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Game plan

Jonathan Bernstein on Obama using GOP’s fear of the trigger:

This time, the consequences of failure are very different — and what we can see in the strategy on the jobs bill and the deficit reduction plan is a very different calculation. The White House is clearly willing to accept the possiblity that the Joint Select Committee won’t be able to strike a deal, thus setting off the trigger. Perhaps White House advisers believe the trigger isn’t really all that bad a package. Or perhaps they believe that Republicans will blink first on this one, because the defense cuts and some of the other measures in the trigger might hit a bit too close to important GOP constituency groups. Or perhaps the White House calculation is that it doesn’t really matter if the trigger is enacted, since if Obama is reelected there’s plenty of time to cancel the actual cuts before they take effect.

The bottom line is that there’s no Republican “crazy person” strategy to gain leverage for the GOP this time around. Without the entire economy to hold hostage, no one cares very much if Republicans are willing to walk away from a reasonable compromise. My guess is that if Republicans do decide to deal, Obama will be just as ready as ever to bargain — but this time, he’ll be doing it from a much stronger position. And if it turns out to be true that Republicans are more afraid of the trigger than the Democrats are, then that suggests that the Democrats may have done far better in the summer debt ceiling negotiations — they won that trigger, after all — than many liberals have been willing to acknowledge.

Tea Party nihilists

And cliffs.

The fighting spirit

From the United Steelworkers Union:

A picture tells a thousand tales

Will Bunch.

Tax the rich

Looks like the new approach by the administration is a lot closer to what the rest of us have been calling for. We’ll know the details in President Obama’s speech today — in the meantime, HuffPo reports Obama will veto anything from the Super Committee that’s all Medicare cuts and no tax hikes:

President Obama on Monday will unveil a plan to tame the nation’s rocketing federal debt that will draw a sharp contrast with the Republican vision and amount more to an opening play in the fall’s debate over the economy than another attempt at finding common ground with the opposing party.

The president will propose $1.5 trillion in new taxes as part of a plan to find at least $3 trillion in budget savings over a decade, according to a person familiar with the matter. Combined with his call earlier this month for $450 billion in new stimulus, the proposal represents a more populist approach to confronting the nation’s economic travails than the compromises he advocated this summer.

Obama will propose new taxes on the wealthy and a special new tax for millionaires, according to White House officials. But he won’t call for any changes in Social Security, officials say, and may seek less-aggressive changes to Medicare and Medicaid than previously considered. In particular, people familiar with the matter say he is unlikely to call for an increase in the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67.

Coming as a congressional super­committee goes to work to find budget savings this fall, Obama’s position will probably delight Democrats, who have fretted for months that he is doing too little to solve the nation’s jobs crisis while being too willing to embrace major changes to Medicare and Social Security.

But his plan has little chance of passing and is already inflaming Republicans, who have vowed to oppose new taxes and have called for deep cuts in federal spending and entitlements. On Sunday, Republicans responded with vitriol to the proposal to create a special tax for millionaires.

“Class warfare may make for really good politics, but it makes for rotten economics,” Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “It adds further instability to our system, more uncertainty, and it punishes job creation.”

(AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

Michael Moore is on tour with his new book, “Here Comes Trouble.” He spoke the other night at Bunker Hill Community College in the Charlestown section of Boston, and the scene he described both troubled and inspired me as only Michael Moore can:

As I waited backstage for the college administrator to introduce me, he launched into something I, in all my years of speaking at hundreds of American colleges, have never witnessed. He began begging the crowd for money. Money for their student body’s “Emergency Fund.” The student body consists of many who are single parents and live below the poverty line. He didn’t ask for tuition money or money for books. He begged the crowd for gas money. Babysitting money. Money to fix a car that’s broken down, or for electricity that’s been turned off. He listed all the things that cause a student to miss a class — or drop out. Students (79% of them) who work near-minimum wage jobs AND try to be full time students at the same time. Community college is the only escape hatch they have, and even that is a crap shoot in this 21st century kleptocracy we live in.

He then told the crowd that he would hand out some envelopes and he asked them to put whatever they could in them.

Welcome to America! Where schools are turned into beggars as the rich on the other side of town post record profits and bonuses and the top corporations get away with paying no tax at all. I took the stage and began a 20 minute howl rejecting the America I just witnessed. A country that puts the education of its young dead last. DEAD LAST. A country that has purposefully abandoned the human right to an education in favor of sending millions of ignorant, uneducated, lost young people out into this world. This is no accident. Those in power cannot stay in power UNLESS the population they rule over are stupid and ignorant. To be smart is dangerous — and they know that. If the ignorant were to know anything about civics (no longer taught in most schools), that could be nothing short of explosive. Because, if you are taught how to have a say, how to fight city hall, how to run for office and WIN — well, look out, ’cause you will then have democratic change. The people who would make up a smart, educated majority would then start calling the shots. And we certainly don’t want that because you know what those people from south Boston, from Toledo, from Pittsburgh, from Raleigh, from Flint are going to do? They’re going to stop the wars. They’re going to spend the money on their kids’ schools, on their parents’ health care, on laying down some railroad tracks so they can get from Chicago to Milwaukee in a half hour. That and dozens of other things that benefit the many, not the few.

So last night, I just couldn’t take it, folks. I turned away from this Dickensian “alms for the poor” scene and screamed “Enough!” I asked how many in the audience had come from the “other” sections of Boston to be here tonight. About half the crowd raised its hand. I then asked them to please put as much as they could afford into those envelopes and I would match it, dollar for dollar. By the end of the night I think we raised about ten grand for the Bunker Hill Community College Student Emergency fund (and with my match, it became a total of $20,000).

And then I asked all who were in the arena to make a pledge with me to reject this vision of America that has been thrust upon us. Reject it, fight it, fix it — and to fix it, it will require a rumble. But hey, I was in south Boston, and if there’s anyone who knows how to rumble …! What I asked for was a nonviolent rumble of citizen participation.

The crowd spontaneously got up and clapped and shouted. I asked them if they would raise a ruckus in the months to come. The crowd shouted yes. And I believe they will. Here comes trouble? Ha! The kleptocracy had better brace themselves. It won’t be long before they wish that had been just a cute title on an overpriced book.

That makes one of us

Alison Krauss:

Fighting oligarchs!

Gotta love it…

A star is born

A sweet, shy kid named Janet Devlin, 16, from Northern Ireland, appearing on the X Factor. (My son told me I had to listen to her.)

Here’s one of her YouTube videos:

Check out this from The Economist in case you’re still wondering about the future of mass-produced hard-copy books…

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