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Solutions!

This is how Republicans deal with climate change.

Student loans

Yes, it really does sound like the pre-crash mortgage market:

What kind of incentives motivate lenders to continue awarding six-figure sums to teenagers facing both the worst youth unemployment rate in decades and an increasingly competitive global workforce?

Pensions are the first thing to go

I’m pretty sure that’s been the plan all along:

He is an unlikely Jeremiah, a funds manager in a pinstripe suit with a résumé that includes a stint as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond, Va. Yet Thomas Mackell Jr. is warning of a future in which the homeless elderly live under bridges and the old and the young engage in “intergenerational warfare” over disappearing jobs.

Mackell, a graduate of Seton Hall and Rutgers, spoke last week to a convention of Bell System retirees in Atlantic City. He got up to speak at the same time the lawyer for the Christie administration, miles away in Trenton, rose to tell the state Supreme Court it should not bother itself with “minor” breaches of constitutional law involving schools.

There is a connection between the two events. Peter Verniero, the former court member and state attorney general hired by the governor to defend cuts in school aid, represented a strain of political thought that the rich cannot be taxed further to help the poor. His governor regularly bashes public employee unions as “selfish” and “greedy” and wants to reduce pension benefits.

Mackell takes opposite views. Unions protect the middle class, he says, pensions are essential, and, if the rich do not pay a greater share of their wealth, then the “nation faces a horrendous future.”
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Yep

What BTD said.

PA voter alert

From Rachel Tabachnick at Talk To Action, a warning of the push against public schools taking place in Pennsylvania this week, funded by the usual right-wing suspects. It’s an exhausting and comprehensive look, and as she points out, if it’s not happening in your state, it will be there soon enough. Please, go read it all:

The DeVos family crusade to eradicate public education has targeted Pennsylvania, and a voucher bill may come to a vote in the PA Senate as early as Tuesday. It’s being marketed as a solution to save public schools, but the big donors are tied to right-wing think tanks that openly advocate, and strategize, the end of public education. How can vouchers improve public schools if the people mobilizing the movement intend to eradicate public education?

Regardless of your personal stance on “school choice,” it’s important to know who is behind the voucher movement and the agenda they don’t share with the public or advertise in their media campaigns.

A new wave of school voucher bills is sweeping the nation, which would allow public education funds to be used in private or parochial schools. As with past waves of voucher initiatives, these new bills are largely promoted and funded by the billionaire DeVos family and a core group of wealthy pro-privatization supporters. They include Pennsylvania SB-1, soon coming to a vote in the PA Senate, and the “Vouchers-for-All” bill approved by the Florida Senate Education Committee on April 14. Betsy DeVos is at the helm of organizations that have set the stage for both bills, but you would never know it based on the propaganda being marketed to Pennsylvanians. Even if you are from another state, keep reading. Chances are a Betsy DeVos-led campaign is already at work in your state or will be there soon.

The DeVos family is recognized as one of the top national contributors to the Republican Party, free market policy institutes, and Religious Right organizations. Many of their previous attempts at using voucher initiatives to privatize the nation’s public schools have been transparent. Recent campaigns have been more covert and are camouflaged behind local efforts described as grass roots and bipartisan.

Pennsylvanians should not be deceived. Regardless of where one stands on the issue of school choice, behind the curtain of this effort is an interconnected network of right wing think tanks and billionaire donors, funded by foundations including those of the DeVos and Koch families and the Scaife, Allegheny, and Carthage Foundations of Pennsylvania’s own Richard Mellon Scaife. The leaders of many of these DeVos/Koch/Scaife-funded institutes openly voice their ideological objections to all forms of public education. Some even proudly display their support for aproclamation posted at the Alliance for Separation of School and State, which reads,

“I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education.”

Years have been spent developing and promoting schemes to privatize public education. The report “Voucher Veneer: the Deeper Agenda to Privatize Public Education” by People For the American Way (PFAW), quotes Joseph Bast, President and CEO of the Koch/Scaife/Walton-funded Heartland Institute,

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Cutting food stamps during a recession

I’m sure this is what Jesus would cut! Seriously, anyone who votes for this is just plain evil, and that’s how voters should treat them:

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, if the states decided to react primarily by thinning the benefits for everybody, the maximum benefit would equal 88 percent of the the “Thrifty Food Plan”–the government’s estimate of what a typical family would need to pay for a “bare-bones, nutritionally adequate diet.” In 2012, a family of three would lose $116 a month, while a family of four would lose $147 a month.

If, instead, the government implemented the cut entirely by reducing eligibility for the program, SNAP would serve 8 million fewer people over the next ten years. That’s an awful lot of people. In fact, the Center reports, it’s roughly equal to cutting off SNAP assistance for the 30 smallest states in the country over that time span. (In case you’re wondering, those 30 states would be Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, the Virgin Islands, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.)

And what’s the rationale for this cut? Republicans and their supporters say the program’s spending has gotten “out of control” and warn that it’s fostering a culture of dependency, just like the old welfare system did. But the evidence for this is pretty thin. SNAP expenditures have unquestionably grown in recent years, but there are good reasons for that, starting with the fact that the economy is lousy. (Jason DeParle and Robert M. Gebeloff of the New York Times had an extensive look at this about a year ago.) As the Center on Budget notes, current projections suggest the program will return to pre-recession levels and grow no faster than the economy as a whole, which means it’s not really a net contributor to the deficits.

Fraud and waste aren’t issues, either. Last year the General Accounting Office found that program errors, which include underpayment of benefits as well as overpayments, were less than 4 percent. And “trafficking”–that is, the illegal trade of food stamps for other goods or money–had fallen to less than one cent on the dollar. Both were record lows. The GAO report suggested there was still room for improvement and, certainly, there is. But even if the government figured out a way to wipe out all of the errors and fraud, it’d be a fraction of the cut Republicans are contemplating.

The people’s budget

From my buddy Dave Johnson over at Campaign for America’s Future:

You can’t open a newspaper or turn on a radio or TV without being told that the world is going to end because of the deficit. The deficit was caused by tax cuts for the rich, huge military spending increases, two wars and the costs of our health care system. So of course all the solutions we hear about involve gutting the things We, the People (government) do for each other and our economy, not touching the military budget and even more tax cuts for the rich.

Bet you didn’t know about The People’s Budget. I wrote about it the other day, but you sure won’t hear about it in your local newspaper, or on the radio (except a few stations) or on TV, except maybe on one or two of the MSNBC shows.

Why is there so little attention being paid to this plan, in the middle of all this huffing and puffing about the deficit? This plan fixes the deficit by addressing the causes of the deficit.

The People’s Budget is a budget plan from the Progressive Caucus of our Congress. Click here for a summary.

From their website:

The CPC proposal:

• Eliminates the deficits and creates a surplus by 2021
• Puts America back to work with a “Make it in America” jobs program
• Protects the social safety net
• Ends the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
• Is FAIR (Fixing America’s Inequality Responsibly)

What the proposal accomplishes:

• Primary budget balance by 2014.
• Budget surplus by 2021.
• Reduces public debt as a share of GDP to 64.1% by 2021, down 16.5 percentage points…
• Reduces deficits by $5.6 trillion over 2012-21…
• Outlays equal to 22.2% of GDP and revenue equal 22.3% of GDP by 2021.

You can read the details in this PDF document.

The Economic Policy Institute has prepared an analysis that you can read here.

No kidding

And here, I thought print publishers were geniuses.

Why they’re at Gitmo

Amy Davidson at the New Yorker:

Here are some of the reasons we’ve held people at Guantánamo, according to files obtained by WikiLeaks and, then, by several news organizations: A sharecropper because he was familiar with mountain passes; an Afghan “because of his general knowledge of activities in the areas of Khost and Kabul based as a result of his frequent travels through the region as a taxi driver”; an Uzbek because he could talk about his country’s intelligence service, and a Bahraini about his country’s royal family (both of those nations are American allies); an eighty-nine year old man, who was suffering from dementia, to explain documents that he said were his son’s; an imam, to speculate on what worshippers at his mosque were up to; a cameraman for Al Jazeera, to detail its operations; a British man, who had been a captive of the Taliban, because “he was expected to have knowledge of Taliban treatment of prisoners and interrogation tactics”; Taliban conscripts, so they could explain Taliban conscription techniques; a fourteen-year-old named Naqib Ullah, described in his file as a “kidnap victim,” who might know about the Taliban men who kidnapped him. (Ullah spent a year in the prison.) Our reasons, in short, do not always really involve a belief that a prisoner is dangerous to us or has committed some crime; sometimes (and this is more debased) we mostly think we might find him useful.

Poor Grover

I’ll bet he has a sad!

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), arguably the most prominent fiscal conservative in the Senate, is declaring his independence from one of the country’s leading anti-tax groups, Americans for Tax Reform – and its fiery founder, Grover Norquist.

Coburn, a member of the “Gang of Six” bipartisan group working on a deficit reduction plan, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he’d favor a “net” increase in tax revenue if it didn’t include hiking rates. He’d do so even if didn’t include a dollar-for-dollar match in spending cuts he agreed to when he signed a 2004 pledge to Norquist’s group.

“Which pledge is most important… the pledge to uphold your oath to the Constitution of the United States or a pledge from a special interest group who claims to speak for all American conservatives when, in fact, they really don’t?” Coburn asked. “The fact is we have enormous urgent problems in front of us that have to be addressed and have to be addressed in a way that will get 60 votes in the Senate… and something that the president will sign.”

“Where’s the compromise that will save our country?” he asked. “This isn’t about politics that is normal.”

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