barrier that has prevented same-sex couples from exercising the freedom to marry and from receiving the fundamental protections that so many couples and families take for granted. With the world watching, the Legislature, by a bipartisan vote, has said that all New Yorkers are equal under the law. With this vote, marriage equality will become a reality in our state, delivering long overdue fairness and legal security to thousands of New Yorkers.” Governor Andrew Cuomo after the historic vote last night legalizing same sex marriage.

6/23/11 Republicans Eric Cantor and Jon Kyl walked out of VP Biden’s budget talks today over the issue of taxes. “While the Republicans are asking seniors to pay more to get less,” Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi responded, “they still insist on giving tax subsidies to Big Oil, to companies that ship jobs overseas and to the wealthiest people in our country,” Obama Press Secretary Jay Carney said “the president supports a balanced approach. He does not support an approach that provides for a $200,000 tax cut for millionaires and billionaires paid for by a $6,000-a-year hike in expenses and costs for seniors.” Are Republicans, with their upside down priorities, prepared to hold hostage our nation’s full faith and credit?

Three More Years

June 22, 2011 | Comments Off

6/21/11 President Obama announced tonight that 10,000 U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan this year with 23,000 more to follow by the end of next summer. But the withdrawals will still leave a force of 68,000 troops, more than twice the number serving when Obama came into office. The President said it would take until 2014 before all the troops come home. With the death of Osama bin Laden and with so much to be done here, we hoped for a much more precipitous end to this decade-long war. The President said “It is time to focus on nation-building here at home.” We agree but wonder how that can be accomplished while dragging this war on for three more years.

6/21/11 Jon Huntsman launched his presidential campaign today and released one of the most bizarre political ads of all time. Here’s the text, narrated over video of (presumably) Huntsman riding a motorcycle over rocky desert terrain. “The world needs new. America needs fresh. New perspective. Never raises his voice but seldom takes ‘no’ for an answer. Not in it for the balloons. The past didn’t work. We don’t need that. Knows business. Built things. Took on the tough to never flip. Never flop. Not in it for the winning. A taste for dirt. No drama. Progress. This guy’s different.” Our view—Presidents. Using full sentences. Good thing.

6/21/11 Jon Huntsman launched his presidential campaign today and released one of the most bizarre political ads of all time. Here’s the text, narrated over video of (presumably) Huntsman riding a motorcycle over rocky desert terrain. “The world needs new. America needs fresh. New perspective. Never raises his voice but seldom takes ‘no’ for an answer. Not in it for the balloons. The past didn’t work. We don’t need that. Knows business. Built things. Took on the tough to never flip. Never flop. Not in it for the winning. A taste for dirt. No drama. Progress. This guy’s different.” Our view—Presidents. Using full sentences. Good thing.

6/21/11 Roll Call reported yesterday that presidential contender Michele Bachmann improperly used taxpayer dollars to fund a political rally. In November 2009, thousands of tea party activists gathered at the Capitol to rage against the proposed health care reform bill. House expense reports showed Bachmann and three other House members each spent $3,400 from their taxpayer funded office accounts to pay for the sound system at the rally, despite House rules prohibiting the use of these funds for political purposes. Bachmann and her colleagues falsely claimed the event was a “press conference,” an allowable use of office funds. But no questions were taken from the press and unlike actual press conferences; the rally began with a prayer, the national anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Big Republican Tax Lie

June 20, 2011 | Comments Off

6/20/11 Lawrence O’Donnell brilliantly demonstrated the fallacy tonight of Republican politicians’ claims that tax cuts increase tax revenues. His guest, Bruce Bartlett, a Senior Policy Analyst for President Reagan, dismissed this view as “total nonsense.” Presidential contender Tim Pawlenty justifies his proposal for a massive new tax cut for the rich by contending that tax revenues jumped 99% in the 1980s as a result of the Reagan tax cuts. “What Pawlenty said is just factually untrue,” according to Bartlett who was there. Revenues plunged by about $66 billion during that period, he said. When will the GOP stop peddling an economic policy based on a lie?

Gov. Perry Pushes 'Racist Latino-Bashing' Bill

June 20, 2011 | Comments Off

6/20/11 Texas Governor Rick Perry, a potential Republican presidential candidate is pushing a measure to give police officers broader powers to ask people they detain about their citizenship status. Passed last week by the State Senate, the bill now goes to the lower chamber where it is expected to pass easily. “This bill is open season on Latinos,” said Sen. Mario Gallegos, D-Houston, “This bill is the most racist, Latino-bashing, anti-immigrant bill I’ve ever seen.” The bill’s critics include the top law enforcement officials in Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. “If the people who live in our community are afraid to talk to us, they won’t report crimes when they’re victims or witnesses,” said El Paso Sheriff Richard Wiles.

6/20/11 Texas Governor Rick Perry, a potential Republican presidential candidate is pushing a measure to give police officers broader powers to ask people they detain about their citizenship status. Passed last week by the State Senate, the bill now goes to the lower chamber where it is expected to pass easily. “This bill is open season on Latinos,” said Sen. Mario Gallegos, D-Houston, “This bill is the most racist, Latino-bashing, anti-immigrant bill I’ve ever seen.” The bill’s critics include the top law enforcement officials in Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. “If the people who live in our community are afraid to talk to us, they won’t report crimes when they’re victims or witnesses,” said El Paso Sheriff Richard Wiles.

6/20/11Without presenting a shred of evidence, John McCain has blamed the raging wildfires in Arizona on undocumented immigrants crossing the border. “They have set fires because they signal others, they have set fires to keep warm, and they have set fires in order to divert law enforcement agents and agencies from them,” McCain said. U.S. Forest Service spokesman, Tom Berglund told ABC News that there is no evidence supporting McCain’s claims. “Absolutely not, at this level,” Berglund said. “There’s no evidence that I’m aware, no evidence that’s been public, indicating such a thing.” Berglund said though that the cause of the fire was human, the result of an “escaped campfire.” Two people have been questioned but no arrests have been made.

6/15/11 Jon Huntsman’s campaign manager has some choice words for his opponents for the Republican nomination. In an interview with Esquire Magazine, John Weaver called the current field “the weakest since 1940,” adding “There’s a simple reason our party is nowhere near being a national governing party. No one wants to be around a bunch of cranks.” Weaver portrayed the frontrunner Mitt Romney as a man without convictions. “What version are we on now?” Weaver asked. “Mitt 5.0? 6.0?” Regarding Tim Pawlenty, Weaver said “There’s nothing worse than seeing a nice guy pretend that he’s angry. Is that really what we want to be?” President Obama is “beatable” Weaver said, “But to beat Obama you have to be bigger than Obama. That’s how we save our party.”

6/15/11 Jon Huntsman’s campaign manager has some choice words for his opponents for the Republican nomination. In an interview with Esquire Magazine, John Weaver called the current field “the weakest since 1940,” adding “There’s a simple reason our party is nowhere near being a national governing party. No one wants to be around a bunch of cranks.” Weaver portrayed the frontrunner Mitt Romney as a man without convictions. “What version are we on now?” Weaver asked. “Mitt 5.0? 6.0?” Regarding Tim Pawlenty, Weaver said “There’s nothing worse than seeing a nice guy pretend that he’s angry. Is that really what we want to be?” President Obama is “beatable” Weaver said, “But to beat Obama you have to be bigger than Obama. That’s how we save our party.”

6/15/11 Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was released today from the Houston rehabilitation hospital where she has been recovering since January from a gunshot wound to her head. Giffords was shot at point blank range at a constituent event in a rampage that left six dead and more than a dozen others injured. Giffords will continue her treatment as an outpatient. Although her doctor has said she has shown “clear, continuous improvement,” Giffords sadly still has a long way to go. Pia Carusone, her Congressional Chief of Staff said in an interview that Giffords struggles to communicate. “All that we can hope for is that she won’t plateau today and that she’ll keep going and that when she does plateau, it will be at a place far away from here.”

Huntsman Will Announce Candidacy Next Week

June 14, 2011 | Comments Off

6/14/11 Jon Huntsman, the former Utah Governor, who until recently served under President Obama as Ambassador to China, hopes to make his former boss a one-term President. Huntsman will make his official announcement next Tuesday in Liberty Park in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, the same spot where Ronald Reagan kicked off his 1980 campaign. But Huntsman will have a hard time putting together the Reagan coalition. On several issues, his views are anathema to the GOP’s conservative base. He has voiced support for the Obama stimulus plan, an individual mandate for health insurance, cap and trade and civil unions for gay couples. Reasonable positions like those will be a tough sell for Republican primary voters.

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