Archive for category Corporate Socialism
The video’s release comes a week after economists at the University of California Berkeley and the University of Illinois released a study finding that fast food workers in the US draw nearly $7 billion annually in taxpayer-funded federal aid, in the form of food stamps ($1 billion), Medicaid ($3.9 billion), and earned income tax credits ($1.9 billion). More than half of the 1.8 million “core” fast food workers who work at least 11 hours per week and 28 percent of those who work full time rely on some form of public assistance, according to the study.
More info: Recently released study by economists at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign: “Fast Food, Poverty Wages: The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the Fast Food Industry” (PDF).
Is it right to eliminate food assistance for 3.8 million Americans while expanding federal subsidies for millionaire farmers, including some members of Congress?
Yesterday, in act of extreme viciousness and cruelty, the House of Representatives voted to give those already down a swift kick to the teeth. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) and backed solely by Republicans in a 217-210 vote, cuts $40 billion in nutrition aid over 10 years and starts denying people food as early as next year.
Yesterday’s vote was not only an undeniable act of heartlessness, it was also perhaps the ultimate example of how today’s increasingly radical and unhinged GOP leadership picks on the poor, coddles the rich, makes thinly veiled appeals to racism, and plays time-wasting political games instead of governing.
…Everyone is concerned when there are a lot of people getting food stamps, but the problem is that they are hungry, not that they are being fed.
Best video I saw today. H/t Huffington Post.
I would add another lie to the list, the Faux News-worthy idea that raising the federal minimum wage to keep up with inflation will cause unemployment. Wrong. Wall Street financiers crashing our economy causes unemployment.
Sometimes I think Republicans have their own special GOP edition of The Bible. Via Think Progress:
The House Agriculture Committee convened earlier this week to discuss whether or not to cut as much as $4.1 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps).
As House members discussed slashing the budget for the Farm Bill, which funds SNAP, Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) took issue with some Democrats who cited Jesus Christ’s call to care for “the least of these” when describing the government’s need to assist the hungry. Instead, Fincher explained that his support for the proposed cuts by quoting a very different Bible verse – 2 Thessalonians 3:10: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.”
But while the use of 2 Thessalonians is a convenient tool for those who want to justify ignoring the poor, Fincher’s lukewarm Biblical argument doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. As many religious bloggers have already pointed out, the author of 2 Thessalonians was actually referring to ancient Christians who had stopped working in anticipation of Jesus’ Second Coming. The verse is concerned with correcting a theological misunderstanding (i.e., don’t just wait around for Jesus, live an active faith), not passing judgement on the poor.
Worse still, Fincher’s use of the Bible to defend the slashing of food stamps isn’t just bad theology, it’s also bad policy.
Undergirding Fincher’s sloppy exegesis is an old conservative fiction that people who rely on food stamps are lazy parasites who mooch off the government and refuse to work. In reality, most of the country’s 47 million food stamp recipients are children or the elderly, and many are employed. A 2012 report from the USDA found that 45 percent of SNAP recipients were under 18 years of age, nearly 9 percent were age 60 or older, and more than 40 percent lived in households with earnings.
Fincher’s misguided Bible-thumping ignores the plight of America’s 8.9 million “working poor.” This massive group includes the thousands of participants from the recent fast food and retail workers strikes, people who, despite working full-time 40 hours a week for booming industries, often only make around $7.25 an hour, or $15,000 a year. That’s far below the federal poverty threshold of $23,550 for a family of four and leaves many working families with no choice but to apply for food stamps just to feed their loved ones. The strikers, who are consistently backed by droves of religious leaders, are clearly willing to work, yet lawmakers like Fincher (who made his millions with the help of government farm subsidies) stand poised to deny them access to the food they need by decimating funding for SNAP.
Think Progress reported yesterday that the painfully unaware State Rep. Dennis Hedke has introduced a bill that would prohibit public funds from promoting sustainable development. An interesting story, and a great example of rightwing hypocrisy and nincompoopery. But I also think it overlooks the real story.
The article points out that Hedke is so blissfully ignorant of his own actions that he can’t see why anyone would question a connection between his day job and his latest bill. This is interesting, since his day job is contract geophysicist for some 30 local oil and gas companies. Conflict of interest? Certainly not!
“I can’t see why,” Hedke said. “I didn’t think about that. It really never crossed my mind. I’d probably just say no.”
The Romney campaign makes its closing argument, which can be paraphrased as: “OMG! Another four years of socialism will be the end of America!” Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL):
“The president’s just not a supporter of the free enterprise system. This isn’t the first time I’ve said it, and I believe it with all my heart.”
If President Obama is a socialist, Steve Benen recently pointed out, he’s “the worst socialist of all time.”
“A soaring stock market, record high corporate profits, private sector job growth … it’s almost as if the president didn’t listen to Karl Marx at all.”
- Since Obama came into office, the Dow Jones industrial average has gained 67.9 percent.
- The S&P 500, measuring the 500 largest publicly traded companies, is up 80 percent.
- Corporations made a record $824 billion last year.
In fact, as the financial website Motley Fool noted, President Obama is far and away the best president for corporate profits since 1900.
Via Talking Points Memo:
In a leaked copy of their party platform, snagged by Politico on Friday afternoon after the Republican National Committee accidentally posted it to its website before taking it down, the GOP details their plan to privatize Medicare and Medicaid, dropping the current single-payer model in favor of a voucher program similar to the insurance exchange model envisioned by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The platform also proposes 65 as the eligibility age for the new voucher program (Americans are currently eligible for medicare at age 62). Although the replacement programs will still be called “Medicare” and “Medicaid,” after privatization the original programs will no longer exist.
“The first step is to move the two programs [Medicare and Medicaid] away from their current unsustainable defined-benefit entitlement model to a fiscally sound defined-contribution model,” the draft platform reads. “While retaining the option of traditional Medicare in competition with private plans, we call for a transition to a premium-support model for Medicare, with an income-adjusted contribution toward a health plan of the enrollee’s choice. This model will include private health insurance plans that provide catastrophic protection, to ensure the continuation of doctor-patient relationships.”
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has found that the Republican plan will raise seniors’ out-of-pocket medical expenses by thousands of dollars.
Unlike the first Ryan budget proposal unveiled in 2011, the Romney-Ryan plan includes the option for seniors to buy into a government-run plan with their vouchers. In other words, the GOP plan to replace Medicare would also allow for a public option, something that the Obama administration failed to include in the ACA.
The Associated Press reports that census figures for 2011 reveal that American poverty is spreading at record levels. The official poverty rate will rise from 15.1 percent in 2010 to 15.7 percent.
Meanwhile, in Washington, both major political parties have agreed to cut programs designed to keep more people from falling into poverty. Millions could fall through the cracks as government aid from unemployment insurance, Medicaid, welfare and food stamps diminishes. Right-wing media decries the increase in poverty while opposing anti-poverty measures such as the minimum wage and the Earned Income Tax Credit.
We’re about to fall victim to the Big Lie, as both parties push austerity plans for the middle class (not the rich) such as Simpson-Bowles and the Ryan budget proposal.
Cutting or eliminating government programs that benefit the less advantaged has long been an ideological goal of conservatives. Doing so also generates a tidy windfall for the corporate class, as government services are privatized and savings from austerity pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens.
U.S. financial interests that stand to gain from Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security cutbacks “have been the core of the big con,” the “propaganda,” that those programs are in crisis and must be slashed, said James Galbraith, an economist at the University of Texas.
Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you’ll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It’s just that it’s not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.
Posted by Cliff Lyon in Bush Administration, Bush Failures, Civil liberties Infringement, Climate Change, Corporate Socialism, Crimes, DeChristopher, Economic Exploitation, Energy, George W. Bush, Global Warming, Political Corruption, Public Lands, Republicans, Salt Lake City, Terrorism, Tim DeChristopher, utah, Utah Politics, Wilderness on March 28, 2012
Update March 29, 2012: Our outrage and phone calls worked; Tim was released this morning in advance the press conference. (see video)
We are lost as a nation when Big Oil can inflict still greater punishment than a Federal Court itself through an anonymous congressional proxy. This is too outrageous for words. It’s Kafkaesq.
DeChristopher’s legal team has scheduled a 1:30 p.m. press conference on TOMORROW (Thurs, March 29, 20112) in front on the Frank E. Moss Federal Courthouse, at 350 Main Street in Salt Lake City, to announce Tim’s appeal and discuss issues related to DeChristopher’s confinement. Source
Please join us there! But first, please make some phone calls.
DEMAND Tim DeChristopher inmate #16156-081 be immediately removed from the Special Housing Unit (SHU) and placed back in the Minimum Security Camp at FCI Herlong.
530-827-8000, Richard B. Ives, WARDEN, Eloisa DeBruler, Public Information Officer
202-307-3198, Charles E. Samuels, Jr., Director
PRIORITY CONGRESSIONAL MEMBERS TO CALL:
Jim Sensenbrenner, WI, Chairman of Subcommittee, (202) 225-5101
Louie Gohmert, TX, Vice Chairman of Subcommittee, (202) 225-3035
Jason Chaffetz, UT, DC: (202) 225-7751 UT: (801) 851-2500
The latest lie from Willard (“Mitt”) Romney, who has taken to wearing jeans and posing as a member of the middle class:
“The National Labor Relations Board, now stacked with union stooges selected by the President, says to a free enterprise like Boeing, ‘You can’t build a factory in South Carolina because South Carolina is a Right to Work state.’ That is simply un-American. It is political payback of the worst kind.”
Boeing makes most of its profits from government contracts, not “free enterprise.” Their South Carolina factory is already built. And the NLRB resolved the Boeing issue last month when Boeing and the Machinists union reached a contract extension and the NLRB dropped its legal action. Yesterday President Obama appointed Sharon Block, Terence Flynn, and Richard Griffin to the NLRB so that the board would have enough members to function despite Republican obstructionism. Flynn is a Republican.
A key role of the board is to supervise union elections and referee disputes between the nation’s private-sector employers and employees, in part by deciding cases brought to the agency. Without a quorum, the board can’t rule on cases or create major new regulations.
…Mr. Griffin is the general counsel for International Union of Operating Engineers and serves on the board of the lawyers coordinating committee for the AFL-CIO labor federation. In the early 1980s, he served as a counsel to NLRB board members.
Ms. Block is the Labor Department’s deputy assistant secretary for congressional affairs. She was previously the senior labor and employment counsel for the Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions, where she worked for the late Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
Mr. Flynn, who was nominated by Mr. Obama in January 2011, is chief counsel to the NLRB’s lone Republican member, Brian Hayes.
UPDATE: Waiting for brewski to come along and tell us the correct term for NLRB members is “union thugs.”
UPDATE: Obama Fails On Minimum Wage Pledge. After the 2008 election, the President promised to raise the federal minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by the end of 2011 and index it to inflation, “to make sure that full-time workers can earn a living wage.” The minimum wage remains where it was when Bush left office, $7.25 an hour. If it had kept pace with inflation since 1968, it would now stand at around $10.
UPDATE: Boeing has announced the closure of its Wichita, Kansas factory complex after promising Kansas Republican members of Congress that it would build Air Force tankers there if awarded the contract. They got the contract, but reneged on their promise.
Our government, and the politicians who control it, want us all to be so afraid of terrorism that we’ll give up the Bill of Rights and habeas corpus. But most Americans are far more afraid of Wall Street. The middle class lost $7.7 trillion in household net worth since collapse of the financial sector three years ago. About 24% of homes with mortgages remain underwater, which means the so-called “homeowners” have negative equity. There are 13.3 million Americans officially unemployed, and another approximately 4.8 million who have dropped out of the labor market and aren’t counted anymore. A record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street financiers who caused all this are doing swell, paying themselves record salaries and bonuses. But wait a minute, didn’t the 2008 financial meltdown result from fraudulent mortgage securitization and other illegal activities? Why has the Obama Justice Department not prosecuted these crimes?
Jeff Connaughton, the former chief of staff to former Democratic Senator Ted Kaufman, who chaired Senate oversight hearings on financial fraud prosecutions (emphasis added):
The Obama Justice Department hasn’t tried a single Wall Street executive in a criminal court. Against a handful, it decided to let the S.E.C. bring civil charges of fraud, which are easier to prove. So if defendants’ wrists are merely being slapped by the S.E.C. instead of cuffed by the Justice Department, Obama has only his appointees to blame.
…But did the Justice Department’s senior leadership even make targeting high-level fraud a top priority? Did it plan, staff, fund, and direct a thorough, probing investigation of each of the primary potential defendants? While I was working in the Senate, conversations I had with Justice Department officials led me to believe that it didn’t.
What makes Obama’s statements so dangerous is that they suggest an ongoing strategy of covering up the Wall Street crimewave. There is ample evidence out there that the Obama administration has eased up on prosecutions of Wall Street as part of a conscious strategy to prevent a collapse of confidence in our financial system, with the expected 50-state foreclosure settlement being the landmark effort in the cover-up, intended mainly to bury a generation of fraud.
…Of course, this is exactly the wrong way to go about things. If Geithner and Obama really wanted to convince the world that America’s markets weren’t broken, they would effectively police fraud, and by extension prove to everybody that at the very least, our regulatory system is not broken.
But by taking a dive on fraud, and orchestrating mass cover-ups like the coming foreclosure settlement fiasco, what they’re doing instead is signaling to the world that not only are our financial markets corrupt, but our government is broken as well.
One complication has come about due to last June’s 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Janus Capital Group, Inc. v. First Derivative Traders. The corporate-friendly justices decided to issue securities firms a license to lie, making shareholder lawsuits almost impossible. The precedent may apply as well to fraudulent mortgage securitizations going back to five years ago. Thanks to this irresponsible Supreme Court ruling, there is no longer a good reason to believe anything that’s written in a prospectus.
The Obama administration has got to stop covering for Wall Street, for three very good reasons: (1) Americans now have no confidence in our financial sector, as the middle class has taken a beating while the Top 1 Percent takes an ever-greater share of the wealth; (2) Nobody believes President Obama’s obviously false claim that that no banking or insurance executive deserves criminal prosecution for causing the 2008 collapse; and (3) By failing to prosecute Wall Street, the Obama administration is failing to deter ongoing and future financial fraud.
OWS is right. We can’t accept the funneling of wealth to the top anymore. Especially when it is done in violation of federal law, while our top officials in the Department of Justice and Treasury engage in a cover-up.
Founded in May 2005 when a global silicon shortage began driving up prices of solar photovoltaics, Solyndra was founded to provide a cost-competitive alternative. Although the company was once touted for its unusual technology, plummeting silicon prices led to the company being unable to compete with more conventional solar panels.
On March 20, 2009, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) made a “conditional commitment” to a $535 million loan guarantee to support Solyndra’s construction of a commercial-scale manufacturing plant. The Solyndra loan guarantee was a multi-year process that began in December 2006, under a program launched by the Bush Administration.
On September 1, 2011, the company ceased all business activity, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and laid off all employees. This company turned out to be a bad bet, but it comprises just 1.3% of DOE’s overall loan portfolio. To date, Solyndra is the only loan that’s known to be troubled.
The right-wing cries of “scandal” are based on the claim that one of the Solyndra investors was George Kaiser, a big-time Obama donor. The problem is that George Kaiser didn’t invest a dime in Solyndra. The nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation did. On the other hand, as Dave Johnson points out:
The conservative Wal-Mart Walton Family, however, were private investors through their Madrone Capital, and at the time that the Bush administration started pushing the Solyndra loan were in a position to personally profit from this investment. If any accusation of an expectation of personal enrichment obtained from political connections should be investigated, it is this one. Will the Republican House look into the connections between the Walton family and Bush administration officials, and the Bush administrations efforts to provide loans to Solyndra?
It’s often claimed that the Solyndra loan guarantee was “rushed through” by the Obama Administration for political reasons. What critics fail to mention is that the Solyndra deal is more than three years old, started under the Bush Administration, which tried to conditionally approve the loan right before Obama took office. Rather than “pushing funds out the door too quickly,” the Obama Administration restructured the original loan when it came into office to further protect the taxpayers’ investment. Then in August 2011 the DOE refused to bail out Solyndra, precipitating the company’s bankruptcy.
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