Archive for November, 2010

Tax cuts = jobs? Nope

I realize that we’re living in an age in which many citizens — including some of our elected leaders — simply cannot be troubled by the facts. That’s why a popular Republican fairy tale — tax cuts produce jobs and economic growth — continues to attract so many fervent believers.
It has been disproved over and over again, but it still continues to hold magical charms for many. But for those for whom facts still matter, The NYT’s David Leonhardt has a great blog post today:

Those tax cuts passed in 2001 amid big promises about what they would do for the economy. What followed? The decade with the slowest average annual growth since World War II. Amazingly, that statement is true even if you forget about the Great Recession and simply look at 2001-7.

The competition for slowest growth is not even close, either. Growth from 2001 to 2007 averaged 2.39 percent a year (and growth from 2001 through the third quarter of 2010 averaged 1.66 percent). The decade with the second-worst …

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On birthright citizenship, radical Republicans want to ignore the Constitution

By definition, political conservatives are supposed to favor tradition and history and look with disfavor on radical change. But the conservatives who have taken over the House of Representatives are radicals — people who want to overthrown the old system and upend tradition.

So what will be one of the first orders of business for the Republicans in the House? Find new ways to create jobs? Support people who have been unemployed for months?

No, sir-ree. One of their first orders of business will be an attempt to end birthright citizenship, which has been guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution since 1868. From McClatchy:

GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa, the incoming chairman of the subcommittee that oversees immigration, is expected to push a bill that would deny “birthright citizenship” to such children.

The measure, assailed by critics as unconstitutional, is an indication of how the new majority intends to flex its muscles on the volatile issue of illegal immigration.

The idea has …

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If you hate Obamacare, give up your Congressional health insurance

I will admit to a grudging admiration for the sheer gall of so many ultra-conservative Republicans. They lie without shame. They put the pursuit of power ahead of the national interest. And their hypocrisy is stunning.
Take Andy Harris, a newly minted Republican Congressman from Maryland. Harris, a physician, defeated a freshman Democrat by running a campaign almost entirely about repealing “Obamacare.” But Monday, in an orientation session for new legislators, he was furious to learn that his taxpayer-subsidized health insurance wouldn’t start immediately. From Politico:

Republican Andy Harris, an anesthesiologist who defeated freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, reacted incredulously when informed that federal law mandated that his government-subsidized health care policy would take effect on Feb. 1 – 28 days after his Jan. 3rd swearing-in.
“He stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would …

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The sad and graceless collapse of Charlie Rangel’s career

WASHINGTON — Not so very long ago, U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) was a powerful member of Congress — popular for his genial wit, respected for his heroic military service, revered as the first black chairman of the influential House Ways and Means Committee.

Now, he’s a pitiful member of the Stayed Around Too Long Club, an all-too-clear example of the ways in which power can corrode common sense, inflate the ego and fuel a towering sense of entitlement. On Monday, during a brief and self-pitying appearance at his House ethics trial, he seemed genuinely befuddled by his change in circumstances.

He accused his colleagues of treating him unfairly by denying him access to an attorney, even as he admitted his lawyers weren’t there because he could no longer afford to pay them. He asked for a delay, though he had spent months demanding a speedy trial. Then, he staged a dramatic walkout, leaving the House panel to consider 13 counts of misconduct without him.

It was an odd …

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TSA, don’t touch his ‘junk’

I share the average airline passenger’s aggravation with the hassle of conforming to TSA guidelines every time I board a flight. And I’ve had my share of confrontations with rude and overly rigid TSA agents who seem to enjoy exercising their authority a bit too much.
But I also know that most Americans would have freaked out if a certain underwear bomber had been successful in blowing up an airliner over US soil on Christmas Day 2009. We expect that the feds will do everything possible to protect us from murderous jihadists who want to use airplanes as bombs.
Given that, why not just calm down and go along with the security measures required to scan explosives? I’m not crazy about the idea of full-body scanners, but I recognize them as the price we pay for a fuller measure of airline security.
But John Tyner has become an Internet sensation for his refusal to submit to either a scanner or a body patdown at a San Diego airport yesterday. From the LA Times:

All he wanted to do …

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Clark Atlanta University’s president made a million in 2008. That’s outrageous

When Walter Broadnax took the helm of one of Atlanta’s historically black colleges — Clark Atlanta University — in 2002, the school, he said, was in financial trouble. So he set about laying off professors, shutting down some programs and increasing the tuition.
At the time, those moves provoked widespread controversy on campus — a group even took Broadnax to court — but they seemed necessary. Now, it turns out that the hatchet man who was cutting classes and hiking tuitions was paid more than a million dollars in 2008, according to a new survey in the Chronicle of Higher Education (via The Daily Beast). (Broadnax is 22nd on the list.) That’s simply outrageous.
UPDATE:Via e-mail, Dr. Robert Franklin, president of Atlanta’s private Morehouse College, which is ranked higher academically than Clark Atlanta, told me that he earned $285,000 in salary last year, with a total compensation package of around $330,000.
Morehouse is smaller, with fewer than 3000 students, while CAU has …

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The truth about the GOP and illegal immigrants

Are Republicans serious about curbing illegal immigration?
If so, they have a chance to show it: Now that they control the House and have gained power in the Senate, they can push to require all businesses to use e-Verify, the instant electronic check on workers’ legal eligibility.
Since the vast majority of illegal immigrants come here to work, a system that prohibited them from getting jobs would, by far, be the cheapest and most effective system for curbing illegal immigration. If they can’t get jobs, they won’t come. And many already here will go home.
Will the GOP get behind this easy and cheap way to curb illegal immigration?
No, they won’t. The Republican Party is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Big Business, and Big Business doesn’t want e-Verify. From McClatchy:

Businesses have a free, simple way to check that their new hires are legal. Although far from perfect, it could reduce the lure of employment that draws illegal immigrants, experts say.

But most employers who …

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Here’s why the Democrats need Nancy Pelosi

Here’s another reason the Democrats need Nancy Pelosi: She has the gumption to stand and fight for the middle-class. She told NPR today that she would brook no compromise on tax cuts for the wealthy. (h/t TPM):

“It’s too costly. It’s $700 billion,” Pelosi told NPR this morning. “One year would be around $70 billion. That’s a lot of money to give a tax cut at the high end. And I remind you that those tax cuts have been in effect for a very long time, they did not create jobs.”

Amen to that.
For those who insist that the Democrats ought to do what the American people want, as discerned by polls, well, the polls show the majority of Americans want the tax cuts for the wealthy to expire. The president ought to be willing to stand up and fight for that, too.

As the WaPo’s Eugene Robinson notes, from his book tour:

I’ve been hearing frustration at the willingness of Democrats to accommodate a Republican Party that refuses to give an inch. To progressives who may not understand the …

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GOP’s kabuki theater on health care law

WASHINGTON — President Obama has famously said he’d rather be a good one-term president with accomplishments to his credit than a mediocre two-termer committed to extending his popularity. And, as several conservatives have grudgingly admitted, he’s already achieved historic health care legislation that has changed the country’s social and political calculus.

For all the conventional wisdom that reforming health care doomed the Democrats, I’m betting the law will be quite popular among voters in a few years, just as a very similar Massachusetts law — passed with the enthusiastic support of then-Gov. Mitt Romney — gets high marks from voters in that state. The federal law is by no means perfect, but it will finally provide Americans with universal access to primary health care, something every other Western industrialized power did long ago.

Eventually, health care reform will also be regarded as a boost for the economy because it begins to separate health care from the …

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First GOP fratricide is coming over earmarks

We’ve got months, if not years, for a good flame-throwing debate over the recommendations of Obama’s Deficit Reduction Commission, which already has provoked harangues from people on both sides of the aisle. But why don’t we start smaller, with earmarks?
Now, I’ve never been one to denounce earmarks because they are a pitifully small part of the federal budget. But several die-hard budget-cutters on the Republican side, including Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), tea-party favorite, have vowed to kill earmarks. So, for that matter, has President Obama.
But DeMint can’t even get all conservative Republicans to agree. Listen to Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) claim that the drumbeat against earmarks is the result of “brainwashing” in an interview with conservative talk show host Ed Morrissey:

Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, is also those who wants to keep earmarks. (Johnny Isakson supports them, too.) Over at Fox News, Trish Turner writes:

While the leader has publicly declined …

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