May 15, 2013 at 8:32 am #88205
From The Maddow Blog:
Deficit reduction picks up speed
By Steve Benen
Tue May 14, 2013 4:05 PM EDT
This is just astounding.
If the current laws that govern federal taxes and spending do not change, the budget deficit will shrink this year to $642 billion, CBO estimates, the smallest shortfall since 2008. Relative to the size of the economy, the deficit this year — at 4.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) — will be less than half as large as the shortfall in 2009, which was 10.1 percent of GDP.
Thanks in large part to higher taxes on the wealthy, which Republicans said would not reduce the deficit, deficit reduction is picking up speed at a pace few could have predicted. We’re now looking at over $400 billion in deficit reduction in just one year, and about $800 billion in deficit reduction since President Obama took office.
Let’s say this plainly: for those who saw the federal budget deficit as a “problem,” it’s fair to say this problem has been largely fixed.
And while we’re at it, let’s also not forget that Republican talking points on fiscal policy have effectively been left in tatters, and every conservative political figure who’s declared “Socialist Obama is turning America into Greece!” looks incredibly foolish right now.
The president took some heat for failing to cut the deficit in half in his first term, and the criticisms had merit, at least insofar as he didn’t reach his original goal. That said, Obama’s on track to cut it by well over half — both in real terms and as a percentage of GDP — in five years.
It’s time to stop worrying about a shrinking deficit and start worrying about creating a more robust economic recovery.
As you make it through Hump Day, don’t forget JJP at TWIB.
Drop those links. Engage in debate. Give us trivia and gossip too.
And always, have a peaceful day.May 15, 2013 at 8:33 am #88206
Good Morning, EveryoneMay 15, 2013 at 8:40 am #88207
Scandal Cast on GMAMay 15, 2013 at 8:45 am #88208May 15, 2013 at 8:46 am #88209May 15, 2013 at 8:48 am #88210May 15, 2013 at 8:51 am #88212
5-Year-Old NJ Boy Uses ABCs to Save Dad’s Life
By Beth Greenfield, Shine Staff | Parenting – 21 hours ago
A 5-year-old Newark, NJ boy became a hero after he used quick thinking and A-B-C skills to save his father’s life last week
The two were driving home from buying Nathaniel Dancy Jr. school shoes when Nathaniel Sr. suffered an aneurysm and stroke, making him violently ill, according to a report by New York’s NBC Channel 4 News. (NBC reported his name as Nathaniel Darcy, but Nathaniel Jr.’s school, the public North Star Academy Charter School, confirmed for Yahoo! Shine it was Dancy). He was able to pull the car over, but then got out of the car, vomited, and became paralyzed by a seizure. That’s when Nathaniel Jr., who is in kindergarten, sprang into action, grabbing his dad’s phone and calling his grandmother.
He said, ‘Come and help me and my daddy. We’re in trouble,’” Susan Hardy-Blackman told NBC New York. She asked him where they were, and, though her grandson was unable to read the sign on the store they were in front of, he spelled it for her: F-U-R-N-I-T-U-R-E. But she was still confused. And that prompted the young boy to be persistent well beyond his years.
“He said, ‘Grandma, use your active listening skills,’” she said. “‘Listen to the words that are coming out of my mouth.’” He gave her another clue, that they’d just gone through a tunnel, and Hardy-Blackman was able to go to them, where they were parked in front of a furniture store, and send an ambulance there, too.
Brett Baker, director of operations at Nathaniel’s North Star Academy, told Yahoo! Shine that young Nathaniel is “a very caring individual,” and that he was proud to know the school’s emphasis of core values “really helped him seize the moment, as it were.”May 15, 2013 at 8:52 am #88213
Meanwhile, House GOP Proposes Even Bigger Cuts to SNAP
Posted on May 14, 2013 at 6:30 pm by JM Ashby
While no one is watching because they’re focused on recurring nontroversies in the media, the House of Representatives is currently debating the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 which carries with it changes that will occur through fiscal 2018, and included in the current version of the bill being pushed by House conservatives is an even bigger cut to food stamps than we’ve already seen.
From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
The proposed legislation would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) by almost $21 billion over the next decade, eliminating food assistance to nearly 2 million low-income people, mostly working families with children and senior citizens. The proposal reduces total farm bill spending by an estimated $39.7 billion over ten years, so more than half of its cuts come from SNAP. The SNAP cuts are more than $4 billion larger than those included in last year’s House Agriculture Committee bill.
But that’s not all.
The cuts proposed by House Republicans would come on top of an automatic reduction that will occur near the end of this year for another shocking reason.
The bill’s SNAP cuts would come on top of an across-the-board reduction in benefits that every SNAP recipient will experience starting November 1, 2013. On that date, the increase in SNAP benefits established by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) will end, resulting in a loss of approximately $25 in monthly SNAP benefits for a family of four. Placing the SNAP cuts in this farm bill on top of the benefit cuts that will take effect in November is likely to put substantial numbers of poor families at risk of food insecurity.
It’s astonishing that the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (the stimulus) will still be providing food to poor families through the end of 2013.
In some states the cuts proposed by House Republicans would lead to a reduction in benefits totaling as much or more than half of what they currently receive, and according to the Congressional Budget Office, as many as 210,000 children could lose their free school lunches because they’re tied to SNAP benefits.
As for the idea that SNAP benefits are somehow dragging down the economy, the CBO has also projected that the currently-elevated participation rate in the SNAP program will “fall back to 2008 levels in coming years and that SNAP costs as a share of the economy will fall back to their 1995 level by 2019″ because of the improving economy.May 15, 2013 at 8:56 am #88214
Watch This: Soledad O’Brien Calls Out White People
By: Lynette Holloway | Posted: May 14, 2013 at 3:45 PM
Former CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien said during a recent talk at Harvard’s Institute of Politics that she is often confronted by whites who want to take issue with her documentaries on race in America, the Washington Examiner reports.
Recently removed from her position as anchor of CNN’s Starting point, O’Brien will continue to make documentaries about race for the station. She was also recently named a distinguished visiting fellow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
“People would sometimes, when I give speeches, stand up and say, ‘You know, I think your black-America documentaries [are] divisive. I think … we shouldn’t think of ourselves as African American. We’re Americans, and everybody should stop separating themselves out,’ ” she said in a new video from the institute.
She continued: “First of all, it’s only white people who ever said that — ‘If we could just see beyond race. If only people didn’t see race, it would be such a better place; and you are responsible for bringing up these icky race issues, Soledad. You should just let sleeping dogs lieMay 15, 2013 at 8:58 am #88215
I Hate My ‘Ghetto’ Name. Can I Change It?
Race Manners: The problem here isn’t your mother’s choice. It’s widespread disdain for poor black people.
By: Jenée Desmond-Harris | Posted: May 15, 2013 at 12:45 AM
“I’m a young black woman with what you would call a ‘ghetto’ name. I’d have no problem with my name if it weren’t for the fact that for my entire life, white people have made fun of me. I’ve been made fun of by teachers, even professors in college when they call out my name. I’ve had people tell me, ‘You seem like such a good person, though — I can’t believe you have such a ghetto name.’ People have said my parents made a huge mistake. I’ve had hiring managers tell me that they would hire me only on the condition that I ‘shorten’ my name for the customers.
“My name is Laquita, so it really isn’t even complicated. Anyway, I’m tired of it all.
“The problem with this is telling my family — I have no idea why my mother gave me this name. I feel like it’s a curse. So how do I tell her that I’m doing this without offending her? Do you think it’s the right choice, or am I ‘giving up’?”
Honestly, my first reaction when I read your question was, “Go for it. If your mother loves the name so much, tell her she can have it.”
But treating this dilemma as if it has a quick fix strips your question of all the complicated background that compelled you ask it. Plus, something about that didn’t really sit right with me. So I gave it some more thought.
I guess so-called ghetto names are a subset of so-called black names — the ones African Americans have either created or disproportionately embraced. Everyone’s heard about how even the plainest among them, such as “Jamal” and “Leroy,” are 50 percent less likely to elicit a job-interview callback but perfectly tailored to inspire a Google arrest ad.
Plenty have studied how the multisyllabic inventions with unpredictable emphases like the ones that inspired this Key and Peele skit (watch it — you sound like you need a laugh) relate to economic opportunity.
But your issue isn’t just that your name reveals your race to people reading your résumé. Nor is it spelled in a way that defies phonics (Dwyane). It’s not a glaringly aspirational reference (Lexus). It’s not a food (Lemonjello) or alcohol (Alize). It doesn’t even include an extra uppercase letter or punctuation!
Nope, the only thing “wrong” with Laquita, which Our Baby Namer says means “fifth” (citing an ever-so-vague “African” origin), in the minds of those who are so put off by it is likely that it’s “associated with lower socioeconomic status” (pdf). My view is that the disdain isn’t really for the three innocent little syllables but, rather, for the type of black person who they imagine would choose to put them together.May 15, 2013 at 11:49 am #88244
IG Report on IRS is a Giant Dud
Tue May 14th, 2013 at 11:16:28 PM EST
I can’t believe I actually wasted my time reading the Inspector General’s report on the IRS. How unbelievably boring it is! This is another non-scandal. Or, rather, the scandal is that the IRS didn’t actually deny tax-exempt status to a single Tea Party or Glenn Beck-inspired 9/12 applicant. Not one. Sure, they delayed responding to some of those applicants. They asked for inappropriate information from some of those applicants. But they didn’t actually tell any of those nutballs to take their tax-exempt application and stuff it where the sun don’t shine.
When someone simultaneously tells you that they don’t intend to engage primarily in political behavior and that their organization is a “party,” you ought to do a little investigating, don’t you think?
That these morons in the IRS screwed up is undeniable. They were horrible at their jobs (and badly understaffed, I might add). Instead of creating a stupid Be On the Lookout (BOLO) criteria for Tea Party folks, they should have crafted ideologically-neutral language that had the effect of doing the exact same thing. And then they should have promptly DENIED most of the requests because being Dick Armey’s anti-tax stooge doesn’t qualify you as a charitable organization concerned with the general welfare.May 15, 2013 at 12:15 pm #88245
Deficit hawks unmoved by facts
By Steve Benen
Wed May 15, 2013 9:49 AM EDT
Yesterday’s news from the Congressional Budget Office on the shrinking deficit came as something of a shock to those who pay attention to such things. We knew the budget deficit was getting smaller, but we didn’t realize just how quickly the perceived problem was vanishing — we’re now looking at over $400 billion in deficit reduction in just one year, and about $800 billion in deficit reduction since President Obama took office.
There are several important angles to this, but perhaps the most politically salient one is the way in which the shrinking deficit leaves Republican talking points in tatters. GOP arguments about President Obama’s fiscal recklessness now look absurd. Conservative cries about the United States becoming Greece look ridiculous. Republican demands for austerity appear pointless and unnecessarily destructive.
And yet, the drive among congressional Republicans to hold the nation hostage and create another debt-ceiling crisis remains unaffected.May 15, 2013 at 12:22 pm #88246
So, It’s On?
Wed May 15th, 2013 at 07:46:49 AM EST
I don’t know if Alexander Burns and John Harris of Politico are so much commenting on a new narrative as they are trying to construct one. Perhaps they are trying to write the definitive version.
<I>The narrative is personal. The uproars over alleged politicization of the IRS and far-reaching attempts to monitor journalists and their sources have not been linked directly to Obama. But it does not strain credulity to suggest that Obama’s well-known intolerance for leaks, and his regular condemnations of conservative dark-money groups, could have filtered down to subordinates.
The narrative is ideological. For five years, this president has been making the case that a growing and activist government has good intentions and can carry these intentions out with competence. Conservatives have warned that government is dangerous, and even good intentions get bungled in the execution. In different ways, the IRS uproar, the Justice Department leak investigations, the Benghazi tragedy and the misleading attempts to explain it, and the growing problems with implementation of health care reform all bolster the conservative worldview…
…In Obama’s case, the narrative emerging from this tumultuous week goes something like this: None of these messes would have happened under a president less obsessed with politics, less insulated within his own White House and less trusting of government as an institution.</I>
I don’t know whose narrative this is supposed to belong to. I don’t think the Republicans are going to argue that the problem is that Obama is too trusting in government as an institution. They are going to argue that he’s a fascist dictator who sics the IRS on his political opponents and tramples on the 1st Amendment and the 2nd Amendment, and the 10th, and any other amendments they can think of. And rather than offer a little balance to that unhinged talk, organizations like Politico will write that the president handed them the ammo even though he wasn’t directly responsible for any of it.
How’d he hand them the ammo? He criticized the Citizens United ruling and all the dark money in politics. He didn’t invite enough Washingtonians to dinner. He trusted that the government could do things like expand access to health care and remove some injustices from the system. He agreed with the Republicans that national security leaks should be aggressively investigated.May 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm #88247
Why the GOP is taking a pass on an Obama admin scandal
By Steve Benen
Wed May 15, 2013 9:19 AM EDT
Scandal hierarchies can be tricky, because even the most honest political observers can have sincere disagreements over the seriousness of a controversy. It seems to me, though, that if there are three main Obama administration “scandals” — Benghazi, IRS scrutiny, and AP subpoenas — one rises above the other two.
The Benghazi story is a tragedy and a national-security matter, but attempts to turn it into a political controversy have been misguided. The IRS story is legit, but limited — it’s hard to run an all-caps “White House in crisis!” banner headline when we’re talking about confused bureaucrats struggling with vague tax-law guidelines, far from political interference.
But subpoenaing journalists’ phone logs raises more meaningful questions about freedom of the press and law-enforcement overreach. It’s not a story about the president or the White House, per se, but when the Justice Department pushes the envelope, it’s a reflection of administration policy.
And yet, oddly enough, Republicans seem uncharacteristically passive about the one controversy arguably matters most.
Republican senators who have long been critics of Attorney General Eric Holder were noticeably muted on Tuesday when asked to respond to the news of the Justice Department seizing reporters’ records as part of a broader probe into national security leaks.
“Well, I think we need to see how this plays out,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), one of Holder’s biggest critics and who last year demanded that the attorney general resign amid the Fast and Furious gun-running probe. “I have questions about it, but I’m willing to wait and see how this plays out, whether it was narrowly targeted or whether it was a net that was too broadly cast,” Cornyn said.
“I want to see the details — what was their rationale, why did they do it — before offering an opinion,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who earlier this week accused the administration of engaging in a “cover-up” in Benghazi. “For me, to rush to a judgment without knowing all the facts is just not appropriate.”
Really? Cornyn has never seen any need to “wait and see how this plays out” with other stories related to the Obama administration, and McCain loves rushing to judgment without knowing all the facts. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) condemned administration scandals yesterday, but didn’t mention the AP subpoenas, and neither House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) nor House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have commented on the AP story directly. [Update: Even Ted Cruz doesn't seem to care.]May 15, 2013 at 1:26 pm #88248
More Thoughts on AP
Wed May 15th, 2013 at 11:57:18 AM EST
On this whole Associated Press thing, it’s good to put things in some context. Why was the AP so hellbent on publishing that we had disrupted a new al-Qaeda plot to blow up airliners with underwear bombs? The answer is clear from the article. They thought it was newsworthy that there had been a plot when when the Department of Homeland Security and the White House press secretary had both recently said that they were unaware of any plots. In fact, this discrepancy may have been what caused the leaker to leak.
Now, I am willing to stipulate that it is newsworthy whenever the White House or its cabinet members are caught saying something untrue. But once the AP contacted the White House and learned that there was an ongoing operation and the threat had always been contained, they should have questioned the motives of the leaker and they also should have stopped seeing the story as newsworthy. Did they really think it was possible for the administration to acknowledge a plot at the time they were asked about possible plots?
Sources later told CNN that the operative who was supposed to have carried the bomb had been inserted into al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate by Saudi intelligence, and that the device had been handed over to U.S. analysts. One source said Saudi counterterrorism officials were upset that details of the operation had emerged in the United States because they had a network of agents inside the Yemeni branch who could have been compromised by leaks from Washington.
And this from The Guardian:
The [British] agent was recruited by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which operates in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, and asked to carry a bomb aboard a US-bound plane.
The revelation is politically and legally awkward for MI6 and MI5 whose agents, unlike American ones, are banned from missions that lead to assassinations, such as the US drone attack at the weekend that killed the top al-Qaida operative in the Yemen, Fahd al-Quso. The attack is being attributed to information from the agent.
In fact, the original AP article was published the day after Fahd al-Quso met his maker. So, what kind of gotcha journalism is it to make believe that the administration was misleading the public for political advantage, rather than to protect a sensitive operation and our relations with Saudi and British intelligence?
My best guess is that we (or the Saudis) had to remove a bunch of agents-in-place who were giving intelligence on AQAP and trying to help us catch the bomb maker.
It’s not just that the AP reported the story, it’s how they reported it.
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