Just a brief update before tomorrow’s Supreme Court ruling on The Affordable Care Act. As MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell pointed out last night, if the High Court rules “ObamaCare” unconstitutional because of a ”mandate”, then they did so based upon SOMETHING THAT DOES NOT EXIST:
As O’Donnell points out, the “fine” for not complying is “less than $100″, and the “penalty” for failing to pay is… nothing. No fine, no liens, no jail time.
A full update following release of the verdict tomorrow.
UPDATE: The Supreme Court upheld the legality of The Affordable Car Act and the Insurance Mandate so long as it is enforced via a ”tax” instead of a ”penalty”… exactly as I predicted in my Predictions for 2012 (Prediction #10).
Last week, lots of things were supposed to happen that didn’t, and plenty of things that shouldn’t of happened, did (like the GOP making a mockery of Congress’ power to levy charges against the Executive Branch for political gain… again). There was no update here on MaRS (my new shorthand for “Mugsy’s Rap Sheet”. Like it?) the day after Father’s Day, and with rumors that the Supreme Court might finally release some early rulings on The Affordable Care Act (aka: “ObamaCare”), I had hoped to post an update following that ruling. Now they are telling us to expect the verdict sometime this week. So, unwilling to wait any longer, I’ve got to ask: “If the Supreme Court rules The ACA ‘unconstitutional’, seeing how it was originally a Republican idea cooked up by the hard-right ‘Heritage Foundation’, does that mean that a Conservative solution for Health Care Reform was in fact ‘unconstitutional’?” And more to the point, will anyone note that fact?
It was back in the early 1990′s when newly elected President Clinton made health care reform the primary focus of his new administration. Sadly, Clinton aimed too high, suggesting a Single Payer system similar to Medicare, where every American was provided with a government-issued insurance card. The system would be paid for with taxes (like the European system) where all you’d have to do was show your card at any (still private) hospital to receive care. The Right… as you might well imagine… went nuts. Back then, (in those pre-Fox days) the initial outrage wasn’t over any “government takeover of health care” (though that did come later). Instead, it was “the threat to privacy” that came from placing all of your medical records on a single “stealable” ID card. That led to a pseudo “1984-esque” outrage over a “National ID System”. Yes, you read that right, Republicans went apoplectic in 1993 over the idea that every American might be forced to carry a “National ID Card” (ala Nazi Germany. Funny how often The Right goes there). If you’re not shaking your head right now, you’re probably a Republican that doesn’t get the hypocrisy of recent “Voter ID” laws being passed in a swath of Southern states. But eventually, the insurance companies lobbied Republicans into wailing like howler-monkeys over a program that threatened to put them out of business.
In order to counter President Clinton’s push for Health care reform and soaring insurance costs (that were trite in comparison to today), the uber-Conservative “Heritage Foundation” came up with a counter-proposal: The Private Insurance Mandate. A plan that forced every American to “purchase private insurance” from the existing privatized health insurance system with the goal of cutting off the free-loaders, and force people to “take personal responsibility for themselves” (something Republicans THINK they are very big on) by purchasing health insurance. Their “Free Market Solution” belief was that by insuring everyone, the price of insurance for all would drop. Then later, during the Bush-II Administration, when it was pointed out how many insurance companies have near monopolies in most states, the Right introduced the idea of allowing people to purchase insurance “across state lines” to a state with lower rates. And that’s how “interstate commerce” (and by extension the Federal government) was dragged into the debate.
When the Obama Administration adopted the GOP idea for “cross border health insurance exchanges”, that instantly became subject to the “Interstate Commerce Clause” that dictates that the Federal Government MUST (not “should”) regulate consumer activity between states. Why? Because every state has its own insurance regulatory system. They set rules on the insurance companies for what they can and cannot refuse to cover and how much they can charge for that coverage. Now let’s say you start allowing anyone to buy insurance from companies based on the state with the most lax coverage laws in exchange for low rates (eg: buying hurricane insurance from North Dakota). Suddenly, states no longer have any power to manage insurance coverage for their state. And when things go bad, who gets stuck holding the bag? They do.
The ONLY solution is an “Insurance Exchange” where every company must agree to a set of Federal Insurance guidelines in order to be included (ie: “Pay-to-Play”). If everyone does not agree to basic minimum standards (set forth by the states), then you can’t join the Exchange (and thus sell across state lines). Competition between companies included in the Exchange is supposed to keep rates down (take that for what it’s worth.)
And there it is. The ENTIRE concept of “ObamaCare”… from the “mandate” to “cross border exchanges”… all Conservative Republican ideas that they think are “Socialism of the highest order” today, and rendering President Obama “Karl Marx incarnate” for proposing them.
During “Fox news Sunday” yesterday, perennial blowhard Bret Hume said that he believed that “if the Supreme Court strikes down ObamaCare, they will have levied a catastrophic blow to the signature achievement of the Obama Administration.”
I beg to differ. I believe a negative ruling by the Supreme Court would be an undeniable rebuke of Conservative policies in action. And should the Court strike down the mandate, will anyone acknowledge that this was initially a REPUBLICAN idea the President patterned his bill after (because he thought it would have an easier time moving through Congress)? Do fish ride bicycles?
In my “End-of-Year Predictions” last December, I predicted the Supreme Court will uphold “ObamaCare”. No question the Federal Government has the authority to regulate “interstate commerce” as a result of these Exchanges. The question then becomes whether or not The GOP’s mandate idea was Constitutional. Personally, I don’t understand the distinction that States can pass a mandate, but the Federal Government can not. To me, it’s a distinction w/o a difference. The Federal Government forces states to do all sorts of things… like “threatening to deny highway funds if they don’t set the speed limit to 55″, or threatening to withhold Education funding if students don’t pass a minimum basic skills test (see: “No Child Left Behind”… another mandate… and an unfunded mandate at that). I see no reason the Federal government couldn’t simply force every state to “mandate health insurance” the same way. But why go through all that rigamarole when we can just pass a single Federal Mandate?
Okay, okay, just for arguments sake, let’s consider whether of not a Federal mandate is even Constitutional, or whether the “rigamarole” method is the only way to do this legally? Is a Federal Mandate to purchase a product even legal?
First, unlike “eating broccoli” or driving a car, every person participates in the health care market. Even people in perfect health. Eventually, everyone is going to need a doctor. No one lives forever. If YOU don’t have insurance, that drives MY rates UP. YOUR inaction affects ME. How? Because when you get into an accident, suffer a heart attack, or get shot in a drive-by shooting, you end up in the hospital. And if you can’t afford to pay, the burden falls on the hospital, forcing them to charge everyone else more to cover those loses. So it’s not simply YOU taking a risk by going without insurance, you’re impinging upon ME by making me pay more to cover YOUR irresponsible ass.
Second, any male over the age of 18 is familiar with having to register for “Selective Service”, the Federal program that started back when we still had a Draft (yes, it’s still required in case you were wondering), as a way of helping the Federal Government keep track of how many military-aged men there are in the United States. While the military stopped drafting people during the Vietnam War, the Draft itself was not outlawed by Congress and can be reinstated at any time. How is a government mandate conscripting you into military service where you might pay “the ultimate price” any less of a burden than forcing every adult to buy health insurance?
Third, anyone that tells you this Mandate is “unprecedented”, doesn’t know what the Fudge they’re talking about. There are several examples throughout history of the Federal Government mandating people purchase something in the name of the Public Good:
In 1790, the very first Congress passed a mandate (embedded in another law) that ship owners buy medical insurance for their seamen. Why? Because our fledgeling nation was critically dependent upon International Commerce for most of our goods. And we couldn’t have scores of merchant mariners out sick for long periods of time. That Congress included 20 framers of the Constitution and was signed by another framer: President George Washington.
Two years later, President Washington signed “The Second Militia Act of 1792″, which mandated every American purchase a firearm and ammo in defense of this country against the British. We had no Standing Army in those days, so the duty of defending the nation fell upon the citizenry. It’s the reason for that whole “militia” clause in the Second Amendment that Republicans love to overlook, and why banners at every NRA meeting heralding the Second Amendment always start with “dot-dot-dot” (ie: “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”) I think George Washington knew a thing or two about what The Founding Fathers believed was within the rights of the Federal Government.
Participation in Social Security is also a Federal mandate that you pay into whether you live long enough to collect on those benefits or not. Whether you are wealthy enough upon retirement that you don’t need it. Because baring an early demise, you WILL live long enough to collect it. It’s a safety net that ensures our disabled and elderly won’t find themselves out on the street when they can’t work anymore. And that benefits ALL of society, not just those who live to collect. The power of the Federal government to mandate every person into participating in the system was upheld in a 1934 Supreme Court ruling on the Agricultural Adjustment Act that stated:
“…the power of Congress to authorize expenditure of public moneys for public purposes is not limited by the direct grants of legislative power found in the Constitution.”
Translation: When it comes to the public good, Congress can do most anything with public funds and is NOT limited to just the explicit wording of the Constitution.
(Note: The June 22 edition of The Rachel Maddow Show opened with an excellent, well resourced piece on Republican hypocrisy over the Individual Mandate.)
(UPDATE: I’m reminded by this video that… if the Court overturns “ObamaCare”, then who does the GOP look too for an alternative? The Father of “ObamaCare”, Mitt Romney?)
Of course, all of this could of been avoided if we had just ignored the “Republican” solution and focused on the Democratic solution instead: The Public Option.
POSTSCRIPT: Other topics I hope to cover this week:
- A member of The Muslim Brotherhood was elected as Egypt’s first Democratically elected president. Remember all the Righties claiming The Arab Spring was Bush’s “Democracy flouring across the Middle-East” as a result of “toppling Saddam Hussein”? Suddenly, we don’t hear many Republicans rushing to take credit for the rise of Islamic law in Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere as a result of all this instability. The “Arab Spring” has more in common with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement than Bush’s invasion of Iraq in that the powerless are kicking out the Establishment and supplanting them with administrators they can relate to on a personal level (I’d also note that “The Muslim Brotherhood” members… while devout… are also anti-war isolationists. Good for the U.S. and Israel, bad for women and Christians inside Egypt.
- “Fast & Furious”: The Right is on another witch-hunt, demanding the Attorney General turn over documents pertaining to an ongoing investigation, something he is prohibited by law… a law passed by Republicans under Bush… to turn over. So when President Obama declares “Executive Privilege” to protect his AG (a member of “the Executive Branch”), the GOP led kangaroo court holds Holder in contempt for not revealing information that is obtainable elsewhere (such as calling up one of the members of Bush’s justice department). It’s election-year political theater at its most transparent. I Tweeted former Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying: “NOW do you understand why so many Dems were outraged when you took prosecution of the Bushies off the table?” The Right convinces everyone that if they put Democrats in charge, they will just engage in a parade of partisan witch-hunts, then when THEY get elected, they go on partisan political witch-hunts in the middle of an election year because THEY KNOW no one will ever call them out on their hypocrisy. Democrats promise not to hold hearings investigating Republicans even when they CLEARLY have every right to do so: like cherry-picked intelligence and those phantom “WMDs” they were so positive were there that were used as justification for war. There was also Gonzo’s firing of nine U.S. Attorneys reportedly because they refused to prosecute Democrats for supposedly being “lax on Voter Fraud” in an election year. And just WHO leaked the identity of Valery Plame?)
- The only reason we even know “Fast & Furious” was involved in the death of a U.S. Border Patrol officer is because a tracked gun was found at the location where he was killed. Had we not recovered that weapon, we might never have known of the connection. That begs the question, “How do we KNOW no ‘walked’ gun under the Bush Administration’s “Gun Runner” or “Wide Receiver” programs did not lead to the death(s) of any Americans? Simple answer is we don’t. So any claims that this is an investigation because of “Recklessness on the part of the Obama Justice Department” exclusively is a canard.
- Another issue I’d like to address in the near future: a slew of reports this past week of oil speculators manipulating the price of oil based on reasons that have NOTHING to do with Supply & Demand. So the next time some RW moron complains about obstruction of the Keystone XL Pipeline or intones “Drill baby, drill”, you can point to the REAL cause of high oil/gas prices: Wall Street.
I still have a bumper sticker in the rear window of my car the reads “Support Our Troops. Impeach Bush/Cheney”. When people “point out” to me that Bush/Cheney are no longer in office, *I* like to “point out” that “impeachment” is simply a Criminal hearing that takes place in the House of Representatives. You don’t have to still be in office to be impeached.
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Just a quick note while it’s still fresh.
On Friday in the presidential Rose Garden, President Obama was interrupted by a young “reporter” from the Rightwing blog, The Daily Caller:
Not only did he interrupt the President while he was speaking, but then argued with him on his comment afterwards. The president handled the situation with more grace & class than I might have in that situation, but it reminded me of another event…
In June of 2008… almost four years to the day… President Bush was making a similar announcement in the very same Rose Garden. Clearly aware of how unpopular he was, President Bush thought that he was being disrespected by a reporter that didn’t even bother to remove his sunglasses when asking him a question… unaware that the reporter was legally blind:
Compare that to the punk that challenged President Obama today:
(click to enlarge)
It’s one thing to THINK you’re being “disrespected”, but it’s quite another when they are ACTUALLY disrespecting the president and think nothing of it.
No word from Congressman Joe Wilson on whether such blatant disrespect should be considered the new normal.
Probably the biggest fake news last week was President Obama’s feux pas saying “the private sector is doing fine”. When you watch the full response in which the comment was made, it was clear (to me anyway) that he was saying, “In comparison to the 14 straight months of job losses in the Public sector”, the 27 straight months of 4.3million jobs created in the private sector shows the private sector already has the tools necessary to create jobs, and it’s time to focus on the public sector. I’ve been ranting on here for months now that “public sector layoffs are undermining our recovery”. For every public job we eliminate, that’s one more person unnecessarily competing for a private sector job. So while Republicans scream about the need to “cut government spending”, when Obama does shrink the size of government, it cuts into the “total number of jobs created” figure, and stymies the Unemployment Rate (ticking UP last month for the first time since June of last year. And… as I pointed out weeks ago… those same Republicans demanding Obama cut the size of government have been hiring government workers like crazy to get their own state unemployment figures down so they can say: “Look at MY state! I know how to get things done!” So the sub-story underlying President Obama’s “gaffe” is, “Is he finally starting to get it?” If you want unemployment down in time for the election, STOP FIRING PUBLIC WORKERS.
I posted this graph a couple of times already, and I’m likely to post it a few times more:
Notice above that the government stops laying off people right around the mid-1982 mark. After Reagan entered office in January of 1981, unemployment continued to climb like a monkey in a tree well into his second year, peaking at 10.8% unemployment in both Nov/Dec of 1982. Also notice that the graph is eight years of government hiring. But look where it was by the start of 1984. Public sector hiring really didn’t budge too much since mid-’82. The Reagan Administration hadn’t actually begun to DO much government hiring by that point, they just stopped firing public workers.
Now here’s a graph you probably haven’t seen:
See what happened to unemployment right around the same time (late-1982)? Then look where it was by January of 1984. Translation: You don’t need massive government hiring just to bring down unemployment. YOU JUST NEED TO STOP LAYING PEOPLE OFF!
Compare Reagan’s 10.8% peak unemployment 23 months into his presidency vs President Obama’s peak of 10.0% just nine months into his FIRST year, peaking in October… the same month Bush’s last budget ended (all numbers via The Bureau of Labor Statistics). St. Ronnie didn’t institute any “Massive Jobs Program” or any other major policy initiative in late 1982 to account for the sudden/dramatic dip in unemployment… unless you count RAISING TAXES. Yes, Reagan’s first big tax hike came in 1982 to stem the rapidly rising National Debt. But most importantly, he stopped gutting public sector jobs.
Reagan came into office promising to “cut government”… which he did… at the cost of the unemployment rate. When unemployment broke 9.5% (two points higher than when he took office) in mid-1982, the government stopped firing people. It took a few months for the economic inertia to stop rising unemployment figures, but once those paychecks started making their way into the economy, you only need to look at that second graph to see its effect on unemployment.
And the Right declared Reagan a “hero” for “saving the economy”, handily winning re-election in what still stands today as one of the most lopsided election victories in American history. Reagan’s “morning in America” ad pointed out how much better the economy now was (in time for the election) as compared to where it was when he took over… unemployment was 7.5% in January 1981, compared to 7.2% by November 1984. Everyone quickly forgot that just two years earlier, it had hit 10.8%.
And now peering through the fog of President Obama’s “gaffe cloud”, do my ears deceive me or was his gaffe the result of frustration as he finally starts to recognize the crippling effect public sector layoffs have had on our recovery? Maybe last month’s 1/10th of a point tick upward in the unemployment rate was just the kick in the pants he needed to finally get that it’s time he stop handicapping his own recovery? I’m angry it would take anyone so long to figure out that when you’re trying to bring down unemployment, the last thing you should be doing is FIRING people!
Let’s hope so, because if that’s true, I envision a “Great Awakening” in Obama’s second term as he learns to stop listening to people that wake up every morning thinking up ways to make him look bad.
ADDENDUM: In case you missed it, right after I posted this… my fourth rant on Public Sector job losses and Republican hypocrisy on the subject… the always excellent Rachel Maddow Show made the subject the opening topic on Monday nights show, and included the following graph:
I’m glad to see the Mainstream media finally catching up.
(Editor’s Note: If you missed it, I added a new page to the Rap Sheet: “Reasons to NOT vote for Obama” according to the Right, each Talking Point linking to pages debunking those claims. As with our Romney Page, I will do my best to continually update it throughout the year.)
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Just a brief note on last night’s recall election in Wisconsin.
Why I don’t trust the results and you shouldn’t either:
I planned on staying up late last night watching the returns of the Wisconsin Recall Election of Gov. Scott Walker go on into the night. So you can imagine my shock when the first returns immediately showed… not just Gov. Walker, but ALL SIX recall races showing Republicans with HUGE leads over their Democratic challengers, with Walker enjoying a HUGE 20-point lead right away. Within the hour, with barely more than 20% of the votes in, Walker was already being declared “the Winner”. If you’re as distrusting of Republicans as I am in the age of Karl Rove and Florida-2000, “surprise” results of this magnitude should ALWAYS be looked at suspiciously.
For days before the election, all polling was predicting a “down-to-the-wire” close race, with many suspecting that we might not know the results “for days/weeks to come”. As soon as the polls closed, the New York Times released it’s “Exit Polls” showing the race split “50/50″ and with 8percent more of them preferring President Obama in November.
Then, as soon as the polls close at 7pm CST, the first results start coming in. “Brad Blog”… a blog devoted to election irregularities… noted that WI votes almost entirely using paper “scantron” ballots (pencil in the bubble), making a recount possible, but extremely unlikely because recounts ONLY take place in “close” races, and even then, only when “ordered by a judge”. Don’t expect that here.
The first results to come in the moment the polls closed were the electronic votes (electronic ballots and Early Voting Scantrons already counted), instantly showing Gov. Walker with a HUGE lead over Mayor Barrett. By the time the first 20% of votes were in less than an hour later, Walker already had an insurmountable 20% lead and declared the winner with Barrett finding himself in a deep hole early on that he’d have to spend the rest of the night digging out of.
As the night went on, Walker’s lead shrank as the PAPER ballots were counted. By the time the counting was “over”, Walker’s lead had shrunk to just 7percent as hand-counts showed Barrett gaining on Walker all night long.
The down-ballot races, though not as high profile, were just as important. The WI Senate is currently split 50/50 between 16 Republicans and 16 Democrats, with control going to the Party that holds the governorship. All Democrats had to do was win ONE of those races to regain control of the WI Senate, a hedge that even if Walker won, a Democratically controlled Senate could at least put the brakes on Walker’s partisan power-grab. While early poll results showed all four Republican Senators winning by significant margins, it wasn’t until all the counting was over did the closest race between Former Democratic state Sen. John Lehman and incumbent Sen. Van Wanggaard show the Democrat winning with 36,255 votes to Wanggaard’s 35,476 votes, “according to unofficial results with all precincts reporting”. Once again, it took all night and checking ALL the ballots for the Democrat to overcome an early deep deficit.
So, to summarize: We are to believe that people in Wisconsin turned out en masse, standing in long lines, with many counties reportedly “running out of ballots”, all to vote for the Status Quo? The WI-GOP was so concerned they might lose that they themselves… not just some pranksters but THE OFFICIAL WISCONSIN GOP, was robocalling Democrats, telling them that if they signed a recall petition, they don’t have to bother coming in to vote because they’ve already been counted. It certainly “looks like” the electronic voting gave Walker a huge head start that Barrett and the others would spend the rest of the night attempting to overcome. A lead SO huge that even if Barrett did REALLY well, would be lucky to break even with Walker as the original exit polls predicted. And, as the night continues, that gap narrowed as Barrett out polled Walker again & again. And in the end, we are to believe that a state that leans Democratic (the same people that voted en masse for Walker also broke for Obama by 8percent) also came out big for the only Republican governor in the country with a criminal defense fund, that unwittingly admitted that he considered “sending troublemakers” into anti-Walker protest rallies, described his anti-union measures as “divide & conquer” in an attempt to “permanently turn the state red”, admitted that his union fight had NOTHING to do with balancing the states’ budget (ibid last Monday’s post for all links), and most recently the “John Doe investigation” that could lead to Federal criminal prosecution of Walker, received the enthusiastic support of the majority of WI voters?
Is it just me, or am I just so distrusting of Republicans that I’m seeing anomalies where there are none? Tell me in the comments that there’s NO reason to be suspicious.
There was so much going on last week, that I couldn’t pick a single topic to focus on. First off was (of course) the dismal jobs report for May released last week. Republicans were quick to pounce on the disappointing figures, pointing to it was “PROOF!” that President Obama’s economic policies are a failure. Also, it came as little relief last week when the price of oil fell below $90/barrel for the first time since last October (when I think about how oil used to be below $30/barrel for decades, and gas never broke $2/gallon before President Bush invaded Iraq, I get nauseous). And Mitt Romney gave a “top secret” presser in front of “Solyndra”… “top secret” because he claimed fearing “Obama-campaign inference” had it of been publicly announced… at the same time the Romney campaign sent its OWN campaign goon-squad to heckle Obama-spokesman David Axelrod during a campaign event of his own, once again demonstrating my long-held belief that “if Republicans accuse you of doing something, it’s either because they ARE doing it themselves or WOULD do it if they were in a position to do so (ie: ”projection”). And lastly, my big report last week questioning the disturbing appearance of cronyism by Romney while governor of Massachusetts, was criticized and contested… calling my own integrity into question… by picking at the fringes while never addressing the core issue. Let’s take these one at a time:
First off, that dismal “jobs report”. Am I the only person wondering just how Republicans… who were swept into office in 2010 promising “jobs, jobs, jobs”… can get away with laying all the blame for the bad jobs numbers at the feet of President Obama? Really now, Conservatives. You ran to the polls and voted en masse for Republicans promising “a laser-like focus on jobs”, and this is what you got (actually, THIS is what you got). And now you want to blame President Obama solely for the poor economy? Do you get it yet? This is a Party willing to unemploy hundreds of thousands of people just to put one man out of work. You doubt me? This is the same Party that threatened to throw this nation into default just to score some cheap political points during last years Debt Ceiling debacle (a move that cost us our Triple-A bond rating.) And now they are threatening to do it again. I urge you to take a good long look at the infamous “bikini graph” once more:
(click to enlarge)
Note that yellow line. That’s job creation under a DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS before Republicans decided to make spending a campaign issue, and started blocking everything in sight. Now you want to reward these same obstructionists on the grounds that President Obama failed to get anything done? When you have the Senate Minority Leader saying his Party’s ”#1 political goal is to make President Obama a one-term president“, or when the Indiana GOP nominee for Senate says that “bipartisanship is when Democrats give in to Republicans”, you’re only rewarding bad behavior that puts partisan-politics ahead of the good of the country. And don’t be surprised if Democrats then turn around and use the exact same techniques against Republicans if Romney wins in November. (Of course, Republicans would do a FAR better job of vilifying the Democrats for doing it if they did.) Why do we allow the obstructionists to criticize Obama’s “lack of progress”, and get away with it?
Political junkies like you and me who probably watched all the Sunday shows yesterday… did you ONCE hear anyone ask these Republicans, “You came in promising jobs, jobs, jobs. And here we are. Don’t you think YOU deserve a share of the blame for these poor jobs numbers?” If anyone asked that question yesterday, I sure missed it. Sorry Republicans, but you can’t claim all the credit when things look good, and assume none of the blame when things look bad. That’s called “taking personal responsibility.” Ah, but look who I’m talking to! You know all about “personal responsibility”. It’s your catch-phrase… or it least it used to be when you proposed “insurance mandates” before “ObamaCare” took them up.
A blog posting I wrote back in January entitled “Why the economy is so bad. And why Obama should be trusted to fix it” started picking up a number of fresh hits last week. I encourage you to go back and give it a second read.
Several factors played into the poor jobs numbers for May. Continued Republican insistence on “austerity” being high on that list. Once again, while the number of jobs created was low, the unnecessary loss of 13,000 Public Sector jobs made it worse. That’s another 13,000 people competing for the same jobs as millions of longterm unemployed. You now have to create another 13,000 jobs just to get the number of unemployed back the to where it was before the layoffs. Can we all just finally agree that this insane adherence to “austerity” demanded by Republicans is killing our recovery (by design?) As I pointed out three weeks ago, while Democrats and President Obama are stupidly cutting public employment, Republican governors have been on a hiring binge to make their unemployment numbers look good.
Another factor: oil & gas prices… while coming down… are sucking the lifeblood out of our economy. While the price of oil fell below $90/barrel for the first time since last October, the National Average price for a gallon of gas is 17cents higher today than it was back then, once again demonstrating the lack of a connection between falling oil prices and a decline in gas prices (while the opposite is imminently true). I just want to shout from the rooftops (and metaphorically speaking, that’s what this blog is): “It’s the dependence on oil, Stupid!” (apologies to Clinton’s 1992 campaign catch-phrase). While I heard multiple Talking Heads on TV yesterday excoriate President Obama’s obstruction of “the keystone XL pipeline” (read my rant on that subject here), I heard NO ONE suggest that maybe we should focus on using LESS oil rather than continuing our dependence upon it (and the Middle East)… not to mention inviting certain environmental disaster, all for short-term gain that won’t have an impact on the market for at least three years. I actually heard Romney’s campaign manager on “Meet the Press” ridicule obstruction of the KXL, calling it “a project that would create thousands of jobs immediately.” Thousands? Thousands? We need 110,000 jobs every month just to keep up with population growth. What happened to the “million” jobs they were boasting of just a few months ago? (ibid my KXL rant) Are we (read: ”they”) really so stupid that we’d pass a construction project two-to-three times as massive as the Alaskan Pipeline just to create a few thousand low-paying construction jobs in an industry that doesn’t need government help to make money? I can think of A DOZEN other ways to create TENS of thousands of green energy jobs… long-term, high-paying, high-tech GREEN jobs with a future… in less time for a fraction of the cost. Roughly 8 percent of our electricity is still generated using oil-powered turbines. Replace them with Wind, Solar, tidal or geothermal plants. That would have a MASSIVE and direct impact on this nation’s oil consumption, and a direct impact on global oil prices. One might easily jump to the conclusion that this would be the equivalent of removing 8% of all the cars off America’s roads, but in fact, it would be MUCH more. Keep in mind these massive plants run 24 hours a day 7 days a week, using FAR more oil than the equivalent of “8% of all U.S. cars on the road”. Yank that demand off the world market and watch oil prices PLUNGE. Gas prices would fall in conjunction (though not at the same rate) providing a huge economic boost to the country. Plus all the new jobs building/running these new plants, not to mention the benefit to the environment. And it could all be paid for by rescinding those asinine $6Billion/year oil subsidies the GOP fought to keep. I certainly wouldn’t stop there. There are still some 600 coal fired powerplants in the U.S. that need to be phased out… though “coal” is a MUCH more touchy subject since the “fuel” for these plants comes from mining jobs here in the U.S..
Of course, convincing this parsimonious Congress to agree to spend even one dime on something that might create jobs and help the president’s reelection chances in November is about as unlikely as our Milky Way galaxy colliding with another galaxy. Both are likely to happen in about four-Billion years time.
Next issue: Romney’s “top secret” press conference in front of the closed Solyndra plant. This was a joke from start-to-finish. First off, the Big Show the Romney campaign made about having to having to keep the location of his speech secret (bringing the Press along but not telling them where) under the claim that it was done that way to thwart Obama-Campaign saboteurs. At the same time on the other side of the country the Romney campaign organized hecklers via Twitter to disrupt a speech by Obama advisor David Axelrod… once again proving my contention that “if a Republican accuses you of doing something, it is only because they are either doing it themselves or would do it if they were in your shoes.” I’ve seen it at least once a week for the past 12 years (starting with the 2000 Florida fight when Republicans accused Democrats of trying to steal the election.)
Okay. If you’re one of those people that thinks political campaigns should operate with all the maturity of a Redneck kindergarten class, then score one for Romney. Unless of course, facts matter to you and not just showmanship. Romney actually claimed that President Obama had engaged in illegal activity, claiming that “the Inspector General found” that President Obama steered the Solyndra contract to “friends and family.” That’s a flatout lie. The truth is… at Right-wing prompting… the Inspector General looked into the possibility and found “no evidence” of cronyism. In truth, the contract approval process began under President Bush, and I can assure you they weren’t looking to do him any favors.
To compound the issue, it turns out Romney has
TWO THREE FOUR numerous failed high-tech firms (many, many belonging to Romney supporters or run by Bain Capital) in his own closet that received millions from the Romney Administration while he was governor of Massachusetts. Two biotech firms called “Acusphere” and “Spherics Inc” received/lost a combined $2.1 million in loans and Two solar energy companies. Company number three was a solar energy company called “Konarka Technologies”, which filed for Chapter-7 bankruptcy the day after Romney’s speech before solar energy company Solyndra, After Konarka received $1.5 Million in state funds, Romney himself praised the deal, claiming it would act as “an economic springboard”. Number four I learned about only after posting today’s blog entry. “Evergreen Solar” went belly up just last year after receiving $2.5 Million from the Romney Administration. Just one more example of Republicans attacking Democrats for things they themselves do or did. This goes beyond hypocrisy, wading into the realm of “mental disorder”.
A brief aside on these failed high-tech firms: The REAL scandal here isn’t the allegations of cronyism, or the viability of green energy, or even the economic downturn (started under Bush) that put them out of business. No, the REAL scandal here is HOW they were put out of business. THEY COULDN’T COMPETE AGAINST CHEAP CHINESE TECHNOLOGIES SUBSIDIZED BY THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT. This absurd Conservative belief that “tariffs would create a trade war” rather than make our products competitive enough to create jobs here at home, is burying America in a hole it might never dig its way out of. Ross Perot was right about that “giant sucking sound” of jobs leaving the country if we massively expanded (so-called) “Free Trade”.
Another bug up my butt this week: all of last month, I railed about how “public sector job losses” were dragging down the recovery, and the hypocrisy of Republicans… who have a LONG history of using government-jobs to bring down unemployment… turn a blind-eye to Republican governors CURRENTLY doing that very thing, at the same time they are attacking President Obama on “spending” and “weak jobs numbers”.
So imagine my surprise last week to see my beloved ThinkProgress link to a story Friday on how “public sector job creation soared under President Bush” while it has plunged under President Obama. Glad to see them FINALLY come to the Party, but I emailed them my own coverage of the topic nearly a month ago. A ”hat-tip” would of been nice (not that I do this for the attaboys).
Also of note, Tuesday will be the Recall election of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. It is almost unimaginable that someone who: publicly (and unwittingly) confessed to considering “planting troublemakers within anti-Walker protest rallies”, admitted that his plan to break up public unions had nothing to do with balancing the states’ budget, and even admitted (again unwittingly) on camera that his strategy to “permanently turn the state red” was “divide & conquer” (pitting the people against unions until the unions were destroyed), and carries the distinction of being “the only governor in the nation with a criminal defense fund“… could be leading the polls by as many as 7-points the weekend before the election. But then again, thanks to the “Citizens United” ruling, a flood of money from some very rich special interests from outside the state that would also like to see the unions destroyed, have flooded money into the Walker campaign at a more than 10-to-1 cash advantage, to the point where even some union members are supporting him (that’s a link to the “Union Members for Walker” Facebook page.) All I can ask is: “Are you out of your freakin’ minds?” I pray that the polls are wildly off because they don’t poll the most motivated anti-Walker voters: young people with cell phones.
Republicans, I have to ask: Do you believe in Class Action Lawsuits? That’s when a group of people harmed by the same corporation join forces to sue as a group because no single person could go up against a Billion dollar company and not get squashed like a bug. THAT’S what a UNION is. It levels the playing field between corporations with all the money and employees with limited resources. Destroy the unions and you better pray you never have to go up against them in court. As the bumper sticker says:
Another topic on my mind this week, I want to rant for a moment about My Integrity… or more precisely, Republicans who call it into question.
Last weeks column was on a very complex subject deserving (as I noted repeatedly) deeper investigation by people with more time & resources than myself. While examining Governor Romney’s “job creation” record, I came away with more questions than I started, namely, why a close friend of Mitt’s came to him with a “jobs program” in which all of the risk fell on himself and asked nothing of the state? Then, when I found two criminal indictments before the Massachusetts state court connected to the same bank at the same time as their deal with the governor, it certainly got my Spidey-sense tingling.
But I made a small error in my report (which I updated to note), saying that Romney had recently cost the state “4,000 jobs” by allowing a merger to go through that he had to power to stop but didn’t (and thus in need of a lifeline.) But, as was pointed out to me in the comments, the “4,000 figure” was the “total number of jobs affected by the merger” (the entire company workforce), not “lost”. My integrity was also called into question for not pointing out that the same sweetheart deal offered Romney was also going on in Pennsylvania by the same bank. (Note: If it matters, the same bank was being sued in Pennsylvania for “copyright infringement” at the same time.)
Note, I don’t blog for a living. As you’ve noticed, there are no adds on this site, nor requests for donations. It’s a hobby. It’s my “rooftop” to shout from that I pay for out of pocket. I tried ads once, but when they started showing ads for people/causes that I don’t support, I dumped them. And while mistakes are bound to be made, I take great pains not to flub The Big Stuff. Hopefully you’ve noticed that I attempt to provide a link to EVERY assertion I make to back me up. And like my “4,000″ flub, if I make a mistake, let me know and I’ll correct it. I find it almost comical that anyone would accuse me of “hiding” something that they only know BECAUSE I LINKED TO IT.
But that’s what Conservatives do. When presented with something they can’t refute, they’ll pick it apart for the tiniest flaw, then go after that tiny flaw like a dog that hasn’t eaten in a week, believing that if they can destroy that one thing, they’ve destroyed your entire argument. “How can you trust anything he says when he got this one simple thing wrong?” Once again, if I’m not certain about something, I’ll say so, and recommend further investigation. Do NOT question my integrity you little Brownshirt crotch-lice.
Note to Republicans: Just because you tell me you “hate Mitt Romney” DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE NOT A REPUBLICAN. Only in GOP-land does a 100% adherence to each and every thing your Party says or does make you “a Republican”, and if you disagree on anything, that makes you “an Independent”. No children, I disagree with my Party… even President Obama… frequently. But I still call myself a Democrat. That’s because I’m an adult. I believe in an “ideal”, not an “ideology”.
Whew! Glad to get all that off my chest.
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