Monday, July 30, 2012

Catnip 7/30/12: Hitchin' A Ride


A pelican waits for a ride on a fishing boat at the Wharf. Birds there have absolutely no fear of humans.

They haven't met Paul Ryan yet though....

Gambling at Rick's? Very interesting poll question from Gallup, probably one of the first times this term has been tested, has "corruption" 2nd on the list of the priorities of voters. Note the caveat though: "Eighty-seven percent of respondents said that reducing corruption in the federal government is an “extremely important” or “very important” priority for the next president, compared with 92 percent who said the same about creating good jobs... Gallup notes that corruption ranks highly when respondents are asked specifically about it, but isn’t as 'top-of-mind' when respondents are asked to volunteer priorities." "Corruption" beats budget, terrorism, and SS and Medicare by the slimmest of percentage points.

While we are on the subject of corruption, let's take a look at what the House Republicans have in store for the tax code this week. While Dave Camp's bill to fast-track the tax changes that the Romney-Ryan budget prescribes will go nowhere in the Senate, keep in mind that once again the GOP prescription for what ails us is massive tax cuts for the rich, increased taxes for the middle class, and the offshoring of jobs. "In a series of meetings, the chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee gently explained that lowering rates would explode the budget deficit unless Republicans also proposed pruning back expensive credits and deductions that benefit millions of ordinary people. The break for home mortgage interest, for example, or the $1,000 child credit. Or that stalwart of GOP orthodoxy, the 15 percent rate for capital gains." Be aware this is happening; it's a preview of our future if the Republicans win. CNN has more.

At least they aren't being shy about it. Republicans may not tell you the specifics of their plans, but they are giving us enough of an outline to make a judgment - painting anything outside their extreme right-wing economic policy as "socialism". E.J. Dionne: "For conservatives, this is a go-for-broke election. They and a Republican Party now under their control hope to eke out a narrow victory in November on the basis of a quite radical program that includes more tax cuts for the rich, deep reductions in domestic spending, big increases in military spending and a sharp rollback in government regulation." In other words, wave good-bye to America as we know it and get ready for the regime that will make George Bush look like a flaming liberal. You have been warned.

Preview of what happens when you cut government spending as described above. We've seen it in the red states, and it's happening at the federal level as well. Behind the WSJ paywall but excerpted in Wonkbook: "Falling military spending and the end of federal stimulus programs are further slowing the already weak U.S. economic recovery... Recent economic data show that long before the fiscal cliff hits, federal spending already is falling–and taking a toll on the recovery. Federal spending and investment fell at an annual rate of 0.4% in the second quarter and has fallen 3.3% in the past year. Federal employment has fallen by more than 52,000 jobs in the past year and for the first time is lower than when the recovery began."

The DCCC isn't being shy about the tax argument either, hitting 23 specific House Republicans over their vote to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich. The ads tell it like it is. Class warfare? Bring it on.

Romney makes a total lie the centerpiece of his campaign. Fascinating, in a way. Kessler destroys the "build it" ad in today's WaPo: "In any case, the Romney campaign clearly ripped these words out of context, leaving them untethered from their original meaning — in order to score political points in a highly misleading way." Another four Pinocchios for Romney. Think he is going for the record.

Geoff Feiger weighs in on Romney's prep school bullying. Good ad. No word so far on how much he is spending, but apparently it's only running in Michigan.

The Commerce Department has had enough of under-cost Chinese and Vietnamese wind turbine towers, and is taking action. "Chinese manufacturers have been illegally selling steel towers for wind turbines below the cost of production and will have to pay duties of 20.85 to 72.69 percent on imports, the United States Commerce Department said Friday in a preliminary ruling in an antidumping case brought by four American tower manufacturers." Potential problem looms though - the expiration of the production tax credit at the end of this year already has developers and American manufacturers laying off employees because they cannot plan for 2013. Will the tariffs be blamed?

A positive consequence of the drought: Less runoff into the Mississippi River is reducing the amount of chemicals that hit the Gulf of Mexico, and the "dead zone" that is usually created from such waste will be the fourth smallest since 1985. NOAA has the explanation.

Out of time, gotta go...