August 22, 2014

Study Shows the Madness of States Refusing to Expand Medicaid

 

August 14, 2014

by Joshua Holland

Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during The Family Leadership Summit, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during the Family Leadership Summit, Aug. 9, 2014, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

This week, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institutereleased a study showing that the 24 states that have refused to expand theirMedicaid programs under theAffordable Care Act will miss out on $423 billion in federal health care dollars through 2022.

Under the law, the federal government picks up all of the costs of the expansion through the first three years, and then its share gradually drops to 90 percent.

At The New Republic, Jonathan Cohn has put together an interactive map that shows how much each state is set to lose. For example, Texas, which leads the nation in its rate of uninsured (at 24 percent in 2012), and has faced draconian cuts to health care spending, will lose almost $66 billion. Florida, tied for the country’s third highest rate of uninsured, will lose a similar amount. Georgia, sixth in uninsured, will lose almost $34 billion, and North Carolina stands to miss out on around $40 billion.

The citizens of these states are paying for the Affordable Care Act — with the wealthiest paying a surcharge on both high incomes and investments. Yet the politicians who represent them are steadfast in their refusal to expand coverage for their constituents.

The economic and human costs of conservatives’ ideological crusade against the Affordable Care Act is difficult to overstate. These states aren’t just rejecting an opportunity to expand coverage; Obamacare assumed that expanding Medicaid would dramatically reduce the number of uninsured patients showing up at emergency rooms for treatment they couldn’t afford, so it cut funding for hospitals that treat large numbers of these patients. Without those federal dollars coming in, a number of hospitals that serve low-income populations in refusing states have already been shuttered. According to the Urban Institutestudy, “these 24 states are also slated to lose a $167.8 billion (31 percent) boost in Medicaid funding that was originally intended to offset major cuts to theirMedicare and Medicaid reimbursement.”

Other studies suggest that refusing to expand Medicaid will drive up premiums for private insurance, and result in somewhere between 5,700 and 17,000 preventable deaths each year in those states that hold out.

What’s more, as we pointed out back in April, an unintended consequence of the Supreme Court’s decision to allow states to opt-out of the expansion is that it’s widening the gap between “red” and “blue” states. It’s long been the case that state budgets reflect very different priorities — blue states tend to spend far more, on average, on health care, education and antipoverty programs than red states — and those differences are becoming sharper at a time when an unprecedented number of statehouses are entirely under the control of one party or another. Federal grants for Medicaid, food stamps and a host of otherprograms smooth out those differences to a degree. The Medicaid expansion would have done a lot to harmonize health policies for the poor — in many states, single people without children are ineligible for Medicaid no matter how low their incomes — but that divide will only grow wider if those 24 states continue to hold out.

The question is whether they will. Soon after the Supreme Court allowed states to opt out, the conventional wisdom held that with the amounts of money at stake, even the reddest of red states would eventually expand their Medicaid programs. That’s been true in some cases — Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, a stalwart conservative, has been engaged in a vicious fight with members of her own party over the issue — and so far has come out on top. But many of the states that need those federal dollars the most continue to resist.

Forbes reports that “pressure is building on states to go along with the expansion of Medicaid benefits under the Affordable Care Act as new studies and financial reports from health care companies point out stark differences between states treating more poor Americans and those that aren’t.” Hospitals and other providers are lobbying lawmakers hard. But it remains to be seen if those efforts result in common sense prevailing over “small government” ideology.

Grand Jury Indicts Perry Over Integrity Unit Veto

 

Gov. Rick Perry, flanked by State Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, and Texas Adjutant General John Nichols, announces the deployment of National Guard troops to the Texas border on July 21, 2014.

photo by: Bob Daemmrich

Gov. Rick Perry, flanked by State Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, and Texas Adjutant General John Nichols, announces the deployment of National Guard troops to the Texas border on July 21, 2014.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated throughout.

A grand jury indicted Gov. Rick Perry on Friday on two felony counts, alleging he abused his power by threatening to veto funding for the state’s anti-corruption prosecutors unless Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who had pleaded guilty to drunk driving, stepped down from office.

The first count, abuse of official capacity, is a first-degree felony with a potential penalty of five to 99 years in prison. The second count, coercion of a public servant, is a third-degree felony with a penalty of two to 10 years.

Perry’s legal counsel, Mary Ann Wiley, said Perry would vigorously fight the charges.

“The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution," she said. "We will continue to aggressively defend the governor’s lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail.”

The inquiry began last summer after an ethics complaint was filed alleging that Perry had improperly used a veto to deny funding for the unit, which is housed in the Travis County district attorney’s office and focuses on government corruption and tax fraud.

The indictment throws a major wrench in Perry’s possible presidential ambitions; he was in Iowa last week and was expected in both New Hampshire and South Carolina in coming weeks. Perry is the first Texas governor to be indicted in almost a century. His office did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Perry had been riding high and making national headlines in recent weeks, railing against the Obama administration for a perceived lack of response to the humanitarian crisis on the Texas-Mexico border, then reallocating funds to send National Guard troops there himself. 

Now, he’ll be playing defense.

Michael McCrum, the special investigator in the case, said he interviewed more than 40 people and reviewed hundreds of documents in the case. Perry never testified and McCrum said he didn’t subpoena the Texas governor.

"The grand jury’s spoken that at least there’s probable cause to believe that he committed two crimes, two felony crimes," he said.

He said that a time would be set up for Perry to come to court, be arraigned and be given official notice of his charges.

After Lehmberg pleaded guilty to drunken driving last year, Perry threatened to withhold $7.5 million in funding over two years for the integrity unit if Lehmberg did not resign.

Lehmberg, a Democrat, served a jail sentence but did not resign. Perry made good on his pledge and vetoed the state budget’s funding line item for the unit. Though Perry has the authority to veto items in the budget, his critics said that this was done expressly for political purposes and is a crime.

That was the rationale used by Texans for Public Justice, a left-leaning money-in-politics watchdog group that filed the initial complaint last June. The complaint said Perry was guilty of coercion of a public servant, official oppression and abuse of official capacity.

Perry’s office has repeatedly said that his veto was appropriate and that he violated no laws.

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa called on the governor to step down. Perry has "brought dishonor to his office, his family and the state of Texas," Hinojosa said in a statement.

Republican Party chairman Steve Munisteri said it was ironic that opponents are calling for Perry to resign, given that his indictment stems from trying to get Lehmberg to resign.

"I think most reasonable-minded people are going to be scratching their heads wondering what in the world is wrong with a governor who has veto power on appropriations saying he thinks it’s inappropriate to fund a unit where the head of that unit admitted that they had committed a criminal act and then compounded it by being on a video acting in an abusive way," Munisteri said.

The Austin-American Statesman reported in June that Perry would probably not testify before the grand jury, which has been meeting periodically for months, though several staffers from his office and from Travis County testified.

Last August, the Travis County Commissioners Court voted to provide some of the funding to the public integrity unit.

Lehmberg declined to comment on the indictments.

Making America Great Again: Cleaning Up Our Politics and Laws

Niko Letsos

FOR TEXAS’S SECOND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

 

August 11, 2014   | Press Release

HOUSTON, TX-Since day one, Niko Letsos’s Congressional campaign has been about the most important question a country can ask itself: do the actions we take today build on what we were given and make success more likely in the future? We know the answer to this question. Our politicians squander the many advantages previous generations gave us and give our youth and future generations only debt and nostalgia for an America that worked. It is self-destructive to continue down this road. Niko is running for Congress in Texas’s 2nd District to bring commonsense to our national legislature and a rude awakening to incumbent politicians who put self-interest above the common good.

As the youngest Congressional candidate in the country and a high school teacher, Niko has a unique perspective on the complete failure of our politics. For young people today, it is harder than ever to get ahead by working hard and playing by the rules. The generation coming of age now is projected to be the first one in American history that was not better off than all the ones that came before. From George Washington to someone born in 1970, there was a generational progress that has come to a sudden end. Niko has seen too many of his peers and students get a rotten deal in our broken system.

DC politics are at the heart of the problem. The Peterson Foundation estimates that political gridlock and instability since 2010, which came to a head last year in the government shutdown, has slowed economic growth by one per cent and likely prevented the creation of two million jobs in our country. That is the difference between continuing to improve, as we have always done in our history, and the cold-hard reality we face today of rapidly declining opportunity.

Both parties have offered nothing when it comes to fixing our broken political system and thereby restoring social mobility. We need clear commitments to pass legislation addressing the deep challenges we face, such as tax reform, the inexcusable amount of regulations some businesses face and the loopholes other businesses receive, immigration, and entitlement costs. Politicians focus on black and white interpretations of the issues and use them to rile up the base. Running on emotion will not accomplish a thing. We need people focused on substance that will allow us to rein in bloated bureaucracies, eliminate antiquated or overly detailed laws, and allow the government to do its job efficiently.

On his website nikoletsos.com, Niko has laid out his extensive plans for the sort of legislation he will fight for in Congress to get the country moving forward. Niko’s proposals emphasize accountability and transparency as to limit the powers of special interests and reconnect representatives to their communities. His legislative commitments include allowing people to track every single one of their tax dollars and having access to politicians’ detailed, daily schedules. Niko is committed to cleaning up our politics by eliminating gerrymandering and achieving campaign finance reform through full and detailed disclosure. Niko will practice strict oversight to make sure no one, from a military contractor to Walgreens, fleeces the government.

A democracy where only 13% of people trust the government to do the right thing all or most of the time is unsustainable. Empowering everyday Americans to be involved in the daily activity of government will revitalize our government by bringing it out into the open. Restoring trust is therefore the dominant theme in Niko’s campaign.

The 2nd District’s incumbent, Tea-Partier Ted Poe, says nothing about the real problems we face and does not offer a single idea to get our democracy working again. Poe has had ten years in Congress and has no record of fighting for common sense or acting creatively to overcome DC gridlock. Ted is a cartoon politician that talks more than anyone else in Congress. Ted is a weather vane that goes whichever way the polls do. He has switched positions on immigration many times—being for and against the DREAM Act depending on the audience. Ted has lined his pockets with millions of dollars of corporate money that dictates how he votes. For example, Ted did not get involved in the METRO light rail expansion until this year, when that issue became tied to our city’s preparation for Super Bowl LI. It does not seem to be a coincidence that the Houston Texans have long been a top donor of his. Politicians like Poe are why so few people have faith in government. Ted is cowardly when it comes to going against what’s popular and helpless when it comes to getting things done.

Doing nothing as Poe has done is in practice an endorsement of the status quo, a low point in our nation’s history. We need candidates willing to stand up to their own party and associated special interests, and offer legislation to reform government. Niko is a Democrat but not a friend of trial lawyers or willing to placate special interests, corporations, or unions. Niko is a Democrat because he believes government should play its part in creating a level playing field. We need to take every action necessary to get our democracy working again—that is, fighting for the common good above all else.

From students who deserve a fair shot to the retired who deserve stability in their old age, everyone in the 2nd district will benefit from someone up to the task of addressing the challenges we face in DC. We need less talking and more doing. We need candidates made to go, not for show. With less than three months until the election, Texans must back candidates who offer specific plans to fix the problems that hold our country back. Niko has such plans. Morally and economically, we cannot afford to elect the same people and play politics as usual. All Americans who care about the common good must rally to clean up our politics and laws.

The Time for Boldness is Now

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Armed Right-Wing Militias Amassing Along Texas Border With State Lawmaker’s Blessing

 

BY IAN MILLHISER POSTED ON AUGUST 8, 2014 AT 2:09 PM UPDATED: AUGUST 8, 2014 AT 3:27 PM

A militiaman staged at a Texas ranch in 2006

A militiaman at a Texas ranch in 2006

CREDIT: AP PHOTO/ERIC GAY)

For much of the summer, right-wing militiamen have gathered near the Texas-Mexico border, many of them claiming that they are there as part of something called “Operation Secure Our Border.” They include members of a movement that President George W. Bush denounced as “vigilantes,” and they also include members of even more radical groups that promote wild conspiracy theoriesand that explicitly threaten violence against the government.

And now, they have the blessing of a sitting Texas lawmaker. After touring the Rio Grande Valley near the border, Republican state Rep. Doug Miller claimed that the militias “have a right to be there” and that they “are not currently a problem.” According to Miller, he was told that the militias “are on private property, helping ranchers and owners to keep illegals coming onto or through their property … and there haven’t been any problems.”

Miller is not the highest-ranking Texas official who has dismissed criticism of armed vigilantes patrolling the Texas border. Late last month, the 12 Democratic members of Texas’ congressional delegation penned a letter to Greg Abbott, the state’s attorney general and the Republican candidate to be Texas’ next governor. In it, the 12 lawmakers quote a militia leader who said that “You see an illegal. You point your gun dead at him, right between the eyes, and you say, ‘Get back across the border or you will be shot.’” They also ask Abbott to “denounce the actions of these militia groups and clarify the jurisdiction these militia groups have to patrol alongside local law enforcement and Border Patrol agents.”

A spokesperson for Abbott dismissed the letter as a “partisan political stunt.”

The militias Abbott would not denounce include a volatile mix of paranoid anti-government groups and potentially violent gun activists. According to the Dallas Morning News, the earliest wave of militiamen coming to Texas included members of the Oathkeepers, a group which describes itself as an “association of currently serving military, reserves, National Guard, peace officers, fire-fighters, and veterans who swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic … and meant it.” Their website warns of government officials “disarm[ing] the American people,” “confiscat[ing] the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies,” and “blockad[ing] American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.”

The militiamen also reportedly include members of the “Three Percenter’s Club,” a group which claims that its “mission is give our members the capabilities and resources necessary to execute Military Strategies to defend against foreign and domestic enemies.” The Three Percenter movement takes its name from the “3% of the colonist [sic]” who allegedly “refused orders by the British Crown to surrender their firearms in the American Revolution,” and it was founded by a conservative activist named Mike Vanderboegh. On his personal blog, Vanderboegh explained that one of the Three Percenter movement’s core beliefs is a willingness to offer violent resistance to the government:

We intend to maintain our God-given natural rights to liberty and property, and that means most especially the right to keep and bear arms. Thus, we are committed to the restoration of the Founders’ Republic, and are willing to fight, die and, if forced by any would-be oppressor, to kill in the defense of ourselves and the Constitution that we all took an oath to uphold against enemies foreign and domestic.

We are the people that the collectivists who now control the government should leave alone if they wish to continue unfettered oxygen consumption. We are the Three Percent. Attempt to further oppress us at your peril.

To put it bluntly, leave us the hell alone.

Or, if you feel froggy, go ahead AND WATCH WHAT HAPPENS.

Last April, a similar collection of militia organizations, including members of the Oath Keepers, gathered near the home of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy to offer armed resistance to federal officials seeking to enforce a court order preventing Bundy from illegally grazing his cattle on federal land. Bundy briefly became a hero among conservative media figures such as Fox News’ Sean Hannity, andSen. Dean Heller (R-NV) labeled Bundy and his supporters “patriots.” Bundy’s moment as a Republican folk hero ended fairly abruptly, however, after hemade racist remarks about “the Negro.”

What sets Bundy’s armed supporters apart from the militia members gathering in Texas, however, is that Bundy’s militia squared off against trained federal law enforcement officials. The militiamen in Texas, by contrast, have threatened to point their guns at desperate and often helpless people crossing the border.

The true source of the immigration crisis

 

By Niko Letsos
Candidate, U.S. Rep., Dist. 2 |

The failure of our political system to deliver on immigration reform is stupefying. President Bush made immigration reform a priority 10 years ago and President Obama entered office hoping to sign an overhaul into law. A growing majority of Americans want comprehensive immigration reform passed. And yet, there is no prospect for such a reform because Congress cannot get its act together. Our national lawmakers are clueless when it comes to the facts surrounding immigration and understanding that their indecisiveness has made the problem worse.

Our southern neighbors have always been behind us in economic development and for that reason Latin Americans have had an incentive to get here. Before the 1970s, however, illegal immigration was mostly a non-issue throughout our history. Why has the problem of massive illegal immigration arisen only in recent decades? The Republican claim that the main issue is an insecure border is ahistorical and wrong. In the 1960s, was there a Great Wall of America on the southern border that has since fallen into disrepair? Today, the border is the most secure it has ever been and it has not solved the problem. Our immigrant crisis does not begin or end at the border. Rather, the change is to be found in international relations and domestic law enforcement.

Mexican cooperation was essential when our immigration system worked. For example, a 1954 operation that deported over one million undocumented laborers was carried out at the behest of the Mexican government and saw significant cross-border coordination. Mexico has recently progressed enormously and should be doing much more to regulate migration flows: it is one of the top 15 wealthiest countries in the world. Mexico’s economy is thriving and exports are growing.

In fact, Mexico has exported one thing to us this year we all know about: tens of thousands of young and desperate Central Americans. These children had to go through at least 1,200 miles of Mexican territory. The many human rights abuses migrants face in Mexico are well documented. Governments are usually punished for allowing such human rights abuse. Mexico today has the means to tackle the problem and we must pressure it to do so. Congress has not explored this issue at all. Stopping immigrants before they get here is common sense and the Mexican government can do that.

More important than international relations is the lack of law enforcement at home. After the bipartisan 1986 effort to bring legal integrity to our immigration system, a generation of lawmakers dropped the ball. Up until 2005, immigration was scarcely talked about although illegal immigration greatly increased beginning in the 1990s as laws defining employment were neglected. It has long been an open secret that in construction, agriculture, restaurants, maintenance and domestic services undocumented workers are widely employed. Congress did nothing to end this practice. Congress’s dithering has resulted in a legal and civil rights limbo for 11 million undocumented residents residing in our country today. These millions immigrated and set roots in America because Congress allowed them to be easily and illegally employed. There is a staggering incongruity between spending billions to catch immigrants crossing our borders and allowing them to work openly once in our country.

What options do we have to solve our immigration problems? Deporting over 11 million people is logistically impossible and would gut our economy, never mind being morally contemptible. Getting the border to be impassable would be hugely expensive and would do nothing to solve the problem of having 11 million people who live here outside of the law. The only option we have is comprehensive immigration legislation from Congress.

The legislation must include mechanisms for legal residence and guest worker passes for agriculture. For immigrants who arrived here as adults, the law must have provisions to collect back-taxes without any deductibles — distinguishing it from amnesty as there would be a legal fine incurred in the form of paying taxes so constructed. Legal residence will be conferred once payments on those taxes begin, and such residents could apply for citizenship once all taxes are paid. The goal of this effort is to not have a single worker in America outside of the law. Such legislation will not be perfect. It is the price to pay for 30 years of laws being ignored and Congress not doing anything about it. It is a price worth paying: it will make us a nation of laws once again.

The reform we undertake must be guided by an attitude of “never again.” Never again will we ignore the international dimensions of immigration. Never again will our immigration and labor laws go unenforced and break down. And never again will we allow Congress to run away from doing its job.

 

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LETSOS

Why You Don’t Know Obama Has Created 4.5 Million Jobs

by Michael Tomaskey of The Daily Beast

Why You Don’t Know Obama Has Created 4.5 Million Jobs

 

Do you have any idea how many more jobs Obama has created than Bush did? You don’t, because liberals are less likely than conservatives to cheerlead.

The terrific June jobs report may be the signal we’ve been waiting for that we’re finally turning the psychic corner. The overall jobs number was great at 288,000, and the unemployment rate was down to 6.1 percent. But the most important number was that the employment-to-population ratio, which many economists think of as the truest measure of the jobs market, was up a bit to 59 percent, a high for the recovery, indicating that maybe more people are finally out looking for work than staying home.

A lot of liberals puzzle over why the Obama administration isn’t getting more credit, or doesn’t do a better job of making sure it gets credit, for such good economic news. There are a lot of theories, and most of them hold varying amounts of water. But the main reason to me is fairly obvious: Liberals don’t speak as one big fat propagandistic voice on this subject in remotely the same way conservatives do when a Republican president is in power.

Before I get into all that, I want to review some numbers with you, because unless you’re a hyper-informed political junkie, I doubt you know them. How many net jobs has the economy created during Barack Obama’s presidency, and how many did it create during George W. Bush’s tenure? Notice first that I wrote “has the economy created” rather than “did Obama create/did Bush create.” I think it’s a better description of reality.

I also should note that I just measured the numbers under each president—I gave Bush the numbers from January 2001 to December 2008, and Obama the numbers from January 2009 to the present, with the following asterisk. January 2009 was when Obama became president, but he didn’t start until the 20th, of course. That was a particularly awful month, with 798,000 jobs lost. So I think it’s reasonable to give Bush, whose policies helped cause the meltdown anyway, two-thirds of that 798,000. (January 2001, by the way, was a tiny number, 30,000 jobs lost, but just to be consistent, I assigned only 10,000 of those to Bush.)

Imagine that a Republican president produced 45 straight months of job growth coming off the worst financial crisis since the Depression. Lord, we’d never hear the end of it.

Here are Bush’s numbers: It’s 8.657 million jobs gained, and 7.121 million jobs lost, for a net job-creation number of 1.536 million. Pathetic. It’s interesting to look back over the numbers from 2001. The economy stank. The month of 9/11, we lost 242,000 jobs. Want to ascribe that just to the attacks? In August, we’d lost 158,000. The decent Bush years were 2004, 2005, 2006, and part of 2007, but even then the numbers were hoppy and inconsistent: 307,000 jobs added in May 2004 and just 74,000 in June, for instance.

And what about Obama’s numbers? I’d betting that even if you’re an Obama partisan, you think they’re not all that different from Bush’s. After all, 2009 was miserable: minus 798,000, minus 701,000, minus 826,000, and so on. The numbers went into the black in early 2010, but dipped back into the red in the summer. But remember, since October 2010, every report has been positive—the now 45 straight months of job growth that the president and his team, to little avail, crow about.

But they’ve added up, because under Obama, the economy has added 9.425 million jobs and lost 4.887, for a net gain of 4.538 million jobs. That’s a 3 million advantage over Bush. Now, 6.5 million jobs doesn’t put Obama up there in Clinton (22 million) and Reagan (around 16 million) territory. But remember—he has 30 months to go yet. Let’s say we average a gain of 250,000 a month the rest of the way. That’s another 7.5 million. And that would edge him up toward Reagan territory. And that seems conservative, if anything. If the recovery gets genuinely humming, we could start seeing months between 300,000 and 400,000 next year. It seems unlikely to happen, but God would it be hilarious if Obama, with everything the Republicans in Congress have done to keep the economy in a state of contraction, ended up surpassing Reagan.

[UPDATE: I rechecked my math this morning, and it's a good thing I did. I had originally given Obama nearly 2 million more jobs created than the actual numbers reflect. Obviously, I want to be accurate here. I added and re-added these three times.]

But all that’s speculative. After all, there could be a recession coming, too, though most experts don’t seem to fear that much. So let’s just talk about the up to now, the 6.5 million net jobs. As I said before, I bet you didn’t know that. Why?

Two main reasons. One, the administration doesn’t go a great job of trumpeting it, and I think for good reason. Officials may feel constrained from doing too much boasting because a lot of people’s perception and experience is still worse than that. A lot of these aren’t great jobs, and the economy is still only doing real well for the top 5 or 10 percent.

The second reason is that figures on the broad left simply aren’t superficial cheerleaders. The two men who are probably the most influential economic voices on the left, Paul Krugman and Robert Reich, have both been pretty harsh critics of the administration’s economic policies, as have other liberal economists. They, and less well-known but still prominent people such as Dean Baker, look at the numbers and report the truth as they see it. Democratic politicians are cheerleaders in varying degree—there’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz on the rah-rah end, but most Democrats don’t brag too much for the same reason the White House doesn’t.

And the media voices on the left—the folks on MSNBC, say—try to accentuate the positive in political terms, but they don’t ignore the bad news by any stretch of the imagination. MSNBC talks a lot about obstreperous Republicans, a theme to which I certainly contribute on air, but the network also offers a consistent diet of news features on and interviews with people stuck in the dead-end economy and having a hard time of it, segments that usually demand the government do more.

Now, imagine that a Republican president produced 45 straight months of job growth coming off the worst financial crisis since the Depression. Lord, we’d never hear the end of it from Fox and Limbaugh and even from CNBC. They wouldn’t care about the reality that a lot of the jobs are low wage. They’d just trumpet the bottom-line numbers as evidence of their president’s Churchillian greatness.

That’s how they are, and nothing’s going to change them. The important question now, as I said up top, is whether we’re really turning the psychic corner. Corporations have been hoarding record profits, banks still aren’t lending they way they should be, businesses have been skittish about large-scale hiring. It’s a big game of economic chicken, and it certainly has a political element. Most of these corporate titans and bankers and business leaders are Republicans. I don’t think most of them would intentionally hold the economy back because they don’t like the president, but I do think they take their cues from elected Republicans more than from Obama. When the Republicans stand up and say repeatedly that the president’s policies are failing, failing, failing, these private-sector titans hear them, and it influences what they do.

It may be that we’re finally working our way through all that. Happy days aren’t yet here again, but, once again, Democrats, the alleged socialists, are saving capitalism from the supposed lovers of capitalism who almost destroyed it.

Is Anybody Listening? Obama Lawsuit Facts

 

Boehner and lawsuit

J. Scott Applewhite

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio strides to the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 30, 2014, as lawmakers prepare to move on legislation authorizing an election-year lawsuit against President Barack Obama that accuses him of exceeding his powers in enforcing his health care law. Democrats have branded the effort a political charade aimed at stirring up Republican voters for the fall congressional elections. They say it’s also an effort by top Republicans to mollify conservatives who want Obama to be impeached — something Boehner said Tuesday he has no plans to do. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Posted: Friday, August 1, 2014 8:20 am | Updated: 9:37 pm, Fri Aug 1, 2014.

By Mardi Harrison, Community Blogger

I freely admit that I am a political junkie – can’t get enough of hearing about the machinations, the foibles, the negotiations that comprise our government and our elected officials.

Because I am politically active, most of my friends come from the political groups to which I belong. I assume it’s similar for my counterparts who write the Politically Correct blog in this paper. And it’s probably true of those people who plaster themselves in front of FOX or MSNBC for 3 or more hours a day. When I get together with my friends, politics is a big part of our conversation, comparing our knowledge of the current news, filling in whatever the other may have missed, offering our opinions. So, it is easy to lose perspective. The truth is, my friends and I, the Politically Correct guys and their friends, and the watchers of FOX and MSNBC – we are a very small percentage of the population at large. And I find that It’s good to remind myself of that fact every once in a while. So, I talk to the couple of people I know who are politically blind, and with whom it is not a social taboo to discuss politics. The ladies who have helped me clean my house for the last 15 years are such people. They are kind, hard-working, sincere people, and they just don’t care about government or politics. There is also my yoga teacher. She is spiritual, and worldly-wise, and smart and I love her. But politics depresses her; makes her sad. So, she fills her life with other interests.

An average conversation goes like this – ME: “What do you think of the Republicans in the House bringing a lawsuit against the President?” THEM: “What lawsuit?” ME: “The Republicans in the House of Representatives have voted to sue President Obama.” THEM: “For what?”

For What – that turns out to be a good question, because in the world of politics, things are usually not at all what they seem, and this is a prime example. The Republicans are suing President Obama because they know it would be political suicide to impeach him. They are hoping that a lawsuit will mollify the most ardent and right wing of their ranks, and distract them from that suicidal path.

However, like most things that are not done with an honest motive, it is impossible to keep the logic intellectually honest, so this path isn’t such a healthy one for the Republicans either.

1. They are suing President Obama for using the mechanism of executive orders in order to accomplish thi  ngs and do his job. In fact, Obama has issued fewer executive orders than any of the past 5 presidents. George W Bush issued more than twice as many, and bragged about being the Unitary President, and there was never a peep from the Republicans. Executive Orders have been a common practice for the last century – they’ve only become offensive when the President they love to hate uses them.

2. The executive order they’ve taken offense at is Obama’s order to defer the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act. This was an action that the Republicans fully supported, since they didn’t want any part of that Act implemented. Now they’re suing the President because he put off implementing it. Can we all spell “hypocrisy?”

3. There are a lot of lawyers in the House of Representatives. Hopefully, since it is Civil Law 101, they all know that in order to bring a lawsuit, the Plaintiff must have been injured in some way by the actions of the Defendant. How, exactly, were the Republicans in the House of Representatives injured by the act of deferring the implementation of the employer mandate? Arguably, they were made better, since so many of their corporate constituents would have been happy about the delay. This requirement that the Plaintiff must have been injured by the Defendant is called “standing to sue,” and the Republicans don’t have it.

4. If the purpose of the lawsuit was to mollify the farthest regions of the base, why pick a decision that basically, the base approved of? They have SO many complaints – so many grievances against this President. They basically abhor everything he does, including breathing. Why not pick a more incendiary issue? I actually don’t know the answer to this one – if any of my beloved right wing trolls have the answer, I hope you will enlighten me.

5. Both the President and the Congress make these little adjustments to a law all the time. Hopefully, their purpose is to improve the law, or its implementation. Could that be why the far right hated this one?

6. You can’t sue people just because you disagree with their ideology (or because you hate them). Honest. If you could do that, I’d be the busiest lawyer on the eastern seaboard.

7. What ever happened to the Republicans’ abhorance of frivolous lawsuits? No one got hurt here, which makes this the mother of all frivolous lawsuits. Once again, H-y-p-o-c-r-i-c-y.

8. This law suit is going to cost millions and millions of dollars, and whose dollars do you think they are? It is impossible to believe that this is what the Republicans think our limited resources should be spent on, when they have no hesitations about cutting food stamps, school lunches, teachers in the classrooms, veterans benefits, infrastructure projects. This is what they spend their time on, instead of immigration, a jobs bill, fixing the voting rights act, fixing Citizen’s United.

It just gets harder and harder to understand why anyone votes for Republicans, except that my cleaning ladies and my yoga teacher don’t even know this is happening. But –some hope. When I explained about the lawsuit to my yoga teacher today, she became frustrated and angry. “We should get rid of all of these guys who are just wasting time, and bring in someone new who would do a better job!” she said. I responded, “yes – and there is a mechanism to do that.” She thought for a moment, smiled, and we said in unison, “we can vote.” Enlightenment.

Go out and talk to those people who are too busy worrying about which Kardashian is the prettiest, and who is going to win The Voice, and which Housewives are the coolest — or those people who don’t care about those things either — they’re just too busy and too tired trying to support their families and live their lives to involve themselves in much else. Find those people who don’t have the inclination or the luxury of spending hours and hours watching political TVand reading political websites, and tell them the stories about what the people actually affecting their lives are doing. Because our politicians are counting on them not finding out. Watch these people get frustrated. Watch them get mad. Watch them reach that moment where they realize for themselves why we have to vote. Then maybe the will of the people will actually be done come election time.

Filthy Despicable Racism Is The Real Reason Why Republicans Are Suing President Obama

 

By: Rmusemore from Rmuse

Friday, August, 1st, 2014, 11:40 am

obama-frown-3

A tyrant is defined as a dictator who has usurped legitimate sovereignty and wields ultimate control over everything, and is considered a ruler of horrible and massively oppressive character. According to both Plato and Aristotle, a tyrant is one who rules according to his own advantage rather than that of his subjects, and uses extremely cruel tactics against his own people for sheer pleasure. Since November 2008, a tyrant in Republican parlance is an African American man the people elected to serve as their President, and in fact, they were so convinced the President-elect was a tyrant they scheduled a conclave for inauguration night to subvert the African American man they called tyrant before his first day in office.

Republicans have spent over five-and-a-half years and myriad attempts to destroy the African American President, and because they failed miserably they are seeking redress from the courts by suing Barack Obama for being President while Black. On Wednesday when House Republicans voted to sue the President, they spent their floor time explaining they were seeking relief from the judicial system because the President did precisely what they asked; give small businesses extra time to prepare for the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to provide healthcare insurance to their employees.

That’s right; House Speaker John Boehner and Republicans aresuing Barack Obama because they complained bitterly the ACA mandate was too much of a burden, and too soon for small businesses to comply and because the African American President they call a tyrant acquiesced and gave them what they wanted, they are suing him. Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner had the temerity to demand the President take executive action to fix the Bush-Republican immigration law Boehner cannot get Republicans to pass, and this after authorizing the lawsuit against the President for doing what they wanted. It is noteworthy that several Republicans claimed if the President took executive action on immigration, they would impeach him for doing their job. Their problem with the President is not that he is a tyrant, but because he is a Black man doing what they refuse to do; work.

As far as the Republican House’s “standing” to sue the President for doing what they wanted, they have none because neither Speaker of the House John Boehner, nor any Republican suffered the loss of healthcare insurance due to the President’s executive order delaying compliance to the healthcare mandate. The American people provide the best healthcare for the Republicans who voted to sue the President prior to taking a paid five week hiatus for doing nothing for the people throughout the course of 2014. However, the Republican lawsuit has nothing whatsoever to do with “standing,” or loss of healthcare insurance, or because the President is a tyrant; it is solely because Barack Obama is an African American the people elected twice to be their President.

If the President’s race is not why Republicans call him a tyrant and are taking him to court for issuing an executive order delaying the requirement for small businesses to comply with the ACA mandate, then why did they not take George W. Bush to court for issuing a similar executive order delaying implementation of the unfunded Medicare prescription plan in 2006? In fact, a majority of the executive actions President Obama has taken, and earned calls of “tyrant” from Republicans, were exactly the same orders, including the same titles, that white president George W. Bush made earning accolades from Republicans. President Obama is not a tyrant, he is an African American President and because Republicans have failed to subvert his Presidency they intend to sue him for being a Black man in the White House. Something they cannot comport and have taken extreme measures to remedy.

Although the House Republican vote to sue the President is beyond despicable, and it is monumentally despicable, they have over the course of the past three-and-a-half years committed some of the most heinous acts to destroy the Obama presidency. They have twice threatened to force the nation to default on its credit, garnered the nation’s first-ever credit downgrade in its history, shutdown the government, attempted to scuttle a peaceful resolution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and obstructed each and every attempt to create jobs for the American people. It is beyond refute that Republicans hate this nation, and its people, but the level of racially-driven hatred of the African American man the people elected twice as President is as palpable among Republicans in Congress as the ignorant religious and racist voters who send them to Washington to subvert this President at any and all costs.

Republicans and their supporters were calling President Obama a tyrant, usurper, illegal, not an American, and an imperial President from his first days in office and it is all down to racial animus. Shortly after taking office, teabaggers compared President Obama to England’s King George III, and took to the streets claiming they were “taxed enough already” by the “tyrant” in the White House; despite the President just gave them tax cuts as part of the “stimulus” for economic relief after white-guy Bush and Republicans tanked the economy. Teabaggers were not protesting because they were overtaxed because they were just given tax cuts, they were protesting because an African American man was sitting in the Oval Office.

Republicans have made a mockery of governance for well-over five years, and it is all due to their racial animus toward Barack Obama they disguise with words like tyrant, executive overreach, dictator, and imperial president. However, according to the definition of tyrant, it is Republicans in Congress who have spent over five years attempting to wield ultimate control over everything, rule according to their own advantage rather than the people they were elected to serve, use extremely cruel tactics against their own constituents, and rule according to massively oppressive character. And what drives their tyranny against their fellow countrymen besides hatred of the people is their racially driven animus toward an African American in the White House. Now because they have failed to discredit and destroy Barack Obama’s Presidency they are taking him to court for the Confederate crime of being the President of the United States while being Black; not because he is a tyrant but because they are filthy despicable racists.

Filthy Despicable Racism Is The Real Reason Why Republicans Are Suing President Obama was written by Rmuse for PoliticusUSA.

© PoliticusUSA, Fri, Aug 1st, 2014 — All Rights Reserved

Immigration Activists Hold Funeral For GOP: It’s ‘Dead To Our Community’

 

Posted: 07/21/2014 4:38 pm EDT Updated: 2 hours ago

 

IMMIGRATION

  • WASHINGTON — Dressed in black and carrying a mock coffin, a coalition of immigration activists paraded through the halls of the Dirksen and Hart Senate buildings on Monday morning as part of a protest of the Republican Party’s stance on immigration.

    During the staged funeral procession, demonstrators said that they wouldn’t cry for the Republican Party or mourn its death because its politicians are out of touch on immigration and no longer represent their community.

    "The Republican Party is essentially dead to our community. They have killed the dreams of thousands of people," said Greisa Martinez, an organizer with United We Dream, the youth-led immigration advocacy network that organized the event. Explaining that her mother is undocumented, Martinez said, "They have killed the dreams of my mother for not moving forward on immigration reform. They have killed the dreams of millions of people across the nation. And we’re here to say, ‘Enough.’"

    The procession started at Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) office and meandered through the halls, stopping at the offices of Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas). At each office, the casket was laid outside the office doors while members of the procession, some of whom were undocumented, shared personal stories to suggest that the GOP is out of touch on immigration.

    On the verge of tears outside of Thune’s office, Excy Guardado spoke about how she came to the United States as a 4-year-old with false documents.

    "I came here to reunite with my family," she said. "I can’t imagine being forced to go back to my country Honduras, back to poverty, back to a place where I could die any day, back to a place that has no opportunities for me or my family."

    The protest comes as Congress debates how to handle a crisis at its southern border, where more than 57,000 unaccompanied children, many of whom are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, have crossed illegally into the U.S. this fiscal year.

    President Barack Obama has requested $3.7 billion to fund efforts to care for the unaccompanied minors and deter others from coming, but Republicans have resisted approving the request without conditions. Among these conditions is Cruz’s demand that Obama end a policy called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allows young undocumented immigrants to apply to stay in the country.

    Activists at the Senate building on Monday decried Cruz’s proposal, as well as efforts to change a 2008 law that requires unaccompanied minors from countries other than Mexico and Canada to go through immigration courts before being deported. Another of the group’s targets was the Humane Act, a bill proposed by Cornyn and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) that would expedite deportations of minors from non-contiguous countries.

    Humming "We shall overcome," and chanting "RIP GOP" — sometimes at a whisper, to accommodate the rules of the Senate buildings — the demonstrators left teddy bears outside of each office that they visited. Advocates said stuffed animals, rather than deportation, should welcome children fleeing violence.

    Many also carried rainbow flags with them, arguing that immigration reform is inextricably tied to LGBT issues.

    "If they take away my deferred action, I would be ostracized for the way I identify," said Tony Choi, who is an LGBT DACA applicant. "For other undocumented [members of the LGBT community], they also face mob violence, lynchings and even execution."

    • Alex Wong via Getty Images

      Members of United We Dream, Maria Palacios (L) of Tampa, Florida, and Yadira Dumet (R) of New York City, carry a mock coffin during the protest. Activists staged "funeral services for the Republican Party" because "the GOP has embraced radical right-wing policies and has actively called for the separation of families and the deportation of Dreamers."

    • Alex Wong via Getty Images

      The protest was acted out as a funeral service for Republicans because of their policies on immigration.

    • Alex Wong via Getty Images

      Oliver Merino of Charlotte, North Carolina, protests outside the office of Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

    • Saul Loeb/AFB/Getty Images

      Protestors with the group United We Dream leave teddy bears outside a congressional office.