Public programs saved 40 million Americans from poverty in 2011

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-07-2013-05-2008


Chart showing how many people are lifted out of poverty with government assistance.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a good reminder in advance of a House Budget Committee hearing on poverty, and with President Obama’s renewed focus on middle-class opportunities. Without public assistance programs including Social Security, 40 million more people, including 9 million children, would be living in poverty now.


Republicans and the White House both agree on proposals to cut Social Security known as chained CPI, referring to reduced payments to beneficiaries because of how annual cost-of-living adjustments are calculated. And the two sides seem to be on the same page regarding reducing benefits that wealthy seniors now receive from entitlement programs, a proposal known as means testing.

The chained CPI wouldn’t just hit senior citizens, but also children, those who receive direct survivors benefits and who are in families with parents or guardians who receive disability payments. More than four million children live in households receiving Social Security payments.

This is a benefit cut millions of Americans, and thus the national as a whole, just can’t afford to make. If President Obama and the Congress really want to save the middle class, they should be strengthening programs that keep people out of poverty, starting with Social Security.

Please join with Daily Kos and Campaign for America’s Future by signing our petition telling every member of Congress to increase Social Security benefits by passing The Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013.

Christie, Paul spat could foretell major showdown in 2016

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-07-2013-05-2008


Voters got a tantalizing preview of a possibly contentious battle for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul kicked off a recent public spat, trading personal insults and harsh words in the media.

Why did Ron Paul’s group single out Marco Rubio for voting against Rand Paul’s aid bill?

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-07-2013-05-2008


FILE - In this July 11, 2013 file photo, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington. Rubio is renewing his outreach to tea party supporters and his advocacy for Republican causes as he struggles to repair his image as a conservative standard-bearer. The shift comes after the potential 2016 presidential candidate pushed the Senate to approve an immigration overhaul that's been panned by some on the right who could be crucial to his future. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)“Senator Rubio today stood with President Obama and Harry Reid to vote against the rule of law and the American people," the group said.

Republicans (fail to) do it again: Transportation and housing bill collapses with a THUD

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-07-2013-05-2008


Red stick figures

Clowning clowns clown clownily:

With support collapsing, a $44.1 billion transportation and housing bill was pulled abruptly from the House floor Wednesday, and top Republicans conceded it was a further sign that the party’s budget strategy is unraveling.

Putting the best face on the situation, Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office said that the House will return to the bill after the August recess. But House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers bluntly said the chances of resurrecting the measure are “bleak at best.”

Rogers, who is rock-solid conservative, went beyond simply saying the measure’s prospects were bleak. He took aim at his entire party, condemning them with words Democrats should throw in the GOP’s face every single day from now until House Republicans finally get their act together—if they ever do.

“With this action, the House has declined to proceed on the implementation of the very budget it adopted three months ago,” said the Kentucky Republican. “Thus I believe that the House has made its choice: sequestration — and its unrealistic and ill-conceived discretionary cuts — must be brought to an end.”

For Republicans to refuse to pass a bill which met Paul Ryan’s budget blueprint—a blueprint they voted for just a few months ago—is beyond incompetent. It’s utterly insane. Don’t take it from me—take it from Hal Rogers.

p.s.: For acronym geeks, here’s where the THUD in the headline comes from: The bill funds Transportation as well as House and Urban Development.

Obama gives Larry Summers ‘full-throated’ defense as dissenters push Janet Yellen for Fed chief

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-07-2013-05-2008


Larry Summers, at Canada 2020 in November 2012

There are certainly much worse choices than Larry Summers to replace Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve’s board of governors. Alan Greenspan comes to mind. Or Jamie Dimon. But given the universe of people to select from, it’s sad Summers is even on the short list of possibilities, not to mention the top of that list.

But thanks to leaks 10 days ago that some say were orchestrated in support of the former secretary of the Treasury and former director of the National Economic Council, it became apparent that Summers was the favorite candidate of President Obama for the position. That sparked an anti-Summers storm not just from grassroots liberals who find his deregulatory fervor, policy and tactical misjudgments and sexism deeply troubling, but also from many Democratic senators who would be called upon to confirm him if he actually got the nomination.

They got practical about it. Nineteen Senate Democrats and one independent signed a letter circulated by Sen. Sherrod Brown that urges the president to choose Federal Reserve vice chair Janet Yellen to replace Bernanke. Among the signers of the letter are Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat.

Although President Obama won’t pick a replacement until this fall, at a meeting with some House Democrats on Wednesday he gave a “full-throated” defense of Summers and said he had been unfairly criticized.

That defense is no guarantee Obama will appoint Summers. But it’s no surprise to hear from Ben White and Patrick Reis that Summers is still the No. 1 choice at the White House in a piece in which they lay out the case against Summers along with retorts from some of his defenders.

While giving a too little attention to the sexism that Ezra Klein perfectly laid out Wednesday, the two reporters acerbically and accurately pointed out that Summers’s foes’ “real complaint is that he is a centrist, Clinton-era retread ill-suited to steer an anemic economy back to health.”

Before you join me for more below the fold:

Please sign our petition requesting that President Obama not appoint Larry Summers as Federal Reserve chair, and consider instead appointing a better-qualified person, such as Deputy Chair Janet Yellen.


Obama tells House Democrats he’ll campaign hard in 2014

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-07-2013-05-2008


US President Barack Obama arrives for a meeting with House Democrats in WashingtonThe president strategizes privately with House and Senate allies. Also? Cake. But no talk about the NSA.

Midday open thread

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-07-2013-05-2008


  • Today’s comic by Jen Sorensen is The right to bear bags:
    Teaser panel for Jen Sorensen comic on plastic bags.
  • Study: Moon phases affect sleep cycles:

    Swiss researchers have found evidence that the lunar cycle may affect sleep patterns. They found the connection by testing 33 healthy men and women, ages 20 to 74, in a sleep laboratory, and correlating the data with the moon’s phases. The study appears in the Aug. 5 issue of Current Biology.

    Melatonin levels, total sleep time and delta sleep time (the deepest sleep, as recorded by EEG) reached their lowest levels at full moon, and their highest as the moon waxed and waned. The average time it took to fall asleep and the time to arrive at REM sleep (the type of sleep in which dreams occur) followed the opposite pattern, longest at the full moon and shorter as it waxed and waned.

  • Report says efficiency, not natural gas caused drop in CO2 emissions:

    Aggressive energy efficiency efforts by households, companies and motorists led to the decline in carbon dioxide emissions from energy use in the United States, according to a recent report. The controversial finding contradicts recent studies that say the power sector’s shift away from coal to cheap natural gas caused the bulk of reductions.

    U.S. emissions last year fell by 205 million metric tons, or 4 percent, from 2011 levels. CO2 Scorecard Group, a small environmental research organization, says that nearly half the decline came from energy-saving measures such as retrofits and smarter appliances in homes and offices, as well as from Americans driving fewer miles, and using more fuel-efficient vehicles.

  • NYPD cops pick wrong guy to profile:

    At least one cop has been disciplined for ordering the NYPD’s highest-ranking uniformed black officer out of his auto [at gunpoint] while the three-star chief was off-duty and parked in Queens, the Daily News has learned.

    “How you can not know or recognize a chief in a department SUV with ID around his neck, I don’t know,” a police source said. […]

    The incident occurred as the NYPD is under fire for record numbers of pedestrians being stopped and frisked, the majority of them black or Hispanic. Some 145,098 people were stopped by the NYPD in the first quarter of this year.

  • Recruiting of poor students lags at some elite universities:

    With affirmative action under attack and economic mobility feared to be stagnating, top colleges profess a growing commitment to recruiting poor students. But a comparison of low-income enrollment shows wide disparities among the most competitive private colleges. A student at Vassar, for example, is three times as likely to receive a need-based Pell Grant as one at Washington University in St. Louis.

    “It’s a question of how serious you are about it,” said Catharine Bond Hill, the president of Vassar. She said of colleges with multibillion-dollar endowments and numerous tax exemptions that recruit few poor students, “Shame on you.”

  • Chris Savage of Eclectablog takes over Savage Love Letter of the Day. Dan Savage, the usual sex and relationship advice-giver at SLLOTD, is on vacation for the week. The two Savages are not related.
  • Judge extends order requiring Ohio to recognize gay couple’s marriage:

    The same-sex couple sued to force Ohio officials to recognize their Maryland marriage, despite Ohio’s constitutional amendment and statute prohibiting such recognition. The couple filed the lawsuit because Arthur is in hospice care and is seeking to force Ohio to recognize him as married on his death certificate and recognize Obergefell as his surviving spouse.

    The judge extended his previous order until August 19 “in order to facilitate the parties’ further negotiations of a proposed litigation calendar for resolution.”

  • Lululemon Athletica buries its plus sizes and rarely restocks:

    Far from an accident, the exiling of larger clothing by Lululemon is a central piece of the company’s strategy to market its brand as the look of choice for the stylishly fitness-conscious, according to former employees and consumer advocates. They say this treatment of larger clothes and customers reflects the culture that Lululemon represents — one that falsely suggests skinniness is the paramount feature of health. Lululemon declined to comment.

  • We’re renovating the Kagro in the Morning show World Headquarters today, so it’s time for another look back at One Year Ago in KITM. What was up on July 31, 2012? Reminisce about Olden Tymes, with a “Today in Congress” summary, and Greg Dworkin’s round-up at the top of the show. All in all, a wide-ranging production, touching on the “fiscal cliff,” the likely addition of a marriage equality plank to the Democratic Party platform, the continuing Romneyshambles saga, and the audition of a new voice chip for the Romneybot3000, reading from Hunter’s classic “Chronicles of Mitt” series.

Ted Cruz and the shutdown caucus

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-07-2013-05-2008


Can Sen. Ted Cruz unite an entire party against a law?"I think the term ‘shutdown’ is a misnomer,” Cruz says.

Boehner tries to distract GOP from defund Obamacare scheme with more pointless repeal votes

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-07-2013-05-2008


U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 28, 2012. Boehner voiced optimism that Republicans could broker a deal with the White House to avoid year-end austerity measures, saying on Wedn

House Speaker John Boehner apparently thinks the GOP’s “defund Obamacare or shutdown the government” is crazy—or at least that’s what he reportedly told his leadership team during a private meeting on Tuesday. When he’s not behind closed doors, however, Boehner tells a different story:

In public, Boehner refused to directly comment on the strategy, which is being promoted by high-profile Senate Republicans like Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Lee (Utah) and Marco Rubio (Fla.).

Asked directly after the strategy meeting how he feels about holding up government funding to starve Obamacare, Boehner said, “we’ve made no decisions about how we’re going to proceed with the” continuing resolution, which will needs to be passed by the end of September to avoid a government shut down. He said he didn’t know whether the government funding bill could be used to defund implementation of the law.

So instead of calling out an idiotic idea for what it is, Boehner is now proposing that Republicans take even more meaningless votes against Obamacare. But even though this strategy gives beltway reporters an opportunity to try to divine what John Boehner really thinks …

The subtext of the leadership strategy is that they think it’s insane to shut down the government in an effort to defund the health care law.

… what it really shows is that he’s so damn scared of his own party that he can’t even bring himself to condemn one the most obviously dumb ideas to come from Washington Republicans in a long time. Instead, he’s trying to distract them.

It’s a pathetic display of weakness, but it’s also kind of hilarious, because even if Boehner gets his way, it’s not taking another half-dozen votes to repeal Obamacare will do anything to help Republicans repair their damaged brand. Basically, he’s asking them to do something really dumb in order to avoid doing something even dumber. No wonder he doesn’t want to talk about it in public.

The ‘most beautiful’ person on Capitol Hill is …

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-07-2013-05-2008


U.S. Senate Holds All-Senate Joint ConferenceSen. Jeff Flake, a 50-year-old Arizona Republican, is "a walking advertisement for the benefits of healthy living," The Hill says.