Monday, December 31, 2012

NY Times - Puff Piece on Fix the Debt


By Peter Dreier:
The New York Times should be embarrassed. On December 24 it gave a Christmas present to the corporate-backed lobby group Fix the Debt with its front-page Business section puff piece about the organization, which is pushing to balance the federal budget by slashing social programs while cutting taxes for the rich.
The 1149-word piece, ”One Woman’s War on Debt Gains Steam,” by reporter Annie Lowrey, is a fawning profile of the group’s public face, Maya MacGuineas. The article makes it appear that the Fix the Debt group was hatched last year at a dinner party at Senator Mark Warner’s house, when in fact it is simply the latest incarnation of Pete Peterson, the billionaire Wall Street financier who over many years has invested tens of millions of his money in his long-term crusade to reduce the federal debt on the backs of the poor and middle class, including the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which Peterson funded and where MacGuineas once worked. Peterson is also the largest funder of Fix the Debt, but he isn’t mentioned in Lowrey’s article. The launching of Fix the Debt was announced on the Peter Peterson Foundation website. Lowrey could easily have found dozens of articles on the web about Fix the Debt that reveal Peterson’s crusade and his role in the group, including an investigative article in New Yorkmagazine. Los Angeles Times business columnist Michael Hiltzik exposed Peterson’s long-term crusade to forge an elite consensus to slash social spending in pieces last October 2 and October 9.Bob Kuttner performed a similar service in an article for American Prospect.
Indeed, Times columnist Paul Krugman mentioned Peterson’s close ties to the organization in his column “Maya and the Vigilantes” two days before Lowrey’s article appeared.

Fiscal scam; not a Grand Bargain



Most of This article was published on 12.06.12. Sacramento News and Review.- Except the first paragraph is new. 

     If your tax bill goes up $2,200 a year, or you're one of the millions who would stop receiving unemployment benefits, the cause of your economic pain is not some a natural disaster, or a major structural flaw in the economy. The cause is Republican fear of being beaten in a primary by people like Sarah Palin, Sharon Angel or Richard Mourdock - funded by far Right Wing oligarchs like Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers. It's that simple.
We do not need more austerity. If you want some small steps, President Barack Obama suggested extending the Bush-era tax reductions for the bottom 98 percent of earners. This is a proposal that almost everyone agrees with. Let’s disagree over cuts for the top 2 percent and work out a compromise.
We should immediately reauthorize funding for extended unemployment benefits to prevent 1.5 million workers and their dependents from losing their benefits. California has received federal funds of more than $5 billion for extended unemployment insurance. If these funds are cut, it could well throw California back into a recession.
We should reject the fiscal-cliff hysteria of the corporate establishment and its pressure for a “grand bargain” that would cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. If the government imposes austerity measures and reduces essential programs that benefit the middle and working classes, it further shreds the safety net for the most vulnerable.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Republicans Neanderthal place economy at risk


 December 26, 2012

Fiscal Endgame : NY. Times.
Just before the Christmas break, negotiations on the so-called fiscal cliff ended on an absurdist note. House Republicans not only rejected President Obama’s overly generous budget deal, including his offer to lift the income threshold for higher tax rates to $400,000 a year from $250,000, they also rejected their own leadership’s proposal to raise the threshold for higher taxes to $1 million and to preserve tax breaks for the heirs of multimillion-dollar estates.
Most of the fiscal-cliff discussion has focused on higher income tax rates from the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts and automatic across-the-board spending cuts. But failure to reach a deal by year-end would also bring about deeper and more immediate pain for low- and middle-income Americans.
No deal means the end of federal unemployment benefits, averaging $290 a week. Some two million people would be cut off immediately, and nearly one million more who would be cut off in the first quarter of 2013. It means the end of the 2 percent payroll tax cut, which, for the past two years, has reduced taxes for 125 million households, boosting pay by nearly $1,000 a year for the typical household making $50,000.

Fight for $15, cuz we can't survive on $8.25!



Downtown Chicago retail and restaurant workers are organizing to fight for a living wage of $15 per hour through their new union, the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago (WOCC). On December 22, 2012 WOCC led a march through Chicago’s upscale Magnificent Mile shopping district to press their cause. It ended with a sit-in and 24 arrests next to the Michigan Ave Macy’s.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

El Paso, Austin, seek to secede from Texas


El Paso, a city in Texas joined the city of Austin, by also filing a petition requesting to secede from the State of Texas, should Texas withdraw from the union of the U.S.

The two petitions come as a direct result of the petition filed by Texas on the official White House website seeking to withdraw from the United States Union. The petition currently has over 100,000 surpassing the requirement needed for the administration to comment on it.

However, according to the White House official website, it is unclear whether President Obama will address the petition.

In light of the State of Texas' petition to withdraw from the union of the United States of America, On the official site of the White House, Austin petitions, ""Peacefully grant the city of Austin Texas to withdraw from the state of Texas & remain part of the United States."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Republicans may cause new recession ! Rachel Maddow



Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Republican Disgrace


 Remarkably, John Boehner couldn’t get enough House Republicans to vote in favor of his proposal to keep the Bush tax cuts in place on the first million dollars of everyone’s income and apply the old Clinton rates only to dollars over and above a million.  What? Even Grover Norquist blessed Boehner’s proposal, saying it wasn’t really a tax increase. Even Paul Ryan supported it.
What does Boehner’s failure tell us about the modern Republican party?
That it has become a party of hypocrisy masquerading as principled ideology. The GOP talks endlessly about the importance of reducing the budget deficit. But it isn’t even willing to raise revenues from the richest three-tenths of one percent of Americans to help with the task. We’re talking about 400,000 people, for crying out loud.
It has become a party that routinely shills for its super-wealthy patrons at a time in our nation’s history when the middle class is shrinking, the median wage is dropping, and the share of Americans in poverty is rising. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Protesters rally against Fracking



Protesters rally against fracking as oil industry claims it is 'safe' 

by Dan Bacher 

Just two days after a big oil lobbyist and former "marine guardian" proclaimed in the Sacramento Bee that hydrofracking in California is "safe," dozens of protesters rallied outside a federal auction in Sacramento against plans to lease more than 17,000 acres of California public land to oil companies for drilling and fracking. 

The protesters, dressed in hazmat suits, carried barrels labeled “Warning: Toxic Fracking Fluid." Groups organizing the protest included the Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Water Action, Food and Water Watch, Credo Action, 350.org, Earthworks and Democracy for America. 

"The Bureau of Land Management auction would open public land in three counties — Monterey, San Benito and Fresno — for oil drilling and fracking," according to a news release from the groups. "Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a highly polluting form of oil and gas extraction. Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) urged the BLM to delay the auction over fracking concerns." 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

America's Teachers: Heroes or Moochers ?


America’s Teachers: Heroes or Greedy Moochers at the Public Trough?

I’ll be brief here. Let’s just note that the heroic teachers who died while courageously trying to protect their kids at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, and the others who survived but stayed to protect the kids, were all part of a school system where the employees are members of the American Federation of Teachers.
Let’s just let that sink in for a moment. Those teachers, who are routinely being accused by our politicians of being drones and selfish, incompetent money grubbers worried more about their pensions than about teaching our children (though most, even after 10 years, earn less than $55,000 a year for doing a very difficult job that involves at least 12-14 hours a day of work and prep time counting meetings with parents), stood their ground when confronted with a psychotic assailant armed with semi-automatic pistols and an automatic rifle, and protected their kids. The principal too, a veteran teacher herself, stood her ground, reportedly suicidally charging at the assailant along with the school’s psychologist in a doomed effort to tackle him and stop the carnage.
How many of us would have had to the courage to stand in front of a closet door to keep an armed madman from finding the kids hidden behind it, as one slain young teacher, Vicki Soto, died doing? How many of us would charge at an armed shooter, to almost certain death, in an effort top stop him from further killing? How many would bravely hide in a bathroom with a class of kids when we could have run away and saved ourselves?
And this: How many of the politicians in Washington and in state capitals and how many conservative think-tank “researchers” who attack teachers as leeches and drones would have shown such heroism under fire?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tax the Rich. - Ed Asner

http://youtu.be/S6ZsXrzF8Cc
Explains the economic crisis.

Tax the rich: An animated fairy tale, is narrated by Ed Asner, with animation by award-winning artist Mike Konopacki, and written and directed by Fred Glass for the California Federation of Teachers.  The 8 minute video shows how we arrived at this moment of poorly funded public services and widening economic inequality. Things go downhill in a happy and prosperous land after the rich decide they don't want to pay taxes anymore. They tell the people that there is no alternative, but the people aren't so sure.  This land bears a startling resemblance to our land.  After you watch this video, click here to share with friends, and send an email to your elected officialsto let them know they need to restore higher federal tax rates on the wealthy so that we may once more enjoy properly funded public services.
 

Monday, December 10, 2012

This Is Not Wisconsin. It's Worse.

This Is Not Wisconsin. It's Worse.

What Republicans call Right to Work


By Duane Campbell
 While labor won big in the 2012 elections such as Prop. 32 and 30 in California, we did not win everywhere.  Labor did not win in Michigan.  Republican legislators in Michigan on Thursday passed so called Right-To-Work  legislation  for private sector work by six votes in the Senate and the House.  The governor has indicated he will sign the bill.  A following bill restricting public sector workers is following close behind on Tues. in  the lame duck session.
From: Kitchen table economics: in DSA's  Democratic Left.  Winter 2012.What is Right To Work?  What motivates and who funds  these state campaigns against organized labor?  Answer:
In states that have adopted so called Right To Work, annual wages and benefits are about $1,500 lower than for comparable workers in non-RTW states—for both union and nonunion workers.  And the odds of getting health insurance or a pension through one’s job are also lower. (1)
Right to work (RTW)  is a misleading slogan.  It does not guarantee anyone a job, that is a right to work.   Rather, it makes it illegal for unions to require that each worker who benefits from a union contract pays his or her  fair share of the costs of administering that contract.
“Right to Work” is a propaganda title that unfortunately the corporate owned  has successfully branded and the media repeats day by day.  We should avoid repeating the phrase.  Instead we should call it what it is, an assault on unions.

America's Hope - Joseph Stiglitz


Joseph Stiglitz, Dec.6, 2012.
NEW YORK – After a hard-fought election campaign, costing well in excess of $2 billion, it seems to many observers that not much has changed in American politics: Barack Obama is still President, the Republicans still control the House of Representatives, and the Democrats still have a majority in the Senate. With America facing a “fiscal cliff” – automatic tax increases and spending cuts at the start of 2013 that will most likely drive the economy into recession unless bipartisan agreement on an alternative fiscal path is reached – could there be anything worse than continued political gridlock?

In fact, the election had several salutary effects – beyond showing that unbridled corporate spending could not buy an election, and that demographic changes in the United States may doom Republican extremism. The Republicans’ explicit campaign of disenfranchisement in some states – like Pennsylvania, where they tried to make it more difficult for African-Americans and Latinos to register to vote – backfired: those whose rights were threatened were motivated to turn out and exercise them. In Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor and tireless warrior for reforms to protect ordinary citizens from banks’ abusive practices, won a seat in the Senate.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Not so Grand of a bargain



This article was published on 12.06.12. Sacramento News and Review.

A recent Sacramento Bee editorial called for smaller steps to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” Then, strangely, it listed small steps that only call for compromise as advocated by the Republican’s austerity proposal.
We do not need more austerity. If you want some small steps, President Barack Obama suggested extending the Bush-era tax reductions for the bottom 98 percent of earners. This is a proposal that almost everyone agrees with. Let’s disagree over cuts for the top 2 percent and work out a compromise.
We should immediately reauthorize funding for extended unemployment benefits to prevent 1.5 million workers and their dependents from losing their benefits. California has received federal funds of more than $5 billion for extended unemployment insurance. If these funds are cut, it could well throw California back into a recession.
We should reject the fiscal-cliff hysteria of the corporate establishment and its pressure for a “grand bargain” that would cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. If the government imposes austerity measures and reduces essential programs that benefit the middle and working classes, it further shreds the safety net for the most vulnerable.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

WalMart Schools and Kevin Johnson


WalMart schools in Sacramento
A fine by the California Fair Political Practices Committee (FFPC) against Mayor Kevin Johnson revealed that the Mayor has received  $500,000 dollars from the Walton Family – the owners of WalMart- for his advocacy through the organization StandUP. 
The money did not go to the public schools but to advocacy for specific positions. Mayor Johnson has a number of well known positions on “school reform” starting with his initial role in privatizing Sacramento High School as a charter.   He serves as Chair of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s Education Reform Task Force.
Applying the WalMart perspective to schools would privatize  the public institutions.  WalMart is notoriously anti union and exploits its workers for the family’s own gains.  Low wages; pushing wage scales down: few benefits; passing  costs such as  adequate food and health care of workers off to the public programs; and an authoritarian even totalitarian management environment  are mainstays of WalMart stores.  I don’t think they will be able to import the teachers from China, but they will be able to cut wages, benefits, and job security. See http://forrespect.org.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Americans ( at least Democrats) more positive toward socialism

Is Paul Ryan Making Americans More Favorably Inclined Toward Socialism? 

Needless to say, this provoked the predictable fine whine of right-wing media. The conservative Washington Times newspaper declared: “Yes, Democrats, liberals favor socialism.” TheBusiness Insider website announced: “Everything Republicans Fear About Democrats Is True.” William F. Buckley’s old magazine, National Review, allowed as how there is “much that is peculiar, and much that is worrying” about the new polling data.
That reactionary Republicans get a little hysterical at the mention of the word “socialism” is not news. But the reaction to their reaction is. No two groups of Americans talk so much about socialism in so many public settings these days as Republican candidates and conservative commentators. And this appears to be influencing the discourse.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What Simpson and Bowles really stand for - Sanders




By Bernie Sanders | November 28, 2012. Senator. Vermount.

There has been a lot of discussion about Congress enacting a “grand bargain” during the lame duck session of Congress.  Many members of Congress have talked about using the plan put forward by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles as an outline for a “balanced” approach to deficit reduction.
Let me take this opportunity to tell you a little about Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles and what their plan would do.
As many of you know, Alan Simpson is a former conservative Republican Senator from Wyoming who has wanted to cut Social Security benefits for decades.
Here are just a few of the rude, inaccurate, and derogatory statements that Alan Simpson has made about Social Security:
               On August 24, 2010, Alan Simpson wrote in an e-mail to the head of the Older Women’s League: “And yes, I’ve made some plenty smart cracks about people on Social Security who milk it to the last degree. You know ‘em too. It’s the same with any system in America. We’ve reached a point now where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits!  Call when you get honest work!”
               On Friday, May 6, 2011, Alan Simpson told the Investment Company Institute, that Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme”, “not a retirement program.”  Simpson went on to say that Social Security “was never intended as a retirement program.