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Such strange music!

GOP’s student loan solution

House Speaker John Boehner now says he’s on board with the idea of preventing interest rates on subsidized Stafford student loans from doubling from 3.4 to 6.8 percent in July. There’s a catch, course.

From ThinkProgress:

But Boehner’s proposal would finance the $5.9 billion cost of maintaining the 3.4 percent interest rate for one year by repealing the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention & Public Health Fund, financing that’s designed to help states and communities fight chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes, and ultimately reduce health care costs…


Yet the GOP had supported increased federal funding for prevention before Obama embraced it, even attempting to take credit for it as a Republican idea…

The article then quotes prominent Republican legislators who, in the past, have praised the idea of health care that emphasizes preventive measures against disease.

Bottom line: Republicans will stick students with double interest payments on loans, or they will cut funding of preventive measures against disease. They will not consider ending big tax subsidies for oil and gas companies, or any other taxes on their base, the one percent.

Louie Louie (Jordan & Armstrong)

When I get up each morning
There’s nothing to breathe but air

Bailout myths debunked

From Naked Capitalism:

Apologists for government bailouts push two main myths: 1) That all of the bailout funds have been repaid. 2) That the bailouts helped the average American.

But the official government overseer of the Tarp bailout program – the special inspector general for TARP, Christy L. Romero – has debunked both myths. Today, Romero wrote the following to Congress:

“After 3½ years, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (“TARP”) continues to be an active and significant part of the Government’s response to the financial crisis. It is a widely held misconception that TARP will make a profit. The most recent cost estimate for TARP is a loss of $60 billion. Taxpayers are still owed $118.5 billion (including $14 billion written off or otherwise lost)…”

Attention, Marxists

Zizek on OWS: Where to next?

Bill “Bonehead” O’Reilly recently denounced economist Robert Reich as a communist, and Reich responded to this absurd charge by challenging O’Reilly to debate him. The debate I’d like to see, which will never take place, would be between O’Reilly and philosopher/funnyman/motormouth Slavoj Zizek, a genuine communist and an admirer of both Karl and Groucho Marx.

Here is Zizek in The Guardian, all wound up and addressing the dilemma of all who identify with the Occupy Wall Street movement:


Economic globalization is gradually but inexorably undermining the legitimacy of western democracies. Due to their international character, large economic processes cannot be controlled by democratic mechanisms which are, by definition, limited to nation states. In this way, people more and more experience institutional democratic forms as unable to capture their vital interests.


It is here that Marx’s key insight remains valid, today perhaps more than ever: for Marx, the question of freedom should not be located primarily into the political sphere proper. The key to actual freedom rather resides in the “apolitical” network of social relations, from the market to the family, where the change needed if we want an actual improvement is not a political reform, but a change in the “apolitical” social relations of production. We do not vote about who owns what, about relations in a factory, etc – all this is left to processes outside the sphere of the political…

More here.

Rubio: U.S. may have to attack Iran

I can think of two reasons why Sen. Marco Rubio, who has been mentioned as Mitt Romney’s possible running mate, is seen as a rising star by the Republican establishment: He’s an unabashed liar and a chicken hawk.

Late last year, Rubio had to correct an item in his Senate bio that stated he “was born in Miami to Cuban-born parents who came to America following Fidel Castro’s takeover.” The bio now reads: “Marco was born in Miami in 1971 to Cuban exiles who first arrived in the United States in 1956.” That was three years before Castro came to power. His family’s decision to leave Cuba had nothing to do with Castro, but he’s still using the word “exiles” rather than “immigrants.”

Yesterday, Rubio warned that the U.S. might have to resort to a unilateral “military solution” to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. This despite the fact that Israel’s top general discouraged the saber rattlers yesterday by stating that Iran has yet to even reach the point where developing nuclear weapons is an option.

No surprise that Rubio, like Dick Cheney and most other prominent Republican neo-cons, never served a day in the military.

Do the math — disasters loom

Try telling this to your typical gas-guzzling, climate change-denying, birth control-withholding right-winger:

World population needs to be stabilised quickly and high consumption in rich countries rapidly reduced to avoid “a downward spiral of economic and environmental ills”, warns a major report from the Royal Society.

Contraception must be offered to all women who want it and consumption cut to reduce inequality, says the study published on Thursday, which was chaired by Nobel prize-winning biologist Sir John Sulston.

The assessment of humanity’s prospects in the next 100 years, which has taken 21 months to complete, argues strongly that to achieve long and healthy lives for all 9 billion people expected to be living in 2050, the twin issues of population and consumption must pushed to the top of political and economic agendas. Both issues have been largely ignored by politicians and played down by environment and development groups for 20 years, the report says.

“The number of people living on the planet has never been higher, their levels of consumption are unprecedented and vast changes are taking place in the environment. We can choose to rebalance the use of resources to a more egalitarian pattern of consumption … or we can choose to do nothing and to drift into a downward spiral of economic and environmental ills leading to a more unequal and inhospitable future,” it says.

Now for a few a few verses of Monty Python’s “Always Look On the Bright Side of Life…”

Cutting food aid to poor kids

It’s not just bleeding-heart liberal rhetoric. Republican politicians really are mutating backwards — devolving — into enthusiasts for the sort of social Darwinist positions popular among right-wingers in the Gilded Age. More here.

When the student loan bubble bursts

College students all over the country are in tens of thousands of dollars of debt for educations that would be largely subsidized in more civilized countries. Does anyone really think most of this debt is going to be paid off in an economy from which jobs are disappearing?

From Occupied Chicago Tribune:

Middle class families have seen their wages stagnate for decades, while the cost of college education has risen more than 300%. Lingering unemployment means new graduates are hard-pressed to pay off their burdensome debt, which now averages more than $25,000. In 2007, 50% of college graduates were able to find work immediately. In 2009, this figure had dropped to 20%. Increasingly, graduates and drop-outs are facing a lifetime of struggle and indenture-ship after leaving college.

However, far from being a narcissistic pet issue for the disproportionately young Occupy crowds, student indebtedness in countries without universal education systems is a symptom of the same underlying pathologies that brought down the housing market five years ago, and could soon be the cause of another sudden, catastrophic economic contagion…

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