Yeah, right

I’ll believe it when I see it happen. Unfortunately, lobbyists only need to buy off a couple of Democratic Senators to preserve this crazy, dysfunctional system:

A frustrated Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday said he will likely push for changes to filibuster rules if the Democrats retain control of the upper chamber next year.

“I’ll just bet you … if we maintain a majority, and I feel quite confident that we can do that, and the president is reelected, there is going to be some changes,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “We can no longer go through this, every bill, filibusters [even] on bills that they agree with. It’s just a waste of time to prevent us from getting things done.”

It remains unclear, however, if Reid would have the votes to change the Senate’s rules, which would require a simple majority vote at the start of the new Congress. Should Democrats retain control of the Senate, they will likely have a razor-thin majority in 2013. Only one or two defections could lead to defeat of the motion, as all Republicans are united against such a change in rules.

We’re not supposed to understand the game, so the players still pretend outrage. Bah.

You betcha

Someone on one of my email lists sent out Obama’s statement in which he said he would not support extensions of the Bush tax cuts.

I shot back an email that said “I will not sign any version of the health care act that does not include a public option” with the comment that with Obama, statements like this are only an opening gambit.

And this morning I see this:

Two days after the White House said it would not extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich under any circumstances, multiple Democratic senators refused to rule out the same scenario.

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) and Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D), both of whom are facing re-election fights this fall, refused to take a positionon ending the cuts when asked Thursday, The Hill reports:

“If you want to do something in the spirit of compromise, you don’t start out by saying, ‘I refuse to do this’ or ‘I refuse to do that,’ ” said McCaskill. “It’s not my preference to extend tax cuts to multimillionaires — that’s not my preference — but I want to keep every option open in the spirit of compromise.”

Said Nelson, “I can’t get into a hypothetical.”

According to The Hill, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor (D) was also undecided on the issue.

So once again, an elaborately choreographed simulation of democracy will take place, and the outcome will be that the president will be “forced” to sign another extension. We all know this, right? And this is why people are so very weary of this game. Because no one ever comes out and discusses a piece of important legislation on its actual merits, it’s a game of symbolism and misdirection. It’s so exhausting to listen to this bullshit.

Dear God, I wish we had Harry Truman again.

Minimum wage

We already know that the minimum wage doesn’t pay enough to get a two-bedroom apartment in the vast majority of the country. Yet conservatives continue to push the same old lie: that raising the minimum wage causes unemployment. Now, a group of Democratic Congress members are trying to raise the issue. Does it have a snowball’s chance in hell? Nope. But they’re still going to have the discussion:

If today’s minimum wage workers earned the same as their counterparts in 1968, they would receive $10 per hour. That, unfortunately, is $2.75 more than the current federal minimum wage.This would be a serious problem at any time, but it’s particularly relevant now, as the awful economy has forced millions of workers into minimum-wage jobs. (And they’re the lucky ones).

To that end, Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. has introduced the “Catching Up To 1968 Act of 2012.” Within sixty days of being enacted, it would raise the federal minimum wage to $10 per hour, and beginning one year after that, would index it to the Consumer Price Index. For workers that rely on tips, the bill would mandate the cash wage to be 70 percent of the minimum wage and never less than $5.50 per hour.

“We’ve bailed out banks, we’ve bailed out corporations, we’ve bailed out Wall Street, we’ve tried to create sound fundamentals in the economy—now it’s time to bail out working people who work hard every day and they still only make $7.25,” Jackson said this morning at a news conference outside the US Capitol. “The only way to do that is to raise the minimum wage.”

Ralph Nader and Representatives Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers also attended the news conference—a roster of liberal stars if there ever was one. But it’s important to note that raising the minimum wage has often found bipartisan support. Rick Santorum, for example, wrote legislation to increase it, and until recently even Mitt Romney supported tying it to the CPI.

And with 30 million workers receiving minimum wage, it should certainly be a viable political issue. “These are not just liberal workers or progressive workers or conservative workers or libertarian workers,” said Nader. “This is a unifying issue in our country at a time when there are few declared unifying political issues.“

What is missing is a unified drive by elected members of Congress to provide the requisite courage to challenge the merciless oligarchy, which includes the big-box stores like Walmart and McDonalds, and compel them to adjust their pay.

Kucinich added that it was a tough sell inside the Beltway, but an easy sell outside of it. “We live in a bubble here in Washington, DC. This place is dripping with wealth. Wealth is just cascading into the capital to buy elections,” he said. “But when you get outside Washington, DC, and you get to the cities and the townships and the villages of America, there are people struggling to survive. There are people who can’t make it on $7.25 an hour if they even have a job.”

The federal minimum wage increased in 2007, from $5.15 an hour. There hasn’t been any evidence that it caused businesses to hire less workers, and in fact research has shown that an increase in the minimum wage doesn’t create an increase in unemployment.

Tell me who you hire and I’ll tell you who you are

Do you remember Republican political consultant Nathan Sproul? C&L wrote about him back in 2010, when he was up to no good in California. He has a long history of destroying Democratic voter registrations and now he’s working for Mitt Romney:

Late last year, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign began paying Nathan Sproul, a political consultant with a long history of destroying Democratic voter registration forms and manipulating ballot initiatives. Sproul, who changed his firm’s name from Sproul and Associates to Lincoln Strategies, has received over $70,000 from Romney’s campaign. Much of the campaign coverage has focused on the rhetoric of surrogates and the role of high-priced television advertisements. But if Sproul continues to play a role in the campaign, and if his previous work is any guide, his firm may have an impact on key swing states.

ThinkProgress covered Sproul and his work for the coal industry. The post, which partially reprinted below, goes through his greatest hits, including evidence that his firm systematically suppressed Democratic overs on behalf of the Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential team and deceiving voters during registration drives in 2006:

– In Oregon and Nevada, Lincoln Strategies — then known as Sproul and Associates — was investigated for destroying Democratic voter registration forms. The Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign paid Sproul $7.4 million for campaign work. [CNN, 10/14/04; KGW News, 10/13/04; East Valley Tribune, 09/07/06]

– In Nevada, people who registered as Democrats with Lincoln Strategies — then known as Sproul and Associates — found their names absent from the voter registration rolls. [Reno Gazette-Journal, 10/29/04]

– During the 2006 midterm elections, Wal-Mart banned Lincoln Strategies for partisan voter registration efforts in Tennessee. The Republican National Committee had hired the firm. [Associated Press, 08/24/06]

– In Arizona, Lincoln Strategies employed a variety of deceptive tactics — including systematically lying about the bill — to push a ballot initiative to eviscerate the state’s clean elections law. [Salon, 10/21/04]

– Lincoln Strategies, then employed by the Republican Party, was behind efforts to place Ralph Nader on the ballot in states such as Arizona. [American Prospect, 06/25/04]

Though Romney and his allies have decried supposed voter fraud by his opponents, they don’t have any evidence that people are illegally voting. Most accusations of Democratic voter fraud center on registration forms filled out by fake people — usually because signature gatherers are paid per-form — but these accusations do not include examples of these fake people actually attempting to vote.

On the other hand, when a person goes to vote and learns their voter registration form was never turned in, they are denied their rights. Former Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT), during a hearing on voter fraud, admitted that “the difference between ACORN and Sproul is that ACORN doesn’t throw away or change registration documents after they have been filled out.”

Shipping out

The B-side of “Light My Fire” is a beautifully spooky ballad and a reminder, like the A-side, that the Doors burst onto the scene with a style that was fully developed and almost impossible to improve upon. Put another way, they recorded more than a few good albums but never topped their great debut.

11 years of (disastrous) Bush tax cuts

Alan Grayson in Huffington Post:

…Bush claimed (as right-wingers always do) that tax breaks for the rich would create jobs in the private sector. Well, they haven’t. There were 110 million private sector jobs in America in 2001. There are 110 million private sector jobs in America today. Despite a population increase of more than 25 million, there are no more private sector jobs today than when the Bush tax breaks for the rich became law.

In the past 11 years, the number of Americans living in poverty has increased from 33 million to 44 million. The number of Americans receiving food stamps has risen from 18 million to 46 million. “Trickle-down” has not even been a trickle…

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