Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Catnip 11/27/12: On The Carousel


From Pier 39, Thanksgiving Day. 1000 px here. In honor of the new solar-powered carousel at the National Zoo in DC that features endangered species. Check out that story here.

A mish-mash of news:

Obama calls for new stimulus in the form of small-business tax breaks: "President Obama made a fresh call Tuesday for another round of economic stimulus, proposing to spend more than $25 billion to offer tax breaks to companies to hire workers or pay them higher salaries. The measure is Obama’s first proposal aimed at addressing the still-weak economy since his reelection and an acknowledgment that though it is no longer a political threat, the nation’s unemployment rate of 7.9 percent remains a significant problem.

Dems Defend Filibuster Reform Effort: ‘McConnell Has Broken The Social Contract’: "The changes Democrats are considering wouldn't eliminate the filibuster, and would thus preserve the Senate minority’s enormous power over legislative affairs. But the new rules, if adopted, would make it harder — possibly significantly harder — for the minority to successfully block legislation than it currently is. So it’s no surprise that GOP leaders are characterizing the plan as a fatal assault on the Senate minority’s rights."

GOP IMAGE PROBLEM: "53% hold an unfavorable view of the Republican Party; only 42% want to see congressional Republican have more influence than the president over the direction the nation takes in the next two years. And seven in ten say the GOP has not done enough to cooperate with Obama."

SCOTT WALKER CONFIDENT HE WON'T BE INDICTED: "Walker tells The Associated Press in a Monday interview that he is focused on putting together the next state budget and working as governor...Walker says he has talked with Ryan about pheasant hunting and going to Mass, but he has not talked with him about anything presidential. Walker says, 'I've worked far too hard to become the governor and governor again to worry about anything else after that.'" What's more, Walker said he is "absolutely" confident that he is not a subject of a criminal investigation involving former aides in his Milwaukee County office."

MEANWHILE-"THE GEORGE W. BUSH FOUNDATON received nearly $77 million last year from undisclosed donors ," according to today's Dallas Morning News. "That brings the foundation's five-year fundraising total to about $415 million, well beyond officials' stated goal of raising $300 million to build and launch the library, museum and George W. Bush Policy Institute on the Southern Methodist University campus. Mark Langdale, the foundation's president, said the haul would allow the building to be fully paid off when it opens in April and would secure the center's endowments created in connection with SMU and the National Archives and Records Administration. Now the focus turns to supporting and expanding the Bush Policy Institute, which already has a robust staff and programs in everything from global health to education reform to economic growth."

Tired of Service Cuts, California Cities Raise Taxes: "Have cities reached the limit when it comes to cutting services? That seems to be the case in California where voters passed 71 percent of local tax and bond measures, according to Michael Coleman, fiscal policy advisor for the League of California Cities. Dig a little deeper and you will find that 80 percent of city general tax measures passed on election night... While the high pass rate of local tax measures may seem natural in liberal state such as California, other more conservative localities in Alabama, Oklahoma and Ohio passed a number of revenue measures, according to AP. But California stands out with 171 cities and counties passing tax and bond measures."

Cities and self-defense against climate change. ”As New York looks to the future after Hurricane Sandy, it must remember a great paradox of cities. The world's urban agglomerations are often particularly vulnerable to natural and man-made disaster, yet they are also especially well-suited to defend their space…Sea walls are expensive. One recent estimate is that they cost $35 million per mile and require maintenance that costs from 5 to 10 percent of that amount per year. At such a price, protecting the entire mid-Atlantic region would be prohibitively expensive, yet defending New York City would be affordable. A great wall running from Sandy Hook in New Jersey to the Far Rockaways would cost less than $500 million based on that estimate.”

What Could Disappear: "Maps show coastal and low-lying areas that would be permanently flooded, without engineered protection, in three levels of higher seas. Percentages are the portion of dry, habitable land within the city limits of places listed that would be permanently submerged."

America’s next top energy and EPA secretaries: “Among the names being bandied around for a possible successor to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, we're hearing two a bit louder of late: former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter and John Podesta, founder of the Center for American Progress…Another spot likely to open up is that of Environmental Protection Agency chief, with current top dog Lisa Jackson all but certain to step down. We're hearing that among the names mentioned to replace her, Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe is being touted by those who think his relatively cordial relationship with business and his position as a career staffer would make him much less of a lightening rod for criticism.”

The rise and fall of the American wind industry: ”Twenty years ago, it would have been difficult to find a single wind turbine looming over the hills and plains of the United States. Things have changed since then — and dramatically so. Thanks to a series of tax credits from Congress as well as ambitious state-level mandates, wind power has taken off…But now that rapid expansion is about to come to a halt, or at least slow down dramatically.”

Obamacare's Medicaid expansion will cost $808 billion. The price tag for states? $8 billion. ”States are now in the middle of determining whether to expand their Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act. A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation aims to help with that decision. The report finds that states are going to spend significantly more on Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act — but that the expansion accounts for a relatively small fraction of those costs.”