Tag Archives: Obama

Paul Krugman Rightly Critical of Obama’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform

In a column in today’s New York Times, Paul Krugman assails President Obama’s “National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.” Calling it “The Hijacked Commission“,  Krugman is responding to the recently released comments by the Commission’s Chairs entitled “Guiding Principles and Values”.

Krugman’s analysis – Under the guise of facing our fiscal problems, Mr Bowles and Mr Simpson are trying to smuggle in the same old, same old – tax cuts for the rich and erosion of the social safety net.”

Here is part of Krugman’s analysis:

“…what the co-chairmen are proposing is a mixture of tax cuts and tax increases — tax cuts for the wealthy, tax increases for the middle class. They suggest eliminating tax breaks that, whatever you think of them, matter a lot to middle-class Americans — the deductibility of health benefits and mortgage interest — and using much of the revenue gained thereby, not to reduce the deficit, but to allow sharp reductions in both the top marginal tax rate and in the corporate tax rate.

It will take time to crunch the numbers here, but this proposal clearly represents a major transfer of income upward, from the middle class to a small minority of wealthy Americans. And what does any of this have to do with deficit reduction?”

In a poll of Midterm Voters done by Democracy for America they asked to pick between the following choices and got the following response:.

1. Congress should make up for possible budget gaps by cutting Social Security benefits?
agree – 4%
2. Congress should make up for possible budget gaps by changing the social security tax to also apply to income above $108,000, which currently is not taxed by Social Security?
agree – 55%
3. Congress should not make any changes to Social Security?
agree – 31%
Not sure – 11%

Clearly proposals to cut benefits for working families and retired citizens whatever their political persuasion are not going to be popular. They are not solutions that would benefit most Americans.

As Nickolas D Kristoff writes in a column in the New York Times entitled “Our Banana Republic”,  the solutions to our fiscal state in America will not be solved by right wing proposals supported by corporations and the wealthy. America is becoming the land of opportunity only for the wealthy and proposals for more tax cuts for the wealthy makes it harder for working families in America to survive.

While Republicans and Tea Party Conservatives argue for extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, they do so in the face of the ugly reality that the rich in America are accumulating more and more of America’s wealth. Working class families struggle and find it harder and harder to make ends meet.
As Kristof  points out,  the wealthy are accumulating more and more of our country’s wealth.

The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976. As Timothy Noah of Slate noted in an excellent series on inequality, the United States now arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana.

C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001. Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.

That’s the backdrop for one of the first big postelection fights in Washington — how far to extend the Bush tax cuts to the most affluent 2 percent of Americans. Both parties agree on extending tax cuts on the first $250,000 of incomes, even for billionaires. Republicans would also cut taxes above that.

The richest 0.1 percent of taxpayers would get a tax cut of $61,000 from President Obama. They would get $370,000 from Republicans, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. And that provides only a modest economic stimulus, because the rich are less likely to spend their tax savings.

Republicans are arguing that taxing the rich will hurt small businesses because they will not have the money to spend on reinvesting in their business.  This is nonsense, because any money invested in their business is pre-tax money. It gets written off as a business expense and would not count toward calculation of any income tax owed. To me it seems that more investment is likely in small business if personal income  taxes are higher on the wealthy because then they can spend the full amount on their business without having to pay tax on it.

A Republican Campaign Joke or a Deception?

Last night my answering machine recorded a Republican robo-call. The call said that “A lot of people are upset with Washington DC because nothing gets done. Patty Murray is part of the problem” The joke/deception of course is that they expect the public to believe it. Republicans by obstructing and stopping  a lot of legislation from being passed by the US Senate through their threat of the filibuster, prevented many things from getting done. The joke/lie is that the Republicans expect  us to believe it is the Democrat’s and Patty Murray’s fault. Is enough of the public really gullible enough to believe it’s the Democrats fault? And when one looks at what Democrats accomplished in Congress over the last two year’s (see below) it’s obvious the Republicans are lying about what Congress did.

Unfortunately with the country still fairly evenly divided politically it doesn’t take a lot of voters to change the makeup of Congress. The answer in the current political climate is that enough people will believe the Republican joke/deception/lie such that Republicans will be even more able to obstruct Democrats from moving the country forward with needed reform.

The right wing free market and corporate deluging of the media has been intense. The public is being fooled by the Republican storyline because voters are looking for a scapegoat for the country’s problems.  It is a lot easier to blame someone – like the Democrats- because they are in power, than it is to work for solutions. And the Republicans have been more intent on demonizing the Democrats for political gain than they have been on advocating for solutions that will benefit the majority of Americans that are not wealthy.

Democrats inherited a colossal problem  It  is for multiple reasons they are not faring well in this election. There will be endless discussions of this over the next few days.  Reasons listed will include the Democrats not boasting about their accomplishments enough, Obama not providing a clear vision of his future for America, the question whether the Government is responsible for the state of the economy or whether it is private enterprise and Wall Street greed driving things, the issue of  the news media preferring to cover conflict rather than resolution, the huge influx of hidden corporate and special intererest money and a Republican noise and propaganda machine that set the agenda for what this election was about rather than the Democrats.

Obama’s role in the Democrat’s plight can somewhat be explained  when he publicly said he was concentrating on getting things done rather than  dealing with politics and outreach to the public. The deactivating after his election of his grassroots organization that helped him get elected was obviously a serious mistake. It’s re-activation in this Election season comes too little and too late for many Democrats.

There are many candidates and elected officials that have had good ideas but who did not see them come to fruition. It is not enough to be “right”. You must also bring the people along with you. And you must keep them with you. It is not enough to win a legislative battle if you do not win the public perception battle that this is progress and is good for them.

A few reports by the news media note that both Congress and the President have accomplished a lot in the last two years. But it is too little recognition too late. The reports are true but the Republican death song has been going on too long to really get people’s to stop and look.

If some people perceive that Congress couldn’t act these last two years, they certainly will see much more inaction with more Republicans in Congress. And you will see the Republicans continue to blame the Democrats of course for any inaction, regardless of  Republican inaction or their obvious intent to do as little as possible to pass anything the Democrats or Obama wants..

The Republican plan of action will be to obstruct most everytihing unless they get exactly what they want.  The reality is it doesn’t matter what Obama does as long as the Republican goal is power and not solving our nation’s problems. Their goal as Republican Senator Mitch McConnell said is to make Obama a one term President. And they will not give or do anything that they think will make Obama look good.

While much was watered down that Obama and the Democrats passed, like financial reform and health care, a lot else did get done from a Democratic perspective. Two female Supreme Court Justices The Lily Ledbetter Act for equal pay for women.  More student loan money. Withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq.  But so much is in what people think, not the reality. The reality is that Congress did get a lot done, despite what the majority of the voting  public may believe.  If people perceived that Congress couldn’t act, they certainly will see much more inaction with more Republicans in Congress.

Actually here’s a list of 42 things Democrats and Obama accomplished. It’s unfortunate that the Republicans have been able to spin a false picture to the American voters.  Regardless of the vote today, this list stands. It remains to be seen what will get done with more Republicans in Washington. This will be the record to compare with two years from now. Thanks to rescue truth. for this list of “Democratic Accomplishments you may not Know About”.

25 Tax Cuts Passed By Obama & Democrats


1.“Making Work Pay” tax credit

2.Earned Income Tax Credit increased

3.Increased Eligibility for Refundable Portion of Child Credit

4.“American Opportunity” Education Tax Credit

5.First-time Home Buyer Credit

6.Temp. Suspension of Taxation of Unemployment Benefits

7.Tax Credits for Energy-Efficient Improvements to Existing Homes

8.Sales Tax Deduction for Vehicle Purchases

9.Premium Credits for COBRA Continuation Coverage for Unemployed Workers

10.Economic Recovery Credits to Recipients of Social Security, SSI, RR Retirement, and Veterans Disability Compensation Benefits

11.Computers as Qualified Education Expenses in 529 Education Plans

12.Plug-in Electric Drive Vehicle Credit

13.Tax Parity for Transit Benefits

14.Health Coverage Tax Credit Expansion

Small Business

1.Extension of Enhanced Small Business Expensing

2.5-Year Carryback of Net Operating Losses for Small Businesses

3.Extension of Bonus Depreciation

4.Exclusion of 75% of Small Business Capital Gains from Taxes

5.Temporary Small Business Estimated Tax Payment Relief

6.Temporary Reduction of S Corporation Built-In Gains Holding Period from 10 Years to 7 Years

Other Business

1.Advanced Energy Investment Credit

2.Tax Credits for Alternative Refueling Property

3.Work Opportunity Tax Credits for Hiring Unemployed Veterans and Disconnected Youth

4.Delayed Recognition of Certain Cancellation of Debt Income

5.Election to Accelerate Recognition of Historic AMT/R&D Credits

Fun Fact: 1/3 of the $862 billion stimulus was for tax cuts, something Republicans claim to support … although they still stand against stimulus. I suppose it depends on who gets the tax cuts.

Women’s Rights

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Protection against pay discrimination

Restores interpretation of Title VII of Civil Rights Act that protected women and other workers

Financial Rights

Credit CARD Act

Prevents retroactive rate increases

Requires companies to provide 45 days notice before changing rates and other contract provisions

Additional restrictions placed on fees

Prevents companies from taking advantage of students

Ends unfair double-cycle billing practices

Financial reform bill

Establishes Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which seeks solely to ensure financial institutions are being fair to consumers, and improvement in the simplicity in contracts

Prevents taxpayer bail out of financial institutions

Allows the GAO to audit the Federal Reserve

Various mortgage and derivatives reform, etc.


Student loans[1]

Ends “socialistic” federal subsidies to banks and other financial institutions (Interestingly, Republicans are okay with the kind of socialism that redirects taxpayer money to banks and other financial institutions.)

Eliminates unnecessary “middle-man” in student loan process, which placed financial burden on taxpayers while banks took in profits

Annual student loan payment capped at 10% of income

Saves an estimated $61 billion over 10 years

Health Care

Children’s health insurance bill[2]

CBO said bill will allow states to cover more than four million uninsured children by 2013, in addition to seven million already covered

Requires states to provide dental and mental illness coverage to children

Tobacco regulation

Provides graphic warnings on tobacco use risks

Restricts advertising to prevent marketing to minors

Health care reform

Insurers cannot cancel coverage when a person gets sick

Requires health insurance corporations to cover preexisting conditions

Eliminates lifetime limits

Allows insurance purchase across state lines

Allows young adults to stay on parents’ health insurance policy until 26

Crime & Civil Rights

Hate crime legislation[4]

Provides protection for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people

Tribal Law and Order Act

Provide additional means to reduce high rates of violent crime, including rape & sexual assualt within Native American reservations

View the rescuetruth.com post on the Tribal Law and Order Act


The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act

Expands service and voluteer opportunites

Benefits education, health care, energy, etc.


Cash for Clunkers successfully contributed to 680,000+ vehicle sales in summer 2009

Largest clean energy investment ever made

Reduced deficit by $122 billion[5]

Reduced federal spending by 2%[5]

What didn’t get passed because of Republican obstructionism?

Health Care for 9/11 Emergency Responders

DISCLOSE Act (transparency in elections, specifically campaign financing)

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal

Removal of $75 million cap on oil spill payouts

Elimination of tax incentives for companies shipping American jobs overseas, and creation of tax incentives to businesses bringing jobs home

Democrats in Congress Act to Reduce Student Loan Costs and Save Taxpayer Dollars

Contrary to Republican goals of doing nothing, Democrats in Congress are moving forward addressing the nation’s problems without Republicans. As part of the recently passed Health Care Reform Legislation, Democrats added a rider to also reform the student-loan program. This is a major reform that will lower the interest rate college students pay, extend their repayment time and save $67 billion  according to an column by Froma Harrop in the Seattle Times entitled “Student-loan companies don’t need welfare

As Harrop notes, “…when corporations get taxpayer handouts, that’s not welfare in the GOP book of rhetoric. Take away a company’s subsidy, and you have a “government takeover”. Such is the Republican stance on Democratic plans to remove the corporate middleman from the federal student-loan program, included in the recently passed House  health care reform bill”

President Obama’s weeekly address on March 27, 2010 addressed the student loan issue. The White House press release notes that “These reforms save the taxpayers $68 billion over the next decade by ending the subsidies given to banks and middlemen who handle student loans. The money saved will help expand and strengthen the federal Pell Grant program. The reforms will also cap college graduates’ annual student loan repayments at 10% of their income, revitalize community colleges, and increase support for Minority Serving Institutions.

You can read his full comments by clicking on the link above, hear audio or watch video.

The Democrats are acting to address our nation’s future.  The Republican’s are gungho to go back to our past. They are continuing to try to obstruct Congress and the President from passing needed legislation.

If the public has any reason to be upset at Congress, it is because of the Republican Party of No has made a concerted coordinated effort to prevent  Congress from moving forward and addressing our nations critical concerns in a constructive and meaningful way. It’s time to boot the obstructionist Republicans out of office.

Democrats need to re-engage in the political process and work to turn our voters out in the coming elections.  It’s not enough to just about bemoan and complain about the Republicans negative and obstructionist tactics and point fingers.

No one ever said change would be easy.  The big mistake many of  those wanting change made was assuming that electing Obama was the end of their need to stay engaged. It’s time to re-energize and get back to work.

Obama Appoints "Unabashed Liberal" "Hispanic""Woman" to US Supreme Court.

“Unabashed Liberal” Who cares that Karl Rove today said that Obama’s Supreme Court appointment is an “unabashed liberal”? Anyone to the left of Karl Rove is an unabashed liberal and the public has said good riddance to the Rove/Bush /Cheney era because it failed to live up to what America is and what it can become.

Let the Republicans add “Woman” and “Hispanic” to the list. Whatever helps to speed up their digging their own grave, so much the better. Fortunately the country is moving on faster than they are able to keep up.

Obama today nominated as many expected, US Appeals Court Judge Sonja Sotomayer to the US Supreme Court. When confirmed, as appears likely considering the current makeup of the US Senate, she will only be the third woman to sit on the US Supreme Court since its inception in 1789. She will also be the first Hispanic.

She would become the 111th member of the US Supreme Court, joining what has been for 220 years an old boy’s club. Out of the previous 110 Supreme Court Justices only two, Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg , have been women.

SCOTUS.com notes that conservatives will be fighting a losing battle opposing Sotomeyer. They believe that:

“Republicans cannot afford to find themselves in the position of implicitly opposing Judge Sotomayor. To Hispanics, the nomination would be an absolutely historic landmark. It really is impossible to overstate its significance. The achievement of a lifetime appointment at the absolute highest levels of the government is a profound event for that community, which in turn is a vital electoral group now and in the future.

Scotus.com suggests that Republicans will back off and states “with Justice Stevens’s retirement inevitable in the next few years, Republican senators are very likely to hold off conservative interest groups with promises to sharply examine President Obama’s second (potentially white male) nominee.”

This is where I hope POTUS.com is wrong. “Potentially white male” as Obama’s next choice is wrong. Obama has a chance to change the court and the country to reflect the voting public. Frankly I think Obama should appoint more women. The Supreme Court is so out of balance that its time to make a dynamic shift and right the imbalance. It would be fun watching the Republicans scream “What another woman?” as Obama appoints the fourth, fifth and sixth woman to sit on the US Supreme Court. Why not? Let’s see some audacity. Let’s see some hope for real change, not just tokenism.

Senator Barack Obama More Liberal than Dennis Kucinich?

Senator Obama also has a higher liberal rating than any other Senator running for President this year. The National Journal has just released its 2006 annual ratings of Congress based on roll call votes on key economic, social and foreign policy issues.

When the New York Times political blog compared their lifetime scores they came up with the following ranking:

Senator Barack Obama………………….84.3
Representative Dennis Kucinich……..79.4
Senator Christopher J. Dodd ………….79.2
Senator Hiliary Rodham Clinton ……78.8
Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr……………76.8

Former Senator John Edwards, who is also running for President was not included in this analysis but I came across the following written by Richard Cohen of the National Journal in Feb 2004:

“Judging by National Journal’s congressional vote ratings, however, Kerry and Edwards aren’t all that different, at least not when it comes to how they voted on key issues before the Senate last year. The results of the vote ratings show that Kerry was the most liberal senator in 2003, with a composite liberal score of 96.5. But Edwards wasn’t far behind: He had a 2003 composite liberal score of 94.5, making him the fourth-most-liberal senator. ”

“Edwards … had a moderate voting record during the first four years following his election to the Senate in 1998. The results positioned Edwards comfortably apart from Senate liberals, but not so far to the right that he locked arms with centrist Republicans. His consistent moderation placed Edwards among the center-right of Senate Democrats. But once Edwards decided to run for president and abandoned his bid for a second Senate term, his record moved dramatically to the left in 2003.”

I do not have access to the National Journal’s archives but maybe someone else can find and calculate Edward’s composite ratings. It would appear that he and Obama probably would come out pretty similar. The ratings vary year by year. Note below that Kerry scored much lower in 2006, coming in 12th in the ratings

On the 2006 composite liberal scores in the US Senate released by the National Journal today, Senator Richard Durbin (D) of Illinois received the highest score of 95.2 followed by Senator Barbara Boxer (D) of California with 95. The scores rank from 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest liberal ranking.

Washington State’s Senator Patty Murray (D) came in 8th highest at 89.3. Our other Senator, Maria Cantwell (D) came in 22nd with a score of 79.9.

Comparing the current Democratic Presidential candidates with a few other notable 2006 Democratic Senators, we get an interesting list:

1. Senator Richard Durbin (Illinois)…………………..95.2
2. Senator Barbara Boxer (California)………………..95
3. Senator Edward Kennedy (Massachusetts) ……..93.7
8. Senator Patty Murray (Washington) ………………89.3
10. Senator Barack Obama (Illinois)………..86 …Presidential Candidate
11. Senator Ron Wyden (Oregon) ……………………..86
12. Senator John Kerry (Massachusetts)…………… 85.7
15. Senator Russell Feingold (Wisconsin)………….. 84.5
17. Senator Christopher Dodd (Conn.)……..84 …Presidential Candidate
22. Senator Maria Cantwell (Washington) ………..79.7
23. Senator Harry Reid (Nevada)………………………78.2
24 Senator Joseph Biden (Delaware) ………77.5 …Presidential Candidate
25. Senator Dianne Feinstein (California)………….76.5
32. Senator Hiliary .Clinton (New York) …70.2 …Presidential Candidate
36. Senator Joseph Lieberman (Connecticut) ……67.5

On a separate listing of House members, Dennis Kucinich came in at #50 0ut of 454 members in the House. He had a liberal composite score of 87 for 2006.