Monday, November 26, 2012

Catnip 11/26/12: Saddle Up


The Oakland Black Cowboy Association rides down 14th after a parade last October. 

 Vacation is over, get ready for some fiscal fun...

Sargent: Republicans whitewash history of filibuster: "Senator Cornyn claims reform will “shut down the Senate.” In reality, Republicans used the filibuster itself in an effort to effectively do just that, rendering the Upper Chamber dysfunctional to deny Obama bipartisan victories, pin the blame for ineffectual governance on him, and render him a one-term president. That Republicans adopted this goal is not in doubt. It has been publicly confirmed by Republican Senators themselves, including the Senate GOP leader. As Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann detailed in “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks,” no matter how many times you hear the claim that Dems also engage in such tactics, GOP obstructionism is, indeed, unprecedented, both in nature (the extensive tying up of routine Senate business) and scope (the dramatic rise in filibusters in recent years)."

CNN Poll: Two-thirds say fiscal cliff poses major problem: "Two-thirds of people questioned in a CNN/ORC International survey (PDF) say that the U.S. would face a crisis or major problems if the country went off the "fiscal cliff" at the end of the year, and if that happened, Republicans in Congress would probably receive the greater share of the blame." Hype works.

Krugman calls them out again: "So let’s step back for a minute, and consider what’s going on here. For years, deficit scolds have held Washington in thrall with warnings of an imminent debt crisis, even though investors, who continue to buy U.S. bonds, clearly believe that such a crisis won’t happen; economic analysis says that such a crisis can’t happen; and the historical record shows no examples bearing any resemblance to our current situation in which such a crisis actually did happen."

How the austerity crisis might hit the states, too. ”State revenue is dependent on the feds, with $1 in every $3 coming from federal grants in 2010. While Medicaid, one big source of federal dollars, is exempt from the automatic across-the-board spending reduction due to take effect in January, eighteen percent of federal grants to states will be subject to those cuts in FY 2013. On the tax side, the picture is murkier. Because many states link their tax codes to the federal law, if all of the tax cuts expire and revert to pre-2001 law, states could benefit when some elements are restored.”

The New York Times is starting a new online feature on Monday to follow the talks between President Obama and Congressional leaders. Bookmark if interested.

Lindsey Graham's reasonableness comes with fine print: "To be sure, Norquist's waning influence is a positive development, as is the larger shift in the debate -- Washington is no longer arguing whether to include more revenue in a debt-reduction deal, but how to include more revenue. But to characterize Graham's position as some kind of major concession is a mistake. Indeed, while the South Carolinian's position is ever-so-slightly more constructive than some House Republicans', the closer one looks at his approach, the less reasonable it appears. What he's proposing is Republicans to get what they want on both sides of the budget ledger."

Norquist says he'll go after pledge-breakers: "Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist said Monday that his group, Americans for Tax Reform, would work to unseat Republicans who break their pledge to never vote for higher taxes." (This should effectively kill "pledges" from here on out. Who will sign one if all you get are these kinds of threats afterwards?)

CEO Council Demands Cuts To Poor, Elderly While Reaping Billions In Government Contracts, Tax Breaks: "During the past few days, CEOs belonging to what the campaign calls its CEO Fiscal Leadership Council -- most visibly, Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein and Honeywell's David Cote -- have barnstormed the media, making the case that the only way to cut the deficit is to severely scale back social safety-net programs -- Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security -- which would disproportionately impact the poor and the elderly."

Republicans face unexpected challenges in coastal South amid shrinking white vote: "The pattern is markedly different in the five states that hug the Atlantic coast from Virginia to Florida, which together hold 82 of the South’s 160 electoral votes. A combination of a growing black population, urban expansion, oceanfront development and in-migration from other regions has opened up increasing opportunities for Democrats in those states. “Georgia is an achievable target for Democrats in 2016,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, a frequent Obama surrogate during the campaign."

(My take - but back in the Midwest, Republicans picked up seats in state House/Senate races in Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana - all states that were swept in the Tea Party wave of 2010. Voters gave the WI Senate back to Walker. Indiana elected crackpot Mike Pence. Only Minnesota turned back the R's. Are we seeing a gradual shift where the Midwest will be Republican, and the southern/western states start to turn Dem?)

ALEC and the Koch Brothers work to reverse renewable energy mandates in the states: "The Electricity Freedom Act, adopted by the council’s board of directors in October, would repeal state standards requiring utilities to get a portion of their electricity from renewable power, calling it “essentially a tax on consumers of electricity.” Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have binding renewable standards; in the absence of federal climate legislation, these initiatives have become the subject of intense political battles."

Fire Kills 112 Workers Making Clothes for US Brands - Namely Wal-Mart: "The 100-plus workers who died in a fire late Saturday at a high-rise garment factory in Bangladesh were working overtime making clothes for major American retailers, including Wal-Mart, according to workers' rights groups... The Tazreen fire is the latest in a series of deadly blazes at garment factories in Bangladesh, where more than 700 workers, many making clothes for U.S. consumers, have died in factory fires in the past five years. As previously reported by ABC News, Bangladesh has some of the cheapest labor in the world and some of the most deplorable working conditions."

Human Rights Campaign launches new marriage equality ad with Morgan Freeman: "Actor Morgan Freeman narrates the new Human Rights Campaign spot, which draws parallels to the civil rights movement and the fight for women’s suffrage. The ad lauds the Nov. 6 victories and says the results emboldened gay rights advocates to press onward across the country. “With historic victories for marriage, we’ve delivered a mandate for full equality. The wind is at our back, but our journey has just begun,” Freeman says in the commercial."

Annnnnnd they're off...