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Will Dems screw us?

Joan Walsh:

I just watched Sen. Chuck Schumer tell MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that once this deal is out of the way, Congress will resume budget negotiations, and everything, including so-called “entitlements,” must be on the table. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was a little bit more balanced, insisting Democrats should only look at entitlement cuts in exchange for more revenues from people who can pay more. “Why should Granny pay the price?” without asking the rich to share the sacrifice, Pelosi asked.

But with all due respect to the once (and perhaps future) speaker, who’s been the toughest Democrat over the last five years: The answer is Granny shouldn’t pay any price. When Social Security needs “fixing,” we should lift the cap on income subject to the payroll tax. The chained CPI is a cut and shouldn’t be a first offer, but a last resort.

Likewise, President Obama took a tax rate hike off the table this month in an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood; Congressional Democratic leaders should put it back on the table immediately.

I’ve been impressed by the way Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have kept their caucus together. I’ve also liked seeing new life among Congressional progressives. With the quiet backing of Reid in the Senate, they cleared space for the most progressive likely Fed chair pick, Janet Yellen. They need to make sure that any new budget deal doesn’t start with the president’s budget, which concedes too much to the GOP already.

Maybe Democrats, including the president, feel secure that they can nod to the debt-reduction wise men and promise to do the right thing — which in the real world is the wrong thing — because it’s a deal they’ll never have to deliver on: House Republicans won’t give up any revenue to get it. Still, I’m tired of Democrats endorsing what are essentially GOP narratives about the way the world works: Deficit reduction is more important than economic growth or income inequality.

Democrats so often snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. It would be a shame if they humbled the GOP this round only to hand them what they want in the next. Everyone’s looking to see whether Republicans learned their lesson from this debacle; we need to make sure Democrats did, too. If they return to their role as “enablers,” in Pelosi’s words, they’re part of the problem.

H/t The Law Office of Edward Tayter.

Booker wins

And I still don’t trust him, but he’s probably incrementally better than the teabagger, so there’s that.

Booker: ‘We knew we were going to win by double digits’ (via NJ.com)

NEW YORK — Voice hoarse and flush with victory, Cory Booker today said he was never worried about winning Wednesday’s special election. “Our internals were consistent – we knew we were going to win by double-digits,” Booker said today in a…

Florida orphan needs a family

If you know anyone, pass this along:

Davion always longed for a family. His caseworker took him to picnics, put his portrait in the Heart Gallery, an organization devoted to helping foster kids find permanent homes. But he had thrown chairs, blown his grades, pushed people away.

When he learned his birth mother was dead, everything changed. He had to let go of the hope that she would come get him. Abandon his anger. Now he didn’t have anyone else to blame.

“He decided he wanted to control his behavior and show everyone who he could be,” Going said.

So someone would want him.

“I’ll take anyone,” Davion said. “Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple. I don’t care. And I would be really appreciative. The best I could be.”

All summer, he worked on swallowing his rage, dropping his defenses. He lost 40 pounds. So far in 10th grade, he has earned A’s — except in geometry.

“He’s come a long way,” said Floyd Watkins, program manager at Davion’s group home. “He’s starting to put himself out there, which is hard when you’ve been rejected so many times.”

Davion decided he couldn’t wait for someone to find him. In three years, he’ll be on his own.

“I know they’re out there,” he told his caseworker. Though he is shy, he said he wanted to talk at a church. “Maybe if someone hears my story … ”


The preacher spoke about orphans, how Jesus lifted them up. He described an epidemic, “alarming numbers of African-American children who need us.”

Then he introduced Davion, who shuffled to the pulpit. Without looking up, Davion wiped his palms on his pants, cleared his throat, and said:

“My name is Davion and I’ve been in foster care since I was born … I know God hasn’t given up on me. So I’m not giving up either.”

(At publication time, two couples had asked about Davion, but no one had come forward to adopt him. If you want more information about Davion — or any of the 120 foster children in Pinellas and Pasco counties who are waiting for families, call Eckerd at (866) 233-0790. If you can’t adopt but want to donate time or money, call Eckerd at (727) 456-0600.

I feel safer already

I’ve seen this floating around the intertubes for a few days, but I only read it just this morning: “Why I will never, ever go back to the United States.”

Wow. So this is how they keep us safe.

Yet another clusterfuck

David Dayen on just how stupid the concession on Obamacare income verification really is:

And you have to question whether income verification would ever be operational, and if that’s contributing to the major delays on the exchange website. Accurate, real-time income verification has been a cherished goal for members of the financial services industry for many years; they use this data to determine eligibility for loans of all types. Needless to say, big banks and financial services firms have massive resources relative to the federal government. And they haven’t been able to nail electronic income verification yet; they mostly ask people to mail or fax in forms proving income, rather than submit them through the Web (which leads to losing forms and multiple queries for data and all the rest).

Most of the information you can scrape from payroll or Social Security data would be 6-18 months out of date, especially for the types of part-time workers, freelancers, “unbanked” individuals and self-employed persons who comprise the primary group signing up for Obamacare. Demanding real-time income verification would require technology that doesn’t even exist for the financial sector, and to get it right would add significantly to the already burdensome delays in acquiring insurance coverage on the exchanges. It would also expand costs for IT development exponentially, achieving the neat trick of making Obamacare more costly and more ineffective at the same time.

As noted before, there’s an already existing method of income verification, through the IRS, that stands ready to handle any potential misreporting through clawbacks. In fact, the IRS will have to verify income anyway; people simply don’t have perfect information about their future income, especially part-timers and freelancers and the self-employed. This is how many means-tested programs like Medicare and Medicaid work, and despite the cries of conservatives, fraud in those programs mostly come from health care providers bilking the government rather than individual subscribers.

Instead of using a time-tested process that works (and would work better if Republicans weren’t so dedicated to defunding the IRS), the GOP wants to add this kludgey extra step to an already strained online exchange. The clear goal here is to make it harder to enroll or collapse the insurance exchanges entirely, along with creating the impression that Obamacare customers are automatically freeloaders and cheats, which aligns with conservative demonization of other government programs.

David Waldman on the with the short version:

4. Income verification for people getting subsidies on the health-care exchanges will be strengthened.

Details on exactly how this will work have yet to be released, but it looks like you’d have to have your income verified by the IRS before you can actually sign up. This is already a complex and potentially troublesome part of the signup process, particularly for people like freelancers and the self-employed whose incomes can vary from month to month. There is no reason Republicans demanded this other than to make getting insurance more difficult for as many people as they could and thereby throw sand in the gears of Obamacare. It’s really disappointing that Reid agreed to it.

In other words, I’m screwed.

H/t Jason Kalafat.


Here’s a morning pick me up.

Debt ceiling hostage rescued — now what?

Debt Ceiling Hostage Rescued — Now What? (via Moyers & Company)

It looks like the Republican Party’s overreach has led them to a decisive defeat in this round. The GOP is at war with itself, as it plumbs new depths of public disapproval. The tea partiers are on suicide watch, believing they’ve been stabbed in…

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I ain’t the same

Alabama Shakes:

Love is just a game

The Magic Numbers:


Willie Nelson:

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