-I’m going to lose it watching the Young Snape and Young Lily stuff in Deathly Hallows 2.
VIDEO: Town Hall Attendees Tell GOP Rep. That Ending Medicare Is ‘Unconscionable,’ Demand ‘Tax The Rich!’
As ThinkProgress has been reporting, all over the country a Main Street Movement of ordinary Americans is fighting back against right-wing attacks on their basic services and safety net. In recent days, this movement has been focused on conservative legislators who voted for the GOP budget plan that would effectively end Medicare.
Rep. Charlie Gibson (R-NY) felt the heat of that movement last week when constituents responded to his fear mongering about undocumented immigrants not paying taxes by asking him, “You mean like GE?!” Yesterday, at yet another town hall meeting captured on YouTube, his constituents angrily and passionately rejected the GOP’s budget plan and demanded that the rich pay their fair share.
At one point, a young man named Daniel challenged Gibson about eliminating Medicare and handing seniors over to insurance companies. Gibson earned lengthy applause from the audience when he said it is “unconscionable” to put Medicare in the hands of the insurance industry:
GIBSON: As it [the GOP plan] relates to out of pocket costs, I think that’s an assumption you’re making as to how the insurance companies would react to that, isn’t it, Daniel?
DANIEL: No, actually the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan organization, said that this would cost about 68 percent of seniors’ [income for] health care. And you mentioned how Congress, it’ll be like what Congress has, and yet they only pay about 28 percent.
GIBSON: Well, this is coming from the Congressional Budget Office, the figures that I have… I think the open question is how are the specifics of the law written, as it relates to the insurance company’s role in this. That’s where I think the specifics are yet to be defined.
DANIEL: I’ll have to disagree and say that the more important thing is that Medicare is something there’s been a consensus for decades that this is important American institution and to put in the hands of the health insurance industry who obviously are only concerned with their own profits is unconscionable.
(applause from audience)
GIBSON: I have to tell you one last thing though, if you’re preparing our proposal with the status quo, that’s a false choice. The CBO says that in a decade the plan’s going to be broke. Something has to be done to save it.
MULTIPLE PEOPLE IN CROWD: Tax the rich! (applause from audience)
At the same town hall, Gibson was also booed over his vote to de-fund Planned Parenthood and angrily confronted over claiming that the GOP plan does not privatize Medicare. (h/t: GibsonTownHall42611 YouTube account)
Our guest blogger is Elon Green, a freelance writer living in Brooklyn.
Last March, the New York Times broke the news that General Electric, which reported global profits of $14.2 billion — $5.1 billion of which came from its domestic operations — had not paid a cent in taxes for 2010. In fact, GE’s US tax rate for the year was actually negative, since it got a $3.2 billion American tax benefit. As Ryan Chittum noted, “Over the last five years, GE made $26 billion in what it says were American profits, but got the IRS to pay it $4.1 billion total.”
This is all well and good with Congressional Republicans, who believe American corporations are taxed too much already on federal and state levels. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) has dismissed the need for raising corporate taxes because “we don’t need more revenue!”; Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA) wants “the lowest corporate tax rate we can get”; and Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), rather astonishingly, believes that untaxed corporations are still overburdened.
Given the Republican Party’s lack of enthusiasm for taxing multi-billion dollar corporations, Don Imus could forgiven for assuming during this morning’s interview with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) that Cantor feels likewise.
CANTOR: Well, listen, what you’re saying is right now, we need people who are willing to go create jobs to do that. We need small business people to do that. The so-called Bush tax cuts apply to people at $250,000 and up. We know the numbers there say that at least half the people who would experience a tax hike get at least 26 percent of their income from small businesses, meaning those are the small business people.
So, if we’re looking for more jobs to be created, why are you turning around and then imposing a tax on small business people? We know that cutting taxes for small businesses will end up creating more jobs. So –
IMUS: Well, how about making people like GE pay taxes? Start there.
CANTOR: Listen, I’m for that as well. OK? And this has also got –
IMUS: Well, no you’re not. You’re not really for that.
CANTOR: I’m all for that as well, because –
IMUS: You’re in here trying to jerk the I-Man’s chain. I know what you’re doing, baby.
With the latest release of classified military files on Guantanamo Bay detainees, The Weekly Standard’s Thomas Joscelyn seems to think he’s stumbled upon some real breaking news:
[T]here is a new piece of information that has not received any press attention. Omar Khadr was determined to be of “high intelligence value.” His connections to senior al Qaeda terrorists, including his father, gave him insights into how al Qaeda and the Taliban operate.
Wow! The U.S. military thought Omar Khadr had “high intelligence value”? So that’s why he was shipped to Guantanamo Bay and held for all these years. Despite Joscelyn’s great investigative work, it turns out this information isn’t so new, as the New York Times’ Charlie Savage notes:
But it wasn’t among the initial files that The New York Times selected to publish, because it is relatively uninteresting. First, the basic narrative of what the government believed about Mr. Khadr’s actions had already come out — in far greater detail — as a result of his prosecution before a military commission on war crimes charges, which resulted in his guilty plea. Moreover, unlike some other assessments, the one of Mr. Khadr does not reveal previously undisclosed reasons or sources for the government’s beliefs about him.
Yes that’s right. As Canada’s Globe and Mail reported, “The newly released assessment sheds few new details about Mr. Khadr, who was captured as a 15-year-old al-Qaeda fighter in Afghanistan in 2002.”
It seems that Joscelyn is upset that “many advocates have turned him into something of a false martyr, however, claiming that Khadr is the real victim of American wrongdoing.” So that by uncovering this (not so) new evidence, Joscelyn seems to be claiming he has the goods on how Khadr deserved what he got. And as a kicker, he points to one instance in which a judge ruled that a specific piece of evidence against Khadr would be admissible in court because it was not the product of torture. Therefore, Joscelyn concludes, “there is no evidence” Khadr was ever tortured (this is not true).
And Khadr’s detention and ultimate conviction aren’t as simple as Joscelyn makes it seem. Khadr’s prosecution was “unusual” not only because child soldiers are normally not prosecuted (Khadr was 15 years old when the U.S. military apprehended him), but also because the main charge against him was killing a soldier on the battlefield, an action, again, that is not traditionally prosecuted. But the irregularities of Khadr’s saga don’t end there. While questions of illegitimacy also surround Khadr’s legal proceedings, Dennis Edny, Khadr’s Canadian lawyer, said the U.S. military even added charges “that we’d never heard of” during his plea hearing. “The Americans have made up the new rules in the laws of war,” Edny said. Apparently, that’s all just fine for the folks at the Weekly Standard.
Unprecedented flooding predicted for Ohio River
This week’s storm system, in combination with heavy rains earlier this month, have pushed the Ohio River and Mississippi River to near-record levels near their confluence. The Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois is expected to crest at 60.5 feet on May 1. This would exceed 100-year flood stage, and be the highest flood in history, besting the 59.5′ mark of 1937.
The latest River Flood Outlook from NOAA shows major flooding is occurring over many of the nation’s major rivers.
Multiple torrential downpours are setting the stage for more 100-year floods in the coming days, as meteorologist Dr. Jeff Masters reports today.
Extreme weather disasters, especially deluges and floods, are on the rise — and the best analysis says human-caused warming is contributing (see Two seminal Nature papers join growing body of evidence that human emissions fuel extreme weather, flooding). Last year, we had Tennessee’s 1000-year deluge aka Nashville’s ‘Katrina’. And Coastal North Carolina’s suffered its second 500-year rainfall in 11 years.
Craig Fugate, who heads the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, said in December, “The term ’100-year event’ really lost its meaning this year” (see Munich Re: “The only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change”).
Former hurricane-hunter Masters has a good analysis of how the “Midwest deluge [is] enhanced by near-record Gulf of Mexico sea surface temperatures”:
One year after BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, “the cleanup isn’t done,” but the foreign oil giant’s first quarter profits are back up on surging gas prices. “BP has not yet lived up to its legal, financial, or moral obligations to the Gulf and its residents,” says Antonia Juhasz, author of the book, Black Tide: the Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill. Brad Johnson has the story.
Exploding international—the scenes, the sounds:
— Jews and Mormons are massively overrepresented in the Senate.
— The ongoing crisis of capitalism.
— Harry Reid wants to force a Senate vote on Medicare privatization.
— Allen West’s phallocentric theory of deficit reduction.
— Baratunde on Obama’s surrender to Trump.
Think I’m going to do all Canadian songs until the big election in the True North. Today it’s my favorite New Pornographers song, “All For Swinging You Around”.
Peter Suderman sums up the conservative argument for why Romneycare has failed:
So insurance coverage has increased, but largely thanks to tax-funded subsidization. Yet that’s created problems too: As more people got coverage, the system has struggled to keep up with increased demand for services. Uncompensated care, frequently cited as the justification for ObamaCare’s mandate, has remained expensive as emergency rooms have been flooded. And we’re not even getting into the cost overruns.
All this basically boils down to the claim that increasing coverage results in higher demand for providers and necessitates more stringent cost controls. This is a very valid reality, one that is leading Massachusetts lawmakers, providers, and insurers to continue tweaking the health care system.
But nobody in the Bay State is proposing repealing the expansion in coverage, as conservatives are suggesting. Rather, the legislature is now exploring different delivery system reforms and means of addressing provider shortages to accommodate all of the additional patients. Tossing residents off their insurance coverage may free up providers, but it won’t do much to lower the growth in health care costs or diminish the amount spent on uncompensated or emergency room care. If anything, it would only deepen those problem.
So rather than overstating the problems in Massachusetts — the state has spent nearly $300 million less on uncompensated care since 2006, for instance — and pretending that there is some perfect conservative alternative that would magically heal the system, the state is now looking for ways to realistically address the challenges of reform. Conservatives would be more useful if they proposed actual solutions to these problems.
In an interview last night with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin criticized the President for engaging in a military conflict in Libya, then almost immediately contradicted herself, telling Van Susteren it is America’s “responsibility to help freedom fighters”:
PALIN: He’s been extremely inconsistent in the reasons given for our involvement in Libya. … Why aren’t we intervening in Syria, why not Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain? We cannot afford to be engaged in any of these military interventions unless America’s interests are being challenged. And we need to hear from our President, what is our interest there in Libya?
VAN SUSTEREN: Do we have an interest in Libya, what’s your answer?
PALIN: Well, you know, to whom much is given, much is required. America is such a blessed and prosperous nation, we are that beacon of hope for those who seek freedom. So yes, I believe it’s our responsibility to help freedom fighters.
Palin seems to tacitly acknowledge that she agrees with the President’s rationale for intervening. It’s unclear, though, if Palin is willing to back up her insistence that the U.S. has a “responsibility” to help freedom fighters, or whether it’s just empty talk.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Palin has used the conflict in Libya as an excuse to publicly admonish the President. He had barely finished his Oval Office Address on the intervention when Palin was on TV, describing the speech as “profoundly disappointing.” In both instances, Palin complained that the President has failed to explain America’s interest in Libya, when he has in fact explicitly done so on several occasions. As ThinkProgress reported, Palin also dramatically exaggerated the cost of the Libyan conflict in that interview.
Palin has consistently demonstrated that her only interest is attacking the president, regardless of whether she actually disagrees with his positions. Ironically, on Van Susteren’s website, the segment is described as “Palin: Make Up Your Mind, Mr. President.” A more accurate title would be “Palin, Make up Your Mind.”
A lot of monetary policy discussions, including Ben Bernanke’s press conference today, spend a frighteningly large quantity of time dwelling on oil price increases.
There are a lot of cuts at what’s misguided about this, but one particular way of seeing the problem is to fire up the wayback machine and think about the economics of the 1970s. At that point in time labor unions were an important force in the American economy, representing a large share of workers. And it was common for unionized workplaces to have contracts that stipulated workers would get automatic cost-of-living increases in their wages. That was nice for the workers, but it had some perverse effects in the face of oil price spikes. In particular, it left the economy vulnerable to the following sequence of events. First, something totally non-monetary causes oil prices to shoot up. This causes the “cost of living” to go up which causes wages to go up, which, in turn, causes the price of everything to shoot up. That right there is inflation. What’s more, since the demand for gasoline isn’t very elastic and America is a net oil importer the rising price of oil is also a negative shock to aggregate demand that causes unemployment to go up. Then when the Fed tries to fight the unemployment the inflation situation gets really out of control. Bad news.
And of course this was bad news.
But part of what the monetary hawks of today seem to have forgotten is that circa 1980 there was a great Reagan Revolution and America spent the bulk of the next 25 years grinding labor unions into the dust. One can celebrate that or deplore it as one likes, but blocking this feedback loop from commodity prices into wages and thus into generalized inflation was one of the primary stated reasons for the anti-labor crusade. And for better or for worse, the union-busters won and there is now absolutely no chance that a rise in commodity prices will lead to generalized inflation in the face of a slack labor market. There’s no mechanism through which this could happen.
That the right seems unwilling to acknowledge this is, I might add, something of a synecdoche for the entire state of the neoliberal project circa 2011. Having largely won the war for flexible labor markets, floating exchange rates, integrated financial markets, lower marginal tax rates, free trade, etc. all in the name of boosting growth rates elite policymakers are now refusing to deliver the growth we were promised. Instead, they’re seeing the ghosts of the 1970s behind every corner. But if the center-right establishment is going to act super-pessimistic about America’s potential output, then what did we do all this for?