Jul 102014
 

President Obama was in Austin, Texas today. He spoke at some length mainly about the economy and the obstructionist Republicans in congress. My favorite and, I feel, the most relevant part of speech was:

The truth is, even with all the actions I’ve taken this year, I’m issuing executive orders at the lowest rate in more than 100 years. So it’s not clear how it is that Republicans didn’t seem to mind when President Bush took more executive actions than I did. (Applause.) Maybe it’s just me they don’t like. I don’t know. Maybe there’s some principle out there that I haven’t discerned, that I haven’t figure out. (Laughter.) You hear some of them — “sue him,” “impeach him.” Really? (Laughter.) Really? For what? (Applause.) You’re going to sue me for doing my job? Okay. (Applause.)

I mean, think about that. You’re going to use taxpayer money to sue me for doing my job — (laughter) — while you don’t do your job. (Applause.)

There’s a great movie called “The Departed” — a little violent for kids. But there’s a scene in the movie where Mark Wahlberg — they’re on a stakeout and somehow the guy loses the guy that they’re tracking. And Wahlberg is all upset and yelling at the guy. And the guy looks up and he says, “Well, who are you?” And Wahlberg says, “I’m the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy.” (Laughter and applause.) Sometimes, I feel like saying to these guys, I’m the guy doing my job, you must be the other guy. (Applause.)

So rather than wage another political stunt that wastes time, wastes taxpayers’ money, I’ve got a better idea: Do something. (Applause.) If you’re mad at me for helping people on my own, let’s team up. Let’s pass some bills. Let’s help America together. (Applause.)

Here’s the video. A complete transcript of the President’s remarks will follow the break.

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Dec 042013
 

President Obama discusses the twin challenges of growing income inequality and shrinking economic mobility and how they pose a fundamental threat to the American Dream.

Since 1979, when I graduated from high school, our productivity is up by more than 90 percent, but the income of the typical family has increased by less than eight percent. Since 1979, our economy has more than doubled in size, but most of that growth has flowed to a fortunate few.

The top 10 percent no longer takes in one-third of our income — it now takes half. Whereas in the past, the average CEO made about 20 to 30 times the income of the average worker, today’s CEO now makes 273 times more. And meanwhile, a family in the top 1 percent has a net worth 288 times higher than the typical family, which is a record for this country.

So the basic bargain at the heart of our economy has frayed.

The full transcript of the President’s remarks follows the break.

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Oct 032013
 

President Obama was in Rockville, Maryland today and spoke about the economic impact of the Republican Shutdown.

The only thing that is keeping the government shut down; the only thing preventing people from going back to work and basic research starting back up, and farmers and small business owners getting their loan — the only thing that’s preventing all that from happening, right now, today, in the next five minutes, is that Speaker John Boehner won’t even let the bill get a yes-or-no vote, because he doesn’t want to anger the extremists in his party. That’s all. That’s what this whole thing is about.

Here is the video. The full transcript of the President’s remarks follows the break.

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Shutdown for Dummies

 Posted by at 14:44  Politics, Republicans
Oct 022013
 

A fellow by the name of Josh Wimmer posted the following on his Facebook. It is about as clear and as true a summary I have seen anywhere on what is happening right now with the U.S. government. Read it. Share it.

1. This shutdown is not happening because both parties won’t compromise. This shutdown is happening because Republicans in the House of Representatives have refused to pass a budget bill without a bunch of amendments tacked on to it, chiefly amendments nullifying Obamacare.

2. Obamacare is not directly tied to this budget bill in any way. It is a separate piece of legislation, already passed and signed into law back in 2010. The House Republicans are just saying, “We don’t like this law, Obamacare, that was already passed, and because we do not have the votes to repeal it in the manner laid out in the Constitution” — they don’t; they’ve already tried to repeal it 42 times, yes, that is true, 42 times — “we’re going to instead DEMAND that the law be repealed or delayed, or else we won’t pass this budget legislation necessary to keep the country running.”

3. Again, Obamacare was signed into law, in the fashion laid out in the Constitution of the United States, in 2010. It was not, like, laid down by martial law, unless you think a bunch of congresspeople and senators voting for a bill counts as martial law.

4. Also, the president behind Obamacare was reelected in 2012. Also also, in 2012 the Democrats retained control of the Senate, and House Republicans actually lost the popular vote, but stayed in control of their chamber because of shrewd gerrymandering. All of which is to say: If Americans hate Obamacare so much, how come they reelected Obama and voted so strongly for Democrats.

5. Remember that in 2012, the Supreme Court, led by a conservative chief justice and majority, upheld Obamacare’s constitutionality, except for one part. (And that part is kaput. The president is not trying to enforce it with UN troops and black helicopters. It’s why we don’t have a state-run health exchange here in Wisconsin.) So, to sum up: Obamacare was not only enacted according to the rule of law in this country, it also survived scrutiny by the highest judiciary body in the land, which is in the hands of the opposition party.

6. The point being: None of this is to say whether Obamacare will be good or bad for the country! It is only to say that it was passed according to the rules, and it’s been legitimized by our top court and implicitly by citizens who voted to reelect the president whose name it bears. Socialist tyranny, it’s just not.

7. What the House GOP is pulling right now — “Get rid of Obamacare or we’ll shut down important services and risk a global financial catastrophe by not raising the debt ceiling” — this is not politics as usual. This is extortion. They are a minority; even plenty of other Republican legislators think that what these guys are doing is absurd and dangerous (and this will likely become more clear the longer the shutdown goes on). If these guys want to get rid of Obamacare, they should go out and campaign and get more senators and a president elected. That is how democracy works. AMERICA, Y’ALL.

8. A note on the debt ceiling: Voting to raise the debt ceiling is not voting to spend money that the U.S. doesn’t have. Congress *already voted* to spend that money. The debt ceiling is a bizarre, redundant device, and we are basically the only country that has one. (Denmark has one, but it’s just a formality and has never been a point of controversy or contention.) Essentially, it’s like if your dad went out and bought a lot of stuff with his credit card, but then he had to ask your mom if it was OK for him to pay the credit card off. The money is already spent. If your mom says no, then your dad is failing to honor his obligations, and his credit rating (and your mom’s!) is going to be trashed. The difference on the larger scale is that if the U.S.’s credit rating is trashed, the whole planet’s economy could take a massive hit, because we are, you know, a global super-power.

9. Again, this is not about a lack of compromise on both sides. The House GOP is demanding that the president and congressional Democrats just undo their chief legislative victory. And it was a legitimate victory! And frankly, Obamacare is something that a lot of Americans *want*. Those Americans are real citizens, too. So this is like if your dad and your mom and you and your sister all vote to go to Olive Garden one Thursday evening, but your little brother wants to go to Applebee’s, and so instead of just accepting that he won’t always get his way and planning a stronger case for Applebee’s for next Thursday, he flips out and runs outside and slashes all the tires on the car so you guys can’t go anywhere. Except, again, much crazier, because instead of just one family it affects millions of people and could also set off an economic calamity of titanic proportions.

10. Let me be clear: I do not hate Republicans. My dad is a Republican! I am a small businessperson! I go to church! I LOVE CHRISTMAS. This is not about name-calling or hating on anyone, and frankly, I do not expect to change anyone’s mind about any of the proceeding details. But I am tired of the notion that both parties are equally to blame for our troubles; it has surely been true in the past, but it’s not right now. (And it is entirely possible for ALL POLITICIANS TO BE AWFUL and for ONE OF THE TWO PARTIES TO STILL BE CONSIDERABLY WORSE.) Believe me, I would love nothing more than to see a revitalized Republican party, with views that I might disagree with but which were not straight-up lunacy. IT WOULD MAKE MY DUMB INTERNET FIGHTS A LOT MORE INTERESTING.

Sep 302013
 

There is a tendency in the American media, whenever something goes wrong with government, to report that both sides are equally to blame. Nope, not this time. The United States government will shut down in about half an hour, and this one falls squarely on the backs of the Republicans.

Q: who’s to blame for government shutdown? A: the Republican party

There is a frustrating tendency in American political reporting to adopt a position of “both sides-ism” – as in, “both sides” are equally to blame for the nation’s chronic political dysfunction. Sometimes, it must be said, this assessment is correct. After all, the US political system was practically designed to breed legislative gridlock.

Not this time, however.

There is one party that is solely to blame for the first government shutdown in 17 years. And it’s the Republican party.

Indeed, the debate happening in Washington right now is not even between Democrats and Republicans. It’s not even about the deficit, or the budget, or government spending priorities. Rather, it is one strictly occurring between Republicans who are trying to find some magic bullet to destroy “Obamacare” – the country’s fiscal health be damned.

In the House of Representatives, bills that would allow the government to continue to operate were amended with provisions defunding or delaying Obamacare. This is, for Democrats, a nonstarter. The reason is obvious: the Affordable Care Act is the president’s signature achievement and he is not going to sign a bill that undoes or even delays it.

Nor should he. Obamacare is the law of the land. It was passed by Congress, signed by the president, upheld by the US supreme court, and it is already going into effect. There is no reason for President Obama to be cowed by such legislative extortion.

Yet, rather than accept the reality of Obamacare, Republicans are using the prospect of a government shutdown and/or a default on the nation’s debt to try to stop it.

Click on the article’s title to continue reading.

Sep 302013
 

President Obama spoke this afternoon about the Republican/Tea Party shutdown of the federal government that will likely occur at midnight tonight. Here is part of what he had to say. A full video of his statement follows the quote.

“One faction of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government doesn’t get to shut down the entire government just to refight the results of an election.

“Congress needs to keep our government open, needs to pay our bills on time, and never, ever threaten the full faith and credit of the United States of America.

“Time is running out. My hope and expectation is that in the 11th hour once again, that Congress will choose to do the right thing and that the House of Representatives in particular will choose the right thing.

“Unfortunately, right now, House Republicans continue to tie funding of the government to ideological demands like limiting a woman’s access to contraception or delaying the Affordable Care Act, all to save face after making some impossible promises to the extreme right wing of their party.”

Full transcript follows the break.

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Jumpstarting job growth

 Posted by at 16:50  economy, Politics
Jul 302013
 

The President in Chattanooga, Tennessee today…

But so far, for most of this year, we’ve seen an endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals. And we keep on shifting our way — shifting our attention away from what we should be focused on, which is how do we strengthen the middle class and grow the economy for everybody. And as Washington heads towards yet another budget debate, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

And that’s why I’m visiting cities and towns like this -– to lay out my ideas for how we can build on the cornerstone of what it means to be middle class in America. A good job with good wages. A good education. A home to call your own. Affordable health care that’s there for you when you get sick. A secure retirement even if you’re not rich. More chances for folks to earn their way into the middle class as long as they’re willing to work for it. And, most importantly, the chance to pass on a better future for our kids.

Full transcript follows the break.

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Reigniting the economy

 Posted by at 18:34  economy, Politics
Jul 242013
 

Just imagine the economy we could all be enjoying right now if the Republicans were not fighting this President every step of the way…

So, yes, Congress is tough right now, but that’s not going to stop me. We’re going to do everything we can, wherever we can, with or without Congress, to make things happen. We’re going to go on the road and talk to you, and you’ll have ideas, and we want to see which ones we can implement. But we’re going to focus on this thing that matters.

The full transcript of President Obama’s remarks follows the break.

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And the rich get richer

 Posted by at 10:25  economy, Politics
Jul 062013
 

If this doesn’t get your dander up, I honestly do not know what will (other than Republicans, of course)…

CEOs Make 273 Times the Average Worker

If you’re the CEO of a major company today, you make, on average, about 273 times more than the average worker. That’s according to a recent analysis by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) of the CEO-to-worker pay ratio at top 350 firms. The average pay, EPI found, was $14.1 million in 2012, up 12.7 percent from 2011.

That’s a big change from a half-century ago. In 1965, the CEO-to-worker pay ratio was about 20-to-1, but it grew over the next three decades, and that growth picked up speed in the ’90s. It peaked in 2000 before the early 2000s recession, with a CEO-to-worker pay ratio of 383.4-to-1. It hit a lesser peak again in 2007, before the Great Recession, with a ratio of 351.3-to-1. During the recovery, CEO pay has been climbing upward once more. At the same time, for most Americans, wages have remained stagnant at best.

I mean, come on, most of these guys can’t even throw a football!