dean2's blog

Newsflash! Tea Party Congresscritters hypocritical on spending!

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/20/us/politics/20freshmen.html?ref=politics

 

July 19, 2011 Cost-Cutters, Except When the Spending Is Back Home

By

WASHINGTON — Freshman House Republicans who rode a wave of voter discontent into office last year vowed to stop out-of-control spending, but that has not stopped several of them from quietly trying to funnel millions of federal dollars into projects back home.

They have pushed for dozens of projects in their districts, including military programs opposed by the president, replenishing beach sand lost to erosion, a $700 million bridge in Minnesota and a harbor dredging project in Charleston, S.C. Some of their projects were once earmarks, political shorthand for pet projects penciled into spending bills, which Republicans banned when they took over the House.

An examination of spending bills, news releases and communications with federal agencies obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows that nearly two dozen freshmen have sought money for projects that could ultimately cost billions of dollars, while calling for less spending and banning pork projects.

Politicians have long advocated for projects on behalf of individuals and businesses back home, even without earmarks. Several lawmakers said they were merely providing a constituent service. But since many of the freshman Republicans campaigned on a pledge to cut spending and to change Washington’s time-honored ways, their support of spending projects suggests that in many cases ideology can go only so far in serving the needs of people back home.

Lawmakers like Representative Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina, who advocated for the harbor dredging project with other members of the South Carolina delegation, insist their requests are neither earmarks nor wasteful. “This was a merit-based project that was open and transparent,” said Mr. Scott, who helped secure $150,000 for the first phase of a harbor-deepening project in Charleston, his hometown. The project is expected eventually to cost as much as $300 million. Mr. Scott, a favorite of the Tea Party movement, said he is opposed to earmarks and that dredging the port was in the national interest because it would accommodate bigger cargo ships and help create trade opportunities and jobs.

The Obama administration did not agree and did not include the project in the Army Corps of Engineers budget. As a result Mr. Scott and Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, who tried to earmark financing for the project last year, threatened in April at a news conference in Charleston to tie up the government unless the project was approved. Mr. Graham also pledged to hold up President Obama’s nominees in the Senate. After the threat by Mr. Graham and lobbying by Mr. Scott and other members of South Carolina’s Congressional delegation, the corps agreed to pay for the dredging.

“Persistence pays off,” Mr. Scott said. “We knew dredging the Port of Charleston was a worthy project, and we were persistent in ensuring that the corps knew that, too.”

In some cases, freshman support for the financing of projects in their districts have put them in opposition to other members of the Republican Party who are calling for deep spending cuts and the elimination of hundreds of federal programs they consider wasteful.

Early this year, the Republican Study Committee, a conservative House caucus, opposed a program that replaces sand on the nation’s beaches as one of several wasteful programs, estimating that scrapping the program would save the government about $95 million.

”Beach erosion is a natural process, and spending in this area may not be effective,” the group said. “In addition, this spending is more properly the responsibility of states, localities and private landowners.”

But when the measure to kill the program came up for a vote last February, Representative Jon Runyan, a former professional football player and freshman Republican from New Jersey, opposed it, and it was overwhelmingly defeated. In his news release, Mr. Runyan, who had run a campaign on ending the “fiscal insanity” in Washington, boasted of his efforts in getting continued money for replenishing the sand on the beaches in his district.

Last year, the Democratic lawmaker whom Mr. Runyan defeated requested more than $20 million in earmarks to replace the sand on New Jersey’s beaches. On Tuesday, Mr. Runyan defended the program. “Beach replenishment projects are vital to protecting New Jersey’s 127 miles of coastline from violent storms,”  he said in an e-mailed statement.

On the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, local officials and members of Congress have pushed for a new four-lane bridge over the St. Croix River that was co-sponsored by Representative Sean P. Duffy, a Wisconsin freshman Republican, and Representative Michele Bachmann, the three-term Minnesota Republican who is running for president.

Opponents labeled the bridge an earmark, but Mr. Duffy and Mrs. Bachmann said the bridge was critical to handle increased traffic that an 80-year-old bridge nearby can no longer handle alone. They defend the spending by arguing that it was not an earmark since there were no specific costs listed in the bill itself, nor is it a financing bill. The legislation calls only for a bridge to be built.

The National Park Service has opposed the project, saying it would violate the Wild and Scenic River Act by harming the river’s scenic and recreational qualities.

Last March, while the House was drafting the military authorization bill, 22 freshman Republicans wrote a letter to the House leadership requesting more military spending than President Obama had requested.

Many of the signees included members whose districts have a large military presence or big defense contractors like Representative Steven M. Palazzo, a Mississippi freshman. During his campaign, Mr. Palazzo told voters that he favored banning earmarks, saying it would “help restore the people’s faith in their government.”

But once in office, Mr. Palazzo voted with other Republicans to slash millions of dollars from the military bill, only to add an amendment later to restore the money. Mr. Palazzo’s amendment put back about $150 million for a combat ship that would be built at Ingalls Shipbuilding in his Pascagoula district. He also secured $10 million to buy land for training facilities for the Army National Guard, and $19.9 million for the ship’s preliminary design and feasibility studies. Several of these programs were earmarks of Mr. Palazzo’s Democratic predecessor.

“I am glad to be able to help ensure the long-term viability of our shipbuilding industry and the thousands of craftsmen that build the ships,” Mr. Palazzo said in a statement. Asked about the financing, Mr. Palazzo’s press secretary, Hunter Lipscomb, said the programs were not earmarks because the congressman did not request funds for any specific project, but merely to transfer funds to increase spending on the programs. “The way the authorized funding will be spent will be up to the Department of Defense,“ Mr. Lipscomb said.

Barclay Walsh contributed research.

 

Congratulations, The Next Right, on your first front page post in 3 months, 7 days!

All 1 of your regular readers is so thrilled that he can read a real blog again!!  Awesome!

Is The Next Right's body even still warm?

Over three months since there's been a post on the main page.  It's been 4 days since even the erstwhile Skip has cross-posted his material here (for those who didn't know, he's got a low-traffic blog of his very own - he just copy/pastes his rants over here).

Perhaps the 3 or 4 of us who check in here every few weeks should start a pool.  Everyone throw in $10.  The winner chooses the date closest to the actual date that this blog space disappears altogether. 

Way to go, Next Right!  I guess someone made a decision that "conservatives" should just rely on Fox News  and Glenn Beck - full blown members of the "lamestream" media.

the Right's ridiculous "Obama is a mystery" meme foiled by Barbour's idiotic statement

Seriously, Barbour claimed that we knew George Washington chopped down the cherry tree (and we know he did no such thing - it's a myth) and more about the childhood's of other President's than we do about Obama when questioned about the "Obama is of mysterious/unknowable Muslim upbringing and is hiding things" meme being pushed by the Right.  Please.  Obama's got a book about his upbringing.  Obama's been investigated constantly by those on the Left, Right and Center looking for any dirty detail to be found.  It's ridiculous.  Barbour's claims are disingenuous at BEST!  Even the National Review can't help him on this one:

http://hotlineoncall.nationaljournal.com/archives/2010/09/barbours_observ.php

"Asked what more he would like to know about Obama's past and what the American should know, Barbour haltingly replied, "There's not much known about his, in college, growing up. We don't know any chopped down the cherry tree, we don't know any of the childhood things we know about Ronald Reagan. I don't say it as an insult, or as anything other than just an observation. Somebody says why would be people question things, we just don't know."

Barbour was reminded by another reporter that Obama has written a biography of his childhood and young adult years, Dreams From My Father and asked if he thought that account was inaccurate or incomplete. Barbour responded, "I have no idea." He also said he had not read the book."

This is what the Next Right refers to as "socialism"...

Remarks of President Barack Obama on the Economy – As Prepared for Delivery

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Cleveland, Ohio

 

As Prepared for Delivery—

 

Good afternoon, Ohio. It’s good to be back.

 

In the fall of 2008, one of the last rallies of my presidential campaign was here in the Cleveland area. It was a hopeful time, just two days before the election. We knew that if we pulled it off, we’d have the chance to tackle some big and difficult challenges that had been facing this country for a long time.

 

We also hoped for a chance to get beyond some of the old political divides – between Democrats and Republicans, Red states and Blue states – that had prevented us from making progress. Because although we are proud to be Democrats, we are prouder to be Americans – and we believed that no single party has a monopoly on wisdom.

 

That’s not to say that the election didn’t expose deep differences between the parties. I ran for President because for much of the last decade, a very specific governing philosophy had reigned about how America should work:

 

Cut taxes, especially for millionaires and billionaires. Cut regulations for special interests. Cut trade deals even if they didn’t benefit our workers. Cut back on investments in our people and our future – in education and clean energy; in research and technology. The idea was that if we had blind faith in the market; if we let corporations play by their own rules; if we left everyone else to fend for themselves, America would grow and prosper.

 

For a time, this idea gave us the illusion of prosperity. We saw financial firms and CEOs take in record profits and record bonuses. We saw a housing boom that led to new homeowners and new jobs in construction. Consumers bought more condos and bigger cars and better televisions.

 

But while all this was happening, the broader economy was becoming weaker. Job growth between 2000 and 2008 was slower than it had been in any economic expansion since World War II – even slower than it’s been over the past year. The wages and incomes of middle-class families kept falling while the cost of everything from tuition to health care kept rising. Folks were forced to put more debt on their credit cards and borrow against homes that many couldn’t afford in the first place. Meanwhile, a failure to pay for two wars and two tax cuts for the wealthy helped turn a record surplus into a record deficit.

 

I ran for President because I believed that this kind of economy was unsustainable – for the middle-class and for our nation’s future. I ran because I had a different idea about how America was built – an idea rooted in my own family’s story.

 

You see, Michelle and I are where we are today because even though our families didn’t have much, they worked tirelessly – without complaint – so that we might have a better life. My grandfather marched off to Europe in World War II and my grandmother worked in factories on the home front. I had a single mom who put herself through school, and would wake before dawn to make sure I got a decent education. Michelle can still remember her father heading out to his job as a city worker long after Multiple Sclerosis had made it impossible for him to walk without crutches.

 

Yes, our families believed in the American values of self-reliance and individual responsibility, and they instilled those values in their children. But they also believed in a country that rewards responsibility. A country that rewards hard work. A country built upon the promise of opportunity and upward mobility.

 

They believed in an America that gave my grandfather the chance to go to college because of the GI Bill. An America that gave my grandparents the chance to buy a home because of the Federal Housing Authority. An America that gave their children and grandchildren the chance to fulfill our dreams thanks to college loans and college scholarships.

 

It was an America where you didn’t buy things you couldn’t afford; where we didn’t just think about today – we thought about tomorrow. An America that took pride in the goods it made, not just in the things it consumed. An America where a rising tide really did lift all boats, from the company CEO to the guy on the assembly line.

 

That’s the America I believe in. That’s what led me to work in the shadow of a shuttered steel plant on the South Side of Chicago when I was a community organizer. It’s what led me to fight for factory workers at manufacturing plants that were closing across Illinois when I was a Senator. It’s what led me to run for President – because I don’t believe we can have a strong and growing economy without a strong and growing middle-class.

 

Now, much has happened since that election. The flawed policies and economic weaknesses of the previous decade culminated in the worst recession of our lifetimes. My hope was that the crisis would cause everyone, Democrats and Republicans, to pull together and tackle our problems in a practical way. But as we all know, things didn’t work out that way.

 

Some Republican leaders figured it was smart politics to sit on the sidelines and let Democrats solve the mess. Others believed on principle that government shouldn’t meddle in the markets, even when the markets were broken. But with the nation losing nearly 800,000 jobs the month I was sworn in, my most urgent task was to stop a financial meltdown and prevent this recession from becoming a second depression.

 

We’ve done that. The economy is growing again. The financial markets have stabilized. The private sector has created jobs for the last eight months in a row. And there are roughly three million Americans who are working today because of the economic plan we put in place.

 

But the truth is, progress has been painfully slow. Millions of jobs were lost before our policies even had a chance to take effect – a hole so deep that even though we’ve added jobs again, millions of Americans remain unemployed. Hundreds of thousands of families have lost their homes; millions more can barely pay the bills or make the mortgage. The middle-class is still treading water, while those aspiring to reach the middle class are doing everything they can to keep from drowning.

 

Meanwhile, some of the very steps that were necessary to save the economy – like temporarily supporting the banks and the auto industry – fed the perception that Washington is still ignoring the middle class in favor of special interests.

 

And so people are frustrated and angry and anxious about the future. I understand that. I also understand that in a political campaign, the easiest thing for the other side to do is ride this fear and anger all the way to Election Day.

 

That’s what’s happening right now. A few weeks ago, the Republican leader of the House came here to Cleveland and offered his party’s answer to our economic challenges. Now, it would be one thing if he admitted his party’s mistakes during the eight years they were in power, and was offering a credible new approach to solving our country’s problems.

 

But that’s not what happened. There were no new policies from Mr. Boehner. There were no new ideas. There was just the same philosophy we already tried for the last decade – the same philosophy that led to this mess in the first place: cut more taxes for millionaires and cut more rules for corporations. Instead of coming together like past generations did to build a better country for our children and grandchildren, their argument is that we should let insurance companies go back to denying care to folks who are sick, and let credit card companies go back to raising rates without any reason. Instead of setting our sights higher, they’re asking us to settle for a status quo of stagnant growth, eroding competitiveness, and a shrinking middle class.

 

Cleveland – that is not the America I know. That is not the America we believe in. A lot has changed since I came here in those final days of the last election, but what hasn’t is the choice facing this country. It’s still fear versus hope; the past versus the future. It’s still a choice between sliding backward and moving forward. That’s what this election is about. That’s the choice you’ll face in November.

 

I have a different vision for the future. I’ve never believed that government has all the answers to our problems. I’ve never believed that government’s role is to create jobs or prosperity. I believe it’s the drive and ingenuity of our entrepreneurs, the skill and dedication of our workers, that has made us the wealthiest nation on Earth. I believe it’s the private sector that must be the main engine of our recovery.

 

I believe government should be lean, it should be efficient, and it should leave people free to make the choices they think are best for themselves and their families, so long as those choices don’t hurt others.

 

But in the words of the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, I also believe that government should do for the people what they cannot do better for themselves.

 

That means making long-term investments in this country’s future that individuals and corporations cannot make on their own: investments in education and clean energy; in basic research, technology, and infrastructure

 

That means making sure corporations live up to their responsibilities to treat consumers fairly and play by the same rules as everyone else; to look out for their workers and create jobs here at home.

 

And that means providing a hand up for middle-class families – so that if they work hard and meet their responsibilities, they can afford to raise their children, send them to college, see a doctor when they get sick, and retire with dignity and respect.

 

That’s what we Democrats believe in – a vibrant free market, but one that works for everybody. That’s our vision for a stronger economy and a growing middle-class. And that’s the difference between what we and the Republicans in Congress are offering the American people right now.

 

Let me give you a few specific examples of our different approaches. This week, I proposed some additional steps to grow the economy and help businesses spur hiring. One of the keys to job creation is to encourage companies to invest more in the United States. But for years, our tax code has actually given billions of dollars in tax breaks that encourage companies to create jobs and profits in other countries.

 

I want to change that. Instead of tax loopholes that incentivize investment in overseas jobs, I’m proposing a more generous, permanent extension of the tax credit that goes to companies for all the research and innovation they do right here in America. And I’m proposing that all American businesses should be allowed to write off all the investment they do in 2011. This will help small businesses upgrade their plants and equipment, and will encourage large corporations to get off the sidelines and start putting their profits to work in places like Cleveland and Toledo and Dayton.

 

To most of you, this is just common sense. But not to Mr. Boehner and his allies. For years, Republicans have fought to keep these corporate loopholes open. In fact, when Mr. Boehner was here in Cleveland he attacked us for closing a few of these loopholes – and using the money to help states like Ohio keep hundreds of thousands of teachers and cops and firefighters on the job. He dismissed these jobs – teaching our kids, patrolling our streets, rushing into burning buildings – as quote “government jobs” – jobs that I guess he thought just weren’t worth saving.

 

I couldn’t disagree more. I think teachers and police officers and firefighters are part of what keep America strong. And I think if we’re going to give tax breaks to companies, they should go to companies that create jobs in America – not those that create jobs overseas. That’s one difference between the Republican vision and the Democratic vision. And that’s what this election is all about.

 

Let me give you another example. We want to put more Americans back to work rebuilding America – our roads, railways, and runways. When the housing sector collapsed and the recession hit, one in every four jobs lost were in the construction industry. That’s partly why our economic plan has invested in badly needed infrastructure projects over the last nineteen months – not just roads and bridges, but high-speed railroads and expanded broadband access. Altogether, these are projects that have led to thousands of good, private sector jobs, especially for those in the trades.

 

Mr. Boehner and the Republicans in Congress said no to these projects. Fought them tooth and nail. Though I should say that didn’t stop a lot of them from showing up at the ribbon-cutting ceremonies and trying to take credit. That’s always a sight to see.

 

Now, there are still thousands of miles of roads, railways, and runways left to repair and improve. And engineers, economists, governors and mayors of every political stripe believe that if we want to compete, we need to rebuild this vital infrastructure. There’s no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains or the most modern airports – we want to put people to work building them right here in America. So this week, I’ve proposed a six year infrastructure plan that would start putting Americans to work right away. But despite the fact that this has traditionally been an issue with bipartisan support, Mr. Boehner has so far said no to infrastructure. That’s bad for America – and that too is what this election is about.

 

I’ll give you one final example of the differences between us and the Republicans, and that’s on the issue of tax cuts. Under the tax plan passed by the last administration, taxes are scheduled to go up substantially next year. Now, I believe we ought to make the tax cuts for the middle class permanent. These families are the ones who saw their wages and incomes flatline over the last decade – and they deserve a break. And because they are more likely to spend on basic necessities, this will strengthen the economy as a whole.

 

But the Republican leader of the House doesn’t want to stop there. Make no mistake: he and his party believe we should also give a permanent tax cut to the wealthiest two percent of Americans. With all the other budgetary pressures we have – with all the Republicans’ talk about wanting to shrink the deficit – they would have us borrow $700 billion over the next ten years to give a tax cut of about $100,000 to folks who are already millionaires. These are among the only folks who saw their incomes rise when Republicans were in charge. And these are folks who are less likely to spend the money, which is why economists don’t think tax breaks for the wealthy would do much to boost the economy.

 

So let me be clear to Mr. Boehner and everyone else: we should not hold middle class tax cuts hostage any longer. We are ready, this week, to give tax cuts to every American making $250,000 or less. For any income over this amount, the tax rates would go back to what they were under President Clinton. This isn’t to punish folks who are better off – it’s because we can’t afford the $700 billion price tag. And for those who claim that this is bad for growth and bad for small businesses, let me remind you that with those tax rates in place, this country created 22 million jobs, raised incomes, and had the largest surplus in history.

 

In fact, if the Republican leadership in Congress really wants to help small businesses, they’ll stop using legislative maneuvers to block an up-or-down vote on a small business jobs bill that’s before the Senate right now. This is a bill that would do two things: cut taxes for small businesses and make loans more available for small businesses. It is fully paid for, and it was written by Democrats and Republicans. And yet, the other party continues to block this jobs bill – a delay that small business owners have said is actually leading them to put off hiring.

 

Look, I recognize that most of the Republicans in Congress have said no to just about every policy I’ve proposed since taking office. And on some issues, I realize it’s because there are genuine philosophical differences. But on issues like this one, the only reason they’re holding this up is politics, pure and simple. They’re making the same calculation they made just before the inauguration: if I fail, they win. Well, they might think this will get them where they need to go in November, but it won’t get our country where it needs to go in the long run.

 

So that’s the choice, Ohio. Do we return to the same failed policies that ran our economy into a ditch, or do we keep moving forward with policies that are slowly pulling us out? Do we settle for a slow decline, or do we reach for an America with a growing economy and a thriving middle-class?

 

That’s the America we see. We may not be there yet, but we know where this country needs to go.

 

We see a future where we invest in American innovation and American ingenuity; where we export more goods so we create more jobs here at home; where we make it easier to start a business or patent an invention; where we build a homegrown, clean energy industry – because I don’t want to see new solar panels or electric cars or advanced batteries manufactured in Europe or Asia. I want to see them made right here in America, by American workers.

 

We see an America where every citizen has the skills and training to compete with any worker in the world. That’s why we’ve set a goal to once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. That’s why we’re revitalizing our community colleges, and reforming our education system based on what works for our children – not what perpetuates the status quo.

 

We see an America where a growing middle-class is the beating heart of a growing economy. That’s why I kept my campaign promise and gave a middle-class tax cut to 95% of working Americans. That’s why we passed health insurance reform that stops insurance companies from jacking up your premiums at will or denying you coverage just because you get sick. That’s why we passed financial reform that will end taxpayer-funded bailouts; reform that will stop credit card companies and mortgage lenders and Wall Street banks from taking advantage of taxpayers and consumers.

 

That’s why we’re trying to make it easier for workers to save for retirement, and fighting the efforts of some in the other party to privatize Social Security – because as long as I’m President, no one is going to take the retirement savings of a generation of Americans and hand it over to Wall Street.

 

That’s why we’re fighting to extend the child tax credit, and make permanent our new college tax credit. Because if we do, it will mean $10,000 in tuition relief for each child going to four years of college.

 

And finally, we see an America where we refuse to pass on the debt we inherited to the next generation.

 

Now, let me spend a minute on this issue, because we’ve heard a lot of moralizing on the other side about it. Along with tax cuts for the wealthy, the other party’s main economic proposal is that they’ll stop government spending.

 

Of course, they are right to be concerned about the long-term deficit – if we don’t get a handle on it soon, it can endanger our future. And at a time when folks are tightening their belts at home, I understand why a lot of Americans feel it’s time for government to show some discipline too.

 

But let’s look at the facts. When these same Republicans – including Mr. Boehner – were in charge, the number of earmarks and pet projects went up, not down. These same Republicans turned a record surplus that Bill Clinton left into a record deficit. Just this year, these same Republicans voted against a bipartisan fiscal commission that they themselves proposed. And when you ask them what programs they’d actually cut, they usually don’t have an answer.

 

That’s not fiscal responsibility. That’s not a serious plan to govern.

 

I’ll be honest – I refuse to cut back on those investments that will grow our economy in the future – investments in areas like education and clean energy and technology. That’s because economic growth is the single best way to bring down the deficit – and we need these investments to grow. But I am absolutely committed to fiscal responsibility, which is why I’ve already proposed freezing all discretionary spending unrelated to national security for the next three years. And once the bipartisan fiscal commission finishes its work, I will spend the next year making the tough choices necessary to further reduce our deficit and lower our debt.

 

Of course, reducing the deficit won’t be easy. Making up for the 8 million lost jobs caused by this recession won’t happen overnight. Not everything we’ve done over the last two years has worked as quickly as we had hoped, and I am keenly aware that not all our policies have been popular.

 

So no, our job is not easy. But you didn’t elect me to do what’s easy. You didn’t elect me to just read the polls and figure out how to keep myself in office. You didn’t elect me to avoid big problems. You elected me to do what’s right. And as long as I’m President, that’s exactly what I’ll do.

 

This country is emerging from an incredibly difficult period in its history – an era of irresponsibility that stretched from Wall Street to Washington and had a devastating effect on a lot of people. We have started turning the corner on that era, but part of moving forward is returning to the time-honored values that built this country: hard work and self-reliance; responsibility for ourselves, but also responsibility for one another. It’s about moving from an attitude that said “What’s in it for me” to one that asks, “What’s best for America? What’s best for all our workers? What’s best for all our businesses? What’s best for our children?”

 

These values aren’t Democratic or Republican. They aren’t conservative or liberal values. They’re American values. As Democrats, we take pride in what our party has accomplished over the last century: Social Security and the minimum wage; the GI Bill and Medicare; Civil Rights and worker’s rights and women’s rights. But we also recognize that throughout history, there has been a noble Republican vision as well, of what this country can be. It was the vision of Abraham Lincoln, who set up the first land grant colleges and launched the transcontinental railroad; the vision of Teddy Roosevelt, who used the power of government to break up monopolies; the vision of Dwight Eisenhower, who helped build the Interstate Highway System. And yes, the vision of Ronald Reagan, who despite his aversion to government, was willing to help save Social Security for future generations.

 

These were serious leaders for serious times. They were great politicians, but they didn’t spend all their time playing games or scoring points. They didn’t always prey on people’s fears and anxieties. They made mistakes, but they did what they thought was in the best interest of their country and its people.

 

That’s what the American people expect of us today – Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. That’s the debate they deserve. That’s the leadership we owe them.

 

I know that folks are worried about the future. I know there’s still a lot of hurt out here. And when times are tough, I know it can be tempting to give in to cynicism and fear; to doubt and division – to set our sights lower and settle for something less.

 

But that is not who we are, Ohio. Those are not the values that built this country. We are here today because in the worst of times, the people who came before us brought out the best in America. Because our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were willing to work and sacrifice for us. They were willing to take great risks, and face great hardship, and reach for a future that would give us the chance at a better life. They knew that this country is greater than the sum of its parts – that America is not about the ambitions of any one individual, but the aspirations of an entire people and an entire nation.

 

That’s who we are. That is our legacy. And I’m convinced that if we’re willing to summon those values today; if we’re willing again to choose hope over fear; to choose the future over the past; to come together once more around the great project of national renewal, then we will restore our economy; rebuild our middle-class; and reclaim the American Dream for the next generation.

 

Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Conservatives will have to reconcile the proven, positive impact of stimulus spending.

Conservatives will somehow have to bear out the fact that the stimulus bill is working, and that the evidence that an even bigger stimulus (or the same size with fewer than 40% tax cuts) would have worked even better.  They need to start asking themselves honestly what's going to happen when their "government is always bad no matter the circumstances" mantra is continually proven invalid.  Dishonesty with the electorate is a strategy that is doomed to fail.

There is no valid economic argument that has disproven the success of Keynsian stimulative government spending in the face of an economic downturn, as much as Conservatives might wish that to be the case.  Time after time after time it's proven to work when, and naturally work best when gauged to the economic need of the situation. It's not rocket science, folks.

Here are the goods:    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/political-economy/2010/08/cbo_says_stimulus_may_have_add.html

And here's the article content, bold emphasis mine:

CBO says stimulus may have added 3.3 million jobs

By Lori Montgomery

President Obama's much-maligned economic stimulus package added as many as 3.3 million jobs to the economy during the second quarter of this year, and may have prevented the nation from lapsing back into recession, according to a report released Tuesday by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

In its latest quarterly assessment of the act, the CBO said the stimulus lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 and 1.8 percentage points during the quarter ending in June and increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million. The higher figure would come close to making good on Obama's pledge that the act would save or create as many as 3.5 million jobs by the end of this year.

The CBO said the act also increased the nation's gross domestic product by between 1.7 percent and 4.5 percent in the second quarter, indicating that the stimulus may have been the primary source of growth in the U.S. economy. The Commerce Department estimates that GDP grew 2.4 percent in the second quarter, a figure many economists expect to be revised lower in a report due out Friday.

The CBO cautioned that the the act's effects are expected to "gradually diminish during the second half of 2010 and beyond," leaving the private sector to pick up the slack in an economy that is already showing signs of deteriorating rapidly. On the bright side, the CBO revised the cost of the package downward: Originally estimated to cost $787 billion over 10 years, the stimulus was later estimated to cost $862 billion. But in the report released Tuesday, the CBO said it now expects the measure to cost only about $814 billion through 2019, with 70 percent of those costs incurred by the end of this year.

Polls show that the public is deeply skeptical about the stimulus and tends to believe that it increased the national deficit without improving the economy. Republicans hoping to seize control of Congress in the November midterm elections have been blasting the act as a failure. But the CBO, which is respected by both Republicans and Democrats, has long held a different view and Democrats hailed Tuesday's report as further vindication of the president's signal economic achievement.

"This new analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is further confirmation of what we've been hearing from leading economists, the nation's governors and families across the country: the Recovery Act is working to rescue the economy from eight years of failed economic policy and rebuild it even stronger than before," Vice President Biden said in a statement.

 

Finally, a Republican willing to take responsibility for role in fiscal crisis!

It's a breath of fresh air, frankly.  We're all in this together, and when one Party pretends that it's entirely blameless it's hard to see how we can find common solutions and move forward.  It's the promise the The Next Right has thus far largely failed to fulfill.  It's why being "the Party of NO" is harming this country.  Here's the goods:

"'The truth is that mistakes made by (former Treasury Secretary Henry) Paulson, under Bush, and by Bush in leading us into the current economic downturn, are hurting every American,' (Retiring Representative John) Shadegg (R. AZ) said. 'So I think politics is extremely important, and I will always believe that and always want to be involved.' "

Link: http://ktar.com/?nid=6&sid=1325150

Ruffini and other Republicans having trouble understanding nature and timing of job losses in this recession.

Ruffini tried to make a point in a tweet (I can't link here because I'm using a restricted computer), assigning responsibility for the job losses in this recession to Obama.  One can argue that job losses can be assigned to a President or not (I think only very partially, not at all usefully), but Ruffini's chosen to do so and he's in hot water when it comes down to the actual data.  Robert Shapiro looked at the raw data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and found the following:

From December 2007 to July 2009 – the last year of the Bush second term and the first six months of the Obama presidency, before his policies could affect the economy –  private sector employment crashed from 115,574,000 jobs to 107,778,000 jobs.  Employment continued to fall, however, for the next six months, reaching a low of 107,107,000 jobs in December of 2009.  So, out of 8,467,000 private sector jobs lost in this dismal cycle, 7,796,000 of those jobs or 92 percent were lost on the Republicans’ watch or under the sway of their policies.  Some 671,000 additional jobs were lost as the stimulus and other moves by the administration kicked in, but 630,000 jobs then came back in the following six months.  The tally, to date:  Mr. Obama can be held accountable for the net loss of 41,000 jobs  (671,000 – 630,000), while the Republicans should be held responsible for the net losses of 7,796,000 jobs.

Yes, you're reading that correctly.  These are raw data - good luck refuting it.  We can pick out the jobs that came back since Conservatives pretend that stimulus doesn't work (flying in the face of established economic reality, but whatever).  The picture is still ugly, and using Ruffini's method of assigning job losses (and I sure wouldn't use that method because I don't think it's very accurate), the Republicans are responsible for > 7 million more job losses than are the Democrats.

Pre-stimulus job losses = 7 ,796, 000

Post-stimulus job losses = 671, 000

Republicans can maximize their midterm gains if they're willing to specify policies

This gets to the "party of no" meme, which I think has a great deal of substance. Yes, Paul Ryan has stipulated his Roadmap (whatever its flaws and bright spots), but almost all elected Republicans are running away from supporting (publicly) that road map as quickly as they can.

Yes, it's clear that Republicans and Conservatives don't like Democratic policies (duh!), so much so that they don't mind smearing them with distortions, exaggerations and outright lies rather than engaging them honestly.  What they've failed to do in response, and what voters are clearly looking for (see poll question and results below), is what the Republicans in Congress are actually proposing to do if they're given the reigns in the midterms.  Indeed, without laying out the specifics, they'll still win back a good number of seats (the minority always does in midterms, with few exceptions) but they'll greatly dimish their chances of actually taking a majority in either house (not to mention they've lined up a slate, in some cases, of truly repugnant candidates, e.g., Sharron Angle).

A recent poll indicates voter wariness with both parties from a policy standpoint.  Not a huge surprise, but of concern for Republicans is that they lose the "concern war" by a statistically significant margin.  Here's the poll:  http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/wsjnbcpoll-08122010.pdf

And here's the pertinent question that led me to post this information: 

Which of the following concerns you more?

(A) That the Republicans have offered no specific plans or programs to deal with the issues facing the country so it is hard to know what they would do if they were to win the majority in Congress, OR (B) That the Democrats have offered no changes that they would make to deal with issues facing the country, so it is hard to know what they would do differently from President Obama’s current policies if they were to retain the majority in Congress?

Republicans have offered no plans ............43Democrats have offered no changes .........39Some of both (VOL) ....................................... 8Not sure .......................................................... 10

 

 

And before I close, a pre-emptive word to some of the regular Conservative commenters on the site:  Yes, I'm aware that many of the results in the poll don't paint a pretty picture for President Obama (though better than I expected), Congressional Democrats (about what I expected) or Congressional Republicans (again, about what I expected).  That's plain to see and not surprising.  But it's not the point of this post.  Re-read and try to avoid ad hominem attacks, and if you choose to comment please stick to addressing the point: that the persons in the poll do not perceive Congressional Republicans and candidates to have articulated a set of policies by which they propose to govern the nation (hint: repeal is not a policy, and saying "replace" without indicating with what you intend to replace is also not a policy - it's a talking point).  If you have a critique of the point or how it fits into the "party of no" meme, everyone will be pleased to read what you have to say constructively.

 

 

EDIT to add:  After I posted I saw that Ezra Klein's got an interesting analysis of the poll results overall.  To wit, the results are odd.  Obama is still the most popular politician nationally, Republicans are liked less than Democrats (by a large margin), yet the preference for midterm polling is in favor of the Democrats only by a single percentage point.  A good read:  http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/08/portrait_of_a_frustrated_elect.html

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