President Obama on Monday will call for a new minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million a year to ensure that they pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as middle-income taxpayers, according to administration officials.Does it have a chance of passing the Republican House or the worthless collection of conservative "Democratic" Senators? Of course not. Does that matter? No, it doesn't. It's there to send a political message, communicate Democratic values to the voting electorate, and make Republicans squirm in their chairs. Good. All that is needed now is for Democrats to stand as firm on the Buffett rule as the GOP will stand on cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. If that means no budget gets passed, then fine. Hang it on the Republicans. Cuts to Medicare and Medicaid suck, and Republicans should be blamed for all three: stopping the Buffett rule, trying to cut Medicare and Medicaid, and preventing America from having a budget. A perfect political trifecta. Hopefully the President's advisers can see the obvious.
With a special joint Congressional committee starting work to reach a bipartisan budget deal by late November, the proposal adds a new and populist feature to Mr. Obama's effort to raise the political pressure on Republicans to agree to higher revenues from the wealthy in return for Democrats' support of future cuts from Medicare and Medicaid.
Mr. Obama, in a bit of political salesmanship, will call his proposal the "Buffett Rule," in a reference to Warren E. Buffett, the billionaire investor who has complained repeatedly that the richest Americans generally pay a smaller share of their income in federal taxes than do middle-income workers, because investment gains are taxed at a lower rate than wages.
It would appear that Obama the legislative conciliator has given way to Obama the political campaigner. This is where he is at his best. This is the Obama that cleaned Republican clocks in 2008. Republicans and centrist compromise fetishists in the Democratic Party will no doubt complain about it, and decry that we have moved to the "silly season" of campaign mode in which no legislation can be accomplished.
In reality, this is the mode Obama should have adopted throughout the entirety of his first four years. Conservatives never stop being in campaign mode. That's part of why their message is almost always clear. That's why legislation gets passed that fits their parameters or doesn't pass at all if they can help it, whether they're actually in power or not.
It's Democrats who are so often fooled into believing that when campaign season ends, legislative season begins. There is, in fact, no difference between the two for policymakers who actually want to be successful and implement a vision.
Long live campaign season.
Childish opposite-day Republican shenanigans continue:
In a sudden move, House Republicans rejected President Obama's week-old jobs plan, including about $240 billion in payroll tax cuts. In a memo to their caucus, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), and other leaders dismissed the bill's largest spending and tax cutting portions, leaving little of the bill intact.
Yeah, they're opposed to the payroll tax holiday. That's right, the Republicans are against temporarily cutting taxes for the middle class.
By now, most of you know that Governor Rick Perry's "Texas Miracle" is a load of horseshit, but why not add insult to injury?
NBC's Michael Isikoff reports that the Texas unemployment rate "increased to 8.5% in August — the highest level in more than 24 years and more than twice the rate when Perry took office in December 2000."
That's still below the 9.1 percent average nationwide. But remember how the latest national figures showed zero job growth? Well Perry's Texas lost territory, shedding 1,300 in August. The private sector added 8,100 jobs, but the public sector lost 9,400.
The highest level in 24 years and twice the rate from when Governor Rick Perry took office.
Can you imagine the outrage if the national unemployment figure was twice the rate now from when President Obama took office?
To be fair — or to just use the opportunity to point out how lackluster his fellow running-mate is — Perry's record is still better than Mitt Romney. The state of Massachusetts ranked 49th out of 50 in job creation during Romney's tenure. The bar is pretty low.
I wouldn't count on the very serious, corporate news media pointing this out. Your regular dose of miracles will continue to be administered as directed.
Since the first gulf war in 1991, many veterans have suffered from what is infamously referred to as "Gulf War Syndrome," but the condition has never been officially recognized by the Pentagon or adequately treated. Now, after 11 years of study, researchers at the University of Texas may finally have an explanation.
For the last twenty years, veterans of the Persian Gulf War of 1991 have been complaining of a range of ailments, including pain, fatigue, and problems with memory and concentration. And for just as long, the causes have remained uncertain and there has been a tendency by the military to attribute the complaints to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Now a long-term study at the University of Texas in Dallas has used a new technique to measure blood flow in the brains of sufferers and has detected "marked abnormalities" in brain function that can probably be attributed to low levels of exposure to sarin nerve gas. This abnormal blood flow has persisted or even worsened over the eleven years of the study.
"The findings mark a significant advancement in our understanding of the syndrome, which was for years written off by the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs as a form of combat stress rather than an objectively diagnosable injury," reports the Dallas Observer.
The study also recognizes the fact that the drugs used to protect soldiers against Sarin gas also cannot be ruled out yet as a culprit.
Does Michele Bachmann really expect us to believe this?
Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann appeared on The Tonight Show Friday evening, trying to explain her husband's "pray the gay" comments and therapy on same sex marriage.
Host Jay Leno was perplexed by that phrase, seeking to find any understanding on it. "Well that whole 'pray the gay away, I don't get that,' Leno said.
Bachmann offered a peculiar reply. "Well see, when I heard that, I really thought it was like a mid-life crisis line," she said. "'Pray away the gray,' that's what I thought it was."
Prey the grey away? A mid-life crisis center?
Either Michele Bachmann made a very tasteless and insensitive joke, or she's a complete idiot. Well, she is a complete idiot, but I'm not sure if this is a joke and if she's actually making light humor out of praying away homosexuality.
Praying it away using Medicaid funds, I might add. Big, socialist, federal government taxpayer money.
I think her candidacy is done.
"Modern conservatism is actually a deeply radical movement, one that is hostile to the kind of society we've had for the past three generations — that is, a society that, acting through the government, tries to mitigate some of the 'common hazards of life' through such programs as Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. Are voters ready to embrace such a radical rejection of the kind of America we've all grown up in? I guess we'll find out next year." Paul Krugman
In other words, modern conservatives are hardly conservative in the traditional definition of term. They're far-right revolutionaries who want to undo all of those things — simply because an African-American liberal president is in the White House.
Dowd: Egghead and Blockheads
Tea Party darling Andrew Breitbart fantasized about killing Liberals — and especially union members — claiming that conservatives outnumber Liberals, and are the ones who have guns. The pseudo-journalist and media mogul also said he is the subject of death threats, and complained people on Twitter call him "gay." Breitbart claimed he is favored by U.S. military officers, who, in a civil war, would come to his aid, and several times belittled political activist Janeane Garofalo. Breitbart said all this, and far more, at the Red Mass Group greater Boston Tea Party event in Lexington, Massachusetts on September 16.
Jill: News blackout.
Heather has already mentioned that MSNBC has given us chronic Sunday news show watchers something to celebrate with the premiere of "Up with Chris Hayes". Despite the oddly Disneyfied name and ridiculously early airtime (thank FSM for DVRs), Hayes has offered up a pretty auspicious debut.
One of the segments he offered on both Saturday and Sunday's show was an opportunity for his panel guests to come up with a question they hoped to see on the Sunday news shows. In addition to the expected (but much more compelling and tougher questions than are normally asked on the actual shows) questions to Mitch McConnell, Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney, NY Times' Rebecca Traister had one for the producers/bookers of the Sunday shows that has been my rallying cry lo these many years:
Where are the Democratic representatives to advocate for the President's plan?
TRAISTER: I want to know why Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are on the Sunday shows talking about the jobs plan and there are no Democrats on talking about the jobs plan. Why are we not hearing from Democrats? This is, you know, ten days after the [crosstalk]…
HAYES: You're putting the system on trial….
TRAISTER: …Where are the Democrats? They need to do some trust falls, they need to do some team building exercises. All we're hearing from Democrats on the jobs bill is from you know, Bob Casey and Mary Landrieu and people who are criticizing it. Why are we not seeing Sunday shows filled with people defending it?
Of course, the answer lies in those six corporations who own most of the media in this country and their agenda in shaping the national dialog. I do have high hopes for Chris Hayes' model, an astounding reversal of the usual demographics, with three strong, fact-based people from the left and one singular representative from the right. Perhaps we'll start seeing a little more reality coming over the airwaves.
Republicans often speak about the need to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but the GOP is "quiet when it comes to the Medicare drug benefit — another massive health care entitlement," which will grow the deficit more that President Obama's law. But GOP presidential candidates say they want to keep the Bush-era unfunded mandate. "After all, Republicans created it," the AP notes.
Christians Rebuke Pat Robertson For Advocating Divorce From A Spouse With Alzehimer's | Right-wing television evangelist Pat Robertson is under fire after he told his "700 Club" viewers that divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer's is perfectly fine because the disease is "a kind of death." "I know it sounds cruel," he said, "but if he's going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again." Now, many in the Christian community are joining the Alzheimer's Foundation of America in rebuke of his remarks. Comments on Christianity Today's news blog were "nearly universal in their criticism," blasting the comments as "irresponsible, callous," "Un-Christlike; unbiblical; [and] dead wrong!" One of Kentucky's Southern Baptist Theological Seminary deans Russell D. Moore wrote in the Baptist Press News, "This is more than an embarrassment. This is more than cruelty. This is a repudiation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Robertson has yet to respond.
Rather than take a moment to condemn GOP debate audiences that cheered for executions and to leave a man to die, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he didn't have "any particular reaction." When host David Gregory asked McConnell on Meet The Press if the cheers troubled him as a Republican, McConnell deferred, saying there would be lots of debates and audience reactions during the campaign. Watch it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=GAU8TSX7ja0
As Gregory explained, Republicans say they are the "party of life," but many aren't matching their rhetoric to their ideals.
First, audience members cheered at the GOP debate in California when moderator Brian Williams brought up Texas Gov. Rick Perry's death penalty execution record, which at the time was 234. Then, the crowd at the most recent GOP debate in Florida cheered when Wolf Blitzer asked candidate Rep. Ron Paul (TX) if he thought society should allow a man to die if he had no health insurance but suddenly became needed intensive treatment, with some cheering to "let him die." (A fictional scenario which, it turns out, mirrors the life and tragic death of Paul's 2008 campaign strategist.)
So far, Perry is the only GOP presidential candidate to come out against the "let him die" question, saying he was "taken aback" by the cheers. But when a leading Republican was given the chance, McConnell did not step up to condemn the cheers for death from GOP debate audiences. Instead, he remained silent.