Saturday, July 7, 2012

Mitt's Problem with Employment Issues

Paul Krugman has an interesting article regarding the Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, job creation and outsourcing.  Well, maybe that's offshoring.  Or is it just offsourced.  He dicsusses all these choices in, Romney Knows Outsourcing Not Creating Jobs.
In a better America, Mitt Romney would be running for president on the strength of his major achievement as governor of Massachusetts: a health reform that was identical in all important respects to the health reform enacted by President Obama. By the way, the Massachusetts reform is working pretty well and has overwhelming popular support.

In reality, however, Mr. Romney is doing no such thing, bitterly denouncing the Supreme Court for upholding the constitutionality of his own health care plan. His case for becoming president relies, instead, on his claim that, having been a successful businessman, he knows how to create jobs.
This, in turn, means that however much the Romney campaign may wish otherwise, the nature of that business career is fair game. How did Mr. Romney make all that money? Was it in ways suggesting that what was good for Bain Capital, the private equity firm that made him rich, would also be good for America?

And the answer is no.

The truth is that even if Mr. Romney had been a classic captain of industry, a present-day Andrew Carnegie, his career wouldn’t have prepared him to manage the economy. A country is not a company (despite globalization, America still sells 86 percent of what it makes to itself), and the tools of macroeconomic policy — interest rates, tax rates, spending programs — have no counterparts on a corporate organization chart. Did I mention that Herbert Hoover actually was a great businessman in the classic mold?

In any case, however, Mr. Romney wasn’t that kind of businessman. Bain didn’t build businesses; it bought and sold them. Sometimes its takeovers led to new hiring; often they led to layoffs, wage cuts and lost benefits. On some occasions, Bain made a profit even as its takeover target was driven out of business. None of this sounds like the kind of record that should reassure American workers looking for an economic savior.

And then there’s the business about outsourcing.

Two weeks ago, The Washington Post reported that Bain had invested in companies whose specialty was helping other companies move jobs overseas. The Romney campaign went ballistic, demanding — unsuccessfully — that The Post retract the report on the basis of an unconvincing “fact sheet” consisting largely of executive testimonials.

What was more interesting was the campaign’s insistence that The Post had misled readers by failing to distinguish between “offshoring” — moving jobs abroad — and “outsourcing,” which simply means having an external contractor perform services that could have been performed in-house.

Now, if the Romney campaign really believed in its own alleged free-market principles, it would have defended the right of corporations to do whatever maximizes their profits, even if that means shipping jobs overseas. Instead, however, the campaign effectively conceded that offshoring is bad but insisted that outsourcing is O.K. as long as the contractor is another American firm.

That is, however, a very dubious assertion.

Consider one of Mr. Romney’s most famous remarks: “Corporations are people, my friend.” When the audience jeered, he elaborated: “Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People’s pockets.” This is undoubtedly true, once you take into account the pockets of, say, partners at Bain Capital (who, I hasten to add, are, indeed, people). But one of the main points of outsourcing is to ensure that as little as possible of what corporations earn goes into the pockets of the people who actually work for those corporations.

Why, for example, do many large companies now outsource cleaning and security to outside contractors? Surely the answer is, in large part, that outside contractors can hire cheap labor that isn’t represented by the union and can’t participate in the company health and retirement plans. And, sure enough, recent academic research finds that outsourced janitors and guards receive substantially lower wages and worse benefits than their in-house counterparts.

Just to be clear, outsourcing is only one source of the huge disconnect between a tiny elite and ordinary American workers, a disconnect that has been growing for more than 30 years. And Bain, in turn, was only one player in the growth of outsourcing. So Mitt Romney didn’t personally, single-handedly, destroy the middle-class society we used to have. He was, however, an enthusiastic and very well remunerated participant in the process of destruction; if Bain got involved with your company, one way or another, the odds were pretty good that even if your job survived you ended up with lower pay and diminished benefits.
In short, what was good for Bain Capital definitely wasn’t good for America. And, as I said at the beginning, the Obama campaign has every right to point that out.
Mitt Romney has created more jobs elsewhere while terminating jobs here.  Why should we believe that he now has the requisite experience regarding unemployment in the U.S. and creating jobs?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

You Hold the Power in Your Vote

Armando writing for Daily Kos has an intriguing article about the Supreme Court decision regarding The Affordable Care Act (ACA) which was written by Justice Roberts.  Armando lays the premise that this decision sets forth the long term goals of Roberts and lays a foundation by the Court which will be the basis to restrict progressive values and undue the principles of the New Deal.

Many pundits and politicians were surprised that Roberts joined the four Justices who he generally disagrees with in order the author this opinion.  Unfortunately, the issue and the Court have been divided into two opposing views, either conservative or liberal. Of course the Supreme Court is suppose to be apolitical.  The rulings of the Court are to be based on the precedence of the Court which stems from the interpretation of the Constitution.   As Armando discovers, Roberts recognized prior decisions regarding the Necessary and Proper Clause paired with the Commerce Clause, while at the same time ignoring precedence.  That's right, he just ignored it!

So what does this mean?  It means that Roberts has laid the foundation to reinterpret the Supreme Court's prior decisions without overturning any decisions.  This will allow the Court to change progressive laws and principles merely by having a very conservative activist Supreme Court  rule in the majority.
John Roberts is a very clever man. Of course, he is incredibly gifted intellectually (easily the most intelligent of the conservative justices). But that does not always translate into cleverness.... He is a radical incrementalist, using the language of judicial minimalism to build, precedent by precedent, the structure to achieve, over time, what incendiary radical extreme conservatives want to achieve: the undoing of the New Deal. 
John Roberts is a very clever man. Of course, he is incredibly gifted intellectually (easily the most intelligent of the conservative justices). But that does not always translate into cleverness. But the chief justice is different from his fellow conservative travelers on the Court. He knows that open proclamations of fealty to the Constitution in Exile and to a return to the Lochner Era will never be accepted in one fell swoop. He is a radical incrementalist, using the language of judicial minimalism to build, precedent by precedent, the structure to achieve, over time, what incendiary radical extreme conservatives want to achieve: the undoing of the New Deal. 
In the ACA decision (PDF), the chief justice struck two blows against progressive values: (1) he gained five votes for a theory of limitation of federal power under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution; and (2) he gained seven votes (two of them quite shocking, from Justices Breyer and Kagan) for the novel proposition that states have a constitutional right to federal funding from existing programs without condition (or "coercion" as the Court termed it) of the federal government.
In my post A dark cloud on this sunny day: Roberts Court embraces Constitution in Exile, I argued that the rule regarding the Necessary and Proper power expressed by the chief justice and agreed to by the other four conservative justices presented a radical change to our understanding of the Necessary and Proper power. The chief justice presents this change, as he so often does, as no change at all. He presents his de facto overturning of precedent (including the overturn of McCulloch v. Maryland, Chief Justice John Marshall's seminal opinion regarding the Necessary and Proper power), as fidelity to precedent. It is not.
Compare Chief Justice Roberts' formulation with that of Chief Justice Marshall. Roberts wrote:
[T]he individual mandate cannot be sustained under the Necessary and Proper Clause as an essential component of the insurance reforms. Each of our prior cases upholding laws under that Clause involved exercises of authority derivative of, and in service to, a granted power. For example, we have upheld provisions permitting continued confinement of those already in federal custody when they could not be safely released, Comstock, supra, at _ (slip op., at 1–2); criminalizing bribes involving organizations receiving federal funds, Sabri v. United States, 541 U. S. 600, 602, 605 (2004); and tolling state statutes of limitations while cases are pending in federal court, Jinks v. Richland County, 538 U. S. 456, 459, 462 (2003). The individual mandate, by contrast, vests Congress with the extraordinary ability to create the necessary predicate to the exercise of an enumerated power. [Emphasis supplied.]
Of course, the chief justice's statement that "the individual mandate vests Congress with the extraordinary ability to create the necessary predicate to the exercise of an enumerated power" is blatantly false. The Affordable Care Act is not a bootstrap from the individual mandate. In fact, the opposite is true: The individual mandate was enacted solely because in Congress' judgment, the Affordable Care Act could only be effective if a mechanism such as the individual mandate was included in it. In other words, it was a classic example of congressional use of its Necessary and Proper power. As the chief justice puts it, "exercise[] of authority derivative of, and in service to, a granted power." Regulation of the health care and health insurance market is undoubtedly valid under the Commerce Clause. The individual mandate is undoubtedly a valid exercise of the Necessary and Proper power to make effective the Affordable Care Act. 
In McCulloch, Chief Justice Marshall stated:
If a certain means to carry into effect of any of the powers expressly given by the Constitution to the Government of the Union be an appropriate measure, not prohibited by the Constitution, the degree of its necessity is a question of legislative discretion, not of judicial cognizance.
Chief Justice Roberts' ACA ruling on the Necessary and Proper power cannot be harmonized with McCulloch. But he did not overrule McCulloch. Indeed, the chief justice claims fealty to McCulloch. As I say, Chief Justice Roberts is a clever man.

Yes, Chief Justice Roberts is a very clever man. And he is, to use the common parlance, playing "the long game." Today, the chief justice is hailed as a man of moderation, a pragmatic man, not the ideologue of the likes of Justices Thomas and Scalia. And this is what makes him the most dangerous threat to our progressive values. In the coming terms, when the chief justice shepherds the overturning of affirmative action and declares the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional, we will be reminded that the chief justice is a moderate, pragmatic minimalist by the usual suspects.
And we will look back at the cherished progressive values now under threat and wonder what happened. Unless we fight. We must also consider how the chief justice threatens the ability of the Congress to enact progressive solutions to our current and future problems.
In her dissent in the ACA case, Justice Ginsburg wrote:
Why should THE CHIEF JUSTICE strive so mightily to hem in Congress’ capacity to meet the new problems arising constantly in our ever developing modern economy? I find no satisfying response to that question in his opinion
Why indeed? Because the conservative project is to undo the New Deal. It is to impose severe restrictions on the ability of the national government to implement progressive solutions to our national problems. Climate change? The federal government may not be able to do anything about that. Income inequality? Could be a local problem. The progressive project understands how important it is that the national government can act to address our problems. The conservative project is hell bent on defeating this vision. Chief Justice Roberts is playing the long game to undermine the progressive project. To undermine the vision President Franklin Delano Roosevelt outlined in his 1937 Constitution Day speech:
In these days when the undemocratic concentration of economic power has brought with it a corresponding concentration of legal ability against the democratic purposes of the Constitution, only the utmost vigilance and the utmost willingness to fight for our Constitutional heritage will guarantee its continuance. 
Furthermore, a democracy cannot help counting, and seeking ways and means to avoid for the future, the terrible cost at which its ultimate triumphs have had to be achieved. […] We know that it takes time to adjust government to the needs of society and that deliberation upon the remedy is indispensable to wise reform. We also know that government must keep pace with changes in circumstances substantially as the changes occur. […] 
These unwarranted delays in the accommodation of the government of today to the needs of today have not been due, I cannot too often repeat, to any language that the Fathers used in the Constitution to bind their successors. […]
I know and every lawyer knows that you will find nothing in our Constitution which forbids the national government to do any of these things. They have been forbidden or jeopardized, not because of anything the Constitution says but because men with axes to grind have chosen to put their lawyers' own notions of policy upon the silence or the vagueness of the Constitution. [Emphasis supplied.]
Chief Justice Roberts is their man for our age. He is the man for those with "axes to grind" against progressive values. 
How can he be defeated? By denying him the votes necessary on the Supreme Court to enact his pernicious project. This is done by reelecting President Barack Obama and electing future Democratic presidents. There are no other options.
This is the most important progressive project of this election and future presidential elections.
Defeat the conservative activist Supreme Court by voting.  VOTE for Barack Obama, 2012!!!! 

Your vote will effect history for years!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Doomsday Republicans

GOP Tea Party politicians and pundits came out swiftly to comment on the Supreme Court's 5 to 4 ruling to uphold The Affordable Health Care for America Act.  The following comments are examples of fear mongering, outright lies, misrepresentations and generally a lack of comprehension regarding the Constitution and the reality of the Act.

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) compares Supreme Court ruling to 9/11

"Because really, isn't it pretty difficult to tell the difference between a horrific terrorist attack and a law saying that maybe people with preexisting health conditions ought to be allowed access to our health care system too?"

Sen. Rand Paul Reacts to SCOTUS Ruling on Obamacare

“Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional." 

Rick Santorum Comments on Supreme Court Obamacare Ruling

"President Obama believes he is above the law, entitled to abusing his power to get what he wants, and willing to violate the constitution and the oath he was sworn to uphold. He has proven to be a very dangerous person to have this kind of power, and if he is not stopped this November, I am fearful that the make-up of this country as established by our founders will never be the same."

Mitt Romney’s Response to Supreme Court Decision

"What the court id not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States.  And that is I will act to repeal Obamacare."
Setting the Record Straight 

To set the record straight, Mike Pence's comments were deliberately stoked in fear mongering and misrepresentations.  He eventually apologized.  According to Politico: "at the time he was just in a blind, half-mad rage, and whenever Republicans are mad about something it's exactly like 9/11. Every. Damn. Time."  Pence told POLITICO:
"My remarks at the Republican Conference following the Supreme Court decision were thoughtless. I certainly did not intend to minimize any tragedy our nation has faced and I apologize."  
Rand Paul's comments are based in a total lack of understanding of the judicial system  and the precedent regarding the rulings by the Supreme Court.  He is absolutely WRONG!

Rick Santorum's comment is is vitriolic, based on innuendo and fear and completely WRONG. Our government in based on the separation of powers.  The decision of the Supreme Court has no bearing on the President's actions.  He is stoking the fires of fear and ignorance.

Mitt Romney went on to profess the affects of the Affordable Health Act and continue to spew his lies and misrepresentations.  Here are the reasons Mitt wants to repeal the Act and the truth about his statements:
~  Obamacare raises taxes on the American people by approximately $500 billion. Obamacare cuts Medicare - cuts Medicare by approximately $500 billion. INNACURATE...
~ “Obamacare adds trillions to our deficit and national debt.” This is total fear-mongering.
~ Romney’s talking points have been debunked numerous times and found false. The CBO finds that the ACA is going to reduce the deficit, not add to it. Furthermore:
The key to this claim is the fact that the health care law does not take $500 billion out of the current Medicare budget. Rather, the bill attempts to slow the program’s future growth, curtailing just over $500 billion in future spending increases over the next 10 years.
Also, it ends the Medicare Advantage program, which cost the government a huge amount of money with few benefits. Likewise, the law doesn’t add “trillions to our deficits.”  By most accounts, the law reduces the deficit over the next decade and works to reduce the overall rate of health care spending by the federal government.
~ Obamacare also means that for up to 20 million Americans, they will lose the insurance they currently have, the insurance that they like and they want to keep. This assertion is a LIE! Under the law, you can maintain your current health insurance if you like it.
~ Along with Romney other politicians including Speaker of the House John Boehner and Rep. Eric Cantor have echoed Romney's talking point that "The president’s health care law is hurting our economy by driving up health costs and making it harder for small businesses to hire. Obamacare is a job-killer. Businesses across the country have been asked what the impact is of Obamacare. Three-quarters of those surveyed by the Chamber of Commerce said Obamacare makes it less likely for them to hire people. This is a bizarre and inaccurate claim.
~ And perhaps most troubling of all, Obamacare puts the federal government between you and your doctor. FALSE  The law would set minimum benefits packages, but medical services will not be government-run, nor does the law allow for rationing of care.
Republicans have retreated from reality and launched an assault of lies instead of facing the truth about the Health Act.

Here are the FACTS about The Affordable Care Act:
1. Expands healthcare coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans,
2. Requires many health insurance plans to cover prevention and wellness benefits with no co-pay or deductibles for 54 million Americans that have private insurance,
3. Eliminates the lifetime coverage limit for 105 million Americans already insured,
4. Gives 2.3 million elderly Medicare patients access to annual wellness checkups,
5. Provides prescription care “donut hole” coverage for 5.1 million seniors, and
6. Requires insurers to cover those with pre-existing conditions, including 17 million of the 74.9 million children ages 0-17 years old residing in the U.S., according to recent US Census figures.
Most people only know about three portions of the law that have already gone into effect:
1.  The part that closes the donut hole for prescription drug coverage;
2. The provision that has enabled 2.5 million kids up to the age of 26 to piggy back off their parents’ insurance; and,
3. The part which stops health insurers form denying coverage for children and other people with preexisting conditions.

Little is known about the other parts of the law but click HERE to go through a primer on who may benefit and who will lose if the law is upheld or struck down.
The bottom line is that it is important to have the correct information to understand this Act.  Politicians who use innuendo, misrepresentation and lies based on fear mongering should be held accountable for their inaccurate statements. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What's in a Name other than a Frame?

Via Joan McCarter at Daily Kos

Obamacare unpopular, unless it's not called Obamacare 

Another poll, and more confirmation that people really don't like Obamacare but ...

(Reuters) - Most Americans oppose President Barack Obama's healthcare reform even though they strongly support most of its provisions, Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Sunday, with the Supreme Court set to rule within days on whether the law should stand. Fifty-six percent of people are against the healthcare overhaul and 44 percent favor it, according to the online poll conducted from Tuesday through Saturday.
They don't like it—that is, until they hear about what's in it. Same old story. Greg Sargent got the partisan breakdown from Reuters/Ipsos on this poll.
* Eighty percent of Republicans favor “creating an insurance pool where small businesses and uninsured have access to insurance exchanges to take advantage of large group pricing benefits.” That’s backed by 75 percent of independents. [...] * Fifty two percent of Republicans favor “allowing children to stay on parents insurance until age 26.” That’s backed by 69 percent of independents.
* Seventy eight percent of Republicans support “banning insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions; 86 percent of Republicans favor “banning insurance companies from cancelling policies because a person becomes ill.” Those are backed by 82 percent of independents and 87 percent of independents.
* One provision that isn’t backed by a majority of Republicans: The one “expanding Medicaid to families with incomes less than $30,000 per year.”
Just don't call it "Obamacare" and it's all good, even with Republicans—except for that bit about making things a little easier for the working poor, because that's practically anti-American.
The problem, of course, is that you can't separate the law from the very effective (albeit shockingly untruthful) narratives the Republicans created against it. As of now, Republicans have decided they won't do anything to reinstate these popular elements. Even if they change their minds, they'll be relentlessly attacked by the even further Right.
But polls like this show what President Obama is going to have to do politically if the law is overturned. He's going to have to run against the activist, extremist Republican majority on the Supreme Court and what it has done to overturn these provisions, provisions that even normal (non-elected) Republicans support.
The linguist George Lakoff gives as an example of framing an exercise he gives to his students. 
The exercise is: Don't think of an elephant! Whatever you do, do not think of an elephant. I've never found a student who is able to do this. Every word, like elephant, evokes a frame, which can be an image or other kinds of knowledge: Elephants are large, have floppy ears and a trunk, are associated with circuses, and so on. The word is defined relative to that frame. When we negate a frame, we evoke the frame.
So too with the "negative frame" Obamacare that the Republican Tea Party have labeled the Affordable Health Care for America Act. The opposition is not is the parts, but in the part of the label spelled OBAMA!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sorting out the Differences between Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party Movementnt

Matthew Desmond at Addicting Info has put together 15 differences between the Occupy Wall Street protests and the Tea Party movement.
1. Occupy Wall Street is a grassroots movement, funded by people around the world, without  corporate sponsorship.
The Tea Party is an AstroTurf  movement, receiving most of its funding from corporate sponsorship, and Fox News and its supporters.
2. Occupy Wall Street wants less corporate influence over our Government.
The Tea Party wants less Governmental influence over corporations.
3. Occupy Wall Street didn’t receive mainstream media coverage until several weeks after it began.
The Tea Party held rallies across the country sponsored by Fox News, and even small rallies with minimal turnout received attention from other media outlets.
4. Occupy Wall Street protesters are unarmed.
The Tea Party protesters openly carried a large variety of guns, including assault rifles.
5. Over 1,000 Occupy Wall Street Protesters have been arrested.
Zero Tea Party Protesters have been arrested.
6. Occupy Wall Street doesn’t endorse either political party.
The Tea Party actively endorsed the Republican Party.
7. Occupy Wall Street protests have sparked similar protests around the world.
The Tea Party protests were ridiculed around the world.
8. Occupy Wall Street protests have more than 50% approval from the general public.
The Tea Party protests peaked at 18% approval from the general public.
9. Occupy Wall Street protesters represent the poor, the disenfranchised, and the people who don’t feel like they have a voice in our Government.
The Tea Party protesters represented the wealthy, the elite, and the corporations who already have too much influence in our Government.
10. Occupy Wall Street doesn’t want politicians to co-opt their movement.
The Tea Party protests regularly featured speeches from conservative political figures like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck.
11. Occupy Wall Street protesters signs are spelled correctly.
Many Tea Party protest signs featured glaring spelling and grammatical errors.
12. Occupy Wall Street is supported by the youth in this country.
A majority of the Tea Party’s support came from middle-age citizens and people 65 and up.
13. Occupy Wall Street represents the 99% of Americans who aren’t millionaires and billionaires, and who don’t have a voice in our Government.
The Tea Party represents the wealthiest Americans, and wants the Government to stop trying to tax them.
14. Occupy Wall Street protesters are setting up camps across the country, to get attention from the media and to show that they’re serious.
The Tea Party went home as soon as their corporately sponsored rallies were over.
15. Occupy Wall Street has received endless criticism from the right-wing.
The Tea Party received endless and unconditional praise from the right-wing.
But Jon Stewart has summed up the differences between the Occupy Wall Street protests and the Tea Party movement in his own inimitable way. WATCH: