As the United States Senate gets ready to vote on the repeal of one of the most unjust, discriminatory, unfair and just plain stupid laws our country has recently seen, it seems appropriate to post one of my writings on this subject in the hopes that the U.S. Senate will finally do the right […]
The Moderate Voice

 
    

What will the economy be like in 2021? That’s the question five progressive experts venture to answer as part of an online roundtable in the latest issue of Democracy: The Journal of Ideas. Twice a year, the magazine poses a question to experts about what they foresee for the country in 2021 and posts the discussion on its website and in the publication.  

The winter 2010 theme is focused on jobs and the economy in 2021. AFL-CIO Deputy Chief of Staff Thea Lee, one of the panel experts on this subject, said if we are prosperous and economically strong in 2021, it’s because in 2010 we recognized that we were on a path that was leading to greater erosion of the middle class.

The path that we were on was also undermining our ability to innovate and reap the fruits of innovation. I totally agree with the need for massive and targeted public investments in all the areas that we’ve talked about: clean energy, infrastructure, skills and education.

Lee also said we would have changed our trade policy to encourage our own country to develop and implement new technology and respect core worker rights. We would have created incentives for our developing country partners to have good labor practices as well, so that countries like China, for example, become more democratic and develop their own middle class.

Globalization was a big topic with Robert Atkinson, founder and president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), who wrote:

I think globalization is a wonderful thing. I think global integration has all these great benefits. What I object to is non-market-based globalization, which many countries practice…subsidization by governments to distort prices is a bad thing. Yet that is what countries are systemically doing.

Lee added:

Globalization isn’t the right word. It’s not “Yes” or “No” on globalization—that’s not the choice we have. The question is: Do we have the right set of rules in place? And we would certainly argue that the particular rules of the global economy over the last couple of decades have facilitated a massive shift of global bargaining power. Not just from labor to capital but from governments to multinational capital.

Other participants include Heather Boushey, senior economist at the Center for American Progress (CAP); Harry Holzer, professor of public policy at Georgetown University; and Sherle Schwenninger, director of the New America Foundation’s Economic Growth and American Strategy programs. 

Check out the whole discussion here.

AFL-CIO NOW BLOG


Kansas City Star
Right Wing – CHI
NHL.com
CHICAGO — The way things worked out, it couldn't have been a better night to be a Chicago Blackhawks fan. Those rooting for the Hawks among the 21904 at the United Center on Friday night had all sorts of reasons to leave smiling.
Kopecky helps injury-depleted Blackhawks end skidWashington Post
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Blackhawks regain championship form in victory over Red WingsThe Detroit News
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Sports – Google News


MiamiHerald.com
LeBron backs Amar'e: 'Right now he's the MVP'
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NEW YORK — Just before the trade deadline last season, Cleveland was hot for Amar'e Stoudemire and had the Cavaliers gotten him, perhaps LeBron James would've stayed. ASSOCIATED PRESS Heat's LeBron James, right, drives past Knicks'
Amare Is Prophetic, Not PreposterousESPN
Heat lead Knicks 34-25 after first quarter at GardenSun-Sentinel
LeBron James Had A Change Of Heart With This Afternoon's DecisionSB Nation
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Sports – Google News

Even before Gov.-elect Rick Scott (R-FL) officially grabs the reins in his troubled state, he is making it abundantly clear that he plans to push for radical changes to the education system. Chief among his plans is a cockamamie scheme to give school vouchers to essentially any student whose parents want one, rich and poor, […]
Wonk Room

YID With LID

PH2010121101133.jpg

Congress was up late last night. First, something that could’ve gone wrong didn’t. The tax deal passed, and despite a day of peculiar haggling over the way the vote would go down, most House Democrats joined with most House Republicans to protect the deal from amendment and pass it through the chamber. It doesn’t have to go back to the Senate, a new round of negotiations isn’t needed. It’s done.

But then, something that wasn’t supposed to go wrong did. Harry Reid announced he didn’t have enough votes to pass the bill funding the government. That means he’ll fall back on continuing funding at current levels — never a good thing for the federal bureaucracy, as priorities change and programs that we needed last year should lose money while programs that we need next year should gain it.

And the lame-duck session still isn’t done: Reid has announced the Senate will take another crack at repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (and this time, it looks like they have the votes), and will also vote on the DREAM Act and the START treaty. To this, some Republicans say the Senate doesn’t have enough time to consider all this legislation before it adjourns. Reid disagrees. The Senate doesn’t have enough time only if it stops working the week before Christmas and doesn’t come back. “We are in session, if necessary, up to January 5th,” Reid said. “That is the clock our Republican colleagues need to run out. It’s a long clock.”

Welcome to Wonkbook.

Top Stories

The House has passed the tax deal, report Lori Montgomery and Shailagh Murray: “Congress approved the most significant tax bill in nearly a decade late Thursday, overcoming liberal resistance to continue for two more years tax breaks enacted under President George W. Bush and to provide a fresh boost of federal support to the tepid economic recovery. The package, brokered by President Obama and Republican leaders in the wake of the November elections, angered many Democrats, who have long argued that the Bush tax cuts were skewed to benefit the wealthy. But their last-minute campaign to scale back the bill’s benefits for taxpayers at the highest income levels failed, and the House passed the measure 277 to 148, with 112 Democrats and 36 Republicans voting ‘no.’…The $ 858 billion package now goes to the White House.”

The unemployment benefit extension won’t help 99ers: http://on.wsj.com/ea2ZdZ

Senate Democrats have given up on a bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, report Paul Kane and Mary Beth Sheridan: “Senate Democrats on Thursday abandoned their efforts to approve a comprehensive funding bill for the federal government after Republicans rebelled against its $ 1.2 trillion cost and the inclusion of nearly 7,000 line-item projects for individual lawmakers. After a day of backroom negotiations, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) announced that he could not overcome a Republican filibuster after GOP senators turned their backs on billions of dollars of so-called earmarks they had sought in the bill. Instead, a slimmed-down resolution that would fund the government mostly at current levels will come before the Senate, and Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said it will pass by Saturday.”

Obama might’ve just won reelection, writes Charles Krauthammer: “If Barack Obama wins reelection in 2012, as is now more likely than not, historians will mark his comeback as beginning on Dec. 6, the day of the Great Tax Cut Deal of 2010…Remember the question after Election Day: Can Obama move to the center to win back the independents who had abandoned the party in November? And if so, how long would it take? Answer: Five weeks. An indoor record, although an asterisk should denote that he had help – Republicans clearing his path and sprinkling it with rose petals.”

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Beyoncé cover interlude: ceo plays “Halo”.

Still to come: Krauthammer says the Republicans got schooled on the tax deal; Paul Krugman vs. the Republicans on the FCIC; America will ignore the Basel Committee’s anti-credit measures; the Senate confirmed four of 38 judges; and a dog goes down a water slide.

Economy

The Fed is requiring lower swipe fees on debit cards, reports Ylan Mui: “The Federal Reserve proposed on Thursday lowering the fees that merchants must pay when shoppers use debit cards, a move that could reduce retail prices but result in higher banking fees for consumers. Under the recommended new rules, the so-called interchange fee, or ‘swipe fee,’ on debit cards would be capped at 12 cents – about 70 percent lower than the average fee of 44 cents per transaction last year, according to the Fed. The total amount banks received from debit card interchange fees was $ 16.2 billion. The move was applauded by retail industry groups and small businesses, which have long complained that the fees were excessive and they have little power to negotiate them down.”

The US is rejecting a Basel committee proposal to prevent asset bubbles, reports Howard Schneider: “A committee writing new international financial standards has recommended strict new guidelines to restrain bank lending, an idea considered central to preventing the global financial system from overheating, but one that some feel could choke off needed credit for households and businesses. U.S. officials say they have already decided to ignore key parts of the proposal because of the potentially damaging impact to the country’s economy. Data released by the group, the Switzerland-based Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, indicates that under the proposed guidelines, U.S. banks would have faced restrictions on lending for at least 13 of the 23 years from 1985 to 2007.”

GM has bought the rest of its shares back from the federal government, reports Chris Nicholson: “The United States Treasury says General Motors has repurchased the rest of the preferred shares owned by the government for $ 2.1 billion. G.M. bought the 84 million shares for $ 25.50 a piece, 2 percent more than their liquidation value. The company said it would book a $ 700 million charge related to the buyback early next year. After G.M.’s initial public offering last month netted $ 13.5 billion for taxpayers, the buyback brings to $ 23.1 billion the amount the company has repaid out of $ 49.5 billion the government invested in a bailout.”

The narrative pushed by Republicans on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission makes no sense, writes Paul Krugman: “For one thing, as I’ve already noted, the housing bubble was international — and Fannie and Freddie weren’t guaranteeing mortgages in Latvia. Nor were they guaranteeing loans in commercial real estate, which also experienced a huge bubble. Beyond that, the timing shows that private players weren’t suckered into a government-created bubble. It was the other way around. During the peak years of housing inflation, Fannie and Freddie were pushed to the sidelines; they only got into dubious lending late in the game, as they tried to regain market share. But the G.O.P. commissioners are just doing their job, which is to sustain the conservative narrative.”

Wage growth isn’t keeping pace with productivity growth, writes Alan Blinder: http://on.wsj.com/eKQtVc

Republicans’ defenses of tax cuts for the rich don’t hold water, writes Steven Pearlstein: “Equally unconvincing is the argument that they are primarily concerned about small-business job creation. Surely there are other ways to encourage small businesses to expand their payrolls without giving tax breaks to movie stars, professional athletes, law firm partners and hedge fund billionaires. There may be some truth to the Republican belief that lowering taxes overall is a good way to boost economic growth or contain the size of government. However, that would apply just as well to cuts in corporate and payroll taxes or additional income tax cuts for the middle class. Yet you don’t see Republicans drawing lines in the sand over those. What’s so magical about the estate tax or the top marginal income tax rate?”

Supercut interlude: Movie characters noting that they’re “not in Kansas anymore.”

Health Care

Another federal judge appears likely to rule the individual mandate unconstitutional, reports N.C. Aizenman: “As in the Richmond case, Thursday’s hearing before Judge Roger Vinson of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida will largely center on whether Congress has the constitutional authority to require virtually all Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a fine…Vinson…has already signaled that he might be willing to rule at least partly for the states. In an October decision allowing the case to move forward, he sternly rejected the Obama administration’s assertion that the law’s penalty for being uninsured amounts to a tax, which the Constitution gives Congress broad powers to levy.”

The administration has given a thumbs up to lab-manufactured organisms: http://nyti.ms/fSweX5

Judge Hudson’s ruling against the individual mandate has a century’s worth of precedent behind it, writes Jason Mazzone: http://nyti.ms/hLSxjU

Domestic Policy

The Senate has begun to act on Obama’s judicial nominations, reports Abby Phillip: “The Senate unanimously confirmed four of 38 pending judicial nominations Thursday evening, the first of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees to be approved since September. The nominees — Catherine Eagles, Kimberly Mueller, John Gibney, and James Bredar- had waited the longest on the Senate calendar, despite having won unanimous votes from the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nominations for Eagles, Mueller and Gibney were sent to the full Senate in May and Bredar was reported out of the committee in June. The White House hailed the confirmations but said the Senate must continue to act.”

Senate Republicans are moving to block net neutrality, reports Cecilia Kang: “Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.), ranking member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee filed an amendment to an appropriations bill aimed at preventing the Federal Communications Commission from adopting net neutrality regulation. Hutchison’s amendment, co-signed by John Ensign (R-Nev.) and six other Republican lawmakers, would ‘prohibit the FCC from using any appropriated funds to adopt, implement or otherwise litigate any network neutrality based rules, protocols or standards.’ An FCC spokeswoman declined comment on the amendment.”

The White House wants an Internet “privacy bill of rights”: http://wapo.st/ftdOHU

Obama should offer each side a big policy achievement, writes David Brooks: “To get the left excited, Obama might offer an activist growth agenda. This would involve spending more on infrastructure, research and job training — the basic things he has always talked about. But it also would mean going further and embracing industrial policy…To get the right excited, he needs to offer fundamental welfare state reform…Paul Ryan, a Republican, and Alice Rivlin, a Democrat, have come up with a Medicare reform plan in which new enrollees would receive a fixed contribution from the government, growing a bit faster than inflation. They would apply that money against the cost of health insurance. This would make Medicare a defined contribution program and save hundreds of billions.

Adorable animals in water interlude: A dog that loves water slides.

Energy

Sen. Jay Rockefeller wants to force a vote on stripping the EPA of its authority on climate change, reports Darren Goode: “Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) is pressing forward on his drive to vote this month on his plan to delay Obama administration climate regulations for two years, threatening to go directly to the Senate floor and force a vote to include it in a catch-all spending bill…’If left with no other option, Senator Rockefeller will seek to suspend the rules on the Omnibus Appropriations bill to bring up his legislation,’ his office said in a statement. Such a maneuver would require 67 votes, which he is unlikely to get. A POLITICO analysis shows at least 56 senators would likely support Rockefeller’s amendment.”

House climate skeptic James Sensenbrenner now has a senior post on the Science committee: http://politi.co/fqt1F1

Closing credits: Wonkbook is compiled and produced with help from Dylan Matthews, Mike Shepard, and Michelle Williams. Photo credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta.







Ezra Klein

The Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock today reports that an official push to rehabilitate the reputation of a long-deceased Air Force general has hit a wall in the Senate. Some of the most influential names in U.S. foreign policy are tangling, once again, over fateful decisions from the Vietnam War: According to the story, after years of trying, the family of Gen. John D. Lavelle thought it had achieved a breakthrough in August, when the White House formally asked the Senate to restore his honor, 38 years after the four-star commander was fired and demoted in rank to major general for allegedly ordering rogue bombings of North Vietnam. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said they were sympathetic to the family’s argument – that the bombings were carried out on secret orders from the chain of command, all the way up to President Richard M. Nixon – and pledged prompt action. But the Lavelle case has now bogged down on Capitol Hill. And unless the Senate acts in the waning moments of its lame-duck session, the general’s ailing 92-year-old widow and children fear that their efforts to clear his name will fail. For more: Washington Post: Effort to restore honor of Vietnam-era general hits resistance http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/16/AR2010121601373.html
BLACKFIVE

Americans are finally accepting the fact that the nation’s public education system is deeply flawed.

And a new poll reveals that the public is ready to embrace a logical compromise that would effectively address the problem – do away with tenure protection for bad teachers and provide higher salaries for good teachers.

According to the poll, conducted […]
Big Government

The Senate plays a vital role in the treaty-making process. The Senate is required to provide due diligence in the considerations of treaties. The Founding Fathers set a high procedural bar for ratification and entry into force of treaties, expecting that the Senate would serve as a quality control mechanism. Thus, they gave the Senate […]
The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

By David Rittgers

The House passed a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) yesterday, and it appears that the Senate will take up the measure sometime next week. Good. DADT should end. I’ve said so, and debated the issue with repeal opponent Stuart Koehl (posts 1, 2, 3, and 4). Most servicemembers I know (appropriate disclaimer here) […]

House Bill Repeals DADT the Right Way is a post from Cato @ Liberty – Cato Institute Blog

Cato @ Liberty

“Al Qaeda is hunkered down.”
Hot Air » Top Picks

Hey America, how’s that Barack Obama ”Hopey, Changey” stuff working out for you? In the most recent Rasmussenpoll, only 23% of likely voters say that the country is headed in the right direction, while 71% say it is on the wrong track.  76% of voters not affiliated with either political party believe the same. Even 49% […]
Scared Monkeys

On Wednesday's Hardball, Chris Matthews brought on former Washington D.C. chancellor of public schools Michelle Rhee to discuss the state of public education in this country and praised her for work on the part of students but also warned her to "stay away from the right wing" because she was "too good to be grabbed by some ideological fool." After Rhee explained to Matthews why public school students needed an organization like the one she founded, Students First, to counterbalance the influence of the teachers unions Matthews congratulated her for not becoming a tool of conservatives.

(video after the jump)

read more

NewsBusters.org – Exposing Liberal Media Bias

Really, how disgusting and sad. This guy should be disbarred if this is true. God knows black folks love a conspiracy theory. But this is just ridiculous.

From RightWingWatch.org:

[Monday] a federal judge in Virginia, responding to a suit filed by the state’s far-right Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, ruled that a key part of health care reform was unconstitutional. The judge, Henry E. Hudson, said that the Constitution’s “interstate commerce clause” does not provide the federal government the right to implement a mandate to make sure that everyone has health insurance coverage. A different federal judge in Virginia dismissed a similar suit brought by Liberty University against the reform lawonly two weeks ago.

Judge Hudson was first appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1986 to be US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and in 2002, George W. Bush appointed him to serve as district court judge for Virginia’s Eastern District.

According to disclosure forms, Judge Hudson reported collecting “dividends” totaling anywhere from $ 5,000 to $ 15,000 from Campaign Solutions over a five year period of 2003 to 2008. Campaign Solutions later acknowledged that Hudson has owned stock in the firm since it was founded.

Campaign Solutions has a long record of working with conservative organizations and Republican candidates, including none other than Ken Cuccinelli. As the Alliance for Justice points out, “Campaign Solutions, has done work for a host of prominent Republican clients and health care reform critics, including the RNC and NRCC (both of which have called, to varying degrees, for health care reform’s repeal).”

Along with Cuccinnelli, who was elected Attorney General in 2009, Campaign Solutions worked for John McCain and Bush’s presidential campaigns, the notorious Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and the Judicial Confirmation Network (since renamed the Judicial Crisis Network). In fact, Campaign Solutions wasbehind the establishment of the JCN, which was founded to support George W. Bush’s conservative judicial nominees and coordinate activities right-wing organizations, especially with Religious Right groups, although the JCN has since changed its name and works to oppose the confirmation of Obama’s nominees.

In 2008, The New Republic found that the JCN “publicly consists of two employees, a post box, and a website” and was “originally created in November 2004 by Becki Donatelli, a Republican PR doyenne who chairs Campaign Solutions (the firm used by Bush-Cheney ‘04, McCain 2008, the RNC, the NRCC, and even the 527 Vets For Freedom).”


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