dailykos.com — The New York Times' Nicholas Confessore commits some excellent journalism with this story about "Fix the Debt," the coalition of extremely well-heeled and well-connected former politicians and current CEOs masquerading as a public interest group. The organization, headed up by our foremost catfood pushers Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, is replete with old white guys who get paid very well by a number of industries to make sure that any budget cuts don't hit them. This story exposes them all. The "Fix the Debt" crowd, like all the deficit peacocks, don't care about the deficit. They care about the rich people staying rich and siphoning up every bit of public money they can get their grubby paws on. Thanks to Confessore at the Times for reminding the nation of that with this story.
thedailybeast.com — The problem that may blight the next four years is an ideological chasm where the president’s attempts at reasonable compromise are routinely rebuffed, where a polarization to the right among Republicans is reinforced by resentment and a refusal to accept the results of the 2012 election. Or to put it plainly, they can’t believe Obama is still there—and they’re more than ready, or forced by their own extremists, to obstruct him at almost any cost.
thedailybeast.com — I see that Brent Bozell, who never runs out of ways to spend rich conservatives’ money, now has an outfit called For America, which is mounting a pressure campaign against Mitch McConnell over his role in the fiscal cliff deal. The online ad buy will be targeted to Kentucky and will ask, “Mitch McConnell, which side are you on?”—that of socialism or that of Kentuckyism? What struck me when I read this was: How come there isn’t a group that is taking out ads against Rand Paul, McConnell’s junior colleague, one of just five GOP senators who voted against the bill, asking him which side he’s on—the side of bare-minimum fiscal sanity or the side of ruining the economy for the sake of making an ideological point? Of course there isn’t. But there must be. In fact there is nothing—nothing—our political system needs more than a strong and well-financed moderate-Republican pressure organization.
thenation.com — Wall Street’s ingratitude is not exactly a secret. After Washington came to the rescue four years ago with the $800 billion bank bailout and ignored flagrant criminal behavior in high places, the nation’s biggest banks returned the favor with malice—an army of lobbyists to gut reform legislation, a tidal wave of political cash to defeat the Democratic president and elect banker-friendly Republicans. Leading executives like Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase expressed their disdain for the meddlesome government. The shareholders of AIG, the giant insurance company the Federal Reserve bailed out with $180 billion, have now topped that impudence. Believe it or not, these investors are suing the federal government for rescuing their company from collapse. This sets a world record for breath-taking arrogance.
boldprogressives.org — Republicans want to hold the debt ceiling hostage to enact painful cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits. Democratic leaders are urging President Obama not to deal over the debt ceiling and to deny Republicans their leverage. Here’s a bit of information that may help that cause. We've tallied the votes on previous clean hikes of the debt ceiling, and found that 76 currently-seated House Republicans have voted for clean debt ceiling hikes in the past. Here are their names.
thenation.com — We’re barely more than a week into 2013, but Michigan has been very busy lately. As a pre-holiday gift to workers, Governor Rick Snyder signed a “right-to-work” bill into law after the Republican-controlled state house passed it 58-51, making the payment of union dues voluntary for most unions and thus severely weakening their power. Just over two weeks later, Snyder signed another bill into law restricting abortion access for the state’s women. Two extreme measures, but ones that aren’t directly related, right? One is clearly about “economic issues,” the other about “social issues.” Yet those who are hurt by both are, as is so often the case, low-income women. Michigan has shone a spotlight on the inextricable link between economic and social issues when it comes to the right-wing agenda. And we can only expect more of this news from statehouses as the year progresses.
washingtonpost.com — This is apparently platinum coin week among the economic punditocracy. It is not a moment that should inspire great pride in America, but here we are. Here are some key things to understand about a debate that started as a strange, amusing sideshow and is increasingly front and center in the economic policy debate. I’ll lay out this econo-pundit’s conclusion upfront: I hate the platinum coin idea. But if there is no resolution of the debt ceiling through the legislative process, I hate some of the alternatives more.
nymag.com — Gerald Seib has a column in today’s Wall Street Journal about how sad and disappointing it is that the two parties cannot come together and solve problems. That is the same point of a recent column by the Washington Post’s David Ignatius, an editorial in The Economist, and vast swaths of commentary by the most respectable members of the mainstream media. It all runs together, day after day, an endless repetitive drone of elite sentiment. The drone of right-thinking sentiment has certain distinct qualities. One is that it is, in almost the purest sense of the term, a meme — a way of looking at the world that individuals pass one to one another without a great deal of conscious thought, even though thoughtfulness, or the appearance of thoughtfulness, is one of the qualities the opinion imbues upon its proponents. The most striking feature of the centrist deficit drone rests upon a political analysis that is willfully, and probably self-defeatingly, false.
washingtonpost.com — House Speaker John Boehner spoke at length with the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore about the coming confrontation over the debt ceiling, the sequester, and the spending cuts Republicans will try to achieve. Buried in the interview is a highly newsworthy nugget, in which Boehner implicitly admitted that the debt limit does not give Republicans the leverage they’ve suggested it does. Indeed, it’s hard to read this exchange as anything other than a sign that Republicans may be backing off the fight over the debt ceiling.
lettersfromtheleft.com — Congress and there’s a lot of really urgent work to do. So, what do Michele Bachmann and her cronies do first? They try for the 34th time to repeal the Affordable Care Act. No matter that they’ve tried 33 times and haven’t been able to succeed (thank God). No matter that they have fewer votes now than they did before the election. No matter that the American people want Congress to work on more urgent problems like getting aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy or renewing the Violence Against Women Act. Nope, they have to make the statement that they’re just a bunch of spoiled, selfish children. Apparently, 33 attempts at repeal using 80 hours of House time and costing taxpayers $43 million wasn’t enough for Bachmann et al; they have to keep trying to take away health reform.