Telling the Truth - Several years ago on a rare blue sky sunny day in Seattle, I walked out my front door happy and care free. When I got down the stairs to the sidewalk, a ...
6 hours ago
Inequality. Fairness. Cracking down on CEOs. These could be hand-painted slogans on Occupy movement signs.
Or they could be the takeaways from President Obama’s latest State of the Union address and his subsequent tour across several swing states. In yet another sign that the Occupy movement’s call for a focus on the income gap has solidified Democratic messaging, the President’s first big political moment of 2012 has a decidedly Occupy Wall Street tinge. [...]
“I think you can empirically say that [Occupy] has brought the issue of income inequality and basic fairness into focus in a way nothing else had for a long time,” the strategist said. “But as for the President, he has been saying the same things about fairness and rules of the road that everyone has to follow, for a long time.”
Furthermore, there’s an increasing focal point for these messages: Mitt Romney. True, the polls done on Newt Gingrich’s negatives are such that most Dems go to bed at night dreaming of running against the former House Speaker. However, in their heart of hearts most believe it’s just not going to happen, and that Romney will emerge as the nominee. Even a few months ago that thought caused some to tremble: after all, at that point Romney’s path to the nomination apparently ran through taking down Rick Perry and his tea partying talk on Social Security, then presenting himself to the public as the moderate who’d taken on the extremists within his party and won. As it panned out, Romney’s had to run increasingly to the right, and the fact that he tallies so perfectly with OWS’s messages about economic unfairness is the icing on the cake. Don’t expect to see Democratic bigwigs donning Guy Fawkes masks, but do expect to hear their rhetoric draw nearer to that of the protestors.
The president’s energy plan, which he introduced in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, has three core components: the safe and responsible development of oil and gas, the creation of clean-energy jobs in the U.S., and increasing energy efficiency, with a special focus on the industrial sector.
That begins at the UPS facility in Las Vegas. The company, in cooperation with local governments and the South Coast Air Quality Management District, won a $5.6 million cost-share investment through the stimulus bill to purchase a fleet of trucks that could run on liquefied natural gas (LNG is a cleaner-burning fuel than regular gas or diesel) and construct a publicly accessible LNG refueling station — the first of its kind in the country.
The natural gas-fueled corridor allows UPS to move merchandise through more energy-efficient engines from Long Beach, Calif., to Salt Lake City, according to senior White House advisers.
It’s a model the president wants to replicate in other areas of the country as well, primarily by upping the incentives to get the country’s transport vehicles off gasoline.
Natural gas has become a focus of this administration, as well as lawmakers and energy advocates of all political stripes, not only because it burns about 30 percent cleaner than petroleum products, but also because it’s far more plentiful than oil in the United States. And, it’s cheaper.
The president aims to begin raising consumption of natural gas by encouraging companies to invest in trucks that run on natural gas with a tax credit, equivalent to about 50 percent of the cost difference between trucks that have engines that run on natural gas versus the standard diesel engine. Implementing such tax credits, senior White House advisers admitted, would require an act of Congress.
Romney has raised eyebrows for opposing the auto-industry bailout. In his address, Obama chided, “[s]ome even said we should let it die.” This is largely true of many Republicans in Congress, who could not bring themselves to applaud a proposal to reverse tax incentives that encourage outsourcing and discourage repatriating jobs to the U.S.
Where Romney has called for allowing the foreclosure crisis to run its course, Obama said that “responsible homeowners shouldn’t have to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom to get some relief,” before introducing a mortgage modification plan to Congress that will give “every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year…by refinancing at historically low interest rates,” which was met with silence by the GOP.
Perhaps most famously, Romney has suggested that public appeals for addressing inequality and bringing equity to the tax code evince envy on the part of advocates who have pressed those issues into the national dialogue.
“When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich,” Obama retorted. “It’s because they understand that when I get tax breaks I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference - like a senior on a fixed income; or a student trying to get through school; or a family trying to make ends meet.”
Tax reform should follow the Buffett rule: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes…Now, you can call this class warfare all you want. But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense.
We don’t begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich. It’s because they understand that when I get tax breaks I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference – like a senior on a fixed income; or a student trying to get through school; or a family trying to make ends meet. That’s not right. Americans know it’s not right.
"It's time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody."
Obama will describe what he calls a blueprint for an American economy "that's built to last," based on four main themes: a focus on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and what Obama calls a "return to American values – of fairness for all, and responsibility from all."
In a message tailored to his reelection pitch, he'll contrast that vision with a recent history in which he said the economy was "weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits."
"We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules," he will say. "What's at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them."
Are underwater homeowners to blame for deregulating Wall Street, allowing banks to create and advertise "No Down Payment! Interest Only! Record Low Rates! Buy Now!" adjustable rate mortgages, then repackage and sell this bad debt as "AAA gold standard mortgage backed securities!"? Are underwater homeowners to blame for the enormous lack of regulatory oversight of the financial sector that reached its horrifying climax in the 2008 economic collapse? So why are underwater homeowners expected by the likes of Mitt Romney to "SUCK IT UP!" when Wall Street "21st century robber barons" are the chief culprits behind this fiasco? [...]
If we follow Mitt Romney's advice to "let it run its course and hit the bottom", our economy will be in an even deeper hole that will be even more difficult to escape from. Housing has nearly always been the starting force in turning an economy from recession to recovery. So how do our communities benefit from empty homes? And yes, Romney's "do nothing and let the banks foreclose" policy prescription would lead to even more empty homes if implemented. And this leads to a "domino effect" of depressed home values, scared consumers, fewer home goods purchases, less construction, and fewer jobs. Properly addressing the home foreclosure crisis is not about "re-inflating the bubble", but rather restarting the economy.
A look at the president’s detailed travel schedule reveals a few clues about the specifics he might be getting into — at least enough for one good guess.
In Nevada, conversations about investing in energy usually revolve around geothermal power or solar panels. But Obama is not coming to Nevada to talk at a power plant in the desert.
Obama arrives in Las Vegas Wednesday evening. On Thursday morning, he is delivering public remarks at the United Parcel Service Las Vegas South facility.
Last year, UPS announced it had contracted with Clean Energy Fuels Corp. to roll out a fleet of 48 liquefied natural gas-fueled transport trucks at a new LNG [liquefied natural gas] fueling station. The initial contract, set for seven years, started in 2011.
But Gingrich’s upset victory in South Carolina seems to show that potency of arguments that highlight the unfairness and inequality of our economic system. As Ruy Texeira writes, conservatives “should realize they’re attacking the opinions of most Americans who do, in fact, believe the system unfairly favors the wealthy“.
On CNN’s State of the Union yesterday, Gingrich took a bit of victory lap on the Bain attacks, acknowledging that they helped him win South Carolina because, he argued, they show voters where Romney is vulnerable against President Obama.
Indeed, after several weeks dominated by the controversy over Bain and Romney’s tax returns, the former governor risks losing his frontrunner status. Romney is down by double digits in Florida and is barely hanging onto a one point lead nationally, according to Gallup. For instance, one self-described “scorned woman” in South Carolina told TPM that she voted for Gingrich, even as lurid new revelations about his second wife were emerging, because of Romney’s waffling on his tax returns.
It’s worth remembering that in its early days, the Tea Party was nearly as anti-Wall Street as it was anti-government, galvanized by the Wall Street bailout. Much of that resentment likely remains, despite the best efforts of conservative elites to redirect that anger toward the government in order to white wash the distasteful record of companies like Bain.
UC Regent Charlene Zettel said all UC health systems need to look for ways to increase their patient base and optimize resources to stay competitive. She said the UC San Diego purchase accomplishes that.
“Patients coming from Nevada would mean better utilization of the state-of-the-art facility we have at UCSD Moores Cancer Center,” Zettel said. “It also would be a boost for the San Diego economy because patients and families would be staying here. Most importantly, though, patients would get excellent care from some of the best doctors in California.”
Dr. Thomas McAfee, interim chief executive for the UC San Diego Health System, said buying the 142,000-square-foot, four-story building and its medical practice fits into the long-term growth plan. By broadening its circle of patients, the university can expand its research and clinical trials and boost its education programs, he said.